New Music Reviews (02/28)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJs Alex, Abbie, and Gabriel Teodros, and Morning Show producer Owen Murphy) shares brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. These reviews help our DJs decide on what they want to play. See what we added this week below (and on our Charts page), including new releases from EARTHGANG, Superchunk, Robert Glasper, and more.

EARTHGANG – Ghetto Gods (Dreamville/Interscope)
This Atlanta duo’s fourth album is a strong set of expansive hip hop inflected at times with R&B, funk, gospel, reggae and other styles, with lyrics revolving around trauma, hardship, struggle, self-care and survival. — DY

Superchunk – Wild Loneliness (Merge)
This Chapel Hill band’s excellent 12th regular studio album ranges from anthemic, hook-filled indie-rock, driving, piano-led rock, buoyant, horn-driven rock and moody, sax-streaked rock to some poignant, acoustic-oriented folk-pop, combining a diverse, often warmly glowing sound with wistful melodies and lyrics reflecting a desire for connection, hope and resilience during troubled times. Special guests include Sharon Van Etten, Owen Pallett, Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills and other luminaries. — DY

Robert Glasper – Black Radio III (Loma Vista)
The third volume in this Houston jazz pianist’s Black Radio series is another warm, beautifully crafted blend of R&B, hip hop and jazz, with a stellar lineup of guest vocalists including Q-Tip, Esperanza Spalding, Common, H.E.R., Killer Mike and many other notables on songs celebrating black joy, love, struggle and resilience. — DY

Binker & Moses – Feeding the Machine (Gearbox)
The third studio album (and first in five years) from the London duo of Binker Golding and Moses Boyd is an excellent set of adventurous jazz combining fiery sax and intricate, shape-shifting rhythms with electronic loops and textures courtesy of Max Luthert. — DY

SASAMI – Squeeze (Domino)
This LA artist’s second album is an impressively diverse set ranging from aggressive, Nu Metal-inspired rockers and ‘90s grunge-pop to breezy folk-pop and country-tinged rock, with often-dark, rage-fueled lyrics aimed at marginalization, injustice, brutality and exploitation. — DY

Blue Lab Beats – Motherland Journey (Blue Note)
This London duo’s third album is a well-crafted blend of R&B, hip hop, jazz, electronic, Afrobeat and other styles, featuring a seamless, groove-driven sound and a variety of guest vocalists and musicians including Tiana Major9, Ghetto Boy, Ego Ella May, Kiefer, the late Fela Kuti and other notables. — DY

Letting Up Despite Great Faults – IV (self-released)
The 4th album (and 1st in 8 years) from this Austin-based group spearheaded by guitarist and vocalist Mike Lee is an excellent set of dreamy shoegaze full of ringing guitars, rich atmospherics, propulsive tempos, soft vocals, and wistful melodies. — AR

Gang of Youths – angel in real time (Warner)
This London-based Australian band’s third album is a well-crafted set of majestic, widescreen rock incorporating elements of chamber-pop, drum ‘n’ bass, anthemic folk-pop and other styles, combining a grandiose, richly textured sound featuring guitars, synths, strings, brass, woodwinds, piano, marimba and sampled voices and sounds of the Cook Islands and traditional Maori instruments with lyrics revolving the around the life and death of frontman David Le’aupepe’s father, along with indigenous identity, loss, grief and spirituality. — DY

Hamid Al Shaeri – Habibi Funk 018: The SLAM! Years (1983-1988) (Habibi Funk)
The latest volume in German label Habibi Funk’s series of vintage recordings from the Middle East and North Africa collects some of the early 1980s-era recordings of Cairo-based Libyan-Egyptian artist Hamid Al Shaeri, who was renowned for his Arabic synth-funk, combining a variety of synths and other keyboards with propulsive funk-inflected rhythms and hypnotic melodies. — DY

NOBRO – Live Your Truth Shred Some Gnar EP (Dine Alone)
This Montreal band’s second EP is a potent seven-song set of rip-roaring garage-punk with crunchy guitar riffs, energetic rhythms and catchy song hooks. — DY

Thyla – Thyla (Easy Life)
Following their powerful EP, Everything At Once, this British trio’s self-titled debut is 11 tracks of bombastic dream-pop with shoegaze undercurrents. The lyrics are laced with sadness and heartbreak but each song builds to a punch of resilience. — AG

Molly Nilsson – Extreme (Night School)
The 10th studio album from this revered Berlin-based Swedish singer, songwriter, and producer is another strong set of romantic, gauzy, 80s-steeped synth-pop that marries her glistening vocals and anthemic songwriting with kaleidoscopic, nostalgic, widescreen backdrops. While it's dominated by dreamy, arty, undeniable synth-pop jams, Molly also sneaks in theatrical avant-pop and New Wave punk tracks into Extreme's charismatic sonic world. — AR

