New Music Reviews (5/13)

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 Jamila WoodsHÆLOSCharly Bliss, and more.

Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY! (Jagjaguwar)
This Chicago artist’s second album is a masterfully crafted blend of R&B, funk, hip hop, jazz and more, with all the songs named after African-American cultural icons. The album combines a warm sound with her airy, buoyant vocals and sharply crafted lyrics celebrating various legacies of icons like Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni and Miles Davis while exploring themes of feminism, exploitation and liberation. — DY

HÆLOS – Any Random Kindness (Infectious/BMG) 
This British band’s second album is a more expansive take on their ‘90s-steeped trip hop sound that finds the band adding more live instrumentation along with a greater variety of beats and textures. It’s a sonically impressive achievement, with often-dark songs revolving around themes of environmental devastation and technology-driven isolation and alienation. — DY

Charly Bliss – Young Enough (Barsuk) 
This Brooklyn-based band’s second album is a more pop-oriented take on their punkish power-pop, combining ringing guitars, shiny synths and sparkling pop melodies with Eva Hendricks’ bubbly vocals and sharply crafted lyrics of abusive relationships and resilience. — DY

The Dream Syndicate – These Times (ANTI-) 
The latest album (and the second since reuniting in 2012) from this veteran LA-bred band led by Steve Wynn is a potent set of expansive, psych-tinged post-punk with fiery psych guitars, driving rhythms and surreal lyrics reflecting this ever-changing world. — DY

Clinic – Wheeltappers And Shunters (Domino) 
This Liverpool band’s eighth album (and first in seven years) is a typically well-crafted set of eerie, psych-tinged post-punk with ominous keyboards, buzzing guitars, hypnotic rhythms and often-bizarre lyrics that depict a more sinister British past than the one usually romanticized. — DY

Empath – Active Listening: Night on Earth (Get Better) 
This Philadelphia band’s debut album is a promising set of dynamic, shape-shifting noise-pop that moves from raging, brittle punk to brightly melodic pop to atmospheric ambient and more. The band’s sound feature’s an often-dense blend of distorted guitars, colorful synths, whistles, birds and energetic rhythms with lots of pummeling percussion. — DY

The Get Up Kids – Problems (Polyvinyl)
This veteran Kansas City band’s sixth album (and first in eight years) is a well-crafted set of anthemic pop-punk with crunchy guitars, energetic rhythms, sing-along choruses and lyrics countering anxiety and isolation with resilience and community. — DY

Justin Townes Earle – The Saint Of Lost Causes (New West) 
This Nashville-bred, Portland-based artist’s eighth album is a well-crafted blend of roots-rock, country, folk, blues, boogie and more, combining a lean sound with well-crafted lyrics revolving around the struggles of the downtrodden, disadvantaged and exploited. — DY

Mac DeMarco – Here Comes The Cowboy (Mac’s Record Label) 
This LA-based Canadian artist’s fourth album of laid-back slacker-pop gets a little too slack at times, though the best songs remain as charming as ever. — DY

Pottery – No. 1 EP (Partisan) 
This Montreal-based band’s debut EP is a promising set of spiky, shape-shifting post-punk with a tension-filled sound featuring angular guitars, jittery rhythms and yelping vocals. — DY

Kedr Livanskiy – Your Need (2MR) 
This Moscow producer’s second album is a fine set of pop-leaning house, breakbeat, dub and other electronic grooves, combining bright synths and propulsive beats with her airy vocals. — DY

Greys – Age Hasn’t Spoiled You (Carpark) 
This Toronto band’s third album brings a more expansive approach to their aggressive post-hardcore sound, incorporating elements of psych-rock, German prog, dub, drone and more on brooding songs of displacement and alienation. — DY

Weval – The Weight (Kompakt)
The sophomore full-length album from this Dutch duo is another solid set of warm, woozy, intoxicating electronic-pop accented by their gauzy atmospheric vocals and deep slow-burning beats that slowly unfold into lush grooves. — AR

Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY (Question Everything/RCA)
The third solo album from BROCKHAMPTON founding member Kevin Abstract (real name Clifford Ian Simpson) is an expansive set of adventurous, emotive, explosive hip-hop infused with pop, emo, funk, R&B, and psychedelic flavors, a sound that often mirrors BROCKHAMPTON's genre-blurring rap. Co-produced by Jack Antonoff (of Bleachers, formerly of fun., producer to the likes of St. Vincent, Lorde, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Troye Sivan) and BROCKHAMPTON member Romil Herman, ARIZONA BABY is a prime showcase of Kevin's honest, expressive, powerful style as he lyrically tackles the trials and tribulations of life of as a young queer artist over dynamic backdrops that range from the infectious horn-fuelled funk of "Joyride" to the summery psych-pop of "Peach." — AR

Unwed Sailor – Heavy Age (self-released)
The latest release (and first in over 10 years) from this Seattle-bred, Tulsa, OK-based project led by Johnathon Ford is their heaviest-sounding album to date, featuring a brooding post-rock sound with cinematic guitars, atmospheric synths and muscular rhythms. — DY

Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi – there is no Other (Nonesuch)
Greensboro, NC-bred artist (and former Carolina Chocolate Drops member) Rhiannon Giddens collaborated with Italian musician Francesco Turrisi for this adventurous, sparsely produced blend of traditional American folk and gospel with traditional Italian folk, Middle Eastern music and opera. — DY

Nots – 3 (Goner)
This Memphis trio’s third album is a potent set of aggressive, stripped-down post-punk with squalling angular guitars, buzzing synths, driving rhythms, urgent vocals and angst-fueled lyrics. — DY

Formerly the solo project of Swedish artist Åsa Söderqvist, ShitKid is now a duo thanks to the addition of bassist Lina Molarin Ericcson. The second ShitKid album features a cleaner, fuller and more melodic sound for their energetic garage-punk, along with angst-fueled lyrics revolving around school days. — DY

