New Music Reviews (3/25)

Album Reviews

Each week, KEXP’s Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Abbie) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases. See what's coming up this week below, including reviews for new releases from Nilüfer YanyaEx HexJenny Lewis, and more.

Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe (ATO)
This London artist’s debut full-length is an impressive set of expansive left-field pop incorporating elements of R&B, rock, jazz, folk-pop and more on a variety of sharply crafted, anxiety-fueled songs. — DY

Ex Hex – It's Real (Merge)
The second album (and first in five years) from this DC-based trio led by former Helium guitarist/vocalist Mary Timony is a potent blend of energetic garage-rock, hook-filled power-pop and ‘80s hard-rock, combining crunchy guitars, buoyant rhythms and soaring song hooks juxtaposed with often-dark lyrics of heartache and loss. — DY

Jenny Lewis – On The Line (Warner Bros.)
The former Rilo Kiley leader’s fourth solo album is a masterful set of ‘70s and ‘80s-influenced pop, combining a warm, silky sound with her agile vocals and sharply crafted, sometimes cutting lyrics of damaged lives, lost love, resilience and rebirth. — DY

The Black Tones – Cobain and Cornbread (self-released)
This Seattle brother-and-sister duo’s debut full-length is a strong set of heavy, blues-tinged garage-rock. Mostly recorded and mixed by legendary producer Jack Endino, the album combines a raw, stripped-down sound with Eva Walker’s powerhouse vocals. — DY

Mdou Moctar – Ilana (The Creator) (Sahel Sounds)
The Agadez, Niger-based Tuareg guitarist’s latest release is the first recorded in an actual studio. It’s a powerful set of desert blues with fiery psych-tinged guitar riffs, hypnotic rhythms and haunting vocals. — DY

Avey Tare – Cows on Hourglass Pond (Domino)
The third solo album from this Animal Collective member is a strong set of warped psych-pop with a hazy sound combining electronic textures, strummed acoustic guitars and some of his most inviting melodies with lyrics revolving around aging. — DY

La Fille – Alright Already (self-released)
The debut full-length from this Seattle-based band led by Jay Louis is a promising set of hook-filled power-pop and Northwest indie-rock. Co-produced by Telekinesis’ Michael Lerner, the album combines crunchy guitars, occasional synths, punchy rhythms and sparkling pop melodies. — DY

American Football – American Football (Polyvinyl)
This Urbana, IL-bred band’s third album is a strong set of atmospheric indie-rock inflected with shoegazer dream-pop, post-rock, jazz, and other styles, combining twinkling guitar lines, strings, piano, glockenspiel, vibraphone and mournful trumpet with plaintive vocals and wistful lyrics of aging and regret. — DY

Strand of Oaks – Eraserland (Dead Oceans)
The sixth Strand of Oaks album from Timothy Showalter & co. is a well-crafted set of emotive, ‘80s-steeped rock ranging from driving synth-rock and ominous, skronky post-punk to some atmospheric ballads. The album’s dramatic sound is fleshed out by an impressive supporting cast including members of My Morning Jacket, Jason Isbell, and Emma Ruth Rundle. — DY

Grupo Fantasma – American Music Vol. VII (Blue Corn)
This veteran Austin band’s seventh album is an expansive blend of Latin funk, cumbia, psych-rock and lots more, combining fiery guitars, soaring horns and a variety of Latin percussion with lyrics ranging from the personal to the political. — DY

Tamaryn – Dreaming The Dark (DERO Arcade)
This LA-based New Zealand artist’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped dream-pop and post-punk. Like her last album (2015’s Cranekiss), this one was produced by Jorge Elbrecht with an atmospheric sound featuring shimmering synths and guitars, soaring vocals and lyrics of heartache, loss, and resilience. — DY

Apparat – LP5 (Mute)
The fifth regular studio Apparat album (and the first in six years) from German producer Sascha Ring is a well-crafted set of adventurous electro-pop combining moody synths and often-treated vocals with occasional strings, horns, and harp on songs ranging from urgent rhythmic grooves to an abundance of brooding atmospheric ballads. — DY

Son Volt – Union (Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers)
The ninth studio album from Jay Farrar & Co. is one of their most politically charged sets to date, combining a warm sound blending roots-rock, country, folk, and blues with lyrics juxtaposing inequality and racism with solidarity and resilience. — DY

The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe (Ninja Tune)
This British duo’s fourth album (and first in 12 years) is an often-gorgeous set of majestic electro-pop with a slow-burning sound featuring haunting piano, atmospheric synths, lush strings, mostly glacial tempos and a variety of guest vocalists including Moses Sumney, Roots Manuva, and Heidi Vogel. — DY

Small Feet – With Psychic Powers (Barsuk)
The second album from this Swedish project led by Simon Slalhamre injects some occasional psych-tinged experimentation into Small Feet’s genial folk-pop sound. — DY

Lambchop – This (is what I wanted to tell you) (Merge)
The 13th studio album from this veteran Nashville band led by Kurt Wagner is similar to the electronic experimentation that colored their previous album (2016’s FLOTUS), though it’s also grounded more in the band’s more typical jazz-tinged pop, with an atmospheric sound featuring vocodered vocals and wistful melodies. — DY

Mesa Luna – Lash (Afterlife)
Mesa Luna is the Vancouver dream-pop, shoegaze project of Harlequin Gold/Blue J frontman, Justice McLellan. McLellan takes you on a cathartic journey highlighted by oscillating dynamics that propel through universal themes of disassociation and trauma. He comments, "If a photograph was taken with a slow shutter speed and you moved your body, there would be this Russian doll, ghostly effect created with your movement. I imagine trauma does something similar to someone's personality. The more uncomfortable, the farther the ghost you would occupy creating distance between yourself and the present. My personal goal making this record was to ground myself, see myself in focus and work past that oscillating mode by confronting certain aspects of my childhood." — AG

Acid Tongue – The Night We Broke Our Lease EP (Freakout)
The latest EP from this Brooklyn-via-Seattle band led by Guy Keltner is a well-crafted set of soul-steeped glam-rock. — DY

Lee Moses – How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972 (Future Days Recordings)
Cool compilation of this little-known Atlanta guitarist/vocalist’s singles and rarities from 1965-72, many of which are stellar examples of vintage Southern soul highlighted by his fiery, throat-shredding vocals and stinging guitar work. — DY

Darkswoon – Bind (Icy Cold)
The latest album from this Portland band led by Jana Cushman is a fine set of goth-tinged post-punk and dream-pop combining atmospheric guitars and haunting synths with ethereal vocals and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

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