New Music Reviews (7/1)

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 Aaron Frazer, Hiatus Kaiyote, Omar Apollo, and more. 

Aaron Frazer - Into The Blue (Dead Oceans)
The sophomore album from Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Frazer takes listeners on a journey of healing from heartbreak. Steeped in an intoxicating fusion of soul, psych, 90s R&B, hip-hop, gospel, and disco, Into The Blue offers a multifaceted reflection on the complete spectrum of relationships. Frazer’s dynamic, sultry vocals, highlighted by his impeccable falsetto, glide effortlessly across a diverse range of tracks, from energetic up-tempo jams like “Payback” to introspective ballads such as “Dime”. –CS

Hiatus Kaiyote - Love Heart Cheat Code (Brainfeeder)
On their fourth studio album, the Melbourne avant-garde four-piece goes deep. Formed as more of a jam session than a deliberate album recording, their singular future beats vision takes unexpected and thrilling twists and turns as frontwoman Nai Palm exercises some stunning vocal acrobatics. Throughout Love Heart Cheat Code, they explore themes of platonic love, the role of the artist and introspective self-discovery, while further solidifying their position as masters of psychedelic neo-soul fusion. –CS

Omar Apollo - God Said No (Warner)
Omar Apollo's second album, God Said No, delves into the inevitable whirlwind of heartbreak, marking a significant difference from his debut Ivory. The album blends synthesizers and electronic piano with Apollo's voice and poetry, with production and co-writing handled by Teo Halm. Songs like "Less Of You" invite tears on the dance floor, while "Glow" reveals his struggles with insecurity, ending with a voice message from his mother recalling making gorditas in Mexico. Actor Pedro Pascal has his eponymous song near the end of the album, consisting of a short musical monologue. –AC

Roshâni - Alma de Baile (Stone Pixels)
The Geneva-based duo of Roxane Dumont and Inès Mouzoune introduce an innovative, eclectic blend of electronic, psych, disco, cumbia and pop on their explosive debut EP. Known as Roshâni, meaning “light” in Farsi, they infuse infectious rhythms and bright synths in their global sound, singing in Spanish, French and Farsi. With this striking debut, they emerge as ones to watch, showcasing their unique musical vision that is ready for the dance floor. –CS

Washed Out - Notes From a Quiet Life (Sub Pop)
Ernest Green’s fifth studio album under his moniker Washed Out is a blissed-out reflection on how experiences transform individuals. Through dreamy, hazy vocals, shimmering synths and captivating beats, Greene’s first wholly self-produced project finds him standing confidently in his present self while embracing the evolution that future experiences may bring. –CS

Dumbo Tracks - Move With Intention (Bureau B)
Veteran Cologne-based drummer/producer Jan Philipp Janzen follows up his excellent under-the-radar 2023 eponymous debut with his second Dumbo Tracks album that expands upon the magnetic dub-influenced art-pop of its predecessor for a sweet set of hypnotic Krautrock, groovy post-punk, and propulsive art-rock. Teaming up with album co-producer Julian Stetter and a handful of trusted vocalists in Marker Starling, Portable, Ada, nothingspecial, and Rubee Fegan of the German band SMILE, Move With Intention is another stellar record from a longtime behind-the-scenes player forging his own cool and unique path. –AR

Earthtones - We Can Live Together (Wonderwheel)
The third full-length and Wonderwheel Records debut from versatile California-based electronic producer Serge Bandura (aka Earthtones) is a strong set of magnetic Afro-Latin grooves that fuses his longtime love of deep house rhythms, crisp techno productions, and hypnotic Afro-Latin beats for a slinky, sultry, and smooth sound. Boasting an expansive foundational palette that sprinkles in dub, downtempo, ambient, folk, and hip-hop flavors into the mix, We Can Live Together get choice vocal assists from Colombian artists Verito Aprilla and Lido Pimienta, East African singer Etsegenet Mekonnen, and Huaira from Ecuador. –AR

Jamie Finlay - Sun Dogs (Wah Wah 45s)
The debut album from Manchester, UK-based composer, songwriter, producer, and band leader Jamie Finlay is a strong set of spiritual jazz, electronic soul, and cosmic psychedelia full of rich instrumentation, dynamic arrangements, soaring vocals, and triumphant songs that explore “themes of love, loss, grief, and finding strength through turbulent times.” –AR

