March is undeniably a good month for music. From comebacks by the likes of M83, The Kills and Frightened Rabbit, as well as new records from The Cat Empire and Asking Alexandria, the close of 2016’s first quarter has plenty worth getting excited about. We’ve lined up the best music that March has offered, or will still be offering.
THE CAT EMPIRE – RISING WITH THE SUN
Australian ska/jazz outfit The Cat Empire released their seventh studio album Rising With the Sun last week. Spanning 11 tracks and a whole cacophony of exotic sonic influences, The Cat Empire have only outdone their previous successes once more. Album opener Wolves encompasses an anthemic chorus and danceable percussive elements, whilst Bulls utilizes a summer-y vibe complemented by uplifting brass and keys. Lead single Qué Será Ahora is a latin-tinged slow jam, albeit one which screams out cocktails by the sea. One other notable track is Bataclan, a track which was written in tribute to last year’s terror attacks in Paris. During its chorus, frontman Felix Riebl sings “Bataclan va lutter!”, which translates into “The Bataclan will fight!” It’s a powerful message which the band positioned right in the middle of the record, slap bang in the middle of all the fun. Seriousness aside, though, Rising With the Sun is a lovely record which is set to see the band play bigger venues and start bigger parties than ever before.
Rising With the Sun is out now via Two Steps/Sony.
ASKING ALEXANDRIA – THE BLACK
On a totally different end of the musical spectrum you’ll find UK/Ukrainian metalcore quintet Asking Alexandria, who will be releasing new record The Black at the end of the month. Following last year’s shock departure of frontman Danny Worsnop, the band continued with Ukrainian metal vocalist Denis Stoff. Stoff has injected an intense sense of energy into the band, essentially rejuvenating them. Following the release of four new tracks in the last year-odd, Asking Alexandria will mark the release of their first studio album with Stoff on March 24. Most recent single Let it Sleep, which came out two weeks back, presents an extreme contrast to comeback track I Won’t Give In. Both tracks have already presented us with two totally different sides to Stoff’s vocal ability, from guttural growls to slick clean vocals. It may not be the Asking Alexandria most people are used to, but it’s still a step in the right direction for the reborn rockers.
The Black comes out on 24 March via Sumerian Records.
KENDRICK LAMAR – UNTITLED UNMASTERED
Hot on the heels of 2015’s stellar To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar has put out yet another studio album. The record, which goes by the name of Untitled Unmastered, is a collection of unreleased tracks which didn’t make the cut for …Butterfly. None of the tracks have proper titles; rather, they all feature the technical date of when they were recorded between 2013 and 2016. Elements of soul, funk and RnB all flitter in and out of consciousness throughout the record, with the 05.28.2013 recording standing out in and amongst the record’s 8 tracks. Untitled Unmastered demonstrates Lamar’s ability to put out a continuous stream of exciting, socially thought-provoking new music, attempting to break rap’s strict boundaries as he goes along. It’s not going to be a chart topping smash hit record; instead, it seems like a symbol of thanks to the people who supported his previous works.
Untitled Unmastered is out now via Top Dawg. A physical release follows on 11 March.
HACKTIVIST – OUTSIDE THE BOX
Milton Keynes djent metallers released their debut album Outside the Box last Friday. We said the following about it: “On Outside the Box, Hacktivist have shown themselves to be the kind of band that only comes along once in a blue moon. Right now, there isn’t a group out there who sound quite like them. Ben Marvin and Jermaine Hurley are two co-frontmen with a strong message which people ought to hear as soon as possible, because a band as socially aware and mentally conscious as Hacktivist doesn’t come round that often.”
Outside the Box is out now via Rude Records/UNFD.
IGGY POP & JOSH HOMME – POST POP DEPRESSION
Should we look too much into the title of Iggy Pop’s upcoming collaborative record, Post Pop Depression? After all, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme did recently call him the “last of the one-and-only’s” in an interview. Homme collaborates with Pop on this record, which the legendary vocalist suggests may be his last. Fellow Queens of the Stone Age member Dean Fertitia also played on it, with Arctic Monkey Matt Helders completing the album’s personnel. The record, which focusses around Pop and Homme, comes out on 18 March and features the likes of demure slacker Break Into Your Heart and the anthemic Gardenia. We’re yet to hear more from the record, with Homme, Pop and co. also touring the record in smaller venues later this year. If it ends up being Pop’s swansong, then it’s definitely one hell of a collaboration to go out on.
Post Pop Depression comes out on 18 March via Caroline Universal/Loma Vista Recordings.
Alongside the aforementioned four records, we’re also compiling March’s best releases through our monthly Spotify playlist. Check it out below!