New Music Reviews (4/17)

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 Kara Jackson, Lavarr the StarrThe Tallest Man on Earth, and more. 

Kara Jackson – Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? (September)
The debut album from this Chicago-based artist (and former US National Youth Poet Laureate) is an impressive set of intimate, sometimes country-tinged folk-pop. Recorded with help from NNAMDÏ, Sen Morimoto and KAINA, the album features an atmospheric sound combining guitars, keyboards, strings, horns, woodwinds, banjo and more with smoky, world-weary vocals and finely chiseled lyrics of love, loss and grief. — DY

Lavarr the Starr – Illusions Ago (Glass Cane)
Lavarr the Starr is the latest project from Seattle’s Ishmael Butler (Shabazz Palaces, Digable Planets, etc.). The debut Lavarr the Starr EP is a promising seven-song set of moody R&B and hip hop, combining a murky, atmospheric sound with a magnetic blend of singing and rapping. — DY

The Tallest Man on Earth – Henry St. (Anti-)
The seventh album from this Swedish artist (aka Kristian Matsson) is his first recorded with a full band. Produced by Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn and featuring accompaniment from Phil Cook along with members of Bon Iver, the Dead Tongues, yMusic and other notables, the album is a beautifully crafted set of full-bodied folk-pop combining his deft acoustic guitar picking, piano, strings, sax, brass, organ and more with his nasal, plaintive vocals and lyrics celebrating community, hope and rebirth. — DY

Feist – Multitudes (Interscope)
The sixth solo album from Canadian artist Leslie Feist is an intimate, mostly lowkey set of often-spare, acoustic-oriented folk-pop (though there are also a few welcome changeups), combining acoustic guitar, keyboards, strings, woodwinds and more with her tremulous, often-multitracked vocals and sharply crafted lyrics of love, loss, grief and resilience. — DY

Temples – Exotico (ATO)
This British band’s fourth album is a breezy blend of psych-pop, glam, synth-pop, Anatolian rock and other styles, combining fuzzy guitars and shimmering keyboards with buoyant rhythms and sunny melodies. — DY

Davido – Timeless (RCA)
The fourth studio album Atlanta-born, Lagos-raised Nigerian vocalist/producer Davido (aka David Adedeji Adeleke) is a sharp set of vibrant Afrobeats with a sleek R&B streak. His first album in three years, and the first since the tragic drowning death of his 3-year-old son in October 2022, Timeless carries a bright global crossover sound and features appearances from Skepta, Angélique Kidjo, and Dexta Daps. — AR

Brian Dunne – Loser on the Ropes (Kill Rock Stars)
This Brooklyn-based artist’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged rock combining acoustic and electric guitars, atmospheric synths, piano, violin and more with wistful melodies and poignant lyrics depicting the struggles of the down-and-out. — DY

Fenne Lily – Big Picture (Dead Oceans)
This British artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of gentle folk-pop combining acoustic and occasional electric guitars, atmospheric keyboards and bittersweet melodies with her hushed vocals and personal lyrics tracing the ups and downs of a relationship. — DY

Nakhane – Bastard Jargon (BMG)
This London-based South African artist’s third album is a well-crafted blend of funk, disco, electro-pop, R&B, Afrobeats and other styles, combining a brightly colored, groove-driven sound with their velvety vocals and lyrics revolving around sex, love and identity. — DY

Metallica – 72 Seasons (Blackened)
This veteran California-bred band’s 11th album is a potent set of fierce heavy metal featuring hard-hitting songs with intricate arrangements, crunchy guitar riffs and fiery solos, pummeling rhythms, head-banging song hooks and lyrics of anxiety, loss, addiction and conflict. — DY

Fruit Bats – A River Running To Your Heart (Merge)
The 10th album from this project spearheaded by Eric D. Johnson is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged folk-pop combining guitars, shimmering keyboards and more with wistful melodies and lyrics revolving around home. — DY

Brandee Younger – Brand New Life (Impulse!)
The latest solo album from New York-based harpist/composer Brandee Younger is another excellent set of expressive, evocative, lush jazz that intersects with hip-hop, R&B, classical, downtempo, and ambient styles along its journey. Inspired by the legendary works of Dorothy Ashby, Brand New Life is produced by Makaya McCraven and features guest contributions from Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Meshell N’degeocello, and Mumu Fresh. — AR

