New Music Reviews (06/21)

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 Bartees Strange, Perfume Genius, Yaya Bey, and more.

Bartees Strange – Farm to Table (4AD)
This Mustang, OK-raised, Falls Church, VA-based artist’s impressive second album is a diverse, often-shapeshifting set ranging from soaring, anthemic indie-rock and synth-driven dance-rock to vocodered avant-rap, reflective soul, intimate acoustic folk and more, highlighted by imaginative arrangements, soulful vocals and personal lyrics of struggle and gratitude. — DY

Perfume Genius – Ugly Season (Matador)
The sixth Perfume Genius album from Seattle artist Mike Hadreas features songs first performed as part of a soundtrack to Seattle choreographer Kate Wallich’s 2019 modern dance piece The Sun Still Burns Here. It’s an often-challenging work of eerie experimental music inflected with classical, ambient, dub and other styles, with a haunting sound combining keyboards, guitars, strings, sax, chimes, celeste, Mellotron, harmonium, clarinet and other instrumentation with lyrics of longing and surrender. — DY

Yaya Bey – Remember Your North Star (Big Dada)
This Brooklyn artist’s second album is a strong set of expansive R&B inflected with jazz, hip hop, reggae, house and other styles, combining a moody, atmospheric sound with her airy vocals and personal lyrics of love, desire and heartache. — DY

Making Movies – XOPA (Cosmica Artists)
This Kansas City band’s fourth album is a vibrant blend of cumbia, rumba, salsa and other Latin styles with rock and soul, combining fiery electric guitars, percolating rhythms and soaring melodies. Special guests include Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin, Ruben Blades, Tennis, Marc Ribot and other notables. — DY

Foals – Life Is Yours (Warner)
This British band’s seventh album features a brighter, more streamlined and pop-oriented sound for their anthemic, rhythm-driven dance-rock, combining sparkling synths, gleaming guitars and Balearic, house and disco-influenced rhythms with lyrics of dancing and celebration. — DY

Σtella (Stella) – Up and Away (Sub Pop)
This Greek artist’s fourth album (and Sub Pop debut) is a well-crafted blend of atmospheric dream-pop, moody electro-pop and Greek folk, combining gently propulsive rhythms, guitars and keyboards with bouzouki and kanun, along with her layered, warmly glowing vocals and lyrics of love and desire. — DY

Flasher – Love Is Yours (Domino)
This DC-bred band’s second album features a pared-down lineup comprised of guitarist Taylor Mulitz and drummer Emma Baker, along with a brighter, more melodic and pop-oriented take on the band’s formerly scabrous post-punk sound, combining jangly guitars, gently driving rhythms, serene harmonies, sparkling melodies and lyrics often revolving around forgiveness. — DY

Vintage Crop – Kibitzer (Upset the Rhythm)
This Australian band’s fourth album is a potent set of energetic post-punk with wiry guitars, driving rhythms, synths, occasional horns and declamatory vocals. — DY

TV Priest – My Other People (Sub Pop)
This London-based band’s second album is a more expansive and reflective take on their clanging post-punk ranging from driving rockers and moody, psych-rock to acoustic-laden ballads, combining a more diverse, sometimes shapeshifting sound with personal lyrics of mental health struggles. — DY

FKJ – V I N C E N T (Mom+Pop)
The second album from this French producer/multi-instrumentalist (aka Vincent Fenton) is a well-crafted set of chill electronic grooves inflected with R&B, rock, jazz, folk and other styles, combining mostly downtempo beats, atmospheric keyboards, smooth sax, occasional guitars, hushed vocals and warmly glowing melodies. Special guests include Carlos Santana, Little Dragon and Toro y Moi. — DY

J.Rocc – A Wonderful Letter (Stones Throw)
The second album from this LA DJ/producer (and member of acclaimed instrumental hip hop crew the Beat Junkies) finds him paying tribute to his hometown of LA with a colorful blend of mostly instrumental hip hop inflected with electro, funk, R&B and other styles.  Special guests include Steve Arrington, The Egyptian Lover, Budgie and The Koreatown Oddity. — DY