Loma - How Will I Live Without A Body (Sub Pop)
The third album from Emily Cross, Dan Duszynski and Jonathan Meiburg is a breathtaking exploration of atmospheric art-rock. Their hauntingly layered guitar, drums, keys, and clarinet paired with Cross’s commanding, ethereal vocals, create mesmerizing textures through their stunning arrangements. From intensely intimate moments to warmly expressive passages, How Will I Live Without A Body is an evocative journey inviting listeners to embrace darkness while welcoming the light. –CS

Lupe Fiasco - Samurai (1st & 15th)
The ninth studio album from Chicago-based emcee Lupe Fiasco is one of his strongest and most personal to date, with exceptional flows, sultry grooves and timeless beats. Samurai finds him linking back up with producer Soundtrakk and recommitting himself to his love of the rap game. Reflecting on the new album, he says: “The word ‘samurai’ means to serve. My relationship to that word has always meant that you need to be at the service of other people, either in the overall community, or in this instance, the rap community at large that I’ve been a part of for years.” –Chris Sanley–

Mabe Fratti - Sentir Que No Sabes (Unheard of Hope)
When the Guatemalan cellist presented her 2022 album Se Ve Desde Aquí, she stated in her Live on KEXP session that her scene wasn't "experimental" because that only exists as a box for those who don't have a box. After being acclaimed as one of the best albums of that year, Mabe returns with Sentir que no sabes, following her releases Vidrio with Héctor Tosta under the project Titanic, and a time to love, a time to die, the album by Amor Muere. For her third album, the artist now based in Mexico City adds a new twist to her sonic labyrinth, further blending elements of classical music, jazz, and ethereal retro atmospheres with pop structures. Good examples are "Pantalla azul" (Blue screen error),  "Descubrimos un suspiro" ( (We discovered a sigh), and "Alarmas olvidadas" ((Forgotten alarms). Sentir que no sabes stands out for having a more present voice that vocalizes thoughts and "dark zones of the heart." The album consists of thirteen tracks, including two instrumentals. –AC

O. - WeirdOs (Speedy Wunderground)
The debut album from this South London duo composed of Joe Henwood and Tash Keary is aptly described as an “assault of sound” as they storm through an experimental instrumental rock landscape that’s infused with jazz, math-rock, dub, metal, and electronic elements. Boasting only two instruments – Joe on his baritone saxophone and an array of pedals, Tash absolutely shredding on drums – to create their manic, dynamic, rhythmic, enveloping compositions, WeirdOs captures the bubbling duFo’s fearless sound, which must absolutely rip live. –AR

The Folk Implosion - Walk Thru Me (Joyful Noise)
On their first album in 25 years, Lou Barlow and John Davis recreate the distinct magic of The Folk Implosion. Working remotely from their respective homes in Massachusetts and North Carolina, they creatively cobbled together their improvisations into well crafted, idiosyncratic arrangements by asking themselves that one essential question: “How the fuck are we going to turn this into a song?” The result is a solid set of experimental indie-rock that will easily transport early champions back to the beginning of it all, while ushering in new fans. –CS

Various Artists - NOISE FOR NOW: Vol. 2 (Noise For Now)
Featuring some stunning exclusive versions of songs from Julia Jacklin, Courtney Barnett, The War On Drugs, Big Freedia, David Byrne and Devo to name a few, NOISE FOR NOW: Vol. 2 is a benefit album for independent abortion providers throughout the nation via Keep Our Clinics. You can learn more about 501(c)3 non-profit organization NOISE FOR NOW here. –CS

2fox - Elevation EP (Soul Clap)
The latest EP from this London-based duo composed of Max Sinàl and Renelle Shaw is a sweet set of soulful vocal house grooves inflected with broken beat and R&B styles that marks their debut on Soul Clap Records, as well as signaling the first UK act signed to the trusted American house label. –AR

