New Music Reviews (3/25)

Album Reviews

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder (joined this week by Latin Partnerships and Editorial Manager, Albina Cabrera) 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 Empress Of, Francis of Delirium, Gary Clark Jr., and more. 

Empress Of - For Your Consideration (Major Arcana/Giant Music)
The fourth studio album from LA’s Lorely Rodriguez is utter pop perfection. Her mesmerizing beats, glittering synths, Latin rhythms, impressive vocal range and flawless tone deliver earworm after earworm on For Your Consideration as she explores themes of love, sex and existing in the modern entertainment industry. — CS

Francis of Delirium - Lighthouse (Dalliance Recordings)
The debut album from Luxembourg-based Jana Bahrich – aka Francis of Delirium – is an absolute knockout. Lighthouse is jam-packed with big, sweeping swells of sound achieved by excellent guitar licks, infectious hooks, emotional lyricism, orchestral flourishes and a confident, powerful vocal performance. Her strong songwriting and distinct indie-rock sound with a pop sensibility hits all of the right marks on one hell of a debut. — CS

Gary Clark Jr. - JPEG RAW (Warner)
The fourth studio album from legendary blues musician Gary Clark Jr. transcends the genre, finding him incorporating elements of rock, hip-hop, funk, jazz, R&B and some incredible guests including Valerie June and Stevie Wonder. JPEG RAW is a bold sonic journey of Black music and Black experience as Clark’s signature vocal and fuzzy guitar rips through every track. — CS

Waxahatchee - Tigers Blood (ANTI-)
When Katie Crutchfield entered her alt. country era with 2020’s Saint Cloud, it felt like an artist returning home. On Tigers Blood, her debut album for ANTI-, these Americana roots have firmly taken hold, delighting listeners with her specific vocal affect, just the right amount of twang, and a way with lyrical phrasing and storytelling that is so impactful. From up tempo rockers ("Bored") to gut wrenching ballads ("Right Back To It" feat. MJ Lenderman) with memorable melodies and hooks to boot, the sixth album from Waxahatchee has all the makings of a timeless classic. — CS

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes (Fuzz Club)
The iconic Scottish outfit are finally BACK with their eighth studio album in celebration of their 40th (!!!) anniversary as a band. Over the course of these twelve tracks, Jim and William Reid pay homage to rock’n’roll history with their signature melodic noise rock sound, full of intriguing distortions, electronic elements and dark undertones.  — CS

Adrianne Lenker - Bright Future (4AD)
The sixth solo album from this incomparable singer-songwriter is a stunning assemblage of heart wrenching folk tunes that could only pour out of Lenker’s tender soul. Her instantly recognizable vocal tone, impeccable and intricate guitar work, deceptively simple song structures and touching lyricism will bring you to your knees. Bright Future is an outstanding, complex body of work from a true visionary who manages to outdo herself with each release. — CS

Bondax - Journey (Future Disco)
Twelve years since bursting onto the scene as fresh-faced stars of UK’s electronic/club renaissance, UK production duo Bondax (Adam Kaye and George Townsend) return with their sophomore full-length album and it’s a consistently strong set of soulful house, sleek disco, and hypnotic Afrobeat grooves, all filtered through a crisp pop prism. With contributions from UK soul royalty Andreya Triana, Ibibio Sound Machine’s Eno Williams, Somali disco group Dur-Dur Band, British-Ugandan singer Mysie, breakout UK vocalist SHELLS, and veteran dance-pop vocalist Tara McDonald, Journey is a concise, smart, feel-good dance record. — AR

The second full-length album from Brimheim – the alias of Malmö, Sweden-based Danish-Faroese artist Helena Heinesen Rebensdorff – is a revelatory set of arty, emotional, expansive alt-pop that consistently packs a gritty, grungy punch, yet also delivers delicate, crystalline, and deceptively groovy moments. Cohesively held together by her stunning, soaring vocals, RATKING is a cathartic record that she wrote “as a way to understand the intense emotional pain of my youth,” ultimately finding liberation in her own self-worth. — AR

Cakes da Killa - Black Sheep (Young Art)
The sophomore album from the New York rapper is an intoxicating fusion of dance, hip-hop, and grime. Linking back up with Sam Katz, Black Sheep is a truly collaborative album with Cakes writing every bar, Katz making every beat and enlisting knockout vocal features from Dawn Richard, Stout and Wuhryn Dumas. Unapologetically sexy, queer and in his power, Cakes has fully ARRIVED with this exceptional second outing. — CS

elbow - AUDIO VERTIGO (Polydor/Geffen)
Characterized by the band as “an album heavy on stomp, swing, and infectious oil-can funk beats”, the Manchester outfit delivers on all fronts for their 10th studio album. AUDIO VERTIGO is a condense, limitless alt rock record with layered, kaleidoscopic soundscapes, wild antics (like stand out "Lover’s Leap"), complex song structures and a confident vocal performance from frontman Guy Garvey. — CS

