A ranked selection of February’s most notable new recordings.
1. Eric Church, “The Outsiders”
What does it take to punch through Nashville’s bro-zone layer? Trombones? Synthesizers? Songs about sex, mortality and stolen beers? Church throws it all into his fourth album and comes out sounding like country’s new leading man.
2. Shy Glizzy, “Young Jefe”
When this Washington rapper looks in the mirror he sees a lover, a fighter, a nuisance, a menace, a hot head, a cool breeze, a dude crazy in love with the sound of his own trash talk. Accordingly, the highlight of Glizzy’s new mixtape reads more like a daily affirmation than a brag: “I’m so awesome!” Absolutely.
3. Katy B, “Little Red”
On her second album, Katy B continues spelunking London’s dance music underground, feels big feelings in the high-decibel darkness, and sings them back out in the shape of a pop song.
4. Temples, “Sun Structures”
The old-school psych-rock on this young Brit band’s debut sounds highly studied and is polished just so. But if your air guitar has been collecting dust, it’s a lovely solution.
5. Vtgnike, “Dubna”
It’s silly to romanticize human beings for making music on computers in faraway cities, but this Russian way-outsider’s adventurous post-techno evokes fantastic weather on an alien planet.
6. Angel Olsen, “Burn Your Fire For No Witness”
Everything burns slowly on Olsen’s new album, where the 26-year-old singer channels older voices (Leonard Cohen, Hope Sandoval) to describe ancient feelings (love, longing) in ways that feel new.
7. Toni Braxton and Babyface, “Love, Marriage & Divorce”
This one had huge promise, but came up a feeling a little lightweight. Still, “Love, Marriage & Divorce” features two of the silkiest voices in American R&B navigating the path from spite to forgiveness. On the way, Braxton spits out a razz for the ages: “I hope she gives you a disease.”
8. Schoolboy Q, “Oxymoron”
The rising L.A. rapper has friends in the highest places — he’s a member of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy cadre — but Q doesn’t need much help on his third studio album. He’s a big mouth capable of telling tremendous stories. Rap music can never have enough of either.
9. Dierks Bentley, “Riser”
He can do feel-good, down-low and everywhere in-between, but on his new album, the country mainstay is at his best on “Bourbon in Kentucky,” soaking his mangled heart in Jim Beam. “There ain’t enough bourbon in Kentucky for me to forget you,” he sings. “So forget you.”
10. Natural Child, “Dancin’ With Wolves”
Imagine a garage-rock-country band stumbling out of the garage and wandering off into the country, occasionally losing its way, but nobody’s worried because this might be the same trail the Meat Puppets blazed back in the ’80s, heh-heh, “blazed,” hey, where are we?
Listen to samples from the month’s best recordings below.
WARNING: Songs may contain explicit lyrics.
– Eric Church:
– Shy Glizzy:
– Katy B:
– Angel Olsen:
– Toni Braxton and Babyface:
– Schoolboy Q:
– Dierks Bentley:
– Natural Child: