New Music Reviews (1/22)

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 Ana Tijoux, Sleater-Kinney, Day Soul Exquisite, and more. 

Ana Tijoux - Vida (Victoria Producciones)
Almost ten years since her last album, the Chilean hip-hop artist is back in full force on her fifth studio album, Vida. Fusing elements of hip-hop, R&B, Afrobeats, cumbia, disco and more, Tijoux pays tribute to loved ones that have passed away on this compelling, genre defying long player. She explains: “The idea was to celebrate their existence, but not in a superficial way, because there’s nothing deeper than life. I do believe that being alive is worth it after all – the human existence with its inevitable tunnels and contradictions, dances and disagreements. I think it’s important not to lose sight of your emotions – to preserve feelings as the very backbone that allows us to walk through life with integrity.” — CS

Sleater-Kinney - Little Rope (Loma Vista)
On their gripping 10th studio album Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker have perfected the tightrope walk between anguish and hope, beauty and ugly, restraint and abandon. This dichotomy enables these deeply emotional and raw songs to acutely connect with their listener throughout this modern rock masterpiece. Tucker primarily assumes the role of lead vocalist with dynamic guitar riffs, driving drums, memorable hooks and layered atmospherics. The bond between Tucker and Brownstein is deeply felt nearly 30 years into their musical partnership, as they usher in this next era of Sleater-Kinney on Little Rope. — CS

Day Soul Exquisite - Sanguine & Cardamom (La fem/Den Tapes)
The debut EP from this emerging 6-piece Queer and BIPOC-fronted Seattle band founded in 2021 by singer and guitarist Francesca Eluhu is an impressive set of expansive, jazzy, shape-shifting R&B/soul music inflected with bossa nova, spoken word poetry, lite-psychedelic, and Afro-Caribbean flavors. — AR

Don Melody Club - Zonder Pardon (Les Disques Bongo Joe)
Don Melody Club is the solo alias of Amsterdam-based musician Donald “Donny” Madjid, a member of The Mauskovic Dance Band. Launching his solo project in 2020 while on a pandemic-induced break from his busy touring schedule and dropping his debut full-length album in April 2021, his second fleshed-out release is a sweet 5-song set featuring a heady brew of psych, No Wave, dub, glam, soul, and funk influences, an array of vintage drum machines and analogue synths, and stylish vocals that are sung entirely in Dutch. Early standout single “T’ Materiaal” is a cool cover of William DeVaughn’s all-time classic 1974 single “Be Thankful For What You Got” and an ideal entry point. — AR

glass beach - plastic death (Run For Cover)
Nearly five years after their debut, the Los Angeles quartet makes a triumphant, frenetic return with their sophomore album. Veering decidedly into prog-rock territory isn’t necessarily a hard left turn for glass beach, but one that feels like a true reintroduction. Incorporating rock, experimental, hardcore, jazz and more with lush instrumentation and varied vocal deliveries, plastic death is an ambitious second outing for an exciting band that knows no bounds. — CS

inuha - 陽のかけら / Hi No Kakera EP (Siren for Charlotte)
The latest EP from this mysterious Japanese project is a stunning set of “angelic post-shoegaze” anthems that take the genre’s familiar guitar-led touchstones and injects them with maximal digitally-enhanced productions, distinctive J-pop Vocaloid vocals, and a dynamic math-rock element for an absolutely thrilling, widescreen, cranked-to-11 sound. — AR

Katie McBride - THE ANGELS ARE CALLING (Blue Water)
The second full-length album from Toronto-based electronic producer, singer, and songwriter Katie McBride is an assured showcase of her maturing sound and multifaceted talents as she weaves together a confident set of kinetic synth-pop and shimmery dream-pop distinguished by her ethereal vocals and dynamic productions. The beats on THE ANGELS ARE CALLING especially feel like a level-up for McBride within her musical journey, with the album boasting adventurous moments that sneak in high-BPM influences from drum and bass and juke/footwork into her pulsating, melodic, cinematic palette. — AR

Keyon Harrold - Foreverland (Concord Jazz) 
On his third studio album, composer, trumpeter, producer and vocalist Keyon Harrold explores themes of empowerment, love and loss through his unique contemporary jazz arrangements with an R&B sensibility. With a little help from his friends (including Common, Robert Glasper, PJ Morton, and Laura Mvula) his innovative compositions are bursting at the seams with positivity and vulnerability. — CS

