New Music Reviews (4/22) (2024)

New Music Reviews (4/22) (1)

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 Brainstory, Pearl Jam, Seafood Sam,and more.

Brainstory - Sounds Good (Big Crown)
The brilliant fusion of psych, soul and jazz from the LA-based, Rialto-bred trio is undeniable. Their sophom*ore album is truly transfixing with seductive grooves, smooth harmonies and funky bass lines as they effortlessly walk the line between nostalgic past and modern present. There’s no way around it: Sounds Good sounds GOOD, y’all. – CS

Pearl Jam - Dark Matter (Monkeywrench/Republic)
It’s been thirty-three years since Pearl Jam released their debut, and today we hear them in peak form on their twelfth studio album. Dark Matter is an incredibly solid set of powerful alt rock that is completely captivating from start to finish with the undeniable, unmistakable and unmatched Eddie Vetter at the helm. The guitars? They rip. The percussion? Explosive. The bass? Flawless. With impeccable arrangements and masterful musicianship, Dark Matter is here to leave its MARK. – CS

Seafood Sam - Standing On Giant Shoulders (drink sum wtr)
The latest from the Long Beach producer, rapper and singer is a soulful, expressive outing displaying his masterful skill in the many musical lanes he occupies. Incorporating elements of jazz, soul, funk and R&B, the titular giant shoulders he refers to are James Brown, Bobby Brown, and Miles Davis — the holy trinity who inspired Sam’s process. Standing On Giant Shoulders exudes West Coast cool with smooth rhymes, interesting instrumental flourishes and exceptional grooves from an artist that has confidently found his footing. – CS

Another Taste - Another Taste (Space Grapes)
The debut mini-album from this Rotterdam, Netherlands-based outfit is a stellar set of supremely addictive jams gloriously steeped in the infectious disco, boogie, and funk grooves of the 70’s and 80’s. – AR

Cloud Nothings - Final Summer (Pure Noise)
15 years and eight albums into their career, this Cleveland outfit is still delivering sharp, melodic indie-rock goodness. Final Summer showcases a band that has been refining their sound and skills, sounding tighter and more confident than ever, with layered, precise guitar work and big walls of sound to propel frontman’s Dylan Baldi’s signature vocals, resulting in another solid album from one of indie-rock’s mainstays. – CS

Dog Park - Festina Lente (Géographie)
The debut album from this Paris-based four-piece composed of members from France, Brazil, and the US is a stellar set of arty indie pop and charming jangle-pop steeped in a love for Captured Tracks’ seminal early 2010s catalog. – AR

Ekko Astral - pink balloons (Topshelf)
The fiery debut album from the DC punk outfit pulls no punches. The self-appointed “pioneers of ‘mascara moshpit’ music – a pummeling puree of garage princess post-punk” deliver on that descriptor as frontwoman Jael Holzman rips through pointed lyricism atop artfully chaotic soundscapes with hard hitting drums and seething guitars. See you in the pit? – CS

EMEL - MRA (Little Human)
The sensational fifth album from singular art pop musician Emel Mathlouthi finds the Tunisian/American visionary continuing to push boundaries. Her amalgamation of ethereal hip hop with industrial beats and indie-pop with layered instrumentals is enchanting, allowing her breathtaking vocals to shine as she collaborates with an extraordinary cast of women for the project. – CS

Mei Semones - Kabutomushi EP (Bayonet Records)
The new EP from Brooklyn-based Mei Semones is a delectable fusion of bossa nova, jazz and indie rock, flexing precise guitar work and enchanting strings. As she emotively sings in both English and Japanese there are wonderful swells of sound ebbing and flowing through these five fascinating tracks. – CS

New Age Healers - The Spin Out (self-released)
The new album from Seattle outfit New Age Healers is a dark, moody exploration of the heavier side of shoegaze with a strong psych sensibility, exercising excellent guitar riffs, a driving rhythm section, impactful keyboard flourishes, infectious melodies and a solid vocal performance from frontman Owen Murphy. – CS

Pillow Queens - Your Sorrow (Royal Mountain)
The third album from Dublin indie-rock four-piece Pillow Queens is a raw, confident and vulnerable affair. Their enticing arrangements and masterful musicianship complete with fuzzy guitars, pump organ flourishes and intricate percussion guides them through themes of queerness, insecurity, desire and heartbreak, and the growth that can be achieved on the other side of it all. Pamela Connoly’s confessional, emotive vocal delivery allows each lyric to acutely connect, welcoming the listener to feel everything just as intensely. – CS

somesurprises - Perseids (Doom Trip)
The latest full length from somesurprises, and their first new music in five years, is entrancing. Their spaced out dreamgaze finds the listener floating along through these nine tracks, as the band expertly builds layered vocals, guitars and synths. At times ethereal and atmospheric, and others powerful and commanding, Perseids is a dynamic album and welcome return from these Seattle favorites. – CS

A Certain Ratio - It All Comes Down To This (Mute)
The 13th studio album from this legendary British band is a confident, potent, back-to-basics set of urgent, funky, gritty post-punk that signals the first time they’ve recorded together as a core trio of principle band members Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop, and Donald Johnson. Nearly 50 years into their existence, A Certain Ratio sound fresh and revitalized on It All Comes Down To This as they continue to evolve and reassess their approach, this time around recording with in-demand British producer Dan Carey (Black Midi, Black Country, New Road, Squid, Wet Leg, Fontaines D.C., and many more) who gives their material a visceral, powerful, clutter-free punch. – AR

