The Best Albums of March 2024 |

The Best Albums of March 2024

I’m not so sure modern music has seen a release month quite as stacked as March 2024. Beginning with brilliant records from Kim Gordon, Faye Webster and Mannequin Pussy and ending with Beyoncé, the music quality went full-throttle from the jump. Oh, and not to mention what March 22nd gave us, which included our highest-rated album since 2008, a triumph from Waxahatchee and a low-key rock ‘n’ roll stunner from Rosali. It’s one of the strongest periods of music releases in my time as a music critic, so this roundup is extra special. And it wasn’t just LPs… last month gave us 10 of the best songs of the year so far. Without further ado, here are the 11 best albums of March 2024. —Matt Mitchell, Music Editor

Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future

Best Albums of March 2024The varying strength of relationships in Adrianne Lenker’s life thread many of Bright Future’s dozen songs together. On the breezy “Fool,” she imagines all sorts of lives she might live with someone else—“we could be friends, you could love me through and through.” She also makes a laundry list of what the people in her circle are up to, as if she plays the role of a mutual friend catching you up to speed with a warm temperament. You don’t have to know who Tommy is, but he had twins, and in that moment, you can just share the joy Lenker gives off as she tells you that. “Fool” is followed quickly by “No Machine,” a song most noticeable for how distinct her delivery of “I don’t know what I’d do without you” is. Lenker’s voice becomes decidedly sweeter, but it also carries the weight of someone about to burst into tears. The bond she shares with whoever she’s written the song about feels fundamental to her life, but not so specific that you can’t find parallels in your own—which is the undeniable, always-present treasure of her work in the first place.

Bright Future is an album that, while often hushed in tone, is deeply emotionally complex—thanks to Lenker’s songwriting style. Her music is deeply human, often placing great focus on humanity itself. She’s able to imbue even our most mundane feelings and experiences with a renewed allure just by taking them seriously. Her masterpiece, it asks us through a demonstration of grace to lean on each other and extend versions of our own. Sometimes, it feels like she’s creating these beautiful, lived-in worlds that exist only while the song is playing. The beautiful truth of it, though, is that the only magical world Adrianne Lenker writes about is the one we all live in together. —Eric Bennett [Read our full review and our full cover story]

Julia Holter: Something in the Room She Moves

Best Albums of March 2024Something in the Room She Moves celebrates the physical and emotional experiences of life and the impact that creation has on the human spirit. Its swirling odyssey of sweeping sound and emotion leaves you breathless, and Julia Holter’s distinct blend of experimental pop reaches new expansive heights with open, ethereal arrangements of noise that swell and condense at will over a pressing and abstract sense of rhythm. A shimmering symphony of scattered synths, reeds and percussion uplifts the opening track “Sun Girl,” as Holter repeatedly sings, “My dreams as I dream in golden yellow.” A heartening warmth wafts through the track as we navigate through the many layers of instruments and samples. Within the layers of the opening track, we acquaint ourselves with a side of Julia Holter we have never seen before. There’s a central focus on bodies and physicality that hasn’t been examined in her previous work, as well as a lush, overgrown feeling of immediate love. Holter emphasized that she primarily leaned outward for her past projects and working on Something in the Room She Moves led her to a restorative space of seeking inspiration from a new inward perspective and the all-consuming emotion behind that space.

Something in the Room She Moves is inspired by a plethora of sensations and experiences. With “Evening Mood,” Holter wanted to “capture the feeling of oxytocin, love hormone” in sound. The sparse and transcendent “Materia” features just Holter’s vocals and her Wurlitzer to fill the hollow space with a “Hildegard von Bingen-inspired” medieval melody. The track “Spinning” emotionally centers around the aforementioned writer Hélène Cixous’s musings on the intense art of creation. “I wanted to make something that evoked feelings,” Holter says. “I had an interest in a certain sound world and capturing certain feelings around what emerged to be the realms of love and what it entails, the emotions in very deep forms of love and labors of love and all these kinds of things became themes that emerged, but a lot of what I was interested in sonically capturing that was certain specific elements like the fretless bass, which is used throughout with Devin Hoff on fretless and the production in general.” —Grace Ann Natanawan [Read our full review and full feature]

Kacey Musgraves: Deeper Well

Best Albums of March 2024That astrological acknowledgement of life’s next stage opens “Deeper Well,” the title-track and centerpiece of Musgraves’ fifth album. Grounded and graceful, Deeper Well serves as a much-needed course correction for Musgraves—both personally and artistically. She’s shed the baggage of Star-Crossed, no longer writing with bitterness, ego or pop aspirations. Instead, Musgraves’ latest offering is refreshing, rife with clear-eyed songs about morality, personal growth and new love.

