New Music Reviews (10/26)

Album Reviews

Each week, KEXP’s Music Director Don Yates shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases (joined this week by DJ Alex Ruder). See what's coming up this week below, including reviews for new releases from Nao, Robyn, boygenius, and more.

Nao – Saturn (Little Tokyo/Sony Music)
This London artist’s second album is an impressive blend of celestial R&B, funk and electronic beats, combining adventurous production with her elastic, high-pitched vocals and lyrics of love, loss, and rebirth. — DY

Robyn – Honey (Konichiwa/Interscope)
This Swedish artist’s sixth solo album (and first in eight years) is a darker, more atmospheric take on her propulsive dance-pop, combining woozy synths and hypnotic house rhythms with her pleading vocals and often-poignant lyrics of love, loss, heartache, and resilience. — DY

boygeniusboygenius EP (Matador)
The debut EP from this indie supergroup comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus is an excellent six-song set of intimate folk-pop featuring a mostly stark sound, alternating lead vocals, warm harmonies and unflinching, sharply crafted lyrics of heartache and loss. — DY

Mr. Twin Sister – Salt (Twin Group)
This New York band’s third album is a strong set ranging from urgent, rhythm-driven electro-pop to slinky, ‘80s-steeped dance-pop and brooding, jazz-tinged pop. — DY

Taken By Trees – Yellow To Blue (ART:ERY/Shir)
The fourth album from this project of LA-based Swedish singer-songwriter Victoria Bergsman (formerly lead vocalist of The Concretes) is a wonderful set of breezy, colorful, dreamy pop that pairs her warm ethereal vocals and glistening melodies with cinematic synth-enhanced backdrops full of rich instrumentation and buoyant rhythms. — AR

Pill – Soft Hell (Mexican Summer)
This New York band’s second album is a powerful set of No Wave post-punk with buzzing guitars and bleating sax accompanying Veronica Torres’ fiery vocals and politically charged lyrics laced with dark humor. — DY

Richie Dagger’s Crime – Sea of Dysfunction (self-released)
The debut full-length from this Seattle band led by Richie Nelson is an impressive, atmospheric blend of trippy psych-pop, moody trip hop, spacy R&B, New Wave pop, chamber folk and more, combining intricately detailed production with buoyant pop melodies. — DY

Spirit Award – Muted Crowd (Union Zero)
This Seattle trio’s second album is a potent set of psych-tinged post-punk with ringing guitars, atmospheric synths, driving rhythms, and often-dark lyrics. — DY

Antarctigo Vespucci – Love in the Time of Email (Polyvinyl)
The second album from the duo of Jeff Rosenstock (ex-Bomb The Music Industry) and Chris Farren (ex-Fake Problems) is a first-rate set of punkish, emotive power-pop with crunchy guitars, bright synths, punchy rhythms, and buoyant pop hooks. — DY

Ty Segall – Fudge Sandwich (In The Red)
This prolific LA-based artist’s latest release is a fun album of cover songs with the source material being classic ‘60s and ‘70s rock, funk, prog-rock and hardcore punk, though Segall’s versions here are often dramatically different from the originals. — DY

Julia Holter – Aviary (Domino)
This LA composer’s fifth full-length is a wide-ranging 90-minute double album of atmospheric avant-pop with an intricately layered, at times discordant sound mirroring modern-day sensory overload and a world falling apart. — DY

IAN SWEET – Crush Crusher (Hardly Art)
The second album from this LA-based artist (aka Jilian Medford) is a strong set of gnarled indie-rock with fuzzy, swirling guitars, and anxiety-fueled lyrics. — DY

Various Artists – Studio Barnhus Volym 1 (Studio Barnhus)
Founded in 2010 by Kornél Kovács, Axel Boman and Petter Nordkvist, Stockholm-based label Studio Barnhus has been a trusted resource for premier electronic grooves with a playful, quirky, adventurous spirit and a sneaky, intermittent pop-leaning streak. Their first label compilation is a solid stacked collection of new tunes from longtime alums of the label alongside some of their very talented friends. — AR

Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down (ATO)
Adam’s House Cat was the Muscle Shoals,AL-based band founded by future Drive-By Truckers Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood in 1985. They recorded their one and only album in 1990, and now it’s finally being released for the first time, with newly recorded vocals from Hood. The album’s roots-tinged rock isn’t far removed from what they would be doing later with the Truckers, and while it’s easier to hear early influences like The Replacements and R.E.M., it’s also clear they were formidable songwriters early on. — DY

Sun Breaks – All On Camera (Suicide Squeeze)
The debut full-length from this Seattle duo comprised of John Atkins (764-HERO, The Can’t See, etc.) and James van Leuven (Automaton Adventure Series, Plan B, etc.) is an adventurous set of psych-tinged electro-pop combining buzzing synths, atmospheric guitars and hip hop, funk and dub rhythms with buoyant harmonies and hypnotic melodies. — DY

Tunde Olaniran – Stranger (Magic Wheel)
This Detroit-via-Flint, MI artist’s second album is a potent blend of moody R&B,hip hop and more, combining trunk-rattling trap beats with his elastic vocals and lyrics of hope and resilience. — DY

The Callas with Lee Ranaldo – Trouble and Desire (Dirty Water)
Greek band The Callas hooked up with the former Sonic Youth guitarist for this adventurous album blending ritualistic psych-rock with driving post-punk. — DY

Shad – A Short Story About A War (Secret City)
The latest release from this Toronto rapper is a concept album about a fictional desert planet consumed by war, combining an expansivehip hop sound inflected with R&B, jazz, rock and various electronic styles with sharply crafted lyrics reflecting on culture, politics, spirituality and more. — DY

