New Music Reviews (11/13)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder (this week joined by Albina Cabrera) share 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 David Holmes, Tkay Maidza, Aesop Rock, and more.

David Holmes feat. Raven Violet - Blind On A Galloping Horse (Heavenly) 

His first album since 2008 is an acute reflection of all that has transpired since we last heard from Holmes, from the state of the world – more specifically his native Britain – and personal battles with mental health. Despite that, you hear moments of joy (“I Laugh Myself To Sleep"), Self-love (“Love In The Upside Down”) and hope (“Hope Is The Last Thing To Die”), through the vocal lens of Raven Violet paired with the propelling drum machines, sweeping synths and luxe arrangements. –Chris Sanley– 

Tkay Maidza - Sweet Justice (4AD)

The sophomore album from the Zimbabwean-Australian musician is SENSATIONAL. Sweet Justice contains hooks for days through her innovative fusion of dance, hip-hop, r&b and pop, inviting MANY repeat listens. Maidza has been paving an exciting way for herself since the release of her debut album in 2016, and her second full-length finds the artist standing firmly in her identity, leaving the listener excited for all that is yet to come. –Chris Sanley– 

Aesop Rock - Integrated Tech Solutions (Rhymesayers)

The prolific MC and producer serves up his 10th full length album, and first in three years. Aes describes this as a concept album that posits “lifestyle- and industry-specific applications designed to curate a desired multi-experience,” with his unmatched lyricism, futuristic and psychedelic production, and some incredible features from billy woods, Hanni El Khatib and more.  –Chris Sanley– 

Beirut - Hadsel (Pompeii) 

The sixth studio album from Zach Condon almost feels nostalgic, as it’s a true return to form, taking the listener back to the first time they heard his debut, The Flying Club Cup. With his classic combo of flugelhorn, trumpet, ukulele, accordion, delicate (but impactful) percussion and Condon’s distinctive and beautiful vocals, Hadsel is intimate, rich and quite simply, just lovely. –Chris Sanley– 

DRAMA - Till We Die EP (self-released) 

The LA by way of Chicago duo are BACK with their intoxicating blend of electronic, dance and R&B on new EP, Till We Die. Producer Na’el Shehade and vocalist/songwriter Via Rosa are a match made in heaven, as Rosa’s lyrics and Shehade’s masterful production and composition will take your broken heart right to the dance floor to shake it all out. –Chris Sanley– 

Keys N Krates - IN:TENSION (MNRK/Last Gang)

Let’s just start with IN:TENSION = BOPS ON BOPS ON BOPS. The third full length from the Toronto outfit blends house, soul, hip-hop, boom bap, disco, R&B, pop and more to create a dynamic dance album that will keep you moving from start to finish. The DJ, keyboardist and drummer trio continue their collaborative approach, enlisting guests Ciara, Lion Babe and more to fully realize this project. Is it love, baby? Yeah. –Chris Sanley– 

Meagre Martin - Gut Punch (Mansions & Millions)

Meagre Martin are a Berlin-based trio composed of three American expats and fronted by African-American singer/songwriter Sarah Martin. Their debut album is an impressive set of evocative indie rock inspired by shoegaze, 90s alt-rock touchstones, and a sweeping ‘faux country’ – as the band calls it – sentiment. Ranging from dreamy slow-burning ballads to poignant and propulsive anthems, ‘Gut Punch’ is distinguished by Martin’s striking vocals that bring an alluring magnetism to her often hefty lyrical matter, especially on tracks such as “The Big Death (TBD)” and “Amerika.” Early single “All My Thoughts” is a can’t-miss highlight. –Alex Ruder—

Mon Laferte - Autopoiética (Universal Music Mexico)

Two decades into her musical career, the Chilean singer-songwriter and actress continues to surprise and delight on her eighth studio album, fusing trip-hop, pop, cumbia and more for an exciting sonic landscape. The title, Autopoiética, comes from the concept of  “autopoiesis”, coined by Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana in the 1970s to define the process of self-maintenance of cells, a fitting metaphor for an artist that continues to reinvent themselves.

