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new kexp album reviews

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New Album Reviews:

Wolf Alice: My Love Is Cool
Buy! - (RCA)
This British band’s debut full-length is an expansive blend of ethereal dream-pop, shoegazer psych-rock, bristling grunge-pop and much more, with a dynamic, wide-ranging sound on smartly constructed songs ranging from ethereal folk balladry to feral grunge-punk. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Desaparecidos: Payola
Buy! - (Epitaph)
The second album (and first in 13 years) from this Omaha-bred band led by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame is a strong set of politically charged punk in the tradition of The Clash with roaring guitars, soaring keyboards, urgent rhythms, anthemic choruses, impassioned vocals and sharply pointed lyrics railing against corporate greed, apathy and economic and racial injustice. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Other Desaparecidos album reviews:

Read Music/Speak Spanish - 1/15/2002

Leon Bridges: Coming Home
Buy! - (Columbia)
This Fort Worth, TX artist’s debut album is an excellent set of early ‘60s-steeped soul with consistently strong, beautifully crafted songs combining a warm and lean sound with Bridges’ sweet, soulful croon and often-poignant lyrics. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Gengahr: A Dream Outside
Buy! - (Transgressive)
This British band’s debut album is a promising set of eccentric, hook-filled psych-pop with trippy, inventive guitar textures, eerie falsetto vocals, quirky, often-disquieting lyrics and sparkling pop melodies. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free
Buy! - (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers)
The latest solo album from the former Drive-By Trucker is another excellent set of expansive roots-rock with a warm, often acoustic-based sound and a consistently strong variety of beautifully crafted songs combining heart-tugging melodies with some of his finest lyrics to date. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Bully: Feels Like
Buy! - (Columbia)
The debut album from this Nashville band led by Alicia Bognanno is a promising set of ‘90s-influenced rock. Produced by Bognanno (who interned at Steve Albini’s renowned Electrical Audio studio), the album features a raw sound with fuzzy, grungy guitars and energetic rhythms accompanying her scuffed vocals and unflinching, sometimes cutting lyrics. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Sorority Noise: Joy, Departed
Buy! - (Topshelf)
This Connecticut band’s second album is a potent set of ‘90s-steeped, often-melancholy rock with a dynamic, smartly crafted sound combining crunchy guitars, keyboards, strings, horns and other instrumentation with Cameron Boucher’s plain-spoken vocals and confessional lyrics dealing with addiction, manic depression and busted relationships. 6/18/2015 - Don Yates

Maribou State: Portraits
Buy! - (Counter)
This British duo’s debut full-length is a strong set of simmering deep house and downtempo grooves with a warm, atmospheric sound combining hypnotic piano lines, propulsive rhythms, often-melancholy melodies and chopped and manipulated vocal samples along with a few guest vocalists. 6/12/2015 - Don Yates

Annabel: Having It All
Buy! - (Tiny Engines)
This Akron, OH band’s third album is a strong set of dynamic, ‘90s-influenced emo-rock with crunchy intertwining guitars, energetic rhythms, earnest, smartly crafted lyrics, anthemic choruses and potent song hooks. 6/12/2015 - Don Yates

Buy! - (Domino)
Scottish band Franz Ferdinand hooked up with the veteran quirky art-rock duo Sparks for an impressive outing of theatrical dance-rock with bright keyboards, fuzzy glam-rock guitars, occasional bombastic strings, propulsive rhythms, melodramatic vocals and clever, often-sardonic lyrics. 6/12/2015 - Don Yates

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment: Surf
Buy! - (self-released)
The debut album from this Chicago collective led by trumpeter Nico Segal (aka Donnie Trumpet) and also featuring Chance The Rapper in a prominent role is a summery, expansive and beautifully crafted blend of hip hop with jazz, funk, R&B and other styles, combining a warm, sunny sound using lots of live instrumentation with an impressive lineup of guest singers and rappers including Janelle Monae, Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu, though it’s often Chance who steals the show. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

No Joy: More Faithful
Buy! - (Mexican Summer)
This Montreal band’s third album is a strong set of adventurous, densely textured dream pop with often shape-shifting songs featuring fuzzy, shoegazerish guitars and ethereal harmonies. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Other No Joy album reviews:

Ghost Blonde - 12/3/2010

Hudson Mohawke: Lantern
Buy! - (Warp)
The second full-length from Scottish producer Ross Birchard (aka Hudson Mohawke) finds him bringing a bit more restraint to his maximalist blend of various electronic styles with R&B and hip hop, with songs ranging from anthemic hip hop and rave instrumentals to widescreen, R&B-inflected electro-pop and moody orchestral music. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Active Child: Mercy
Buy! - (Vagrant)
The second full-length from LA-based artist Pat Grossi (aka Active Child) is an impressive set of R&B-tinged electro-pop with a spacious sound featuring atmospheric synths, stately piano, delicate harp and spare beats accompanying his souful choir-boy vocals and love-centered lyrics. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Other Active Child album reviews:

Rapor - 10/25/2013
You Are All I See - 7/22/2011

Christopher Owens: Chrissybaby Forever
Buy! - (Turnstile)
The former Girls frontman quickly follows up his rootsy 2014 full-length A New Testament with his third solo album, which finds him returning to a more guitar pop-oriented, retro-tinged sound that’s reminiscent of his work with Girls, as are the album’s lyrics centering around love, dissolution and survival. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Other Christopher Owens album reviews:

A New Testament - 9/25/2014

Roman a Clef: Abandonware
Buy! - (Infinite Best)
The debut album from this band featuring Ryan Newmyer and Jen Goma of A Sunny Day In Glasgow along with Ice Choir frontman Kurt Feldman is a promising set of breezy yet sophisticated, ‘80s-steeped pop with shimmering synths and guitars, smooth vocals, wry lyrics and stylish pop hooks. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

AM & Shawn Lee: Outlines
Buy! - (AM Sounds)
The third album from the duo of LA singer-songwriter AM and British producer/multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee is another slinky blend of electro-pop, funk, soul, disco and more, combining spacy synths, propulsive organic grooves, smooth vocals and glittering pop hooks. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Other AM & Shawn Lee album reviews:

La Musique Numerique - 4/18/2013

Girlpool: Before The World Was Big
Buy! - (Wichita)
This young Philly-via-LA duo’s debut full-length is a promising set of intimate, lo-fi folk-punk, featuring a stripped-down sound with just simple guitar and bass lines accompanying the duo’s unvarnished vocals and emotive, smartly crafted lyrics revolving around identity and transitioning to adulthood. 6/4/2015 - Don Yates

Algiers: Algiers
Buy! - (Matador)
This London/NYC-via-Atlanta trio’s debut album is an electrifying blend of edgy post-punk with soul and gospel, featuring a dark, haunting sound with ominous guitar squalls, icy synths, hypnotic drum-machine rhythms, gritty, soulful lead vocals, gospel-influenced harmonies and politically charged lyrics. Easily one of this year’s most powerful albums. 5/29/2015 - Don Yates

Jamie xx: In Colour
Buy! - (Young Turks)
The solo debut from this British DJ/producer (and member of London band The xx) is a masterful blend of dance-friendly electronic music ranging from club bangers steeped in house and techno (along with some hip hop and dancehall) to minimalist, R&B-inflected electro-pop reminiscent of the music of The xx. The xx’s Romy and Oliver Sim provide guest vocals on a handful of songs, while one of the highlights features Young Thug & Popcaan. 5/29/2015 - Don Yates

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