New Music Reviews (09/19)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) 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 Beths, Death Cab For CutieGreentea Peng, and more. 

The Beths – Expert in a Dying Field (Carpark)
This New Zealand band’s third album is another excellent set of hook-filled power-pop combining fuzzy guitars, energetic rhythms, sparkling melodies and sunny harmonies with Elizabeth Stokes’ breezy vocals and often-dark lyrics of anxiety, lost love, heartache and regret. — DY

Death Cab For Cutie – Asphalt Meadows (Atlantic)
This Seattle band’s 10th album is one of their stronger latter-day sets of wistful indie-pop with shimmering guitars, piano, synths, often-driving rhythms, anthemic song hooks and finely chiseled lyrics of anxiety, the passage of time, mortality, isolation and a desire for connection. — DY

Greentea Peng – GREENZONE 108 (EMI/Universal)
This London artist’s latest mixtape is an impressive blend of R&B, hip hop, reggae, psych-rock and more, with an often-dark sound combining a variety of mostly downtempo beats and moody synths, along with occasional horns, strings, harp and searing electric guitar to accompany her laid-back blend of singing and rapping and lyrics ranging from spirituality to mental health. — DY

Kenny Beats – LOUIE (XL Recordings)
A tireless creative spirit and in-demand collaborator, Connecticut-born producer and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Beats has become a beloved figure over the past decade through his close collaborations with Vince Staples, Denzel Curry, Rico Nasty, KEY!, and 03 Greedo, amongst countless other rappers, his endlessly entertaining YouTube series The Cave, and a genre-bursting versatility that recently led him to co-producing all of IDLES' 2021 album CRAWLER. Spurred by an avalanche of despair and imagination, his surprise solo debut full-length album is an ode to his ailing father that finds inspiration in the unpredictable DJ mixtapes his father made for family and friends. Consisting of 17 evocative instrumental-heavy beats that all clock in around 2 minutes, LOUIE is an emotionally rich beat tape – featuring shades of J Dilla's seminal Donuts in its desire to tap into a deeper human connection through sample-based beats – that receives help along the way from his friends Mac DeMarco, Vince Staples, Thundercat, Dijon, Fousheé, JPEGMAFIA, Mac DeMarco, Pink Siifu, Omar Apollo, Paris Texas, Remi Wolf, slowthai, Benny Sings, and more. — AR

The Black Angels – Wilderness of Mirrors (Partisan)
This Austin band’s fifth album (and first in five years) is a potent set of dark psych-rock with fuzz-laden guitars, haunting keyboards, hypnotic rhythms, often-ominous melodies and dystopian lyrics. — DY

Butcher Brown – Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey (Concord Jazz)
This Richmond, VA-based collective’s latest release is a well-crafted blend of hip hop and big band jazz, combining a variety of hip hop beats and Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney’s trenchant rhymes with soaring horns, keyboards, guitars and more. — DY

King Stingray -– King Stingray (Cooking Vinyl Australia)
King Stingray are an Australian band featuring Yolŋu (Aboriginal people of Northeast Arnhem Land) musicians and balanda (non-Indigenous) musicians creating their own addictive style of Yolŋu surf-rock that merges ancient Indigenous melodies with a fresh new sound. Their debut album is an absolutely ripping set of anthemic tracks that balance soaring vocals, infectious melodies, irresistible grooves, kaleidoscopic productions, Indigenous instrumentation, and an enthusiastic energy that shines start-to-finish. — AR

Blood Orange – Four Songs EP (Domino/RCA)
The latest Blood Orange release from New York-based British artist Dev Hynes is a well-crafted EP of moody, psych-tinged electro-pop with hazy synths, atmospheric guitars, gently propulsive rhythms, gauzy vocals and dreamy melodies. — DY

Livt – Pink and Orange EP (Day One Ent.)
The second EP from this Seattle artist (aka Olivia Thomas) is an impressive seven-song set of soulful R&B and hip hop, with an often laid-back sound combining atmospheric keyboards and mostly gently propulsive rhythms with her agile vocals and lyrics of love, desire, change and self-confidence. — DY

