New Music Reviews (9/24)

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 Brittany Howard, Vivian Girls, Chastity Belt, and more.

Brittany Howard – Jaime (ATO)
The solo debut album from the Alabama Shakes frontwoman is a powerfully adventurous blend of psych-tinged funk-rock, R&B, soul, gospel, jazz, hip hop and more. Evoking There’s A Riot Goin’ On-era Sly & The Family Stone along with recent albums from D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, the album combines a diverse, often-dark soundscape with her powerful, dynamic vocals and lyrics of personal trauma, sexuality, spirituality and racism. — DY

Vivian Girls – Memory (Polyvinyl)
This reunited LA-via-Brooklyn band’s fourth album (and first in eight years) is a strong set of shoegazerish post-punk with a hazy, densely produced sound featuring loud, fuzzy, occasionally surf-inflected guitars, energetic rhythms, haunting harmonies and often-dark lyrics of heartache and loneliness. — DY

Chastity Belt – Chastity Belt (Hardly Art)
This Seattle band’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of introspective dream-pop. Co-produced by Jay Som, the album combines an atmospheric sound featuring gently reverbed guitars, occasional lush strings and airy harmonies with some of their most personal songwriting to date. — DY

The Berries – Berryland (Run For Cover)
The second album from this Seattle project led by Matt Berry (ex- Big Bite, Happy Diving) is a potent set of ‘70s-steeped rock ranging from brooding psych-rock to buoyant, country-tinged folk-rock, combining jangly guitars with occasional squalling solos, warm harmonies, wistful melodies and lyrics seeking to balance independence and structure during troubled times. — DY

Kano – Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone)
This British rapper’s sixth album is a potent set of reflective grime combining hip hop beats steeped in soul and gospel with razor-sharp, often-politically charged rhymes critiquing racism and other social ills. — DY

Little Brother – May The Lord Watch (Imagine Nation)
This reunited Durham, NC group’s fifth album (and first in nine years) is a potent set of warm, soul-steeped hip hop combining airy, lightly bouncing beats with Phonte and Pooh’s agile flows and sharply crafted rhymes. — DY

Baby Rose – To Myself (Human Re Sources)
The debut album from this Atlanta-based vocalist is a strong set of powerful soul and gripping R&B that grapples with the intimate processing of post-breakup heartbreak. With a rich distinctive voice that has drawn apt comparisons to Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse, To Myself introduces a new artist bringing depth, complexity, and a throwback sound to the contemporary R&B/soul scene. — AR

Hiss Golden Messenger – Terms of Surrender (Merge)
The seventh album from this Durham, NC project led by MC Taylor is a strong set of sharply crafted folk-pop combining a warm sound featuring a variety of acoustic and electric instrumentation with personal lyrics of love, instability and resilience. — DY

Rudy Willingham – Dunk Reactions (self-released)
This Seattle electronic producer’s debut album is a buoyant blend of future funk, house, disco and other dance grooves, combining propulsive rhythms, fuzzy synths, obscure samples and soulful vocals. — DY

One True Pairing – One True Pairing (Domino)
One True Pairing is the new project from former Wild Beasts member Tom Fleming. His debut album under that name is a potent set of ‘80s-steeped New Wave and post-punk, combining loud, grimy synths, buzzing guitars and propulsive rhythms with his deep vocals and often-cutting lyrics critiquing class exploitation and toxic masculinity. — DY

Isaac Birituro & The Rail Abandon – Kalba (Wah Wah 45s)
Isaac Birituro is a xylophone player from Ghana and The Rail Abandon is the alias of Leeds, UK-based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Sonny Johns. Named after the North Ghana town where Isaac resides, their debut collaborative album is a fascinating blend of African rhythms, joyous vocals, and intoxicating folk flavors. Impressive from start-to-finish, this unique fusion of global influences often confound expectations in thrilling fashion, especially on the breakthrough single "Für Svenja." — AR

Bernays Propaganda – Vtora mladost, treta svetska vojna (Moonlee)
This Macedonian band’s fifth album is a slinky, rhythm-driven blend of post-punk, electro, hip hop and occasional Balkan and African influences, combining propulsive beats, pulsing synths and occasional punchy horns with Kristina Gorovska’s hypnotic vocals and often-politically charged lyrics. — DY

Young Thug – So Much Fun (300 Entertainment/Atlantic)
Young Thug’s latest album – his 13th official solo release but his “official debut studio album" – from the game-changing Atlanta rapper who's birthed a whole generation of disciples over the past half-decade is another triumph of his singular style. Top-shelf beats come from the likes of Wheezy, Pi'erre Bourne, DY, and DJ Mustard; Travis Scott, J. Cole, Future, Quavo, Gunna, Lil Uz Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Baby, and more all add guest verses, but this is fully Young Thug’s party and it’s a celebration. — AR

Snoh Aalegra – Ugh, Those Feels Again (ARTium/AWAL)
This LA-based Iranian-Swedish artist’s second album is a well-crafted set of cinematic soul and R&B, combining lush, dramatic arrangements with her aching vocals and lyrics of love lost and found. — DY

The Juan Maclean – The Brighter The Light (DFA)
The latest release from this New York-based electronic musician is a compilation of re-edited/remastered singles originally released from 2013-19, along with two new songs (6 & 7). It adds up to a rock-solid set of propulsive dance-pop. — DY

