New Music Reviews (03/14)

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. 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 Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Jenny Hval, Drug Church, and more.

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul – Topical Dancer (DEEWEE/Because)
This Belgian duo’s debut album is a sharp set of dance-friendly electro-pop inflected with house, techno, funk and other styles, combining bouncy synths and propulsive rhythms with multilingual, playfully sardonic lyrics aimed at racism, sexism and xenophobia. — DY

Jenny Hval – Classic Objects (4AD)
This Norwegian artist’s sixth album under her own name is an impressive set of imaginative avant-pop with shape-shifting arrangements featuring shimmering keyboards, atmospheric guitars and a variety of percussion accompanying her ethereal vocals and introspective lyrics revolving around self-awareness and self-exploration. — DY

Drug Church – Hygiene (Pure Noise)
This LA/Albany, NY band’s fourth album is a strong set of expansive post-hardcore inflected with shoegazer psych-rock, grunge and other styles, combining buzzing guitars and driving rhythms with catchy song hooks and dark humor-laced lyrics for these troubled times. — DY

Fly Anakin – Frank (Lex)
While this prolific Richmond Beach, VA rapper has released quite a few mixtapes through the years, this is his official debut album. It’s a potent set of atmospheric, soul-steeped hip hop combining shimmering synths and guitars, vintage R&B vocal samples and a variety of blunted beats with his rapid-fire delivery and complex rhymes ranging from self-interrogation to celebrating black pride. — DY

Young Guv – GUV III (Run For Cover)
The third Young Guv album from Toronto artist (and Fucked Up guitarist) Ben Cook is an expertly crafted set of hook-filled power-pop reminiscent at times of Big Star, combining jangly guitars, buoyant harmonies, sunny melodies and lyrics of love and desire. — DY

Bodega – Broken Equipment (What’s Your Rupture?)
This New York band’s second album is a sharply crafted set of sardonic post-punk with angular guitars, bright keyboards, spiky rhythms and lyrics aimed at gentrification, overwork, omnipresent social media and other modern ills. — DY

Tres Leches – Fósil (Devil in the Woods)
This Seattle duo’s second album is a potent set of fierce garage-punk inflected at times with psych-rock, post-punk, cumbia and other styles, combining ringing guitars and often-shapeshifting rhythms with fiery vocals and often-politically charged lyrics. — DY

Etran de L'Aïr – Agadez (Sahel Sounds)
Etran de L'Aïr (translated as "stars of the Aïr region”) is a family band composed of brothers and cousins, all born and raised in the small neighborhood of Abalane in Agadez, Niger. Playing together for over 25 years and beloved players in their region's wedding circuit, Agadez is their stellar second album of hypnotic Saharan rock full of trance-inducing solos and jubilant vocal melodies that's an essential for fans of Tuareg guitar music. — AR

Alex Cameron – Oxy Music (Secretly Canadian)
This Australian artist’s fourth album is a well-crafted set of ‘80s-steeped pop-rock with glassy synths, light guitars, breezy disco and yatch-rock rhythms, occasional sax, crooned vocals and finely chiseled, sometimes humorous though often-dark lyrics revolving around addiction to drugs and online obsessions. — DY

Hikaru Utada – Bad Mode (Epic Records Japan)
The 11th studio album from this acclaimed non-binary NYC-born Japanese vocalist/producer – their 1999 Japanese-language debut album First Love remains the best-selling Japanese album of all time – is a strong crossover pop album that finds them continuing to find new ways to showcase their love of R&B and pop in fresh new ways. Singing in both English and Japanese, Utada's vocals soar over exquisite arrangements co-produced by the likes of Floating Points, A. G. Cook, Skrillex, Poo Bear, and Nariaki Obukuro. While there's some sweeping and relatively glossy mainstream moments, Bad Mode offers plenty of captivating, infectious, universal R&B/dance/pop gems that includes the scintillating nearly-12-minute masterpiece "Somewhere Near Marseilles" co-produced by Floating Points. — AR

Widowspeak – The Jacket (Captured Tracks)
This Brooklyn duo’s sixth album is a well-crafted set of psych-tinged dream-pop with an atmospheric, often-spare and lowkey sound combining gently ringing guitars, keyboards, slow-rolling rhythms and occasional other instrumentation with hushed vocals and lyrics revolving around the musician life, regrets and moving on. — DY

