New Music Reviews (12/11)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder (joined this week by Albina Cabrera, Latin Partnerships and Editorial Manager and co-host of El Sonido, and Morning Show Producer Owen Murphy) 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 DijahSB, La Dame Blanche, Car Seat Headrest, and more. 

DijahSB - The Flower That Knew (Lowly)
The third full-length album from Polaris Prize-nominated, Toronto-based rapper DijahSB is another sharp set of lively, honest, smooth hip-hop that showcases DijahSB's charismatic energy, laidback flow, and direct lyrics exploring the highs and lows of everyday life as a Black queer non-binary artist, with the extra bonus of plenty of references to the NBA and basketball players past and present. — AR

La Dame Blanche - Atomica (Nacional)
The eagerly anticipated album Atómica by La Dame Blanche has finally arrived, and it doesn't disappoint. Cuban singer, flutist, and percussionist Yaite Ramos Rodríguez, daughter of one of the founders of Buena Vista Social Club, continues to deliver a unique blend of Afro-Cuban influences with hip-hop, trap, and reggae. Accompanied by her unmistakable voice and her flute, she creates a captivating musical journey. The international collaborations on this project, such as Mata Sede, Mula, Aunty Raysor, among others, elevate it even further, turning this album into a gem of alternative Latin music in 2023. — AC

Car Seat Headrest - Faces From The Masquerade (Matador)
This triumphant live album from the Seattle-based band led by enigmatic singer-songwriter Will Toledo was recorded during a run of three consecutive sold out nights at Brooklyn Steel in NYC in March 2022. Titled in reference to Will’s custom gas mask that he adorns at shows, as well as the band’s invitation to fans to wear masks at the concerts, Faces From The Masquerade captures a band that has ascended from lo-fi cult favorites to legit voice-of-a-generation rockers with a passionate and adoring fan base thanks to their steady stream of knockout releases full of anthemic, buoyant, dynamic jams bolstered by Will’s sharp songwriting and acerbic vocals. — AR

Evlay - 333 (Caraza)
Evlay, one of the masterminds behind Argentina's new urban-experimental scene and the producer crafting beats for artists like Wos, Acru, Nicki Nicole, and more, unveils his debut LP, 333. This album serves as a testament to his versatility and evolution as an artist, producer, and DJ. Each track represents a unique collaboration with the finest talents in the Argentine music scene, as well as representatives from various genres. We encounter Santiago Motorizado, frontman of the indie rock band El Mató a un Policía Motorizado (whose Live on KEXP session surpassed one million views); the influential figure of the new Argentine rap, WOS; a surprising appearance from the Argentine indie folk scene with Lisandro Aristimuño; the emerging international neo-trap stars like Taichu, and the legendary figures like Neo Pistea, among many others. 333 promises an auditory experience that transcends genres, revealing the sonic landscape of Argentina's new scene. — AC

HEALTH - RAT WARS (Loma Vista Recordings)
The latest album from this veteran Los Angeles outfit is another intense, menacing, hard-hitting set of industrial noise-rock that leans into metal, EBM, and experimental terrain. Closing track “DON’T TRY” offers up a distinctive dreamy, ethereal, yet still slightly sinister curtain call. — AR

Michael Nau - Accompany (Colemine/Karma Chief)
The fifth album from this Maryland-based singer-songwriter – also the frontman for Page France, Cotton Jones, and Michael Nau & The Might Thread – is a warm and welcoming set of winsome, melodic, relaxed Americana and psych-tinged folk-pop. — AR

Peter Gabriel - i/o (Real World)
Nearly three decades in the making, legendary British musician Peter Gabriel returns with his 10th studio album (his 1st since 2002’s Up) featuring 12 songs total with each song featuring a “Light Mix” version and a “Dark Mix” version. While the differences between the two versions are relatively subtle, i/o confidently puts Gabriel’s masterful pop songwriting, still-going-strong vocals, and dynamic, sweeping, intricately-constructed compositions on full display.  — AR

The Veldt - Illuminated 1989 (Little Cloud/5BC)
After a 34-year wait, original shoegaze outfit The Veldt have finally released their Illuminated 1989 album via Portland-based Little Cloud Records and North Carolina’s 5BC Records. This is the original 1989 full-length record produced by Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. While originally intended to be the band's first album, their label Capitol Records shelved the recording and sent them back into the studio resulting in their first album being released with the title Marigolds. Capitol Records was wrong as The Veldt, riding the same wave The Cocteau Twins and Lush surfed, infuse magic in these vibrations. — OW

