New Music Reviews (5/25)

Album Reviews

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

Woods – Strange to Explain (Woodsist)
This Brooklyn-bred band’s 11th studio album is an impressive set of folk-tinged psych-pop with warm Mellotron, atmospheric synths, jangly guitars, occasional horns, and other instrumentation, glowing harmonies, sun-baked melodies, and often anxiety-fueled lyrics. — DY

Charli XCX – how i'm feeling now (Asylum) 
Created in 38 days while under quarantine, the fourth album from this LA-based British artist is an impressive set of futuristic pop with playful synths, hard-hitting beats, inventive, noise-warped textures, effects-laden vocals, and effervescent pop hooks often juxtaposed with anxiety-fueled lyrics revolving around distance and connection. — DY

PEDRO – Da Linha (Enchufada) 
PEDRO is a Lisbon-based Portuguese electronic producer who's worked closely with Branko and has previously released music under the moniker Kking Kong. His debut full-length album under the PEDRO moniker is a brilliant set of colorful, addictive, hard-hitting global club rhythms that confidently places him as one of the leading torchbearers carrying on the legacy of Buraka Som Sistema and their influential kuduro and kizomba style. — AR

The Magnetic Fields – Quickies (Nonesuch) 
The latest album from Stephin Merritt and co. is a playful set of 28 songs with a total runtime of under 47 minutes. The album’s sound is often spare and occasionally theatrical, combining synths, piano and a variety of stringed instruments with alternating lead vocals from Merritt, Shirley Simms and Claudia Gonson and sharply crafted lyrics blending humor and pathos. — DY

Deerhoof – Future Teenage Cave Artists (Joyful Noise) 
This veteran Bay Area band’s 16th album is a diverse set of inventive, shape-shifting rock inflected with funk, jazz and other styles, combining jagged guitars, atmospheric synths and intricate rhythms with ethereal vocals and often-dark lyrics of a world falling apart. — DY

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Ghosts of West Virginia (New West) 
The acclaimed roots-rocker's latest album is a powerful set inspired by the deadly 2010 West Virginia mining explosion that killed 29 miners. The album combines a gritty, folk-leaning sound blending a variety of acoustic and electric instrumentation with his gruff vocals and sharply crafted blue-collar lyrics of struggle, loss and resilience. — DY

Jeff Rosenstock – NO DREAM (Polyvinyl) 
This LA-via-New York musician surprise released his fourth solo album (his second surprise release in a row, following 2018’s Post.) Like that album, this one’s a raucous, hook-filled blend of pop-punk and garage-rock, combining loud, crunchy guitars, energetic rhythms, sing-along choruses, fist-pumping song hooks and anxiety-fueled, often humor-laced lyrics reflecting these dystopian times. — DY

Moses Sumney – græ Part Two (Jagjaguwar) 
The second part of this Asheville, NC-based artist’s double album (and second album overall) leans on the more somber and introspective side of his genre-defying avant-pop incorporating elements of celestial soul, intimate folk, astral jazz and more. — DY

Primo! – ​​​​​​​Sogni (Upset The Rhythm) 
This Melbourne, Australia band’s second album is a potent set of hook-filled post-punk combining angular guitar lines, buzzing keyboards, occasional sax, driving rhythms and dreamy vocal melodies juxtaposed with lyrics reflecting on everyday struggles of love and labor. — DY

K-LONE – ​​​​​​​Cape Cira (Wisdom Teeth) 
The debut full-length album from Bristol, UK-based electronic producer Josiah Gladwell (aka K-Lone, also co-founder of Wisdom Teeth Records) finds him veering away from the upfront club-centric rhythms of his hotly-tipped EPs for an excellent set of warm, melodic, transportive electronic grooves that carry an earthy and tropical-tinged atmospheric undercurrent throughout its buoyant colorful synths and steady pulsating beats. — AR

2nd Grade – Hit To Hit (Double Double Whammy) 
The debut full-length from this Philly band led by Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature) is comprised of 24 concise, hook-filled songs ranging from wistful indie-pop and acoustic folk to lo-fi jangle-pop and garage-rock. — DY

Café Racer – Shadow Talk (Born Yesterday) 
This Chicago band’s third album is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged indie-rock with fuzzy guitars, driving rhythms, half-buried vocals and shimmering melodies. — DY

Sepalot Quartet – ​​​​​​​NOWNEXT (Eskapaden Musik) 
The latest album from Munich-based electronic producer, DJ, and composer Sebastian Weiss (aka Sepalot) is the second album credited to the Sepalot Quartet and it's a frequently intoxicating set of heady beats and kinetic grooves that's all accented by the group's diverse vocalists. Boasting an expansive sound that touches upon jazz, hip-hop, R&B, soul, house, and folk styles, NOWNEXT features a pair of hypnotic uptempo highlights in lead single "Tocole" and "Ride In Joy," dips into nocturnal downtempo fare that recalls Wax Tailor, Blockhead, and Metaform, and also explores dimly-lit left-field folk fare ("Baal On Drum Machine, "Every Drop Of Rain") that's reminiscent of The Beta Band. — AR

