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new kexp album reviews

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New Album Reviews:

Jenny Lewis: The Voyager
Buy! - (Warner Bros.)
The latest solo album (and first in six years) from the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman is a strong return to form steeped in classic West Coast ‘70s and ‘80s pop-rock with smartly crafted songs juxtaposing breezy melodies with incisive lyrics that cut deep. Produced by Ryan Adams along with Beck and Johnathan Rice, the album features a warm, lush sound that puts the focus on Lewis’s gorgeous vocals and consistently strong songcraft. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Other Jenny Lewis album reviews:

Rabbit Fur Coat - 1/17/2006

Hooray For Earth: Racy
Buy! - (Dovecote)
The second album from this New York band led by Noel Heroux is another expansive, beautifully constructed set of psych-tinged synth-rock with loud, rumbling guitars, bright synths, dramatic vocals and massive song hooks. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Other Hooray For Earth album reviews:

True Loves - 4/22/2011

Common: Nobody's Smiling
Buy! - (ARTium/Def Jam)
This Chicago rapper’s 10th studio album was inspired by his hometown’s epidemic of violence. It’s an often-powerful set of bleak, hard-hitting hip hop produced by longtime off-and-on collaborator No I.D., featuring a mostly dark sound with ominous synths and cold beats accompanying gritty, descriptive raps of hard times in the Windy City. Guests include up-and-coming rappers Lil Herb, Dreezy and Vince Staples. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Other Common album reviews:

The Dreamer/The Believer - 1/13/2012
Be - 5/18/2005
Electric Circus - 12/15/2002
Like Water For Chocolate - 4/15/2000

The Raveonettes: Pe'ahi
Buy! - (self-released)
The LA-based Danish duo’s seventh album improves upon their dreary last two albums by returning to a sound that’s more aggressive and more melodic via a potent blend of noisy, fuzz-drenched guitars, driving rhythms, breathy vocals and melancholy lyrics juxtaposed with sugary pop melodies. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Other Raveonettes album reviews:

Lust Lust Lust - 2/8/2008
Pretty in Black - 4/13/2005
Chain Gang of Love - 8/15/2003
Whip It On - 11/15/2002

Got A Girl: I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now
Buy! - (Bulk)
The debut album from this project pairing producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura with actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a playful, evocatively rendered set steeped in stylized ‘60s French pop, with lush cinematic strings, atmospheric keyboards and mellow hip hop beats accompanying Winstead’s seductive, breathy vocals. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

The Wytches: Annabel Dream Reader
Buy! - (Partisan)
This British band’s debut album is a promising blend of dark psych-rock, Sabbath stoner-rock, Nirvana grunge, surf and more, with heavy, reverbed guitar riffs and muscular rhythms accompanying Kristian Bell’s feral vocals and macabre lyrics. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Peliroja: Injusticia
Buy! - (Chulo)
The debut album from this New York band led by producer/guitarist Jacob Plasse (and also featuring members of The Daptones, Pedrito Martinez Group and Los Hacheros) is a fiery blend of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Beat, Ethiopian funk and more, combining punchy horns, searing funk guitars, vintage keyboards, Latin percussion and strong vocals from Jainardo Batista. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Bear In Heaven: Time Is Over One Day Old
Buy! - (Dead Oceans)
This Brookyn band’s fourth album is a darker, more streamlined version of their psych-tinged electro-pop, with an imaginatively arranged array of shimmering synths, atmospheric guitars and propulsive rhythms accompanying Jon Philpot’s reverbed croon. 7/25/2014 - Don Yates

Other Bear In Heaven album reviews:

I Love You, It's Cool - 3/9/2012

Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty
Buy! - (Sub Pop)
The second full-length from this Seattle duo comprised of former Digable Planets frontman Ishmael Butler (aka Palaceer Lazaro) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire is another mind-blowing set of experimental hip hop with woozy beats and spacy textures accompanying Butler’s reverberating vocals and abstract raps. 7/18/2014 - Don Yates

Other Shabazz Palaces album reviews:

