New Music Reviews (3/27)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Don Yates (joined this week by DJ Alex) 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 Debby Friday, MaxoDepeche Mode, and more. 

Debby Friday – GOOD LUCK (Sub Pop)
This Nigeria-born, Toronto-based DJ/producer/vocalist’s debut album is an impressive set of dark, groove-driven electro-pop incorporating elements of industrial, house, trip hop and other styles, combining dark, occasionally noisy synths and often-propulsive, sometimes glitchy rhythms with her elastic vocals and personal lyrics exploring the ups and downs of growing up with both confidence and vulnerability. — DY

Maxo – Even God Has A Sense Of Humor (Def Jam)
The fourth album from LA-based rapper Maxo is a strong set of expansive hip-hop that displays his calm, introspective, magnetic mic presence over sturdy, soulful, solid boom-bap beats. Vocal assists come from Liv.e, keiyaA, Pink Siifu, Melanie Charles, and more, while production touches come from Madlib, Karriem Riggins, Devin Morrison. — AR

Depeche Mode – Memento Mori (Columbia/Mute)
Now reduced to the duo of Martin Gore and Dave Gahan after the death of Andy Fletcher, this veteran British group carries on with their 15th album, a strong return to form of brooding electro-pop with a dark, goth/industrial-tinged sound combining shimmering keyboards and atmospheric guitars with lyrics of loss and mortality. — DY

The Reds, Pinks & Purples – The Town That Cursed Your Name (Slumberland)
While a bit darker and heavier than previous releases, the latest album from this Bay Area project spearheaded by Glenn Donaldson is another sharply crafted set of bittersweet indie-pop with jangly/fuzzy guitars, wistful melodies and lyrics of struggle, disappointment and resilience. — DY

Purling Hiss – Drag On Girard (Drag City)
The seventh studio album (and first in seven years) from this Philadelphia band led by Mike Polizze is a visceral blend of psych-rock, garage-punk and other styles, combining fiery, distortion-drenched electric guitars, often-energetic rhythms and soaring song hooks. — DY

Skrillex – Quest For Fire (OWSLA/Atlantic)
The second studio full-length album from influential producer Skrillex (aka Sonny Moore) is a thrilling set of innovative electronic/club cuts with an addictive pop streak that finds the provocative dubstep artist confidently flexing his low-end proficiency while effortlessly jumping around styles with a stellar cast of guest artists. A mature evolution of his exceptional sound design talents that characterized the "brostep" movement of dubstep in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Quest For Fire is a blockbuster record that blurs the lines of mainstream and underground culture and gets assistance from Missy Elliott, Four Tet, Porter Robinson, Fred again.., Flowdan, Mr. Oizo, Joker, and more along the way. — AR

Deerhoof – Miracle-Level (Joyful Noise)
This veteran San Francisco band’s 19th album is the first to be fully recorded and produced in an official studio (Winnipeg’s No Fun Club), and it’s also the first to feature all-Japanese lyrics from frontwoman Satomi Matsuzaki. The end result is an imaginative set of experimental avant-rock with often-shapeshifting songs ranging from placid and melodic to jagged and volatile. — DY

Black Country, New Road – Live at Bush Hall (Ninja Tune)
After frontman Isaac Wood left the group last year, this now six-piece British band decided to write all-new material to perform live, including at three shows in December 2022 from London’s Bush Hall. This live album is culled from those Bush Hall shows and features a more melodic and approachable take on the band’s experimental post-punk inflected with folk, baroque pop, No Wave, jazz and other styles, while also now featuring three alternating lead vocalists. — DY

Caroline Rose – The Art of Forgetting (New West)
This Austin-based artist’s fifth album features a darker and more adventurous sound for an emotionally hard-hitting set of moody avant-pop with often-bleak lyrics of loss, regret, grief and change. — DY

Dom Flemons – Traveling Wildfire (Smithsonian Folkways)
The fifth solo album from this Chicago-based former member of Carolina Chocolate Drops is a diverse set of rootsy styles ranging from atmospheric torch songs and lonesome country ballads to folk-blues and acoustic gospel. — DY

Gayance – Mascarade (Rhythm Section International)
Taken from the Haitian creole word for "joyfulness," Gayance is the alias of Montréal-based Haitian-Canadian musician, DJ, producer, filmmaker and storyteller Aïsha Vertus. Reminiscent at times of Erika de Casier, Jayda G, and Kelela, her debut full-length album is a colorful set of R&B-tinted vocal-laced electronic grooves that paints an intimate and honest portrait of life during her 20s through jazzy house rhythms, broken beat grooves, poetic songwriting, and her multilingual vocal talents. — AR

THEODOR – THEODOR (Broc Recordz)
The debut album from this French outfit is a fantastic set of sultry, psychedelic, slow-motion soul with a dreamy pop touch. While there's hints of early Jungle and Glass Animals in their slightly mysterious and low-key groovy vibe, THEODOR also bring to mind the timeless sounds found in the catalogs of Daptone and Colemine Records. — AR

