New Music Reviews (4/8)

Album Reviews

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

Budos Band – V (Daptone)
This New York band’s fifth album is a potent blend of cinematic jazz-funk with various West and East African styles, while also being injected with the heavy rock guitars that also powered their previous album (2014’s Burnt Offering). — DY

PUP – Morbid Stuff (Little Dipper/Rise)
This Toronto band’s third album is their strongest set yet of anthemic pop-punk, featuring a tighter, more fully fleshed-out sound while still offering plenty of exuberant, fist-pumping song hooks juxtaposed with often-biting and self-deprecating lyrics of anxiety and depression. — DY

The Drums – Brutalism (ANTI-)
The fifth album from this New York-bred band (which is now the solo project of Jonny Pierce) is a strong set blending propulsive electro-pop with surf-inflected indie-pop, combining bright synths, jangly guitars, urgent rhythms and sunny melodies contrasted with dark, brutally honest lyrics revolving around anxiety, loss and troubled relationships. — DY

Brutus – Nest (Sargent House)
This Belgian trio’s second album is a heady, intense blend of metal, hardcore, post-rock, grunge, and shoegazerish dream-pop, with a massive, cathartic sound featuring dynamic sculpted guitars, pummeling rhythms, urgent, towering vocals (courtesy of drummer Stefanie Mannaerts) and soaring song hooks. — DY

John Vanderslice – The Cedars (Native Cat)
This Bay Area producer/musician’s 11th album (and first in six years) is an adventurous set of fragmented, atmospheric electro-rock with queasy analog synths, occasional guitars, nervous rhythms, bleak melodies and often-dark lyrics of loss and regret. — DY

Martha – Love Keeps Kicking (Dirtnap)
This British band’s excellent third album features a tighter, more warmly melodic take on the band’s anthemic pop-punk, combining ringing guitars, energetic rhythms, ebullient harmonies and sunny song hooks with lyrics of heartache and resilience. — DY

Drugdealer – Raw Honey (Mexican Summer)
The second Drugdealer album from LA artist Michael Collins (FKA Salvia Plath and Run DMT) is a strong set of ‘70s-steeped, psych-tinged folk-pop combining a warm, lush, intricately arranged sound with buoyant melodies juxtaposed with lyrics of loneliness and isolation. — DY

Flying Fish Cove – At Moonset (Help Yourself)
The debut album from this Seattle band led by Dena Zilber (and featuring members of iji, Sick Sad World and Guests) is a promising set of hook-filled indie-pop reminiscent of bands like Cub, The Pastels and Heavenly, combining jangly guitars, chiming Omnichord and bright keyboards along with occasional violin, flute and more with sunny melodies and often-dark lyrics of anxiety and heartbreak. — DY

Damien Jurado – In the Shape of a Storm (Mama Bird)
This LA-via-Seattle artist’s latest album is a potent set of spare, acoustic folk recorded with just acoustic guitar accompanying his haunting vocals and intimate lyrics. — DY

Priests – The Seduction of Kansas (Sister Polygon)
This DC band’s second album is a more diverse take on the band’s politically charged punk, incorporating elements of New Wave dance-pop, brooding post-punk and more. — DY

Shovels & Rope – By Blood (Dualtone)
This Charleston, SC duo’s fifth album brings a more adventurous musical touch and a harder rock edge at times to their anthemic folk-pop, though it’s also fairly diverse with songs ranging from driving, guitar-driven rockers to intimate folk ballads and rustic sing-alongs. — DY

Diät –  Positive Disintegration (Iron Lung)
This Berlin-based band’s second album is a potent set of ominous post-punk with buzzing guitars and synths, driving rhythms, dour vocals and dark lyrics revolving around the dreariness of modern life. — DY

Club Night – What Life (Tiny Engines)
This Oakland band’s debut album is a promising set of dynamic, shape-shifting indie-rock incorporating elements of math rock, ‘90s Northwest rock, emo, and other styles, with intricate arrangements featuring fuzzy guitars, twinkling keyboards, high-pitched vocals, often-politically charged lyrics and anthemic song hooks. — DY

Default Genders –  Main Pop Girl 2019 (self-released)
Default Genders is the solo project of James Brooks, formerly of the duo Elite Gymnastics. Their second album under this moniker is a fascinating set of dreamy, nostalgic, gauzy electronic-pop that boasts a transportive post-rave-pop touch. The singular production style is distinguished by a love for 90s breakbeats, jungle rhythms, unpredictable samples, lush atmospherics, and an intentional tendency to bury the vocals deep in the mix. — AR

Ages and Ages – Me You They We (Needle and Thread)
This Portland band’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged indie-pop combining bright song hooks with lyrics trying to find hope in these uneasy times. — DY

Emmett Kai –  Baby Hits! (Unisex)
This hidden gem of a debut album from NYC artist Emmett Kai is a fantastic set of dreamy, charming, romantic psych-pop that recalls contemporaries such as Ariel Pink, Still Parade, and TOPS. — AR

Shana Cleveland – Night of the Worm Moon (Hardly Art)
The latest solo release from the frontwoman for LA-via-Seattle band La Luz is a well-crafted set of dark, psych-tinged folk-pop with a spare, often-eerie sound featuring atmospheric guitars, haunting vocals and surreal lyrics. — DY

Lady Lamb – Even in the Tremor (Ba Da Bing)
The third album from this Brooklyn-based artist (aka Aly Spaltro) is a well-crafted set of expansive folk-pop combining a lush, beautifully textured sound with deeply personal lyrics of love, anxiety, and self-acceptance.

