New Music Reviews (10/9)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder share 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 Butcher Brown, Sufjan Stevens, Aiko el grupo, and more. 

Butcher Brown - Solar Music (Concord Jazz)
The 10th album from this veteran Richmond, VA-based band that includes DJ Harrison (Stones Throw Records) and features MC Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney is a brilliant showcase of their potent brew of hip-hop and jazz music that’s accented by funk, psych, and R&B flourishes. Featuring “something for just about everybody under the sun”, as Butcher Brown bandmates have fittingly described it, Solar Music captures the sound of a tight-knit five-deep group flourishing within their groovy, masterful, accomplished genre-blurring lane and getting help along the way from Nappy Nina, Pink Siifu, Jay Prince, Braxton Cook, Charlie Hunter, and more. — AR

Sufjan Stevens - Javelin (Asthmatic Kitty)
The thirteenth album from the acclaimed musician finds Stevens firmly in his singer-songwriter mode, with beautiful choral and orchestral flourishes, his signature vocal, and a way of plucking at your heartstrings as he plucks on his acoustic guitar. It’s both big and bold, while soft and delicate, a duality that he’s been able to expertly balance throughout his prolific career. This emotive album hits a little deeper as we’ve become aware of his recent diagnosis of a rare autoimmune disorder. Here’s hoping every listen to this timeless addition to his catalog helps send him strength during his recovery. — CS

Aiko el grupo - Me están apuntando con un arma (Elefant)
The second full-length album from this Madrid-based four-piece is an enthralling adrenaline rush through massive garage punk anthems with an infectious, group sing-a-long, pop-minded energy. While bands such as Le Tigre, Bikini Kill, Joanna Gruesome, Comet Gain, and Veronica Falls are all listed as influences, Aiko el grupo capture a wide-eyed and youthful joy in their unique wall-of-sound jams that bring the urgency, twists, and turns of a roller coaster from the jump before closing out with the sweet, simple, acoustic-led ballad “Love song.” — AR

Eparapo - Take to the Streets (Wah Wah 45s)
Yoruban for “join forces,” Eparapo is a London-based Afrobeat group featuring Nigerian-British musician Dele Sosimi that’s led by bassist, composer, and producer Suman Joshi, a long-time member of Dele Sosimi's Afrobeat Orchestra, as well as the UK jazz ensemble Collocuter, who has performed on stage with Tony Allen, Seun Kuti, Ginger Baker, and Laura Mvula. Coming together during the unprecedented events of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, their debut album is a powerful, fiery, infectious set of traditional Afrobeat music that blends vibrant, groovy, kinetic horn-filled backdrops with clear-eyed lyrics revolving around corruption, racism, gentrification, universal hardships, and BLM. — AR

Glasser - crux (One Little Independent) 
The third album, and first in ten years, from Glasser is an absolute stunner. By incorporating traditional Folk, Celtic and Eastern-European sounds with her lush and dreamy art pop, atmospheric production and gorgeous vocals, crux has a very organic quality for an experimental electronic record. What a welcome return from this sonic shapeshifter. — CS

Onipa - Off The Grid (Real World)
The second full-length album from this London-based outfit centered around founding duo Tom Excell (also of Nubiyan Twist) and Kweku Sackey (aka K.O.G., leader of K.O.G. & the Zongo Brigade) is an excellent set of African-rooted grooves that fuse addictive rhythms, infectious energy, and bright melodies through a thrilling contemporary global pop vision. The album’s official description is on-point, stating it’s “a journey that joins the origin story of dance rhythms from Africa to electronic dance music of today's clubs and festivals, connecting African folklore and storytelling to rap, jazz and hip-hop.” A cool, cohesive, cross-cultural celebration, the album also features guest appearances from Moonchild Sanelly, Theon Cross, Dele Sosimi, David Walters, Lamisi, and Lauzy. — AR

A. Savage - Several Songs About Fire (Rough Trade)
On his second solo album, the Parquet Courts frontman strips it all back to the simple, foundational parts of songwriting. His lyricism at the forefront shines a much needed light on his gifted storytelling, while he enlists the help of friends Jack Cooper (vocals, compositions), Cate Le Bon (piano, bass), Dylan Hadley (vocals, drums) to flesh out the sound. Several Songs About Fire runs the gamut from jaunty pop rock tunes to contemplative ballads, and shows us another fascinating side of Savage and his art. — CS

