New Music Reviews (7/27)

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 Dehd, Crack Cloud, Protomartyr, and more.

Dehd – Flower of Devotion (Fire Talk)
This Chicago trio’s third album is an impressive blend of hazy, sun-baked psych-rock with languid surf-pop and folk-rock that's reminiscent at times of bands like The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3 and The Jesus and Mary Chain, combining jangly, reverbed guitars and elemental rhythms with two distinctive lead vocalists and an abundance of memorable song hooks. — DY

Crack Cloud – Pain Olympics (Meat Machine)
This Vancouver, BC collective was once the solo project of drummer/vocalist Zach Choy. It now includes six other band members, along with many other non-disciplinary creatives, all of whom also function as social workers in the fight against the city’s opioid crisis. Crack Cloud’s debut album is an adventurous set of expansive post-punk inflected with hip hop, funk, moody grunge, robotic New Wave, orchestral pop and more, combining an often-boisterous, shapeshifting sound with lyrics of addiction and resilience during dystopian times. — DY

Protomartyr – Ultimate Success Today (Domino)
This Detroit band’s fifth album is a strong set of dark, sometimes tempestuous post-punk with buzzing guitars, pounding rhythms, bleating sax and occasional cello, clarinet and flute accompanying Joe Casey’s declamatory vocals and dystopian lyrics revolving around the dehumanizing aspects of capitalism. — DY

Blu & Exile – Miles (Dirty Science)
This veteran California hip hop duo’s third album together (and first in eight years) is a strong return to form combining Exile’s warm, soul and jazz-tinged boom-bap beats with Blu’s earnest delivery and thoughtful rhymes reflecting cultural and spiritual concerns. The lengthy 95-minute set features some impressive special guests include Miguel, Jimetta Rose, Aceyalone, Gappy Ranks, Aloe Blacc, The Last Artful, Dodgr and other notables. — DY

Spice – Spice (Dais)
The debut album from this Bay Area/LA band formed by Ceremony leader Ross Farrar is a potent set of anthemic post-hardcore with fuzzy guiitars, haunting violin, pounding rhythms and soaring song hooks juxtaposed with often-dark lyrics revolving around pain. — DY

Jessy Lanza – All the Time (Hyperdub)
This New York-via-Hamilton, ON producer/vocalist’s third album is a sleek set of airy, dance-friendly electro-pop with propulsive beats, shimmering synths, feather-light vocals and breezy melodies juxtaposed with often-dark lyrics simmering with anger and frustration. — DY

The Ironclads – Tropical Mediocrity (self-released)
This Seattle band’s second album (and first in 11 years) is a surprise release ranging from anthemic, folk-tinged rock to spiky indie-rock and dynamic post-hardcore, combining electric and acoustic guitars with alternating lead vocalists, gang harmonies and an abundance of memorable song hooks. — DY

Silverbacks – Fad (Central Tones)
This Dublin band’s debut album is an expansive set of arty post-punk with wiry guitar lines, spiky rhythms and often-sardonic lyrics. — DY

Pretenders – Hate For Sale (BMG)
The 11th studio album from Chrissie Hynde & co. is a solid return to form ranging from driving punk and glammy garage-rock to hook-filled power pop and reggae and soul-steeped songs. Hynde remains a powerful vocalist and sharp songwriter, with the lyrics ranging from biting portrayals of sleazy characters to poignant depictions of broken hearts. — DY

Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas (Nonesuch)
This British artist’s third album is an expansive blend of moody pop and airy R&B inflected with folk, jazz and other styles, combining her atmospheric guitar work and often-driving rhythms with her elastic vocals and personal lyrics depicting the beginning, middle and end of a romance. — DY

The Chicks – Gaslighter (Columbia)
This Texas-bred trio has a new name (after recently dropping the “Dixie”) and a revamped sound on their first album in 14 years. Working with super producer Jack Antonoff, the album brings a stronger pop sheen to their music while toning down the twang. And while they take on gun violence and environmental destruction in “March March,” the rest of the album is more deeply personal, featuring brutally honest, often-cutting lyrics from Natalie Maines revolving around her recent divorce. — DY

