New Music Reviews (10/22)

Album Reviews

Each week, KEXP’s Music Director Don Yates shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases (joined this week by DJs Abbie Gobelli and Alex Ruder). See what's coming up this week below, including reviews for new releases from Empress OfNeneh CherryCloud Nothings, and more.

Empress Of – Us (Terrible Records)
The second album from this LA artist (aka Lorely Rodriguez) is a strong set of buoyant, R&B-tinged electro-pop with bright synths and crisp beats accompanying her supple vocals and sharply crafted lyrics of love and community. - Don Yates
Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics (Smalltown Supersound)
This veteran Swedish artist’s fifth solo album is an impressive, often-dark set of avant electro-pop inflected with R&B, jazz, trip hop and more. Produced by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), who also produced her previous album (2014’s Blank Project), the album combines hypnotic, brooding beats and colorful dashes of kora, steel drum, flute, harp and more with her grainy vocals and smartly crafted lyrics blending the political and the personal. - DY
Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning (Carpark)
The fifth album from this Cleveland band led by Dylan Baldi is one of their more visceral and aggressive outings. Produced by Randall Dunn, the album’s a blistering set of driving garage-punk with buzzing guitars, caffeinated rhythms, snarling vocals and punchy song hooks. - DY
How To Dress Well – The Anteroom (Domino)
The fifth album from this LA-based artist (aka Tom Krell) is a more experimental take on his atmospheric, R&B-tinged electro-pop. Co-produced by Joel Ford of Ford & Lopatin, the album features an often-eerie, atmospheric sound with glitchy beats and textures and often-dystopian lyrics. - DY
Blinky Bill – Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales (self-released)
The debut album from this Nairobi, Kenya producer/vocalist (aka Bill Ochieng Sellanga) is an adventurous set of hip hop and R&B blended with various electronic and African styles, combining bright synths and propulsive electronic beats with traditional African percussion and Blinky Bill’s hypnotic delivery. Special guests include Sampa the Great, Petite Noir and Nneka. - DY
Weakened Friends – Common Blah (Don Giovanni)
This Portland, ME trio’s debut album is a potent set of punkish, ‘90s-steeped grunge-pop combining buzzing guitars, energetic rhythms and catchy pop hooks with Sonia Sturino’s volatile vocals and angst-fueled lyrics. - DY
Bixiga 70 – Quebra Cabeca (Glitterbeat)
The fourth album from this Sao Paolo-based 10-piece band is a potent set of Afro-Brazilian jazz-funk blending elements of Afro-beat, highlife, reggae and more. - DY
Young Jesus – The Whole Thing Is Just There (Saddle Creek)
The fourth album from this LA-based band led by John Rossiter is a strong set of expansive, jazz-tinged post-hardcore with a dynamic sound featuring rumbling guitars, intricate polyrhythms, daring improvised passages and emotive vocals. - DY
George Clanton - Slide (100% Electronica)

