New Music Reviews (6/1)

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 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Moodymann, Moses Boyd, and more.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways to New Italy (Sub Pop)
This Melbourne, Australia band’s second album is another first-rate set of hook-filled post-punk combining layered jangly guitars, urgent, sometimes motorik rhythms, airy harmonies, three alternating vocalists, and lyrics revolving around change and the passage of time. — DY

Moodymann – Taken Away (CDJ)
The latest album from this Detroit artist (aka Kenny Dixon Jr.) is a potent set of moody house grooves steeped in soul, gospel, jazz, blues, and more, combining propulsive rhythms with his own grainy vocals, along with a variety of vocal samples. — DY

Moses Boyd – Dark Matter (Exodus)
A standout within UK's fertile jazz renaissance, the debut album from South London drummer, producer, and composer Moses Boyd is a stellar set of expansive and engaging jazz that showcases both his compositional and collaborative talents as he weaves through diverse styles that consistently captivate. Obongjayar, Poppy Ajudha, Joe Armon-Jones, and Nonku Phiri make guest appearances. — AR

Owen Pallett – Island (Domino)
The fifth solo album (and first in nearly six years) from the Canadian composer/multi-instrumentalist is a beautifully crafted, mostly somber blend of folk-pop and neo-classical. Recorded with the London Contemporary Orchestra, the album combines an often-spare, mostly acoustic sound featuring guitar, piano, strings, and more with delicate crooning and winding melodies. — DY

Lucern Raze – International Breakdown (PNKSLM)
Lucern Raze is the Stockholm-based project of PNKSLM label owner Luke Reilly. His second album under that name is a potent set of hook-filled garage-pop inflected with hip hop, funk, surf, and other styles, combining scuzzy guitars and propulsive big beats with contributions from an impressive selection of the PNKSLM roster, including Sudakistan, Chemtrails, ShitKid, Bryson The Alien, Black Mekon, Cherry Pickles, Lou King, and Swampmeat. — DY

Jade Hairpins – Harmony Avenue (Merge)
The debut full-length from this Toronto/London band led by two members of Fucked Up (songwriter/guitarist Mike Haliechuk and drummer Jonah Falco) is a buoyant, well-crafted blend of Manchester dance-rock, energetic power-pop, swinging glam, tropical-tinged pop, and more, combining jangly guitars, bright synths, and bouncy rhythms with soaring harmonies and ebullient pop hooks. — DY

The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form (Dirty Hit)
This British band’s fourth album is a mammoth, wildly diverse set of 22 songs spanning 80+ minutes, with the band careening from raging, industrial post-punk, propulsive electro-pop and fuzzy, shoegazerish power-pop to buoyant soft-rock, emotive, country-tinged rock, wistful folk-pop, atmospheric piano ballads, some orchestral interludes, and much more. While a bit incoherent and over-stuffed, the album features plenty of highlights. — DY

SPECTRES – Nostalgia (Artoffact)
The 4th album from this Vancouver, BC band founded by frontman Brian Gustavson is a first-rate set of addictive post-punk anthems infused with New Wave and shoegaze touches that feels like a long lost gem from the 1980s. — AR

Close Lobsters – Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera in the Forest of Symbols (Shelflife)
This veteran Scottish post-punk band’s third regular studio album (and first in over 30 years) is a strong return to form, featuring a variety of well-crafted, hook-filled songs with jangly guitars, driving rhythms, and wistful melodies. — DY

NNAMDI – Brat (Sooper)
The latest release from this Chicago singer/rapper/multi-instrumentalist (aka Nnamdi Ogbonnaya) is an expansive blend of R&B, jazz, math-rock, hip hop, electro-pop, and more, combining a shape-shifting sound with his elastic, playful vocals, and personal lyrics expressing vulnerability. — DY

The Grizzled Mighty – Confetti Teeth (Freakout)
This Seattle band’s fourth album is a potent blend of heavy, blues-tinged psych-rock and energetic garage-rock with fuzzy guitars, muscular rhythms, and head-banging song hooks. — DY

Dijon – How Do You Feel About Getting Married? (R&R/Warner)
The latest release from LA-based, Baltimore-raised artist Dijon Duenas (also one-half of beloved indie R&B duo Abhi//Dijon) is another brilliant display of his vivid, poetic, romantic R&B-tinged folk style that recalls the transfixing talents of contemporaries Frank Ocean and Justin Vernon. — AR