Black Up - 6/16/2011

Alvvays: Alvvays
Buy! - (Polyvinyl)
This Toronto-based band’s debut album is a promising set of hazy, surf-inflected dream-pop. Produced by Chad VanGaalen, the album features a reverb-drenched sound with fuzzy guitars, energetic rhythms, wistful melodies, melancholy lyrics and Molly Rankin’s soaring vocals. 7/18/2014 - Don Yates

Tender Games: Tender Games
Buy! - (SUOL)
The debut full-length from the Berlin-based duo of Marlon Hoffstadt and HRRSN is a smooth blend of R&B and propulsive house and 2-step grooves reminiscent of Disclosure, with a warm sound combining bright synths, occasional Rhodes piano and other live instrumentation and soulful vocals. 7/18/2014 - Don Yates

Sugar Stems: Only Come Out At Night
Buy! - (Dirtnap)
This Milwaukee band’s third album is a strong set of hook-filled power pop reminiscent at times of the Fastbacks, combining crunchy guitars, organ, energetic rhythms and bright melodies. 7/18/2014 - Don Yates

White Fence: For The Recently Found Innocent
Buy! - (Drag City)
The sixth White Fence album from LA’s Tim Presley is the first recorded in an actual studio and also the first to feature a live drummer. Produced by Ty Segall, the album is a more focused, polished and melodic take on Presley’s jangly, ‘60s-steeped blend of garage-rock, psych-pop and folk-rock. 7/18/2014 - Don Yates

Slow Club: Complete Surrender
Buy! - (Wichita)
This British duo continues to evolve on their third album, an often-stunning set of sleek and sophisticated indie-pop steeped in ‘60s and ‘70s soul and pop. Beautifully produced by Colin Elliot (who’s best known for his lush production work for Richard Hawley), the album masterfully combines a warm blend of guitars, keyboards, strings and horns with lovelorn lyrics, wistful melodies and Rebecca Taylor’s soaring vocals. 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

The Acid: Liminal
Buy! - (Mute)
The debut album from this international trio comprised of British producer Adam Freeland, California producer/composer Steve Nalepa and LA-based Australian vocalist Ry X is a promising set of post-dubstep electro-pop with a haunting minimalist sound combining dark, atmospheric synths, sparse acoustic guitars, skeletal house and techno rhythms and Ry X’s intimate vocals. 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

Prom Body: Naughty By Natural
Buy! - (Topaz)
The second album from this Tucson band led by Michael Fay is an impressive set of lo-fi pop-punk reminiscent at times of Wavves and early No Age, combining fuzzy guitars and energetic rhythms with catchy melodies and often-sardonic lyrics. 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

French Style Furs: Is Exotic Bait
Buy! - (Frenchkiss)
The debut album from this project featuring Nate Willett and Matt Maust from Cold War Kids and Nathan Warkentin from We Barbarians is a fine set of urgent post-punk combining an energetic, funk-inflected sound with Witt’s dynamic vocals and lyrics taken from the poems of American Trappist monk Thomas Merton, whose writings often revolved around spirituality, social justice and pacifism. 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

Shovels & Rope: Swimmin' Time
Buy! - (Dualtone)
The third album from the Charleston, SC husband-and-wife duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent is another gritty, heartfelt blend of roots-rock, folk, blues, country and gospel, combining a raw, ramshackle sound with the duo’s rough-hewn harmonies and poignant lyrics. 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

Other Shovels & Rope album reviews:

O' Be Joyful - 6/15/2012

Ben Khan: 1992 EP
Buy! - (Dirty Hit)
The debut release from this London-based artist is a knockout set of warped electronic soul music that quickly recalls a slightly more smoothed-out version of Jai Paul, a comparable fellow young UK artist crafting an exceptional head-turning sound. 7/11/2014 - Alex

Xeno & Oaklander: Par Avion
Buy! - (Ghostly International)
This Brooklyn duo’s fourth album is an impressive set of dark electro-pop with an atmospheric sound combining icy analog synths, propulsive rhythms, haunting melodies and Liz Wendelbo’s ethereal vocals (along with Sean McBride’s occasional more gloomy vocal tones). 7/11/2014 - Don Yates

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