Five Albums You Need To Listen To This Month

    Now hear this

    by · May 02, 2016

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

    Navigating the endless swarm of music releases is no easy feat. Fortunately, we’re here to offer some advice. Here’s our guide (illustrated, of course) to the upcoming releases that you need to have in rotation.

    The following feature appears in the May 2016 issue of NYLON.

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi.

    Jessy Lanza, Oh No via Hyperdub

    Canadian producer-singer Jessy Lanza excels at fusing pop and electronica in a way that hits listeners on a guttural level. With Oh No—the follow-up to 2013’s Pull My Hair Back, recorded with Junior Boys’ Jeremy Greenspan in Ontario—she incorporates her signature sound with a heavy R&B influence, laced with femininity and minimalist mixing. Set for a May 13 release, the project is an electro-pop beauty that uses clear synth sounds and percussion juxtaposed with lyrics about romantic longing. Lanza’s stellar production is evident from the first few synth notes of “New Ogi” to the well-crafted crescendos and dance beats of the title track, and on her first single, “It Means I Love You,” her childlike vocals are on full display, bringing to mind Aqua’s Lene Nystrøm. “Never Enough” is perhaps the standout (and definitely the most fun) track on the record, alluding to the ’80s with catchy hooks and hints of new wave. Throughout the album, Lanza works against the cookie-cutter reputation of the contemporary pop scene, much like Grimes, an artist whom she is often compared to. The result shows her affinity for nostalgia and a desire to push the genre in more creative directions—ones that we’re more than happy to hear. LAURA SCIARPELLETTI

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

    Anohni, Hopelessness via Secretly Canadian/Rough Trade

    Anohni’s Hopelessness is, simply, 11 lightning tracks of flawless electronic music. Co-produced by giants Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, the record is the transgender icon’s first post-transition project. She shows that she’s just as brilliant at weaving politics and queer identity into experimental dance music as she was with leading Antony and the Johnsons’ chamber-pop sound. She doesn’t mince words when naming songs, with titles like “Violent Men,” “Obama,” and the album’s stellar opening track, “Drone Bomb Me”—the haunting video for which stars a fierce and tear-drenched Naomi Campbell. “4 Degrees,” the album’s first drop, nods to an eye-peeling study that warns that Earth’s temperature will rise four degrees Celsius by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace. With irreparable climate change and the senselessness of current political affairs, our situation may indeed be hopeless, but Anohni proves that turning oneself over to harsh realities is an art form in itself. SOPHIE SAINT THOMAS

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

    JMSN, It Is. via White Room Records

    Picking up after 2014’s JMSN (“Blue Album”), It Is. showcases 13 tracks displaying the Detroit crooner’s growth both as an artist and as a man. The singer teased the record by reaching out to fans via text message to preview some of the new songs, and releasing the sweet, syrupy “Cruel Intentions” as the lead single. The project brings a fresh sense of the funky, neo-soul sound of the early aughts back to today’s music landscape. A particular high point is its impressive instrumentation—a clear step above the “Blue Album”. From tracks such as “Good Ol’ Case of the Blues” and “Funk Outta Here” touching on the idea of eliminating users and abusers to “Power” addressing the impact of love of self and your fellow (wo)man, It Is essentially is “The Millennial Man’s Book of Emotions.” The second half of the album flows with one jam after another, and “Most of All” climaxes as the “it” song of the project. Out on May 6, It Is. may someday be held in the highest regard, but for now, it definitely marks JMSN as a necessary force in today’s R&B/soul. CORY TOWNES

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

    Modern Baseball, Holy Ghost via Run for Cover Records

    When I first heard Modern Baseball in 2014, they transported me back to the late-’90s hell when all things indie ruled the mainstream, when naked, humiliating honesty and ringing guitars held the value that the apathetic beat does today. The Philly band’s music—particularly “Your Graduation” off their second album, You’re Gonna Miss It All—revived an awkward moment in my life that I wasn’t sure I wanted to relive, but felt nostalgic for anyway. I was once again the 17-year-old away from home for the first time, lying on my college dorm bed, missing high school, and needing the unfiltered malaise of the wallflower shouting about unrequited love. That love has hit the road on this month’s Holy Ghost, a record about the foibles of drinking too much on tour, being homesick, and broken trust. Co-leadmen Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens pass the mic back and forth as they sing love letters home from exotic places like Nebraska and Austin, Texas: “Here I am in the Valero bathroom/ Who’s paid to keep these things cliché/ Bury me in New York State/ It’s the only place where I feel dead,” yelps Ewald in the cleverly sung-shouted “Mass” (short for Massachusetts). Without wasting a breath—the album clocks in at under 28 minutes—HolyGhost provides fans with more emo-pop relatability, this time from a gear-packed van on tour. And while there’s nothing as immediately hook-laden as “Your Graduation,” the outsider lens is still there, and it’s boiled into the succinctly sweet songs like gallons of sap into quarts of maple syrup. MAXWELL WILLIAMS

    Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

    Yuna, Chapters via Verve Records

    It’s been roughly three years since Yuna’s single “Lullabies” made waves on the Web, but her voice has a way of staying with you forever—it remains in the back of your head, like a friendly ghost that visits from time to time, when you need it most. With Chapters, out on May 20, the Malaysian singer-songwriter has created a record packed with R&B tunes that carry messages straight from the heart. She eases in with “Mannequin,” then takes things deeper with slow-burning love songs like “Lanes” and “Crush” (the latter of which features Usher, arguably the king of the serenade). From there, the tide shifts completely to express colder feelings of uncertainty and hesitation, as heard in “Too Close,” “Unrequited Love,” and “Best of Me.” Overall, the album is an ode to the power of love—the love we have for one another and, most importantly, ourselves. Each of the 10 tracks reflects different stages of personal growth. Like the seasons, we are constantly changing, and Yuna is clearly aware of that fact. SYDNEY GORE

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    Last updated: 2016-05-02T16:28:33-04:00
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