New Music Reviews (6/17)

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 Charli xcx, The Decemberists, Zsela, and more. 

Charli xcx - BRAT (Atlantic)
The sixth studio album from British pop sensation Charli xcx is a high octane, innovative, dancefloor ready exploration of hyperpop. With an onslaught of talented producers from A.G. Cook to Hudson Mohawke, she touches on themes of complex relationships, insecurities, partnerships and partying, and pays tribute to her late friend and collaborator SOPHIE. The result is a solid 15-track collection of bangers from one of pop’s brightest and most inventive stars. –CS

The Decemberists - As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again (Yabb Records/Thirty Tigers)
The beloved Portland, OR outfit return in prime form with As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again — their ninth full-length album and first in six years. With vivid storytelling, lush arrangements and Colin Meloy’s distinct vocals, The Decemberists simultaneously hit early aughts nostalgia points, while bringing in new, innovative sounds, resulting in a fresh, essential addition to their remarkable discography. –CS

Zsela - Big For You (Mexican Summer)
The debut album from LA-based singer-songwriter Zsela establishes her as an alt-pop force to be reckoned with. Throughout these breathtaking compositions her unique, emotive and commanding vocals take center stage, as the intricate guitar and percussion paired with swells of synths and strings make Big For You feel larger than life. –CS

AURORA - What Happened To The Heart? (Glassnote)
The dazzling fifth studio album from Norwegian singer-songwriter and producer AURORA is perfectly balanced with technicolor pop bangers (“Your Blood” + “Some Type Of Skin”) and intimate ballads (“The Essence” + “Dreams”) as she heals by exploring shame, anger and fear. With complex arrangements and cinematic peaks and valleys, What Happened To The Heart? centers her celestial vocals and finds this mystifying artist firing on all cylinders. –CS

Bonny Light Horseman - Keep Me On Your Mind/See You Free (Jagjaguwar)
The new double album from the trio of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman – the band’s third studio album – is a timeless, instant classic, like a fresh pair of Levi’s. With lush arrangements driven by a perfectly imperfect upright piano and acoustic guitar, gorgeous vocal harmonies and emotive lyricism, Keep Me on Your Mind/See You Free is a warm, inviting contemporary folk-rock record that warrants many repeat listens. –CS

Goat Girl - Below The Waste (Rough Trade)
The third studio album from the South London trio is an exhilarating listen. Their guitar driven art-rock incorporates a wide array of sonics from sinister synths to sumptuous strings, achieving a moody, grungy, lavish soundscape that effortlessly traverses from noise-rock to garage-pop with top tier production and an enticingly restrained vocal delivery. –CS

The third studio album from influential Haitian-Canadian producer KAYTRANADA is another fun, buoyant, star-studded affair that pairs his trademark top-shelf beats – a fresh and distinctive blend of house, hip-hop, R&B, and funk that has inspired countless disciples – with a brilliant lineup of guest vocalists including Rochelle Jordan, PinkPantheress, Thundercat, Dawn Richard, Tinashe, Channel Tres, Childish Gambino, Anderson .Paak, SiR, Mariah the Scientist, and more. –AR

Moby - always centered at night (Mute)
The 22nd studio album from the veteran American singer, songwriter, producer, author, and animal rights activist is a strong collection of eclectic, cinematic, electronic-soul songs that features a different guest vocalist on each of the album’s 13 tracks. Motivated by the spirit of musical discovery and influenced by his experience of stumbling upon exciting new voices while frequenting NYC record shops in the late 1980s, always centered at night finds Moby providing his moody, groovy, and expertly-crafted backdrops as a foundation for a diverse, talented roster of vocalists, including serpentwithfeet, José James, LA-based soulstress Raquel Rodriguez, and low-key Seattle legend Choklate, amongst plenty of new names to discover. –AR

NxWorries - Why Lawd? (Stones Throw)
The dynamic duo of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge return with their sophomore album eight years after their debut, Yes Lawd!. Full of seductive, soulful R&B grooves, expert production from Knxwledge, .Paak’s signature vocals and sensational guests from Thundercat and H.E.R. to Snoop Dogg, Why Lawd? delivers the magic that first began NxWorries’ cult following. –CS

Pedro The Lion - Santa Cruz (Polyvinyl)
On his third album since reviving the Pedro The Lion moniker in 2019, David Bazan reflects on his coming of age experience from the age of 13 to 21, touching on his musical awakening, falling in love, and discovering his authentic self. With his signature, poignant storytelling, these guitar driven indie-rock tunes shine with extra layers of synths, compelling arrangements and his unmistakable vocal delivery. –CS

