New Music Reviews (5/6)

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 Camera Obscura, Hana Vu, Ibibio Sound Machine, and more. 

Camera Obscura - Look to the East, Look to the West (Merge)
They’re baaaaack. It’s been over ten years since this beloved Scottish indie-pop outfit has bestowed a new album upon us, and they haven’t skipped a beat. Tracyanne Campbell’s vocals sound as glorious as ever, atop lush, Americana-tinged soundscapes fronted by bright keys, syncopated percussion and endless pop hooks. – CS

Hana Vu - Romanticism (Ghostly International)
The sophomore album from LA-based singer-songwriter Hana Vu is an absolute knockout, instantly grabbing one’s attention with layered strings, sparking keys and her powerful vocals. On Romanticism, we are hearing an artist not just coming into her own, but bursting into it, as her angsty, guitar driven bedroom pop soars through these coming-of-age tales. Vu has mastered the art of the crescendo, with each new layer adding urgency, allowing the listener to search their heart and soul for shared experiences as her sheer musicianship shines. – CS

Ibibio Sound Machine - Pull the Rope (Merge)
The exhilarating London outfit return with a quick follow up to 2022’s exceptional Electricity. On Pull the Rope, their quintessential fusion of dance, Afrobeats, funk, disco and post-punk yields scorching bangers, rife with hope, light and unity, led by front woman Eno Williams’ inspiring and invigorating vocal performance. – CS

Kamasi Washington - Fearless Movement (Young)
The aptly titled new masterpiece from the revered jazz composer finds him wielding his signature saxophone style, impeccable arrangements and inspired collaborations with both freedom and precision. With booming, epic, expansive soundscapes and incredible features including Thundercat, André 3000, Brandon Coleman, D-Smoke, George Clinton, BJ the Chicago Kid, his own daughter and MANY more, Fearless Movement finds Washington and his ensemble confidently redefining modern jazz fusion. – CS

Blue Lab Beats - Blue Eclipse (Blue Adventure)
The fantastic fourth studio album from London-based production duo Blue Lab Beats – Namali Kwaten (aka NK-OK) and David Mrakpor (aka Mr DM) – explores the vibrant intersection of jazz, hip-hop, electronic, and R&B/soul music with a sweet foray into highlife vibes on early single “Guava.” Featuring a talented cast of guest vocalists and assists from fellow genre-blurring producers, Blue Eclipse confidently balances engaging instrumental cuts with magnetic vocal-laced songs and adds another sharp entry in this Grammy Award-winning duo’s discography. – AR

Charlotte Day Wilson - Cyan Blue (Stone Woman Music/XL Recordings)
Charlotte Day Wilson has one of THOSE voices that will stop you dead in your tracks. On her sophomore album, and first for XL, the Toronto-based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist dives deep into her world of emotive, gut wrenching, visceral soul and R&B that will take your breath away with each listen to these expertly crafted songs. – CS

Jessica Pratt - Here in the Pitch (Mexican Summer)
Every offering from LA-based songstress Jessica Pratt is a gift, and Here in the Pitch is no exception. While subdued in tempo, the nuanced layering of instrumentation and pristine production provide an intricate, dynamic soundscape. Pratt’s enchanting ‘60s influenced folk-pop with hints of bossa nova and psychedelia paired with her signature vocals culminates in an instant classic, ready for many repeat listens. – CS

Liv Rion - WRLD CRY (Desert Oasis)
The debut mini-album from Seattle-based vocalist, Quinault Nation citizen, and Hupa descendant Olivia Colegrove-Martinez (aka Liv Rion) is a stunning set of earthy R&B that serves up a stellar showcase for her gorgeous voice and warm, organic, introspective style that quickly recalls Cleo Sol. With its filler-free 7-track, 21-minute running time, WRLD CRY is a wonderful record that’s easy to hit repeat on and introduces a new artist in the local scene worth taking immediate note of. – AR

Mdou Moctar - Funeral For Justice (Matador)
On their seventh studio album, Nigerian quartet Mdou Moctar serve up their incendiary guitar work on this potent set of political, Tuareg rooted psych-rock. Funeral For Justice finds the outfit more unified, urgent and uninhibited than ever. – CS

The Lemon Twigs - A Dream Is All We Know (Captured Tracks)
On A Dream Is All We Know, the D’Addario brothers return with nostalgic, jaunty ‘60s pop rooted in surf, bubblegum, and all of the quintessential feel-good vibes just in time for the summer. Their hopeful lyricism, dreamy melodies and cheeky nods to days gone by hit all of the right sweet spots. – CS

Vampire Weekend - Only God Was Above Us (Columbia Records)
The fifth studio album from LA-based, NYC-founded trio is a solid set of bright, mature indie pop with dreamy vocals, infectious guitar tones and varied and layered sonics from jaunty rockers to orchestral pop to folksy ballads. Coming five years after their last full length, Only God Was Above Us is proof that good things take time. – CS

Blushing - Sugarcoat (Kanine)
The third album from this Austin-based four-piece band is another potent set of classic shoegaze, fuzzy dream-pop, and melodic noise-pop that combines ethereal melodies within plenty of guitar feedback, dense sonic textures, and steady rhythms. – AR