Jetstream Pony – Jetstream Pony (Shelflife)
This British band’s debut full-length is a well-crafted set of melodic post-punk with jangly guitars, atmospheric keyboards, serene vocals, and dreamy melodies. — DY

Inventions – Continuous Portrait (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
The third album from this collaborative project between Portland's Matthew Cooper (aka Eluvium) and Explosions in the Sky's Mark T. Smith is another gorgeous set of instrumental-heavy songs that tap into both artist's knack for evocative, transportive, cinematic styles yet Continuous Portrait frequently adds a more joyful sample-based sound not often found in their catalog. — AR

Painted Zeros – When You Found Forever (Don Giovanni)
The second album from this Brooklyn artist (aka Katie Lau) is a diverse set ranging from atmospheric dream-pop and spare, piano-based pop to fuzzy grunge-pop and moody, psych-tinged rock. — DY

Gary Olson – Gary Olson (Tapete)
The debut solo album from the leader of the veteran Brooklyn band The Ladybug Transistor is a well-crafted set of warm folk-pop with combining guitars, keyboards, strings, and trumpet with reflective lyrics and breezy melodies. — DY

Varsity – Fine Forever (Run For Cover)
This Chicago band’s third album is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped pop-rock with gently ringing guitars, atmospheric keyboards, bouncy rhythms, airy vocals, narrative-driven lyrics, and wistful melodies. — DY

Zenobia – Halak Halak (Acid Arab)
This Palestinian duo’s debut full-length is a dance-friendly blend of dabke rhythms, serpentine synths, occasional dub effects, and propulsive electronic beats. — DY

Sweet Spirit – Trinidad (Merge)
The third album from this Austin band led by Sabrina Ellis (who also leads A Giant Dog) tones down the glam-rock energy of their previous releases in favor of a more melodic and downcast ‘80s-influenced pop sound. — DY

Akasha System – Epoch Flux (self-released)
PDX-based electronic producer Akasha System (aka Hunter P. Thompson) follows up his breakout 2019 album Echo Earth with another consistently blissful set of dreamy ambient-techno and lush tech-house rich with transportive synths, hypnotic rhythms, and gauzy atmospheres. — AR

V/A – Body Beat: Soca-Dub and Electronic Calypso (1979-98) (Soundway)
Soundway Records flexes their curatorial talents once again with this sweet 2xCD compilation of Soca underground anthems, dubs, instrumentals, and edits. A vibrant re-invention of Calypso music that originated in the Caribbean in the late 1970s before expanding globally throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Soca music was founded by Trinidadian musician Lord Shorty who defined the colorful and rhythmic style of music as the "(So)ul of (Ca)lypso" and his innovative talents ultimately reinvigorated a genre that was largely being forgotten by the Caribbean's younger generations with the rise of Jamaican reggae music and American soul, funk, and disco in the 1970s. — AR

Dume41 – Plus Degree Solar (Fresh Chopped Beats)
This veteran Seattle rapper/producer’s latest release is a solid set of pedagogic hip hop combining moody, atmospheric beats with philosophical/educational rhymes. A few special guests also contribute, including Gabriel Teodros, OCnotes, Khingz, and more. — DY

Blue Canopy – Mild Anxiety (Grind Select)
Blue Canopy is a new alias of Portland-based musician Alex Schiff, formerly of the Brooklyn indie pop band Modern Rivals. His debut release under the moniker is an impressive set of sparkling, catchy, melodic psych-pop. — AR

Moniquea – Los Robles & Washington (MoFunk)
The 4th album from this LA-based vocalist is a supremely funky and celebratory set of West Coast R&B, boogie, and G-funk that fuses her charismatic vocals and personable lyrics with top-shelf production from MoFunk's ringleader XL Middleton. — AR

Roadside Graves – That's Why We’re Running Away (Don Giovanni)
This New Jersey band’s latest album is a solid set of atmospheric, folk-tinged rock combining acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, and occasional other instrumentation with mournful harmonies and lyrics revolving around acceptance. — DY

Esther Rose – My Favorite Mistakes EP (Father/Daughter)
This New Orleans artist’s latest release is a solid 4-song EP of lost-love cover songs, combining a warm, rootsy sound with her plaintive vocals. — DY

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