Best things we heard in March…

Tom Burrows: I went to Spain this month and Rosalía’s Motomami was released the day of my return. And while my Spanish hasn’t yet become fluent enough for me to appreciate the lyrics without resorting to Google, I enjoyed this record from the first listen – an appreciation which has only grown in the weeks since.

Motomami is a stunning-sounding record which brazenly hops between genre from song to song. In one early sequence, there’s a track that bristles with flamenco energy with minimal additional instrumentation (‘Bulerías’), followed by a reggaeton stomper (‘Chicken Teriyaki’), followed with a tender ballad called, erm, ‘Hentai’. It’s thrilling to hear genuinely innovative new music like this. And the closing track, ‘Sakura’, where Rosalía uses the Japanese blossom tree as a metaphor for the temporary nature of stardom: just, wow.

Ryan Self: Over the past few years, Big Thief has probably been my number one example for “People whose taste I trust implicitly love this band, yet I just don’t hear it.” With yet another release seeing rapturous reviews, I decided to make Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You the soundtrack to my life for a week. At the office, in the car, in the gym, this album was playing. First a couple of songs started to stand out. Then, slowly at first then quickly, the whole cohesive unit came together. What a record! And now I have their whole discography to dig through as a first timer. Albums with this type of grandeur always garner a lot of album of the year praise and can be difficult to unseat; color me very much in that camp. Turns out I am a Big Thief fan after all, I just had to quit dabbling and go full fucking immersion therapy with it. 

Beyond Big Thief there was another album that stood out. Including a singular debut and step-down-but-still-very-good follow up, Band of Horses has somehow made every album just a little bit worse, to the point that I could have easily ignored this one. But much to my surprise, Things Are Great…kind of rocks? Reading reviews and interviews, there’s no obvious one thing that changed, no new band members or revelatory life events, the band just up and decided to write great songs again. My pleasant surprise of the year so far

Rick Larson: My wife and I saw The Go-Go’s live on March 24, 2022, so that has to be the answer. Not a museum piece. One of the best and most important American bands ever, they know it, and are reveling in. And, they still sound really good. A total love fest in San Francisco.

I also enjoyed Wednesday’s album of covers, Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘Em Up, released this month. I hope you listen to this Asheville, North Carolina band’s first two under-appreciated albums from 2020 and 2021 and you’ll see why they cover Drive-By Truckers, Smashing Pumpkins and Roger Miller on this new collection. Start with ‘Maura,’ above.

James Spearing: After a slow start to the year, things really picked up in March with a whole bunch of exciting new albums. Nilufer Yanya, Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul, Mattiel and Ibibio Sound Machine all stood out to me this month. One pick from each to give you sample: Nilufer’s ‘Stabilise’, Charlotte and Bolis with ‘Blenda’, ‘Jeff Goldblum’ by Mattiel and ‘Almost Flying’ from Ibibio. One other fun surprise in March was the cover version we didn’t know we needed…it’s Robyn’s take on Neneh Cherry’s ‘Buffalo Stance’.

Fran Slater: It’s hard to pick this month as there’s been so much good new music, so excuse me for taking a leaf out of James Spearing’s book and picking a bit of everything.

It was my busiest gig month since before the pandemic began and shows from Keeley Forsyth, Nilufer Yanya, and Slowthai were all equally brilliant but in wildly different ways.

And Nilufer’s new album has definitely been my main obsession in March, but my review is incoming so I won’t say much more for now.

Kojey Radical’s album has entirely swept me off my feet, with its mix of soul, power, and fun – it’s an exceptional LP that has totally caught me off guard.

And, of course, I could just pick ‘Bread Song’ by Black Country, New Road for a second time in a row. That’s the best thing anyone has heard this month, no matter what the rest of these bastards are saying.

Sam Atkins: I agree with everyone else that March of 2022 was pretty good for new releases. I really enjoyed the Kojey Radical album, Maren Morris released her third great album in a row and Charli XCX lived up to my high expectations and released the album I’ve been craving from her for a decade. I also got to watch Wolf Alice and CHVRCHES perform my favourite album and song of 2021 respectively live for the first time, which was obviously a highlight.

But in the end no album had me as excited, in disbelief and as in awe as MOTOMAMI by Rosalía. Tom has summed it up above, but across all 16 tracks of this album she dives into so many genres and so many musical styles it can feel a bit chaotic, but there’s something truly magnetic about Rosalía as a performer that holds every moment together. I’m trying to hold back from saying silly things so early in the year, but I will be shocked if we aren’t talking about MOTOMAMI in the album of the year conversation come December.

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