New Music Reviews (5/3)

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 Dawn Richard, Dinosaur Jr., Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and more.

Dawn Richard – Second Line (Merge)
This New Orleans singer/songwriter/musician/producer’s sixth solo album is an adventurous blend of R&B, house, footwork, New Orleans bounce and more, combining moody synths and propulsive rhythms with her elastic vocals and lyrics of love, lust, struggle and resilience.

Dinosaur Jr. – Sweep It Into Space (Jagjaguwar)
This Amherst, MA band’s 12th album (and fifth since reuniting in 2005) is an excellent set of grungy, hook-filled rock. Co-produced by Kurt Vile, the album combines fuzzy/jangly guitar riffs and incendiary solos, punchy rhythms and wistful melodies with J Mascis’s genial drawl and lyrics revolving around alienation and connection.

Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Superwolves (Drag City)
Sixteen years after their first collaborative album (2005’s Superwolf), acclaimed guitarist Matt Sweeney & Bonnie “Prince” Billy (aka Will Oldham) are back together with this excellent sequel of psych-tinged folk-rock combining Sweeney’s brilliant acoustic and electric guitar work with Oldham’s quavering vocals and lyrics of loss and mortality. Special guests include Mdou Moctar, veteran country keyboardist Mike Rojas and Gang Gang Dance drummer Ryan Sawyer.

girl in red – if i could make it go quiet (AWAL)
The debut full-length from this Norwegian artist (aka Marie Ulven) is a well-crafted set of expansive, hook-filled indie-pop combining fuzzy guitars, moody synths and energetic rhythms with often-distorted vocals and frank lyrics of love, lust, identity and mental illness.

Enumclaw – Jimbo Demo EP (Youth Riot)
This Tacoma band’s debut EP is a potent five-song set of ‘90s-steeped Northwest rock with scuzzy guitars, catchy song hooks and lyrics of trauma, escape and desire for change.

Kasai Allstars – Black Ants Always Fly Together, One Bangle Makes No Sound (Crammed Discs)
The fourth album from this Congolese collective representing five different ethnic groups from the Kasai region is a vibrant blend of various traditional Congolese styles and electronic rhythms, combining ringing guitars, electric kalimba, call-and-response vocals, traditional percussion and electronic rhythms generated with a variety of self-made devices.

Remember Sports – Like a Stone (Father/Daughter)
This Philly-based band’s fourth album is their strongest, most dynamic and diverse set to date, ranging from anthemic pop-punk to droning psych-rock and country-tinged folk-pop, with often shape-shifting arrangements highlighted by an abundance of memorable song hooks along with Carmen Perry’s grainy vocals and personal lyrics revolving around anxiety, self-doubt and the need for change.

Cadence Weapon – Parallel World (eOne Music)
The fifth album from this Toronto-based rapper (aka Rollie Pemberton) is his most politically charged set to date, combining a variety of hard-hitting beats courtesy of multiple producers with often rapid-fire rhymes critiquing racism, inequality, gentrification, the surveillance society and the omnipresent internet’s influence on society.

Grave Flowers Bongo Band – Strength of Spring (Castle Face)
This LA band’s second album is a potent blend of psych-rock, proto-punk, garage-rock, metal, prog and other styles. Produced by Ty Segall, the album combines fiery, fuzzy guitars, driving rhythms and occasional synth, sax and pedal steel with soaring song hooks.

Tom Jones – Surrounded By Time (S-Curve)
The veteran Welsh pop singer’s latest album finds him teaming up again with producer Ethan Johns for a diverse set of covers ranging from Bob Dylan, The Waterboys and Michael Kiwanuka to Malvina Reynolds, Todd Snider and Terry Callier. The arrangements are equally diverse, ranging from stripped-down acoustic and gospel-steeped soul to droning ambient and howling psychedelic rock. Whatever the musical setting, Jones’s booming baritone sounds as powerful as ever.

Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK – The Sounds of Afrotronica (Blue Adventure/All Points)
The debut full-length from this British duo comprised of Blue Lab Beats member NK-OK and saxophonist Kaidi is a potent set of groove-driven jazz blended with hip hop, Afro-funk, soul, various electronic grooves and more.

Rochelle Jordan – Play With the Changes (Young Art)
This London-born/Toronto-raised/LA-based artist’s latest release is a well-crafted set of expansive R&B blended with UK Garage, drum ‘n’ bass, hip hop and other styles, combining propulsive beats and celestial synths with her wispy vocals and lyrics of personal struggle and resilience.

Mad Foxes – Ashamed (El Muchacho)
This French trio’s second album is a fierce set of aggressive post-punk that’s strongly reminiscent of IDLES, with a dynamic sound featuring clanging guitars, pounding rhythms, often-shouted vocals, angst-fueled lyrics and anthemic song hooks.

Kaidi Tatham – An Insight to All Minds (First Word)
The third album under his own name from this London multi-instrumentalist, broken-beat pioneer and member of the Bugz In The Attic collective is a smooth, well-crafted blend of jazz with funk, hip hop, house, samba, R&B and other styles, combining bright keyboards, propulsive rhythms, strings, flute and more with occasional vocals and breezy melodies.