Boogarins – Sombrou Dúvida (OAR)
This Brazilian band’s fourth album is an expansive set of hazy psych-rock with an adventurous, shape-shifting sound combining fuzzy guitars and keyboards along with a variety of samples with soaring vocals and often-dark Portuguese lyrics. — DY

Tanika Charles – The Gumption (Record Kicks)
This Toronto-based artist’s second album is a solid set of Motown-steeped soul with guitars, keyboards, horns and perky rhythms accompanying her assured vocals and frank lyrics of unrequited love. — DY

Manatee Commune – PDA (Bastard Jazz) 
The third album from this Seattle-via-Bellingham producer (aka Grant Eadie) is a solid set of smooth and dreamy electronic grooves with propulsive beats, twinkling synths, sleek guitar lines, a variety of ambient samples and occasional guest vocals. — DY

Aries – Juramento Mantarraya (La Castanya/K Records)
The 4th album from Vigo, Spain-based singer/songwriter/producer Isabel Fernández Reviriego (aka Aries) is an impressive set of sparkling, kaleidoscopic, sunshine-kissed synth-pop that pairs her airy Spanish vocals within dense, intricate, swirling productions. — AR

Maps – Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss (Mute) 
The fourth regular studio album from this British producer (aka James Chapman) finds him collaborating with classical ensemble The Echo Collective along with other guest musicians and vocalists to bring a more orchestral approach to his shoegazerish dream- pop. — DY

Versus – Ex Nihilo EP (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)
This veteran New York-bred band’s first release in nine years is a potent 4-song EP of ‘90s-steeped rock with fuzzy guitars and often-dark lyrics of lost love and mortality. — DY

Rhye – Spirit (Loma Vista)
The latest release from this LA-based, Toronto-bred project spearheaded by Michael Milosh is an atmospheric mini-album of stripped-down, piano-driven songs comprised of three ambient instrumentals and five tracks with vocals. — DY

Sequoyah Murray – Penalties Of Love (Thrill Jockey)
The debut EP from this 22 year-old Atlanta-based vocalist, musician, and producer is a striking set of visionary soul/pop that recalls contemporaries such as MorMor and Sampha, yet his magnetic baritone voice and unpredictable productions also find strong inspiration in the outsider pop works of Arthur Russell. — AR

Don Leisure – Halal Cool J (First Word)
Don Leisure is the solo alias of Cardiff, UK-based DJ/producer Aly Jamal, who's also one-half of the talented production duo Darkhouse Family. Heavily reminiscent of J Dilla's seminal Donuts album, Madlib's Beat Konducta series, and Onra's Chinoiseries, his second full-length solo album is another head-spinning journey through fresh hip-hop beats based heavily around Turkish funk samples that move quickly, with tracks typically hovering around a 2-minute running time. — AR

Matt Martians – The Last Party (3qtr)
The second solo release from this co-founder of The Internet is a solid set of adventurous shape-shifting R&B/soul/funk that revolves around the painful dissolution of a recent romantic relationship and sonically doesn't stray too far from the genre-blending sound that has defined The Internet's career thus far. Steve Lacy and Mac DeMarco make guest appearances. — AR

No Rome – Crying In The Prettiest Places (Dirty Hit)
The latest EP from Filipino producer/singer Rome Gomez (aka No Rome) is a brilliant set of diverse and innovative pop songs that find him continuing to evolve his magnetic fusion of sleek R&B, fuzzy shoegaze, confessional emo, glistening synth-pop, and scrappy 90s' inspired alt-pop. This releases follows No Rome’s recent push into mainstream consciousness thanks to recent collaborations with his close friend Matty Healy of The 1975 (who recently had him open on their worldwide tour) and Crying In The Prettiest Places showcases a similarly impressive hybrid-pop sound documented on The 1975's critically-lauded 2018 album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. — AR

Sun Rain – Sheets (Hush Hush)
The debut solo album from this Toronto-based producer/multi-instrumentalist is a gorgeous set of cinematic electro-acoustic grooves combining a variety of acoustic and electronic instrumentation with gentle rhythms and wistful melodies. — DY

The Mystery Lights – Too Much Tension! (Wick/Daptone)
This Queens, NY-based band’s second album is a fine set of ‘60s-steeped garage-rock with fuzzy guitars, eerie keyboards and driving rhythms. — DY

POW! – Shift (Castle Face)
This LA/San Francisco band’s fourth album is a solid set of dark electro post-punk with buzzing synths and guitars, driving rhythms and dread-filled lyrics. — DY

Tyler Swan & SPECSWIZARD – TS AND THE S (Sauco)
Sweet local collaboration between producer/drummer Tyler Swan (Truckasaurus, Foscil, "Rolling Stones", Gazebos, Radio In Tunnels) and rapper SPECSWIZARD that marries the latter's cerebral leftfield lyrical talents with Tyler's innovative, widescreen, outer-galactic beats that sample heavily from 70s-era psychedelic and reggae/dub records. The release is backed with Tyler's instrumentals, which frequently shine on their own, especially his flip of Brian Eno's guitar on "Another Green World" for "Springtime Blues." — AR

Nick Lowe – Love Starvation / Trombone EP (Yep Roc)
This veteran British artist’s latest release is a solid four-song EP of well-crafted, roots-tinged rock with accompaniment from Nashville band Los Straitjackets. — DY

Bella Boo – Supervillain (Studio Barnhus)
The 3rd EP in 2 years from Swedish electronic producer Gabriella Borbély (aka Bella Boo) is another impressive showcase of her hazy and playful leftfield grooves that sway between woozy downtempo fare and gauzy lo-fi house rhythms. — AR

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