New Music Reviews (11/15)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. These reviews help our DJs decide on what they want to play. See what we added this week below (and on our Charts page), including new releases from IDLES, Haviah Mighty, Courtney Barnett, and more.

IDLES – Crawler (Partisan)
This British band’s fourth studio album is a more reflective and musically diverse take on the band’s clangorous post-punk. Co-produced by Kenny Beats and IDLES guitarist Mark Bowen, the album combines a more dynamic and adventurous sound with more personal lyrics of addiction, trauma, loss and healing. — DY

Haviah Mighty – Stock Exchange (Mighty Gang)
This Toronto rapper’s latest mixtape is a strong set of hip hop blending trap-influenced beats with elements of dancehall, grime and other styles, highlighted by her nimble delivery and sharply crafted lyrics of inequality, racism, autonomy and resilience. — DY

Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time (Mom+Pop)
This Australian artist’s third album is an excellent set of reflective, mostly low-key indie-rock, combining jangly guitars, warm keyboards and unhurried rhythms with her conversational vocals and sharply crafted lyrics about finding joy when life is sad while zeroing in on the little things that matter. — DY

Makthaverskan – För Allting (Run For Cover)
This Gothenburg, Sweden-based band’s fourth album is an impressively crafted blend of dream-pop, post-punk and power-pop, combining fuzzy guitars, shimmering synths, energetic rhythms and soaring song hooks with Maja Milner’s powerful vocals. — DY

Parisalexa – Finishline EP (Payday)
This LA-via-Seattle artist’s latest release is an impressive six-song EP of buoyant R&B and funk, combining warm keyboards, guitars, occasional horns and propulsive rhythms with her buttery vocals and lyrics of love, heartache and race-car driving. — DY

Silk Sonic – An Evening with Silk Sonic (Aftermath)
The debut Silk Sonic album from the duo of Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars is a fun set of playful throwback soul and funk with a sunny, ‘70s-steeped sound featuring lush strings, warm keyboards, soaring horns, celestial harmonies, alternating lead vocals and lyrics of love, desire and living large. Bootsy Collins acts as special host throughout, and Thundercat also appears as a guest. — DY

Jenevieve – Division (Joyface)
The debut album from this Miami-raised, LA-based vocalist is a stellar set of expansive 90s-stepped R&B-pop that tackles sultry R&B slow jams and energetic pop anthems with an assured flair. Co-produced by her writing partner Benziboy who provides a broad and dynamic palette for Jenevieve's magnetic voice, Division signals one of the standout R&B debuts of the year. — AR

Lonely Guest – Lonely Guest (False Idols)
The debut album from this project spearheaded by the veteran Berlin-based British artist Tricky is a diverse, haunting blend of brooding, atmospheric rock, trip hop, R&B, grime and more, featuring an impressive supporting cast including IDLES’ Joe Talbot, Oh Land, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Rina Mushonga, Maximo Park’s Paul Smith and other notables. — DY

Swindle – The New World (BMG)
The latest album from this London producer (aka Cameron Palmer) is a potent, rhythm-driven blend of hip hop, grime, R&B, dub, jazz and other styles, combining a diverse, colorful sound with lyrics of healing and resilience. Special guests include Kojey Radical, Greentea Peng, Loyle Carner and other notables. — DY

Terrace Martin – Drones (Sounds of Crenshaw)
This LA musician/producer’s latest album is an impressive blend of hip hop, funk, R&B and jazz, combining a warm sound with lyrics revolving around the dehumanizing effects of cell phones, automation, police surveillance and other present-day ills. The album’s stellar supporting cast includes Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Leon Bridges, Snoop Dogg, Celeste and other notables. — DY

This surprise new album (and 1st in 6 years) from unpredictable and chameleonic Richmond, VA-based musician Travis Miller under his LIL UGLY MANE alias finds him moving drastically away from his roots (at least for this alias) for crafting Southern-influenced rap towards a thoroughly trippy psychedelic pop sound that's densely layered, incredibly odd at times, weirdly catchy, and extremely engaging. Full of earworm sample-happy loops, sweet drum breaks, an anything-goes mentality, and his often bleak but honest vocals, VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN's ramshackle 90s-tinted bedroom psychedelia has garnered worthwhile comparisons to Beck's Mellow Gold era, while there's also strains of Anticon's mid-2000s foray into psychedelic rock territory as well contemporary shades of TV Girl and George Clanton. — AR

