New Music Reviews (08/15)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates 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 Danger Mouse & Black Thought, Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Kiwi Jr., and more.

Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes (BMG)
Producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) teamed up with the lead rapper for The Roots for this strong set of straight-up hip hop combining cinematic, boom-bap beats injected with vintage funk, soul, rock and pop samples with Black Thought’s dexterous flow and complex, tightly compacted rhymes blending the political and the personal. Special guests include Raekwon, MF Doom, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Kid Sister, Joey Bada$$, Michael Kiwanuka and other notables. — DY

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom – Reset (Domino)
This collaboration between Animal Collective’s Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) and former Spacemen 3 founding member Sonic Boom (aka Peter Kember) is an impressive set of ‘60s-steeped psych-pop combining an abundance of ‘60s pop samples (primarily looped song intros) with bright keyboards and a variety of other instrumentation, along with various ambient sounds, handclaps, glowing harmonies, often-surreal lyrics and sunny melodies. — DY

(Various) – After Dark 4 (Italians Do It Better)
The latest volume in the After Dark series compiled by Johnny Jewel and Megan Louise (aka Desire) for their Italians Do It Better record label is a mammoth 27-song set of previously unreleased recordings featuring 30 artists from 11 countries. While the sound throughout remains in the Italians Do It Better moody, late-night wheelhouse, the compilation is still fairly diverse, ranging from haunting Italo Disco and throbbing electro to icy coldwave, psych-tinged dream-pop, cinematic prog and other styles. — DY

Kiwi Jr. – Chopper (Sub Pop)
This Toronto band’s third album is a more melodic and keyboard-driven take on the band’s hook-filled slacker rock, combining bright synths, fuzzy guitars and punchy rhythms with lyrics loaded with references to cinema and other aspects of pop culture that cast a wry eye towards some of the foibles and indignities of modern life. — DY

Hudson Mohawke – Cry Sugar (Warp)
The third album from this LA-based Scottish producer (aka Ross Birchard) is an adventurous set of maximalist electronic grooves ranging from ecstatic rave, propulsive UK garage and caffeinated hyperpop to fractured trap, blissed-out ambient and much more. The album’s intricate, densely produced sound combines a variety of limber beats with gleaming synths, strings and other instrumentation, along with loops of sampled soul, house and gospel vocalists. — DY

Sylvan Esso – No Rules Sandy (Loma Vista)
This Durham, NC duo’s fourth album is a sharply crafted set of adventurous electro-pop with a rhythm-driven sound combining a variety of skittering beats, playful synths and occasional guitars, sax, strings and other instrumentation with Amelia Meath’s lilting vocals. — DY

Rat Tally – In My Car (6131)
The debut full-length from this Chicago-based artist (aka Addy Harris) is a sharply crafted blend of emotive folk-pop with some ‘90s-steeped grunge-pop, combining acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, strings and other instrumentation with melancholy lyrics of heartache and anxiety. — DY

Osees – A Foul Form (Castle Face)
The latest album from this California band led by John Dwyer is a blistering set of hardcore punk, jittery post-punk and No Wave with grimy, buzzing guitars, pummeling rhythms, barked vocals and acerbic lyrics aimed at police brutality, greed, corruption and other ills. — DY

Beverly Crusher – Waste of Waves (Freakout)
This Seattle trio’s debut full-length is a potent set of psych-tinged garage-punk with slashing guitar riffs, energetic rhythms and head-banging song hooks. — DY

Jitwam – Third (Roya)
The third full-length album from this enigmatic Brooklyn-based musician is another stellar set of warm, warped, and woozy psychedelic soul grooves that seamlessly blends funk, pop, house, disco, jazz, punk, hip-hop, and more into his own fuzzy, homespun, magnetic sound. While continuing to impressively "skip across genres nimbly with a drunken bravado," Third finds Jitwam adding a more upfront, live, vocal-heavy angle to his eclectic sound. — AR

Manny Noir & psychedelic ensemble.– Nocturne (Everything Is Perfect/LIVE AT THE CLINIC)
This London-based collaboration between rapper Manny Noir and producer psychedelic ensemble. is a fantastic set of adventurous experimental underground hip-hop that's distinguished by its inventive, kaleidoscopic, addictive beats and Manny Noir's focused flow. — AR

Tony Molina – Into the Fade (Summer Shade/Run For Cover)
This Bay Area artist’s latest album is a well-crafted blend of fuzzy power-pop, jangly, folk-tinged indie-pop and Beatlesque psych-pop, featuring 14 concise songs combining electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organ, Mellotron and more with often-wistful melodies. — DY

S H I R A N – Fadaytak (Batov)
This Tel Aviv-based artist’s third album is a potent blend of Middle Eastern melodies and instrumentation with booming, club-friendly beats inflected with hip hop, afrobeats and other styles. — DY

Bruno Berle – No Reino Dos Afetos (Far Out Recordings)
Bruno Berle is a young composer, vocalist, poet, and multi-instrumentalist hailing from the city of Maceió on the Eastern coast of Brazil. His debut album is an impressive set of intimate, dreamy, homespun songs that swim through the rich traditions of Brazil's amorphous soul, folk, bossa nova, and pop prism with a heartfelt, starry-eyed, diaristic touch. — AR

