The Pulse is the Uproxx Music guide to the best new albums, mixtapes, and other music releases that matter this week. Find our complete list of the records coming out in May here.
Courtney Barnett has already established herself as one of the world’s finest rockers in her young career, and her second album cements her status as an indie mainstay whose debut record was more than just a flash in the pan. It’s filled with fun songs, and some more serious ones too, that don’t do anything but endear her to you. Meanwhile, Parquet Courts have made one of their most accessible albums yet, Kyle brings optimism to hip-hop, and this is your week if you’ve been waiting for some adventurous harp music.
Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel
Perhaps the predominant slacker rocker of her time, Courtney Barnett is anything but a slacker, since this is her third album since 2015 (counting her Kurt Vile collaborative effort). She captures a variety of vibes on the new record, too, whether it’s the slow build to a raucous climax of the album opener “Hopefulessness” or the lighthearted midtempo rock of “Nameless, Faceless.” It’s music that deserves to be taken seriously, but definitely doesn’t ask to: It’s fun rock and roll without an ounce of pretension, so enjoy it.
Read our review of Tell Me How You Really Feel here.
Parquet Courts — Wide Awake!
Parquet Courts have always toed the line between catchy and inaccessible, falling closer to one side than the other depending on what album you catch them on. If you need evidence that they’re endearing themselves to a larger audience this time around, look no further than their recent appearance on Ellen. That feels like a weird booking, but the album title track is also a quirky bit of fun that I could see my mom getting into just as much as the band’s usual fans.
Kyle — Light Of Mine
After making guest appearances on virtually everybody else’s songs for the past couple years, Kyle is stepping out on his own and has arrived with his debut album. Kyle keeps his sound fun in a time when everything isn’t always that way, which serves as a refreshing breather. This is definitely his album, but he’s got plenty of famous friends on the tracklist: 2 Chainz, Alessia Cara, Kehlani, Khalid, and Lil Yachty all make appearances.
Ryley Walker — Deafman Glance
The Grateful Dead has influenced a generation of musicians with their exciting sense of adventure, and Ryley Walker is carrying that torch now, although not in as much of a long-form way. Instead, he packs jazzy and alternative experimentation into more traditional-length songs, like the punchy “Opposite Middle” and the alt-folk “Spoil With The Rest.”
Quiet Slang — Everything Matters But No One Is Listening
Beach Slang’s James Alex has gotten into the habit of reworking that band’s songs into more tranquil versions and releasing those as Quiet Slang: “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt,” as he recently described it. The latest Quiet Slang album features re-interpretations of songs like “Dirty Cigarettes,” which has been turned into a piano- and string-heavy ballad.
DJDS — Big Wave More Fire
The duo have become go-to collaborators since helping Kanye with The Life Of Pablo, working in the past few months with St. Vincent, Empress Of, and Khalid. The latter two appear on the new album, and DJDS has made some more friends beyond them: Also guesting on the record are Vic Mensa, The-Dream, and plenty of others.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks — Sparkle Hard
The Pavement frontman has kept busy since the iconic group called it quits in 1999. Now he’s just released his first album with The Jicks since 2014, and on the new record, he seems to settle into a gentle Americana groove. That’s the case on “Middle America” anyway, which sounds like it came out of just that place. It’s a simple song, and as Malkmus has proven, he does those well.
Nedelle Torrisi — Only For You
Torrisi is trained in jazz, but that’s not exactly the vibe she goes for on her dream pop-indebted debut album. To call it straight-up dream pop isn’t right, since the songwriting is more bombastic and soulful than the genre tends to be, such as on “Rich Kids World.” She says the song is about dreaming, which is fitting since (to get hyperbolic for a minute) the track sounds like a dream come true.
Buck Meek — Buck Meek
The Big Thief guitarist just dropped his debut solo album, and based on the early returns, it’s an indie folk gem. “Cannonball” has plenty of throwback country soul, and “Ruby” is similarly comforting, a robust and infinitely comforting listen. While Meek is used well in Big Thief, he’s definitely deserving of a role as frontman, and he confidently embraces the opportunity here.
Mary Lattimore — Hundreds Of Days
It’s not every day that an experimental harpist puts out an album that should go on your to-play list, but here we are. Recorded in a redwood barn in San Francisco, Lattimore’s latest effort uses her plucked strings to create soothing lullaby soundscapes that really couldn’t be achieved with another instrument, such as on album highlight “Hello From The Edge Of The Earth.”
Lil Baby — Harder Than Ever
Drake owns a ton of real estate at or near the top of the Billboard charts, so getting him on “Yes Indeed” shouldn’t hurt Lil Baby at all. The Quality Control recruited more friends than that for his latest as well: Also sprinkled in the tracklist are Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Offset, and others.