New Music Reviews (12/14)

Album Reviews
12/14/2020
KEXP

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


The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You (Astralwerks)
This Australian duo’s third album is an excellent set of buoyant, star-bound electronic grooves inflected with disco, house, funk, hip hop, soul, folk and much more, combining a wide range of samples with live instrumentation and an impressive lineup of guest vocalists ranging from Blood Orange, Leon Bridges and Perry Farrell to Denzel Curry, Tricky and Sampa the Great. — DY

Taylor Swift – evermore (Republic)
This Nashville-based artist’s latest album is a surprise sequel to her July 2020 album folklore. Like that album, this one features a moody folk-pop sound formed with help from The National’s Aaron Dessner and an impressive guest cast including other members of The National along with Haim and Bon Iver. Also like folklore, the new album features a variety of well-crafted, intersecting story songs and character studies revolving around the tangled webs that love weaves. — DY

Polyrhythmics – Fondue Party EP (Color Red)
This Seattle band’s latest release is a five-song EP that focuses on the more relaxed, downtempo and dub-influenced side of their music with a variety of atmospheric, laid-back funk, R&B and reggae instrumental grooves. — DY

Nilüfer Yanya – Feeling Lucky? EP (ATO)
This British artist’s latest release is a strong three-song EP of groove-driven pop combining atmospheric guitars and keyboards and propulsive rhythms with introspective lyrics revolving around luck and circumstance. — DY

Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen (Republic)
This Cleveland-born artist’s latest album is the third volume in his Man on the Moon series (the first two of which were released in 2009 & 2010). The album begins by leaning hard into a fairly standard trap sound before getting more adventurous during the second half with a variety of atmospheric soundscapes. Like the first two Man on the Moon albums, this one features introspective lyrics revolving around depression, anxiety and substance abuse. — DY

bod – The Big One (self-released)
This Seattle band follows up their first two EPs with a well-crafted debut full-length ranging from atmospheric, New Waveish indie-pop to jangly power-pop and wistful, psych-tinged pop with sighing vocals and dreamy melodies. — DY

Lavender Diamond – Now is the Time (Petaluma)
The fourth album (and first in eight years) from this LA trio led by Becky Stark is a beautifully crafted set of folk-tinged chamber-pop with piano, strings, brass and more accompanying Stark’s crystalline vocals and lyrics of hope and resilience. — DY

Fana Hues – Hues (Bright Antenna)
This Pasadena, CA-based artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of atmospheric R&B ranging from groove-driven, hip hop-influenced tracks to moody soul ballads, with the songs revolving around relationships falling apart. — DY

Sweeping Promises – Hunger For A Way Out (Feel It)
The debut album from this Boston-based duo comprised of Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug is a ripping set of fuzzy post-punk and catchy garage-rock that is deservingly being heralded as one of the finest debut albums of the year. Recorded using a "single mic technique" that beautifully captures Lira's passionate, urgent, anthemic vocals, Hunger For A Way Out is a fantastic lo-fi DIY album full of swagger, charisma, and sonic nuggets. — AR

The Kills – Little Bastards (Domino)
This English/American duo’s latest release is a collection of B-sides and other rarities from their early years, spanning from 2002-2009. It’s a fine, if understandably uneven sampler of the duo’s dark, bluesy garage-punk in its earlier, more raw and scuzzy incarnation. — DY

Arctic Monkeys – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Domino)
This British band’s latest release is a double live album recorded in 2018 at the famed Royal Albert Hall in London, with the music ranging from the spunky post-punk of their early records to the swanky lounge-rock of their last album. — DY

Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin' Grass: Vol. 2 (The Cowboy Arms Sessions) (High Top Mountain)
This Kentucky-bred, Nashville-based artist’s latest release is the surprise sequel to his October 2020 album featuring bluegrass versions of various songs from his catalog. The sequel features the same guest lineup of stellar bluegrass musicians while showcasing a wide range of Sturgill material, ranging from the furious anti-war song that kicks off the set to metaphysical musings, songs from the road and much more. — DY

James Blake – Covers EP (Republic)
This British artist’s latest release is a six-song EP of covers recorded during lockdown, with Blake offering spare, poignant, piano-based interpretations of material ranging from Billie Eilish and Frank Ocean to Joy Division. — DY