PinkPantheress – to hell with it (Parlophone)
The debut mixtape from this quickly ascending 20 year-old British singer, songwriter, and electronic producer is a breakout set of electronic-pop nuggets (most songs clock in under 2 minutes) that boldly blends her shy yet expressive vocals with bedroom pop, R&B, garage, jungle, drum'n'bass, and alternative styles in thrilling, refreshing, infectious fashion. Also boasting a magnetic nostalgic streak that nods to the dance anthems and melancholic pop hits of the 1990s, to hell with it is a distinctive debut from an undeniable talent who has quickly rose to major label status thanks to her viral success on TikTok. — AR

Floored Faces – Kool Hangs (self-released)
This Seattle band’s third album is a potent set of heavy garage-rock and related styles with crunchy guitars, keyboards, muscular rhythms, angst-fueled lyrics and soaring song hooks. — DY

Irreversible Entanglements – Open the Gates (International Anthem/Don Giovanni)
The third album from this Philadelphia collective is a powerful set of agit-jazz with fiery horns and elastic rhythms accompanying Moor Mother’s commanding spoken-word vocals and lyrics of struggle, encouragement and resilience. — DY

Damon Albarn – The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows (Transgressive)
The Blur frontman/Gorillaz leader’s second solo album is an evocative set of dark, reflective pop featuring a haunted, atmospheric sound with strings, sax, synths and more accompanying his melancholy vocals and poignant lyrics reflecting on happier times. — DY

Native Soul – Teenage Dreams (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Native Soul is the collaborative project of Kgothatso Tshabalala and Zakhele Mhlanga (aka DJ Zakes), both teenage producers based in the city of Pretoria in South Africa. Their debut album is a unique take on their country's distinctive amapiano house music that adds a haunting energy and sinister melodies to the genre's foundational hypnotic mid-tempo grooves for an immersive, captivating, and often eerie sound. — AR

Jelly Cleaver – Forever Presence EP (Gearbox)
This London-based artist’s latest release is a potent five-song EP of spiritual jazz ballads inflected with blues, soul and psych-rock, featuring a mostly spare sound combining slow-burning rhythms with keyboards, sax, guitar and cello, along with her own warm vocals. — DY

Pip Blom – Welcome Break (Heavenly)
This Amsterdam-based band’s second album is a dynamic set of ‘90s-influenced indie-rock with fuzzy guitars, energetic rhythms, angst-fueled lyrics and an abundance of catchy song hooks. — DY

Margo Cilker – Pohorylle (Fluff & Gravy)
This Enterprise, OR-based artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of country-folk and roots-tinged rock. Produced by Sera Cahoone, the album features Northwest luminaries like Jenny Conlee, Jason Kardong, Rebecca Young and John Morgan Askew on songs highlighted by warm arrangements, poignant vocals and sharply crafted lyrics of love, loss, struggle and resilience. — DY

10 Minute Warning – This Could Be Heaven | The Lost 1984 Recordings (C/Z)
10 Minute Warning was one of the more important Seattle bands that bridged the gap in the early 1980s between hardcore punk and what was to become grunge. Their sound was heavier and more psychedelic than their hardcore brethren, as reflected in this previously unreleased album recorded in 1984 at the tail end of their 1982-84 run. — DY

Céu – Um Gosto De Sol (Urban Jungle)
This Brazilian artist’s sixth album is an all-covers release featuring a warm sound with acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and more accompanying her serene vocals. — DY

Fragrance. – Salt Water (Synth Religion)
The second Fragrance album from Paris-based artist Matthieu Roche is a potent set of dark electro-pop with pulsing rhythms, moody synths, hushed vocals and haunting melodies. — DY

Joan As Police Woman, Tony Allen & Dave Okumu – The Solution is Restless ([PIAS])
New York artist Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Police Woman) collaborated with legendary drummer Tony Allen and London-based musician Dave Okumu for this solid set of atmospheric, jazz-tinged trip hop grooves. — DY

Dina ögon – Dina ögon (Sing a song fighter)
The debut album from this Swedish outfit is a fantastic set of nostalgic soul-pop that taps into the colorful, carefree, psychedelic spirit of the late 1970s but is further enhanced by sleek modern production techniques and a love for tasty drum breaks. Although sung entirely in Swedish, Dina ögon's groovy sound is universally engaging and has been fittingly described as "the lovechild of Fleetwood Mac, Eric B. & Rakim, Khruangbin and some obscure Motown b-side singles." — AR