Gossip - Real Power (Columbia)
The sixth album and first in twelve years is a triumphant return from the Portland outfit. Their soulful pop with a punk sensibility is bold with shimmering hints of disco and big production courtesy of Rick Ruben. Powerhouse Beth Ditto’s charisma and vocal prowess is at the forefront while Nathan Howdeshell’s guitars and keys and Hannah Blilie’s drumming propel these tight eleven tracks. Welcome BACK, fam.  — CS

Logic1000 - Mother (Therapy/Because Music)
Sydney-born, Berlin-based DJ/producer Samantha Poulter (aka Logic1000) quickly emerged in the early 2020s as an artist to watch, releasing captivating singles, EPs, and remixes, and garnering the adoration and support of revered artists and DJs such as Four Tet, Caribou, Floating Points, Annie Mac, Ben UFO, and DJ Python along the way. Inspired by her recent transition into motherhood, as well as her deep love of house music, her long-awaited debut full-length album is a top-notch dance record that deftly infuses her kinetic dancefloor-primed rhythms with R&B, techno, and UK garage, and pop flavors. — AR

Rosali - Bite Down (Merge)
The Merge Records debut from now North Carolina based Rosali Middleman is a folk-rock frolic through life’s challenges; embracing the joy and grief that comes with it. The lush, layered soundscapes from her band (Mowed Sound + Ted Bois) interplaying with her equal parts delicate and dominant vocals achieve a gorgeous, raw, powerful and intimate album that is sure to stand the test of time.   — CS

Salt Cathedral - Before It’s Gone (Independent/The Orchard)
The sophomore album from Colombian-born, Brooklyn-based duo of Juliana Ronderos and Nicolas Losada is a bright, multifaceted voyage of indie-pop goodness. With driving bass lines, pristine vocals and gleaming synths, the juxtaposition of their upbeat compositions with often heavy lyrical content allows the listener to dance through processing challenges of the modern world.   — CS

Sam Evian  - Plunge (Flying Cloud Recordings/Thirty Tigers)
The fourth album from Sam Evian – and first on his imprint Flying Cloud Recordings – is a time capsule, transporting us back to 60s/70s era baroque pop with folk and rock undertones, calling to mind the late-great Harry Nillson. With bright piano, flourishes of saxophone and Rhodes ("Rollin’ In"), enticing guitar tones and catchy melodies, he’s perfectly straddling the line between past and present, offering up a lively album that feels familiar, yet not derivative.   — CS

Soft Loft - The Party and the Mess (self-released)
The debut album from this Swiss outfit fronted by singer/songwriter Jorina Stamm is an impressive set of sweeping indie pop and arty indie rock full of dreamy melodies, vulnerable lyrics, and expansive backdrops that range from delicate ballads to propulsive anthems.   —AR

TATYANA - It’s Over (Sinderlyn)
The sophomore album from South East London producer/singer-songwriter Tatyana Phillips is an intimate account of a failed relationship through the scope of danceable electronics. Ranging from high energy bangers with infectious beats to sultry, somber moments, It’s Over is an exciting step forward for this up and comer.   — CS

Glass Beams - Mahal EP (Ninja Tune)
The second EP from this Melbourne-based trio formed around founding member Rajan Silva marks their debut for Ninja Tune Records and it’s a captivating set of instrumental-heavy tunes that are psychedelic and groovy, modern yet timeless. A project inspired by Silva’s desire to rekindle childhood memories relating to his father, who emigrated to Melbourne from India in the late 1970s, Glass Beams’ magnetic cross-cultural aesthetic also carries an aura of mystery, enhanced by the band’s dedication to performing live adorned in ornate masks..   — AR

Good Morning - Good Morning Seven (Polyvinyl)
The new double album from Australian duo Good Morning is a delightfully breezy collection of playfully meandering soft-rock tunes. This seventeen-track long player finds Liam Parsons and Stefan Blair weaving through themes of the good, the bad and the weird with their delicate and intentional layering of strings, synths, guitars and minimal percussion.   — CS

Halo Maud - Celebrate (Heavenly)
Following a memorable collaboration with The Chemical Brothers on their latest album, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Halo Maud unveils her impressive sophomore LP. Sung in both English and French, Celebrate unravels like a fever dream, with an otherworldly alt. pop sound achieved by analog electronics, woozy guitars, syncopated drum beats and her superb vocals.   — CS

Julia Holter - Something in the Room She Moves (Domino)
The sixth full-length album from LA-based singer, songwriter, and composer Julia Holter swims through her brilliantly immersive, atmospheric, dreamy avant-pop with lush, free-flowing, painterly brushstrokes. Written against the backdrop of the pandemic that witnessed both the deaths of close loved ones and the birth of her daughter, Something in the Room She Moves carries an amorphous lightness to it – she says she wanted to create a “world that’s fluid-sounding, waterlike, evoking the body’s internal sound world.”    — AR