Peggy Gou - I Hear You (XL Recordings)
Following a nearly decade-long trailblazing ascent within the electronic/club world defined by steady string of iconic singles, sharp EPs, crafty remixes, and monumental headlining DJ sets, Berlin-based South Korean DJ, producer, singer, and songwriter Peggy Gou delivers her highly anticipated debut full-length album and it’s a consistently strong set of expansive electronic grooves. With its eclectic mix of sleek house rhythms and sultry global R&B/pop cuts, I Hear You sneaks in an adventurous juke track, a Lenny Kravitz appearance, and a few surprises alongside the previously-released dancefloor anthems “I Go” and “(It Goes Like) Nanana” for an engaging and entertaining journey. –AR

Raveena - Where the Butterflies Go in the Rain (Moonstone Recordings/EMPIRE)
The third album from NY-based vocalist/musician Raveena is another gorgeous set of airy R&B jams and lush soul songs that’s her most confident, personal, and intuitive album to date. Recently becoming the first woman of Indian heritage to perform solo at Coachella, Raveena’s latest statement was written over the past two years with “the intention to create a body of work that sounded like sunlight and pure love, and by being surrounded by those sounds every day for years,” and Where the Butterflies Go in the Rain delivers just that with its sublime collection of beautiful, timeless, rejuvenating songs that touch upon themes of new love, maturity and comfort that reflect the peace of mind Raveena currently inhabits. –AR

Brat - Mind Control (self-released)
The debut album from this Seattle trio – featuring members with lineages to local bands See Me River, Salmon Thrasher, The Ironclads, and What What Now – is a sweet blast of garage rock propelled by both a scrappy punk spirit and a soaring indie rock charm. –AR

Cardinals - Cardinals EP (So Young)
The debut EP from this rising band from Cork, Ireland is a strong set of explosive, expansive, gritty rock that blends classic alternative rock, shoegaze, and folk in potent fashion. With their confident combination of big guitars, catchy hooks, and a scrappy DIY charm, Cardinals are already being hailed as the next great guitar band to emerge from Ireland and Fontaines D.C.’s Grian Chatten has singled them out as one of his favorite new bands. –AR

Cola - The Gloss (Fire Talk)
The second album from this Canadian trio composed of former Ought members Tim Darcy and Ben Stidworth alongside drummer Evan Cartwright (U.S. Girls, The Weather Station) is a sharp set of wiry post-punk, jagged indie rock, and weaving art-rock that’s bolstered by punchy angular guitars, hypnotic rhythms, and Tim Darcy’s acerbic vocals. –AR

The fifteenth studio album from the project led by ever prolific Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) is a striking display of their stand-out songwriting and signature brand of quirky folk and pop infused indie-rock. EELS TIME! boasts heartfelt lyricism, E’s singular vocals and the perfect balance of lush, buoyant cuts with sparse, acoustic guitar driven ballads. –CS

French Cassettes - Benzene (Tender Loving Empire)
The third album from San Francisco outfit French Cassettes delivers sun-soaked indie-rock and pop with memorable melodies and rich, layered instrumentation including guitars, bright keys, strings, Mellotron and lively percussion. –CS

Hermanos Gutiérrez - Sonido Cósmico (Easy Eye Sound)
On their sixth studio album, and second with their “third brother” Dan Auerbach, Hermanos Gutiérrez deliver their signature Latin rhythms and delicious guitar lines for a blissed out and haunting “cosmic sound” that keeps the listener levitating throughout. –CS

J Noa - Mátense por la Corona (Sony Music Latin)
Nominated for a Latin Grammy® and dubbed the "daughter of rap," J Noa has released her highly anticipated debut album Mátense Por la Corona through Sony Music CAC. The Dominican lyricist is having a meteoric rise after entering the scene at just 17 years old. Her first album, produced by award-winning producers Trooko, Faster, and RIKE Music, marks a milestone in her career, showcasing her growth as both a songwriter and rapper with a notable ability for double tempo. "Mátense Por la Corona" features standout tracks like "Era de Cristal," where she delves into themes such as depression, anxiety, and the importance of mental health. Other notable songs include "Arrogante," "Mátense Por la Corona," and "Spicy," where she shares her experience as a Black Dominican woman balancing her music career, life in her neighborhood, and the responsibility of finishing her studies amidst obstacles and triumphs.  –AC

Jess Cornelius - CARE/TAKING (Tender Loving Empire)
The sophomore album from LA-based, New Zealand-raised Jess Cornelius is a stunning display of expressive indie rock with stunning crescendos and dynamic, layered instrumentation with guitars, keys, sax, synths and drums. At moments evoking maximalist pop from the 60s and 70s and consistently running high on emotion, CARE/TAKING sees this former frontwoman of Teeth & Tongue standing confidently in her role as a solo artist. –CS