Zo! & Tall Black Guy – Abstractions (Foreign Exchange Music)
Detroit-bred, Silver Springs, MD-based producer/multi-instrumentalist Zo! (aka Lorenzo Ferguson) teamed up with fellow Detroit-bred artist Tall Black Guy (aka Terrel Wallace) for this impressive though brief set of expansive R&B inflected with hip hop, house, jazz and other styles, combining twinkling keyboards, buoyant horns, laid-back beats, warm harmonies, sunny melodies and vocals from a variety of special guests.

Crumb – Ice Melt (Crumb)
This Brooklyn band’s second album is a dark blend of dream-pop, psych-rock, electro-pop and other styles, with shape-shifting songs combining atmospheric guitars, shimmering keyboards and hypnotic melodies with Lila Ramani’s gently lilting vocals.

Porter Robinson – Look at the Sky (Mom+Pop)
This Chapel Hill, NC-based DJ/producer/vocalist’s second album (and first in seven years) is a diverse set of often-buoyant electronic grooves incorporating elements of Japanese pop, classical and other styles, featuring sunny melodies, bright synths and piano along with occasional strings, acoustic guitar and other instrumentation accompanying his often pitch-shifted vocals and lyrics revolving around struggle, acceptance and renewal.

Todd Snider – First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder (Aimless/Thirty Tigers)
This Portland-born, Nashville-based artist’s latest album finds him adopting a more funk-influenced style of folk-rock for most of the album, which features a variety of sharply crafted songs ranging from politically charged tunes aimed at police brutality and racism, environmental devastation and corrupt preachers to others paying tribute to John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jeff Austin and other departed friends and influences.

Leon Vynehall – Rare, Forever (Ninja Tune)
This London producer’s second full-length is an adventurous blend of ambient, house, techno, jazz and other styles, with shape-shifting songs featuring restless synths, intricate rhythms, looped vocal fragments and occasional strings, horns and other instrumentation.

TEKE::TEKE – Shirushi (Kill Rock Stars)
This Montreal band’s debut album is an impressive set of experimental rock blending traditional Japanese influences with heady psych-rock and driving surf. The album’s colorful sound combines fuzzy guitars, trombone, traditional Japanese flute and other traditional Japanese instruments with Maya Kuroki’s dynamic vocals.

Myd – Born a Loser (Ed Banger/Because Music)
The debut solo album from this French producer (aka Quentin Lapoutre) is a fine set of breezy electro-pop inflected with disco, psych-pop and other styles, combining shimmering synths and propulsive rhythms with sunny melodies.

Rosie Tucker – Sucker Supreme (Epitaph)
This LA artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of emotive, folk-tinged indie-pop combining an often-spare yet dynamic sound with richly detailed lyrics of self-discovery.

thewalkingicon – Shadow of the Saints (Negative Gain Productions)
This Russian duo’s second album is a solid set of goth-tinged electro-pop with dark synths, propulsive beats, ethereal vocals and hypnotic melodies.

Big Scary – Daisy (Pieater)
This Melbourne, Australia duo’s fourth album is a solid set of indie-pop inflected with disco, funk and other styles, combining bright synths, lush strings and piano with soaring vocals and slinky melodies.

Moorea Masa & The Mood – Heart in the Wild: Side A EP (self-released)
This Portland band’s latest release is a well-crafted seven-song set of atmospheric R&B featuring a mostly spare sound with pillowy keyboards and delicate guitars accompanying Masa’s soulful vocals and personal lyrics of loss and remembrance.

Bowerbirds – becalmyounglovers (Psychic Hotline)
Bowerbirds has slimmed down to being the solo project of Raleigh, NC-based Phil Moore. His first Bowerbirds album as a solo artist (and fourth overall) is a solid set of folk-pop combining guitars, piano and strings with warm harmonies and lyrics of lost love and healing.

Juliana Hatfield – Blood (American Laundromat)
This Massachusetts artist’s latest album is a solid set of hook-filled indie-pop combining crunchy guitars, keyboards, strings, flute and more with lyrics revolving around personal and societal sickness.

Innov Gnawa – Lila (Daptone)
The debut album from this New York-based band comprised of Moroccan expatriates is an entrancing set of traditional Moroccan Gnawa music, combining guembri (a three-stringed African bass) and qraqebs (metal castanets) with call-and-response vocals and hypnotic melodies.

The Juan Maclean – I Can’t Explain EP (Me Me Me)
The latest release from this New York project is a five-track EP with John Maclean mostly going it alone on a set of propulsive house and disco grooves with moody synths, looped vocal samples and hypnotic rhythms.

Anna Wise – Gently Powerful, Live (As If It Were Forever) (self-released)
The latest release from his Brooklyn artist (and frequent Kendrick Lamar collaborator) features live versions of songs from her 2019 album As If It Were Forever (along with one from her debut), recorded inside a geodome at The Outlier Inn in Woodridge, NY.

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