New Music Reviews (4/5)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Abbie) 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 serpentwithfeet, Dry Cleaning, Tune-Yards, and more.

serpentwithfeet – DEACON (Secretly Canadian)
The excellent second album from this Baltimore-bred, LA-based artist (aka Josiah Wise) brings a more optimistic perspective to his expansive R&B/gospel-influenced sound, forsaking the dark, sometimes stormy textures and tortured lyrics of his debut album Soil in favor of an airy, atmospheric sound combining celestial synths, piano, acoustic guitar, often-spacious beats and sun-kissed melodies with his silky lead vocals, layered vocal harmonies and personal lyrics of love, sex, friendship and connection. — DY

Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg (4AD)
This London band’s debut full-length is an impressive set of playful post-punk combining spiky, clanging guitars and minimalist rhythms with Florence Shaw’s dry, spoken vocals and humor-laced, often-cryptic and surreal lyrics reflecting the absurdities and anxieties of modern life. — DY

Tune-Yards – sketchy (4AD)
This Oakland duo’s sixth album is a vibrant set of rhythmic art-pop, with a playful, sometimes busy sound combining lively, shape-shifting rhythms, bright keyboards and sax with Merrill Garbus’s elastic, looped and layered vocals and pointed lyrics blending the personal and the political. — DY

(Various) – Bills & Aches & Blues (4AD)
Legendary British record label 4AD celebrates its 40th anniversary with this compilation featuring 18 artists covering songs from 4AD’s illustrious catalog, with many of the covers imaginatively recasting the source material. The first year of profits will go to the Harmony School, an LA-based after-school program to help communities without equitable access to arts or music education. — DY

Civic – Future Forecast (Flightless)
This Melbourne, Australia band’s debut full-length is a potent set of grimy garage-punk with buzzing guitars, punchy rhythms, occasional sax, snarling vocals, angst-fueled lyrics and anthemic song hooks. — DY

Kylie V – Big Blue (self-released)
Vancouver BC's Kylie V is only 17 but their debut album has maturity beyond their years. Big Blue is a delicate delivery of folk laden ballads that occasionally contain heart-wrenching violin as the record explores a sense of longing  for connection, healing and support but not without a light at the end of the tunnel. — AG

El Michels Affair – Yeti Season (Big Crown)
The third regular studio album from this Brooklyn band led by multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels finds them successfully expanding their cinematic soul sound to include influences from Bollywood film music, Turkish psych-rock and other styles. Piya Malik of the band 79.5 adds guest Hindi vocals to a few songs while The Shacks’ Shannon Wise also sings on one song. — DY

Flock of Dimes – Head of Roses (Sub Pop)
The second Flock of Dimes album from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner is a diverse set of expansive indie-pop ranging from bouncy indie-pop and tempestuous psych-rock to country-tinged folk-pop and atmospheric dream-pop, with the album’s deeply personal songs revolving around heartbreak and healing. — DY

The Natvral – Tethers (Kanine)
The Natvral is the solo project of former Pains of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman. His debut full-length under that name is a well-crafted set of Dylanesque folk-rock with unvarnished guitars, swirling organ, yearning vocals, wistful melodies and lyrics of aging and lost love. — DY

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (Luaka Bop)
This collaboration featuring British producer Sam Shepherd (aka Floating Points, legendary jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra is an often-magical, single nine-piece movement of gently unfolding spiritual jazz melded with classical and more, with a spacious, atmospheric sound combining Sanders’ warm sax with harpsichord, piano, strings and subtle electronic textures. — DY

Lost Girls – Menneskekollektivet (Smalltown Supersound)
The debut album from this Norwegian duo comprised of Jenny Hval and Håvard Volden is a beautifully crafted set of experimental dream-pop with shimmering synths, propulsive drum-machine rhythms, occasional jagged guitar and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Breathe (Blue Note)
This veteran New York organist’s latest album features two new studio recordings with unlikely but effective collaborator Iggy Pop along with six live recordings from a 2017 concert celebrating his 75th birthday at the Jazz Standard club in New York. The Pop collaborations feature Iggy supplying understated vocals to covers of Timmy Thomas’s “Why Can’t We Live Together” and Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman,” while the others are vibrant live versions of some of Smith’s own compositions, combining his Hammond B-3 with rippling guitar, sax, trumpet, trombone and in-the-pocket rhythms on soul-jazz instrumentals inflected with funk, blues, gospel and other styles. — DY

