If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you care enough about music to know that Drake dropped a “playlist” this month called More Life. So as much as I have been enjoying that record this month, I’m not going to plug it here in favor of highlighting some lesser-known artists who released music in March. From fluttery, eerie folk, to an emerging R&B star, to a tracklist packed full of rap’s brightest stars in 2017, March had more good music than I knew what to do with. Whatever genre you’re into, there was something for you this month. From folk to protest blues, from British songwriters to Atlanta trap legends, here’s a taste of the absolute best of the best.
Thelma’s eerie, fluttery folk self-titled debut is one of the best albums to come out in March, yet I haven’t seen a lot of people talking about it yet. Natasha Jacobs’ spectral voice runs the full spectrum from fairy to goblin across the seven tracks on Thelma, but it never loses its chilling intensity whether the edges of it are pretty or growling. If you hear some familiar discordant harmonies here, they might have been courtesy of Girlpool, aka Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, who guest on the album’s incredibly strong opener “If You Let It.” In case the record wasn’t impressive enough, it’s also worth noting that Jacobs produced it herself. Expect to hear a lot more from her in the coming weeks and months.
Khalid, American Teen
R&B is going through a weird phase right now, as it seeks to reinvent itself after a surge of greatness in the ’90s, and Khalid might just be the poster boy for that reinvention. Plenty of singers are now surging into rap to create a hybrid alternative to the balladry that marks traditional R&B, but Khalid is content to sing his heart out — with that voice, he should be. The Frank Ocean comparison is the easiest to draw, the two have similar tonalities and delivery habits, but Khalid is an 18-year-old kid from Texas with plenty of his own personality and experiences to share. On American Teen Khalid wears his heart on his sleeve, embracing his age and vulnerability across sleek beats and tender synthy production. It may not be an opus, but it’s a fantastic peek into the life of a kid who is about to become a star.
Jay Som, Everbody Works
In an interview with Steven Hyden, Jay Som’s Melina Duterte talks about her love for Steely Dan, and that kind of idiosyncratic crackle pop is definitely the backbone of her debut record Everybody Works. Duterte combines dream pop elements with intelligent, inventive lyrics that explore mundane topics like bus rides, pinky promises, and bedhead, and turn them into sparkling, sky-high experiences. This is the perfect album to play late at night while the stars come up, or in the early morning when opening your eyes feels tedious and tough. Everybody Works is like a vacation from real, and a reminder that everybody goes through the same difficult stuff, it’s all a matter of what you do with it.