Plastic Picnic – As Long As You Need (self-released)
This Brooklyn-via-Seattle band’s debut full-length is a solid set of folk-tinged dream-pop combining shimmering synths, atmospheric guitars and bittersweet melodies with often-dark lyrics of lost love, isolation, anxiety, substance abuse and living in troubled times. — DY

Ron Trent presents WARM – What Do The Stars Say To You (Night Time Stories)
Legendary Chicago house producer Ron Trent presents his newest alias WARM with an expansive debut album that carries a transportive tropical vibe throughout while exploring deep downtempo, breezy house, exquisite jazz, lush Balearic, and cosmic disco flavors. Khruangbin, Gigi Masin, and Azymuth make guest appearances. — AR

Amythyst Kiah – Pensive Pop EP (Rounder)
This Johnson City, TN artist’s latest release is a four-song EP of imaginatively reworked covers ranging from Joy Division and Green Day to Tori Amos and Katy Perry. — DY

Omar S – Can't Change (FXHE)
The latest album from prolific veteran Detroit electronic producer Omar S (aka Alexander Omar Smith) is a stellar set of deep electronic grooves that tap into the Motor City's rich history of house, techno, electro, funk, and R&B. Rising Detroit musician/vocalist Supercoolwicked (aka Morgan Hutson) notably appears on four tracks including album highlights "Ice Cream" and "Start This Over Again." — AR

Belief – Belief (Lex)
Belief is the collaborative project between veteran producer Boom Bip (aka Bryan Charles Hollon) and Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint. Their debut album is a solid set of heady, immersive, atmospheric electronic grooves with highlights that contain shades of Four Tet. — AR

Fresh Pepper – Fresh Pepper (Telephone Explosion)
The debut album from this Toronto-based project spearheaded by longtime friends Andre Ethier and saxophonist Joseph Shabason is an absorbing set of lush leftfield pop tinted with AOR, jazz, post-rock, avant-indie, New Age, and slow-motion soul that lyrically explores the first-hand minutiae of working in restaurants in comical, astute, bizarre fashion. Destroyer's Dan Bejar appears on "Seahorse Tranquilizer." — AR

Andrew Tuttle – Fleeting Adventure (Basin Rock)
The 5th solo album from Brisbane, Australia-based guitarist and banjo player Andrew Tuttle is a sublime set of meditative instrumentals that blur the lines between folk, post-rock, ambient, neo-classical, and drone styles. A talented cast of friends and kindred contemporaries contribute along the way, including Balmorhea, Chuck Johnson, Luke Schneider, Steve Gunn, Darren Cross, and more. — AR

Rich Ruth – I Survived, It’s Over (Third Man)
The third solo album from Nashville multi-instrumentalist Michael “Rich” Ruth is an adventurous blend of spiritual jazz, ambient, spacy prog and other styles, combining atmospheric synths, occasional searing electric guitars, sax, flute, organ, pedal steel and more. — DY

Libretto & Vitamin D – Rusty Bladez (Liquid Beat)
The 6th full-length album from Portland-based rapper Libretto features Seattle hip-hop legend and KEXP Street Sounds host Vitamin D handling all production duties and jumping on the mic for a few standout verses. With Vita serving up proper classic boom-bap beats with a gritty, cinematic, soulful flair as a backdrop, Libretto vividly recounts his experiences and lifestyle that led to serving time in the Federal Penitentiary system in honest, reflective, insightful fashion. Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, Gift of Gab (RIP), Planet Asia, Jumbo (of Lifesavas), and more make guest appearances. — AR

Attia Taylor – Space Ghost (Lame-O)
The debut album from this Brooklyn-based musician is a promising set of dreamy, colorful, lo-fi psych-pop that pairs her charming backdrops with poignant lyrics that explore the loneliness of her childhood and chronicling her stages of growth, grief, and healing out of trauma from abandonment. The album's title is a nod to Adult Swim's Space Ghost From Coast To Coast cartoon that frequently kept her company during these difficult times. Outside of music, Attia is also the founder of Womanly, a magazine and community empowering women and non-binary individuals to take charge of their health through art and creativity. — AR

Rachel Bobbitt – The Ceiling Could Collapse EP (Fantasy)
The latest EP from this rising Toronto-based singer-songwriter is a powerful set of sweeping, cathartic, dynamic songs that build upon a poignant folk-pop foundation and soar into cinematic indie rock territory, especially on the stunning opening track "More." — AR

Taxi Kebab – Visions al 2ard (Real World)
Taxi Kebab is a Nancy, France-based duo composed of vocalist Leïla Jiqqir and electronic producer Romain Henry. Their debut EP is an excellent set of global electronic grooves spotlighted by Leïla's soaring vocals that find her tapping into her North African heritage and singing in her Moroccan father’s Darija language over Romain's evocative backdrops that boldly fuse techno, psychedelia, and Krautrock with accents of traditional Arabic instrumentation. — AR

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