Kareem Ali – Godson Of House: The Album (CosmoFlux)
The latest album from prolific Arizona-based electronic producer and jazz musician Kareem Ali is a stellar set of cosmic electronic grooves that take inspiration in the timeless rhythms of Frankie Knuckles (aka the Godfather of House) as he explores deep, jazzy, Afro-centric house territory for hypnotic, euphoric, sometimes uplifting (see "Success") results that closes out with his epic tribute "Reach For The Galaxy (Thank You Frankie)." — AR

Heartworms – A Comforting Notion EP (Speedy Wunderground)
The debut Heartworms EP from London artist Jojo Orme is a potent four-song set of dark post-punk combining ominous synths and guitars with hypnotic rhythms and dystopian lyrics. — DY

Yaya Bey – Exodus the North Star EP (Big Dada)
This Brooklyn artist follows up her excellent 2022 album Remember Your North Star with this beautifully crafted six-song EP of atmospheric R&B inflected with reggae, jazz and more, combining a warm, mostly lowkey sound with lyrics of love, desire and joy. — DY

Kate Davis – Fish Bowl (ANTI-)
This New York artist’s second album is a well-crafted set of folk-tinged indie-pop combining jangly guitars and shimmering keyboards with her breathy vocals and often-dark lyrics of heartache, loss and isolation. — DY

Magugu x Le Motel – Kindness Weakness EP (Maloca)
Brussel-based electronic producer Le Motel teams up with Cardiff, UK-based Nigerian poet/rapper Magugu for an excellent set of cutting-edge rap that blends Le Motel's sleek club-ready rhythms that blend UK garage, grime, jungle, dancehall, and bass with Magugu's commanding flow and delivery with lyrics in Pidgin, an English-based creole language spoken in Nigeria. — AR

L'Eclair – Cruise Control (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Les Disques Bongo Joe offer up a vinyl reissue of Geneva, Switzerland-based outfit L'Eclair's 2017 debut release Cruise Control (originally released on Geneva's Rock This Town Records) that showcases the band's early affinity for super groovy instrumental jams that fuse Afrobeat, funk, disco, psychedelic, dub, Krautrock, prog, and jazz styles. — AR

Benny Sings – Young Hearts (Stones Throw)
Produced by Kenny Beats, the eighth album from this LA-based Dutch artist is a solid set of breezy electro-pop inflected with R&B, bossa nova and other styles. — DY

Kosaya Gora – Kosogor (2MR)
Kosaya Gora is a new collaborative project between Moscow-based artists Kedr Livanskiy and Flaty. Their debut album blends each musician's eclectic production talents with Kedr's hypnotic vocals (featuring lyrics primarily in Russian) for an expansive set of experimental, moody, gauzy pop songs that traverses a wide range of influences including 1990s' trip-hop, 1960s' psychedelic folk, 2000s' post-rock, and more. — AR

Dick Stusso – S.P. (Hardly Art)
The third Dick Stusso full-length from California artist Nic Russo is a concept album about mental disintegration during dystopian times, with 18 mostly brief songs ranging from crunchy, hook-filled rock and loping, country-tinged rock to atmospheric ambient. — DY

(Various) – RIFT Two (YEAR0001)
The second label compilation from this Stockholm-based label is a standout collection that explores a visionary futuristic pop aesthetic that impressively covers a wide range of sounds – ethereal ambient-pop, driving synth-pop, angsty psych-punk, soaring rave anthems, progressive club rhythms, and more. Real Lies, Ecco2k, Dark0, RIP Swirl, Malibu, TDJ, and Mechatok make contributions. — AR

klurax – ​​​​​​​klurax 3 (DMY)
The third EP from this emerging Ithaca, NY-based singer, songwriter, and electronic producer is an excellent set of underground electronic-pop that pairs her dreamy ethereal vocals with cutting-edge beats that touch upon drum'n'bass, breaks, rave, and more. — AR

J Rocc – ​​​​​​​Beatitudes (Stones Throw)
The latest offering from this legendary Los Angeles DJ, producer, and Beat Junkies founder finds him returning to his crate-digging turntablist roots as he serves up a cool, loopy, blessed set of instrumental hip-hop beats based on 20th-century gospel/spiritual recordings. — AR

Ni’jah – Swarm EP (RCA)
This six-song EP functions as a soundtrack of sorts to Swarm, Donald Glover’s new horror series about an obsessive pop fan. Credited to the series’ fictional pop star Ni’jah, the songs were mostly written and performed by KIRBY, with Glover also producing and contributing to the EP as Childish Gambino. It’s a solid set of expansive R&B ranging from psych-tinged and moody to dark and propulsive.— DY

Secret Machines – The Moth, The Lizard and the Secret Machines (TSM Recordings)
This Dallas-bred band’s latest release is a “lost” album that was mostly recorded in 2010 and then recently finished. It’s one of the band’s more adventurous sets, ranging from sprawling space-rock to dark psych-rock on songs combining atmospheric guitars with bright harmonies and hypnotic rhythms and melodies. — DY

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