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 El Michels Affair & Black Thought, Petite Noir, Everything But the Girl, and more.
El Michels Affair & Black Thought – Glorious Game (Big Crown)
New York musician/producer Leon Michels (the mastermind behind El Michels Affair) teamed up with the rapper for The Roots for this impressive set of boom-bap hip hop combining sample-heavy, funk, soul and jazz-inflected beats with Black Thought’s intricate flow and reflective rhymes of struggle and hope.
Petite Noir – MotherFather (Roya)
The second album from this London-based artist of Congolese heritage (aka Yannick Ilunga) is an adventurous blend of electro-pop, R&B, post-punk, various African styles and more, combining a moody, atmospheric sound with lyrics revolving around heritage, injustice and rebirth.
Everything But the Girl – Fuse (Buzzin’ Fly/Virgin)
This British duo’s first album in 24 years (and 11th overall) is a well-crafted set ranging from moody, club-friendly electro-pop to atmospheric, bittersweet ballads, highlighted by Tracey Thorn’s intimate, slightly husky vocals and lyrics of love, loss, alienation, dread and a desire for connection.
Alfa Mist – Variables (Anti-)
The fifth album from this London pianist (aka Alfa Sekitoleko) is an expansive blend of jazz with hip hop, R&B, Afrobeats and other styles, combining piano, guitar, horns, strings and more on songs ranging from cosmic jazz to groove-driven jazz-funk and hip hop.
superviolet – Infinite Spring (Lame-O)
The debut album from this Columbus, OH band spearheaded by former Sidekicks frontman Steve Ciolek is a smartly crafted blend of psych-pop, folk-rock, power-pop and other styles. Recorded with the help of Saintseneca’s Zac Little along with former Sidekicks drummer Matty Sanders, the album combines jangly acoustic and electric guitars, atmospheric keyboards, woodwinds and more with wistful melodies and lyrics of love and longing.
Esther Rose – Safe to Run (New West)
This Santa Fe-based artist’s fourth album is an impressive set of country-tinged folk-pop featuring acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, pedal steel, fiddle and more on songs ranging from the ills of environmental devastation and music-industry sexism to personal songs of struggle and growth.
Rodrigo y Gabriela – In Between Thoughts… A New World (ATO)
This Mexican duo’s sixth studio album is a magnetic blend of flamenco with hard rock, funk, surf, spaghetti western and other styles, combining dueling acoustic (and occasional electric) guitars, cinematic strings, synths and more with soaring song hooks.
Rose City Band – Garden Party (Thrill Jockey)
The fourth album from this Portland-based project led by Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips) is a potent set of summery, country-tinged psych-rock with jangly acoustic and electric guitars, shimmering organ, pedal steel, buoyant rhythms, breezy melodies and lyrics revolving around the joys of nature.
Lonnie Liston Smith, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Lonnie Liston Smith JID017 (Jazz Is Dead)
The latest volume in Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Jazz Is Dead series features the legendary keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith on a stellar set of feathery, groove-driven jazz-funk and cosmic jazz. Loren Oden is featured on vocals for three songs.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Angels in Science Fiction (ATO)
This Birmingham, AL band’s fifth album features songs written by frontman Paul Janeway as letters to his then-unborn daughter. It’s a mostly lowkey set of moody, psych-tinged soul and funk with an often-spare sound combining atmospheric keyboards, strings and other instrumentation with haunting melodies, buttery vocals and reflective lyrics of searching for joy and love during troubled times.
Pearl & the Oysters – Coast 2 Coast (Stones Throw)
This Paris-bred, LA-based duo’s fourth album is a well-crafted blend of summery psych-pop, gently propulsive electro-pop and other styles, combining bright keyboards, jangly guitars and other instrumentation with buoyant rhythms and breezy melodies. Special guests include Dent May, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, Mild High Club’s Alex Brettin and other notables.
Jonathan Bree – Pre-Code Hollywood (Lil Chief)
The fifth solo album from the former frontman for New Zealand band The Brunettes is a well-crafted set of moody, ‘80s-steeped indie-pop combining icy synths and a variety of other instrumentation with often disco-inflected rhythms, gloomy vocals and bittersweet melodies. Nile Rodgers produced and played guitar on album highlights “Pre-Code Hollywood” and “Miss You.”
Baba Ali – Laugh Like a Bomb (Memphis Industries)
This London-based duo’s second album is a well-crafted blend of dance-friendly post-punk, funk, disco and electro-pop with moody synths, scratchy guitars, propulsive rhythms, hypnotic song hooks and lyrics of anxiety and desire.
Dave Okumu & the 7 Generations – I Came From Love (Transgressive)
The second solo album from this London-based artist of Kenyan heritage (and also a former member of The Invisible) is an expansive blend of R&B, post-punk, jazz, funk, dub and other styles, combining a murky, sometimes densely textured sound with lyrics of heritage, identity, injustice and racism. Special guests include Grace Jones, Wesley Joseph, Kwabs, ESKA and Anthony Joseph.
Zoon – Bekka Ma'iingan (Paper Bag)
The second album from this Toronto-based Anishinaabe artist (aka Daniel Monkman) is a transportive set of shoegazer psych-rock with atmospheric guitars, shimmering keyboards, strings (arranged by Owen Pallett), serene vocals and lyrics of heritage, identity and acceptance.
Shannon Lay – Covers Vol. 1 (Sub Pop)
This LA-based artist’s latest release is a beautifully crafted album of covers ranging from Elliott Smith and Nick Drake to Ty Segall and OCSet. The album’s spare folk-pop sound blends her intricate acoustic-guitar picking and occasional keyboards with her hushed, crystalline vocals.
Lael Neale – Star Eaters Delight (Sub Pop)
This LA-based, Virginia-bred artist’s third album is a solid set of well-crafted indie-pop combining moody keyboards, jangly guitars and other instrumentation with her celestial vocals and lyrics of love, connection, healing and renewal.
Kay Young – We Meet at Last EP (Play It Again Sam)
This British vocalist/producer’s third EP is a well-crafted, expansive blend of R&B, hip hop and jazz ranging from buoyant, funk-inflected songs to dramatic, orchestral pop and moody, jazz-tinged R&B.
Laveda – A Place You Grew Up In (PaperCup Music)
This Albany, NY duo’s second album is a solid set of shoegazer dream-pop with fuzzy guitars, shimmering synths, often-driving rhythms, ethereal vocals and soaring song hooks.
Django Django – Off Planet Part 3 EP (Because Music)
The third part of this London-based band’s upcoming album (due out June 16th) is a solid six-song set of dance-friendly indie-pop with propulsive rhythms, moody keyboards and catchy song hooks. Special guests include Jack Peñate, Stealing Sheep and Toya Delazy.
Léa Sen – You of Now, Pt. 2 EP (Partisan)
The latest EP from this Cergy, France-bred, London-based artist is a solid blend of folk-tinged indie-pop and downbeat electro-pop with atmospheric guitars and keyboards, breathy vocals, melancholy melodies and lyrics of desire and conflicting impulses.