New Music Reviews (6/29)

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 Lucy Dacus, Sault, H.E.R., and more.

Lucy Dacus – Home Video (Matador)
This Philadelphia-via-Richmond, VA artist’s third album is a powerful set of intimate folk-pop. Drawing upon her childhood journals for inspiration, these deeply personal songs revolve around young queer love, friendships and religion while showcasing some of her most memorable lyrics to date.

Sault – Nine (Forever Living Originals)
This mysterious London band’s fifth album is an expansive blend of funk, R&B, post-punk, Afrobeat, psych-tinged pop and other styles, combining an often-spare, rhythm-driven sound with lyrics depicting the damaging effects of racism and injustice. (The album is only available for 99 days.)

H.E.R. – Back of My Mind (RCA)
The first proper album from this Bay Area artist (aka Gabriella Wilson) is a lengthy, well-crafted set of intimate R&B featuring twinkling keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars and mostly downtempo rhythms accompanying her soulful vocals and often-personal lyrics of love, heartbreak and determination, along with some sharply pointed, more socially minded ones calling out racism.

Angelique Kidjo – Mother Nature (Universal)
This veteran Paris-based Beninese artist’s latest album is a strong set of expansive and uplifting Afro-pop blending modern Afrobeats with soukous, juju, highlife and other styles. The album features an impressive guest list, including Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Blue Lab Beats, Earthgang, Mr Eazi and other mostly up-and-coming artists (though she also coaxed the great Salif Keita out of retirement to sing on one of the album’s songs).

Faye Webster – I Know I’m Funny haha (Secretly Canadian)
This Atlanta artist’s fourth album is an intimate, beautifully crafted blend of languid country, R&B and folk-pop, featuring a warm, dreamy sound with guitars, keyboards, strings and pedal steel accompanying her plaintive vocals and sharply written, sometimes self-deprecating lyrics of love, heartache and loneliness.

Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant (Brainfeeder/Ninja Tune)
This Australian band’s third album is an adventurous blend of jazz, funk, soul, various Latin influences and more, with an intricate, brightly colored sound featuring warm keyboards, guitars, horns, strings, ambient nature sounds and often-tricky rhythms accompanying Nai Palm’s elastic, slightly husky vocals.

Amythyst Kiah – Wary + Strange (Rounder/Concord)
The second solo full-length from this Johnson City, TN-based artist (and member of the supergroup Our Native Daughters) is an impressive set of expansive folk-rock inflected with country, blues, gospel and other styles, combining an often-dark, sometimes edgy sound with her powerful vocals and deeply personal lyrics revolving around loss, struggles with alcohol and depression, resilience, identity and black pride.

Mykki Blanco – Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep (Transgressive)
The latest release from this LA-based artist is a strong mini-album of expansive hip hop flavored with R&B, house, bossa nova and other styles. Produced mainly by FaltyDL, the album combines mostly laid-back beats with Blanco’s witty rhymes of lost love, queer identity and resilience. Special guests include Blood Orange, Jamila Woods, Big Freedia, Kari Faux and other notables.

Pom Pom Squad – Death of a Cheerleader (City Slang)
The debut full-length from this Brooklyn band led by Mia Berrin is a potent set of expansive indie-rock ranging from ‘60s girl group-influenced pop to riot grrrl-inspired pop-punk, with the album’s diverse songs revolving around self-affirmation, identity and complicated relationships.

Spellling – The Turning Wheel (Sacred Bones)
The third album from this Bay Area artist (aka Chrystia Cabral) is an imaginative set of orchestral dream-pop with a lush, intricately arranged sound featuring strings, keyboards, brass, woodwinds, guitars, harp, banjo, sax and more accompanying her theatrical vocals and lyrics reflecting the cycles of life and death, grief and joy, questioning and acceptance.

Ambar Lucid – Get Lost in the Music EP (300 Entertainment)
This young New Jersey-bred artist of Dominican and Mexican heritage follows up her 2020 debut album Garden of Lucid with this strong five-song EP of expansive R&B ranging from swaggering retro soul and propulsive, Latin-flavored R&B to dreamy downtempo and atmospheric, psych-tinged pop.

Rose City Band – Earth Trip (Thrill Jockey)
The third album from the solo project of Portland-based artist Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo) is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged country-rock with acoustic and electric guitars, lonesome pedal steel and harmonica, occasional atmospheric keyboards, mostly slow-rolling rhythms, shimmering melodies, serene vocals and lyrics reflecting on nature, hope and healing.

Cola Boyy – Prosthetic Boombox (Record Makers)
The debut Cola Boyy album from Oxnard, CA multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Matthew Urango (who was born with spina bifida and scoliosis) is a buoyant set of playful, dance-friendly electro-pop inflected with disco, funk, R&B and other styles, with help from a stellar supporting cast includes the Avalanches, MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, Myd, Air’s Nicolas Godin, John Carroll Kirby, Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly and other notables. The album’s breezy, summery sound is given greater emotional heft by often-poignant lyrics of struggle and resilience.

Modest Mouse – The Golden Casket (Epic)
This Issaquah-bred, Portland-based band’s seventh album (and first in six years) is a diverse set ranging from buoyant anthemic singalongs to anxiety-fueled, effects-laden post-punk to gentle, psych-tinged pop, combining a densely produced, sometimes overcluttered sound with lyrics of domestic bliss and the dangers of modern technology.