Céu  - Novela (Urban Jungle/ONErpm)
On her sixth studio album, São Paulo’s Céu continues exploring the diverse landscape of Brazilian music, this time returning to the US to record with Pupillo and Adrian Younge at his Linear Labs studio. Recorded live to tape, the album has both a classic and future feel to it, as the trio achieve a soulful journey through bossa nova, post-Tropicália and jazz soundscapes with lush arrangements and beautiful melodies. – CS

ellis - No Place That Feels Like (self-released)
The sophomore album from Linnea Siggelkow finds the artist in an emotional and challenging space of growth, resulting in a striking, expressive set of raw, dreamy bedroom pop with exceptional guitar work and flourishes of synths, trumpets, cello and piano throughout. – CS

Eric Slick - New Age Rage (Thirty Tigers)
The new solo album from Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick is a theatrical, bizarre, art-pop record full of whimsy, 80s pop nostalgia and what can only be described as gleeful rage. With unique synth work, interesting song structures and infectious hooks, Slick has come into his own as a solo artist. – CS

Ghost Piss - Dream Girl (Sockhead)
The debut album from Portland musician River Allen – aka Ghost Piss – is a dreamy fusion of synth pop, drum & bass and bedroom pop as they narrate the growing pains of their 20s with witty, cutting lyricism, impactful beats and great hooks. – CS

kiko hayashi - lost (Dream Catalogue)
Marking the first time in three years that cult favorite London-based label Dream Catalogue have accepted a direct demo submission from a new artist, this mysterious musician unveils her debut album and it’s a striking set of magnetic shoegaze jams and addictive noise-pop earworms that pairs gritty guitar-heavy backdrops with her ethereal vocals in impressive fashion. Featuring lyrics sung in both English and Japanese, lost is a distinctive offering from a label that specializes in dreampunk, vaporwave, and moody electronic music, yet one that succeeds and makes sense based on the strength of the music. – AR

Menomena - The Insulation EP (self-released)
A surprise EP from beloved Portland art-rock outfit, Menomena, is a momentous occasion. Their first new music in twelve years enables fans to travel back in time, giving them a snapshot into the magic this trio was able to capture, as these three previously unreleased songs all come from the 2010’s Mines era. – CS

NAIMA - City Lights (self-released)
NAIMA is an emerging Brooklyn-based vocalist/musician who has previously collaborated with Nick Hakim, Onyx Collective’s Isaiah Barr, Starchild and the New Romantic, and opened up stages for Bilal, Madison McFerrin, and Gabriel Garzon-Montano. Her debut EP – currently a Bandcamp exclusive – is a promising set of dreamy, seductive, hypnotic R&B. – AR

Sun Atlas - Return to the Spirit (Mocambo)
The debut album from this mysterious LA-based outfit is a consistently sweet set of engaging instrumental jams that blend cerebral funk, cinematic soul, psychedelic jazz, hip-hop breaks, and worldly grooves into a cosmic sonic trip. – AR

Broadcast - Spell Blanket - Collected Demos 2006-2009 (Warp)
This spellbinding 36-track album collects unpolished songs and fleeting sketches drawn from the late, great Broadcast vocalist/musician Trish Keenan’s extensive archive of 4-track tapes and MiniDiscs, offering a rudimentary glimpse into the ideas that would have been Broadcast’s fifth album following their acclaimed Tender Buttons record. Marking the first of two Broadcast demo collections to be released by Warp Records this year, with its follow-up Distant Call scheduled for a September release, Spell Blanket unveils the beguiling dream-pop experimentations from one of the most adored and influential bands of the early 2000s, whose story was tragically cut short following Trish’s passing from pneumonia complications in 2011 at the age of 42. – AR

Jharis Yokley - Sometimes, Late At Night (Rainbow Blonde)
The debut solo album from virtuosic, in-demand, NYC-based jazz drummer Jharis Yokley finds him expanding his sound and filtering his hyper-kinetic beat-oriented jazz foundation through a soulful prism of hip-hop, R&B, pop, and electronics. Featuring adventurous production, mind-blowing percussion, massive synth melodies from Japanese keyboard maestro BIGYUKI, and Jharis’ yearning vocals that frequently tackle themes of lost love, Sometimes, Late At Night is a unique progressive jazz record that’s co-produced by jazz luminary José James . – AR

Karate Boogaloo - Hold Your Horses (Colemine)
The second album of original material from this Melbourne-based quartet is a solid dip into chilled-out, soulful, heady funk instrumentals inflected with jazz, psych, and hip-hop flavors that’s all handled with an assured feathery touch. – AR

Laraw - Quarter Life Crisis (Bravo musique)
The debut album from this Montreal-based singer-songwriter is a promising set of angsty, candid, catchy alternative rock that captures the euphoric highs and crushing lows of love, romance, and sex as a young adult. – AR

Mandy - Lawn Girl (Exploding In Sound)
The debut solo album from Melkbelly frontwoman Miranda Winters is an impressive collection of murky bubblegum rock with a keen pop sensibility. Performed by an all women band, Winters explores many realms of femininity bouncing back and forth from rockers with ripping guitars to more emotional singer-songwriter moments.  – CS

wojtek the bear - shaking hands with the NME (Last Night From Glasgow)
The third full-length album from this Glasgow-based band is a lovely set of sophisticated indie pop with a warm, sweeping, cinematic streak, wonderful string accents, and an irresistible Scottish melodic charm. – AR

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