DoomCannon – Renaissance (Brownswood Recordings)
DoomCannon is the alias of London-based composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dominic Canning, a versatile musician who has collaborated closely with British vocalist Celeste and toured internationally as a member of Nubya Garcia’s band. His debut solo album is a potent set of smoky exploratory jazz with a hip-hop undercurrent that recalls the likes of Robert Glasper and Ben Marc and adds another fresh shade to London's magnificent contemporary jazz scene. — AR

Young Jesus – Shepherd Head (Saddle Creek)
The sixth album from this LA-via-Chicago band led by John Rossiter is an adventurous set of reflective avant-rock combining shimmering synths, piano, sometimes shapeshifting rhythms, various ambient sounds and occasional guest vocals with Rossiter’s delicate, falsetto-laden vocals and lyrics of love, loss, faith and mortality. — DY

Bryson The Alien – The Great Adventures Of... (PNKSLM)
This Portland rapper’s latest release is a fun set of hook-filled hip hop inflected with rock, pop and funk, combining a variety of thumping beats with jangly guitars and an abundance of catchy song hooks. — DY

Charles Stepney – Step on Step (International Anthem)
Known for his work with Earth, Wind & Fire, The Dells, Minnie Ripperton, The Emotions, Ramsey Lewis and many others (along with being sampled by countless hip hop artists), this legendary Chicago producer/arranger died of a heart attack in 1976 at the age of 45. This release is a double album of previously unreleased demos unearthed by his children, ranging from synth-steeped jazz-funk to atmospheric jazz. — DY

Whitney – Spark (Secretly Canadian)
This Chicago duo’s third regular studio album finds them moving away from the folk-tinged indie-pop of their first two albums in favor of a more airy and electronic-oriented sound combining synths and programmed beats along with atmospheric guitars, strings, piano, horns, bells and more with falsetto-laden vocals and lyrics of heartache and lost love. — DY

Kyle Kidd – Soothsayer (American Dreams)
The debut album from Cleveland-based queer androgynous artist Kyle Kidd is a stellar set of expansive, cathartic, powerful soul music that showcases their expressive vocals over a wide range of backdrops that range from timeless 60s-steeped grooves to spacious meditative passages. — AR

Henry Franklin, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Henry Franklin JID014 (Jazz Is Dead)
The latest volume in the Jazz Is Dead series curated by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad features veteran LA bassist Henry Franklin on a diverse set of expansive jazz ranging from spiritual jazz and funky post-bop to driving, psych-tinged fusion and Latin jazz. — DY

The Deer – The Beautiful Undead (Keeled Scales)
This Austin band’s fifth album is a well-crafted blend of psych-tinged dream-pop and wistful folk-rock, combining a variety of electric and acoustic instrumentation with ethereal vocals and lyrics of change and renewal. — DY

Jimetta Rose & The Voices of Creation – How Good It Is (Day Dreamer)
This collaborative release finds talented Los Angeles R&B musician/composer Jimetta Rose (a close collaborator with soul luminaries such as Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Angel Bat Dawid, Shafiq Husayn, MED, and Blu) leading the Los Angeles community choir The Voices Of Creation for an uplifting set of celebratory gospel, spiritual jazz, and cosmic R&B songs that speak to a universal beauty of hope and healing. Her handpicked backing choir was recruited "based on their interest in healing themselves and others, not necessarily on their musical experience or being seasoned performers," and this humanistic angle adds to this album's undeniable organic joy. — AR

Rhett Miller – The Misfit (ATO)
The seventh studio solo album from the Old 97’s frontman finds him collaborating again with producer/multi-instrumentalist Sam Cohen (they also teamed up on Miller’s last solo album, 2018’s The Messenger). Together, they’ve recast his sound into dreamy psych-pop with prominent keyboards, atmospheric guitars, swelling horns and more accompanying reflective lyrics of love, desire and heartache. — DY

No Age – People Helping People (Drag City)
This LA duo’s sixth regular studio album ranges from ambient-rock instrumentals to driving, fuzz-laden jams. — DY

Quinn Christopherson – Write Your Name in Pink (Play It Again Sam)
The debut album from this Anchorage trans artist of Ahtna Athabascan/Iñupiat heritage is a well-crafted set of intimate indie-pop combining moody synths, piano and acoustic guitar with often-melancholy melodies and personal lyrics of identity, forgiveness and gratitude. — DY