Bas Jan - Back to the Swamp (Fire)

The third album from this London-based quartet fronted by singer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Serafina Steer is an awesome set of arty post-punk with a sharp pop sensibility that consistently delivers. With its dreamy melodies, divine harmonies, urgent rhythms, and beautiful string flourishes, Back to the Swamp feels like a breakout effort from a group worth getting familiar with. –Alex Ruder—

Cat Power - Cat Power Sings Dylan: The 1966 Royal Albert Hall Concert (Domino)

This live set of Bob Dylan covers is as delightful as one could hope. Initially stripped back to Chan’s rich vocals, the acoustic guitar and harmonica, switching to the full band electric set halfway through, she pays proper tribute to these songs and this iconic set, honoring the original compositions, while still being so distinctively Cat Power. –Chris Sanley– 

Daneshevskaya - Long Is The Tunnel (Winspear)

The debut full length from NYC based Anna Beckerman is enchanting. Her sound lies somewhere in the middle of baroque pop and indie folk/rock, with the instrumentation on the album including guitar, sax, synths and lap steel. With her poetry and vocals as the bedrock for this truly captivating album, lyrically she explores how the people you meet in your life will impact the way you travel through it. –Chris Sanley– 

George Riley - Un/limited Love (Ninja Tune)

London-based vocalist George Riley continues her steady ascent with her third official release and Ninja Tune Records debut, a stellar 6-track EP of sultry, infectious, club-primed R&B that marries her magnetic voice and passionate lyrics centered around love, romance, and s e x with top-shelf electronic beats. –Alex Ruder—

Golden Apples - Bananasugarfire (Lame-O)

The fourth album from this Philadelphia band led by vocalist/guitarist Russell Edling is a stellar set of anthemic indie rock with an infectious power-pop spirit. Led by Erdling’s buoyant melodies, soaring harmonies, and the band’s fuzzy, enveloping, propulsive guitar-driven attack, Bananasugarfire is another recent breakout rock record from a band truly excelling within a back-to-basics sound. –Alex Ruder—

Jockstrap - I<3UQTINVU (Rough Trade) 

The inventive experimental electronic duo from the UK release a remixed version of their debut album, I Love You Jennifer B. I<3UQTINVU, short for “I Love You Cutie, I Envy You,” is a high energy, frenetic journey, dabbling in grime, hyper pop, hip-hop, R&B, glitch pop, EDM and more, that will take you deeper into their wild universe. –Chris Sanley– 

Lila Blue - Sweet Pea (MOXE)

Lila Blue’s exploration of grief and growth is raw and powerful on their fourth full-length album. The Brooklyn based non-binary and queer musician delivers potent folk-rock and Americana, with a confident vocal performance, memorable guitar lines and compelling string flourishes. –Chris Sanley– 

María José Llergo - ULTRABELLEZA (Sony Music Entertainment España)

ULTRABELLEZA stands as a solid masterpiece by Ana Maria Llergo, the new favorite rising star from Spain. While her single "Superpoder" teased the celebration of female empowerment as the album's tone, the other 13 tracks part of ULTRABELLEZA  exceed expectations. With a strong musical foundation from the Catalonia School Of Music, María is at the forefront of the new generation of flamenco artists, offering a unique take on the genre that effortlessly blends elements of pop, R&B, and electronic music. Essential tracks include "Vision y Reflejo," "Superpoder," "Ultrabelleza," and "Lucha." –Albina Cabrera– 

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets - Fronzoli (What Reality?)

