New Music Reviews (8/10)

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 (Liv).e, Fantastic Negrito, Zara McFarlane, and more.

(Liv).e – Couldn’t Wait To Tell You... (Real Life/AWAL)
The debut full-length from this Dallas artist (aka Olivia Williams) is a promising set of psych-tinged R&B inflected with jazz, hip hop and other styles, featuring a spacy, atmospheric sound combining woozy beats, trippy samples, dreamy melodies and introspective lyrics. — DY

Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (Cooking Vinyl)
The third Fantastic Negrito album from this Oakland artist (aka Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz) is a wide-ranging blend of ‘70s-influenced soul, funk, blues, hip hop, rock and more, combining a warm sound and deep in-the-pocket rhythms with his grainy vocals and lyrics ranging from weighty topics like mental illness, addiction and injustice to more celebratory fare. — DY

Zara McFarlane – Songs Of An Unknown Tongue (Brownswood Recordings)
The 4th full-length album from this London vocalist and veteran Brownswood member is a sublime set of earthy, exploratory, emotionally-rich R&B and soul music that is infused with the folk and spiritual traditions of her ancestral motherland of Jamaica. Tackling stories of black heritage both proud and painful, Songs Of An Unknown Tongue's vivid narratives are accented by the transportive electro-acoustic rhythmic backdrops provided by cult South London producers Kwake Bass and Wu-lu. — AR

Kathleen Edwards – Total Freedom (Dualtone)
This Stittsville, ON singer-songwriter's fifth album (and first in eight years) is a sharply crafted blend of buoyant roots-tinged pop, haunting chamber-folk and driving, psych-tinged rock a la The War on Drugs, with richly detailed, often-poignant lyrics of love, loss, grief and resilience. — DY

Mulatu Astatke & Black Jesus Experience – To Know Without Knowing (Agogo)
The second album pairing the legendary father of Ethio-jazz with the Melbourne-based eclectic funk band is a well-crafted set of Ethio-jazz inflected with funk, hip hop, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Beat, with occasional rapping and singing of politically charged lyrics aimed at racism and oppression. — DY

Gillian Welch – Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1 (Acony)
The second archival release from the Nashville-based singer-songwriter is the first in a series of three volumes of previously unreleased recordings she made between 2001-2003. The high quality of the songwriting isn’t far-removed from that found on her regular albums, with the music ranging from traditional folk and bluegrass to atmospheric folk-pop. — DY

Flamingosis & The Kount – Maniacs! (self-released)
Two sample-heavy producers frequently traversing the same musical lane, New Jersey's lamingosis (Aaron Velasquez) links up with Toronto's The Kount (Koal Harrison) for a fun, joyful, and infectious journey through slick beats that touch upon their love of hip-hop, R&B, funk, boogie, disco, and Latin flavors. — AR

Bill Frisell – Valentine (Nonesuch)
The latest album from the veteran Seattle-based guitarist is the debut release of his current trio featuring bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Rudy Royston. It’s a strong set of atmospheric, folk-tinged jazz with the material ranging from new and old Frisell-penned songs to jazz standards, folk traditionals and other covers. — DY

Kareem Ali – Black Liberty (CosmoFlux Recordings)
Kareem Ali is an emerging Phoenix-based electronic producer who's been on an impressive prolific streak this year with a steady supply of expansive, soulful, consistently solid releases. Black Liberty is one of his most recent albums and arguably the most powerful and personal in his deep catalog as he layers crisp, immersive, diverse rhythms that touch upon house, tech-house, techno, d'n'b, and juke/footwork styles with poignant vocal clips of speeches and passionate monologues confronting the on-going fight for racial equality and against police brutality. — AR

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard – The Non-Stop EP (Communion)
This Welsh band’s debut album is a fun, ‘70s-steeped blend of swaggering glam, anthemic hard-rock and more, combining crunchy guitar riffs, muscular rhythms and head-banging song hooks. — DY

Guided By Voices – Mirrored Aztec (GBV, Inc.)
The latest album from this veteran Dayton, OH band led by Robert Pollard is one of their more brightly melodic blends of jangly power-pop, crunchy hard-rock and driving post-punk. — DY

Wye Oak – No Horizon EP (Merge)
This Baltimore-bred duo’s latest release is a beautifully crafted five-song set recorded with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and their majestic harmonies add a stately grandiosity to the band’s intricate dream-pop sound. — DY

!!! – Certified Heavy Kats EP (Warp)
This Sacramento-bred band’s latest release is a fun 7-song EP of dance-pop combining a variety of propulsive beats with bright synths, funky rhythm guitar and catchy song hooks. — DY

Washed Out – Purple Noon (Sub Pop)
The fourth album from this Atlanta-based artist (aka Ernest Greene) is a solid set of mostly downcast, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop combining gently propulsive rhythms and lush Balearic textures with more upfront vocals, gloomy melodies and melancholy lyrics of lost love and the relentless march of time. — DY