The second album from this Virginia-born musician (aka ESPRIT 空想 and Mirror Kisses) under his own name expands his vaporwave roots for a knockout set of widescreen gauzy pop that boasts stellar wall-of-sound production techniques, dips into synth-pop, shoegaze, and big beat styles, and impressively captures a uniquely nostalgic and often downright enormous pop sound. - Alex Ruder
Flamingosis - Flight Fantastic (self-released)
The latest release from New Jersey beat producer Flamingosis (aka Aaron Velasquez) is another funky set of sample-heavy grooves that ooze with classic boogie, soul, disco, hip-hop, jazz, and R&B flavors. - AR
St. Vincent – MassEducation (Loma Vista)
The latest St. Vincent release is a dramatically stripped-down reworking of her previous album (2017’s synth-laden Masseduction). Featuring just Thomas Bartlett accompanying her on piano, the album puts the focus more squarely on her often-dark lyrics of lost love. - DY
Joe Strummer – 001 (Ignition)
This cool 2-CD compilation of songs from the late frontman for The Clash features a mix of rarities and unreleased recordings, beginning with a couple from his pre-Clash pub-rock band The 101ers before diving into his diverse post-Clash career, which ranged from punk to folk-rock, reggae, rockabilly and much more. - DY
Moaning Lisa – Do You Know Enough? EP (Father/Daughter)
This Canberra, Australia-based band’s second EP is a potent five-song set of shoegazerish grunge-pop with a dynamic sound featuring fuzzy guitars, ethereal harmonies and catchy song hooks. - DY
TVAM - Psychic Data (Self-Released)
TVAM (pronounced, TV-AM) is the moniker of Manchester-based electronic artist, Joe Oxley. On his debut, Oxley experiments with his electronic-rock hybrid by infusing soaring guitar riffs underscored by looping metallic drum beats, bright synths, and hazy vocals. - Abbie Gobeli
Peter Bjorn and John – Darker Days (INGRID)
This Swedish trio’s eighth album is a fine set of hook-filled indie-pop ranging from propulsive dance-pop to jangly ‘60s psych-pop and wistful folk-pop. - DY
Body Type – Body Type EP (Partisan)
This Sydney, Australia band’s debut EP is a promising six-song set of surf-inflected post-punk with jangly guitars, driving rhythms, buoyant harmonies and sparkling pop melodies. - DY
Geotic – Traversa (Ghostly International)
The latest Geotic album from LA-based artist Will Wiesenfield (who also records under the name of Baths) is a fine set of transportive ambient-pop with atmospheric keyboards, lush strings, evocative field recording samples and dreamy melodies. - DY
Local Liars – Last Call For Reason (self-released)
The debut release from this Seattle band comprised of Daniel G. Harmann, Kenny Darling (The Trouble Starts), Danny Oleson and Jasen Samford (both from Exohxo and Speaker Speaker) is a fine 8-song set of anthemic, ‘90s-steeped punk-pop with ringing guitars, pounding rhythms, sing-along choruses and fist-pumping song hooks. - DY
Farao – Pure-O (Western Vinyl)
The second album from this Berlin-based Norwegian artist (aka Kari Jahnsen) is a fine set of arty electro-pop with sparkling synths, propulsive beats and ethereal vocals. - DY
Sam Wilkes - WILKES (Leaving)
The official solo debut release from this LA-based bassist and producer is an absorbing set of warm, atmospheric, expansive jazz compositions that bleed into ambient, psychedelic, and gauzy-pop realms. Closing track "Descending" is a particularly dreamy highlight and it's the lone track to feature vocals. Guests include saxophonist Sam Gendel, who he previously collaborated with on 2018's Music For Saxofone & Bass Guitar release, and Brainfeeder's Louis Cole. - AR
Dead Soft – New Emotion EP (Arts & Crafts)
This Gabriola Island, BC band’s latest release is a solid 5-song EP of ‘90s-steeped grunge-pop with fuzzy guitars and bright pop hooks juxtaposed with often-dark lyrics of loss and resilience. - DY
Olivia Nelson - For You (Hear This)
Following a string of standout singles and ear-grabbing guest appearances, London's Olivia Nelson emerges with her debut album and it's a strong set of sleek UK-centric R&B/pop bolstered by fresh, funky, and sultry synth-heavy beats. - AR
Gia Margaret - There's Always Glimmer (Orindal)
The debut album from this Chicago-based singer-songwriter is a beautiful, evocative, and subtly powerful set of intimate folk-pop enhanced with light electronics that's highlighted by her magnetic hushed vocals and plaintive, wistful, vivid lyrical storytelling. - AR
altopalo - frozenthere (Samedi)
The debut album from this NY four-piece band is a captivating set of atmospheric leftfield folk songs infused with spacious post-dubstep-influenced electronics and spectral R&B flourishes. While there's moments that recall Apollo Records duo Cloud Boat as well as alt-j, frozenthere finds the band's members – all veterans of New York's underground scene – reaching out to explore a truly singular sonic territory. - AR
Laura Gibson – Goners (Barsuk)
This Portland-based artist’s fifth album is a well-crafted set of melancholy folk-pop combining a spare sound with her aching vocals and lyrics of love, loss, mortality and grief. - DY
The Hidden Shelf - Zone Out (self-released)
The Hidden Shelf is the solo project of Philadelphia-based artist Minji Kong. Her debut album is a fantastic set of dreamy bedroom pop that pairs her gorgeous airy vocals and whimsical melodies with fuzzy guitar, warm synths, and lo-fi drum machines. A consistently impressive hidden gem of a debut from The Hidden Shelf. - AR
Papercuts – Parallel Universe Blues (Slumberland)
The sixth Papercuts album from LA-via-San Francisco artist Jason Quever is a well-crafted set of dreamy, psych-tinged indie-pop. - DY
deM atlaS – Bad Actress (Rhymesayers)
This Minneapolis artist’s debut full-length is a solid, emotive blend of hip hop and R&B. Produced by Ant of the group Atmosphere, the album combines hard-hitting boom-bap beats, bright synths and occasional guitars with his soulful singing and sturdy, reflective rapping. Try 4, 5, 10 & 13.--Don Yates
Tears Run Rings – Somewhere EP (Shelflife)
This west coast band’s latest EP is a fine five-song set of shoegazerish dream-pop with fuzzy guitars, driving rhythms, airy vocals and celestial melodies. - DY
Munya – Delmano EP (Luminelle)
The latest EP from this Montreal-based artist (aka Josianne Boivin) is a solid three-song set of prog-tinged electro-pop reminiscent at times of Stereolab. - DY
Nohidea - Departures (Alpha Pup)
The latest album from this prolific yet fairly mysterious beat producer is a magnificent set of lush, enveloping, nostalgia-tinged downtempo beats infused with blissful ambient passages, gorgeous neo-classical flourishes, and more conventional instrumental hip-hop moments. Underground MC looms. appears on a pair of standout tracks. - AR
WMD - 2011 (self-released)
Although best-known for his dreamy ambient/downtempo music, Seattle's Michael Erickson (aka WMD) has strong roots in the chiptune scene and his latest offering lean heavily into this video game-inspired sound with cinematic sky-scraping 8-bit melodies over huge nostalgic synth chords and propulsive beats. "17" and "Svelte" provide a pair of distinctive ambient-leaning highlights that fall outside of the distinctive chiptune sound. - AR
Hillstomp – Monster Receiver (Fluff & Gravy)
This Portland duo’s latest album is a visceral, punkish blend of garage-rock, blues and traditional folk. - DY
Gregory Alan Isakov – Evening Machines (Dualtone)
This Boulder, CO artist’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of atmospheric folk-pop combining a spacious, often-reverbed sound with wistful melodies and reflective lyrics of love, loss and the natural world. - DY

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