The best albums of March 2017

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best albums of March 2017 Jay Som

It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the sheer volume of good music being released right now. Sure, there are those that would argue that today’s music doesn’t stack up to the best music made in, oh, 1966, 1977, 1984, 1991, 1997, you get the idea. Though the irony is that there were people saying that in 1997, in 1991, in 1984 and so on. There’s no reason to be cynical about it when we trust our own ears. So every month, at the end of the month, we’re rounding up our favorite albums of the month along with streams of the records, so you can catch up with everything that we’ve been enjoying.

Blanck Mass World Eater reviewBlanck MassWorld Eater
(Sacred Bones)

The Sacred Bones label has always seemed a bit like an ongoing dystopian soundtrack, but its 2017 offerings in particular put that idea in a whole new light. World Eater, the third album by Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power, offers a dark vision that comes in a surprising variety of shades, tempos and textures, its white-knuckle intensity more listener-friendly than its ever been. On a track like the single “Please,” Power allows pop melody to break through his barbed-wire barrier of industrial menace, whereas there’s playful mischief on “John Doe’s Carnival of Error” and some straightforward gut-punching industrial electro on “Rhesus Negative.” Blanck Mass still offers a vision of society that’ll keep you up at night, but this time it might be because dancing is our only salvation. – Jeff Terich

Darkest Hour Godless prophets reviewDarkest HourGodless Prophets & The Migrant Flora
(Southern Lord)

Take a crusty death metal band, put them in the studio with Converge’s Kurt Ballou and release the finished product on Southern Lord, and it’s probably going to be pretty kickass. After more than 20 years of laying down gnarly riffs and bone-crunching rhythms, however, Darkest Hour have escalated to being one of North America’s best melodic death metal bands, with their latest album a particular standout in an already strong catalog. The band is relentless and intense, but more than that they’re offering up some of their strongest melodies to date, furious yet accessible with just a touch of gothic grandeur. It’s melodic death metal at its finest. – Jeff Terich

best albums of March 2017 FutureFutureFuture/HNDRXX

You could jokingly call it a postmodern take on Nelly’s Sweat/Suit duo of street and bedroom records, but with these two albums, Nayvadius Wilburn stakes his claim (even further) as one of hip-hop’s most ambitious and emotionally resonant figures. Though the raging trap anthems on FUTURE form a somewhat more cohesive whole than the slick pop-rap fusions of HNDRXX, both showcase his contradictory complexity and feature songs that’ll become signatures of his catalog: “Mask Off,” “POA,” “Use Me” and “Selfish” are just a few. Once you start listening to either one you likely won’t be able to stop. – Liam Green

Jay Som Everybody Works reviewJay SomEverybody Works

Gusted by a whirlwind of success and critical praise, Melina Duterte’s latest shoegaze-soaked pop project has become part of peak Bandcamp material. Everybody Works is a nimble, comprehensive collection of her influences, ranging from funk-cut synth tunes like “One More Time, Please” and “Baybee,” to indie rock numbers “The Bus Song” and “Everybody Works.” In utmost DIY fashion, Duterte’s work as Jay Som is composed, arranged and produced completely by herself. The Polyvinyl release is Jay Som’s proper debut—an intimate, exciting introduction to a blossoming songwriter, producer, and musician. – Patrick Pilch

best albums of March 2017 Mount EerieMount EerieA Crow Looked at Me
(P.W. Elverum and Sun)

I don’t want to write about A Crow Looked At Me. I don’t want to reiterate the gut-punching emotion of Phil Elverum’s tragedy, a tragedy he certainly didn’t want to write about either. I don’t want to tell you about the physical nausea A Crow Looked at Me inflicted upon each listen. It’s oppressively heavy, bordering unbearable; I initially skipped over listening to singles “Real Death” and “Crow” after reading their lyrics, understanding the mental preparation needed to experience this album. And yet, its heft, Mount Eerie’s latest album is essential listening—a humanistic milestone of one of the best songwriters of the past 20 years. – Patrick Pilch

Pallbearer Heartless new track ThornsPallbearerHeartless
(Profound Lore)

As recently as a decade ago, Pallbearer might have seemed an unlikely candidate for metal crossover act. Yet the Little Rock doom metal group has been on a steady ascent, building up an impressive level of critical accolades while offering a uniquely melodic, emotional take on doom metal over their past three albums. Heartless is the one that finds them pushing boundaries the farthest, offering a handful of songs that sound like their most immediate to date (“I Saw the End,” “Thorns”) as well as their most expansive epics (“Dancing in Madness,” “A Plea for Understanding”). Pallbearer is entering a new phase with Heartless, one in which their intricate compositions are presented before a new, ever expanding audience. – Jeff Terich

Pharmakon Contact reviewPharmakonContact
(Sacred Bones)

Margaret Chardiet knows her way around fucked-up noise, darkly terrifying dirges and guttural screams of horror. And indeed, there’s plenty of those elements to be found on her third album. Yet what separates Contact from its predecessors is how those blur together. Where before Chardiet would let the noise be pure noise and the dark ambient be its own atmospheric thing, here they’re fused together, writhing in an extended, uncomfortable yet thrilling struggle. Pharmakon’s never going to record a pop album, but Contact more than ever showcases the beauty in her brutality. – Jeff Terich

best albums of March 2017 PilePileA Hairshirt of Purpose
(Exploding in Sound)

A Hairshirt of Purpose is Pile’s sixth studio album since their start in 2007, and it finds them stepping up to a new level. The diligent Bostonian four-piece are led by Rick Maguire, most commonly known as “Rick from Pile.” Mostly written in the backwoods of Ellijay, Georgia, A Hairshirt of Purpose is the result of Maguire’s refocusing retreat, musically culminating in the band’s most melodic release to date, yet still capturing the tension Pile constantly produce. From the solemn arpeggios of “Worms” to the gasping, intense musical fidgets of closer “Fingers,” A Hairshirt of Purpose is disorienting and dense, yet extremely satisfying. – Patrick Pilch

Real Estate In MindReal EstateIn Mind

After gracing us with the beauty of 2014’s Atlas, New Jersey’s Real Estate have brightened our days yet again with In Mind. Each track is a cherished creation, with delicate vocal moments and foot-tapping beats. Courtney’s expressions are more developed, with a vocal style this time more reminiscent of Paul Simon’s. Standout track “Darling” is a breezy sentimental walk down the beach, inducing a desire for old flames. Real Estate balances the faster paced melodies with slowed down ballads like “After the Moon,” an eloquent slow waltz perfect for a warm summer night. – Virginia Croft

Spoon Hot ThoughtsSpoonHot Thoughts

There aren’t many certainties in life, but one thing we know we can count on is Spoon. They’re just incapable of making bad records. Even 2010’s Transference, their most stripped-down and off-kilter album in some time, still had some killer songs beneath the odd production techniques. Yet Hot Thoughts, their second with producer Dave Fridmann, finds the indie rock heroes embracing maximalism while maintaining the cool-as-fuck groove that’s been their signature sound. They channel Bowie (and Devo, and themselves) on “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” while going kaleidoscopic in the title track. It’s another notch on the band’s ongoing tally of unstoppable releases, only strengthening their contention for best contemporary rock band. – Jeff Terich

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