This is also Musgraves’ most sonically cohesive album to date, every song pulling from the same muted, pastel palette. And yet, there is still enough variation to keep things interesting from song to song. “Moving Out” and “Giver/Taker” are both doses of breezy soft rock, but tonally each track feels unique. The former is meditative, and Musgraves sounds as though she’s just watched the years spent at home blow past her at once—the tree out front growing and dying in a flash. The latter takes its spartan instrumentation and soars. Musgraves doesn’t really belt—her voice is better suited to a mode that’s a bit more fluid than talk singing—but here, she takes a moment to really go for it. “Giver/Taker ” is a song built for fans to hold up lighters (or phone flashlights) to, swaying along in unison.

It’s been more than a decade since Kacey Musgraves’ debut, Same Trailer, Different Park, put her on the map. Listening to Deeper Well, you become fully aware of how much has changed since then. Fans of her more-outspoken streak might be let down by the decided levels of maturity on display here. Those who hoped she’d return to the glittery dancefloor of “High Horse” or “Butterflies” will be disappointed. There’s nothing here even approaching it—though the weakest track here, “Anime Eyes,” does have lyrics about unicorns and rainbows. Deeper Well isn’t an album that’s interested in instant gratification. Instead, it asks that you breathe in, exhale and take it in with as much grace as you can. —Eric Bennett [Read our full review]

Kim Gordon: The Collective

On The Collective, Kim Gordon’s second record for Matador, she extrapolates on one of the myriad ideas present onNo Home Record, the intersection of whisper-rap and hyperreal modernity. Gordon was inspired by The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, a Thouron Scholar, adding a layer of metafiction already entrenched in Egan’s body of work. The Candy House is a sequel to Egan’s previous novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, each chapter focusing on a different character and being written in a different style exploring the fallout of tech companies, the impossibility of authenticity in our current age, and trauma as something we can discard. It’s easy to see why the book sparked a creative urge in Gordon upon first listen. The Collective opens with “BYE BYE,” where Gordon vacantly prattles off a list of chores and a shopping list overtop a trap-industrial beat and what sounds like a car alarm.

It’s something that could easily be laughed off as pretentious satire, utilizing a hokey form of Black music to parody the vapidity and numbness that comes packaged with an iPhone. But Gordon’s compelling, enigmatic delivery—coupled with Justin Raisen’s cacophonic production—is hard to resist. The Collective threatens to unravel throughout its entire duration—an anxious, consistent assault on the senses. It’s not an angry record, though; like all good art about modernity, Gordon feels more observational, inhabiting the bodies of many characters, people with AirPods on the train home from work and the oblivious strangers trying to get their attention, peddlers on the street weaponizing small talk and moms who hate their in-laws and are worried for their social media addled teenagers. The album succeeds wholly on its immediacy, and both its soundscapes and directionless lyrics slap you in the face with its message. —Austin Jones [Read our full review and full feature]

Moor Mother: The Great Bailout

As usual, on The Great Bailout, Ayewa is the lead on an album rich with collaborators: Angel Bat Dawid, Lonnie Holley, Raia Was, Kyle Kidd and so many more lend their incredible talents to supplement Ayewa’s breathtaking poetry and production. Moor Mother surrounds herself with artists of uncommon visions and orientations toward justice and, together, they urgently reinterpret the historical record to reveal unjust actions and their evil philosophical underpinnings while creating art that similarly challenges existing structures. In turn, The Great Bailout is an all-around success. Album opener and lead single “GUILTY” sets the scene with one of Moor Mother’s most haunting collaborative pieces. As she repeats “Did you pay off the trauma?,” spending due time with each word in the phrase “taxpayers of erasure, of relapse, of amnesia, paying the crimes off—GUILTY,” languishing strings cloud her words and Mary Lattimore’s precision harping gives each syllable some extra sting. Like dual specters, Lonnie Holley and Raia Was throw their voices like comets across a foggy sky. “Did you pay off the trauma?” is an incitement: The British paid off the slavers, but what does that compensation actually mean?