V/A – Sunny Side Up (Brownswood Recordings)
This new compilation from Gilles Peterson's label Brownswood Recordings is a stellar spotlight on Melbourne's vibrant jazz scene. Recorded over a week at the fabled The Grove studio and engineered and mixed by Nick Herrera (Hiatus Kaiyote, Nai Palm, 30/70) Sunny Side Up showcases some of the key figures in the Australian city's young and diverse jazz community who are infusing the genre with R&B, psychedelia, deep house, broken beat, samba, soul, and more. — AR

Blue Tomorrows – Without Color (Moon Glyph)
Blue Tomorrows is a new solo project from Portland-via-Minneapolis musician Sarah Nienaber, formerly of Gospel Gossip and currently a member of Candace and Web of Sunsets. Her debut album under this new guise is an impressive set of dream-pop and psych-pop with a wonderfully cozy autumnal sound. — AR

somesurprises – somesurprises (Drawing Room)
The latest release from this Seattle band led by Natasha El-Sergany is an evocative set of atmospheric dream-pop with hazy guitars, ethereal vocals and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Efterklang – Altid Sammen (4AD)
This Danish trio’s fifth album (and first in seven years) features a more spare and intimate sound for their majestic blend of post-rock and neo-classical. — DY

The Darts – I Like You But Not Like That (Alternative Tentacles)
This Phoenix band’s second album is a solid set of goth-tinged garage-punk with crunchy guitars, ominous organ, energetic rhythms and often-biting lyrics of lost love. — DY

FIX – FIX EP (Killroom)
The debut EP from this Seattle artist (aka Emily Abrahamson) is a solid six-song set of dark electro-pop combining buzzing synths and trip hop beats with her breathy vocals and personal lyrics. — DY

BROCKHAMPTON – GINGER (Question Everything/RCA)
The 5th studio album from the Cali-based hip-hop crew/collective – their first since the departure of founding member Ameer Vann following sexual misconduct accusations – finds the creative 13-deep wellspring tackling a more mature and emotional sound that captures the anxieties of growing up in the 21st century while searching for self-fulfillment. Their energy is more introverted and toned-down, but they’re still pushing quality songs that find them evolving from hyperactive teenagers into thoughtful young adults. Their adventurous palette still shines bright too, most distinctively on the psychedelic slow-burning soul of "Dearly Departed" and the kinetic house-tinted backdrop on the title track. — AR

M83 – DSVII (Mute)
The latest M83 album from Anthony Gonzalez is the second volume in his Digital Shades series (the first one was released in 2007). Like that album, this one focuses on the more ambient and cinematic side of his music with a set of lush, mostly instrumental compositions. — DY

V/A – Esa Presents Amandla: Music To The People (Soundway)
Esa is the alias of London-based South African artist Esa Williams, a multi-faceted DJ, producer, educator, and leader of the recharged Ata Kak band. Inspired by the politically-charged atmosphere of his hometown of Cape Town during the last days of Apartheid, and music's ability to bring people and communities together to fight oppression, Amandla: Music To The People is an exciting compilation of colorful electronic styles from South Africa and beyond, featuring splashes of zouk from Brazil and the French Antilles as well as Afro-futurism and Bacardi House. — AR

Molly Sarlé – Karaoke Angel (Partisan)
The debut solo album from this Durham, NC-based member of Mountain Man is a fine set of dreamy folk-pop combining a mostly spare sound with her ethereal vocals. — DY

Salami Rose Joe Louis – Zdenka 2080 (Brainfeeder)
The 3rd album (and Brainfeeder debut) from Bay Area-based musician, composer, and producer Lindsay Olsen (aka Salami Rose Joe Louis) is a transportive conceptual record filled with ethereal R&B ballads, spaced-out lounge vibes, and smoky cinematic soundscapes. Influenced heavily by the apocalyptic sci-fi novels of Octavia Butler and Gene Wolfe, 2080 is an outer-galactic sonic exploration that features some gentle but lovely pieces within its heady futuristic narrative. — AR

dego – Too Much (2000Black)
The 3rd solo full-length album from veteran UK electronic producer dego (aka Dennis McFarlane, founding member of influential UK outfit 4hero and a frequent collaborator with kindred talent Kaidi Tatham) is a nice set of soulful electronic grooves that blend R&B, broken beat, boogie, funk, hip-hop, and house in distinctive UK fashion. dego's propulsive syncopated beats provide a welcoming foundation throughout, but it’s the album's guest vocalists that allow a handful of tracks to shine bright. — AR

Proc Fiskal – Shleekit Doss (Hyperdub)
Edinburgh, UK-based electronic producer Proc Fiskal (aka Joe Powers) follows up his rad 2018 debut LP Insula with a strong new EP of inventive futuristic grime and grime-tangential beats that infuse the genre with ear-grabbing samples, melodic IDM/glitch-hop intricacies, and razor-sharp production. — AR

Paragon Cause – Lies Between Us EP (self-released)
This Ottawa duo’s latest EP is a solid set ranging from driving post-punk and grinding industrial to atmospheric dream-pop. Produced by The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner, the EP blends shimmering synths and guitars with ethereal vocals and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Mudhoney – Morning In America EP (Sub Pop)
This veteran Seattle band’s latest release is a 7-song EP featuring outtakes from the recording sessions for their last album (2018’s politically charged Digital Garbage). — DY

Peach Pyramid – Bright Blue EP (Oscar St)
This Victoria, BC trio follows up their 2017 debut album Repeating Myself with this fine 6-song EP of psych-tinged dream-pop. Co-produced by Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers, the album combines a gentle, atmospheric sound with wistful melodies. — DY

David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights – Bobbie's a Girl (Merge)
The latest album from the former guitarist for New Zealand legends The Clean is a solid set of brooding, atmospheric psych-pop alternating between instrumentals and vocal tracks. — DY

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