CARRTOONS - Saturday Night (Wichita)
The second album from the NY based producer and multi-instrumentalist is a groovy amalgamation of jazz and hip hop, with some excellent features that elevate the already joyous and lively arrangements. The classically trained musician has collaborated with Usher, Mac Ayres, Benny The Butcher, George Clinton, Robert Glasper, Leon Thomas III, Nate Smith, Kiefer, Roy Ayers, and more, and this sophomore effort is sure to usher in many more co-signs. — CS

Charlie Vettuno - Lime Juice EP (Innovative Leisure)
These two brothers have created an infectious fusion of club, rap, R&B, house, pop and more. While drawing upon familiar sounds, their debut EP is an inventive blend that keeps the listener wanting more and sets the stage for this duo to make some big waves. — CS

Jolie Holland - Haunted Mountain (Cinquefoil) 
The revered singer-songwriter returns with a beautiful exploration of contemporary folk and Americana on her eight studio album. Haunted Mountain is aptly titled with her haunting vocals, as she walks us through many autobiographical tales, including surviving a cult, living on the streets and busking for spare change. Her masterful storytelling is paired with acoustic and electric guitar, piano ,pedal steel, bass and sparse percussion, walking the line between country, jazz, folk, blues and rock. — CS

Meernaa - So Far So Good (Keeled Scales)
The second official full-length from Meernaa – a project led by Bay Area native and Los Angeles-based vocalist, songwriter, and producer Carly Bond – is a nice set of sophisticated pop that revels in a cozy soul, Americana, R&B, indie terrain. — AR

MNDSGN - Snaxxx (Stones Throw)
The LA by way of San Diego producer and beat maker returns with his third installment of the Snax series, full of jazzy funk and woozy grooves. With each track clocking in around or under the two minute marker, this is a delightful taste of sonic goodness to satiate us until the next main course. — CS

Souleance - Beautiful (Heavenly Sweetness/First Word)
The 4th full-length album from this French production duo (Fulgeance and Soulist) is a fantastic set of expansive, funky, colorful electronic grooves that bounce between house, hip-hop, disco, R&B, and global flavors with a joyful energy. While their instrumental beats shine bright on their own, they get vocal assists from a handful of artists along the way. — AR

The Seshen - Nowhere (self-released)
Following a pair of albums for UK’s Tru Thoughts Recordings label, this Bay Area-based band led by singer/songwriter Lalin St. Juste and bassist/producer Akiyoshi Ehara return to their independent roots for their 4th full-length album and it’s a solid set of slinky, eclectic, sultry electronic/R&B/soul cuts that’s often reminiscent of Little Dragon. — AR

Dominique Fils-Aimé - Our Roots Run Deep (Ensoul)
The 4th album from Montreal-based singer-songwriter Dominique Fils-Aimé – previously awarded the 2020 JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for her sophomore album Stay Tuned! – is a potent blend of vocal jazz, R&B, and soul music with an earthy, organic, sophisticated touch. — AR

Guilty Simpson - Ratz (Uncommon)
Veteran Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson teams up with NYC rapper/producer Uncommon Nasa for a solid EP of gritty hip-hop dominated by Guilty’s distinctive flow and potent bars. — AR

Kultur Shock - Kultur Shock: Acoustic Live (Old Age)
Seattle outfit known for their signature fusion of Balkan music, rock, punk and metal release a stellar live album recorded at the storied Town Hall in their hometown, bringing the listener right into the audience to witness their unique genre blending sound. — CS

Sally Anne Morgan - Carrying (Thrill Jockey)
Sally Anne Morgan is an Asheville, North Carolina-based musician who's known for her fiddle playing with the traditional group Black Twig Pickers and the duo Horse and Land. Her third solo album is a solid, melodic, poetic set rooted in traditional Appalachian folk with a gentle psychedelic bent at times. Influenced by the pregnancy and birth of her first child, Carrying mixes reimagined traditional songs with original material, her warbly, expressive voice and vivid storytelling talents shining bright throughout. — AR

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