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The Best Albums of March 2012

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Mike Diver Mike Diver | 13:59 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

Recent years have seen some truly brilliant albums released in March. In 2010, the third of 12 witnessed outstanding collections from Liars, Joanna Newsom and Erykah Badu; in 2011, there were albums-of-the-year lists contenders from King Creosote and Jon Hopkins, Julianna Barwick and Kurt Vile. And this year has been no different, with a raft of really-rather-splendid sets to pick from. I've stuck to 10, but there have been several more recommended releases beyond those highlighted below. Click to BBC Music's review pages to find reviews sorted by their week of release.

Album of the Month

The Men - Open Your Heart

(Sacred Bones Records; released 12 March)

Recommended by: BBC Introducing in Wales

"There's a disarming carelessness at the heart of Brooklyn-based The Men, a kind of primal nihilism that allows them to get carried away, and which carries away the listener. All in all, rather than insolently demanding your attention as most rock albums do, Open Your Heart possesses a wonderfully self-indulgent, insular quality. It's not made for you but for them, you see, which makes for a surprisingly entertaining interior world, a place to get lost in."

Read the full BBC review

(No official videos available)

- - -

The best of the rest...

Grimes - Visions
(4AD; released 12 March)

Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day, Steve Lamacq, Vic Galloway

"There are lots of great ideas bursting out all over Visions. It's an essential culmination of Claire Boucher's hard work in creating a mysterious yet distinct and exciting musical identity. It combines the vocal and textural brilliance of Braids' Native Speaker album with the punch of contemporary underground dance music and the pop nous of the best commercial RnB. One to savour."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video to Oblivion (external YouTube link; contains strobe lighting effects)

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Nite Jewel - One Second of Love

(Secretly Canadian; released 5 March)

Recommended by: Huw Stephens

"Ramona Gonzalez's second album as Nite Jewel (and debut for Secretly Canadian) would, in a just world, be the toast of not just the tasterati - which a combination of amateurish production and Ariel Pink acolytism secured some years back - but also a frequent fixture on Radio 2, 6 Music and the top 10 to boot. Reborn as a triumph of candour, clarity, and considerable charm, Nite Jewel's become precious in the best possible sense."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for One Second of Love (external YouTube link; contains scenes of regurgitation which some may find upsetting)

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Breton - Other People's Problems

(FatCat; released 26 March)

Recommended by: Huw Stephens, Rob da Bank

"With this mainstream-accessible set on their side, south Londoners Breton possess the potential to become as recognisable to chart-following crowds as any number of comparable, but ultimately inferior, acts. Now comes the luck part - the right break, the right sync, the right soundtrack. All the ingredients are here for this lot to explode if Joe Public gives them a spin or some."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Edward the Confessor (external YouTube link)

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Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks

(Island; released 19 March)

Recommended by: Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq, 6 Music Album of the Day

"Weller has never been a man to look back at his career, in anger or otherwise; time ain't been short for him either, but it seems to have inspired him rather than smothered him. Sonik Kicks, his 11th solo album, is alive with the vitality that implies. He throws it all in on this record: experiment as far as he can take it, emotion as far as he will allow. To these ears it's a heady, and brilliant, combination."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Around the Lake (external YouTube link)

Watch Paul Weller in session for 6 Music

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Spoek Mathambo - Father Creeper

(Sub Pop; released 19 March)

Recommended by: The Late Show with Stuart Bailie

"Soweto-born Spoek Mathambo is credited for conceiving 'township tech' but Father Creeper, his first album for Sub Pop, is a maximal affair, a frantic hybrid of traditional South African styles, contemporary rock, dancehall, hip hop and soulful, falsetto pop. He leaps about on a hotplate of styles, rarely dwelling on a groove for long; move with him, though, because it's worth the breakneck effort."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Let Them Talk (external YouTube link; contains language, and scenes of suggested drug use and violence, which may offend)

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Nneka - Soul Is Heavy

(Decon; released 19 March)Br>
Recommended by: MistaJam

"For all the surface sweetness of Soul Is Heavy, Nneka comes over as a restless, questioning soul. Restive and confrontational but also undeniably upbeat and commercial, it would be difficult to expect more from a modern political soul record. It's good to hear a new album that brims both with strong opinions and great pop songs, often at the same time."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Soul Is Heavy (external YouTube link)

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Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

(Columbia; released 5 March)

Recommended by: The Late Show with Stuart Bailie, Jo Whiley, Another Country with Ricky Ross, Radio 2 Album of the Week, 6 Music Album of the Day

"Wrecking Ball is a work that is as varied and surprising as any to which its author has placed his name. Featuring contributions from (among others) Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello as well as the late Clarence Clemons, by way of the Victorious Gospel Choir, this is a work of commanding range and masterful execution. The fact that it comes from a man who exclusively seems to become more commanding with age only adds to its magnificent appeal."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for We Take Care of Our Own (external YouTube link)

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Esbjörn Svensson Trio - 301

(ACT; released 26 March)

Recommended by: Jazz on 3

"This is no sweeping-up of studio off-cuts. This is one of e.s.t.'s greatest albums, and even arguably their ultimate work. It represents a colossal achievement, as they take their final bow. The 2007 material might be extremely varied in tone and approach, partly out of necessity, doubtless governed by the available recordings, but this circumstance works to the album's advantage. It's a summation of where the trio had been, and also of where these perpetually evolving players were heading next."

Read the full BBC review

(No official videos available)

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We Are Augustines - Arise Ye Sunken Ships
(EMI; released 5 March)

Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day, Jo Whiley, Dermot O'Leary

"These songs tear the flesh from your bones with gentle devastation. But, in their tremulous, spirited delivery and their layered structures - at once sparse and orchestral - they also inspire a sense of hope for the future and a glimmer of redemption. It's bombastic but it's broken, anthemic yet withdrawn, extroverted yet timid and uncertain. Rise Ye Sunken Ships is the phoenix rising from the flames, scarred yet triumphant, sad and solemn but alive."

Read the full BBC review

Watch the official video for Chapel Song (external YouTube link)

Listen to We Are Augustines in session with Jo Whiley

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