New Music Reviews (3/1)

Album Reviews

Each week, KEXP’s Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJs Alex and Gabriel Teodros) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases. See what's coming up this week below, including reviews for new releases from Julien Baker, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Cloud Nothings, and more.

Julien Baker – Little Oblivions (Matador)
This Memphis-based artist’s powerful third album recasts her introspective folk-pop with a more expansive and muscular sound. With Baker playing every instrument herself, the album combines ringing guitars, piano, organ, synths, bass and drums for a full-band sound that brings additional anthemic heft to Baker’s confessional, sometimes self-lacerating lyrics revolving around addiction, loss, heartache and the limits of faith. — DY

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage (Goliath/AWAL Recordings)
The latest release from these two longtime musical comrades is a powerful surprise release of brooding post-punk and atmospheric ballads reflecting these dystopian pandemic times, featuring an intricately textured, often-dark sound combining guitars, strings, synths, organ, piano, harmonium, autoharp, glockenspiel and more with Cave’s dramatic vocals and lyrics of loss, isolation and the healing grace of love. — DY

Cloud Nothings – The Shadow I Remember (Carpark)
The ninth album from this Cleveland band led by Dylan Baldi is a sharply crafted set of punkish, anthemic rock with buzzing guitars, pummeling rhythms, bright song hooks and lyrics revolving around self-doubt, aging and the passage of time. — DY

(Various) – Judas and the Black Messiah: The Inspired Album (Six Course Music/RCA)
A hard-hitting hip-hop compilation inspired by Fred Hampton and the continued legacy of the Black Panther Party today, released in conjunction with the film Judas and the Black Messiah. Includes standout tracks from H.E.R., Black Thought, Masego feat. JID & Rapsody, Saba & Smino, SiR, BJ the Chicago Kid, the late great Nipsey Hussle with JAY-Z, and the albums opening with Panther cub Fred Hampton, Jr. Himself. — GT

Adrian Younge – The American Negro (Jazz Is Dead)
This LA-based composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist’s latest release is a multimedia project released for Black History Month, comprised of this album along with an accompanying short film and a four-part podcast. The album’s an often-powerful blend of moody jazz, psychedelic soul and spoken word, with the album’s lyrics aimed at systemic racism. — DY

Mogwai – As the Love Continues (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
This veteran Scottish band’s 10th album is a beautifully crafted set of dramatic post-rock with dynamic, often-steadily building songs featuring atmospheric guitars, twinkling keyboards, cinematic strings, occasional vocals and melancholy melodies. — DY

Nervous Dater – Call in the Mess (Counter Intuitive)
This Brooklyn trio’s second album is a strong set of hook-filled pop-punk with a ‘90s-steeped sound combining buzzing guitars and punchy rhythms with volatile vocals (mostly from Rachel Lightner) and anxiety-fueled lyrics laced with dark humor. — DY

Menahan Street Band – The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band (Daptone)
The third album (and first in nine years) from this often-sampled Brooklyn band featuring members of the Dap-Kings, Budos Band and Charles Bradley’s band is an expertly crafted blend of instrumental soul, funk, hip hop, rock and more, combining cinematic guitars and keyboards with soaring horns, woodwinds and other instrumentation. — DY

IKOQWE – The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite (Crammed Discs)
IKOQWE is the new project from Angola-born, Lisbon-based artist Pedro Coquenão (aka Batida) and Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão (aka Ikonoklasta). Their debut album under that name is a magnetic blend of hip hop, electronic music and traditional Angolan sounds, combining electronic beats and textures with sampled field recordings. — DY

Flyying Colours – Fantasy Country (Poison City)
This Melbourne, Australia band’s second album is a potent set of shoegazer psych-rock with fuzzy, effects-drenched guitars, often-driving rhythms, gauzy vocals and soaring melodies. — DY

Altın Gün – Yol (ATO)
This Amsterdam-based band’s third album finds them recasting their Turkish psychedelic rock with the addition of some prominent ‘80s influences and electronic sounds, combining bright synths, sleek guitars, saz and more with propulsive rhythms and hypnotic melodies. — DY

The debut full-length album from this Parisian band is a knockout set of catchy, fuzzy, and charmingly sardonic guitar-pop with a cool shoegaze streak that has been aptly described as sounding like The Psychedelic Furs recording an album for Matador in the early '90s. — AR

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – L.W. (self-released)
This prolific Melbourne, Australia band’s 17th studio album is a potent blend of psych-rock, prog, stoner-rock, funk, various middle eastern influences and more, combining guitars, baglama, keyboards and tricky, shape-shifting rhythms. — DY

Brijean – Feelings (Ghostly International)
This Oakland duo’s second album is a well-crafted set of dreamy dance-pop inflected with disco, tropicalia, psych-pop and other styles, combining shimmering synths, lush strings, percolating conga drums, airy vocals and soothing melodies. — DY