John Cale - POPTical Illusion (Double Six/Domino)
More than six decades into his career, the Velvet Underground co-founder continues to grow, evolve and play with different soundscapes. POPTical Illusion finds the artist exploring electronic music, featuring heavy synth work, hypnotic beats and plenty of drone, creating a meditative, emotional body of work that expresses his frustrations with the modern world. –CS

juicer - Retire the Fences (self-released)
Reminiscent at various points of Real Estate, Day Wave, DIIV, and Atlas Sound, the debut album from this NYC project led by singer, songwriter, and guitarist James Pratley Watson is a stellar under-the-radar record full of fuzzy, melodic, addictive guitar-pop jams that sway between jangle-pop and shoegaze territory. –AR

Mueran Humanos - Reemplazante (Sterbt Menschen Records)
Carmen Burguess and Tomás Nochteff formed Mueran Humanos as a radical art group after moving from Argentina to Berlin, Germany. Even in their home country, they were quickly included as cult treasures of the DIY experimental rock scene and as a spearhead of Latin American counterculture. Reemplazante is their most powerful statement to date, condensing years of underground practice into an album of great emotional depth and intensity, situating itself within the tradition initiated by Warhol's Factory, through the prism of the Latin American underground and beyond. This is their fourth album and the first released on their own label, Sterbt Menschen Records. Composed with a keyboard, the emotional cores are evident throughout the album, reaching ecstasy in songs like "El Camino Del Dolor" and "Dentaduras." –AC

Rose Hotel - A Pawn Surrender (Strolling Bones Records)
The sophomore album from Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Reynolds is an incredibly solid set of folk infused indie-rock with hints of psych and dream pop. A Pawn Surrender is a beautiful reflection about relationships with the self, others and the world, and the never-ending learning process of life. –CS

Softcult - Heaven (Easy Life)
The latest EP from this Canadian duo composed of twin sisters Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn – both formerly of the major-label Canadian alternative rock band Courage My Love – is an enveloping blend of shoegaze, dream-pop, and grunge that beautifully buries the duo’s ethereal vocals within massive wall-of-sound productions. –AR

Strand of Oaks - Miracle Focus (Western Vinyl)
The 8th album from this consistently evolving project of Austin, Texas-based musician, painter, and actor Tim Showalter is a soaring set of cosmic synth-pop and psychedelic space-rock that was “born out of one simple concept: to make people feel good.” Written over a three-year period that found him diving deep into his love of painting while also frequently flying out to LA to act as a villainous biker on the FX TV show Mayans M.C., Miracle Focus is a meticulously constructed journey beaming with a positive and uplifting force that’s propelled by jubilant synths, prog-leaning compositions, mantra-like lyrics, and an overarching love-focused vision inspired by the works of Ram Dass and Alice Coltrane. –AR

Tei Shi - Valerie (self-released)
The latest album from LA-based Colombian-Canadian musician Valerie Teicher (aka Tei Shi) is fittingly an eponymous effort as it furthers her evolution as a chameleonic DIY artist with an eclectic and bold blend of electro-pop, R&B, indie pop, bachata, tropicalia, and folk-pop that’s all led by her magnetic vocals and bilingual lyrics. The album’s centerpiece, “Falling From Grace,” was inspired by a near-death experience she experienced in 2020 following an unexpected pregnancy that led to emergency surgery to save her life, which is reflected upon in candid, vulnerable, and powerful form. –AR

The Lostines - Meet The Lostines (Gar Hole Records)
The debut album from this New Orleans-via-Pacific Northwest duo composed of singer-songwriters Casey Jane Reece-Kaigler and Camille Wind Weatherford is a charming set of nostalgia-soaked pop that mines the doo-wop, girl group, country, and roots styles of the 50s, 60s, and 70s for an endearing “swampland meets the sock hop” throwback sound that’s accented by their gorgeous vocal harmonies.  –AR

This Is Lorelei - Box for Buddy, Box for Star (Double Double Whammy)
This Is Lorelei is the solo project of Brooklyn-based musician Nate Amos, a prolific artist consistently exploring the thrilling fringes of experimental pop as one-half of Water From Your Eyes (alongside Rachel Brown) and one-half of My Idea (alongside Lily Konigsberg). While he’s released countless albums of “unedited diary entries” under the alias dating back to 2014, Box for Buddy, Box for Star marks his first attempt at a traditional, intentionally written full-length This Is Lorelei album – in addition to his first album written after his decision to quit smoking weed – and it’s a fantastic journey through chameleonic idiosyncratic pop that taps into synth-pop, folk-pop, country, jangle-pop, and power-pop with a wide-eyed abandon. From the sleepy rootsy opener “Angels Eye,” through a handful of sensitive, driving, synth-pop numbers reminiscent of Ben Gibbard’s projects, to the Elliott Smith-esque “Two Legs,” This Is Lorelei bares his creative soul all over this anthemic, introspective, comically self-deprecating record. –AR