The Australian five-piece return with their fifth full length album. Full of heavy, fuzzy guitars in overdrive and melodic rhythms, Fronzoli is another solid set of psych-rock. It’s loud, big, noisy and urgent, just what the band does so well. –Chris Sanley– 

Pure Bathing Culture - Chalice (self-released) 

The Portland duo return with their signature dream pop sound on their fourth full-length album, Chalice. This spellbinding collection of new tunes perfectly showcases the magical way that Sarah Versprille’s ethereal vocals and Daniel Hindman’s delicious guitar tones interplay with one another. Such a fitting soundscape for an album that is about “the ritual of creativity, progress and transformation, the search for transcendence and joy, and the ability to overcome the things that haunt us.” –Chris Sanley– 


The debut album from this UK-based musician is a potent set of soaring soul-pop, dynamic electro-pop, and gritty art-pop propelled by his stunning vocals and genre-hopping widescreen productions that carry a sweeping, dramatic, orchestral streak. With exciting moments that diverge into kinetic club-inspired territory (“SOBER,” “LOCK IT IN”) balancing out its overarching epic pop sound, ‘PRAYERS & PARANOIA’ is an adventurous, bold, and riveting statement from an artist to watch.  –Alex Ruder—

SUDS - The Great Overgrowth (Big Scary Monsters)

The debut album from this Norwich, UK-based four-piece band is an impressive set of muscular, sweeping, anthemic indie rock inflected with traces of grunge, shoegaze, and emo. Packed with massive guitars, pummeling rhythms, swirling atmospherics, and the sweet harmonies of primary vocalist Maisie Cater, SUDS make a solid splash on their first proper outing. –Alex Ruder—

The Bamboos - This Is How We Do It (BMG)

The 11th album from this veteran Melbourne nine-piece band is another solid set of expansive, feel-good, sophisticated soul, funk, R&B, hip-hop, and disco, all handled with an accomplished touch befit of a band that’s been its own distinctive deep groove for the past two decades. Veteran Brooklyn-via-PDX MC Ohmega Watts and Detroit MC Ozay Moore jump on “For The Record” for an album highlight that refreshingly taps into an early 2000s independent hip-hop sound.  –Alex Ruder—

Art Feynman - Be Good the Crazy Boys (Western Vinyl)

The third album from this solo project of California-based musician Luke Temple (frontman for early 2010s NYC indie darlings Here We Go Magic) is a solid set of bright, jittery, rhythm-driven psych-pop infused with New Wave, art pop, worldbeat, and Kosmische styles. Heavily influenced by Talking Heads and the iconic records recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas in the early 1980s, Be Good the Crazy Boys is the first Art Feynman album to be recorded live with a full band, the collective unit yielding richly orchestrated instrumental backdrops for Luke’s nuanced lyrics tackling the pervasive anxieties and neuroses of modern life. –Alex Ruder—

Athlete Whippet - U Never Listen EP (Toy Tonics)

The latest EP from Athlete Whippet – now the sole project of Berlin-via-London electronic producer Robin Braum – is another fresh set of addictive house grooves inflected with disco, UK bass, tech-house, and pop flavors that are primed to get bodies and dancefloors in motion. The R&B-infused lead single “Release Me” features knockout vocals from Australian artist Allysha Joy (a member of 30/70 and solo artist with albums on premier labels Gondwana and First Word) and the EP also finds Robin introducing his own vocals into the mix on “Maybe” and the title track. –Alex Ruder—

Brigitte Calls Me Baby - This House is Made of Corners (ATO)

The debut EP from this Chicago-based band led by the distinctive croon of Texas-raised frontman Wes Leavins is an impressive set of sweeping, grandiose, widescreen pop/rock that wears its iconic influences – Roy Orbison, The Smiths, The Strokes – proudly on its sleeve for a confident nostalgia-soaked indie sound. –Alex Ruder—

Ella Thompson - Domino (Hopestreet Recordings)

Ella Thompson is an Australian vocalist who has previously been a member of the electro-pop duo GL and cult indie band Dorsal Fins, as well as a collaborator with The Bamboos and Mark Ronson. For her debut album under her own name, she’s teamed up with Frollen Music Library, a library music project by the musicians behind Karate Boogaloo, Henry Jenkins, Hudson Whitlock and Darvid Thor, who provide smoky, minimal, cinematic backdrops akin to Gotts Street Park and BADBADNOTGOOD to compliment her stunning vocals. The result is a wonderful set of moody cinematic R&B/soul songs with a golden nostalgic touch reminiscent of Charlotte Day Wilson, Kadhja Bonet, Cleo Sol, and Charlotte Dos Santos. –Alex Ruder—

