New Music Reviews (11/20)

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 Kevin Abstract, Malummí, Quantic, and more. 

Kevin Abstract - Blanket (RCA)
The former Brockhampton frontman drops his first project since the group’s split. Intended to hit like a rap album, Blanket comfortably cruises through many soundscapes, from indie rock, noise, bedroom pop and more. Not knowing exactly what’s going to be around the next turn, the guitar driven album is an exciting and wild ride from an artist that is steady on his own two feet as a solo artist. — CS

Malummí - The Universe is Black (Irascible)
The sophomore album from the Basel-based singer-songwriter is just mesmerizing, as they expertly navigate from minimalist folk pop to grungy indie rock, showcasing their impressive vocal range, excellent guitar licks and a blend of genres that knows no bounds. The Universe is Black is a deeply personal album that addresses relationships, self-love, mental health and social constructs in a patriarchal, white society. — CS

Quantic - Dancing While Falling (Play It Again Sam)
Two decades into his career, Will Holland offers up a scintillating melting pot of groovy sonics for his first release on a larger label. Oozing with joy and collaboration, I couldn't think of a better title for an album like this in 2023 than Dancing While Falling. Blending disco, retro-soul, Latin and Afro Caribbean rhythms, the album feels timeless, and gives the listener a welcome break from reality. — CS

Bratty - TR3S (UMG Mexico)
The third full length from singer-songwriter Jenny Juárez is an infectious combination of bedroom pop, surf and indie rock. After making her Coachella debut this year, this emotional, hook-laden album has poised Juárez to soar to new heights in the years to come. — CS

Cuco - Hitchhiker EP (Interscope)
Mexican-American singer/songwriter Omar Banos– aka Cuco–is back with his latest EP, Hitchhiker. This new collection is a dreamy fusion of bedroom pop, bossa nova, indie rock and Latin jazz; paired with his signature ethereal vocals, he will have you levitating from the moment you press play. — CS

H31R - HeadSpace (Big Dada)
The second album (and Big Dada debut) from H31R – the collaborative project between New Jersey producer/composer JWords and Brooklyn rapper/vocalist maassai – is a stellar set of experimental hip-hop that boldly blends JWords’ cerebral, immersive, electronic beats with maassai’s hypnotic flow and clever wordplay. — AR

Kurt Vile - Back to Moon Beach EP (Verve)
The prolific Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter is back with a robust EP clocking in at just under an hour. His signature minimalist arrangements with guitar and keys on the new songs, covers, and reworked versions of beloved tracks throughout Back to Moon Beach will certainly satiate fans until his next proper full length is here before we know it. — CS

Madge - BOXJAR (AntiFragile) 
BOXJAR = CHAOS … and I’m here for it. The Mormon-raised, Brooklyn-based artist presents a hyperactive blend of electronic, noise, and art pop that seems to perfectly embody the absolute mayhem of modern life. This dark, twisted and frenetic album is an exciting introduction to this avant-garde musician’s own work after writing for Pussy Riot, Yungblud, Travis Barker and more. — CS

Eddington Again - Naomi9 (!K7)
The debut full-length album from Berlin-via-LA vocalist/producer Eddington Again is an adventurous set of expansive, exploratory, club-tinted R&B. Half-written in their longtime home of Los Angeles and half-written in their new home base of Berlin, Naomi9 brings a sleek, rhythmic, dynamic energy through it’s exciting beats and Eddington’s expressive voice that lyrically explores identity, healing trauma, transmuting negative emotions, and discovering joy through their lens as a queer black musician. — AR

Jaakko Eino Kalevi - Chaos Magic (Domino)
The latest album from this Finnish artist is a wild set of provocative, proggy, psychedelic synth-pop with a neon-tinted celestial bent that taps into yacht-rock, space-rock, disco-pop, jazz-funk, dub reggae, New Wave, and more. A truly wacky, kitschy, operatic, and at-times exciting ride, Chaos Magic finds inspiration in Jaakko’s new home base of Athens and the Greek word kháos that means “an abyss or void that was created when Earth and Heaven were separated.”  “Galactic Romance” offers a distinctive highlight thanks to its awesome Moroder-inspired arpeggio that sets the foundation for vocalist Yu Ching-Huang’s soaring vocals, and the 13-minute jam “Let’s See How Things Go” provides an appropriately epic and impressively engaging closer. — AR

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson - Les Jardins Mystique Vol. 1 (Brainfeeder)
Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer, DJ, and music educator Miguel Atwood-Ferguson has been at the epicenter of his city’s illustrious and versatile jazz scene for nearly two decades now. As an in-demand collaborator, he’s contributed to more than 600 albums throughout his career, working extensively with his longtime friend and kindred spirit Carlos Niño as well as a stacked list of premier artists: Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Mary J. Blige, Anderson .Paak, Bonobo, Makaya McCraven, and Kamaal Williams, just to name some select notables. Newly signed to FlyLo’s Brainfeeder imprint, his 14-years-in-the-making official debut full-length is a stunning and sprawling 52-track, 210-minute journey through lush, whimsical, orchestral instrumentals that touch upon jazz, ambient, classical, and hip-hop styles in masterful fashion. True to his generous spirit, Les Jardins Mystique Vol. 1 features contributions from 50+ friends, including Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, DOMi & JD Beck, Jeff Parker, Carlos Niño, Austin Peralta (RIP), Jamael Dean, Deantoni Parks, and many more. The album also serves as the first in a planned triptych, which will collectively comprise ten-and-a-half-hours (!!!) of original music. — AR

PinkPantheress - Heaven knows (Warner)
Two years following the release of her stellar breakout debut mixtape to hell with it, British singer, songwriter, and electronic producer PinkPantheress returns with her official debut full-length album and it’s a nice evolution of her nostalgic, kinetic, romantic R&B/club/pop sound. Continuing to deftly blend her coy and airy vocals with sleek Y2K-influenced production – co-handled here by the likes of Mura Masa, Sam Gellaitry, Greg Kurstin, London on da Track, Danny L Harle, Cash Cobain, and more – that taps into UK garage, jungle, drum’n’bass, synth-pop, and alternative styles, Heaven knows doesn’t quite capture the pure magic of its predecessor, but it provides another strong showcase for one of the most exciting young stars traversing the mainstream pop landscape. — AR

Sandunes - The Ground Beneath Her Feet (Tru Thoughts) 
The third album from Sanaya Ardeshir – aka the composer, producer and pianist from Mumbai who records as Sandunes – is a magnetic sonic journey, rooted in electronic soundscapes with her dynamic synth work, while incorporating jazz, soul, and more. The Ground Beneath Her Feet is a reflection on the evolution of identity, navigating the modern world as a woman and relocating to LA from India. — CS

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