New Music Reviews (8/3)

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 Taylor Swift, Blimes & Gab, Fontaines D.C., and more.

Taylor Swift – folklore (Republic)
The pop star makes a dramatic shift on her eighth album, a surprise release of atmospheric, often-melancholy folk-pop. The National’s Aaron Dessner co-produced and/or co-wrote 11 of the album’s 16 songs, with super producer Jack Antonoff co-producing the rest. The album combines an often-spare though intricately textured chamber-pop sound based on guitar and piano and fleshed out with occasional atmospheric synths, Mellotron, strings, and horns with her gentle vocals and finely chiseled, often-dark narratives of lost love and isolation. Other members of The National (Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf) also make contributions, along with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon who co-wrote and provides guest vocals on “Exile.” — DY

Blimes & Gab – Talk About It (B.A.G. Enterprises)
San Francisco rapper Blimes Brixton teamed up with Seattle rapper Gifted Gab for this excellent album of diverse, hard-hitting hip hop. While they often come hard with ‘90s-steeped boom-bap beats, they’re also comfortable with more pop-leaning styles, from buoyant, disco-influenced dance-rap to bouncy piano-based pop-rap. Special guests range from ‘90s vets Method Man and Bahamadia to younger rappers Iamsu! and Jay Park. — DY

Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death (Partisan)
This Dublin band dramatically adjusts their post-punk sound on their impressive second album, tamping down the energy of their promising debut album Dogrel in favor of a darker, more tension-filled sound and introspective lyrics of inner turmoil, doubt and dealing with expectations. — DY

Advertisement – American Advertisement (Patchwork Fantasy)
The debut full-length album from this Seattle five-piece band formed around four childhood friends that grew up on the fringes of the city is a brilliant set of sprawling, unpretentious, captivating rock anthems that offers a refreshing take on classic guitar rock foundations. Boasting a bold, immediate, accomplished sound that often brings to mind Kurt Vile fronting Sheer Mag, Advertisement are a new local outfit deserving and seemingly bound for bigger stages in the future. — AR

Oddisee – Odd Cure (Outer Note)
This Brooklyn rapper/producer (aka Amir Mohamed) recorded his new EP at his Brooklyn apartment during quarantine. Comprised of six songs (along with five connecting skits), the EP combines a warm sound with soul and jazz-tinged beats with smartly crafted rhymes reflecting the current dystopian reality. — DY

The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain (Cooking Vinyl)
This veteran British band’s first album in 29 years (and eighth overall) is a strong return to form of brooding post-punk with a cavernous sound combining swirling guitars, icy synths, haunting sax and hypnotic song hooks with Richard Butler’s raspy vocals and sardonic lyrics. — DY

Mike Polizze – Long Lost Solace Find (Paradise of Bachelors)
The debut solo album under his own name from the leader of Philly-based project Purling Hiss is a potent set of bleary-eyed, psych-tinged folk-rock with mostly acoustic (along with some electric) guitars, warm keyboards and occasional other instrumentation fleshing out a variety of reflective songs with often sun-baked melodies. Reminiscent at times of Kurt Vile, the album also features Vile on five songs playing acoustic guitar (along with occasional trumpet, etc.) and contributing backing vocals. — DY

George Clanton & Nick Hexum – George Clanton & Nick Hexum (100% Electronica)
The LA-based electronic producer George Clanton collaborated with 311 frontman Nick Hexum for this summery set of psych-tinged electro-pop combining gently propulsive beats and shimmering synths with serene vocals and sun-kissed melodies. — DY

SUÐ – Vesen (Gráðuga útgáfan)
This Icelandic band’s third album is a diverse set of lo-fi, ‘90s-steeped indie-rock with fuzzy guitars and keyboards, mostly Icelandic lyrics and anthemic song hooks. — DY

Populous – W (Wonderwheel Recordings)
The latest solo album from nomadic Italian electronic musician Andrea Mangia (aka Populous) is another excellent set of exotic, rhythmic, boundary-pushing grooves that find him applying a tropical and worldly flair to his immersive, bass-heavy, intricately-layered productions. While his previous album (2017's Azulejos) was largely a one-man show, W once again embraces his long-running collaborative spirit and features a guest artist on every track with standout contributions from Mexico City duo Sotomayor, Argentinian artist Kaleema, Italian pop star M¥SS KETA, Argentinian duo Weste, Japanese dream-pop artist Cuushe, and more. — AR

S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling (Verve Forecast)
The debut album from this Western Kentucky singer-songwriter is an often-poignant set of country-tinged folk-rock. Produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, the album features a warm sound with acoustic and electric guitars, atmospheric keyboards and pedal steel accompanying her smoky, plaintive vocals and evocative lyrics steeped in southern imagery while reflecting on identity, relationships and growing up gay in the rural south. — DY

Madeline Kenney – Sucker's Lunch (Carpark)
This Oakland-based artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of moody dream-pop, combining shimmering guitars and synths with soaring melodies and personal lyrics revolving around tentative new love. Like her previous album (2018’s Perfect Shapes), this one was also co-produced by Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, and they were also joined this time by Wye Oak drummer Andy Stack. — DY