Constant Lovers – Pangs (self-released)
This Seattle band’s latest album is one of their more adventurous releases, featuring an intense post-hardcore sound with bristling angular guitar riffs, occasional skronky sax, pounding, often shape-shifting rhythms and urgent vocals. — DY

The Fucking Eagles – Beak & Destroy! (self-released)
This Tacoma band’s latest album is a 19-song double album of raucous Northwest garage-punk reminiscent at times of the Sonics, combining blazing guitar riffs, energetic rhythms, occasional sax and harmonica, gang vocals and catchy song hooks. — DY

VVV – L'Ennui (Autoplacer)
The debut album from this Madrid band (sometimes stylized as VVV [Trippin'you]) is a promising set of angst-driven, synth-heavy post-punk featuring propulsive icy backdrops and urgent, passionate lyrics sung in Spanish. Although they share the same name, this band is not to be confused with Austin, Texas electronic producer and Hush Hush alum VVV. — AR

Tasha – Alone At Last (Father/Daughter)
This Chicago artist’s debut mini-album is a potent seven-song set of intimate, R&B-tinged folk-pop combining gentle guitars and subtle electronics with her sunny vocals and often-poignant lyrics of hope, love, and resilience. — DY

Doe Paoro – Soft Power (Anti-)
This LA-based artist’s third album is a well-crafted set of ‘70s-influenced, R&B-tinged pop reminiscent at times of Carole King. — DY

Thom Yorke – Suspiria Soundtrack (XL)
The Radiohead frontman’s latest release is a soundtrack to the new horror-film remake, and while most of its 80-minute run time is filled with a variety of suitably creepy instrumentals, there are also a few songs with vocals that evoke comparisons to the more experimental side of Radiohead. — DY

Mitch von Arx – Pyramids (Project Mooncircle)
Reminiscent at times of Jon Hopkins and Gui Boratto, the debut album from this electronic producer based between London and Switzerland is a solid set of dynamic, textured, sophisticated electronic grooves. "Diamond Dust" is a distinctive standout that showcases a more quirky, brighter, and playful tone that's more akin to Todd Terje. — AR

Djrum – Portrait With Firewood (R&S)
The sophomore album from UK-based electronic producer Felix Manuel (aka Djrum) is a fascinating set of exploratory electronic compositions that balances beautiful neo-classical experimentations with cerebral techno rhythms in dramatic, magnetic, impressive fashion. — AR

Them Are Us Too – Amends (Dais)
Them Are Us Too was formed in the Bay Area by friends/classmates Kennedy Ashlyn (aka SRSQ) and Cash Askew in 2012. They were both only 21 years old when they signed to Dais Records for their 2015 debut Remain, a stellar album that showcased their unique style of intimate, intense, nostalgic, noir-tinged dream-pop and shoegaze, propelled by Kennedy's powerful, ethereal vocals and Cash's hypnotic beats and intricate washes of guitar. While the duo were working on their sophomore album, Cash tragically passed away in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire on December 2nd, 2016, leaving behind unfinished recordings and demos that Kennedy and those close to Cash felt deserved be heard. Kennedy returned to the studio with producer Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Sunny Haire (Cash’s stepfather), Matia Somovich (INHALT), and Anya Dross (Cash’s girlfriend) to help complete those recordings. The result is the final entry in the Them Are Us Too story, a cathartic gift of emotional, urgent, and beautiful dream-pop,
shoegaze and synth-pop that serves as a final gift to TAUT's family, friends, and fans who supported them. — AR

whereislaex – four. (self-released)
The latest offering from this mysterious Japanese electronic producer is another sweet set of futuristic trap-leaning club beats reminiscent of Sam Gellaitry, Hudson Mohawke, and Rustie that collects his own bootleg remixes of well-known jams alongside some blockbuster original cuts. — AR

Cloud Person – Cold Starts (Druscilla Cloud)
This Seattle band’s latest release is a solid album of densely produced, prog and psych-tinged rock. — DY

Many Voices Speak – Tank Town (Hit City U.S.A.)
The debut full-length album from Swedish artist Matilda Mård (aka Many Voices Speak) is a promising set of widescreen dream-pop, sleepy guitar-pop, and light shoegaze that all blend nicely with her warm vocals. — AR

Domenique Dumont – Miniatures de Auto Rhythm (Antinote)
This Paris-based production duo’s debut album is a fine set of breezy Balearic pop with pulsing rhythms, colorful keyboards, sleek guitars and playful melodies. — DY

Magic Potion – Endless Graffiti (PNKSLM)
This Swedish band’s second album is a fine set of psych-tinged slacker-pop. — DY

Young Guv – 2 Sad 2 Funk (Night School)
Young Guv is the alias of Toronto's Ben Cook, a multi-faceted musician that moonlights as the guitarist in hardcore punk band Fucked Up. Far from the intense theatrics of that band, his second album under this solo alias is another loose, funky, groovy set of
warped electro-pop with a nostalgic chillwave touch. — AR

Mr. Mitch – Primary Progressive (Gobstopper)
Following a run of releases on Planet Mu Records, London-based electronic producer Mr. Mitch (aka Miles Mitchell) returns to his own label, Gobstopper Records, for another evocative set of exploratory grime-leaning productions that carry his trademark cinematic, nocturnal, immersive aesthetic. Creatively and emotionally inspired by his father's struggles with Multiple Sclerosis, Primary Progressive features a distinctive pair of standout cuts, the pulsing R&B-tinged "Settle" and the vocal-laced midtempo joint "Show Me." — AR

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