New Music Reviews (4/3)

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 boygenius, Lana Del ReyThe Hold Steady, and more. 

boygenius – the record (Interscope)
The debut full-length from this songwriting supergroup comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus is a dynamic, impeccably crafted blend of poignant folk-pop and cathartic indie-rock, combining acoustic and electric guitars and atmospheric keyboards with intimate harmonies and emotive, sharply crafted lyrics that revolve around friendship, love and heartache, while also containing an abundance of references to other artists and songs.

Lana Del Rey – Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd (Interscope)
This LA artist’s ninth album is a beautifully crafted set of moody, elegiac orchestral pop combining piano, strings, occasional trap beats and other instrumentation with her haunting, hushed vocals and lyrics of mortality, love, family, misogyny and healing.

The Hold Steady – The Price of Progress (Positive Jams/Thirty Tigers)
This Minneapolis-bred band’s ninth album is one of the band’s strongest latter-day releases, ranging from classic rock singalongs to more moody and noirish fare, combining catchy guitar riffs, punchy horns, strings, synths, organ, piano, vibraphone, harmonica and more with Craig Finn’s empathetic, finely chiseled narratives of struggling lives.

Navy Blue – Ways of Knowing (Freedom Sounds/Def Jam)
The fourth album from this LA-born, Brooklyn-based artist (aka Sage Elsesser) is an impressive, deeply felt set of reflective, jazz/R&B-tinged hip hop combining warm, hypnotic beats infused with gospel and R&B samples with open-hearted rhymes of family, love, heartache and hope.

Altın Gün – Aşk (ATO)
After the sleeker, synth-driven sound of their last couple albums, this Amsterdam-based band returns to a more live-band, ‘70s-steeped blend of Anatolian psych-rock and Turkish folk (along with some funk and disco) on their fifth album, combining ringing guitars, electric saz, bright keyboards and mostly energetic rhythms with alternating lead vocalists and catchy song hooks.

London Brew – London Brew (Concord Jazz)
London Brew is a project inspired by Miles Davis’s groundbreaking 1970 album of expansive, improvised jazz-rock, Bitches Brew, featuring an impressive 12-person lineup including Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, Tom Skinner, Theon Cross, Dave Okumu, Martin Terefe and other musical luminaries, who have created their own magical blend of jazz, rock, ambient, funk and more. The group recorded the album over three days of marathon improvisational jam sessions inspired by loops and samples from Bitches Brew chosen by DJ Benji B. The album’s musical instrumentation includes saxophone, tuba, guitar, piano, violin, bass and drums, along with synths, effects pedals and abundant tape edits.

The New Pornographers – Continue as a Guest (Merge)
The ninth studio album from this Vancouver, B.C.-bred supergroup led by A.C. Newman is a more lowkey and atmospheric take on the band’s psych-tinged power-pop, combining jangly guitars, keyboards, sax and more with mostly slow-going rhythms, glowing harmonies, wistful melodies and lyrics of isolation, collapse and acceptance.

The No Ones – My Best Evil Friend (Yep Roc)
The second album from this band comprised of Northwest luminaries Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck along with two members of the Norwegian band I Was a King is a well-crafted set of hook-filled indie-pop with jangly guitars, shimmering keyboards, warm harmonies, wistful melodies and lyrics often-inspired by some of their musical heroes.

Baaba Maal – Being (Marathon Artists)
This veteran Senegalese artist’s latest album (and first in seven years) is a potent, percussion-heavy blend of traditional West African instruments and rhythms with electronic textures along with his own masterful guitar work.

Lankum – False Lankum (Rough Trade)
This Dublin band’s third album as Lankum is a well-crafted set of brooding, goth-tinged folk with a dark, hypnotic and often-droning sound combining unconventionally tuned guitars, piano, organ, hurdy-gurdy, concertina, hammered dulcimer, fiddle, tape loops, synths and more with haunting melodies and often-dark lyrics of loss, death and the sea.

Cecile McLorin Salvant – Mélusine (Nonesuch)
The seventh album from this New York-based artist of French and Haitian heritage is a beguiling blend of jazz, cabaret, French pop, various Caribbean styles and more, combining piano, sax, synths, guitar, djembe and other instrumentation with her powerful, dynamic vocals on a diverse mix of five originals and nine covers stretching back centuries.