What of the generations of trauma from the cruelty of denigration as property, as capital to be used on plantations that sold cash crops that would one day become mass-market poison: the cigarette. Why, in 2015, does the Treasury celebrate the payoff of the loan used to benefit these slavers when the funds it used came from the people forced into servitude? Ayewa’s collaborators add incredible dimension to The Great Bailout as Ayewa spreads the archive open for all to see. “ALL THE MONEY” brings Alya Al-Sultani and Vijay Iyer into the fold on a visceral, sinister exploration of the terrors of trade from London to British port towns, where lives were traded as goods and where the British regime decides who they should allow to enter the UK as a refugee after fanning the flames of conflict in the global south. Repeating “so much money, all the money, so many contracts” while visiting places of worship and historic landmarks reinforces how pillaging built the crown as it presents itself. —Devon Chodzin [Read our full review]

Punchlove: Channels

Punchlove centers itself around an electrifying and buzzy sound that is always in motion: flexing, contorting, sauntering and sprinting throughout the tracklist of their debut album, Channels. They sing of the tumultuous journey into coming of age with a slow-burning agency; the journey of Punchlove as a band mirrors that of the genre itself, starting from a small and condensed bedroom project featuring only Olesen and Williams to an immense, sweeping sonic force. The transitions between songs on the album flicker and crackle like watching someone flip through TV channels at lightning speed, creating an enthralling and transitory kaleidoscope of varied sound that evokes the eclectic nature of early Sonic Youth. The throbbing ending measures of “Birdsong” mutates into a scattered and frantic beat that shifts into “Guilt” without hesitation. Despite the sonic contrasts between these sections, the transition is breathtaking. The seamlessness helps to create an incredibly cohesive and uniform album with a pervading fluidity and tightness in its quick pacing.

Tracks like “Apartment,” “Dead Lands” and “Elapse” continue to showcase Punchlove’s penchant for playing with texture and space. “Apartment” is adorned with twinkling guitar riffs laced with floating, feathery vocals that expand into a ragged yet grandiose cacophony of blooming, contorted instrumentation. The massive and looming intensity of the percussion pushes and shoves the track to its ending. “Dead Lands” alternates between sparse and dense passages enriched by delicate vocal harmonies and a ringing guitar solo, while “Elapse” is a bit heavier in its warped, grungy sequence that curves and snakes its way through tight, condensed phrases. —GN [Read our full review]

Rosali: Bite Down

Of course, any band worth its weight benefits from songs with a strong gravitational pull, and Rosali dishes those out in heaping helpings. Like No Medium before it, Bite Down is packed wall to wall with tunes that are unsettled but unhurried, generous with melody, wandering but never lost, and reliably steady despite the never-ending twists and turns of an earthly existence. But above all, they are beautiful, broken and built around the kind of raw emotional uncertainty that will resonate with anyone who has ever lived, loved and/or lost. To wit, these two stanzas from “Slow Pain,” an unabashed rocker that ends with a 90-second guitar solo and simmers with familiar frustration: “Have you seen my grief? / Hold it so I don’t spill out / Keep quiet and wait it out / My ghosts won’t let me be / Making faces you can’t see /Better go before you’re on to me.”

Elsewhere, the album’s highlights include “My Kind,” a kinetic, country-blues stomper that serves as evidence that Rosali is perfectly capable of a Waxahatchee-style arc if she chooses to pursue it, and “Hills on Fire,” a triumph of room-sound atmospherics and squirrelly guitar-isms that feels like watching a lightning storm crawl across a vast flatland, or perhaps childhood trauma streaking through an adult body. And while Bite Down has more approachable peaks, it ends with two tracks that echo both its stylistic range and its recurring themes of pain, self-reflection, healing and hope. First, “Change Is In The Form” builds a Crazy Horse-style crescendo around Rosali’s sing-song ruminations on the impermanence of life, which give way to “May It Be On Offer,” a quiet prayer for restoration and deliverance underpinned by long, droning tones. “There is hope upon me,” Rosali sings, with what sounds like fresh recognition in her voice. “There is reason to try.” Amen, indeed. That hard-won epiphany is the destination and Bite Down is the sound of the journey. We are fortunate Rosali has brought us all along for the ride. —Ben Salmon [Read our full review and full feature]

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Revelations

Revelations finds Sarah Shook and their bandmates tightening up and performing instinctive solos with a flourishing, raw-hemmed edge—all while restoring a life through memory in the present. It’s not a leveling out, it’s a level up for the North Carolinians. With the title-track breaking the whole record open, the band stares down the barrel of hard-won truths and time-worn circumstances. “Revelations” could be about exhaustion or societal expectations, but the clearest read is that it’s a song about the intersection of religion and mental illness and how both of those ropes tug at the philosophies of birthright. “I been in the state that I’m in since the day of my birth,” River sings, against a potent bevy of bluesy guitar, heavy toms and bass. “New beginnin’s, I’m done listenin’ when the old guard tells me what my word is worth. Hey, baby, I’m barely gettin’ through each day.”

