New Music Reviews (7/15)

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 Purple MountainsKOKOKO!Blood Orange, and more.

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains (Drag City)
Ten years after disbanding Silver Jews, David Berman is back with a new project called Purple Mountains. Featuring accompaniment by the band Woods and backing vocals from Anna St. Louis, the album is a knockout set of country-tinged folk-rock combining a warm, lush sound with sharply crafted, often self-deprecating lyrics of alienation, disappointment and loss.

KOKOKO! – Fongola (Transgressive)
This Congolese collective’s latest album is an innovative set of energetic Afro-futuristic dance grooves. Combining a variety of inventive homemade instrumentation and spirited vocals with hypnotic synths and lively beats from French electronic producer/musician Débruit, Fongola is a masterful blend of creative, psych-tinged textures and animated rhythms.

(Various) – Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight (Canvasback)
Recorded before the tragic death of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, this excellent tribute album was made in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the band’s breakthrough album, The Midnight Organ Fight. It features friends of the band both famous and obscure delivering covers that range from faithful takes to radically different interpretations.

Blood Orange – Angel's Pulse (Domino)
Dev Hynes describes his latest Blood Orange release as a mixtape, and while it’s a bit more casual-sounding than his official releases, it’s still a concise, beautifully crafted and often low-key and dreamy blend of R&B, hip hop, psych-pop, shoegaze, gospel and more. The impressive guest lineup includes Toro Y Moi, Kelsey Lu, Justine Skye, Porches, Tinashe, Arca and other notables.

Kyle Craft & Showboat Honey – Showboat Honey (Sub Pop)
This Portland artist’s third album (and the first to be co-credited with his backing band) is a well-crafted, ‘70-steeped blend of theatrical glam-rock, orchestral folk-pop, Stonesish blues-rock and more. The band’s full sound combines a variety of searing guitar riffs and leads, warm analog keyboards and chugging rhythms accompanying his dramatic vocals and colorful lyrics revolving around bad luck and resilience.

Africa Express – EGOLI (self-released)
The fourth album from this British-based cross-cultural project was made in South Africa and features a wide variety of South African artists, along with a few other Africa Express regulars like Damon Albarn, Gruff Rhys and Nick Zinner. While a bit inconsistent at times, the album does a fine job of showcasing some of the diversity of the South African music scene by featuring a variety of modern and more traditional South African styles.

Bleached – Don't You Think You’ve Had Enough? (Dead Oceans)
This LA sister duo’s third album features a more polished and expansive sound for their formerly scuzzy-sounding garage-rock, with brighter pop melodies and smoother dance beats bringing some additional pop sheen, though they’re still capable of bringing the noise when needed on this bracingly honest set of songs revolving around getting sober.

Gauche – A People’s History of Gauche (Merge)
The debut full-length from this DC band (which also includes members of Priests and Downtown Boys) is a potent set of politically charged post-punk with angular guitars, buzzing keyboards, driving, at times funk-inflected rhythms, occasional sax, yelping vocals and sharp lyrics aimed at capitalist exploitation and patriarchal oppression, among other weighty topics.

Torche – Admission (Relapse)
This Miami band’s fifth album is a potent set of riff-heavy sludge-metal inflected with shoegazer psych-rock and other styles, combining a heavy, dynamic sound with haunting harmonies and catchy song hooks.

METZ – Automat (Sub Pop)
This Toronto trio’s latest release is a collection of non-album singles, b-sides and other rarities. Arranged in chronological order, the album begins with the band’s 2009-2010 pre-Sub Pop singles and ending with a 2015 single. It adds up to one of their rawer and more invigorating sets of pummeling post-hardcore.

Shake Some Action! – Thirty Nine (Satellite 451)
The seventh album from this Seattle project spearheaded by Australian expatriate James Hall was inspired by the classic Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps, with every song referencing a different scene in the movie. Musically, it’s a tight, well-crafted set of psych-tinged power-pop with jangly guitars and sparkling pop hooks.

DAM – Ben Haana Wa Maana (Cooking Vinyl)
This veteran Palestinian trio’s third studio album is a potent set of hard-hitting, politically charged hip hop blended with traditional Middle Eastern instruments, rhythms and melodies.

Kilcid Band – Leadsinger EP (self-released)
This Seattle band’s latest EP is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged indie-pop with jangly guitars, shimmering keyboards, bouncy rhythms, sunny harmonies and sparkling melodies.

Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror (Dais)
This LA duo’s third album is a potent set of goth-tinged post-punk that’s indebted to bands like The Cure, OMD and other ‘80s touchstones, combining shimmering guitars and dark synths with propulsive rhythms and gloomy vocals.

Is Bliss – Strange Communication (Club AC30)
This British trio’s debut album is a fine set of shoegazerish psych-rock with a dynamic sound featuring fuzzy, effects-drenched guitars and hypnotic melodies.

Sarah Bethe Nelson – Weird Glow (Burger)
This San Francisco artist’s third album is a well-crafted set ranging from crunchy, ‘90s-steeped rock and driving post-punk to jangly folk-pop and atmospheric dream-pop.

Jesca Hoop – Stonechild (Memphis Industries)
This California artist’s fifth album is a well-crafted set of brooding folk-pop. Produced by John Parish, the album’s hushed, spare sound combines gentle fingerpicked guitar, occasional other acoustic instrumentation and subtle electronic elements with lyrics exploring the dark side of motherhood.

Imperial Teen – Now We Are Timeless (Merge)
This veteran San Francisco-bred band’s sixth album (and first in seven years) is a fine set of well-crafted indie-pop ranging from buzzing New Wave to haunting atmospheric pop.

The Soft Cavalry – The Soft Cavalry (Bella Union)
The debut album from the British married duo of Steve Clarke and Slowdive’s Rachel Gosling is a fine set of psych-tinged folk-pop combining atmospheric keyboards, guitars, strings and more with hushed vocals and dreamy melodies.

Nate Mercereau – Joy Techniques (How So)
This LA producer/multi-instrumentalist has worked with Lizzo, Jay Z, Leon Bridges, Rhye and other luminaries. Recorded with just guitar, drums and several rare ‘70s & ‘80s-era guitar synths, his debut full-length is a fine set of sometimes breezy, sometimes boisterous, psych-tinged jazz-funk.

Tycho – Weather (Mom+Pop/Ninja Tune)
The fifth album from this San Francisco electronic producer (aka Scott Hansen) is another fine set of breezy electronic grooves, though this one’s the first to feature vocals, with Saint Sinner singing on five of the album’s eight tracks.

Tijuana Panthers – Carpet Denim (Innovative Leisure)
This LA trio’s third album is a solid set of surf-inflected garage-pop along with New Waveish punk.

Lusine – Retrace EP (Ghostly International)
The latest EP from this Seattle-based producer (aka Jeff McIlwain) is a solid set of electronic grooves with bright, polyrhythmic synths and occasional looped guest vocals.

Mirror Ferrari – Vater EP (Self)
This Seattle band follows up their 2018 debut album with their latest EP, a solid four-song set ranging from churning, psych-tinged rock to skeletal acoustic folk.

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