Mystic 100’s – On a Micro Diet (Listening House)
The debut Mystic 100’s album from this Olympia band formerly known as Milk Music is an expansive set of cosmic psych-rock incorporating elements of prog-rock, jazz, blues-rock and more, with an often-shapeshifting, jam-oriented sound and acid-fried guitars.

B. Cool-Aid – Leather Blvd (Lex)
The debut album from this LA-based duo comprised of vocalist Pink Siifu and producer Ahwlee is a potent blend of simmering neo-soul and hypnotic hip hop, combining a warm, casual sound with an impressive guest list of vocalists and musicians including Liv.e, Jimetta Rose, Butcher Brown, Ladybug Mecca, Foushee, Mndsgn, Quelle Chris and other notables.

Samiam – Stowaway (Pure Noise)
This Oakland band’s first album in 12 years (and ninth overall) is a vibrant set of hook-filled, anthemic punk with buzzing dual guitars, energetic rhythms, catchy melodies and lyrics of failure and resilience.

Rachel Baiman – Common Nation of Sorrow (Signature Sounds)
This Nashville-based artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of rootsy folk-pop combining acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and more with bittersweet melodies and often-politically charged lyrics of struggle, inequality, lost love and mental illness.

Eddie Chacon – Sundown (Stones Throw)
The second solo album from this LA-based artist (who was one-half of the ‘90s duo Charles & Eddie) is a potent set of hazy soul inflected with funk, jazz, psych-pop and other styles, combining shimmering keyboards, sax, flute, trombone and more with his gentle, slightly raspy croon and lyrics of acceptance and joy.

NOIA – gisela (Cascine)
The debut album from this Brooklyn-via-Barcelona artist (aka Gisela Fullà-Silvestre) is an evocative set of moody electro-pop inflected at times with Spanish folk, bolero and more, combining twinkling synths and gently propulsive rhythms with ethereal vocals and often-haunting melodies. Special guests include Ela Minus, Buscabulla and Maria Amal.

A Certain Ratio – 1982 (Mute)
This veteran British band’s 11th studio album is a potent set of dance-friendly post-punk inflected with funk, jazz, hip hop and other styles, combining moody synths and guitars, propulsive, funky rhythms and buoyant song hooks.

Breaks and Swells – Entomology (self-released)
This Seattle band’s latest release is a lively blend of energetic funk and wistful soul, combining guitars, keyboards and soaring horns with Marquetta Miller’s buoyant, soulful vocals.

The Transmissionary Six – Often Sometimes Rarely Never (Drums and Wires Recordings)
This Seattle band’s latest album (and first in nearly a decade) is an evocative set of folk-tinged dream-pop with an atmospheric sound combining guitars, keyboards, strings, pedal steel and more with often-haunting melodies.

Scott McMicken & THE EVER-EXPANDING – Shabang (ANTI-)
The debut album from this founding member of Philly group Dr. Dog and his new band THE EVER-EXPANDING is an expansive blend of psych-pop, reggae, folk-rock, soul and other styles, combining jangly/fuzzy guitars, keyboards, occasional horns and more with buoyant melodies.

PACKS – Crispy Crunchy Nothing (Fire Talk)
The second album from this Toronto-based project spearheaded by Madeline Link is a potent blend of ‘90s-steeped slacker rock and melancholy folk-pop, combining fuzzy electric and jangly acoustic guitars with often-dark lyrics of dead-end jobs, anxiety, isolation, heartbreak and loss.

Nick Waterhouse – The Fooler (Innovative Leisure)
This France-via-California artist’s sixth album features a moodier, more noirish take on his throwback R&B sound incorporating elements of ‘60s garage-rock, psych-pop and other styles.

Jared Mattson – Peanut (Carpark)
The debut solo album from this San Diego-based member of The Mattson 2 is a solid album of atmospheric psych-pop inflected with jazz, reggae and other styles, combining a bass-heavy, sometimes spare sound with hazy vocals and lyrics juxtaposing anxiety, loss and violence with hope and love.

Eaves Wilder – Hookey EP (Secretly Canadian)
This young London artist’s debut EP is a well-crafted, four-song set of hook-filled indie-pop incorporating elements of shoegazer dream-pop and other styles, combining fuzzy guitars and keyboards with breathy vocals and lyrics revolving around heartache, mental health, helplessness, hope and encouragement.

Barrie – 5K EP (Winspear)
The latest release from Brooklyn-based artist Barrie Lindsay is a solid five-song EP of wistful indie-pop with shimmering keyboards, bouncy rhythms and bittersweet melodies.

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