Jesca Hoop – Order of Romance (Memphis Industries)
This Santa Rosa, CA-born, Manchester, England-based artist’s sixth album is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged indie-pop. Produced by John Parish, the album features an intricate sound combining keyboards, horns, woodwinds and more with lyrics ranging from celebrating friendship and connection to critiques of guns, cults and climate change. — DY

Fake Palms – Lemons (Hand Drawn Dracula)
The third album (and first in five years) from this Toronto project spearheaded by Michael le Riche (who’s also a member of Sauna) is a fine set of spiky post-punk inflected with surf, motorik prog and other styles, combining angular guitars, driving rhythms and often-dystopian lyrics. — DY

Juniper & Sango – 97 (Wright Music Group)
Brazilian vocalist Juniper teamed up with Seattle producer Sango for this solid EP of low-key R&B and hip hop, combining atmospheric textures and mostly downtempo beats with sultry vocals and dreamy melodies. — DY

The Murlocs – Rapscallion (ATO)
This Australian band’s sixth album is a solid set of ‘60s-steeped garage-rock inflected with psych-rock, post-punk and other styles, combining fuzzy guitars, keyboards, energetic rhythms, occasional harmonica and catchy song hooks. — DY

Little Dragon – Opening the Door EP (Ninja Tune)
This Swedish band’s latest release is a fine three-song EP of dance-friendly electro-pop with shimmering synths, propulsive rhythms, prominent flute, airy vocals and buoyant song hooks. — DY

Zenizen – P.O.C (Proof of Concept) (Topshelf)
The second album from Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, producer, and keyboardist Opal Hoyt (aka Zenizen) is a strong set of expansive, adventurous, slightly unpredictable neo-soul with a graceful pop and sly funk streak that spotlights her poetic lyricism, beautiful voice, and dynamic arrangements. Helado Negro, Nappy Nina, Sly5thAve, Jon Bap, and members of Phony Ppl and IGBO all contribute along the way. — AR

beatsbyhand – I Am Jazz! (Stay True Sounds)
The debut full-length album from Johannesburg, South Africa electronic producer Hein Bosman (aka beatsbyhand) is a promising set of warm deep house grooves full of sun-drenched chords, soulful vocal samples, silky R&B touches, and a hypnotic pulse characteristic of both the fertile South African house scene and Stay True Sounds' stellar roster. The album launches off with an early highlight, a cool cover of Crystal Waters' classic 1991 jam "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" featuring vocals from Kali Mija. — AR

Yussef Dayes – Live At Joshua Tree (Brownswood Recordings)
Stemming from a live performance presented by Los Angeles label/collective Soulection, this new release from renowned British jazz drummer Yussef Dayes (aka one-half of Yussef Kamaal, close collaborator with Tom Misch) is a gorgeous set of cinematic, meditative, blissful jazz with an unmistakably cool vibe. — AR

Jasmine Myra – Horizons (Gondwana)
The debut album from Leeds, UK-based saxophonist, composer, and band leader Jasmine Myra is a gorgeous set of meditative jazz compositions that swims through both calming terrain as well as more colorful rhythmic territory with confidence. — AR

Mystic – Dreaming In Cursive: The Girl Who Loved Sparklers (Beautifull Soundworks)
This Oakland artist’s latest release is a solid set ranging from politically charged hip hop to atmospheric R&B. — DY

Crackazat – Demucha EP (Heist Recordings)
The alias of Bristol, UK-born, Sweden-based multi-instrumentalist and electronic producer Ben Jacobs, Crackazat has emerged as one of the most exciting contemporary artists fusing house and jazz music in infectious fashion. Demucha is his latest masterful EP and his second release to find a home on Detroit Swindle's imprint Heist Recordings. — AR

Miya Folick – 2007 EP (Nettwerk)
This LA artist’s latest release is a well-crafted six-song EP of moody, often angst-ridden indie-pop combining atmospheric synths and guitars with her dynamic vocals and lyrics revolving around transitioning to adulthood. — DY

Kingsley Ibeneche – Asked For Light EP (Dirty Deity)
This Camden, NJ artist’s latest release is a solid four-song EP of atmospheric R&B inflected at times with jazz, hip hop and other styles, combining shimmering keyboards, acoustic guitar, breathy vocals and swelling harmonies. — DY

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