Fashion Club – Scrutiny (felte)
The debut Fashion Club album from LA-based artist (and Moaning member) Pascal Stevenson is a solid set of ‘80s-steeped post-punk and dream-pop, combining bright, shimmering synths and atmospheric guitars with her gloomy vocals and reflective lyrics revolving around responsibility, self-deception and hegemony. — DY

Plato III – The Devil Has Texas (Polyvinyl)
This LA-based, Abilene, TX-raised rapper’s fourth album is a potent set of reflective hip hop with a moody, often rock-inflected sound combining atmospheric guitars and keyboards and dusty beats with personal rhymes revolving around growing up poor in Abilene. — DY

Clinton Fearon – Breaking News (Baco)
The latest album from this veteran Seattle-based Jamaican artist (and former member of The Gladiators) is a well-crafted set of soulful roots-reggae with a warm, often-buoyant sound combining guitars, keyboards, horns and loping rhythms with lyrics of choosing love, hope and gratitude amidst troubled times. — DY

Xênia França – Em Nome da Estrela (self-released)
This Brazilian artist’s second album is a vibrant blend of R&B, electro-pop and various Afro-Brazilian styles, combining glowing keyboards, occasional ritualistic rhythms, smooth vocals and dreamy melodies. — DY

Hercules & Love Affair – In Amber (BMG)
The fifth regular studio album from this New York-based project spearheaded by DJ/producer Andy Butler features a darker, more brooding sound for their rhythm-driven dance-pop, incorporating elements of post-punk, industrial and other styles. ANOHNI is the featured vocalist on most of the album’s highlights. — DY

Subjective – The Start Of No Regret (Three Six Zero Recordings/Sony Music)
The second album from this collaborative project between legendary British drum & bass DJ/producer Goldie and acclaimed producer/engineer James Davidson (aka Submotiv) is an impressive set of widescreen electronic-pop that finds the duo fusing d'n'b, breaks, garage, house, and techno with a cinematic, orchestral, glistening touch. An impressive roster of soulful jazz-leaning vocalists (Greentea Peng, Lady Blackbird, Natalie Duncan, Frida Touray LaMeduza, Natalie Williams) make guest appearances and add their own dynamic layer for soaring, powerful, anthemic results. — AR

Khingz – Over the World (self-released)
This Seattle rapper’s latest release is a solid set of reflective hip hop with a warm sound combining moody, often-spare beats with incisive rhymes blending the personal and the political. — DY

Coco Peila – Whose World? (The New Normal) EP (Miss Behave)
The latest release from this Bay Area rapper is a solid six-track set of politically charged hip hop, combining a variety of beats with her agile delivery and trenchant rhymes revolving around racism and climate change. — DY

Dylan Moon – Option Expore (RVNG Intl.)
This LA artist’s second album is a fine set of ‘80s/’90s-influenced electro-pop with an atmospheric, shapeshifting sound featuring shimmering synths, hypnotic guitars, propulsive, sometimes skittering beats, gentle vocals and wistful melodies. — DY

Horse Jumper of Love – Natural Part (Run For Cover)
This Boston trio’s third studio album is a solid set of sprawling slowcore with rumbling guitar riffs, taut rhythms, occasional cello and bittersweet melodies. — DY

Spencer Krug – Twenty Twenty Twenty Twenty One (Pronounced Kroog)
The second solo album under his own name from this Vancouver Island-based member of Wolk Parade collects ten songs he posted to his Patreon page during 2020 and 2021. They add up to a solid set of moody prog-pop combining a variety of acoustic (including prominent piano) and electronic instrumentation with his tremulous vocals and lyrics alternating between anxiety and hope for the future. — DY

Revelators Sound System – Revelators (37d03d)
The debut album from this duo comprised of Hiss Golden Messenger’s MC Taylor and Spacebomb Studios house bassist Cameron Ralston is an adventurous, shapeshifting blend of spiritual jazz, cosmic avant-funk, ambient, dub and other styles. — DY

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