New Music Reviews (11/6)

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 King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, Lol Tolhurst, and more. 

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - The Silver Cord (KGLW) 

The 25th album from the Australian psych-rock wizards is another rich opus, this time introducing more electronic elements with their signature fusion of psych and prog rock. On The Silver Chord we hear the outfit leaning more heavily on synths and electronic drums, proving that even 25 albums in, The Gizz will still keep us on our toes. –Chris Sanley– 

Lol Tolhurst x Budgie x Jacknife Lee - Los Angeles (PIAS) 

This truly collaborative project from Lol Tolhurst (The Cure), Budgie (Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Creatures) and producer/multi-instrumentalist Garret “Jacknife” Lee DELIVERS in the way you would hope from such extraordinary talent teaming up. Seething synths, eruptive percussion, incendiary guitars warp together to create the controlled chaos of Los Angeles, with some excellent guests in the fold to help paint the picture. –Chris Sanley– 

Melenas - Ahora (Trouble In Mind)

Wonderfully reminiscent of beloved British outfit Electrelane, this Pamplona, Spain-based four-piece band deliver an absolutely masterful set of hypnotic, kinetic, dreamy indie pop driven by an undercurrent of Krautrock, post-punk, and art-pop influences and bolstered by mesmerizing analogue synthesizer rhythms. Fronted by Oihana Herrera and sung entirely in Spanish, Ahora is full of whimsical melodies, addictive hooks, and buoyant harmonies that mesh perfectly with the band’s colorful, kaleidoscopic backdrops. –Alex Ruder—

Hotline TNT - Cartwheel (Third Man)

The sophomore album from Will Anderson, the founder and architect of Hotline TNT, is a tantalizing collection of fuzzed out power pop, drawing upon shoegaze, punk and indie rock to tell his tales of love and loss. His first release for Third Man, the New York based musician has truly leveled up with Cartwheel marking an exciting new era for the project.   –Chris Sanley– 

IAN SWEET - SUCKER (Polyvinyl)

The project of Los Angeles musician Jillian Medford has been morphing and evolving for nearly a decade, and the fourth album finds her at her most confident and personal. Hazy guitars, shimmering synths, and her signature sweet and melancholy vocals create the SUCKER universe that completely envelopes the listener, allowing them to feel each lyric as deeply as she does. –Chris Sanley– 

ill peach - THIS IS NOT AN EXIT (Hardly Art)

The debut full length from this up and coming duo is explosive. Chock-full of punk infused art pop with some dreamier pop tracks punctuating the hard hitting moments, THIS IS NOT AN EXIT is precisely that; rather, this album marks the proper arrival of an exciting new outfit with a distinct and refined sound, and they are JUST getting started. –Chris Sanley– 

Jaime Wyatt - Feel Good (New West) 

The third album from the now Nashville based (by way of LA) singer-songwriter is a delicious sampling of psych fueled Americana with a healthy dose of country, vintage soul and rock backing her rich vocals. Produced by Black Pumas’ Adrian Quesada, Feel Good will make you do just that as they achieve a sound that is both unique and familiar. –Chris Sanley– 

Liza Anne - Utopian (AntiFragile)

Liza Anne’s first album since coming out as queer and non-binary finds the artist truly coming into their own, waiving that pride flag high in their rainbow sweater with this infectious collection of art rock. The third album from the Nashville based singer-songwriter is raw and honest, oozing with joy, grief and self-love, while sonically they draw upon indie-rock, pop, funk, shoegaze and more. Welcome back, Liza. It’s great to re-meet you. –Chris Sanley– 

Bar Italia - The Twits (Matador)

The second album of 2023 from the London based three piece is another impressive display of their expansive grunge and post-punk infused shoegaze with three part harmonies, layered guitars and memorable basslines. –Chris Sanley– 

Drop Nineteens - Hard Light (Wharf Cat)

Boston-based band Drop Nineteens were darlings of the American shoegaze scene in the early 1990s, releasing their cult classic debut album Delaware in 1992 and the more experimental record National Coma in 1993 before disbanding in 1994. It’s been a 30-year wait, but their third album is an assured return-to-form, nailing their classic shoegaze sound and serving as a proverbial follow-up to Delaware. The band’s fuzzy, expressive, soaring guitars consistently deliver the gauzy goods, while lead singer and guitarist Greg Ackell shares vocal duties with fellow founding member Paula Kelley to accent the record’s nostalgic, dreamy, romantic tone. –Alex Ruder—

El Búho - Strata (Wonderwheel Recordings)

The fifth studio album from Robin Perkins finds the DJ and producer utilizing his fusion of folktronica and Latin American sounds to explore some difficult themes, including the devastating realities of climate change, the juxtaposition of experiencing joy while the world falls apart, and existential dread. Some thrilling vocal features from Nita, Lia Saumet (of Bomba Estereo) and Minük bring these tracks to life, as Strata explores how to find a balance during these trying times. –Chris Sanley– 

Empty Country – Empty Country II (Get Better)

The second Empty Country album from Joseph D’Agostino, the Connecticut-via-Philly singer-songwriter and former frontman for critically-adored band Cymbals Eat Guitars, is another powerful set of sprawling rock anthems. Fueled by his riveting songwriting talents, Joseph lyrically explores his first-hand experiences with America’s dark sides – stories of drug abuse and unsavory characters abound – over ambitious, dense, shape-shifting compositions. –Alex Ruder—

Florentino - Kilometro Quinze (XL) 

On his latest EP, the UK producer and DJ continues to flex his captivating amalgamation of modern club music with Latin American sounds, a nod to both his UK upbringing and his family’s Colombian heritage. Each track is seductively poised for the dancefloor, with club, bass, techno and more, along with stellar features from BAMBII, Shygirl and more.  –Chris Sanley– 