Cherry Pickles – Cherry Pickles Will Harden Your Nipples (PNKSLM)
The debut album from this Birmingham, England-based duo is a fine set of lo-fi garage-pop inflected with surf, ‘50s sock-hop rock, and other styles. — DY

J.Lamotta – SUZUME (Jakarta)
J.Lamotta is a Berlin-based vocalist/producer born in Tel Aviv to a family with Moroccan roots. Her second album is a wonderful set of organic neo-soul, jazzy R&B, and earthy hip-hop with an infectious conscious/joyful streak that recalls the likes of Erykah Badu and Kadhja Bonet. — AR

Supercrush – Never Let You Drift Away (Flake)
The debut full-length from this Seattle project led by Mark Palm collects the various singles he’s released from 2013-18 (along with a couple of previously unreleased songs) for a fine set of crunchy, hook-filled power-pop. — DY

Branko –  Nosso (Enchufada)
The second solo album from Lisbon's Branko (aka João Barbosa, co-founder and driving force behind the seminal global trio Buraka Som Sistema) is another vibrant set of colorful cutting-edge global electronic/club rhythms, accented by a stacked roster of exciting guest vocalists and producers. Seattle-based producer Sango helps out on the sultry standout early single "Hear From You." — AR

Shy Girls – Bird on the Wing (Keep Cool/RCA)
The second album from this Portland artist (aka Dan Vidmar) is a lighter take on his moody electro-pop, combining shimmering synths and hypnotic beats with hope-filled lyrics of love. — DY

Moon King – Voice of Lovers (Arbutus)
The third album from this Toronto-bred, Detroit-based artist (aka Daniel Benjamin) is a dance-friendly blend of disco and New Wave synth-pop, combining propulsive beats and bright synths with hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Various Artists –  The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 6 (Freestyle)
The latest installment in this wonderful series curated by popular BBC 6 radio show host, in-demand live DJ, and actor Craig Charles is another fantastic set of funk, soul, disco, Latin, and R&B jams that consistently pack a colorful, energetic punch. Seattle's Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is notably featured within the stacked set. — AR

Kassa Overall –  Go Get Ice Cream And Listen To Jazz (self-released)
The excellent official solo debut full-length album from this NYC-based Seattle native is a confident, progressive, and adventurous blend of jazz, hip-hop, and soul that puts his multi-faceted talents as a drummer, producer, rapper, and in-demand collaborator on full display. Roy Hargrove and Arto Lindsay make guest appearances. — AR

Angel Bat Dawid –  The Oracle (International Anthem)
The debut album from this Chicago-based composer, singer, and clarinetist is an at-times transcendent set of spiritual, free-form, Afro-centric jazz that contains powerful moments both heartbreaking and celebratory, notably in the standout pair of vocal-laced tracks "What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black" and "We Are Starzz." A cosmic and cohesive sonic journey, The Oracle is also an astounding creation on its own, with Angel performing, overdubbing, and mixing all of the instruments and vocals herself, using only her cell phone as a recorder in her residency in the attic of the historic Radcliffe Hunter mansion in Bronzeville, Southside, Chicago, as well as multiple locations all over the world. — AR

Koffee –  Rapture EP (Promised Land Recordings Limited)
19-year-old Jamaican artist Mikayla "Koffee" Simpson bursts out with a breakthrough debut EP spotlighting her refreshing contemporary take on traditional reggae/dancehall with a confident, edgy, catchy pop streak. — AR

Yufi⁶⁴  –  Yufi⁶⁴ (self-released)
The debut release from this Seattle trio is a super rad set of epic instrumental rock with a heavy math rock influence that also sneaks sweet electronic elements (8-bit, juke, jungle) into their heady, groovy arrangements. Closing track "Leaving" distinctively features some traditional vocals, while "I Miss You" is an immediate highlight. — AR

Anu Sun –  Sanguine Regum (Ropeadope)
Reminiscent at times of The Coup's Boots Riley and The Gift of Gab, the latest album from NYC's Ana Sun artist is a versatile set of charismatic, urgent, exploratory hip-hop inflected with jazz, R&B, gospel, and pop flavors. Robert Glasper appears on album highlight "No Sun" and Sanguine Regum also features a sweet cover of Robert Glasper and Erykah Badu's track "Afro Blue" — AR

Partner – Saturday the 14th EP (Father/Daughter)
This Windsor, Ontario-based duo’s followup to their 2017 debut album In Search Of Lost Time is a fun EP of sharply crafted satirical rock and pop ranging from propulsive dance-pop and a Celine Dionesque ballad to bouncy country-rock and glam-tinged arena-rock. — DY

DJ Jenifa –  Jag Trax (self-released)
This new alias from UK electronic producer Gold Panda offers up a debut album of sample-heavy, loop-centric electronic grooves that carry shades of Nicolas Jaar's A.A.L. release from last year. A fun and seemingly low-stakes effort, Jag Trax is available for a name-your-price download on Bandcamp and was "originally made to be played at high volume while driving a 2003 Jaguar S-type (silver). — AR

Murlo –  Dolos (Coil)
Following a long string of ear-grabbing singles and EPs, London-based electronic producer Chris Pell (aka Murlo) unveils his debut full-length album and it's an invigorating set of colorful, squiggly, elastic, hi-NRG club beats that's accented by his stellar sound design. Released alongside a 36-page graphic novel that Murlo also wrote and animated, Dolos paints a unique cinematic sonic landscape through a club-as-escape lens. — AR

Black Ends – Sellout EP (self-released)
The debut EP from this Seattle band led by Nicolle Swims is a fine set of brooding, psych-tinged rock. — DY

Flamingo Pier –  Flamingo Pier EP (Soundway)
The second EP (and Soundway debut) from this East London outfit comprised of three party-starting DJ/producers is a top-notch set of lively vocal-tinged dancefloor grooves that fuse boogie, funk, disco, Afro and classic house styles in infectious fashion. — AR

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