OMBIIGIZI – Sewn Back Together (Arts & Crafts)
Pronounced "om-BEE-ga-ZAY" and translating to "s/he is noisy," OMBIIGIZI is an Ontario-based duo comprised of Daniel Monkman (aka Zoon) and Adam Sturgeon (aka Status/Non-Status), both Indigenous Anishnaabe artists who explore their cultural histories through sound. Their debut album is a fantastic set of melodic indie pop and swirling art rock that carries a consistently beautiful, cathartic, and powerfully poignant touch. — AR

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Nightroamer (Abeyance/Thirty Tigers)
This Chapel Hill, NC band’s third album is a potent set of country-inflected rock combining raw electric guitars, pedal steel and occasional keyboards with Shook’s plaintive vocals and lyrics of relationship struggles, addiction and self-acceptance. — DY

ADULT. – Becoming Undone (Dais)
This Detroit duo’s ninth album is a fine set of dark electro-pop and goth-tinged post-punk, combining buzzing synths, driving rhythms, stern vocals and ominous melodies. — DY

Caroline Loveglow – Strawberry (100% Electronica)
The debut album of this Los Angeles based artist offers an escape to ponder your deepest insecurities and the weightiness of the world. Strawberry navigates whirling guitars, dreamy instrumentation, layered vocals, and lyrics that serve as guide to honesty and healing. — AG

Basement Revolver – Embody (Sonic Unyon)
Hamilton, Ontario four-piece Basement Revolver's sophomore LP, Embody finds them wrestling with themes about identity, faith, mental illness, and sexuality amidst shoegaze swirling guitars, and empowering vocal melodies infused with breathtaking harmonies. There's redemption and triumph amidst tragedy in these lovely songs. — OM

Charlie Gabriel – 89 (Sub Pop)
The first recording under his own name from this 89-year-old veteran New Orleans (and member of Preservation Hall Jazz Band since 2006) clarinetist/saxophonist features him leading a small combo of New Orleans musicians through a solid, mostly lowkey set of mainly jazz standards, along with a couple of newer songs penned by Gabriel. — DY

The Order Of The 12 – Lore Of The Land (Group Mind)
The Order Of The 12 is a new project spearheaded by prolific veteran British musician Richard Norris (of Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, amongst countless other projects) that finds him teaming up with vocalist Rachel Thomas and guitarist Stuart Carter. Their debut album is a transportive set of mystical, earthy, psychedelic folk songs with a distinctive fantastical bent. Steeped in England's rich tradition of psychedelic folk outfits, Lore Of The Land kicks off with an undeniable highlight in the uptempo jaunt "Against The Tide." — AR

Howless – To Repel Ghosts (Static Blooms)
The debut album from this emerging Mexico City band is a potent set of shoegaze and noise-pop jams with a cool New Wave streak that finds the group burying soaring vocal melodies within their propulsive, gauzy, swirling backdrops. — AR

King Khazm – Return of a MAD (Fresh Chopped Beats)
Seattle hip-hop artist (and co-founder of both 206 Zulu and MAD Krew) King Khazm's sophomore solo album, following 2016's Diaries Of A MAD. Third Eye Bling provides a majority of the production, leaning towards a true school boom-bap sound. Standout track "Gone Away From Here" pays homage to 4 classic hip-hop albums, and several rap legends make guest appearances throughout the album including Percee P, Abstract Rude, Myka 9 (of Freestyle Fellowship), Moka Only, Afu-Ra, Kurtis Blow and more. — GT

HeZza FeZza – Nomadic Nebula (self-released)
This Seattle artist’s latest release is a solid set of avant-pop inflected with R&B, psych-pop and other styles. Produced by Erik Blood, the album combines various keyboards and occasional cello with shape-shifting rhythms and dynamic vocals. — DY

Unganisha – Kucheza! EP (Anything Goes)
Meaning "to join or fuse together" in Kiswahili, Unganisha is a pan-continental collaborative project between Kenyan vocalist and Orutu player Labdi Ommes and Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and producer Bernt Isak Wærstad. Their debut EP is a vibrant set of colorful rhythmic Afro-pop propelled by Labdi's soaring vocals and Wærstad's dynamic productions. — AR

Kareem Ali – The Ballad Of Mister Shine EP (CosmoFlux Recordings)
The latest EP from prolific Phoenix-based electronic producer Kareem Ali is another strong set of expansive electronic grooves that continues to bolster his genre-blurring mission as he bounces between house, jazz, ambient, jungle, and more. "Starshine Blues" provides a prime showcase of his magnetic fusion of jazz and electronic music filtered through his Afro-centric vision. — AR

Sensei Lo – Pisces Moon (More Time)
The debut EP from rising Nigerian electronic producer Cleopatra Amartey (aka Sensei Lo) is a fresh display of her Afro-electronic sound that blends Amapiano, house, and jazz in captivating fashion. While two of the EP's feature guest vocalists that add an engaging dimension to her hypnotic beats, instrumental opener "Don't Let Go" provides the highlight with its deep jazz-accented groove. — AR

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