Marnie Stern - The Comeback Kid (Joyful Noise)

The incomparable Marnie Stern returns after a decade-long hiatus. Simply put: SHE SHREDS. The Comeback Kid showcases her distinct guitar sound, highlighting the specific void she’s left in the indie-rock scene since the release of 2013’s The Chronicles of Marnia. Stern pulls no punches on these twelve hard hitting tracks, staying true to her trademark math and noise infused indie-rock. –Chris Sanley– 

Robert Finley - Black Bayou (Easy Eye Sound)

On his fourth studio album, Robert Finley reminisces about tales from the bayou with his signature southern sound fusing blues, rock, soul, gospel and funk. Living in Louisiana for all 69 of his years, he tells tales only an insider could, including surviving being used as alligator bait. –Chris Sanley– 

Sen Morimoto - Diagnosis (City Slang/Sooper) 

The third album from Chicago-based Japanese American multi-instrumentalist Sen Morimoto is a kaleidoscopic blend of avant garde jazz, hip hop, R&B and experimental rock. Bucking convention, this post-genre release has an unparalleled singular sound, though he cites his reference points for the album as “equal parts Funkadelic and Dinosaur Jr.” Diagnosis is a wild and exhilarating ride. –Chris Sanley– 

Sus - You Over There EP (self-released)

The Seattle-based alternative hip hop outfit serves up their latest EP that deals with personal struggles, growth, and societal pressures. With full band instrumentation, the project is fully realized with live drums, guitar, bass and keys paired up with some impressive bars. –Chris Sanley– 

The Embassy - E-Numbers (Dream On)

Key figures of Sweden’s brilliant indie pop renaissance of the early 2000s, this veteran Gothenburg-based duo composed Fredrik Lindson and Torbjörn Håkansson return with their 5th album (and their 1st in 5 years) and it’s an awesome set that taps into their distinctive Balearic-tinted pop full of hypnotic beats, dreamy guitars, warm melodies, and magnetic samples. While there’s a bit of a dark lyrical undercurrent here, the duo’s richly buoyant productions and lively tempos allow this record to have a cool, carefree, celebratory feel. –Alex Ruder—

Viji - So Vanilla (Speedy Wunderground/PIAS)

The debut album from Vienna-born, London-based musician Viji (real name Vanilla Jenner) is an impressive set of 90s-influenced shoegaze, grunge, and alternative rock. Bringing a refreshing, youthful, and exciting energy to these iconic, fuzzy, and gritty styles, So Vanilla is an assured debut written and recorded in partnership with Dan Carey, the renowned English producer (and Speedy Wunderground Records founder) noted for his work with fellow contemporary rock upstarts such as Wet Leg, Fontaines DC, Black Midi, Squid, and Geese. –Alex Ruder—

Actress - LXXXVIII (Ninja Tune)

The Roman Numerals for 88, the 8th full-length solo album from enigmatic British producer Actress (aka Darren Cunningham) is another deep-dive into his singular sonic world as he takes the listener on an adventurous journey through leftfield techno rhythms, woozy ambient passages, delicate piano-led bliss-outs, and cerebral hip-hop beats. His sweet sneaky flip of Johnny Gill’s “Let’s Just Run Away” for “Its me ( g 8 )” provides a distinctively playful highlight. –Alex Ruder—

Forest Swords - Bolted (Ninja Tune)

Dark, atmospheric and haunting, the first album in six years from the UK composer/producer embodies the tension of conflict surrounding us in the present day. On Bolted he weaves together trip hop, industrial, dub and other electronic sounds for a unique blend truly his own.  –Chris Sanley– 

Machinedrum - 4#TRAX (Ninja Tune)

The latest EP from veteran electronic producer and North Carolina native Travis Stewart (aka Machinedrum) is another razor-sharp set of cutting-edge, club-ready, pop-minded electronic grooves that blend drum & bass, UKG, and R&B through his adventurous sonic prism. While this marks his first solo release in 2 years, 4#TRAX is still true to Machinedrum’s collaborative spirit as he teams up here with vocalists KUČKA, LIZ, and rei brown. –Alex Ruder—

Pip Blom - Bobbie (Heavenly) 

On their third album, the Dutch outfit veers into indie pop territory, bringing synths and drum machines into the mix along with some great guitar riffs. The result is a collection of infectious synth pop tunes that take this project to the next level. –Chris Sanley– 

Red Axes - One More City (fabric Originals)

The third full-length album from this Tel Aviv-based duo composed of Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi is a brash and lively mixture that fuses post-punk, New Wave, techno, funk, pop, and more into a groovy, club-informed, party-starting sound. –Alex Ruder—

Seafood Sam - Afros In The Wind EP (drink sum wtr)

The latest from the Long Beach MC is a solid dose of laid back west coast hip-hop, infusing elements of jazz and R&B, oozing with California cool. –Chris Sanley– 

Titanic - Vidrio (Tin Angel)

The debut album from Titanic – a collaboration between Mexico City-based musicians i la Cat6Iica (aka Hector Tosta) and Mabe Fratti – is a jazz-infused masterpiece that blurs the lines between genres. With classical structures and a touch of postmodern flair, it evokes a sense of longing and exploration. The deliberate saxophone raucousness and rhythmic percussion create a captivating sonic landscape that pays homage to classical opera while nodding to influences like Terry Riley and bebop. Fratti and Tosta's close collaboration has led them to a state of artistic grace, resulting in a breathtaking musical journey that deserves to be cherished. –Albina Cabrera–

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