9 Albums to Listen to in March

5 minute read

Now that the Academy Awards are over, you can spend your free time updating your playlists instead of marathoning all the Best Picture nominees in hopes of crushing your office Oscar pool. Here’s what to keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for in the coming month, from A-list pop stars to buzzed-about newcomers:

The Knocks, 55

A song evoking the “Macarena” was probably not on anybody’s wish list for 2016, but you’ll be glad the Knocks made one anyway with the Wyclef Jean collaboration “Kiss the Sky.” If the New York producer duo and the ex-Fugees star seem like an odd pairing, you’ll understand from listening to the track why Clef tapped B-Roc and JPatt to produce his next full-length: they know how to bring the best out of their collaborators, whether it’s rising star Alex Newell on last year’s groovy “Collect My Love” or Carly Rae Jepsen on the e•mo•tion•al “Love Me Like That.” (March 4)

Miike Snow, iii

The Swedish-American trio is best known for crafting elegant electro-pop—not unlike the kind two of its members made for Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue under the name Bloodshy & Avant—but on their aptly titled third album, they blow open their sonic palette. The dizzying “For U” features a psychedelic guest spot from Charli XCX, while “Heart Is Full” opens with a jarring soul sample and gets the remix treatment from rap duo Run the Jewels. (March 4)

Loretta Lynn, Full Circle

The country music icon’s first studio album in 12 years includes new material and covers of the songs Lynn grew up singing but never recorded during her decades-long career. John Carter Cash—the son of Johnny and June, whom Lynn used to babysit while his parents were on stage—produced the album, which also features duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello and updated versions of Lynn classics like “Fist City” and “Everybody Wants to Get to Heaven.” (March 4)

Cardiknox, Portrait

1980s-inspired synth pop is in no short supply these days, but Los Angeles-based duo Cardiknox make for a welcome addition to the genre with their debut album. Adrenaline-spiking tracks like “Wild Child” will get crowds warmed up as the band opens for Carly Rae Jepsen on tour this spring, but the hypnotic “Doors” should stay with listeners long after the lights come up. (March 11)

Gwen Stefani, This Is What the Truth Feels Like

The No Doubt frontwoman’s first solo album in a decade arrives with a few false starts behind it: after scrapping an album’s worth of material that she says “didn’t feel right,” Stefani teamed up with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter (the songwriting team behind Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”) for a break-up record drawing on her split from Gavin Rossdale last year. But who cares if these songs are about him or her romance with Blake Shelton—new music from the pop star is reason alone to freak out. (March 18)

Cullen Omori, New Misery

Omori became an indie rock wunderkind as the frontman of Chicago’s the Smith Westerns, which released its debut album while all its members were still teenagers. Fans who mourned the group’s sudden disbanding in 2014 after three LPs of jangly guitar pop can look forward to March 18th, when Omori drops a solo debut that offers even more hooks and draws on the Top 40 tunes he listened to at his day job. (March 18)

Baauer, Aa

The 26-year-old “Harlem Shake” producer proves he’s more than just a chapter in Internet meme history with his debut album, Aa. Like the battery, it’s pronounced “double A.” And like the battery, it’s also got a lot of energy: the album features appearances by Future, Pusha T and M.I.A., who unites with South Korean rapper G-dragon on the globe-spanning banger “Temple”—no passport required. (March 18)

Zayn, Mind of Mine

Forget being “a normal 22-year-old.” The first One Direction member to release a solo project does so on the one-year anniversary of his departure announcement. With Mind of Mine, the mononym-minded Zayn—no last name here—breaks from his boy-band past by offering fans what they wouldn’t find on a 1D album: F-bombs, frank sex talk and slick R&B. (March 25)

Birdy, Beautiful Lies

Leave it to this British singer to make you feel like you wasted your teenage years: she’s only 19-years-old, but Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde (can you see why she’d opt for a succinct stage name?) has already released two albums and won international acclaim. On her third LP, the singer more known for slow-burning ballads—like this stark cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”—puts a spring in her step on songs like lead single “Keeping Your Head Up,” her most danceable track to date. (March 25)

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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com