Another month into the Coronavirus, and we're still not sure what the future holds. Whether you're an essential worker who needs music to keep your mind off the possibility of infection, working from home with nobody to stop you from blasting your favorite music, or were recently laid off and want some music to get you through hard times, we hope there's something new in here that suits your taste.
This month we decided it was time for dance music to take its rightful spot with a separate Best Electronic of April 2020 list.
Apple’s latest effort Fetch The Bolt Cutters once again establishes the legendary songwriter as a singular voice in a realm all to her own. Her focus and self-assured artistry remains a welcomed affront to uncertainty in a time of great upheaval and anxiety.
Sean Bowie's latest record as Yves Tumor has them emerging as a full-blown rock star. While the experimental inclinations seen on their incredible 2018 album are still present, they raise the bar in almost every way on Heaven to a Tortured Mind. Bowie’s bold vocals work perfectly over the confident, masterful production.
Favorite songs: Gospel For a New Century, Kerosene, Romanticist
Chicago-based experimental artist Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a self-proclaimed brat. “I definitely know I have polarizing qualities, and I embrace them whole-heartedly,” BRAT is a slight departure from the absurdist abstract hip-hop of 2017 album DROOL to a strand of art-pop that’s hard to compare to anything else.
Favorite songs: Wasted, Flowers To My Dreams, Salut
If now is the time for voodoo amulets and protective talismans, sharpened swords and unbreakable shields, it’s also a moment for music to assume its highest form as a healing art, a source of benevolent spells, and a refuge from the chaos. After all, the best creators are always those that tap into the telluric current that exists below the surface.
In the same vein as Burial’s Tunes 2011-2019 from last year, Clams Casino has compactly collected some of his best work into an easy-to-stream package. Every bold and shimmering hip-hop instrumental gracing Instrumental Relics would be a towering achievement for most producers, but for Clams Casino, creating these ethereal bangers comes across as effortless. Spanning the early period when he was working with artists like Lil B and A$AP Rocky, this compilation provides the perfect entry point into one of the most influential producers of the 2010s. [Tucker P.]
Song for our Daughter is a soft, poignant collection of folk songs. The subtle instrumentation only occasionally strays from a couple instruments; a piano, a guitar strumming in the background, maybe some backup vocals. Marling’s vocals and lyrics are the focus here and rightly so. Her wistful and gentle performance floats through the track listing making the record a peaceful listening experience.
Favorite songs: Song for Our Daughter, The End of the Affair, Only the Strong
BLQLYTE is a culmination of Zeroh’s many years of experimentation. Created over a six-year span and entirely self-produced, its an album that pushes at the very edges of hip-hop and R&B. Sounds fight for breath on BLQLYTE, with beats pushing to the front of the mix as if emerging from a swamp before they are dragged back into the depths a couple of minutes later. Tracks bleed into one another and conventional structures done away with in favour of impressionistic, abstract ruminations
“What Kinda Music?” asks Tom Misch over an arpeggiating string instrument as Yusef Dayes drums come in, and a lush synth bass echoes in the background. It’s a good question that this album doesn’t provide a clear answer too, sounding like In Rainbows era Radiohead at times and pure jazz at others. This album is a departure from Tom Misch’s poppy debut Geography, but it still features his dulcet vocals and virtuosic funk guitar.
Yusef Dayes was the perfect teammate to bring Tom Misch’s guitar and production into abstract territory, as the London drummer centers the atmospheric cloud with tight, complex rhythms that are as entertaining than any of the rich textures on the album.
Favorite Tracks: Nightrider, Tidal Wave, Lift Off
These days, a lot of rap shoots for a futuristic aesthetic-- pitched and tuned vocals, synths and 808s dominate the soundscape. Westside Gunn and Griselda Records are a breath of fresh air, rapping over sample-based beats complete with vinyl crackle and cocaine raps.
Even though these Buffalo rappers are working in a vintage style, they’re doing it as good as any of the 90’s greats. It’s no wonder they’ve got features from some of the biggest names in the game: Freddie Gibbs, Joey Bada$$, Tyler, the Creator, and Wale. Not to mention production from the Alchemist. Despite these big names, they keep two tracks exclusive for the Griselda Records crew that are as good as any on the album, as well as a feature from Buffalo rapper Billie Essco and producer Camoflauge Monk. This album is triumphant, coming from one of the hottest rappers in the game trying to take his city with him.
In our nostalgia driven industry, we have seen many eras cannibalized and regurgitated that it’s gotten sickening how cynical it can appear. That’s why albums like Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMA are a necessary reminder of the joy one can find transforming nostalgic influences. This debut swiftly blends Britney Spears’ swagger, nu-metal detours, and mind-melting production from the likes of Clarence Clarity and Danny L Harle, and Rina ascends as one of pop music’s new electrifying auteurs. [Tucker P.]
Baum EP guides the listener on a journey of tranquillity through the use of playful breaks, dreamy synths and luscious melodies, creating a hazy masterpiece
According to the description on Bandcamp, “these are voice memos, synthesizers and drum machines” This humble description doesn’t capture the exuberance of the project. Beautiful guitar arpeggios and driving basslines, topped by Fuller’s vocals coalesce to create this dynamic EP. The four tracks are all shorter than three minutes, but they make incredible use of the time to concisely capture emotional rises and falls. Aside from being a delightful listen, Stay Inside is a testament to the possibilities of remote collaboration.
A bubbly EP that fits the spring season. Chugging basslines overlaid with stereo effects and dreamy atmospheres. Out on Peach Discs.
World-unifying house music psychedelia.
For 8 more of our favorite electronic releases from april check out our Best Electronic of April 2020.