New Music Reviews (4/8)

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 Gustaf, Khruangbin, The Black Keys, and more. 

Gustaf - Package, Pt. 2 (Royal Mountain)
Brooklyn-based post-punk/art-rock quintet return with their exhilarating sophomore album. Pulling no punches, Package, Pt. 2 boasts gripping guitar riffs, propelling bass and drums and a ferocious vocal performance from Lydia Gammill as she belts her way through witty, tongue and cheek lyricism, demanding to be played loud and often. – CS

Khruangbin - A LA SALA (Dead Oceans/Night Time Stories Ltd.)
The fourth studio album from this sensational Texas trio is comprised of their signature, otherworldly groove, exuding an effortless chill that is both exhilarating and soothing. With elements of psych, dub, funk and surf, their largely instrumental album contains a handful of vocal flourishes while staying firmly focused on the extraordinary musicianship of these three players. – CS

The Black Keys - Ohio Players (Nonesuch/Warner)
The twelfth album from The Black Keys – and fourth in five years – is full of big, soulful rock anthems. Bringing a number of guests and collaborators including Beck, Noel Gallagher, Lil Noid and Juicy J (of Three 6 Mafia) and returning to their foundational songwriting and recording style with “us in the room, playing the songs until they were finished,” Ohio Players finds Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney at peak form, serving up fun, energetic, bold, bluesy rockers that beg for repeat listens. – CS

Alice Russell - I Am (Tru Thoughts)
It’s been over a decade since we’ve had a new album from British soul singer Alice Russell; not only has she not missed a beat, but this might also might just be her strongest offering to date. I Am is a collection of raw, powerful, sultry soul with deeply personal lyricism and her rich, enrapturing vocals keeping you hanging on every word. – CS

bad tuner - look at me but through me EP (Foreign Family Collective)
The new EP from Brooklyn-based producer bad tuner is a kaleidoscopic exploration of electronic music, cascading through house, UK garage, hyper-pop, lo-fi ,dance and more. Enlisting guest vocalists Hailes, Cleo Reed and Pollena to compliment his impeccable arrangements, the result is an irresistible set of electronic grooves. – CS

Bnny - One Million Love Songs (Fire Talk)
The sophomore album from the Chicago-based outfit led by Jessica Viscius finds the artist expanding upon her lo-fi rock roots to a bigger, more fully realized rock sound with a helluva lot of heart. Oscillating from simple strumming to squealing guitars, airy to powerful vocals, she begins to scratch the surface of the one million ways to approach and experience love with this strong second outing. – CS

Drahla - angeltape (Captured Tracks)
The long-awaited second full length from the Leeds-based art rock ensemble is an enticingly unsettling showcase of their avant-garde, angular arrangements and artfully experimental instrumentation with strong guitars, intricate percussion and particularly haunting saxophone and bass. Lead vocalist Luciel Brown’s dark, deliberate delivery juxtaposes perfectly with the sonic chaos, guiding the listener through a thought-provoking maze of an album. – CS

Fabiana Palladino - Fabiana Palladino (Paul Institute/XL Recordings)
The self-titled, self-produced debut album from the London-based singer/songwriter is a refreshing take on 80s/90s era pop R&B, with that nostalgia expertly interpreted through her modern lens. From more uptempo bops ("Can You Look In The Mirror?") to sultry ballads ("I Care feat. Jai Paul"), these songs encapsulate a full spectrum of human emotion, showcasing her incredible songwriting and exceptional vocal prowess. – CS

Grace Cummings - Ramona (ATO)
The third studio album from Australian singer-songwriter Grace Cummings is something to behold. The theatrical nature of Ramona finds Cummings flexing her vocal acrobatics, incorporating lush orchestral soundscapes and breathing so much life into her emotional and cathartic lyricism. Every song contains a unique building pattern, taking each track to new heights with every note, leaving the listener’s mouth agape. What a stunner. – CS