JJ Whitefield - Puzzled (Broc Recordz)

German guitarist, producer, and bandleader JJ Whitefield is a renowned figure in the underground music scene. He’s the mastermind behind the bands Poets of Rhythm, Karl Hector & The Malcouns, and Whitefield Brothers, and he’s been a pivotal force in the revitalized careers of Ebo Taylor, Embryo, and WITCH. His latest solo album is a strong set of raw funk grooves and intoxicating psych jams that’s primed for psychedelic fans and crate-diggers alike. –Alex Ruder—

Jordan Ward - moreward(FORWARD) (ARTium Recordings)

This deluxe extended version of the recent sophomore album from rising St. Louis-raised, LA-based artist Jordan Ward is an exciting set of expansive, vibrant, smooth R&B with a thoroughly refreshing vibe that finds Jordan’s elastic voice and magnetic melodies cruising over bouncy beats and spacey synths. The opening half is particularly strong, with the addictive feel-good track “FAMJAM4000” offering up a personal song of the year candidate. –Alex Ruder—

Loose Wing - Miracle Baby (Drums & Wires) 

The sophomore album from Seattle outfit fronted by Claire Tucker finds them incorporating indie-pop into their Americana tinged psych-rock with great results. Tucker’s vocals sit atop swirling guitars, pedal steel and excellent percussion, as the band delivers some memorable songs throughout Miracle Baby. –Chris Sanley– 

Miranda Joan - Overstimulated (self-released)

Co-produced by CARRTOONS, the second album from this Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, and musician is a nice set of warm, jazzy, melodic R&B jams that pairs a classic sensibility with a fresh contemporary streak fueled by CARRTOONS’ sleek funk-tinted beats. Early single “Bada Bing!” is an addictive cut and a perfect entry point. –Alex Ruder—

Moses Yoofee Trio - OCEAN (LEITER)

The debut mini-album from this Berlin-based trio led by pianist, keyboardist, and producer Moses Yoofee and joined by bassist Roman Klobe-Barangă and drummer Noah Fürbringer is a super impressive set of expressive, soulful, engaging jazz with a strong hip-hop foundation.  A unique offering from Nils Frahm’s LEITER imprint, OCEAN rests comfortably alongside the best beat-centric jazz joints emerging from contemporary labels such as Brownswood Recordings, Brainfeeder Records, and International Anthem Records. –Alex Ruder—

Sexores - Mar del Sur (Buh Records)

Sexores, a stalwart of the Latin American music scene since 2010, returns from a 3-year hiatus with Mar del Sur. This 6-track album masterfully blends elements of dance-rock and dark wave, creating a sophisticated sonic journey that pays homage to their South American roots. Through a blend of programming, analog synthesizers, and walls of guitars, Sexores crafts a narrative that beautifully explores the diversity of their homeland and challenges ethnocentric perspectives. Mar del Sur invites listeners to fall in love with the South. –Albina Cabrera– 

Swampmeat Family Band - Polish Your Old Halo (PNKSLM Recordings)

The 4th album from this Birmingham, UK-based outfit fronted by Dan Finnemore and joined by vocalist Joni Coyne is a nice set of roots-tinged rock featuring jangly guitars, soaring melodies, dreamy harmonies, and a loose ramshackle vibe. –Alex Ruder—

THALA - twotwentytwo (Fire)

The 2nd EP of 2023 from this emerging Berlin-based artist is another potent set of soaring dream-pop and 90s-steeped shoegaze that combines fuzzy guitars, coming-of-age lyrics, and her alluring vocals with a romantic widescreen aesthetic. –Alex Ruder—

Venezonix - La Trenza (Nacional)

Venezonix's new EP, "La Trenza," is a mesmerizing fusion of Afro-Venezuelan rhythms and electronic music, showcasing the creative brilliance of Andres Ponce, known for his work with Miami-based band Elastic Bond. The EP features the standout track "Por Mi Camino," which includes a collaboration with Pablo Estacio, the lead singer of Bacalao Men, a Latin fusion cult band from Caracas, Venezuela. –Albina Cabrera—

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