XIXA – Genesis (Jullian)
This Tucson band’s second album is an evocative blend of dark, psych-tinged desert rock with chicha and spaghetti western along with a bit of Tuareg desert blues, featuring a cinematic sound with guitars, keyboards, strings, woodwinds and haunting melodies. — DY

This Nigerian-born, London-based artist’s latest EP is a vibrant, adventurous blend of highlife, funk, blues, jazz, post-punk and more, combining ringing guitars, bright keyboards, percolating percussion and pointed lyrics aimed at injustice and racism. — DY

Roosevelt – Polydans (City Slang/Greco-Roman)
The third album from this German producer (aka Marius Lauber) is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped dance-pop with a warm, hook-filled sound featuring bright synths, propulsive rhythms and breezy melodies. — DY

Smerz – Believer (XL)
This Norwegian duo’s debut full-length is an adventurous set of avant-pop inflected with R&B, classical, electronic, hip hop and more, with an often-unsettling sound combining ominous synths, dark strings, disembodied vocals and lyrics of lost love and the end of relationships. — DY

Tindersticks – Distractions (City Slang)
The 13th studio album from this veteran British band led by Stuart Staples features a more stripped-down sound that brings shades of rhythmic post-punk to their brooding, soul-tinged indie-pop, combining atmospheric guitars and keyboards and drum-machine beats with Staples’ sensuous croon and haunting melodies. — DY

Charlie Hickey – Count the Stairs EP (self-released)
This LA artist’s debut EP is a well-crafted set of downcast folk-pop featuring a mostly spare, acoustic-oriented sound, confessional lyrics and melancholy melodies. — DY

Pahua – Ofrenda EP (Nacional)
Pahua is the solo project of Mexican artist Paulina Sotomayor (who’s also one-half of Sotomayor). Her debut EP under that name is a hypnotic blend of Latin rhythms and electronic beats and textures. — DY

Vitamin D – Flips 3: An American Tale (self-released)
The latest gift from veteran Seattle producer, DJ, rapper, KEXP Street Sounds host, and revered local hip-hop luminary Vitamin D is a sharp set of sample-heavy beats juxtaposed with audio clips from the news, political speeches, and comedy routines that hold a mirror to the absurd, depressing, and disgusting realities of America, with a particular focus on the political rollercoaster of the last few months. Poignant and powerful while also capturing Vitamin D's sense of humor, An American Tale is the third installment in Vitamin D's recently launched Flips series that showcase his ability to paint a potent sonic narrative through an "audio collage" of flipping classic tunes to create fresh beats, with this one enhanced with timely audio clips. — AR

Liam Bailey – Ekundayo (Big Crown)
The sophomore album (and 1st album in 6 years) from this London-based musician beautifully taps into his Jamaican roots for a strong set of timeless British soul music heavily infused with reggae, dub, and gentle psychedelic styles. A well-seasoned artist who was previously a protégée of Amy Winehouse, released two early EPs on her label Lioness Records in the 2010s, and also put out early singles alongside artists ranging from A$AP Ferg to Chase & Status, Liam Bailey comes into his own on Ekundayo with the assistance of El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels who produced the album and helps bring Liam’s cross-cultural sound to fruition. — AR

Glitterer – Life is Not a Lesson (ANTI-)
The second album from this New York-based project of Title Fight co-founder Ned Russin is a solid set of anthemic, ‘90s-influenced rock with fuzzy guitars, bright synths, punchy rhythms, soaring song hooks and lyrics of struggle and resilience. — DY

King Khazm – Pangea: Hip Hop Heals (self-released)
The latest release from this Seattle artist features artists from 17 different countries rapping about different aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. — DY

Sports – Get A Good Look Pt. 1 (Naked/ONErpm)
The latest release from this Tulsa, Oklahoma duo (Cale Chronister & Christian Theriot) is a strong set of groovy, care-free, infectious pop jams that tap into synth-pop, psych-pop, and dream-pop styles and contains shades of MGMT and TOPS while also carrying a refreshing early 2010's spirit. — AR

ZULA & glue70 – PLAY (Ad Hoc)
The debut collaborative EP from Manchester, UK-based musicians ZULA (aka Xenya Genovese) and glue70 (aka Conor Miller) is a promising set of woozy, romantic, and slightly wonky synth-pop that pairs ZULA's dreamy R&B-tinted vocals with glue70's lush, downtempo, 2-step-influenced beats. — AR

Nightshift – Zöe (Trouble in Mind)
This Scottish band’s second album is a solid set of arty post-punk with a spare sound featuring angular guitars, atmospheric keyboards, occasional clarinet and hypnotic melodies. — DY

Sho Nuph – VDL Experience: Da After-hours EP (self-released)
The latest EP from veteran Seattle-based DJ, producer, dancer, and music enthusiast Sho Nuph (aka Shomari Shanks) is a sweet set of sleek dancefloor-primed grooves that blur the lines between his deep love of hip-hop, house, trap, electro, and soul. Seattle rapper/b-boy Orbitron shines on the standout cut "Hear That Sound" and local artists D4D and Suttikeeree also make guest appearances. — AR

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