New Music Reviews (09/12)

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 Sampa The Great, Sudan Archives, and Jockstrap

Sampa The Great – As Above So Below (Loma Vista)
The second official album from this Zambian rapper (aka Sampa Tembo) is an excellent set of expansive hip hop inflected with R&B, Zamrock, kalindula and other styles, combining a colorful, diverse sound with her agile delivery and lyrics of self-love, heritage and resilience. The album’s impressive guest list includes Denzel Curry, Angelique Kidjo, Kojey Radical, WITCH, Joey Bada$$ and other notables.

Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen (Stones Throw)
The second album from this LA-via-Cincinnati singer/songwriter/violinist (aka Brittany Parks) is an impressive blend of hip hop, R&B, disco, house, electro-pop, folk, various African styles and more, combining a diverse, intricately detailed and shapeshifting sound with her confident blend of rapping and singing and lyrics of identity and autonomy.

Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B (Rough Trade)
The debut album from this British duo comprised of Black Country, New Road’s Georgia Ellery and producer Taylor Skye is an adventurous set of eclectic avant-pop incorporating elements of classic orchestral pop, dubstep, techno, psych-pop, disco and much more. With accompaniment by an 18-piece orchestra, the album combines a diverse, shapeshifting sound with imaginative, intricately detailed arrangements and often-playful melodies with Ellery’s gossamer vocals and lyrics of anxiety, love, loss and desire.

Built to Spill – When the Wind Forgets Your Name (Sub Pop)
The 10th studio album from this veteran Boise band led by Doug Martsch features a new rhythm section comprised of bassist João Casaes and drummer Lê Almeida (both from the Brazilian band Oruã), but the focus on this impressive, hook-filled set of expansive, ‘90s-steeped rock remains on Martsch’s intricate guitar work, yearning vocals and lyrics of disillusionment.

Santigold – Spirituals (Little Jerk)
This Philly-bred, LA-based artist’s fourth album (and first in six years) is an expansive blend of New Wave/post-punk, electro-pop, R&B, hip hop, reggae, dub, tropical-tinged pop and more, combining a rhythm-driven sound with lyrics of struggle and resilience.

Preoccupations – Arrangements (self-released)
This Calgary band’s fourth album is a strong set of dark post-punk with sometimes dissonant guitars, atmospheric synths, driving rhythms, haunting melodies and dread-filled lyrics for dystopian times.

The Afghan Whigs – How Do You Burn? (Royal Cream)
This ninth studio album (and first in five years) from this Cincinnati-bred band led by Greg Dulli is a potent set of brooding rock inflected at times with soul, psych-rock and other styles, combining an atmospheric, beautifully detailed sound with lyrics of loss, isolation and desire for connection.

Son Little – Like Neptune (ANTI-)
The latest album from this Philadelphia artist (aka Aaron Earl Livingston) is a well-crafted, often-intimate blend of R&B, folk, rock, funk, blues, hip hop and other styles, with a warm sound combining a variety of live and electronic instrumentation with his raspy vocals and lyrics revolving around joy and self-acceptance.

New Age Healers – Demolition Stories (self-released)
This Seattle band’s fourth album is a potent blend of shoegazer psych-rock and atmospheric post-punk, combining fuzzy guitars, shimmering keyboards and often-driving rhythms with celestial harmonies and soaring song hooks.

Oliver Sim – Hideous Bastard (Young)
The debut solo album from this member of London band The xx is a solid set of dark electro-pop and moody post-punk. Produced by Jamie xx, the album combines atmospheric keyboards and often-skeletal beats with haunting melodies and personal lyrics of moving from shame and fear towards love and self-acceptance.

No. 2 – First Love (Jealous Butcher)
The third album (and first since reforming in 2019) from this veteran Portland band comprised of members of Heatmiser, Calamity Jane and Eyelids is a hook-filled set of ‘90s-steeped rock ranging from driving indie-rock and fuzzy, glam-tinged power-pop to moody, folk-flavored rock.

Rocky Votolato – Wild Roots (Spartan)
This Seattle artist’s eighth solo album is a well-crafted set of intimate folk-pop with an often-spare sound combining acoustic and occasional electric guitars, piano, strings and other instrumentation with personal lyrics revolving around family, love, connection, loss and resilience.

Scone Cash Players – Brooklyn to Brooklin (Daptone)
The latest album from this band led by Fort Lauderdale-based organist (and former member of The Sugarman Three) Adam Scone is an evocative, mostly instrumental blend of cinematic soul and breezy jazz-funk. Produced by Horace Mann, the album features accompaniment from Seattle guitarist Jimmy James and New York saxophonist Neal Sugarman, along with occasional ethereal backing vocals.

Beacon – Along the Lethe (Apparent Movement)
This Brooklyn duo’s fourth album is a solid set of dark electro-pop incorporating elements of ambient, trip hop, UK garage, R&B, dream-pop and other styles, combining a variety of beats and atmospheric textures with ethereal vocals and haunting melodies.

Zach Harjo – Black Moon (self-released)
This Seattle artist’s debut full-length is a well-crafted blend of ‘70s-steeped rock, folk and pop ranging from Beatlesque psych-pop to bluesy folk-rock, combining a variety of acoustic and electric instrumentation with warm harmonies and lyrics of loss and dread.

The Paranoyds – Talk Talk Talk (Third Man)
This LA band’s second album is a solid set of expansive garage-rock with crunchy guitars, bright keyboards, punchy rhythms, buoyant harmonies and catchy song hooks.

Marlon Williams – My Boy (Dead Oceans)
This New Zealand artist’s third album finds him recasting his formerly folk-flavored sound into ‘80s-steeped pop, combining atmospheric synths, guitars and other instrumentation with his tremulous croon and lyrics revolving around dysfunctional masculinity.

Air Waves – The Dance (Fire)
The fourth Air Waves album from Brooklyn artist Nicole Schneit is a well-crafted set of indie-pop inflected with folk, electro-pop and other styles, combining shimmering keyboards, gentle guitars, occasional sax and other instrumentation with often-danceable rhythms and sunny melodies. Special guests include Luke Temple, Rina Mushonga, Cass McCombs, Frankie Cosmos and other notables.

SOHN – Trust (4AD)
The third album from this Spain-based British artist (aka Christopher Taylor) is a solid set of atmospheric pop blending elements of electro-pop, R&B, folk and other styles, combining an often-spare sound and downtempo beats with his silky vocals and lyrics of community and connection.

Jason McCue – Screen, Turn On (Fluff & Gravy)
This Philadelphia-via-Seattle artist’s latest album is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged rock combining electric and acoustic guitars and an abundance of catchy song hooks with falsetto-laden vocals and lyrics of love, friendship, family and connection.

The Homeless Gospel Choir – Fourth Dimension Intervention (Don Giovanni)
The latest album from this Pittsburgh band led by Derek Zanetti is a potent blend of anthemic rock, scrappy punk and wistful folk-rock, combining buzzing guitars and energetic rhythms with nasal vocals and anxiety-fueled, often-politically charged lyrics.

S. Raekwon – I Like It When You Smile EP (Father/Daughter)
New York-based artist Steven Raekwon Reynolds follows up his 2021 debut album Where I’m At Now with this well-crafted four-song EP ranging from sunny indie-pop to spare, atmospheric R&B and wistful folk-pop.

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