For Those I Love – For Those I Love (September)
For Those I Love is the pseudonym of Irish artist David Balfe. His debut album under that name is a eulogy for his best friend who committed suicide. The album’s lo-fi bedroom sound combines propulsive rhythms, icy synths and vocal loops with spoken vocals (a la The Streets), blissful melodies and class-conscious lyrics steeped in grief and anger. — DY

Gary Bartz, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge – JID006 (Jazz Is Dead)
The latest installment in the Jazz Is Dead series from Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge features veteran jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz on this expansive set blending jazz-funk with soul-jazz, ‘70s modal jazz and more. — DY

Dolour – Televangelist (self-released)
The latest album from this Nashville-via-Seattle project spearheaded by Shane Tutmarc is a well-crafted blend of buoyant power-pop, folk rock and electro-pop with jangly guitars, bright keyboards, soaring horns and an abundance of catchy song hooks. — DY

Ryley Walker – Course in Fable (Husky Pants)
This New York-via-Chicago artist’s latest album is an expansive blend of prog and post-rock with shape-shifting arrangements combining acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, strings and more with twisty melodies. — DY

Moontype – Bodies of Water (Born Yesterday)
This Chicago trio’s debut album is a well-crafted set of psych/folk-tinged indie-pop combining jangly guitars with Margaret McCarthy’s translucent vocals and lyrics of friendship and connection. — DY

GHLOW – Slash and Burn (PNKSLM)
This Swedish/Russian duo’s debut album is a fierce set of pummeling, industrial-tinged post-punk with buzzing guitars, loud synths, energetic rhythms and often-cutting lyrics blending the political and the personal. — DY

Anna Fox Rochinski – Cherry (Don Giovanni)
The debut solo album from this former member of Quilt is a promising set of slinky indie-pop with bright synths, atmospheric guitars and propulsive rhythms accompanying her sugary vocals and lyrics of heartbreak and moving on. — DY

Psymon Spine – Charismatic Megafauna (Northern Spy)
The second album from this Brooklyn band featuring two former members of the band Barrie is a potent set of psych-tinged electro-pop with bright synths, fuzzy guitars, strings, horns, often-propulsive rhythms and dreamy melodies. — DY

Sofia Kourtesis – Fresia Magdalena EP (Technicolour)
Berlin based, Peruvian artist Sofia Kourtesis's third EP and first for Ninja Tune's imprint, Technicolour. Fresia Magdalena is a sonic homage to her family and community activism in the district of Magdalena located in Lima, Peru featuring field recordings of the city along with flourishing dance music that is both meditative and lively as it flows effortlessly from track to track. — AG

youryoungbody – eXcess EP (self-released)
Seattle torture pop duo returns with a ferocious EP of towering rave for the dark dancefloor with shimmering, ethereal vocals. Play loudly. — AG

Kishi Bashi – Emigrant EP (Joyful Noise)
This Athens, Georgia artist’s latest release is a solid six-song EP of buoyant folk-pop combining prominent banjo along with fiddle, guitar, cello and more with wistful melodies and lyrics of hope and resilience. — DY

Major Murphy – Access (Winspear)
This Grand Rapids, MI band’s second album is a diverse set ranging from chugging indie-rock and gnarled guitar-rock to propulsive, synth-soaked pop-rock and atmospheric dream-pop. — DY

First Aid Kit – Who By Fire (Columbia)
This Swedish sister duo’s latest release is a tribute album to Leonard Cohen recorded at a series of concerts at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre in March 2017, featuring live renditions of Cohen’s songs and poems, with the duo’s gorgeous harmonies accompanied by an acoustic-oriented, sometimes dramatic sound featuring guitars, piano, strings and chimes. A few special guests also contribute vocals, especially during the album’s second half. — DY

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