Time for the April roll call! I’ve got a bunch of indie rock favorites this month, and beyond that it’s a hodgepodge of West African music, French-language music, rap, folk, post-rock, and one exceptional album of New Age choral music. This month, unlike the rest of 2021, favored more established artists.
I focus on original music in this blog, but should mention that Tom Jones and Rhiannon Giddens both made wonderful covers albums too.
Along with the blog, here’s a playlist of some of my favorite songs from April.
The Coral, Coral Island
Both a double album and a concept album — about a band playing to the patrons of a seaside tourist attraction — the truly remarkable thing about this easy-going but adventurous psych-folk-garage-rock album full of warm, inviting harmonies, its its ability to feel like an old friend, even from the very first listen. Highlights: “Lover Undiscovered,” My Best Friend,” “Golden Age”
Field Music, Flat White Moon
The Brewis brothers focus their often lofty aspirations in a more accessible direction here, crafting smart, jagged, robustly arranged pop songs with rock and chamber instruments, and it’s their most listenable album to date. Highlights: “Not When You’re In Love,” “When You Last Heard From Linda,” “Invisible Days”
Bruno Pernadas, Private Reasons
On the whole this is a brilliantly composed, complex and unpredictable multi-lingual art-pop album from Portugal with a heavy jazz component and orchestral flourishes. Skip tracks the 1, 3 and 5, and it’s just about perfect. Highlights: “Lafeta Uti,” “Jory II,” “Step Out of the Light”
Dinosaur Jr., Sweep it Into Space
The guitar hero indie rock stalwarts’ 12th album showcases the faster, more playful side of the band’s distortion-heavy sound, with J Mascis’s transcendent guitar solos blessing all the right moments. Highlights: “I Ran Away,” “Take It Back,” “Walking To You”
Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Matt Sweeney, Superwolves
By turns warm, wise, unsettling, and heartfelt, the 16-years-later follow-up to singer/lyricist Will Oldham and guitarist/songwriter Matt Sweeney’s cult classic Superwolf is a seamless collaborative sequel that is well worth the wait. Highlights: “Resist The Urge,” “Hall of Death,” “Not Fooling”
Beautiful Chorus, Movement (Released 03/26/21)
This double album is full of simply arranged songs driven by lush vocal harmonies, all of which center around the affirmations and meditations at the heart of this quartet’s spiritual focus. Highlights: “Infinite Universe,” “Pachamama,” “The Waves We Give”
Samba Touré, Binga
Working very much in the tradition of Ali Farka Touré’s legacy (no relation though), Samba applies his own brand of steady, rolling, guitar-based desert blues to an album named for his home region of Mali. Highlights: “Tamala,” “Fondo,” “Adounya”
Flock of Dimes, Head of Roses
Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak’s second solo record leads with syncopated, glitchy art pop but eventually reveals itself as an indie folk album, the sonics shifting to become whatever Wasner’s voice needs at any given moment. Highlights: “2 Heads,” “Two,” “Hard Way”
Ballaké Sissoko, Djourou
Always collaborating, the master kora player’s 4th “solo” album still enlists a variety of mostly Francophone guest vocalists as he deftly weaves together classical, folk and contemporary Malian sounds. Highlights: “Frotter les Mains,” “Guelen,” “Un Vêtement pour la Lune”
A collaborative rap debut from a veteran MC and a veteran producer who go way back, Talib Kwali and Diamond D’s new project is simple but sharp old school East Coast boom bap. Highlights: “The Quiet One,” “On Mamas,” “I’ll Tell Ya Later”
Grave Flowers Bongo Band, Strength of Spring
Offering nimble guitars, intricate compositions and an unbridled sense of fun, this LA band teems with energy on their sophomore album of colorful and agile psych rock. Highlights: “Lazy River,” “Sleepy Eyes,” “Down Man”
Khalab & the M’Berra Ensemble, M’Berra
This collaboration between a collective of West African nomadic musicians based in Mauritania, and an Italian producer, mixes Tuareg assouf music and desert blues in a blender of avant-garde electronica. Highlights: “Desert Storm Pt. 2,” “Moulan Shakur,” “Curfew”
La Femme, Paradigmes
Coming off as a sonically adventurous party band, La Femme’s third album seems at times to be a French escapist fantasy concept album about the great American road trip, and at others a silly but enjoyable hodgepodge of whatever. Highlights: “Mon Ami,” “Paradigmes,” “Nouvelle-Orléans”
Dry Cleaning, New Long Leg
An instrumental act until poet Florence Shaw joined up with them, the South London band’s debut pairs Shaw’s spoken word with the sounds of the UK post-punk revival. Highlights: “Strong Feelings,” “New Long Leg,” “Scratchcard Lanyard”
Todd Snider, First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder
Always just sardonic enough to sell the good-natured humanitarian sincerity of his lyrics, the Nashville singer/songwriter’s 13th album is full of clever, conscious, often hilarious rough-hewn, bluesy folk music. Highlights: “Never Let a Day Go By,” “That Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” “Sail On, My Friend”
Brockhampton, Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine
The 13-member Texas-based rap collective’s 6th album is still a sprawling, challenging affair but it seems more streamlined this time, and each song is more concise in its delivery. Highlights: “What’s The Occasion?,” “The Light,” “Dear Lord”
Godspeed You Black Emporer, G_d’s Pee At State’s End!
The Canadian instrumental post-rock veterans’ 7th album is a dirge-laden, often funereal affair, though patient listeners will find light at the end of the tunnel, with immaculate compositions the whole way through. Highlights: “Job’s Lament,” “First of the Last Glaciers,” “Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / Ashes To Sea or Nearer To Thee”
If you’d like to hear just the best of the best, here’s a playlist with 36 of my favorite songs from April 2021, which includes one or two songs from each album above, and some great songs from albums that didn’t make onto my list too —Playlist: Highlights of April 2021.
While we’re here…
Did you enjoy this article? Awesome! It was written by a white guy privileged enough to have time listen to like 40 albums every month and write a blog as a passion project, for free.
If you are white and you are also are privileged enough to have some time on your hands, or some money to donate, please check out some anti-racism resources and help fight the good fight.
Nerding out over music is fun, but let’s not forget that we live in a burning world that needs our help! Black Lives Matter.