93MillionMilesFromTheSun - Buried Dreams EP (self-released)
Doncaster, England's 93MillionMilesFromTheSun are a four-piece shoegaze band led by vocalist and guitarist Nick “Mainline” Noble that have released seven full length albums and now ten E.P.'s including this, their latest Buried Dreams EP. It's a (cough) lush ride filled with soft, gentle noise of love and loss that explodes halfway through into a massive wall of sweet, melodic pop buried under a wall of fuzz and reverb reminiscent of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride. — OM

Don Leisure & Amanda Whiting - Beyond the Midnight Sun (First Word)
This team-up between two excellent Welsh artists – innovative beat producer Don Leisure and ambient/jazz harpist Amanda Whiting – is a sublime set of cosmic beat-centric jazz compositions that pairs their talents in seamless fashion. R&B vocalist Deborah Jordan appears on two tracks and beautifully compliments their lush, smoky, mystical backdrops for a pair of more immediate highlights. — AR

Keanu Nelson - Wilurarrakutu (Altered States Tapes)
Keanu Nelson is a First Nations musician and painter based in Papunya, a small Indigenous community in Australia’s Northern Territory. Produced by Sydney-based musician Yuta Matsumura, Keanu’s debut album is a poignant set of soulful pop songs sung in both Papunya Luritja and English with Keanu’s stirring, poetic, honest vocals working wonderfully over Matsumura’s minimalist synth-accented backdrops that rely heavily on old Casio keyboards and vintage drum machines. — AR

MIKE - Burning Desire (10k)
The 9th full-length album from the super talented NYC rapper/producer MIKE (aka Michael Bonema) is another strong showcase of his thick, hypnotic, and intimate aesthetic that fuses his labyrinthian bars with woozy, psychedelic, loop-heavy beats. Aside from a pair of tracks, MIKE once again handles production under his dj blackpower alias and he brings a bunch of close friends along for the ride, including Liv.e, Earl Sweatshirt, Larry June, Lila Ramani of Crumb, Niontay, and more. — AR

MJ Lendermen - And The Wind (Live and Loose!) (ANTI-)
Asheville, NC singer-songwriter and Wednesday band member MJ Lenderman has been building a fervent audience on his own with memorable solo releases that spotlight his unique balance of twangy slacker-rock gems and ripping noise-pop anthems that frequently nod to indie icons Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Built To Spill.  With a setlist featuring songs from his breakout 2022 album Boat Songs and his 2021 album Ghosts of Your Guitar Solo as well as new single “Knockin’,” this excellent live album is a wonderful showcase – or introduction – to his vivid storytelling talents, charismatic charm, and engaging sound. — AR

Neil Young - Before and After (Reprise)
The 45th studio album from the iconic singer-songwriter and musician finds him performing mostly solo acoustic versions of originals from his vast catalog with a majority of the setlist featuring lesser-known gems, including the previously unreleased track “If You Got Love.” An intentionally continuous free-flowing set that carries an introspective and reflective throughout, Neil describes Before and After as so: “The feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way. This music presentation defies shuffling, digital organization, separation. Only for listening. That says it all.” — AR

The South Hill Experiment - SUNSTRIKES (self-released)
The South Hill Experiment is the project of LA-via-Baltimore brother duo Baird Acheson (aka Baird) and Gabe Acheson (aka Goldwash). They quickly follow-up their impressive debut album MOONSHOTS (released May 2023) with their second album of imaginative psych-pop and slinky synth-pop with a loose, dynamic, groovy feel. Reminiscent at times of MGMT's early catalog, SUNSTRIKES captures an exciting wide-eyed sound and features a guest appearance from Tortoise’s Jeff Parker on the cosmic early single “Parker Solar Probe.” — AR

Uly - sometimes sad, sometimes groovy (named after my dog)
Reminiscent of the idiosyncratic DIY pop styles of Nicolas Krgovich, David Longstreth, and Bibio, the latest EP from Dublin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Uly (aka Rafino Murphy) is aptly titled, as it’s a sweet set of charming pop songs that bounce between lo-fi funk-pop grooves and minimal ambient-pop ballads. — AR

Various Artists - Rise Up: BDS Mixtape Vol. 2 (Amplify Palestine)
Inspired by the 1985 compilation album Sun City credited to Artists United Against Apartheid that brought musicians together to voice out against the apartheid in South Africa, BDS Mixtape is a genre-fluid compilation series featuring contributions from musicians who proudly support Palestinian liberation. Their second compilation is an eclectic and powerful collection featuring artists all over the world, including tracks from former KEXP DJ Gabriel Teodros, Red Baraat, Alsarah & The Nubatones, and more. — AR

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