NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April Albums are still events for us, even and especially as we shelter in place. Lido Pimienta, Fiona Apple and Sam Hunt released music that we held close to the chest.
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NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April

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NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April

NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April

NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April

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Lido Pimienta's Miss Colombia is one of the best albums released in April. Daniella Murillo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Daniella Murillo/Courtesy of the artist

Lido Pimienta's Miss Colombia is one of the best albums released in April.

Daniella Murillo/Courtesy of the artist

As the NPR Music staff continues to cover the pandemic and its effects on the music industry, we are still listening to new music. In fact, we started Press Pause and Hit Play, a new playlist updated daily, in an effort to catalog our favorites released during this time.

But albums are still events for us, even and especially as we shelter in place. Fiona Apple released Fetch the Bolt Cutters, her first album in eight years, early, and left our entire team (and listeners) absolutely bewildered.

So we did something different for April. Instead of long discussions over email and video chat to determine which albums would make our monthly list, each staff member was guaranteed their No. 1 pick. We don't always share our list-making process, but the results seen below reveal the music held closest to the chest, what gets repeat listens during quarantine.

Below you'll find an alphabetized list of NPR Music's top 14 albums of April 2020. Be sure to check out our top 14 songs from the month and, above, listen to the Best of April podcast from All Songs Considered.

NPR Music's Top 14 Albums Of April

  • Buddy & Kent Jamz, 'Janktape Vol. 1'

    Buddy & Kent Jamz, 'Janktape Vol. 1'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    While many of us seek solace through music during this pandemic, California's Buddy and Kent Jamz transform into the modern day Kid 'n Play (or Beavis and Butt-head, for the album cover's sake). Janktape Vol. 1 is the house party we didn't know we wanted, but certainly needed. — Bobby Carter

  • EOB, 'Earth'

    EOB, 'Earth'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Inspired by two differing landscapes (Brazil and Wales), Radiohead's Ed O'Brien forges bold and quite intimate sounds. Produced by Flood and joined by musicians from Wilco, Portishead and many others, this was my indoor sonic adventure for April. — Bob Boilen

  • Fiona Apple, 'Fetch the Bolt Cutters'

    Fiona Apple, 'Fetch the Bolt Cutters'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Like a 21st century fairy tale, Fiona Apple locked herself away for eight years, cataloging her mind and using a survivalist's instinct to craft percussion-driven songs for an epic reckoning. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is boundless, primordial, heaving. Its fervent missive to freedom-seekers? You don't escape a cage by looking out: You look inward. — Cyrena Touros

  • Kenny Mason, 'Angelic Hoodrat'

    Kenny Mason, 'Angelic Hoodrat'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    With an album title that balances the dichotomy of the Black experience, West Atlanta noisemaker Kenny Mason invites fans along for a ride through his version of rap's mecca — one siphons rock and pop progressions, the other buries traumas deep below double entendres. Like smudges in the rearview mirror, Kenny reminds that his past isn't perfect. — Sidney Madden

  • Lara Downes, 'Some of These Days'

    Lara Downes, 'Some of These Days'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    This lyrical, evocative set un-starches the musical artifacts of African-American uplift. The pianist approaches spirituals, hymns and legacy pieces with a passion grounded in the knowledge that history is personal: each interpretation deeply reckons with what made her. Her collaborators — including Toshi Reagon, the Chapin Sisters and PUBLIQuartet — infuse Lara Downes' close encounters with communal spirit. — Ann Powers

  • Lido Pimienta, 'Miss Colombia'

    Lido Pimienta, 'Miss Colombia'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Beauty pageants separate what is judged beautiful from what is judged not. Miss Colombia separates love and not-love, a question extended to Lido Pimienta's sense of belonging after leaving her country. The album examines violence and heartbreak, venerating Indigenous and Afro-Colombian land and art, both overshadowed by national identity. — Stefanie Fernández

  • Michael Rische & Berliner Barock Solisten, 'C.P.E. Bach: Keyboard Concertos'

    Michael Rische & Berliner Barock Solisten, 'C.P.E. Bach: Piano Concertos'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    The quirky, unpredictable music of J.S. Bach's second eldest musical son sparkles in these mid-18th century concertos, intended for the harpsichord, but played with panache and elegance on a modern piano. The performances spotlight, but don't over emphasize, the composer's zig-zag cadences, surprise dissonances and languid, improvisatory slow movements. — Tom Huizenga

  • Mike Dean, '4:20'

    Mike Dean, '4:20'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Over the past three decades, the producer has been as important to the evolution of hip-hop's sound as anyone, even the boundary-pushing Kanye West, who frequently borrows Mike Dean's brain in the studio. But 4:20 is not a collection of beats in search of rappers, but a psyched galactic quest spun from whole cloth — no bops, just one big fwoosh. — Andrew Flanagan

  • Nduduzo Makhathini, 'Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds'

    Nduduzo Makhathini, 'Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Rapturous uplift and radiant communion are the hallmarks of Nduduzo Makhathini's sound, which conveys the broad sweep of South African jazz. As a pianist, Makhathini evokes the ringing modalities of McCoy Tyner; as a composer he balances turbulence with calm. Alto saxophonist Logan Richardson is among his guests on this momentous Blue Note debut. — Nate Chinen, WBGO

  • NNAMDÏ, 'BRAT'

    NNAMDÏ, 'BRAT'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Nnamdi Ogbonnaya stuffs so much creative energy and ideas into his fourth full-length album it's busting at the seams. The multi-instrumentalist, composer and rapper based out of Chicago obliterates genre, hammering together sounds from West Africa with art rock, hip-hop, gospel and more. But he finds the humanity in these songs, with existential reflections on the nature of fate and freewill. — Robin Hilton

  • Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, 'Songs of Yearning'

    Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, 'Songs of Yearning'

    : BANDCAMP

    The once-anonymous collective finds comfort in the unknown with a sacred music that is regal, seeking and Gothic. Sung in several languages (and in one they don't even understand), Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus celebrates its own mysterium fidei with ambient and neoclassical textures as well as folk traditions from around the world. — Lars Gotrich

  • Sam Hunt, 'Southside'

    Sam Hunt, 'Southside'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    Sam Hunt does a lot of apologizing on Southside: he's sorry for 2016 and he's sorry that he named his last album Montevallo for his ex-turned-wife. But it's not all somber. Singular and self-aware, it's a redemptive arc of a record with clever, crowd-pleasing detours that showcase his subtlety. — Lyndsey McKenna

  • Thundercat, 'It Is What It Is'

    Thundercat, 'It Is What It Is'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON / BANDCAMP

    Stephen Bruner continues his audacious re-imagining of '70s jazz fusion. His bass playing is captivating, even when it veers off into high-end noodling. It's a loose, warm record with killer guest spots, including Kamasi Washington, Childish Gambino and Ohio funk royalty Steve Arrington. — Lauren Onkey

  • Westside Gunn, 'Pray for Paris'

    Westside Gunn, 'Pray for Paris'

    : APPLE / SPOTIFY / YOUTUBE / AMAZON

    This is art haus trap, a Monet framed in crushed crack vials. Westside Gunn transcends the hard knocks of Buffalo on Pray for Paris, an album that combines a street hustler's ambition with Griselda Records' transition from underground to rare air. The American Dream never sounded so hard to earn. — Rodney Carmichael