A ranked selection of notable new recordings we heard in March.
1. YG, “My Krazy Life”
The Compton rapper starts his fantastic debut album by puffing out his chest. He peaks about halfway through while giving a home-robbery tutorial. And he signs off with an apology to his mother. Throughout, DJ Mustard supplies the elegantly pummeling beats that make this partnership feel astonishingly fresh and instantly classic.
2. Obnox, “Louder Space”
No one in this world is making rock-and-roll as singular as Obnox frontman Lamont “Bim” Thomas because no one in this world is abusing an electric guitar at hip-hop tempos while singing about sex, drugs, the death of Whitney Houston and the end of the world in Cleveland circa 2014. Listen to this man.
3. 100s, “IVRY”
Like DJ Quik before him, Cali rapper 100s has an XXL personality, an XXX appetite and fabulous hair. On this taut, G-funk-infused new mixtape, he isn't worried about women stealing his heart — he's worried about them stealing the conditioner out of his shower.
4. Dengue Dengue Dengue, “Serpiente Dorada”
Does great dance music sharpen our awareness of the body or liberate us from it? This Peruvian duo squeezes that question out of every beat on its excellent new EP, six tracks of psychedelic cumbia capable of loosening ligaments and opening third eyes.
5. Tony Molina, “Dissed and Dismissed”
Dude from San Francisco. His solo debut from last year, reissued. Twelve minutes. Twelve songs. Weezer-ish hooks. Dinosaur Jr.-ish solos. A Guided By Voices cover. Cool. Concise. It's over!
6. The War on Drugs, “Lost in the Dream”
On his third album as the War on Drugs, Adam Granduciel sounds like a man trying to play “Dancing in the Dark” while falling asleep, or maybe “Sultans of Swing” while waking up. It quickly begins to feel like it might go on forever, which is totally fine because you'll probably want it to.
7. Gabriel Garzon-Montano, “Bishoune: Alma del Huila”
Any wannabe on YouTube can sing along to looped hand-claps and sneaker stomps, but very few have the courage to try to croon like D'Angelo and the vocal agility to practically pull it off.
8. Evian Christ, “Waterfall”
After stirring some of his brash aesthetic into the cauldron of Kanye West's “Yeezus” album, the young U.K. producer is back to making hip-hop instrumentals out of e-cig vapor, Windex squeaks and earthquakes.
9. Stone Jack Jones, “Ancestor”
In country music, there are so many sad songs and not enough bleak songs. This Nashville outsider takes some gutsy steps toward the latter, as if scoring a Cormac McCarthy novel. Halfway through his latest album, he sings, “Joy's a-coming.” Don't believe him.
10. Shakira, “Shakira”
She's pop's one true pinball, bouncing around, perhaps involuntarily, from Disney-grade rock, to aerobic ska, to Taylor Swiftian balladry, finally landing on a stadium-crushing tune — “Dare (La La La)” — that makes the game worth playing.