New Music Reviews (9/25)

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 The National, Devendra Banhart, Benét, and more. 

The National - Laugh Track (4AD)
Their second album of 2023 serves as a perfect companion to the indie rock mainstay’s latest album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein. With bigger, layered instrumentation, excellent guests, and Berninger’s instantly recognizable vocal and lyrics, Laugh Track feels like a solid addition to the band’s expansive discography. — CS

Devendra Banhart - Flying Wig (Mexican Summer)
Flying Wig marks Banhart’s 11th studio album and his first with Mexican Summer. Following 2019’s Ma, his new album takes an unexpected synth heavy direction, as he showcases some vocal acrobatics jumping from a rich, lower register to his glorious falsetto. Produced by Cate Le Bon, the two achieve a transformative, moody and groovy new era for Devendra Banhart, as he aims to make sadness sexy. — CS

Benét - Can I go again? (Bayonet)
The debut album from the Richmond, VA musician evokes a leveled-up bedroom pop vibe …let’s call it living room pop? With elements of folk, soul, indie pop and rock, it’s a diverse collection of super catchy songs from an artist who is growing and evolving, and taking us along for the ride. — CS

CHAI - CHAI (Sub Pop)
The Japanese quartet continues to blend genres in a way that is so unique to them. On their self-titled fourth album, they lean heavily into R&B and electro pop, delivering to some truly memorable jams. Standout “NEO KWAII, K” is not only one of their strongest songs to date; it’s a perfect representation of the band’s mission to rebrand “cute” as they strive for celebrating the differences in us all and reclaiming self-esteem. — CS

Al Menne - Freak Accident (Double Double Whammy)
The debut solo album from the leader of Seattle’s Great Grandpa is a devastating collection of heartfelt songs from the singer-songwriter. While sonically more subdued than what we are used to from their other project, Menne still completely grips the listener with incredible arrangements, layered instrumentation, thoughtful lyrics and an impeccable vocal performance. — CS

Roosevelt - Embrace (Counter / Ninja Tune)
This album is just F-U-N. The now LA-based (by way of Cologne) producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist brings his signature style of disco infused electro pop with glittering synths, impeccable grooves and hooks for actual days. Soak up the '80s nostalgia and dance along to his most dynamic album to date. — CS

yuele - softscars (Ninja Tune)
The third album from the Singaporean songwriter and producer Nat Ćmiel (born Natasha Yelin Chang) completely rips. The juxtaposition of hard and soft is executed flawlessly, as they effortlessly move from punk rock and industrial grunge to ethereal electronics, hard hitting riffs to airy pop moments, all while performing some impressive vocal acrobatics throughout. — CS

zzzahara - Tender (Lex)
The sophomore album from Zahara Jamie – aka zzzahara – is an enticing collection of dreamy indie pop rock. The queer Mexican-filipino guitarist and songwriter delivers earnest lyrics with bright guitars, driving percussion and great hooks. — CS

Beach Vacation - Coping Habits (START-TRACK)
The second album from Seattle’s Beach Vacation (aka Tabor Rupp) is another sweet set of shimmery guitar-pop full of gauzy melodies, expressive guitars, dreamy textures, and steady rhythms that closely recalls the likes of Day Wave, Craft Spells, and Hibou. — CS

Elisapie - Inuktitut (Bonsound)
Born and raised in Salluit, a small village in Nunavik which is only accessible by plane, Elisapie is an Indigenous Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter, broadcaster, documentary filmmaker, and activist. Her 4th solo album is a beautiful collection of covers of iconic songs (Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Blondie, Leonard Cohen, Rolling Stones, Queen, Cyndi Lauper, Metallica, all included) that are rooted in her memories of listening to Nunavik’s community radio station, each track linked to a loved one or an intimate story that has shaped the person Elisapie is today. All sung in her native Inuit language and featuring deceptively nuanced arrangements, Inuktitut reimagines classic songs in her own vision as “she tells her story, offers these songs as a gift to her community, and makes her language and culture resonate beyond the Inuit territory.” — AR

Grrrl Gang - Spunky! (Kill Rock Stars)
The debut album from this Indonesian trio is chock-full of high energy, quick hitting riot grrrl glory. Angeeta Sentana (vocals, guitar), Akbar Rumandung (bass, vocals) and Edo Alventa (guitar, vocals) deliver stellar guitar riffs, explosive drums and powerfully delivered lyrics. — CS

Little Dragon with April + VISTA - Slipping Into Color EP (Ninja Tune)
Ahead of their North America tour, the Swedish outfit surprise drop a new collaborative EP with April + VISTA, who will be joining them on the road. The follow up to this year’s Slugs of Love is another intoxicating dose of R&B and art pop and with woozy synths and excellent basslines. — CS

Loraine James - Gentle Confrontation (Hyperdub)
The 5th album (and 3rd for Hyperdub) from innovative London-based artist Loraine James is a captivating, complex, and immersive record that puts her intricate production techniques, reflective storytelling, and labyrinthian atmospherics on full display. Tapping into fractured R&B, kaleidoscopic IDM, leftfield hip-hop, adventurous techno-pop, dynamic math rock, and woozy ambience, Gentle Confrontation is a record that “a teenage Loraine would like to have made,” with nods to the math rock, IDM, and emotional electronica (a la Dntel, Lusine, and Telefon Tel Aviv, who are sampled here in fleeting moments) that Loraine proudly loved during her formative years. Loraine’s beats dominate the landscape, yet her own vocals and those of a diverse cast of guests – KeiyaA, George Riley, Contour, Marina Herlop, RiTchie – accent most of these songs. — AR