Terry – Call Me Terry (Upset the Rhythm)
This Melbourne band’s fourth album is a potent set of often-politically charged post-punk combining angular guitars, synths and occasional horns, piano and strings with group vocals and sardonic lyrics aimed at inequality, greed and privilege. — DY

Royel Otis – Sofa Kings EP (House Anxiety/OURNESS)
The third EP from rising Sydney-based Australian duo Royel Otis (Otis Pavlovic and Royel Maddell) finds them adding a polished sheen to the scrappy indie rock of their breakout 2022 EP Bar & Grill for a sleek set of anthemic pop/rock featuring a handful of highlights quickly reminiscent of Phoenix. — AR

Angel Olsen – Forever Means EP (Jagjaguwar)
This Asheville, NC-based artist’s latest release is an EP featuring four previously unreleased songs from the recording sessions for her last album (2022’s Big Time). The sound’s mostly spare folk-pop combining acoustic and electric guitars, piano, organ, sax and more with haunting melodies and lyrics of love and change. — DY

Poison Ruïn – Härvest (Relapse)
This Philadelphia band’s second album is a solid set of aggressive post-punk inflected with clanging old-school punk, metal and other styles, combining scuzzy guitars, atmospheric keyboards and driving rhythms with lyrics based in medieval fantasy that revolve around the struggles of the oppressed and downtrodden. — DY

Alan Braxe / Fred Falke – The Upper Cuts (2023 Edition) (Smugglers Way)
Originally released in 2005, the Upper Cuts collection from French electronic producers Alan Braxe and Fred Falke has long been a stand-out gem of the 2000s that captured the artists at the peak of their French Touch powers. This remastered edition includes seven sweet bonus cuts, including Alan Braxe's addictive remix of Britney Spears' "Anticipating" from 2002, and while the iconic 1998 single "Music Sounds Better With You" by the short-lived, Alan Braxe-featuring trio Stardust is still an undisputed highlight, this whole collection is top class. — AR

Lucinda Chua – YIAN (4AD)
Following a pair of breakout EPs, London-based vocalist, cellist, producer, and FKA twigs collaborator Lucina Chua delivers her debut full-length album and it's a powerful set of delicate chamber-pop, soaring ambient-pop, and reflective dream-pop that treads an exciting territory between spectral R&B and meditative neo-classical styles. Taken from the Chinese word for swallow that's also part of “Siew Yian,” the name given to Chua by her parents to preserve her connection with her Chinese heritage, YIAN is a deeply introspective and consistently gorgeous record from a blossoming talent. — AR

FACS – Still Life in Decay (Trouble in Mind)
This Chicago trio’s fifth album is a potent set of dark, experimental post-punk with atmospheric guitars, muscular, insistent rhythms and often-dark lyrics for dystopian times. — DY

audiobooks – Gulliver (Heavenly)
This British duo’s latest release is a diverse four-song EP ranging from propulsive dance-pop and anthemic, piano-based pop to atmospheric electro-pop and hypnotic synth-pop. — DY

Proc Fiskal – Rt Hon (Hyperdub)
The latest EP from Edinburgh, UK-based electronic producer Proc Fiskal (aka Joe Powers) is yet another mesmerizing set of intricate experimental beats that spotlight his ability to filter inventive, hypnotic, labyrinthian techniques into his adventurous creations. Touching upon grime, bass, IDM, hip-hop, and other tangential terrain, Rt Hon also injects a steady and alluring vocal presence with Powers cleverly blending his and his girlfriend’s voices together to create a boundary-blurring narrator across a stellar and strangely beautiful EP. — AR

strongboi – strongboi (self-released)
The debut full-length album from this Berlin-based duo composed of longtime friends Alice Phoebe Lou and Ziv Yamin is a sweet set of playful indie pop with a cool, groovy, slinky vibe that's reminiscent at times of TOPS, Men I Trust, and Mr Twin Sister. — AR

Boston Chery – Channel 8 (Part I) (Styles Upon Styles)
The debut EP from NYC-based Haitian-American DJ/producer Boston Chery is an impressive set of adventurous R&B full of sultry vibes that infuses a love of dancehall, Afrobeat, house, and hip-hop into her fledgling style. Fellow emerging artists Midlo, BEMATA, and Indigo General each add their own flavors as featured guest vocalists. — AR

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