Herbert – Musca (Accidental)
The latest full-length album from veteran British electronic producer and composer Matthew Herbert is the latest in his series of "domestic house albums" – following in the distant footsteps of his stellar albums Around The House (1998) and Bodily Functions (2001) – and it's a cerebral, expansive, and dynamic set of deep house grooves, soulful R&B moments, and musique concrète excursions. Collaborating with eight different vocalists that he had never worked with before or met face-to-face, Musca thrives on the vibrant fusion of the featured artist's sultry vocals with Herbert's exquisite and heady productions. — AR

The Dodos – Grizzly Peak (Polyvinyl)
This veteran San Francisco duo’s eighth studio album is another solid set of rhythm-driven indie-rock combining fingerpicked guitar and intricate drumming with lyrics of love, regret, shame and forgiveness. — DY

Jessica Winter – More Sad Music EP (ROYA)
This London artist’s latest EP is a solid six-song set of dark electro-pop with shimmering, occasionally crunchy synths, sometime propulsive rhythms, haunting vocals and lyrics of heartache and desire. — DY

Neal Francis – In Plain Sight (ATO)
This Chicago-based artist’s second album is a solid set of R&B-tinged rock with a warm, ‘70s-steeped sound featuring piano, acoustic and electric guitars, organ, synths and more accompanying his soothing vocals and lyrics of lost love. — DY

Constant Smiles – Paragons (Sacred Bones)
The latest album from this Massachusetts project led by Ben Jones is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged dream-pop with a warm sound featuring jangly acoustic and electric guitars, atmospheric keyboards, glowing harmonies and wistful melodies. — DY

Advertisement – Freedom EP (self-released)
Seattle five-piece band Advertisement follow-up their excellent 2020 debut full-length album with a potent 4-track EP that continues to showcase their sprawling, unpretentious, captivating rock sound that carries a simultaneously nostalgic and refreshing streak and boasts some riveting guitar action. Featuring two original songs and two remixes that add a unique DFA-tinted dancefloor energy, this EP captures an exciting young local band continuing to explore new sonic terrain with the help of acclaimed Los Angeles producer Gabe Wax (The War On Drugs, Soccer Mommy, Deerhunter, Fleet Foxes, and more). — AR

NNAMDÏ – Are You Happy EP (Sooper)
This Chicago artist’s latest release is a solid five-song EP blending R&B with various electronic grooves with help from Chicago electronic producer Lynyn (aka Conor Mackey). — DY

Early Internet – You're Just In Time To Miss Everything (self-released)
This debut album from recent Seattle transplant Dean Stafford (aka Early Internet) is a sharp set of nostalgic, melancholic, dreamy indie-pop that taps into a melodic and slightly emo-tinged early 2000s sound reminiscent at times of Death Cab For Cutie, The Go Find, and Jimmy Eat World. Featuring lyrics that reflect on feelings of missed windows of opportunity and lush guitar-driven backdrops, You're Just In Time To Miss Everything carries a distinctively moody, introspective, catchy presence that feels second nature to the Pacific Northwest. — AR

Oberhofer – Smothered (Telefono)
The third album (and first in six years) from this LA-based band led by Tacoma-bred artist Brad Oberhofer is a fine set of psych-tinged indie-pop with a densely produced sound combining guitars, synths, strings and buoyant rhythms with genial harmonies and wistful melodies. — DY

Cid Rim – Songs Of Vienna (LuckyMe)
The second album from London-based, Vienna-raised musician Clemens Bacher (aka Cid Rim) is an adventurous set of experimental pop that finds his labyrinthian production talents frequently enhanced by his own expressive vocals for his most accessible release to date. A cerebral mixture of club-ready beats, jazzy flourishes, prog-influenced kosmische explorations, and operatic choral pop, Songs Of Vienna is a densely-layered, kaleidoscopic, and at-times thrilling listening experience. — AR

J.R.C.G. – Ajo Sunshine (Castle Face)
J.R.C.G. is the solo project of Justin R. Cruz Gallego from the Seattle band Dreamdecay. His debut album under that name is an adventurous set of lo-fi psych-rock with fuzzy, sometimes discordant guitars, eerie keyboards, occasional half-buried vocals and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Borboleta -– Until That Time EP (EveryDejaVu)
The debut EP from Providence, RI-based musician Rochelle Leach (aka Borboleta) is a promising set of soulful R&B with a classic pop sensibility. — AR

Ah-Mer-Ah-Su – Hopefully Limitless EP (DERO Arcade)
The latest EP from this Los Angeles-via-Oakland musician is a poignant set of confessional, charismatic, and colorful pop that confidently sways between intimate chamber-pop and energetic synth-pop styles while lyrically tackling her experiences as a black transgender woman. — AR

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