When the multi-dimensional “Jane Doe” kicks in, River sings about a break-up disguised as a crime scene, deploring that “when you see me on the street, you’re just glad it ain’t you dyin’ out in the cold on dead man’s curve. You tell yourself little white lies, look me dead in the eye and say to me I got what I deserved.” The song patiently builds into a roaring, anthemic benchmark—River’s best-tracked singing performance of their career thus far—split open with a guitar solo that’ll make any venue room spin. Don’t overlook Foster’s drumming here, either. He’s the metronome of Revelations, and his pounding on “Jane Doe” is a particularly special feat. Led by River’s self-production, Revelations glows because of its cohesiveness. The Disarmers don’t reinvent the wheel here, nor did they ever need to. The grandiosity is firmly embedded in the talent, as River and their band inject some serious punk rock attitudes into a well-worn infrastructure of venerable country tunes. —Matt Mitchell [Read our full review]

Sheer Mag: Playing Favorites

Sheer Mag’s new album, Playing Favorites, begins on a more subdued note than their previous work, if that word can even be held in a conversation about Sheer Mag. Its title-track opener returns to some of their softer sounds, and lets the tenderness that comes from a decade of collaborating together shine. On “Playing Favorites,” guitar work from Kyle Seely and Matt Palmer glimmers as Halladay recounts packing up for another tour while reveling in the magic of getting this far. It’s a song that begs for a long stretch of highway, and like all great road trip tracks, it’s a reminder that the best part is the people on the journey with you. That journey takes Sheer Mag to fascinating new places. Playing Favorites is at its most experimental on “Mechanical Garden,” a six-minute disco groove that opens with a bang before giving way to string arrangements and a guest guitar showcase by Mdou Moctar. As in its title, the disparate musical elements here work surprisingly well together—and Moctar’s dreamy desert blues emerge as a kind of Eden after the track’s hard rock prelude, while the atmospheric lyrics chart a nightlife journey fresh off the Sunset Strip as Halladay considers both sides of losing yourself to the beat. “Watch the wounded flowers sway, watch them, watch them waste away,” Halladay calls, before landing on a nihilistic conclusion that seems straight out of a Sonic Youth song: “Everyone’s breaking down, it’s gumming up the works / I guess I’m gonna take a cab to the city.”

Playing Favorites also makes pit stops at more familiar haunts, like the dive bars and pool tables of “All Lined Up” and the arena rock kiss-offs “Eat It and Beat It” and “Don’t Come Looking.” But like its title track, the songs here have a reflective edge—a new hint of sadness or introspection that puts the heights they climb into sharp relief. Initially recorded during a difficult time for all four band members, the album comes from trying to rig sadness into joy and make both elements sing. As Palmer puts it, it’s the result of trying to “figure out how to have fun when you actually feel miserable.” That tension between fun and miserable is perfect for love songs, and the ones on Playing Favorites revel in it. —Annie Parnell [Read our full review]

Waxahatchee: Tigers Blood

Best Albums of March 2024Tigers Blood, in particular, is an album in-conversation with the past, seeking from it lessons that allow us a more peaceful present. On “3 Sisters,” Katie Crutchfield attempts to find alignment between two states—between her slower, smoother present-day and an unsteady past. Like with much of Tigers Blood, Crutchfield doesn’t find an easy middle-ground between the two, but she remains admirably committed to navigating the conflict with a radical, clear-eyed honesty. “Right Back To It,” Tiger Blood’s lead single featuring guitar virtuoso Jake “MJ” Lenderman, is the closest thing the new LP has in terms of a spiritual successor to the album it’s following up. Warm harmonies shared between Lenderman and Crutchfield—as well as pleasingly melodic banjo and guitar melodies—evoke the irresistible charms of Saint Cloud, while clearly baring the rangy, Southern tendencies of Lenderman’s Carolina influence. Despite lyrics alluding to a relentlessly restless mind, the song exudes inner peace, with the past becoming a source of comfort rather than consternation. If Saint Cloud and its lead single “Fire” captured the initial “pink cloud” of sobriety (and all the nervous anticipation that comes with it), then “Right Back To It” showcases the well-earned euphoria that comes from settling in to being clean long-term.