Bodysync - NUTTY (Buddies Inc)
The second album from this collaborative project between veteran electronic producers Ryan Hemsworth and Giraffage (aka Charlie Yin) is another giddy, carefree, hi-NRG set of joyful dancefloor jams that fuse their ecstatic sample-happy ethos through millennium-era rave, big beat, and house styles. Dance music that doesn’t take itself too seriously, NUTTY is a rollercoaster ride of a dance party that sneaks in samples from Seattle luminary Ishmael Butler (Digable Planets’ “Examination of What”) and Jodeci (“Cry For You”) on early single “Babies” (a great entry point), while Daniela Andrade makes the lone credited guest appearance on “Bailar (I Want to Dance).” –AR

Clara La San - Made Mistakes (CLS. Music)
A shadowy, reclusive, and enigmatic presence on the underground R&B scene since trickling out tracks on her Soundcloud page back in 2014, British vocalist and producer Clara La San – an artist who has previously collaborated with Jam City, Bicep, Bryson Tiller, and Scratch DVA – finally emerges with her official debut full-length album and it’s a magnetic set of sultry R&B jams that places her whispery ethereal vocals and minimal, bass-heavy, club-tinted productions firmly in the spotlight. With strong stylistic nods to Aaliyah, Kelela’s ‘CUT 4 ME’ mixtape, and Erika de Casier, Made Mistakes is an enveloping fever dream for R&B fans. –AR

dazegxd - Exhibition Mode (deadAir)
The second full-length solo album from this rising Brooklyn-based DJ/producer is a strong set of magnetic, kinetic, fluid electronic grooves that’s heavy on d&b, jungle, and rugged breaks inflected with R&B, hip-hop, drill, pop, and dancehall flavors. An integral part of the new wave of NYC electronic producers spearheading the city’s fertile DIY dance music movement through live events, an abundance of new releases, and a leading role at artist collective and record label, eldia, dazegxd is bringing a fresh spin to cutting-edge underground electronic music and old-school breaks. –AR

Ortrotasce - Dispatches From Solitude (Dark Entries)
The third album from this solo project of American musician Nic Hamersly is a solid set of 80s-influenced darkwave, No Wave, industrial, and gothic synth-pop that glances reverentially to the synth-pop pioneers of the 20th century for their propulsive, robotic, retro-futuristic sound. –AR

Found Space - Closer (Spirit Goth)
The debut EP from this Portland-based duo composed of founding member Spen Oliver alongside Lillian Christopher is an impressive set of fuzzy dream-pop and shimmery indie pop carried by gauzy guitars, warm synths, steady rhythms, and the duo’s shimmery, alternating vocals. –AR

Maeta - Endless Night (Roc Nation)
Entirely produced by KAYTRANADA, the latest release from swiftly rising LA-via-Indianapolis vocalist Maeta is a nice mini-album of smooth, sultry R&B enhanced by KAYTRANADA’s trademark bounce. –AR

Nao Yoshioka - Flow (Sweet Soul)
The fifth full-length album from this Tokyo-based Japanese vocalist is a nice set of sleek 90s-tinted R&B jams that finds her teaming up with a solid roster of producers – MXXWLL, Devin Morrison, Jarreau Vandal, JAEL, Reuben James, Takuya Kuroda – to help enhance her lush, groovy vibe. –AR

Various Artists - Scenic Route - Road Less Travelled, Vol. 2 (Scenic Route)
Scenic Route is a London-based label currently run by Theo Fabunmi-Stone (aka Bryce's Brother, also a project manager at XL Recordings) and DJ/producer Jon Phonics that launched in 2019 and has trickled out cool releases exploring an amorphous electronic/soul sound, notably handling Nourished By Time’s breakout album Erotic Probiotic 2 last year. Their second label compilation is a sweet collection of moody underground jams featuring a whole bunch of new and emerging artists that revel at the intersection of hypnotic art-pop, introspective R&B/soul, and dreamy synth-pop. –AR

Various Artists - The Power of the Heart: A Tribute to Lou Reed (Light in the Attic)
This touching, eclectic, and celebratory tribute to the late, great American musician and The Velvet Underground member finds some of his closest friends and biggest fans covering songs from his iconic five-decades-deep discography. With a setlist that covers both legendary songs alongside some deeper cuts, The Power of the Heart features notable contributions from Keith Richards, Joan Jett, Lucinda Williams, The Afghan Whigs, Angel Olsen, Rufus Wainwright, Automatic, and more. –AR

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