New Music Reviews (3/2)

Album Reviews

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

Caribou – Suddenly (Merge)
The fifth Caribou studio album from London-based Canadian artist Dan Snaith is his most expansive set to date, featuring a shape-shifting, sample-heavy and mostly groove-driven blend of soul-tinged electro-pop, propulsive house, atmospheric folk, ambient psych-pop and more, combining a warm, dreamy sound with delicate vocals and intimate lyrics of family, love and loss. — DY

Soccer Mommy – color theory (Loma Vista)
The second official album from this Nashville-based artist (aka Sophie Allison) is a darker, more sophisticated and stronger set than her promising debut. The ‘90s-influenced sound ranges from hook-filled grunge-pop to atmospheric ambient-pop and psych-tinged folk, while the album’s dark lyrics revolve around depression, anxiety, mortality and loss. — DY

Christine and the Queens – La Vita Nuova EP (Because Music)
The latest release from this French artist (aka Héloïse Adelaïde Letissier) is a surprise six-song EP (with an accompanying short film) of smartly crafted, emotionally moving electro-pop combining shimmering synths and propulsive beats with mostly melancholy melodies and deeply personal lyrics alternating in French and English (and even a bit of Italian). — DY

Wajatta – Don't Let Get You Down (Brainfeeder)
The second album from the duo of Reggie Watts and John Tejada is an energetic, dance-friendly blend of house and techno with funk and hip hop, combining propulsive dance grooves with Watts’ elastic, often-wordless vocals. — DY

Ratboys – Printer's Devil (Topshelf)
The third and strongest album to date from this Chicago band led by Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan features a more dynamic and muscular sound ranging from crunchy power-pop and shoegazer dream-pop to intimate folk-pop, with many of the songs detailed with wistful lyrics revolving around the passage of time. — DY

Cold Beat – Mother (DFA)
This San Francisco band’s fourth album is a strong set of moody, dance-friendly post-punk with dark synths, angular guitars, propulsive rhythms and hypnotic song hooks. — DY

Real Estate – The Main Thing (Domino)
This New Jersey-bred band’s fifth album is a bit darker and more expansive take on their dreamy, surf-influenced indie-rock, combining jangly guitars and breezy rhythms with warm harmonies and wistful melodies. — DY

The Orielles – Disco Volador (Heavenly)
This British band’s second album is a well-crafted blend of bubbly psych/prog-pop with funk, disco, jazz, samba and other groove-driven styles, combining an intricate, shape-shifting sound with dreamy melodies. — DY

Black Market Brass – Undying Thirst (Colemine)
This Minneapolis band’s second album is a fine set of driving Afro-beat and funk with fuzzy electric guitars, soaring horns, shimmering keyboards and percolating rhythms. — DY

Sunny Jain – Wild Wild East (Smithsonian Folkways)
The first solo album in ten years from the Brooklyn-based drummer (and Red Baraat band leader) is an adventurous blend of Indian classical, cinematic and folk styles with jazz, psych-rock, hip hop, surf, spaghetti western and more, with often-politically charged lyrics revolving around racial inequality. — DY

Denzel Curry x Kenny Beats – Unlocked (Loma Vista)
The result of a wild three-day studio session following a team-up on Kenny Beats' can't-miss YouTube series The Cave, Florida rapper Denzel Curry joins forces with prolific chameleonic hip-hop producer Kenny Beats for a hard-hitting set of imaginative hip-hop that references the outer-galactic comic-book projects of Dr. Octagon and Deltron3030, as well as the rugged absurdity of DMX and MF DOOM, that ultimately unleashes a jam-packed, fast-moving sound that's unique yet unsurprising for two young artists in their prime currently pushing boundaries and confounding expectations. — AR

Sign Libra – Sea To Sea (RVNG Intl.)
The debut full-length album from Latvian electronic producer Agata Melnikova (aka Sign Libra) is a mesmerizing set of dreamy electronic rhythms and vocal-tinged landscapes that swims through aqueous new age, ethereal house, Balearic downtempo, and blissful post-rave. Propelled by her transportive beats, airy vocals, and incredibly unique instrumentation and sample sources, Sea To Sea crashes through as one of the most distinctive stand-out electronic albums of the new year. — AR

Kassa Overall – I Think I’m Good (Brownswood)
This Seattle-raised, Brooklyn-based artist’s second album is a seamless blend of hip hop and jazz, combining hip hop beats and accompaniment from a stellar lineup of New York jazz musicians with deeply personal lyrics detailing his experience with mental illness. — DY

Shell Of A Shell – Away Team (Exploding In Sound)
This Nashville band’s debut album is a potent blend of gnarled post-hardcore and dynamic post-rock reminiscent at times of Slint, with the sound shifting from hooky indie-rock to moody atmospheric passages to fierce punk. — DY

Julie-C – Sovereign Queendom Archives, Vol. 1 (self-released)
This Seattle artist’s latest release is a solid hip hop album combining hard-hitting beats with her nimble flow and incisive rhymes blending the political and the personal. — DY

Summer Camp – Romantic Comedy (Apricot)
This London duo’s fifth album features songs from the 2019 film of the same name (which was directed by Summer Camp’s Elizabeth Sankey), along with other original songs inspired by romantic comedies. The sound is more orchestral and less synth-pop oriented than their previous releases, with the songs often playing with the conventions of romantic comedies. — DY

