New Music Reviews (3/18)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder 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 Tierra Whack, Boeckner, Branko, Four Tet, and more. 

Tierra Whack - WORLD WIDE WHACK (Interscope)
At long last we have the debut studio album from one of hip hop’s most innovative contemporaries. While her oddball eccentricities are on prominent display on standouts like “Chanel Pit” and “Shower Song”, it’s the unexpected, up close and personal tracks that are so gripping, showing us a deeper, more emotional side of Tierra Whack. Throughout these fifteen tracks, her lyricism is unmatched, song structures are unconventional, vocal style and range are unparalleled and authenticity is unwavering. World Wide Whack is exactly that: 100% Whack and 100% worth the wait.  — CS

Boeckner - Boeckner! (Sub Pop)
The debut solo album from indie-rock trailblazer Daniel Boeckner (Wolf Parade, Operators, Divine Fits, Handsome Furs) boasts his iconic vocals, walls of sound that still carry a melody, dark synths, memorable guitar licks and a punk sensibility. “I think in a lot of ways in my mind I’m still playing in a punk band in Vancouver,” Boeckner laughs. “Starting back when I was a teenager, my life in music has been trying to develop my own musical language, and this record is the beginning of presenting that.”  — CS

Branko - Soma (Enchufada)
The fourth solo album from Lisbon’s Branko (aka João Barbosa, co-founder of Enchufada Records and driving force behind the influential outfit Buraka Som Sistema) is another strong set of seductive global electronic rhythms that beautifully fuses Portugal’s rich hybrid-heavy inclinations through a myriad of Afro-Latin, R&B, hip-hop, and worldly pop influences. A collaborative heavy affair featuring an array of different vocalists, Soma was recorded over a three-day jam session in Lisbon with Branko inviting some of Lisbon’s finest musicians to improvise over his rhythmic framework, giving the album a loose and playful tone.  — AR

Four Tet - Three (Text)
The 12th studio album from renowned London-based electronic producer Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden) is a brilliant showcase of his immaculate and expansive palette as he weaves together blissful downtempo tracks, hypnotic skittering house grooves, and meditative ambient moments with a masterful, melodic, painterly touch. Early singles “Three Drums,” “Loved,” and “Daydream Repeat” shine bright in this expanded context, with the new songs adding an atmospheric, intricate, and enveloping depth.  — AR

Meatbodies - Flora Ocean Tiger Bloom (In The Red)
Chad Ubovich unveils a personal and sonic triumph with Flora Ocean Tiger Bloom. After becoming sober, surviving a health emergency that required him to learn how to walk and play again, he returned to this project that began years ago. The result is a fuzzed out, expansive beast of a psych rock record with killer riffs, catchy melodies and intriguing flourishes with the addition of synths, sax, viola and organ.  — CS

bob junior - friends vol. 1 (777 Music)
After teasing a full project with some truly tantalizing singles, Norwegian/Chilean producer Esteban Munoz (aka bob junior) releases a wild, collaborative album with guests galore from Dent May to Bethany Cosentino. With elements of bedroom pop, chillwave, synthpop and psych, his woozy production, infectious hooks and playful lyricism provides a fun, eclectic listen with an exciting new guest vocal around each turn.  — CS

Chuck Strangers - A Forsaken Lover’s Plea (Lex Records)
The latest from the Brooklyn MC is an introspective tell all of his life as a musician; the ups, downs and everything in between. His delivery is effortless atop enticing grooves as he flexes his skills as a producer and beatmaker. A Forsaken Lover’s Plea is a dynamic exploration of Chuck Strangers’ personal story, while tapping in assists from Joey Bada$$, Erick The Architect, The Alchemist and more.  — CS

Cusp - Thanks So Much EP (self-released)
The new EP from Chicago four-piece Cusp is a solid, hard-hitting collection of melodic indie-rock. These five tracks really pack a punch with their intricate guitar work, potent percussion, killer crescendos, heartfelt lyricism and a raw vocal delivery.   — CS