Spike Hellis – Smile for the World EP (Dream)
This LA duo’s second EP is a potent five-song set of dark, rhythm-driven electro-pop inflected with techno, industrial and other harder-edged styles of electronic music, combining pulsing synths and propulsive rhythms with hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Le Ren – Morning & Melancholia EP (Secretly Canadian)
The debut EP from this Bowen Island, BC-raised, Montreal-based artist (aka Lauren Spear) is a powerful 4-song set of country-tinged folk-pop, combining a spare, acoustic-oriented sound with her slightly quavering vocals and heart-rending lyrics dealing with the loss, mourning and memory of her former boyfriend, who was killed in a car accident a couple years ago. — DY

Luke Vibert – Luke Vibert presents Rave Hop (Hypercolour)
Prolific veteran UK electronic producer Luke Vibert (aka Wagon Christ, Plug, Kerrier District, Amen Andrews, etc.) offers up another album tapping into a specific sound with the hip-hop influenced Rave Hop. A throwback to the turntablist albums of decades past, he continues to sneak in iconic foundational samples into these reverential beats that sit firmly in the 90-110bpm zone. — AR

ML Buch – Skinned (Anyines)
The debut album from Danish composer, producer and singer ML Buch (aka Marie Louise Buch) is a promising set of sleek, futuristic, conceptual electro-pop that pairs crystalline synth-heavy productions with her smooth vocals and lyrics that portrays the reality of intimacy in a digital era. "Touching Screens" is the can't-miss highlight and perfect entry point into Skinned. — AR

The Ninth Wave – Happy Days EP (Distiller)
This Scottish band follows up their 2019 debut album Infancy with this solid six-song EP of goth-tinged post-punk. Produced by Faris Badwan of The Horrors, the EP combines moody keyboards with gloomy vocals and soaring song hooks. — DY

Alps 2 & Simona Drive – Burnt EP (Ad Hoc)
Alps 2 are a mysterious UK outfit featuring members of Maribou State's live touring band who released a sweet under-the-radar debut EP last year. Simona Drive are a UK production duo that have remained fairly low-key over the years aside from providing remixes for the likes of Maribou State, Four Tet, and Fakear. Kindred musical spirits, they've teamed up for this solid collaborative EP of lush and sleek electronic grooves that carry an atmospheric-heavy house pulse reminiscent of the seductive and smooth style of their close mutual buds Maribou State as well as Four Tet. British electronic producer Goddard turns in a classy remix to close out the EP. — AR

Helvetia – This Devastating Map (Joyful Noise)
The ninth album from this Portland-via-Seattle band led by Jason Albertini (who’s also one-third of Duster) is an adventurous set of off-kilter indie-rock, combining lo-fi, offbeat production and unconventional song arrangements with overcast melodies. — DY

Standing On The Corner – G-E-T-O-U-T!! The Ghetto (Creative Mysteries Arts)
The latest EP from this experimental Brooklyn collective led by Gio Escobar is a trippy blend of adventurous jazz, abstract hip-hop, leftfield funk, psychedelic Krautrock, and outsider pop that is punctuated by a child on vocals for the release's standout lead single. Bizarre and potent sounds from a crew that thrillingly pushes the boundaries. — AR

Tensei – Speak Your Truth (Def Pressé)
The latest EP from this Chicago-based production duo comprised of Midas Wells and Chris Kramer (aka Simple X) is a sturdy set of underground hip-hop, soulful R&B, and jazzy funk flavors that's accented by each song's guest vocalists. — AR

Hiatt dB – Palimpsest (Rhythm Section International)
The debut EP from this New Orleans-via-San Antonio electronic producer (aka Hiatt Davis Becker) is a blistering set of enveloping house grooves infused with crunchy breaks, spellbinding drumwork, and a deceptively expansive range. The first American artist to have their music released by British label Rhythm Section International, Hiatt dB opens things up with jubilant barnburner "Sun Spell" that recalls a 2020 underground answer to The Chemical Brothers circa late 1990s, and while the pair of A-sides are more high-energy affairs, the B-side cuts revel in a soulful low-slung mid-tempo house territory that's equally engaging. — AR

Sevana – Be Somebody EP (In.Digg.Nation Collective/RCA)
This Jamaican artist’s second EP is a smooth, well-crafted blend of reggae, R&B and electronic dance grooves. — DY

Kilamanzego – These Roots Are On Fire EP (self-released)
Born in the Bronx to a Ghanian family, the debut EP from up-and-coming Philadelphia-based electronic producer Kilamanzego (pronounced "kill-a-man's-ego") is an impressive showcase of her futuristic electronic/hip-hop/club beats that bring a refreshed take to the visionary sounds that defined Low End Theory's heyday. — AR

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