Mali Obomsawin and Magdalena Abrego - Greatest Hits (self-released)
Titling your debut collaborative album Greatest Hits is BOLD, but so are these beautifully devastating songs by Mali Obomsawin and Magdalena Abrego. Their experimental shoegaze sound drives these heart wrenching songs about intimacy under colonialism. Written and sung by Obomsawin with impeccable heavy, hazy guitars offered up by Abrego, their skills complement each other perfectly. Here’s hoping this is the first of many collaborations from this dynamic duo. — CS

PACKS - Melt The Honey (Fire Talk)
The third album from this Toronto-based band led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Madeline Link is a solid set of punchy fuzz-rock, scuzzy shoegaze, off-kilter indie rock, simmering grunge, and more. The band’s second full-length album released in the span of 12 months, Melt The Honey was written and recorded over an 11-day stretch spent in Mexico City and with the additional backdrop of Madeline falling in love with a new partner, resulting in the band’s most joyful and optimistic sounding record yet. — AR

Selmer - Body Wash (777 Music)
The debut album from Julian Karlsson (aka Selmer) is a dreamy concoction of unassuming, jazzy bedroom pop. Born out of those thoughts that swirl in your brain while you’re in the shower, Body Wash is a woozy reflection on meditative rituals and finding beauty in the mundane. — CS

TAMTAM - Ramble in the Rainbow (Peoples Potential Unlimited)
The latest EP from this consistently evolving Tokyo-based four-piece band marks their first international release – courtesy of Washington, DC-based label Peoples Potential Unlimited – and it’s an awesome set of groovy, colorful, dreamy psych-pop. With TAMTAM vocalist and synth player Kuro singing in both Japanese and English, Ramble in the Rainbow carries an instantly magnetic vibe and sound and feels like a breakthrough moment for a band that have been steadily plugging away for a decade now. — AR

@ - Are You There God? It’s Me, @ (Carpark)
Pronounced "at," this collaborative project between Philadelphia guitarist/vocalist Victoria Rose and Baltimore producer/vocalist Stone Filipczak follows up their charming 2023 debut album Mind Palace Music with this unique 5-track EP of experimental, exploratory, shape-shifting folk-pop that finds them adding more electronic production into their idiosyncratic mix. — CS

Cosmic Analog Ensemble - Les Grandes Vacances (Bonus Version) (Jakarta)
Cosmic Analog Ensemble is an alias of prolific Beirut-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Charif Megarbane. Following his breakout release Marzipan last year on Habibi Funk Records under his own name, he unveils his latest full-length album as Cosmic Analog Ensemble and it’s a diverse journey through hip-hop beats, jazzy excursions, global grooves, evocative library music, loungy French pop, and more that’s carried by a consistently lush, cinematic, colorful streak. Amongst the vibrant instrumental tracks are a handful of vocal cuts inspired by Serge Gainsbourg that add to the album’s eclectic palette. — AR

​​Eliza McLamb - Going Through It (Royal Mountain)
The debut album from LA-based, North Carolina-raised singer-songwriter Eliza McLamb is a powerful set of expansive, honest, raw folk-pop that employs a variety of backdrops for her poignant, vivid, vulnerable storytelling. Co-produced by her close confidant and collaborator Sarah Tudzin (of Illuminati Hotties) and recorded locally at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville, ‘Going Through It’ boasts a wide range of moments – from the hushed Sufjan-esque opener “Before” to the anthemic angsty pop of “Mythologize Me” that contains shades of Olivia Rodrigo – with TW lyrics tackling her complex real-life experiences with eating disorders, self-mutilation, and toxic relationships. Hailed by Eliza as the best song on the record, “16” is a particularly raw, memorable, beautifully harrowing song. — AR

SLIFT - ILION (Sub Pop) 
The third full length from the French trio is a wild, expansive, cinematic ride. Encompassing nearly every facet of the rock spectrum– experimental, psych, prog, harcore, post-rock, and more – ILION is a transformative listen that represents “the fall of humanity and the rebirth of all things in time and space.” — CS

Strangelily - A Strange Film, Featuring You and I (self-released)
The debut EP from this Boise, Idaho-based band fronted by singer/guitarist Chloe Elise is a promising set that blends slow-burning R&B/soul with a dynamic shoegaze/psych streak to create genre-blurring songs that sway from dreamy ethereal moments to intense shape-shifting bursts. — AR

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