Gidge – New Light (Atomnation)
The fourth album from this Swedish production duo is a brilliant set of deep, textured, exquisite electronic grooves with highlights that frequently reside in an enveloping low-slung tech-house territory reminiscent of Andy Stott, Nicolas Jaar, and early Trentemøller, yet they also sneak in some icy downtempo beats along the way. Boasting immaculate sound design and an intricate attention to detail, Gidge's stellar productions are further enhanced by hypnotic vocal samples that add to their intoxicating sound. — AR

Lost Horizons – In Quiet Moments Part 1 (Bella Union)
The latest release from the British duo of Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins) and Richie Thomas (Dif Juz) is the first part of their second album (the second part is due out in late February 2021). Featuring an impressive lineup of guest vocalists including Porridge Radio, John Grant, Penelope Isles and other notables, Part 1 is a well-crafted set of lush, cinematic pop and rock with lyrics revolving around death and rebirth. — DY

Khruangbin – Late Night Tales: Khruangbin (Late Night Tales)
This Houston trio’s newest release is the latest volume in the Late Night Tales series of artist-curated compilation albums. It’s a diverse set of mostly obscure artists with the mostly smooth and breezy music ranging from spiritual jazz and vocoder dub to Bollywood disco, Nigerian boogie, Latin pop, silky soul and much more. — DY

ShitKid – Crotch Rock EP (PNKSLM)
The latest release (and fourth this year) from this Swedish artist (aka Åsa Söderqvist) is a fine five-song set of lo-fi garage-pop with fuzzy guitars and catchy song hooks. — DY

Ambrose Akinmusire – On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment (Blue Note)
The 5th album (recently named as a Grammy nominee for Best Instrumental Jazz Album) from this prodigious Oakland jazz trumpeter/composer is a dynamic set of expressive jazz that balances complex arrangements with more pacific yet melancholic passages that yields a powerful, personal, and affecting album reminiscent of the works of Seattle's own Ahamefule J. Oluo. — AR

Q – The Shave Experiment EP (Columbia)
The latest release from this South Florida artist (aka Q. Steven Marsden) is an expansive, five-song set of soul inflected with hip hop, folk and other styles, combining atmospheric guitars and often-spacy beats with his elastic vocals (often launching into a soaring falsetto) and introspective lyrics. — DY

Samii – Figuring It Out (2000BLACK)
The debut release from this London-based vocalist is an impressive set of smooth, sleek, confident R&B infused with broken-beat, house, and funk flavors that blends her rich, expressive vocals with solid production handled by Kaidi Tatham, dego, and other 2000BLACK affiliates. — AR

breathe. – breathe. (Silk)
The debut EP from this Australian duo comprised of Sean Walker (formerly of MOVEMENT) and Andrew Grant is an intoxicating set of smoldering nocturnal R&B that carries a brooding sultry streak through its blurry yearning vocals, smoky atmospheric textures, and hypnotic slow-motion beats. While it carries similarities to MOVEMENT's excellent self-titled EP that came out on Modular Recordings in 2014, breathe. also brings to mind Chiiild and The Weeknd's early material. — AR

CHAII – Lightswitch EP (Black Lotus)
The debut EP from this New Zealand-based Persian rapper/producer is a fresh set of high-energy hip-hop with an adventurous pop streak and a colorful worldly flair that brings to mind M.I.A. and Spank Rock. — AR

Shelf Nunny – Ebb & Flow EP (Palettes)
The latest EP from Seattle-based electronic producer (aka Christian Gunning) is another solid of dreamy, cinematic, melancholic downtempo beats and subtle kinetic grooves distinguished by his lush atmospheric textures and bittersweet melodies. — AR

WD4D – Return To Cloud City (4Dworld)
The latest offering from beloved local DJ/producer WD4D (aka Waylon Dungan) is a solid set of chill instrumental hip-hop cuts that fuse his love of whimsical jazz with dusty boom-bap beats and vocals sampled from popular R&B jams. — AR

Peter Bjorn and John – Endless Play EP (Ingrid)
This Swedish trio’s latest release is a fine three-song EP of buoyant, psych-tinged indie-pop featuring one song apiece from each band member. — DY

Muzz – Covers EP (Matador)
The latest release from this New York trio comprised of members of Interpol, The Walkmen and Bonny Light Horseman is a solid EP of mostly somber folk-leaning covers of songs from Arthur Russell, Bob Dylan, Mazzy Star and Tracy Chapman. — DY

Lanterns On The Lake – The Realist EP (Bella Union)
This British band follows up their fourth album (2020’s Spook the Herd) with this five-song EP of atmospheric chamber-pop, combining a mostly spare sound with haunting melodies and hopeful lyrics. — DY

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