New Music Reviews (10/18)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. See what we added this week below (and on our Charts page), including new releases from Xenia Rubinos, Julia Shapiro, Baby Keem, and more.

Xenia Rubinos – Una Rosa (ANTI-)
This Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican-Cuban artist’s third album is an adventurous blend of avant electro-pop, R&B, hip hop, orchestral pop, various Latin styles and more, combining an intricate, electronic-oriented sound with her smoky, often-manipulated vocals and evocative lyrics ranging from personal subjects of heartache and loss to politically minded critiques of overwork and police brutality. — DY
JOHN – Nocturnal Manoeuvres (Pets Care/Brace Yourself)
This British duo’s third album is an impressive set of aggressive post-hardcore reminiscent at times of IDLES, combining noisy, jagged guitars and relentless rhythms with growling vocals and angst-fueled lyrics. — DY
Buffalo Nichols – Buffalo Nichols (Fat Possum)
The debut album from this Milwaukee-bred, Austin-based artist (aka Carl Nichols) is a promising set of soulful, mostly acoustic-oriented blues and folk combining acoustic (and occasional electric) guitar, spare rhythms and occasional fiddle with his husky vocals and lyrics of loneliness, loss, forgiveness and resilience. — DY
Cimafunk – El Alimento (Terapia Productions/Thirty Tigers)
The second album from this Cuban artist (aka Erik Iglesias Rodriguez) is a potent blend of funk, hip hop and R&B with Afro-Cuban music, featuring an energetic, rhythm-driven sound combining horns, guitars, keyboards and more with his confident vocals and buoyant melodies. Special guests include George Clinton, Lupe Fiasco, CeeLo Green, Chucho Valdes, ChocQuibTown and other notables. — DY

The debut album from this new project of Austin, TX-based musician Sam Houston is a stellar set of charismatic funk infused with soul, R&B, hip-hop, and jazz flavors that oozes with a confident swagger throughout. Heavily influenced by the iconic sounds of Parliament-Funkadelic, BLK VINTAGE taps into a sultry, smokey, and magnetic sound that recalls contemporaries such as Masego, Smino, and D'Angelo and marks a dramatic sonic shift for Houston, who previously released Americana music under his own name before deciding to launch a project that better reflects his own experiences and worldview. — AR