Devon Welsh - Come With Me If You Want To Live (American Dreams)
The third solo album from the Wisconsin-based Canadian musician and former frontman of the duo Majical Cloudz is a powerful set of intimate, gripping, cinematic electro-pop propelled by his engrossing voice, poignant lyrics, and expansive backdrops that range from plaintive, celestial, stripped-down moments to frenetic breaks-infused beats that pulse with the energy of an electrical storm.  — AR

Hannah Frances - The Keeper of the Shepherd (Ruination Record Co.)
The latest album from Chicago-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist Hannah Frances is a breakout set of sprawling, sweeping, arty folk-pop that confidently blends poetic storytelling, magnetic vocals, and lush, shapeshifting backdrops to dramatic effect. Boasting dynamic songs that often organically unfold and blossom from gentle beginnings into euphoric climaxes, The Keeper of the Shepherd is another under-the-gem from the Brooklyn-based label Ruination Record Co. that’s run by Dan Knishkowy aka Adeline Hotel.  — AR

Kacey Musgraves - Deeper Well (MCA Nashville/Interscope)
Following the crossover success of her genre-blurring albums Golden Hour (2018) and star-crossed (2021), Texas-bred, Nashville-based artist returns to a more stripped-back sound on her sixth studio album. Steeped in a twangy Americana-pop sheen, her golden voice and dreamy melodies cozy up against lush arrangements as she shares intimate, nuanced, reflective lyrics about getting older, wiser, and better – ie: no more bong rips in the morning.  — AR

Kiazi Malonga - Zu Dia Ngoma (Redtone)
The sophomore album from the Oakland-based Congolese percussionist sees him weaving vocals into the fabric of his compositions, after a largely instrumental debut. Zu Dia Ngoma explores Congolese folklore through vibrant Ngoma drums, dynamic vocals, melodic guitars.  — CS

Marla Hansen - Salt (Karaoke Kalk)
The second album from this Berlin-based vocalist, violist, violinist, and electronic producer is an impressive set of sophisticated art-pop featuring shapeshifting arrangements that utilize her expert string work alongside piano, guitar, and synths as support for her welcoming vocals. Emerging Berlin-via-London composer Simon Goff co-produced the album, adding a sweeping cinematic flair to the material, and The Notwist drummer Andi Haberl and DM Stith make guest appearances.  — AR

Mo Kolours - Original Flow (WRWTFWW)
The fourth full-length album from London-bred, Anglo-Mauritian musician Mo Kolours (aka Joseph Deenmamode) is a strong showcase of his distinctive beatific explorations that organically brew together hip-hop, soul, jazz, dub, broken beat, reggae, psychedelic, and worldly styles into his own hypnotic, groovy, earthy sound. Inspired by a move to the remote Japanese countryside, Original Flow is the result of an artist taking time to go deep, reflect, and explore what makes them tick musically. This time around he’s putting his voice more prominently into the mix as he lyrically touches upon themes of empowerment, overcoming adversity, and mental liberation over his signature warm, jazzy, loop-heavy beats.  — AR

Spectres - Presence (Artoffact)
The sixth album from this veteran Vancouver, BC band is another solid set of goth-tinged post-punk and gloomy New Wave that’s quickly reminiscent of The Smiths through their seasoned combination of sweeping guitars, icy synths, propulsive rhythms, and frontman Brian Gustavson’s yearning vocals.  — AR