Brian Noyes – Songs of Forgetting / Songs of Return (Plume)
The debut solo album from the leader of Seattle band Tomten is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged baroque-pop with a warm, dreamy sound featuring Mellotron, piano and nylon string guitar, along with occasional synths, flute, sax, violin and cello. — DY

Land of Talk – Indistinct Conversations (Saddle Creek)
The fourth album from this Montreal-based band led by Elizabeth Powell is a more reflective and spacious-sounding take on their moody indie-pop, combining atmospheric guitars and keyboards (along with occasional sax, French horn, and flute) with her aching vocals and lyrics revolving around identity and self-acceptance. — DY

Obnox – Savage Raygun (Ever/Never)
The latest album from this solo project of prolific Cleveland-based musician Lamont "Bim" Thomas is an intoxicating brew of gritty leftfield hip-hop, cacophonous psychedelic rock, sludgy bass-heavy funk, noisy garage-punk, and raw unfiltered soul that defies simple sonic categorization as it lyrically and energetically tackles racial socio-political issues. "How To Build A Bum" and "Concrete Rose" provide a pair of stellar late-night rap cuts, "Return Fire" is a sweet slice of 70s-inspired psychedelic funk, and Savage Raygun as a whole taps into a sound reminiscent of Young Fathers, Dälek, and TV On The Radio on an experimental bender. — AR

Thin Lear – Wooden Cave (EggHunt)
The debut album from this New York-based artist (aka Matt Longo) is a well-crafted set of orchestral pop combining a lush sound featuring a variety of keyboards, guiitars, strings, horns and other instruments with often-dark lyrics of alienation and self-destruction. — DY

Cindy – I'm Cindy (World Of Paint)
Cindy is a new collaborative project between Antwerp-based electronic producer Kai Hugo (aka Palmbonen) and Los Angeles-based vocalist, actress, model, photographer, and animal rights activist Blue LoLãn. Stemming from a synergistic chemistry shared on previous Palmbonen songs featuring Blue and the subsequent videos created for their joint tracks, they've fully embraced their own gauzy cinematic world on their debut album as Cindy as they showcase a romantic, smoky, lo-fi, psych-tinged synth-pop sound influenced by shoegaze and Italo Disco that quickly brings to mind Chromatics and feels like a perfect aural fit for a future David Lynch project. — AR

Skullcrusher – Skullcrusher EP (Secretly Canadian)
The debut EP from this LA artist (aka Helen Ballentine) is a promising set of intimate folk-pop combining an atmospheric sound with acoustic and electric guitars, synths, piano and banjo with her breathy vocals and melancholy lyrics. — DY

MIKE – weight of the world (10k)
The 6th full-length album from this young, prolific, revered NYC rapper is another strong showcase of his thick, hypnotic, and intimate aesthetic that fuses his labyrinthian bars and personable lyrics – often touching upon the grief of losing his mother – with woozy, psychedelic, loop-heavy beats. While MIKE handles a majority of the album's stellar production under his dj blackpower alias, weight of the world also features a few beats from keiyaA as well as a guest appearance from Earl Sweatshirt, an artist who's notably been influenced by MIKE’s cerebral style. — AR

Luke Vibert - Luke Vibert presents... Modern Rave (Hypercolour)
The latest album from prolific veteran UK electronic producer Luke Vibert (aka Plug, Wagon Christ, Kerrier District, Amen Andrews, etc.) is another fun and playful exhibition of his ability to masterfully tackle a distinctive dancefloor sound as he brews up high-energy rave-tinged rhythms full of iconic foundational samples, addictive breakbeats, and engaging vocal clips, all fused together with his distinctive, cheeky, and charming British sensibility. — AR

Jordana – Something to Say EP (Grand Jury)
This young Wichita, KS-based artist follows up her recently re-released debut album Classical Notions of Happiness with the first of two planned EPs to be released this year (the second is due in the fall). The first EP is a six-song set ranging from breezy, propulsive indie-pop to buzzing pop-rock with scuzzy guitars and driving rhythms. — DY

Power Strip – Inevitable (self-released)
The debut full-length album from this Seattle duo (Nellie & Esa) is an absorbing set of minimal ambient/post-rock pop bolstered by Esa's dreamy, exploratory, expressive guitar work and Nellie's gauzy celestial vocals that are often buried deep within the duo's rich atmospherics, yielding an experimental, nocturnal, spacious shoegaze-tinged sound akin to Grouper. — AR

EEP – Death of a Very Good Machine (self-released)
This El Paso band’s debut album is a solid set of shoegazer psych-rock ranging from driving, fuzz-encrusted rockers to atmospheric dream-pop. — DY

Rebel Diaz x Tef Poe – Multiply, Vol. 1 (self-released)
Bronx hip hop duo Rebel Diaz collaborated with St. Louis rapper Tef Poe for this fierce and uncompromising 4-song set of hard-hitting hip hop combining a variety of banging beats with politically inspired lyrics aimed at racism, police brutality and injustice. — DY

City Rose – City Rose EP (Third Coming)
This Sydney, Australia band’s debut EP (and also their swan song, since they’re recently broken up) is a potent 4-song set of intense post-hardcore with a dynamic, tension-filled sound featuring serrated guitars, pounding rhythms, gloomy, at times feral vocals and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

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