The Orb – Abolition of the Royal Familia (Cooking Vinyl) 
The latest release from this veteran British electronic group led by Alex Paterson is a solid set ranging from propulsive house grooves to dubby reggae and dreamy, atmospheric ambient, with many songs featuring often-humorous samples. — DY

Es – Less of Everything (Upset The Rhythm) 
This London band’s debut full-length is a solid set of icy post-punk with a dark, tension-filled sound featuring buzzing guitars and synths, driving rhythms, declaimed vocals and dystopian lyrics. — DY

White Poppy – ​​​​​​​Paradise Gardens (Not Not Fun) 
The latest album from British Columbia artist White Poppy (aka Crystal Dorval) is another wonderful set of gauzy, ethereal, kaleidoscopic dream-pop enhanced by enveloping shoegaze touches and celestial ambient moments. — AR

Moby – All Visible Objects (Mute) 
The first half of this veteran New York DJ’s 17th album hearkens back to the inspirational house, rave and ambient-techno of his ‘90s heyday with soaring synths, propulsive beats and a mix of guest vocals and vocal samples, while the second half primarily focuses on atmospheric piano ballads. — DY

Nathan Fake – ​​​​​​​Blizzards (Cambria Instruments) 
The 5th full-length album from veteran UK producer Nathan Fake is a super cerebral set of thick high-energy electronic grooves that blend techno, IDM, and rave styles into brain-tickling rhythmic labyrinths. — AR

Crisman – ​​​​​​​Crisman (Topshelf) 
The full-length debut studio album from this Denton, Texas-based band fronted by Madeline Dowd is a promising set of melancholic lo-fi indie pop with a downcast slacker vibe that sometimes veers into slowcore territory. While the tempo is often heavy and plodding, it's an absorbing sound with an intimate and introverted charm. — AR

Los Cumpleaños – ​​​​​​​Agua EP (self-released) 
This Brooklyn band’s debut EP is an adventurous, shape-shifting blend of various Latin and electronic styles with atmospheric psych-rock, jazz and more. — DY

Disclosure – ​​​​​​​Ecstasy (Island) 
The latest EP from this UK electronic production duo comprised of Guy and Howard Lawrence finds them focusing directly on the dancefloor for five high-energy electronic grooves that continue to showcase their well-known love for classic house and disco rhythms, yet it's two infectious Afro-House jams ("Tondo" and "Etran") that standout the most within a set that finds them exploring new styles to add their expansive palette. — AR

Pantayo – ​​​​​​​Pantayo (Telephone Explosion) 
The debut album from this Toronto-based all-women Kulintang ensemble is a ascinating set of expansive percussive pop that ranges from dreamy soul ballads to urgent post-punk workouts. Featuring bi-lingual lyrics that speak to their experiences as queer diasporic Filipinas, Pantayo's music is further distinguished by their magnetic use of percussive Metallophone instruments and drums from the Kulintang traditions of the Southern Philippines. — AR

Andrew Weatherall – ​​​​​​​Unknown Plunderer / End Times Sound (Byrd Out) 
Released just a few days after his untimely passing at the age of 56 due to a pulmonary embolism, this seemingly final scheduled release from legendary British electronic producer, remixer, and DJ Andrew Weatherall is a bittersweet reminder of his masterful ability to mix dub and psychedelic elements into his hypnotic leftfield dancefloor rhythms. Alongside its two solid original singles are remixes from Radioactive Man (aka Andrew's partner in Two Lone Swordsmen, Keith Tenniswood) and emerging  Lithuanian producer Manfredas. RIP. — AR

Lila Iké – The ExPerience (RCA)  
Jamaican singer Alecia Grey aka Lila Ikè has dropped a few singles over the past couple of years with support from friend, and well-established Jamaican roots reggae revivalist, Protoje via In.Digg.Nation.Collective. With co-production from him, Ikè's debut EP, on RCA records is half singles she already shared with the world, and half brand new material, to complete a hit-filled debut EP that's solid from beginning to end. Ikè should not go unnoticed, she's a gifted, rising star! — AM

Dinky – I Am Away (Horizontal) 
Dinky is the alias of Barcelona-based Chilean electronic producer, vocalist, and DJ Alejandra Iglesias. A veteran of the underground electronic community with releases on revered labels such as Carpark, Visionquest, Crosstown Rebels, Ostgut Ton & Wagon Repair, she's relaunched her Horizontal imprint after a ten-year hiatus for her latest EP of scintillating techno-pop that marries arpeggiated synths, propulsive beats, and ethereal vocals for a glistening sound reminiscent of Röyksopp and Barbara Morgenstern. — AR

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