New Music Reviews (10/03)

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 Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Titus AndronicusSol Messiah, and more. 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down (Secretly Canadian)
This LA/New York trio’s fifth album (and first in nine years) is an impressive set ranging from dramatic synth-rock and atmospheric dream-pop to moody dance-rock and spoken-word poetry, with the songs revolving around lyrics juxtaposing depictions of isolation and environmental devastation with glimmers of hope.

Titus Andronicus – The Will to Live (Merge)
This New Jersey-bred, Brooklyn-based band’s seventh album is a strong set of epic rock blending elements of punk, classic rock, driving psych-rock and other styles, featuring an often-massive, densely produced sound combining guitars, piano, sax and more with soaring harmonies, fist-pumping choruses and lyrics of loss, empathy and connection. Special guests include members of The Hold Steady, The E Street Band and Partner.

Sol Messiah – GOD CMPLX (Rhymesayers)
This Atlanta-bred producer’s official debut album is a strong set of hip hop incorporating elements of soul, funk, jazz and other styles, combining a variety of hip hop beats and a blend of live and sampled instrumentation and vocals with rapping from an impressive guest roster including multiple appearances from longtime collaborator Sa-Roc along with features from Evidence, Murs, Slug, Aesop Rock, members of Dead Prez, Zion I and other notables.

High Vis – Blending (Dais)
This British band’s second album is an impressive set of aggressive post-punk inflected at times with Manchester dance-rock, post-hardcore and other styles, combining buzzing guitars, punchy rhythms, anthemic song hooks and often class-conscious lyrics of loss, mortality, acceptance, hope and resilience.

Shygirl – Nymph (Because Music)
The debut full-length from this London DJ/vocalist (aka Blane Muise) is an adventurous blend of UK garage, hip hop and other styles, combining a variety of propulsive rhythms and inventive soundscapes with lyrics of love, desire and empowerment. A stellar lineup of collaborators contributed including Arca, Mura Masa, Sega Bodega, Vegyn and Danny L. Harle.

(Various) – Blue Note Re:Imagined II (Blue Note)
Like the first volume in Blue Note’s Re:Imagined series, the second one features a stellar lineup of British jazz and R&B artists interpreting songs from Blue Note’s illustrious catalog, and while this one seems to lean a little too hard on light crossover pop at times, there are still plenty of memorable performances to be found.

Danielle Ponder – Some Of Us Are Brave (Future Classic)
Formerly a public attorney in her native Rochester, New York, Danielle Ponder left her job to focus on music. Her latest release is a moody blend of R&B, rock, blues and trip hop, combining her dynamic, powerhouse vocals with lyrics of heartache, struggle and resilience.

Lambchop – The Bible (Merge)
The 16th album from this veteran Nashville band led by Kurt Wagner is an adventurous set blending chamber-pop with experimental electro-pop, disco, Latin jazz, psych-rock and other styles. The album’s often-haunting sound combines synths, piano, strings, horns, harp, guitars, pedal steel and more with Wagner’s weathered, sometimes vocodered croon and poignant lyrics of aging, mortality and troubled times.

2nd Grade – Easy Listening (Double Double Whammy)
The third album from this Philadelphia band led by Peter Gill (who’s also a member of Friendship) is a potent set of hook-filled power-pop with jangly/crunchy guitars, bouncy rhythms, often-sunny melodies and lyrics of longing and rock and roll dreams.

Perera Elsewhere – Home (Friends of Friends)
The third album (and first in five years) from this London-born, Berlin-based producer/vocalist (aka Sasha Perera) is an evocative set of dark avant-pop incorporating elements of trip hop, ambient, dub and other styles, featuring a brooding, bass-heavy sound with haunting atmospheric textures and hypnotic melodies.

Editors – EBM (Play It Again Sam)
This British band’s seventh album finds them adding Benjamin John Power (aka Blanck Mass) as a full-time member while continuing to recast their brooding post-punk into a more club-oriented sound, combining propulsive rhythms, moody synths and atmospheric guitars with gloomy vocals and often-dark lyrics.

