In 2023 so far, we’ve had some pretty good weeks for new music, but few have felt as much like a blockbuster as today. Our five picks for the best new albums are only a sampling of everything that’s out on this new release Friday, but they include the return of some indie rock heavyweights, an even longer-awaited return from an electronic/R&B innovator, plus one of the biggest bands in America right now, who only seem to be getting better each time they offer up something new. Check out our recommended new albums out today.
Kelela – Raven
Over five years have passed since Kelela’s last album, 2017’s great Take Me Apart, but the wait was more than worthwhile. For one, it’s over an hour long, with a wealth of material. More importantly, it’s fantastic. At once steeped in electronic and club sounds and bathed in an ambient glow, the 15 tracks on Raven swing between hazy, beatless meditations and dancefloor-friendly bangers. We’ll have more on this album soon, but for now plan on making it a part of your weekend—and play it after dark. That’s when it really comes alive.
Paramore – This Is Why
Paramore’s progression from their mid-’00s pop-punk roots to the more intricate, rhythm-driven pop music—with a heavy post-punk influence—has been one of the more fascinating evolutions in rock music over the past decade. It was clear by their 2013 self-titled album (which is on the cusp of its 10th anniversary) that the group had a lot more to explore ahead of them, and This Is Why only reinforces how strong of a band they continue to be. Kicking off with the title track, one of our favorite songs of 2022, the group introduce a series of richly produced and dynamic pop songs made for both headphone listening and physical movement—complete with Hayley Williams’ reflections on a kind of universal, contemporary anxiety. As often as “mature” can come across as backhanded, in this case the band continue to show their growth and ability to deliver pop songs with greater nuance. Expect more on this album next week.
Black Belt Eagle Scout – The Land, The Sky, The Water
Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter Katherine Paul returns with her third album, which features a guest appearance from The Microphones/Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum, and some of Black Belt Eagle Scout’s most poignant songwriting to date. In our review of the album, Forrest James said “Paul has tapped into the deepest connection between her music and her history, and the resulting project is her best yet.” An outstanding offering from an artist who only continues to deliver something stronger every time she enters the studio.
Cor De Lux – Media
The aesthetics of post-punk and dream pop have never been all that far apart, even if most bands prefer to keep them mutually exclusive. But for North Carolina’s Cor De Lux, the taut rhythmic sensibility of the former and the effects-driven openness of the latter are natural complements, which on new album Media find them carving out a rare niche that recalls For Against in their late ’80s prime, or some of the sleeker moments on Sonic Youth’s later output. There’s an attractive darkness to what they do, but there’s a kind of ecstatic imagination as well. The jittery tension and wiry hooks make these 10 songs immediately compelling, but it’s the richness of the productions and the depth of arrangements that make them stand apart.
Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World
Yo La Tengo’s history is such that any new offering from the long-running New Jersey trio gets automatically placed at the top of the listen pile. Whether it’s their eclectic and immediate indie rock material or their most atmospheric lullabies, Yo La Tengo are a brand you can trust. This Stupid World is yet another essential entry in their ever-expanding body of work, fusing a looser, psychedelic sound with the hazier, shoegaze-like aspects of some of their most celebrated material. In our review of the album, Ben Easton said, “Hubley, Kaplan and McNew are still playing it cool as themselves, relying on the magic combos that have long made their albums compelling.” Yo La Tengo’s done it again!
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.