Mount Kimbie - The Sunset Violent (Warp)
Nearly seven years since their last proper studio album, London-based outfit Mount Kimbie return with their thrilling fourth full-length album, an expansive, edgy, and gritty exploration of propulsive shoegaze, hypnotic Krautrock, and noisy post-punk terrain. Written and recorded in California’s Yucca Valley before being completed in London, The Sunset Violent is a far cry from their post-dubstep roots, diving deeper into their brilliant alternative rock vision that marks the evolution of Mount Kimbie from its core duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos to an official four-piece band with the addition of Andrea Balency-Béarn and Marc Pell as full-time members. – AR

RiTchie - Triple Digits [112] (self-released)
The debut solo release from RiTchie (aka Nathaniel Ritchie, ex-member of Injury Reserve and part of By Storm) is a fresh, modern hip-hop album that oozes personality. Equal parts playful and technical, with stellar production, melodic grooves and creative rhymes, Triple Digits [112] is a solid re-introduction to this visionary. – CS

Sinkane - We Belong (City Slang)
The eighth studio album from Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Gallab is an expansive sonic fusion, steeped in the rhythms of his native Sudan. His amalgamation of funk, Afrobeats, soul Reggae and rock, with dynamic backing vocalists, scintillating swells of sound including strings, explosive percussion and bouncy bass accompanied by his message and love driven lyricism is fully captivating from start to finish. – CS

Tipa Tipo - Cintas (Bit Rosie)
The intoxicating tropical yacht rock from production duo Adele Fournet and Felipe Wurst absolutely shines on their debut album. Now joined by percussionist Jordan Auber, the band’s fusion of both retro and contemporary cumbia, disco and soft rock while incorporating sounds from South and North America results in spellbinding rhythms, infectious pop hooks and endless grooves. – CS

Valebol - Valebol (Otherly Love)
This Chicago-based collaborative project between Panamá-born drummer and percussionist Daniel Villareal and singer and multi-instrumentalist Vivian McConnell (aka V.V. Lightbody) is a fresh, fun, and funky set of groovy psych-tinted pop gems rooted in musical joy and the duo’s foundational rule that “it has to feel good or else we’re not doing it.” Boasting colorful, kaleidoscopic, and kinetic backdrops, and bolstered by Vivian’s dreamy vocals, Valebol emerge within Chicago’s fertile music scene with an enthusiastic energy and their unique “Express-Pop” sound. – AR

A Country Western - Life On the Lawn (Crafted Sounds)
Moving away from their shoegaze/slowcore foundation to a more guitar driven indie-rock sound is a compelling shift for the Philadelphia outfit. With a few acoustic based interstitials throughout the album, overall Life On the Lawn is vocal forward with great hooks, loud guitars and just enough sludge and buzz, resulting in a set of melodic rock tunes that feel like a pivotal moment in the evolution of A Country Western. – CS

Babebee - whatislove2u? EP (Epitaph)
Quickly following 2023’s A PROPHECY EP, the rising Korean American producer/songwriter returns with another magnetic collection of dreamy electro pop with warbly synths, ethereal vocals and creative beats and manipulations as they lyrically navigate themes of anxiety, escapism and self-reflection. – CS

Bruno Berle - No Reino Dos Afetos 2 (Psychic Hotline/Far Out Recordings)
The second album from this emerging composer, vocalist, poet, and multi-instrumentalist hailing from the city of Maceió on the Eastern coast of Brazil is another charming set of intimate, dreamy, homespun songs steeped in the rich traditions of Brazilian soulful folk music, yet distinguished by a dreamy, contemporary, beatific pop sensibility. Written in close collaboration with his longtime friend and musical partner Batata Boy, No Reino Dos Afetos 2 is an insightful glimpse into a young budding artist who “aims to provide an entrypoint for Black queer joy in his music, in his storytelling, in his presence and vision as a creative.” – AR

Catching Flies - Tides (Indigo Soul)
The second full-length album from British musician George King (aka Catching Flies) is an impressive set of melodic electronic grooves that gracefully weaves through anthemic house rhythms, sleek downtempo beats, and blissful ambient moments. Boasting a sweeping orchestral flair courtesy of album co-producer Thomas Lea, a veteran American violinist, string arranger, and producer with a deep résumé that includes Bonobo, Kamasi Washington, KING, Father John Misty, and many more, Tides is an eclectic electronic record full of beautiful details, soaring melodies, and an organic warmth. – AR

