We pride ourselves in covering a lot of ground daily here at Uproxx, always looking to highlight the best music releases in hip-hop, indie, pop, and more. But there are a lot of tunes out there in the world that sometimes get past the radar when they first get released. So this piece is dedicated to making sure that some of those gems don’t go unnoticed. These are the best albums that you might have missed that were released from early December through the end of March.
Atalhos – A Tentação do Fracasso
It doesn’t take long to get swept into the Brazilian band’s psychedelic dream pop on their debut album. The jangly guitar riff on opening song “Tierra Del Fuego” is super sweet and it sets the stage for an album filled with them. The album’s title itself is a phrase in Portuguese that means “the temptation of failure” and it’s this kind of carefree poetry that typifies the unique lyricism of songwriter Gabriel Soares and Atalhos. From the title track to “Mesmo Coração,” their fuzzy São Paulo grooves are nostalgic like Real Estate and committed to varying guitar sounds like Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. There are moments of Spanish along with the album’s primarily Portuguese singing — plus a touch of saxophone — resulting in eight tracks that will be living on repeat all year.
Nia Archives – Forbidden Feelingz
The debut EP from London producer and singer Nia Archives will hit you like a freight train. Mostly because her blend of jungle and garage beats with soul-packed vocals is laid down like silky steel. Think back to what you felt when you first heard PinkPantheress, ’cause this is right there with it, but with a more direct lean towards the dance floor. You wanna make a mean bass face when the thick, chunky beat hits on “Luv Like,” but then open your eyes wide open and blissfully tip your head back when Nia’s heavenly vocals come in. There are old-school dancehall ragga jungle vibes throughout and the only downfall is that the EP only has six tracks. But they all bang.
Maggie Gently – Peppermint
Previously the lead singer of erstwhile San Francisco queer pop-punk band The Total Bettys, Peppermint is Maggie Gently’s debut solo album. Her upbeat indie-pop tunes are akin to acts like Clairo and Rosie Tucker, and these are very much songs about anxiety, love, identity, and finding personal growth while balancing your mental health. “I can’t put it into words why I’m so worried,” she sings over a lively guitar lick on “Worried.” “Hold My Hand” has a melody that sounds right of the solid gold ’90s in the best way possible and this is an album indie fans shouldn’t let slip through the cracks.
Gabriels – Bloodline
The first time I heard Jacob Lusk’s vocals on “Blame” I was floored. There’s an inherent elegance to his velvet baritone and perhaps I thought he was British at first. Turns out Lusk is a Compton native who grew up singing in a gospel choir, appeared on the 10th season of American Idol, and has sung with artists ranging from Diana Ross to Nate Dogg. Gabriels is the emerging trio of Lusk and Hollywood-minded multi-instrumentalists Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope. On the LA retro-soul and R&B group’s second EP, Lusk is sublime over cinematic production, proving Gabriels to be a growing force.
Widowspeak – The Jacket
Signed to the influential Captured Tracks label, Brooklyn duo Widowspeak’s latest album is a glorious blend of shoegaze and cowboy pop. Singer Molly Hamilton evokes shades of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and together with Robert Earl Thomas, they use fuzzy guitars in the shotgun seat of a very chilled-out collection of songs. “Everything Is Simple” is propped up by Hamilton’s mesmerizing coo while twangy guitars and soothing keys round out an arresting tune. This is music tailor-made for a relaxed lamplit evening, or a sunny afternoon on a porch with a rickety swing for kicks.
Lil Yee – Unbreakable
San Francisco street rap is having a resurgence and rappers like Lil Yee are at the forefront of the movement. Now on his third album, Unbreakable is Yee’s ode to succeeding in life, while remaining loyal to friends, family, and the soil. There are a ton of seriously epic slaps on this album. “Free The Home Team” is a bonafide Bay Area hip-hop anthem featuring fellow SFer Lil Pete. “Come From” is a humble nod to his Fillmore District upbringing and being grateful for the life he’s leading, while “ChiAli” is an impassioned call to the ghost of his dead uncle. There are guests on the album like Detroit’s Babyface Ray and Berkeley’s Rexx Life Raj, but it’s Yee and lines like “Why’d I come that far to throw it all away?” that represent the hustle that’s unique to the Bay Area street rap grind.
Combo Chimbita – Ire
One of the most bombastic Latinx music groups, Combo Chimbita is forged in the mystical lore and revolutionary spirit of singer Carolina Oliveros’ native Colombia. The Brooklyn-based group fuze traditional rhythms with boundary-pushing instrumentation, making Ire one of the most powerful albums out this year. “Mujer Jaguar” is a contorting number with twisty strings, pulsing bass, and Afro-Caribbean drums surrounding Oliveros’ banshee howl. “Memoria” has a straight-up electro-lounge beat while “Babalawo,” with a trap-rock groove, dance music sensibility, and lyrics channeling Santeria, might very well be their defining jam. Guitarist Nino Lento Es Fuego summed up the latter in a statement, saying that, “These intimate moments of spiritual guidance are incredibly important to us as a band with decolonial aspirations.”
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
A hardcore and screamo punk band at their core, Philadelphia band Soul Glo do everything loud. But Diaspora Problems is a gut punch that sounds like a rapper making a hardcore album. Singer Pierce Jordan is incredibly verbose, packing in extensive diatribes on each of the album’s twelve tracks. On “Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)((by the future))” he sings, “Living on Juice Wrld, Pop Smoke time. I’ll be in my future, come try to remove it, I live only for this, it’s how I must do it. There’s no way they can take what I say and skew it.” In a genre dominated by mostly white artists, Soul Glo — with three Black members out of four — offer a perspective in punk that is underrepresented and is hopefully here to shape the future of it.