The Dandy Warhols - ROCKMAKER (Sunset Blvd Records/Beat Of The World)
On their twelfth studio album, the legendary psych-rock outfit still leans on their synth pop and shoegaze influence, while also veering into heavier sonic territory with vocal distortions, fuzzy guitars and synths. With stellar guest appearances from Black Francis, Slash and Debbie Harry, The Dandy Warhols are mixing it up with a little help from their friends three decades into their career.  — CS

crushed - extra life (Ghostly International)
Los Angeles duo crushed (Shaun Durkan and Bre Morrell) quietly emerged in early 2023 with their self-released debut EP extra life, a riveting 6-track collection of dream-pop and shoegaze songs with a magnetic, romantic, 90s-steeped touch that become a gradual word-of-mouth success. Amongst those captivated by the release last year was Ghostly International Records who signed the duo to properly reissue the EP with a vinyl pressing and a pair of new remixes courtesy of NYC’s DJ Python and UK duo Real Lies.  — AR

dreamcastmoe - MOLLY’S SON (Spectral Sound/Ghostly International)
The latest EP from Washington, DC-based singer, songwriter, and producer Davon Bryant (aka dreamcastmoe) is a fresh set of funk-flavored R&B, boogie, and house grooves that’s about “being back home, finding my groove as an adult and enjoying the little things like playing ball and mentoring my family because the rest of my life is more stable and in the end it comes back to the teachings of my mother, because I am Molly’s Son after all.” With its smooth slick beats and goofy, refreshing, loverboy-tinted lyrics, dreamcastmoe continues to pave his own unique homespun lane within the electronic/R&B scene.  — AR

Eeba Ooba - Let Your Fire Touch Me (Jungle Gym)
TThe alias of shadowy beat producer Michael Cuccurullo, Eeba Ooba makes his debut on LA-via-Seattle label Jungle Gym Records for a sweet set of sample-heavy, soulful, hip-hop beats that quickly recall the influential styles of J Dilla, Madlib, and Onra.  — AR

La Sécurité - Stay Safe! REMIXED (Mothland)
Montreal-based collective La Sécurité dropped one of the strongest debut albums of 2023 with Stay Safe! and this stellar 6-track remix collection turn the band’s addictive, arty, anthemic post-punk into propulsive dancefloor jams with an added dose of disco, house, techno, electro, and other underground electronic styles.  — AR

Mira Ló - Tribute To Chicago EP (Pont Neuf)
The second EP from swiftly emerging Parisian DJ and electronic producer Mira Ló (aka Ana Lopez) is a wonderful showcase of her magnetic house grooves inspired by a recent trip to the heart of the American city that birthed house music.  — AR

Mohammad Syfkhan - I Am Kurdish (Nyahh)
The first official release from Ireland-based Kurdish/Syrian singer and bouzouki player Mohammad Syfkhan is a wonderful showcase of his celebratory music that blends traditional Middle Eastern and North African styles to create an atmosphere of joy, love, and happiness. A longtime in-demand musician in his previous home of Raqqa, Syria, where he also worked as a surgical nurse, Mohammed relocated to Ireland with his family in 2011 following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, a tragic event for his family as one of his sons was killed by Isis. Released by the Irish label Nyahh Records, I Am Kurdish is a powerful record with a beautiful message that finds connection through the universal language of music.  — AR

Ngwaka Son Systéme - Iboto Ngenge (Eck Echo)
Based in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, Ngwaka Son Systéme is a collective founded by Love Lokombe and Bom’s Bomolo, both founding members of Transgressive Recordings group KOKOKO! With a title that translates to “power struggle” or “seizing the opportunity,” their debut release is an adventurous set of rhythmic, genre-blurring, vocal-laced jams that continue in the contemporary Congolese tradition of reimagining electronic music through the infusion of soukous, zagué, techno, hip-hop, and dancehall styles, as well as creation of instruments made of household objects.   — AR

PS5 - Echologia (Hyperjazz)
The second album from this ensemble led by Naples, Italy saxophonist Pietro Santangelo (a former member of the stellar groove outfit Nu Guinea) is a lively set of adventurous, funky, vibrant jazz spotlighted by Pietro’s roaming saxophone leads and the band’s exploratory global rhythms.  — AR

Psymon Spine - Head Body Connector (Northern Spy)
The third album from this Brooklyn-based outfit is a fun set of quirky, colorful, arty psych-pop heavily informed by the band’s kinetic and emotionally charged live show.   — AR

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