Jane Weaver - Love In Constant Spectacle (Fire)
This veteran British artist’s latest album is another solid set of dreamy and kaleidoscopic psych-pop with a spacey Krautrock-tinted undercurrent. With her deft blend of fuzzy guitars, exploratory synths, steady rhythms, and bewitching vocals, Jane Weaver continues to craft a charming, romantic, trippy sonic world. – AR

Kenya Vaun - The Honeymoon Phase (3000 Entertainment)
The lengthy debut EP from this emerging Philadelphia-based vocalist is a promising set of 90s-steeped R&B cuts with subtle tinges of reggae/dub that carries a refreshingly nostalgic old-soul vibe. – AR

PEEL - Acid Star (Innovative Leisure)
The self-produced debut album from art rock duo of Sean Dimino and Isom Innis of Foster The People is a lo-fi, psychedelic trip through electronica, post-punk and acid house with dense synths, dark textures, great basslines and a nice balance between high energy dance songs to chilled out ballads. – CS

Still Corners - Dream Talk (Wrecking Light)
The sixth album from this veteran London-based duo composed of British vocalist/musician Tessa Murray and American expat Greg Hughes is another strong set of shimmery dream-pop with noir-tinted flourishes and a gentle psychedelic streak. Subtly perfecting their sound for nearly 15 years now, Still Corners continue to combine transportive guitars, lush atmospherics, versatile rhythms, and warm synths with Tessa’s ethereal vocals and windswept melodies in magnetic fashion. –AR

Vegyn - The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions (PLZ Make It Ruins)
British electronic producer Vegyn (aka Joseph Thornalley) has paved a fascinating lane for himself over the past five years with a pair of 70+ track mixtapes, a captivating proper debut album, and last year’s mind-bending, AI-fueled album under the moniker Headaches. The Road to Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions marks his second proper Vegyn full-length album and it’s another magnetic journey through an amorphous electronic landscape that zigzags through cutting-edge synth-pop, futuristic hip-hop, melodic IDM, smoky trip-hop, gritty jungle breaks, and other tangential styles, all coated with an atmospheric, cinematic, and richly-detailed touch. –AR

Vessel - Wrapped In Cellophane (Double Phantom)
The debut full length from the Atlanta quartet is a sax heavy, hook laden art-rock record with lively basslines, driving drums, bright guitar and a confident, commanding vocal performance from Alex Tuisku. What an impressive first outing from an exciting new outfit. – CS

Club Angel - Soundbwoy’s Destiny EP (Astral People Recordings)
The sophomore EP from rising Sydney based DJ and producer Gabriel Espinosa, aka Club Angel, is a high-octane fusion of dance, Jungle and club, with enticing samples, endless hooks, and just the right amount of grit. Heavily influenced by 90s UK club, these tight six tracks are perfect for the dance floor. – CS

Holiday Ghosts - Coat Of Arms (FatCat)
The fifth album from this Falmouth, UK-based band is another solid set of jangly indie-pop and bouncy garage-pop full of bright guitars, sweet male/female vocals, and catchy hooks. – AR

Jane Penny - Surfacing (Luminelle Recordings)
The debut solo release from Jane Penny, the longtime frontwoman for adored Montreal outfit TOPS, is a sharp set of buoyant, groovy, melancholic indie pop that rests comfortably alongside her band’s charmingly infectious sound. – AR

Kasper Bjørke - Puzzles (hfn music)
The latest album from this versatile Danish multi-instrumentalist/producer is a nice set of breezy, groovy, sun-kissed pop that blends disco, synth-pop, and yacht-rock through a distinctive “Nordic-cool” prism. Icelandic dream-folk trio Systur aka Sísý Ey and California-based indie-disco troubadour Woolf make standout guest vocal appearances. – AR

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