Julia Shapiro – Zorked (Suicide Squeeze)
The second solo album from this Seattle/LA member of Chastity Belt, Childbirth and Who Is She? is a potent set of atmospheric psych-rock inflected with shoegaze, doom metal and other styles. Co-produced by Shapiro and Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som), the album combines fuzzy, sometimes heavy guitars and brooding melodies with lyrics of dislocation. — DY
Greentea Peng - MAN MADE (AMF/EMI)
The debut full-length album from London-based musician Aria Wells (aka Greentea Peng) is a fantastic set of cosmic neo-soul heavily infused with reggae influences and sprinkled with jazz, hip-hop, trip-hop, and funk flavors. Distinguished by Greentea Peng's earthy, spiritual, consciousness-expanding vibe, MAN MADE is primarily recorded in 432hZ, a tuning a semitone below the industry standard, that is often cited as being a frequency that taps into a healing and restorative energy. — AR
Midwife - Luminol (The Flenser)
The third album from San Miguel, New Mexico-based musician Madeline Johnston under her Midwife alias is a powerful set of emotional, immersive, cathartic experimental pop that sways between hypnotic dream-pop, noisier shoegaze, and droning slowcore for a sound she appropriately calls "Heaven Metal." Both devastating and beautiful, Luminol recalls the likes of Low, Grouper, and MJ Guider in its ability to turn heavy subject matter into enveloping glacial anthems. — AR
Le Ren – Leftovers (Secretly Canadian)
The debut album from this Montreal-based artist (aka Lauren Spear) is a gorgeous set of poignant folk-pop, featuring an often-spare, sometimes country-tinged sound with acoustic guitar along with occasional pedal steel, piano, violin, banjo and other instrumentation accompanying her crystalline vocals and lyrics of love, heartache and loss. — DY
Susana Baca – Palabras Urgentes (Real World)
This veteran Peruvian artist’s latest album is an impressive blend of Afro-Peruvian folk with tango and other styles, combining a warm, often acoustic-oriented sound with her soulful vocals and politically charged lyrics aimed at corruption and abuse of power. — DY
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue (Southeastern)
The latest full-length from the former Drive-By Trucker is a benefit album featuring covers of songs from a variety of Georgia artists, with support from a stellar guest lineup including Adia Victoria, Brandi Carlile, Julien Baker, Brittney Spencer and other notables. The music ranges from country-tinged folk and acoustic blues to Southern soul and fiery roots-rock. All proceeds from the album benefit Black Voters Matter, Fair Fight and Georgia Stand-Up. — DY
Baby Keem - The Melodic Blue (Columbia)
The official debut studio album from California rapper/producer Baby Keem is a breakthrough set of widescreen hip-hop that places his expressive delivery, melodic gifts, and alluring personality in the spotlight. Notably the cousin of Kendrick Lamar, who appears on two of the album's standout tracks, Baby Keem successfully showcases his own distinctive identity over The Melodic Blue's 18 tracks and builds upon the promise of his earlier mixtapes and EPs that have had his name bubbling up over the past few years. Try  — AR
Orquesta Akokán - 16 Rayos (Daptone)
This Havana-based band’s second album is a strong set of mambo, rumba and other Latin styles, combining punchy brass, saxes and woodwinds with percolating rhythms and soaring vocals. — DY
K, Le Maestro - Whip Music (Jakarta)
K, Le Maestro is a 22-year-old London-based hip-hop producer currently making waves with his refreshing beats that nod to the influential sounds of early J Dilla and, more closely, the synth-heavy beats of J Dilla disciple Black Milk. His debut full-length album is a sharp set of synth-enhanced hip-hop and R&B jams that showcase his signature sound while a handful of rappers and vocalists stop by to add their own flavor to his sleek beats. — AR
Sam Himself – Power Ballads (self-released)
This Swiss-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of atmospheric post-punk with shimmering synths, deep crooning vocals and often-melancholy lyrics. — DY
Dean Wareham – I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. (Double Feature)
The second solo album from this LA-based Luna frontman (and former frontman for Galaxie 500) is a well-crafted set of atmospheric, psych-tinged indie-pop with jangly guitars, mostly mid-tempo rhythms and lyrics ranging from politically charged to more personal ones of love, loss and memory. — DY
Guided By Voices – It's Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them! (Guided By Voices, Inc.)
The latest album from Bob Pollard & co. is one of their more diverse sets, ranging from their trademark Who-style power-pop along with a Mariachi-fueled number, quirky, psych-tinged rock and more. The album’s sound is also more diverse than usual, featuring not only the band’s crunchy rock guitars, but also intermittent horns and strings. — DY
sir Was – Let the Morning Come (Memphis Industries)
The third album from this Swedish artist (aka Joel Wästberg) is a fine set of R&B-tinged electro-pop with bright keyboards, propulsive rhythms, wistful melodies and lyrics of love, growth and mortality. — DY
Gavin Turek - MADAME GOLD (Madame Gold)
The debut full-length album from this LA-based vocalist who has previously collaborated closely with TOKiMONSTA and performs live with Tuxedo is a sparkling set of groovy synth-pop and colorful soul-pop that frequently recalls Janelle Monáe. — AR
Anz – All Hours EP (Ninja Tune)
The latest EP from this London-born, Manchester-based DJ/producer is a vibrant, groove-driven blend of electro, breakbeat, UK garage, jungle and other electronic styles, combining bright synths, sampled vocal loops and propulsive beats. — DY
tov - you don't say (For Good)
The second album from this project spearheaded by Seattle-based vocalist/composer Benjamin Marx is a fantastic set of whimsical chamber-pop injected with neo-classical and jazz flourishes that shines throughout. A collaborative effort that finds Benjamin remotely working with 14 musicians including some prominent local and formerly local artists such as Hanna Benn and Lena Simon, you don't say is a charming local gem that also serves as the inaugural release on Benjamin's new label For Good Records. — AR
Sampology - Regrowth (Middle Name)
Reminiscent of Bonobo, Dan Kye, and The Avalanches, the debut full-length from Brisbane-based DJ/producer Sam Poggioli (aka Sampology) is a strong set of lush electronic grooves that bounce between house, downtempo, R&B, jazz, and electro-acoustic vibes. Known for his sample-heavy sound, Regrowth finds Sampology re-recording all samples from scratch to give his productions a warm organic touch. While his productions are strong enough to stand out on their own, a few guest vocalists stop by to further enhance his enveloping backdrops. — AR
John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter & Daniel Davies – Halloween Kills soundtrack (Sacred Bones)
The legendary film director/soundtrack composer’s latest release is the score to the latest film in the Halloween series of horror films, made in collaboration with Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies. The score features a lot of appropriately creepy soundscapes with ominous synths and haunting piano. — DY
PawPaw Rod - A PawPaw Rod EP (Godmode)
The debut EP from this LA-based Oklahoma City native is a stellar set of woozy, funky, infectious soul jams infused with a hip-hop attitude and an addictive pop streak. Another early signing from Nick Sylvester's Godmode label (Channel Tres, Yaeji, Shamir), PawPaw Rod delivers one of the standout debut EPs of the year. — AR
Johnny Marr – Fever Dreams Pt. 1 EP (New Voodoo Limited/BMG)
The latest release from the former guitarist with The Smiths is a four-song EP that’s also the first volume in an upcoming four-part double album. The EP’s a solid set of hook-filled post-punk with moody guitars, atmospheric keyboards and driving, sometimes dance-friendly rhythms. — DY
Field Music – Another Shot EP (Memphis Industries)
This British brother duo’s latest release is a solid four-song set of arty, sometimes shape-shifting prog-pop with bright harmonies and buoyant melodies. — DY
Chancha Via Circuito & Luvi Torres – Ceremonia EP (Wonderwheel)
Argentine producer Chancha Via Circuito (aka Pedro Canale) teamed up with Argentine vocalist Luvi Torres for this solid four-song EP blending atmospheric dream-pop and ambient electronic with Andean folk. — DY
Dion Christopher - Love Notes EP (4Dworld)
Dion Christopher is a new collaborative project between WD4D (aka Waylon Dungan) and DJ Sho Nuph (aka Shomari Shanks), two of Seattle's most trusted DJ/producers with decades of experience behind the decks, making beats, and rocking parties. Their debut EP as Dion Christopher is a promising set of low-slung mid-tempo house grooves built around disco and soul samples that organically unfurl in joyful fashion. — AR

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