New Music Reviews (11/22)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates 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 Makaya McCraven, Adele, Aesop Rock x Blockhead, and more.

Makaya McCraven – Deciphering the Message (Blue Note)
This Chicago-based drummer/producer’s latest album finds him reworking/remixing vintage selections from the catalog of the famed jazz label Blue Note Records with help from a stellar cast of Chicago musicians including guitarists Jeff Parker and Matt Gold, vibraphonist Joel Ross, trumpeter Marquis Hill, saxophonist Greg Ward, saxophonist/flutist De’Sean Jones and bassist Junius Paul. McCraven and co. effectively recast the source material with a more modern, groove-oriented sound.

Adele – 30 (Columbia)
This British artist’s impressive fourth album (and first in six years) is a well-crafted set of widescreen pop inflected with R&B, ‘60s girl-group pop, vintage torch songs and other styles, Recorded in the aftermath of her divorce, the album combines deeply personal lyrics of heartache, lost love and rebirth with some of her most subtly powerful vocal performances to date.

Aesop Rock x Blockhead – Garbology (Rhymesayers)
While the veteran Long Island-bred rapper Aesop Rock has regularly collaborated with New York producer Blockhead through the years, this is the first Aesop Rock album to be entirely produced by Blockhead. It’s an excellent set of mostly spare-sounding hip hop combining head-nodding beats with Aesop Rock’s intricate flow and complex, tightly packed rhymes touching upon anxiety, isolation, mortality and other weighty subjects.

Leo Nocentelli – Another Side (Light in the Attic)
Guitarist and primary songwriter for legendary New Orleans funk band The Meters, Leo Nocentelli recorded this remarkable solo album in the early 1970s, but it hasn’t been released until now. Differing dramatically from the music of his regular band, the album blends intimate folk-rock with soul, funk and other styles in ways reminiscent of Bill Withers and Leon Russell. The album’s often-spare, acoustic-oriented sound combines nylon-string guitar, piano, bass and drums with his warm vocals and lyrics of lyrics of love, loss, struggle and resilience.

Mr Twin Sister – Al Mundo Azul (Twin Group)
This New York band’s fourth album is a strong set of R&B-tinged electro-pop with bright synths, propulsive, often disco-inflected rhythms, slinky vocals and buoyant melodies.

Blackwater Holylight – Silence/Motion (RidingEasy)
This Portland band’s third album is a haunting blend of doom metal, shoegazer psych-rock, prog, folk and other styles, with an atmospheric, often-spacious sound featuring heavy, fuzz-encrusted guitars, eerie keyboards, ethereal vocals and lyrics of loss, sorrow and rebirth.

FUTURENOT – Greatest Hits (Color Red)
The debut album from this Seattle band featuring members of The True Loves and 45th Street Brass is a cinematic blend of jazz, funk, hip hop and R&B, combining warm keyboards, jazzy horns, stinging guitars and buoyant rhythms. Seattle rapper MC Moe Betta guests on three songs, and Skerik also guests on baritone sax.

Spectres – Hindsight (Artoffact)
This Vancouver, BC band’s fifth album is a solid set of urgent, goth-tinged post-punk with dark synths, angular guitars, driving rhythms and dramatic vocals.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof (Rounder/Concord)
The second collaborative album (and first in 14 years) from the Led Zeppelin frontman and the veteran bluegrass fiddler/vocalist is a well-crafted set of dark folk-rock with the duo alternating on lead vocals on an impressive variety of mostly covers ranging from Calexico and The Everly Brothers to Geeshie Wiley and Merle Haggard. They’re accompanied by a stellar supporting cast, including guitarists Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell, Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Buddy Miller and other notables.

Blankenberge – Everything (self-released)
This Saint Petersburg, Russia band’s third album is a potent set of shoegazer psych-rock with fuzzy guitars, shimmering synths, ethereal vocals and dreamy melodies.

(Various) – Remixes JID010 (Jazz Is Dead)
The final installment in the initial run of Jazz Is Dead releases features an impressive lineup of artists including Kaidi Thatham, Pink Siifu, Cut Chemist, Shigeto and Georgia Ann Muldrow reimagining some of their personal favorites from the Jazz Is Dead catalog.

Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Imposter (Columbia)
The third collaborative album from the Depeche Mode frontman and the British/American production duo features them covering some of the artists that influenced them, ranging from James Carr and Elmore James to Cat Power and PJ Harvey, with the focus on dark, blues and gospel-steeped rock ballads.

Mandy, Indiana – … EP (Fire Talk)
This Manchester band’s debut EP is an adventurous set of experimental, rhythm-driven post-punk and No Wave, combining anxiety-fueled soundscapes with Valentine Caulfield’s crisp French vocals.

Alewya – Panther in Mode EP (Because London)
This London-based Ethiopian/Egyptian artist’s debut EP is a promising six-song set of moody R&B inflected with various African and electronic styles.

Ladyhawke – Time Flies (Mid Century/BMG)
The fourth album from this New Zealand artist (aka Pip Brown) is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped, dance-friendly pop-rock, combining shimmering synths, guitars, often-propulsive rhythms and buoyant melodies with personal lyrics of struggle and rebirth.

Weakened Friends – Quitter (Don Giovanni)
This Portland, ME band’s second album is a potent set of punkish, ‘90s-steeped power-pop with crunchy guitars, energetic rhythms and occasional horns, synths, pedal steel and other instrumentation, along with sing-along choruses, anthemic song hooks and often-dark, angst-fueled lyrics.

FaceSoul – YSRA (Moresoul)
This Somalia-born, London-bred artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of atmospheric R&B inflected with folk, gospel and other styles, combining an often-spare sound with his aching vocals and lyrics of love and faith.

David Christian & the Pinecone Orchestra – For Those We Met On The Way (Tapete)
The debut solo album from the France-based frontman for British band Comet Gain is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged indie-pop combining warm guitars, keyboards and occasional pedal steel and other instrumentation with bittersweet lyrics and melodies with help from a strong supporting cast including members of Comet Gain, Teenage Fanclub, The Clientele, Hanging Stars, and Herman Dune.

Chris Liebing – Another Day (Mute)
This German producer’s latest album is a fine set of hypnotic electronic grooves with moody analog synths, propulsive rhythms and occasional guest vocals.

Smile – Phantom Island (Chimp Limbs)
The second album (and first in nine years) from this Swedish duo comprised of Peter Bjorn and John’s Björn Yttling and Caesars/Teddybears’ Joakim Åhlund is a solid set of mostly instrumental, prog-tinged indie-pop.

Clams Casino – Winter Flower (self-released)
The latest release from this New Jersey producer (aka Michael Volpe) is a brief, evocative set of atmospheric electronic grooves with slow-rolling beats, spacy ambient textures and dreamy melodies.

Deekapz – Super Funk EP (Selva Discos)
This Brazilian production duo’s latest EP is a groove-driven blend of baile funk, house and other styles, combining bright keyboards, propulsive rhythms and looped samples.

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