But Tigers Blood doesn’t merely represent the natural progression from Saint Cloud or ring in a sober celebration. In fact, it reads as the triumphant culmination of every album Waxahatchee has released up until this point. Country and folk influences like Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams remain apparent here as they did four years ago, but also apparent are the rock stylings of Cerulean Salt and Out in the Storm. “Bored,” which is the most anthemic Crutchfield tune since “Never Been Wrong,” is dominated by a driving percusion courtesy of Spencer Tweedy and Nick Bockrath’s pedal steel guitar licks. After penning so many self-lacerating songs in the 2010s, there’s something unmistakably satisfying about seeing Crutchfield turn her frustrations outwards here. “I can get along, my spine’s a rotted two-by-four / My benevolence just hits the floor / I get bored,” she declares, somehow sounding both exasperated and above-it-all at the same time. —Tom Williams [Read our full review and full feature]

Yard Act: Where’s My Utopia?

Best Albums of March 2024Where’s My Utopia? very much brandishes the soul of a rap mixtape—featuring dexterous sampling and interludes that make this project scratch and soar in ways that few of Yard Act’s peers’ records have in recent memory. Where’s My Utopia? cracks open with MF DOOM-style sampling on “An Illusion”—which was, along with the entire album, produced by Gorillaz drummer and producer Remi Kabaka Jr. The song boasts a bluesy guitar riff and dreamy chords in spurts, but the soul of the instrumental is sparked by a droopy, wet bassline, choppy backbeats and James Smith’s mellowed-out portrait of dissonance. The funk and fun of “We Make Hits” is the band’s self-proclaimed “ode to friendship,” as the track arrives shot out of a cannon and aglow with revival riffs underscored by liquid bloops from Smith’s SP404 sampler. With an endearing energy of underscored companionship (“We make hits, two broke millennial men, and we’d do it again,” Smith yells out. “Every night on the back of the bus, you know it ain’t no fuss, we’re on the same wage and we ain’t afraid to get paid on the stage”), the song also stands in as a searing critique of everything from subletting flats to bands riding the coattails of dead torchbearers’ legacies to, yes, Nile Rogers.

Following a sublime sample, “The Undertow” checks in from a similarly mature place, considering the price of guilt through the colorless uniformity of labor. “Are we born for nothing if we die alone?” Smith questions. “Only God can answer, so where’s my telephone? Did someone snip the wire? Didn’t pay that bill? Well, you know God loves a trier and I’ve got time to kill.” The song flashes a bevy of strings from Zahra Benyounes, Guy Button, Francesca Gilbert and Maddie Cutter and calls it a day with a searing, robust guitar outro and a choir of high-pitched goddess wails from Angel Silvera, Adeleye Omotayo, Michelle Ndegwa, Petra Luke and Rebecca Freckleton.

Where’s My Utopia? is tongue-in-cheek and refreshingly introspective. It is one thing to lament the empire; it’s another thing completely to do so without considering our own complacency within it and how that can gnaw at us. And, often, our own self-referential despair is rooted in the world capitalism demands we live in. Yes, because of climate change we are royally fucked. But, what if we were royally fucked and had some pals by our side as the ship goes down? On “Dream Job,” a dashingly catchy and plentifully rapturous dance track that takes cues from LCD Soundsystem, Smith gets to the root of this imbalance. “Welcome to the future, the paranoia suits ya,” he sings. “And step into my office all night long. It’s ace, it’s class, top, let’s move.” There’s such a charming muscle being flexed here that you might not even immediately realize that, beneath massive hooks, Yard Act are performing an exorcism on the ever-so universal fixation creatives have on shit-talk outmaneuvering praise. —MM [Read our full review]

Related articles

PREMIERE: Listen to Bloomsday’s New Single “Virtual Hug”

Today, Bloomsday—the musical project of New York singer-songwriter Iris James Garrison—has released their latest single, “Virtual Hug.” The track follows previous releases “Where I End and You Begin” and “Dollar Slice,” all of which are...

2024 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductions Announced: Cher, Dave Matthews Band, A Tribe Called Quest & More to Be Enshrined

Tonight, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2024 inductees. Those voted in include Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Matthews Band, Cher, A Tribe Called Quest and Mary J. Blige, along with Peter Frampton,...

Charly Bliss Announces New Album Forever

Charly Bliss have announced Forever, the band’s first new album in five years. The upcoming LP is set to release on August 16 via Lucky Number Music. Forever features the band’s most vibrant music to date, centering...

Hinds Announce New Album VIVA HINDS

Today, Spanish rockers Hinds have announced their long-awaited fourth LP, VIVA HINDS, a nod to fans greeting the band with exclamations of “¡VIVA HINDS!” before shows. Co-bandleaders Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote are christening this new era...

Indie Rock Producer and Musician Steve Albini Dead at 61

Few people made as a big a mark on the last few decades of rock ‘n’ roll as Steve Albini. The producer, musician and all-around provocateur died of a heart attack today at the...

Latest articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here