Kaleida - In Arms (Embassy One)
The third studio album from Christina Wood and Cicely Goulder is a dynamic, dark alt. pop album with seductive, ethereal vocals, enticing electronic elements and expressive lyricism. In Arms is proof that while an ocean may separate the duo, their musical partnership is stronger than ever.   — CS

Mexican Institute of Sound - Algo‐Ritmo : Mexican Institute of Sound Hits 2004–2024 (Soy Sauce)
Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) commemorates its 20-year journey with the release of Algo‐Ritmo 2004-2024 on February 2nd. Featuring 23 handpicked tracks, including two new collaborations with Ceci Bastida and Foudeqush + Esteman, this album encapsulates Camilo Lara's eclectic musical career. Blending mariachi soul, sonideros' spirit, and bold electronic beats, Lara's music reflects the rich tapestry of Mexican culture. Since its inception in 2004, MIS has resonated deeply, evoking a Mexico of bygone eras and captivating audiences worldwide. With the recent release of "Stop" featuring Ceci Bastida, Lara continues to captivate audiences, cementing his legacy as a trailblazer in Latin American music.   — AC

Rosie Tucker - Utopia Now! (Sentimental)
The fourth album from this queer LA-based singer-songwriter is a sharp set of quirky, comical, incisive rock/pop that defies easy categorization, boldly tackling angsty grunge-tinted songs, idiosyncratic art-pop, and dreamy, melodic folk-pop. Regardless of style, Rosie’s songwriting talents shine bright throughout, their witty quips and evocative tales making each song feel like a distinctive chapter within an entertaining novel. The album closes out on a high mark with a cover of Shira Small’s “Eternal Life,” a beautiful tune that was reissued by Numero Group last year.   — AR

Sly5thAve - Liberation (Tru Thoughts)
The aptly titled third studio album from composer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Sly5thAve finds him taking his musicianship to a new, freer level. Liberation is a diverse tapestry of improvisational jazz with a hip-hop sensibility, incorporating orchestral arrangements, scorching saxophone, ripping guitar and impactful collaborations.   — CS

Thee Sinseers - Sinseerly Yours (Colemine)
Following a steady string of standout singles over the past five years, this Los Angeles outfit fronted by Joey Quinones unveil their debut full-length album and it’s a strong set of romantic “Chicano Soul” that mines the classic slower-paced R&B of the 1960s for its on-point modern retro sound.   — AR

Van Houten - The Tallest Room (Clue)
The debut album from this Leeds, UK band fronted by Louis Sadler is an impressive set of brooding, swirling, referential indie rock that blurs shoegaze, guitar-pop, post-punk, psych-pop, and drone rock into its melodic and downcast maelstrom. While there’s punchy moments like the 99-second rugged gem “I Only Wanna Be With You” and assured anthemic tunes like standout early single “Coming of Age,” Van Houten’s palette proves quite expansive, closing out with the brilliant string-accented 8-minute tune “I Let You.” — AR

Club Plaisir - Planète Vacances (Woodblock)
The debut album from this La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland-based five-piece is a promising set of celestial instrumental grooves that feature some addictive disco/rock jams reminiscent of Maserati and Holy Fuck alongside some more laidback jazz/funk offerings. While it’s an eclectic range, the higher tempo tracks and their trippy, colorful, outer-galactic anthems provide the album’s highest peaks.  — AR

Jlin - Akoma (Planet Mu)
The latest full-length album from Gary, Indiana-based composer and electronic producer Jlin (aka Jerrilynn Patton) continues to explore her cutting-edge rhythmic vision that roams around a hypnotic juke/footwork foundation, yet consistently veers into captivating avant-garde territory with her adventurous dexterity. Boasting guest appearances from Björk, Kronos Quartet, and Philip Glass, Akoma further solidifies Jlin as a vanguard of the experimental electronic scene.  — AR

Makèz - Midnight Time EP (Heist Recordings)
The latest EP from this Dutch production duo is a sharp set of soulful house grooves that balances smooth vocal-laced cuts with punchier club tracks. Los Angeles artist Life on Planets adds a sleek hip-house flavor to “Running from the Noise” and Dutch vocalist AVA LAVÁ appears on a couple standout R&B-tinted tracks.   — AR

Nourished By Time - Catching Chickens (XL Recordings)
Following his breakthrough 2023 album Erotic Probiotic 2, Baltimore-bred, London-based musician Marcus Brown (aka Nourished By Time) makes his debut for XL Recordings with a sharp 5-track EP that puts his unique and addictive intersection of DIY outsider soul-pop and kinetic alternative R&B on full display.  — AR

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