The Mountain Goats – Dark in Here (Merge)
The 20th studio album from John Darnielle & co. was recorded in March 2020, during the early days of the pandemic (and right after they finished recording their 2020 album Getting Into Knives). Recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album’s a well-crafted set of dark folk-pop inflected at times with jazz and other styles, with the songs revolving around various past, present and future calamities. Special guests include Muscle Shoals recording legends keyboardist Spooner Oldham and guitarist Will McFarlane.

Matthew Dear – Preacher's Sigh & Potion: Lost Album (Ghostly International)
This Ann Arbor, MI-based producer/vocalist’s latest release is an album he recorded in 2008 but is just now being released. Inspired by Emmylou Harris and his own father’s fingerpicking guitar style, the album is a definite left turn for Dear, featuring an often guitar-oriented sound while seamlessly blending folk, country and blues influences with techno and other electronic styles.

Lea Porcelain – Choirs to Heaven (self-released)
This Berlin duo’s second album is a well-crafted set of brooding post-punk with atmospheric guitars, gloomy vocals and haunting melodies.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Quietly Blowing It (Merge)
The ninth Hiss Golden Messenger studio album from Durham, NC-based artist MC Taylor & co. is a well-crafted set of reflective folk-rock blended with elements of soul, blues, gospel and other styles, combining a warm sound and wistful melodies with lyrics expressing hope during troubled times.

LoneLady – Former Things (Warp)
The third album from this British artist (aka Julie Campbell) finds her mostly switching out guitars in favor of a more synth-oriented, ‘80s dance-pop sound with bright synths and propulsive rhythms.

The Murlocs – Eating at You (ATO)
This Australian band’s fifth album is a well-crafted set of sunny garage-rock inflected with psych-pop, wistful folk-rock and other styles, combining jangly guitars, warm keyboards, occasional harmonica and other instrumentation with buoyant song hooks and lyrics reflecting on some of the people who have impacted their lives.

Rain – Fatigue (Mexican Summer)
The second album from this Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist (aka Taja Cheek) is an adventurous set of avant-pop inflected with soul, gospel, jazz and other styles, combining swirling keyboards, samples and occasional strings, sax and other instrumentation with her ethereal vocals.

Flesh of Morning – Here in Heaven (Blind Rage)
This Boston/Austin duo’s debut album is a solid set of minimalist, goth-tinged synth-pop with a dark, foreboding sound featuring icy synths, hypnotic rhythms, ethereal vocals and haunting melodies.

John Carroll Kirby – Septet (Stones Throw)
This LA-based producer/composer/pianist has collaborated with Frank Ocean, Solange, Blood Orange and other notables. His latest album under his own name is a potent, groove-driven blend of breezy jazz-funk, soul-jazz and other styles of jazz fusion, recorded live in the studio with a stellar supporting cast.

Beabadoobee – Our Extended Play EP (Dirty Hit)
This London-based artist’s latest release is a four-song EP written and produced with Matty Healy and George Daniel of The 1975. It’s a well-crafted set of ‘90s-influenced pop-rock with fuzzy guitars and an abundance of buoyant song hooks.

Dessa – I Already Like You EP (Doomtree)
The latest release from this Minneapolis artist collects the six singles in her IDES singles series, with the songs ranging from summery R&B and moody pop to hard-hitting hip hop.

Daniel Avery – Together in Static (Phantasy/Mute)
This British DJ/producer’s latest release features music he created for a live performance in May at Hackney Church in London, with the music ranging from atmospheric ambient to cavernous techno.

Pixel Grip – Arena (Feeltrip)
This Chicago trio’s second album is a solid set of goth-tinged electro-pop with dark synths, pulsing rhythms, smoky vocals and lyrics celebrating queer sexuality, autonomy and dance culture.

Six Organs of Admittance – The Veiled See (Three Lobed Recordings)
The latest Six Organs of Admittance album from guitarist Ben Chasny is an adventurous set of psych-tinged experimental rock incorporating elements of prog-rock, post-punk and other styles, highlighted by Chasny’s expansive, soaring guitar solos.

Maple Glider – To Enjoy Is The Only Thing (Partisan)
The debut album from this Australian artist (aka Tori Zietsch) is a solid set of hushed folk-pop featuring an often-spare guitar/piano-based sound with airy vocals, intimate lyrics and melancholy melodies.

Scalping – Flood EP (Houndstooth)
This British band’s debut EP is a visceral, noise-addled blend of techno, industrial and crunchy rock, combining loud, scuzzy guitars and buzzing synths with propulsive beats and warped samples.

Helvetia – Essential Aliens (Joyful Noise)
The 10th Helvetia album from Portland-via-Seattle artist (and Duster member/former Built to Spill member) Jason Albertini is a solid set of adventurous, lo-fi indie-rock ranging from moody folk-rock and psych-tinged space-rock to hazy grunge and more experimental fare.

Ellis – Nothing Is Sacred Anymore EP (self-released)
The latest release from this Hamilton, ON artist (aka Linnea Siggelkow) is a solid four-song set of intimate dream-pop combining an atmospheric sound with her plaintive vocals and melancholy lyrics.

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