Mamalarky – Pocket Fantasy (Fire Talk)
This Austin/LA/Atlanta band’s second album is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged indie-pop with bright keyboards, jangly guitars, sometimes shapeshifting rhythms, soaring harmonies, sunny melodies and lyrics of love, death, change, nature, technology and hope.

Pretty Sick – Makes Me Sick, Makes Me Smile (Dirty Hit)
The debut album from this London-based, New York-bred project led by Sabrina Fuentes is a potent set of hook-filled grunge-pop with scuzzy guitars, bright melodies, dynamic vocals and frank lyrics often depicting the ups and downs of relationships.

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – When the Lights Go (Nice Age)
The second album (and first in 10 years) from this LA-based British producer (aka Orlando Higginbottom) is a well-crafted set of dance-friendly electro-pop with warm synths, propulsive rhythms, wistful melodies and personal lyrics of love, desire, heartache and dystopian times.

Lorine Chia – Drill & Blues (Sweet Noise)
This Cameroon-born, LA-based artist’s latest release is a solid EP of atmospheric R&B and hip hop combining celestial keyboards and bumping drill beats with her yearning, slightly raspy vocals and lyrics of love, desire, heartache and hope.

The Green Pajamas – Forever For a Little While (Green Monkey)
The latest album from this veteran Northwest band led by Jeff Kelly is a well-crafted set of autumnal, sometimes folk-tinged psych-pop, combining fuzzy/jangly guitars, keyboards, horns, tablas and more with melodies ranging from buoyant and sunny to haunting and ominous.

The Big Pink – The Love That’s Our (Melody Music Project)
This British band’s third album (and first in 10 years) is a solid set blending shoegazer psych-rock with propulsive electro-pop, combining shimmering synths, atmospheric guitars, soaring melodies and anthemic choruses. The impressive list of guest collaborators includes Jamie T, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, The Kills’ Jamie Hince and Ed Harcourt.

Milly – Eternal Ring (Dangerbird)
The debut album from this LA-based duo led by Brendan Dyer is a potent ‘90s-steeped blend of shoegazer psych-rock, emo, slowcore and grunge, combining fuzzy guitars, muscular rhythms and lyrics of anxiety, hope and renewal.

Kingsley Ibeneche – Udo (Dirty Deity)
This Camden, NJ-based Nigerian-American artist’s debut album is an often-gorgeous set of intimate, ethereal R&B with a mostly spare sound combining atmospheric keyboards, acoustic guitar, gently gliding rhythms and glowing harmonies with hushed vocals and lyrics of love, family, connection and community.

Pixies – Doggerel (BMG)
This veteran Boston-bred band’s eighth album (and fourth since reforming in 2004) is a fairly diverse set ranging from volatile post-punk and spaghetti western-influenced rock to folk-tinged heartland rock.

Lydia Ramsey – Like a Dream (self-released)
This Seattle artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of intimate, sometimes country-tinged folk-pop with an often-spare sound combining acoustic guitar, piano, pedal steel and more with her dulcet vocals and lyrics of love and longing.

Yahritza y su Esencia – Obsessed (Deluxe) (Lumbre/Columbia)
This young Yakima sibling trio’s debut EP is a well-crafted set of Mexican folk with an acoustic-oriented sound combining guitar and bass with Yahritza Martinez’ dramatic, yearning vocals.

Julia, Julia – Derealization (Suicide Squeeze)
Julia, Julia is the solo project of Julia Kugel, frontwoman for Atlanta-bred band The Coathangers. Her debut album under that name is a solid set of haunting, folk-tinged dream-pop with an often-hazy sound combining acoustic and electric guitars and atmospheric keyboards with hushed, airy vocals and lyrics of a world falling apart.

Melody’s Echo Chamber – Unfold EP (Fat Possum)
The latest Melody’s Echo Chamber release from French artist Melody Prochet is a seven-song EP of recordings that she recorded in 2013 for the follow-up to her 2012 debut album, but the project was subsequently scrapped after her relationship ended with the album’s producer, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. She’s now resurrected seven songs from those sessions for a solid EP of densely textured psych-pop with fuzzy guitars, shimmering keyboards and ethereal vocals.

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