Spaceface – Anemoia (Mothland)
The second album from this Memphis/Los Angeles “retro futurist dream rock” band that includes past and current members of The Flaming Lips and Pierced is a wonderful set of colorful, groovy, shape-shifting psych-pop jams that recall the likes of Tame Impala, Morgan Delt, and KUNZITE. — AR

Wednesday – Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up (Orindal)
This Ashville, NC band’s third album pays tribute to some of their influences with a nine-song set of diverse covers ranging from Medicine, Greg Sage and Smashing Pumpkins to Chris Bell, Roger Miller and Drive-By Truckers, though the sound throughout remains rooted in the band’s fuzzy, ‘90s-steeped rock. — DY

A. Billi Free & The Lasso – Holy Body Roll (Mello Music Group)
The debut collaborative album from New Mexico-based vocalist A. Billi Free and Michigan producer/multi-instrumentalist The Lasso is an expansive, often-buoyant blend of R&B, funk, hip hop, house, techno, jazz and other styles, combining synths, piano, sax, guitar, cello and other instrumentation with lyrics revolving around healing and self-realization. — DY

Mala Suerte – Mala Suerte (Freakout)
The debut album from this Seattle/Mexico City band comprised of Acid Tongue’s Guy Keltner, The Grizzled Mighty’s Ryan Granger, Carrion Kids’ Miguel Servin and Jasmina Hirschl of Las Pipas de la Paz and Los Honey Rockets is a potent blend of raucous hard rock and garage-punk combining heavy guitar riffs, pummeling rhythms, fiery vocals and head-banging song hooks. — DY

Tennyson – Rot (Counter)
Following a steady 10-year run of cool singles and EPs that have found homes on Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs label and Skrillex's OWSLA imprint, Tennyson unveil their debut full-length album of inventive, emotional, intricate electronic-pop. Although a longtime collaborative project between Canadian siblings Luke and Tess Pretty, Rot finds the project now pared down to just Luke, who prominently adds his own vocals into the mix for a sound that often recalls James Blake's early vocal-laced albums. While much of the album carries Tennyson's affinity for buoyant, charming, playful sounds, there's a slightly darker edge here inspired by Luke's recent harrowing experience of nearly losing his hearing due to mold exposure. — AR

Maylee Todd – Maloo (Stones Throw)
Named after her digital avatar "Maloo" and inspired by her experiences exploring the virtual realm during the pandemic, the 4th album (and Stones Throw debut) from this LA-via-Toronto Canadian songwriter, vocalist, and producer is a solid set of cosmic soul and "science fiction lullabies" that pairs her sultry vocals with pillowy synths and light beats. — AR

Orion Sun – Getaway EP (Mom+Pop)
The latest release from this Brooklyn-based artist (aka Tiffany Majette) is a solid EP of atmospheric R&B, combining twinkling synths, gently propulsive rhythms and airy harmonies with her tender, breathy vocals and lyrics of love, family, heartache, stress and healing. — DY

The Districts – Great American Painting (Fat Possum)
This Philadelpha-based band’s fifth album is a solid set of widescreen indie-rock combining ringing guitars and soaring song hooks with lyrics ranging from gentrification and gun violence to more personal ones of heartache and loss. — DY

Mary Simich – How Does One Begin (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)
This California artist’s debut album is a well-crafted set of dark, country-tinged folk-pop. Produced by King Khan, the album features a spare, atmospheric sound with acoustic and electric guitars and occasional keyboards accompanying her haunting vocals and lyrics of heartache and loss. — DY

Jivaro – Saturday Fever (Kalita)
London's Kalita Records offers up this fantastic reissue of the highly sought-after 1989 album Saturday Fever by South African band Jivaro. The band's only official release, it's a visionary set of Kwaito and Bubblegum disco-pop jams that perfectly encapsulate the post-boogie/proto-house movement that had taken over the country’s airwaves and clubs at the time. — AR

Weep Wave – Join Our Cult EP (DIY Til You Die)
This Seattle band’s latest release is a solid three-song EP ranging from heavy psych-tinged rock to driving post-punk. — DY

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