Kamaal Williams – Wu Hen (Black Focus)
This London musician/producer’s second solo album is a well-crafted blend of jazz, funk, R&B, breakbeat and more. Special guests include Lauren Faith on vocals and string arrangements by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. — DY

Space Afrika – hybtwibt? (self-released)
Released exclusively on Bandcamp with all proceeds going to various organizations fighting for racial justice, the latest album from Manchester, UK-based production duo Space Afrika (Josh Reidy & Joshua Inyang) is an enveloping, immersive, and transportive set of haunting ambient sound collages. An acronym for have you been through what i've been though?, the album stitches sampled vocal clips of intimate dialogues, heart-breaking monologues, and painfully gorgeous R&B vocals (ie: FKA twigs on "judge") through murky, disorienting, cinematic soundscapes and experimental hip-hop beats that quickly emerge and abruptly fade away. While it's reminiscent of fellow experimental UK artists Burial, Hype Williams, and Klein, Space Afrika have crafted a unique and powerful sonic document for our current climate. — AR

Katie von Schleicher – Cosummation (Ba Da Bing)
This Brooklyn-based artist’s second album is a well-crafted set of expansive, psych-tinged dream-pop combining fuzzy guitars and bright synths with her breathy, elastic vocals and often-dark lyrics of disconnection and abuse. — DY

LA Priest – GENE (Domino)
The second solo album from Sam Eastgate (aka LA Priest, formerly of Late Of The Pier and one-half of Soft Hair alongside Connan Mockasin) is a super groovy set of quirky, funky, idiosyncratic electro-pop mixed with 80s-steeped New Wave and spaced-out psychedelic flavors that frequently recalls Unknown Mortal Orchestra with intermittent unpredictable tendencies akin to Jai Paul. His unique sound is enhanced by his own hand-built analogue drum machine named GENE, which gives the album its distinctive rhythmic patterns, crunch, and texture, which is all further bolstered by GENE's co-producer, legendary London-based artist Erol Alkan. — AR

Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers (Fat Possum)
The latest album from this Phoenix artist (who also recently spent a few years in Seattle) is a beautifully crafted set of poignant country-tinged folk-pop, combining an often-haunting and spare sound with her tremulous vocals and personal lyrics of heartache, lost love and eventual renewal. — DY

katie dey – mydata (Run For Cover)
This Melbourne artist’s fourth album is an adventurous set of warped electro-pop combining woozy synths, strings and piano with treated vocals and personal lyrics of connection, isolation and self-care in the digital world. — DY

JARV IS... – Beyond the Pale (Rough Trade)
The debut album from this band led by Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is a diverse set ranging from hypnotic post-punk and brooding electro-pop to dramatic anthems and Cohenesque balladry. Recorded live in the studio and then overdubbed, the album combines a lush, richly textured sound with colorful lyrics blending wry humor with world-weary pathos. — DY

Onyx Collective – Manhattan Special (TMWRK)
The second studio album from this NYC jazz ensemble that has collaborated with Blood Orange, Nick Hakim, and Princess Nokia finds them tackling classics from the jazz songbook as they reimagine songs written by the legendary songwriting duos of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II and Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. A unique vision of new-meets-old as viewed from within the contemporary jazz renaissance, Manhattan Special gets assistance from Nick Hakim, Kelsey Lu, Okay Kaya, duendita, and others along the way. Their psychedelic dub take on "My Favorite Things" is a particular standout. — AR

Winter – Endless Space (Between You & I) (Bar/None)
The third album from this LA-based Brazilian American artist (aka Samira Winter) is a fine set of psych-tinged dream-pop with shimmering guitars and synths, ethereal vocals and swooning melodies. — DY

Skinshape – Umoja (Lewis Recordings)
Reminiscent of Khruangbin and Thievery Corporation, the 5th full-length album from British multi-instrumentalist and producer William Dorey (aka Skinshape) is a welcoming blend of global-tinged grooves full of warm dubbed-out atmospherics and lite psychedelic touches. Portuguese vocalist D'Alma, Kenyan vocalist Idd Aziz, and Senegalese musician Modou Touré (heir to the legendary African group Touré Kunda) each appear on two tracks and help enhance Skinshape's transportive backdrops. — AR

