New Music Reviews (08/29)

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 The Lounge Society, Stella Donnelly,Spielbergs, and volume 10 of our Live at KEXP compilation series. 

(Various) – Live at KEXP Volume 10 (KEXP)
KEXP’s 10th live in-studio compilation (and first in nine years) features a knockout lineup of 19 diverse artists ranging from Modest Mouse, Fontaines D.C., Neko Case, Sudan Archives and Run the Jewels to Khruangbin, Black Pumas, Altin Gün, Kikagaku Moyo and Café Tacvba.

The Lounge Society – Tired of Liberty (Speedy Wunderground)
This young British band’s debut full-length is a promising set of adventurous post-punk. Produced by Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, the album combines driving, sometimes shapeshifting rhythms, angular guitars and buzzing synths with lyrics of dystopian times.

Stella Donnelly – Flood (Secretly Canadian)
This Australian artist’s second album is a strong set of sharply crafted indie-pop with a warm, sometimes spare sound combining prominent piano, guitars, horns and atmospheric synths with introspective lyrics of love, loss, troubled relationships and times of struggle.

Spielbergs – Vestli (Big Scary Monsters)
This Norwegian band’s second album finds them expanding their anthemic garage-punk sound, adding occasional strings and keyboards to their visceral blend of loud electric guitars, energetic rhythms and angst-fueled lyrics of small-town life.

Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure (Polyvinyl)
This Australian artist’s third album is a sharply crafted set of bittersweet indie-pop. Featuring accompaniment by members of The Weather Station, the album combines acoustic and electric guitars, synths, piano, lush strings, chimes, sax and more with her silky vocals and finely chiseled lyrics of love, loss and desire for connection.

Au Suisse – Au Suisse (City Slang)
The debut album from this New York-based project pairing Morgan Geist with Kelley Polar is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped New Wave, synth-pop, disco and other styles, combining propulsive rhythms and glowing synths with airy vocals, often-melancholy melodies and lyrics of lost love.

Thee Sacred Souls – Thee Sacred Souls (Daptone)
This San Diego trio’s debut full-length is a beautifully crafted album of sweet, ‘60s/‘70s-steeped soul, with a warm sound combining gentle guitars, organ, strings, horns and unhurried rhythms with falsetto-laden vocals and celestial harmonies.

Bret McKenzie – Songs Without Jokes (Sub Pop)
The solo debut album from this member of New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords is a well-crafted set of ‘70s/’80s-influenced pop-rock inflected with folk-rock, disco and other styles. With accompaniment by a stellar lineup of veteran LA session musicians (Dean Parks, Leland Sklar, Joey Waronker and Drew Erickson), the album combines a warm, sophisticated and fairly diverse sound with wistful melodies and lyrics ranging from depicting climate change to more personal ones of love and loss.

Ezra Furman – All of Us Flames (ANTI-)
This Chicago artist’s sixth album is a strong set of dramatic indie-rock incorporating elements of heartland rock and other styles, combining shimmering synths, guitars, piano and more with her grainy vocals and sharply crafted lyrics depicting self-love and connection as antidotes to bigotry and isolation.

Mdou Moctar – Niger EP Vol. 1 (Matador)
This Agadez, Niger guitarist’s latest release is a surprise six-song EP of live recordings made in Niger from 2017-20. It’s an excellent set of Tuareg desert blues combining hypnotic rhythms with Moctar’s searing guitar riffs and expansive solos.

Grynch – Born in ‘86 (self-released)
This Seattle rapper’s latest release is a potent set of no-frills hip hop inflected at times with funk and R&B, combining a variety of boom bap beats with lyrics of connection, struggle, gratitude and reminiscing over old times. Special guests include Sir Mix-A-Lot, Prometheus Brown, Boom Bap Project and other notables.

Song Sparrow Research – Don't Look Now (self-released)
This Seattle-bred band’s latest album is a well-crafted blend of folk-tinged psych-pop, atmospheric dream-pop and other styles, combining moody guitars, keyboards and a bit of cello and sax with haunting melodies.

Cataldo – Dumber EP (Reunion Tour)
Seattle artist Eric Anderson quickly follows up his recent Cataldo EP Older (released in July 2022) with this sharply crafted four-song EP ranging from beat-driven indie-pop and anthemic indie-rock to melancholy, synth-streaked indie-pop, and featuring accompaniment from Your Smith along with members of Great Grandpa, Telekinesis and Alvvays.

Paisley Fields – Limp Wrist (Don Giovanni)
This Brooklyn/Nashville artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of country-leaning styles ranging from galloping western country-rock and rollicking honky tonk to disco-inflected dance-pop and dramatic, piano-led ballads, with many of the songs revolving around growing up closeted and queer in rural Iowa.

Gordi – Inhuman EP (Jagjaguwar)
The latest release from this Australian artist (aka Sophie Payten) is a solid six-song set blending intimate, folk-tinged indie-pop with occasional electronic beats and textures, combining guitars and atmospheric keyboards with lyrics of love, faith, sorrow and hope.

Valerie June – Under Cover EP (Fantasy)
This Memphis artist’s latest release is a well-crafted, eight-song EP of covers. While most of the songs covered are fairly well-known, she does a fine job adding her own musical and vocal touches to recast the source material.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Let's Turn It Into Sound (Ghostly International)
This LA-via-Orcas Island composer’s eighth solo album finds her recasting her sound from exploratory ambient to shapeshifting and often-propulsive avant-pop, combining a variety of colorful vintage synth textures and lively rhythms with often-processed and layered vocals.

Royksopp – Profound Mysteries II (Dog Triumph)
This Norwegian duo’s seventh studio album pays tribute to some of their key influences with this nostalgic set of chilled-out electro-pop with moody synths, piano and a variety of guest vocalists.

Zannie – How Do I Get That Star (Kill Rock Stars)
The debut Zannie album from Brooklyn artist Zannie Owens (who previously recorded under the name Potted Plant and also was in the band Really Big Pinecone) is a concept album about a lost alien finding its way home, with the music ranging from spacy synth-pop and skeletal dream-pop to country-tinged folk-pop.

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