Kevin Krauter – Full Hand (Bayonet)
The second solo album from this Bloomington, IN-based artist (and Hoops bassist) is a well-crafted set of dreamy indie-pop juxtaposing breezy melodies with often-dark, anxiety-fueled lyrics. — DY

The third album from this Swedish artist (aka Hannes Ferm) is a solid set of melancholy electro-pop with dreamy synths, morose vocals and wistful melodies. — DY

Beatrice Dillon – Workaround (PAN)
This London artist’s debut album is an adventurous set of minimalist, abstract dub-techno, featuring an ultra-clean and dry sound combining touches of mostly sampled instrumentation including tabla, kora, sax, cello and pedal steel with an unconventional 150bpm for every song. — DY

Elliot Moss – A Change In Diet (Grand Jury Music)
The third album from this NYC-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist is another solid set of brooding electronic-pop that blends warm synths, folky Autotune-accented vocals, and sleek beatific pop tendencies for a sound that contains shades of Bon Iver, James Blake, SOHN, and Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker). — AR

The James Hunter Six – Nick of Time (Daptone)
The seventh album from this British band is a well-crafted set of ‘60s-steeped R&B, combining a warm sound with Hunter’s grainy, pleading vocals. — DY

OTHERLiiNE is a new collaborative project from UK electronic artists George FitzGerald and Lil Silva. Building off the chemistry found in their first joint track, "Roll Back" off George FitzGerald's 2018 album All That Must Be, their debut album as OTHERLiiNE is an impressive fusion of electronic, R&B, and pop styles that marries bold, propulsive, syncopated, UK-steep house rhythms with Lil Silva's glistening and soulful vocals. — AR

Various Artists – Crown Jewels Vol. 1 (Big Crown)
Founded in late 2016 by DJ Akalepse and Leon Michels, the latter a multi-instrumentalist and band leader for the El Michels Affair, Brooklyn-based label Big Crown Records have become a trusted resource for top-notch throwback soul, funk, and R&B featuring a talented roster of artists both well-known and still under-the-radar. Crown Jewels is their first label compilation and it gathers highlights from their back catalog to provide ample proof that they're one of the strongest labels operating in the throwback soul sound in the world. Dig in. — AR

ALA.NI – ACCA (self-released)
The second album from this London-born, Paris-based artist is an ambitious, mostly acapella set inflected with R&B, doo wop, cabaret, hip hop and more, highlighted by intricate layered vocal arrangements. — DY

Wednesday – I Was Trying To Describe You to Someone (Orindal)
This Asheville, NC band’s second album (and first as a full band) is a visceral blend of lo-fi grunge and shoegazer psych-rock, combining fuzzy, effects-drenched guitars with dreamy melodies and often-dark lyrics. — DY

Nadia Reid – Out of My Province (Spacebomb)
This New Zealand artist’s third album is a fine set of well-crafted folk-pop. Co-produced by Matthew E. White and Trey Pollard at their Spacebomb studio in Richmond, VA, the album features a warm, ‘70s-steeped sound with acoustic and electric guitars, horns, strings, piano, organ and more accompanying her serene vocals and lyrics of love, loneliness and the road. — DY

Tycho – Simulcast (Mom+Pop)
The latest album of dreamy electronic grooves from this San Francisco producer/musician (aka Scott Hansen) features instrumental reworkings of the five songs with vocals from his previous album (2019’s Weather), while also including the three instrumentals that were on the previous album. — DY

Raveena – Moonstone EP (Moonstone/EMPIRE)
Following last year's breakout debut album Lucid, NYC-based Indian-American vocalist Raveena returns with another gorgeous set of warm, organic, quiet storm R&B that marries her honeyed vocals with smooth, soulful backdrops dominated by rich instrumentation and airy tempos. — AR

Agnes Obel – Myopia (Blue Note/Deutsche Grammophon)
The 4th studio album from this Danish-born, Berlin-based musician is another impressive set of cinematic, melancholic, introspective songs that blend fragile vocal-laced chamber-pop with strong neo-classical flourishes. — AR

sir Was – Letter EP (Memphis Industries)
This Swedish artist (aka Joel Wästberg) follows up his recent second album (2019’s Holding On to a Dream) with this EP of atmospheric dream-pop. — DY

Konx-om-Pax – Return To Cascada (Planet Mu)
A companion piece to the excellent 2019 album Ways Of Seeing, the latest EP from Berlin-based Scottish electronic musician Tom Scholefield (aka Konx-om-Pax) is another stellar showcase of his innovative, futuristic, widescreen electronic productionsthat defy simple categorization. Kicking off with an absolutely head-spinning Skee Mask remix, Return To Cascada is a marvel of visionary sound design and intricate drum programming that flits between IDM, techno, house, breaks, acid, electro, ambient, grime, and more, and it's all distinguished by his masterful production prowess. — AR

STAHV – The Sundowner EP (self-released)
The latest STAHV release from Seattle-based artist Solomon Arye Rosenschein is an adventurous 4-song EP blending elements of heavy psych-rock, doom metal, post-rock, noise-rock and more. — DY

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