Genevieve Artadi – Dizzy Strange Summer (Brainfeeder)
The second solo album from this LA producer/vocalist (who’s also one-half of the duo KNOWER, the other half being Louis Cole) is a diverse set ranging from frenetic, busy-sounding dance tracks to atmospheric, bittersweet ballads. — DY

Thanya Iyer – KIND (Topshelf)
The sophomore album (and Topshelf debut) from this emerging Montreal-based vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer is a lovely set of expansive, exploratory, earthy pop that's characterized by spacious jazz and ethereal folk tendencies as well as a subtle experimental and improvisatory streak. With a style reminiscent of Esperanza Spalding and Kadhja Bonet, Thanya's first new album in four years lyrically tackles questions around healing, cultural identity, and disability through a beautiful sonic spectrum. — AR

Kllo – Maybe We Could (Ghostly International)
This Melbourne duo’s second album is a smooth set of electro-pop ranging from frisky 2-step and UK garage-inspired beats to atmospheric, R&B-tinged ballads. — DY

Jonathan Bree – After the Curtains Close (Lil Chief)
The fourth solo album from this former leader of New Zealand band The Brunettes is a solid set of dark orchestral pop with moody strings, occasional guest vocals from Princess Chelsea and Britta Phillips and often-melancholy lyrics of busted relationships and desperate sex. — DY

V/A – Pacific Breeze 2: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1972-1986 (Light In The Attic)
Following the success of their initial Pacific Breeze compilation from last year, Seattle’s Light In The Attic delivers another strong collection of tracks that document the rise of City Pop music that took over Japan's music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the country experienced a thriving economic post-war boom, ushering in this colorful, optimistic, buoyant style of music that provided an upbeat soundtrack for the country's emerging urbanites. As with its superior predecessor, Pacific Breeze 2 glides across sophisticated synth-pop, sultry smooth-jazz, charming AOR pop, tilted techno-pop, addictive boogie, and more tangential styles, and includes songs never before released outside of Japan. — AR

Holy Hive – Float Back To You (Big Crown)
The debut full-length album from this NYC trio based around founding members Homer Steinweiss (drums) and Paul Spring (vocals, guitar) is a strong set of charming throwback soul, R&B, and funk that carries a dreamy romantic streak through its unhurried tempos, earnest songwriting, and Spring's sweet falsetto. — AR

Lily Konigsberg – It's Just Like All The Clouds (Wharf Cat)
The first proper solo EP from this New York musician who's one-half of Lily and Horn Horse and part of the art-punk trio Palberta is an addictive set of spritely diverse pop jams that bounce between melodic guitar rock, dreamy propulsive synth-pop, and melancholic indie pop with enthusiastic confidence. With all four songs clocking in just at or under two minutes, these are some short and sweet pop nuggets. — AR

Tei Shi – Die 4 Ur Love EP (Diktator)
The latest release from this LA-based Colombian-Canadian musician (aka Valerie Teicher) is a solid five-song EP ranging from fizzy electro-pop to propulsive, folk-tinged pop. — DY

Baronhawk Poitier – Temperado Tornado EP (Honey Soundsystem)
The debut EP from this Washington, DC-based DJ, electronic producer, and freestyle dancer is an exciting set of adventurous club rhythms that touch upon ballroom, techno, Baltimore club, house, and other progressive percussive-heavy styles. Well-known in the DC area as a regular at the city's TNX queer warehouse parties and as an organizer behind the Urban Artistry dance battles, Baronhawk Poitier comes out in full force on the opening title track, a particularly joyous Carnival-inspired highlight. — AR

The Mauskovic Dance Band – Shadance Hall (Dekmantel)
The latest EP (and Dekmantel debut) from this Amsterdam-based outfit led by Altin Gün and W.I.T.C.H. drummer/producer Nicola Mauskovic is a heady set of psychedelic dancefloor grooves that brew No Wave, dub, Krautrock, Afro-beat, post-punk, and leftfield disco flavors together for a percussive-heavy sound that recalls the likes of Tussle and Out Hud. — AR

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