Patio - Collection (Fire Talk)
The second album from this NYC trio — bassist-vocalist Loren DiBlasi, guitarist-vocalist Lindsey-Paige "LP" McCloy, and drummer Alice Suh — is a strong set of cathartic post-punk propelled by angular rhythms and incisive conversational lyrics exploring isolationism and identity through a raw, arty, piercing lens. — AR

Ralphie Choo - SUPERNOVA (Rusia IDK/Warner)
The debut album from the Madrid-based songwriter and producer is an exciting genre bender, with elements of pop, R&B, jazz, bossa nova, grime and more. Taking his name from a Simpsons' character is evidence that he’s down to have fun, but this album is so much more than that; it’s a serious introduction to an artist that is one to watch.  — CS

Gabriel Teodros - From the Ashes of Our Homes (self-released)
The latest album from South Seattle native, musician, writer, and former KEXP DJ Gabriel Teodros is a powerful set of introspective hip-hop infused with warm R&B and jazz touches that captures his welcoming energy and clear vision driven by family, community, growth, love, and healing. With vivid, insightful, poetic reflections on the tragic fire that him and his spouse, Ijeomo Oluo, had to flee from in September 2020, longtime friends that have passed away, and a shifting landscape wracked by the pandemic, wars, and the climate catastrophe, From the Ashes of Our Homes finds strength in its honest and reflective lyrics that focus on building and nurturing relationships, both at home and in the community. Gabriel serves as the trusted narrator for the album, a record that also marks his introduction to the world as a beat producer, but it’s undeniably a communal affair with support coming from his close-knit network of fellow Ethiopian-American artists, Seattle-based artists, and Seattle-rooted artists, who lend their voices and instruments to the project. — AR

Wajatta - Waiting For The Get Down EP (Brainfeeder)
The duo of Reggie Watts and John Tejada return with their mesmerizing fusion of house, 70s funk, and techno with a hip hop sensibility. Waiting For The Get Down is another collection of outstanding electronic dance music. — CS

Wet Fruit - Dandelions At The Gate (Halfshell)
The second album from Portland-based four-piece band Wet Fruit is a sharp set of “weird noise pop” that combines knotty post-punk, driving art-rock, and freewheeling psych-rock in fuzzy, propulsive, gritty fashion. The album is their second for Halfshell Records, a Seattle-based tape-focused label consistently delivering solid under-the-radar rock releases. — AR

Bibio - Sunbursting EP (Warp)
Existing in a similar lane as his 2022 full-length album BIB10, the latest EP from veteran chameleonic British musician Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) finds him diving into his affinity for '70s-inspired soul/funk/pop grooves with a breezy yacht-rock flair. — AR

Will Butler + Sister Squares - Will Butler + Sister Squares (Merge Records)
The former member of Arcade Fire has enlisted a new band behind his solo work — Miles Francis, Julie Shore, Jenny Shore, and Sara Dobbs — with their debut album as Will Butler + Sister Squares. Heading in more of a pop direction, Butler & co. achieve warm textures and cinematic, emotional landscapes on this indie rock long player. — CS

Eartheater - Powders (Chemical X)
The third full length album from  multi-instrumentalist Alexandra Drewchin – aka Eartheater – is intriguing experimental pop, balancing organic and synthetic sounds with dark undertones, a wide vocal range, tight beats and floating synths. — CS

Astrid Engberg - Trust (Creak Inc.)
The second full-length album from Danish singer, producer, composer, and DJ Astrid Engberg blends R&B and jazz in lush, soulful, exploratory fashion. Written just a handful of months after the birth of her first child, Trust finds inspiration in intuition, with Astrid following her instincts towards a warm, classic, orchestral sound that gets assists from local Nordic talent as well as LA-based composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (newly signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label) who contributes to a few tracks. — AR

GUM - Saturnia (Spinning Top Music)
The 6th full-length album from this solo project of Jay Watson, a member of Australian band Pond and touring member of Tame Impala, is another solid set of diverse psych-pop that bounces between crunchy, funky, groovy jams to spacey, orchestral, breezy ballads in a style not far removed from the bands he’s involved with outside of GUM.— AR

Teenage Fanclub - Nothing Lasts Forever (Merge) 
The Glasgow outfit return with their signature melodic and melancholy indie rock on their twelfth studio album, primarily drawing influences from both '90s alt rock and '60s psych pop. — CS

Seb Wildblood - separation anxiety (All My Thoughts)
The 4th full-length album from British electronic DJ/producer Seb Wildblood (also the driving force behind the excellent labels All My Thoughts, Church, and Coastal Haze) is another stellar set dominated by warm, deep, propulsive house grooves sprinkled with breakbeats and a sharp pop streak that also sneaks in a couple relaxed downtempo pieces. Legendary musician Laraaji contributes to three singles, while sir Was, Tess Roby, mauv, and Lawrence all make guest appearances. — AR

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