Beak> - >>>> (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
The fourth album from this Bristol, UK trio featuring Portishead’s Geoff Barrow is a trippy, kaleidoscopic, and deceptively groovy showcase of their distinctive sonic brew that blends Krautrock, psych, prog, folk, and post-rock styles in dank, cerebral fashion. –AR

Bloomsday - Heart of the Artichoke (Bayonet)
The sophomore album from Brooklyn based Iris James Garrison is a captivating collection of understated bedroom rock as they put their gifted storytelling, impeccable guitar work and emotive vocal delivery on prominent display. –CS

Ebbb - All At Once (Ninja Tune)
The debut EP from this London-based trio is a promising set of genre-blurring experimental pop that pairs vocalist Will Rowland’s soaring melodies, producer Lev Ceylan’s skittering kinetic beats, and drummer Scott MacDonald’s grounding psychedelic rhythms for a slippery hybrid sound that the band has self-described as “Brian Wilson meets Death Grips.” Quickly making a name for themselves on London’s underground live circuit with their euphoric performances, Ebbb swiftly land on Ninja Tune for their introductory statement, aptly adding to the label’s increasingly eclectic roster. –AR

John Grant - The Art of the Lie (Bella Union/PIAS)
There’s no one quite like John Grant. Continuing in his era of beautifully bizarre synth pop on his sixth album, The Art Of The Lie finds the enigmatic artist flexing his witty lyricism and dark humor with vocal effects, searing synths and bold percussion, weaving a lush soundscape to explore themes of brokenness, parenthood, political charge, and beauty. –CS

mui zyu - nothing or something to die for (Father/Daughter)
The second album from British Hong Kong London-based artist mui zyu (aka Eva Liu) is an expansive set of dreamy, effervescent, bedroom pop that carries a melancholic, cinematic, coming-of-age undercurrent. –AR

SAM MORTON - Daffodils & Dirt (XL Recordings)
SAM MORTON is the collaborative project of acclaimed British actress, director, and musician Samantha Morton alongside XL Recordings founder and record producer Richard Russell (aka Everything Is Recorded). Their debut album is an intimate, haunting, and hypnotic set of poignant art-pop, crystalline trip-hop, and dubby soul songs that pairs Samantha’s gentle yet magnetic vocals and part-autobiographical lyrics with Richard’s cinematic and slightly warped backdrops. Much like the powerful films she’s starred in, Daffodils & Dirt balances tense and unsettling moments with flickers of illuminating beauty for a distinctive and deeply personal listening experience. –AR

Solo Moderna & Krage - Daïsm (Galletas Calientes)
The latest album from Dutch electronic producer Solo Moderna was largely written in collaboration with Dutch vocalist Krage and it’s an absolutely wild experience that marries a deep admiration for South American musical styles and rhythms with Solo Moderna’s inventive cut-and-paste electronic production style – reminiscent at times of Matmos, The Bran Flakes, and Steinski – and Krage’s joyful vocals where she sings in her own made-up language that’s a hybrid of French, Spanish, English, Quechua, and Jamaican Patois. Goofy and over-the-top, adventurous and exciting, and an undeniably dizzying creation, Daïsm is a mutant sonic force worthy of relentlessly curious ears. –AR

Stereolab - Little Pieces of Stereolab (A Switched On Sampler) (Duophonic)
Over the course of their legendary run, Stereolab unleashed a treasure trove of non-album tracks in the form of one-off singles, split releases, compilation appearances, art installation commissions, and other random non-album mediums. These tracks eventually were compiled onto five Switched On albums that were released between 1992 and 2002, which have all been freshly remastered and unveiled as a 8xCD boxset. This 15-track sampler is a fantastic “budget-priced” introduction to the series featuring three tracks from each album and it serves as a magnificent reminder of Stereolab’s amazing, cutting-edge, and wonderfully experimental music. –AR

Related News & Reviews

Album Reviews

New Music Reviews (6/10)

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder share brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. See what we added this week, including new releases from Angélica Garcia, BADBADNOTGOOD, Elkka, and more.

Read More
Album Reviews

New Music Reviews (6/3)

Each week, Music Director Chris Sanley and Associate Music Director Alex Ruder share brief insights on new and upcoming releases for KEXP's rotation. See what we added this week, including new releases from Bibi Club, Crystal Murray, Habibi, and more.

Read More

New Music Reviews (5/27)

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 including new releases from Apples with Moya, DIIV, La Luz, and more.

Read More