Blunt Chunks - The Butterfly Myth (Telephone Explosion)
The official debut album from Toronto-based singer-songwriter Caitlin Woelfle-O’Brien (aka Blunt Chunks) is a poignant set of melancholic, melodic, tender indie pop with touches of Americana, folk, R&B, and jazz that paint a welcoming pastoral backdrop for her beautiful vocals. Written primarily during a period of isolation in rural Quebec marked by an intense emotional unraveling following the dissolution of a romantic relationship and fully processing her father’s death three years prior, The Butterfly Myth is an intimate portrait of an artist blossoming and celebrating “the transformations made possible in facing these hardships.” – AR

Toronto-based rapper Cadence Weapon (aka Rollie Pemberton) follows up his Polaris Prize-winning 2021 album Parallel World with another hard-hitting set of adventurous hip-hop that takes persistent lyrical aim at our tech-obsessed culture and social media-addled online lives. His incisive lyrical talents are on full display, and the album’s diverse, edgy, electronic-heavy beats are supplied by some marquee forward-thinking producers in Jacques Greene, Machinedrum, Martyn Bootyspoon, Loraine James, Bartees Strange, Cecile Believe, Casey MQ, Grandtheft, Harrison, and more. A pair of outlier highlights emerge in the back-half with the synth-pop-leaning “Alarms” featuring Austra and the brooding, pulsating “You Are Special To Me” that features both a vocal assist and production from Bartees Strange. – AR

Chanel Beads - Your Day Will Come (Jagjaguwar)
The debut album from Shane Lavers – aka Chanel Beads – is a bold first statement from this artist on the rise. His unique production and song structures exhibit a clear point of view, as he layers vocals, programmed drums, synths and guitars to create a distinctive soundscape. Best enjoyed as a full project, it’s the duality that is so striking: simultaneously sparse and intricate, post-punk and dreampop, heavy and lighthearted, all hazily fused together with delicious textures. – CS

Michelle David & The True-Tones - Brothers & Sisters (Record Kicks)
The latest album from this Amsterdam-based outfit fronted by veteran New York-born vocalist Michelle David is a solid set of classic soul, upbeat R&B, nostalgic funk, and passionate gospel propelled by Michelle’s powerhouse vocals and uplifting lyrics alongside her band’s tight in-the-pocket grooves. – AR

Project Gemini - Colours & Light (Mr Bongo)
The second album from this project of London-based musician, producer, and writer Paul Osborne is a strong set of fuzzy, nostalgic, kaleidoscopic psychedelic music infused with a love for folk, funk, world music, and evocative soundtracks. Full of sweet exploratory guitars, dusty drum breaks, majestic intermittent vocals, and a confidently trippy aesthetic, Project Gemini’s latest feels like a long-lost gem from the 1970s that still sounds refreshingly rad in 2024. – AR

Amaro Freitas - Y’Y (Psychic Hotline)
The fourth album from this pianist, keyboardist, and composer hailing from the city of Recife in northeastern Brazil is a remarkable set of spiritual jazz with a rich, exploratory, beautiful spirit. Heavily influenced by his time spent in the wilderness of the Amazon basin and connecting with the area’s Sateré Mawé indigenous community, Y’Y finds Amaro reaching new compositional heights “rooted in magic and possibility and tempered by a sense of stewardship for the earth’s bounties.” Shabaka Hutchings, Brandee Younger, Jeff Parker, Hamid Drake, and Aniel Someillan make guest appearances to help assist the album’s cinematic, rhythmic, and mesmerizing journey. – AR

Canblaster - LIBEROSIS (ACTS I-III) (Animal63)
The veteran influential French electronic producer Cédric Steffens (aka Canblaster) delivers his latest visionary statement with LIBEROSIS, an 18-track journey released as three individual EPs that put his futuristic club aesthetic, cutting-edge sound design, and thrilling synth-pop talents on full display. Boldly encapsulating big beat, techno, rave, trance, ambient, IDM, breaks, dubstep, UKG, and more, Canblaster brings an epic widescreen lens to his finely-sculpted beats and propulsive rhythms, yielding one of the more exciting electronic music statements of the year. – AR

Clarissa Connelly - World of Work (Warp)
Scotland-born, Denmark-raised singer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Clarissa Connelly makes her Warp Records debut on her third album of mystical, theatrical, transportive art-pop. Reminiscent at times of the magical sonic worlds created by Kate Bush, Bat For Lashes, and Joanna Newsom, World of Work filters Celtic and Nordic folk music through her sweeping chamber-pop vision, yielding a distinctive new addition into Warp Records’ increasingly eclectic catalog. – AR

Gerry Read - Not Quite There Yet (Shall Not Fade)
The latest solo EP from London-based electronic DJ/producer Jonathan Read (aka Gerry Read) is a sharp set of magnetic house grooves that carry a warm, kaleidoscopic, sample-happy streak. The title track is an impossibly smooth cruise, “Fantasy” flips “Change of Heart” by TOPS into an indie/dance anthem, “We Won’t Smoke Any California” twists the ethereal vocals from Oski & NEOTEK’s 2022 EDM track “California” into a sunshine-kissed vibe, and closing track “Shampoo” (vocal sample not identified) is prime pool-party soundtrack fare. – AR

HighSchool - Accelerator ([PIAS] Australia)
The second studio EP from this London-based, Melbourne-raised Australian duo is an impressive set of gauzy guitar-pop with a gloomy post-punk undercurrent that combines chiming guitars, steady rhythms, and smeared downcast vocals in an alluring fashion. – AR

Local Natives - But I’ll Wait For You (Loma Vista)
Nearly two decades into their career, the boys are back with their sixth studio album, a companion piece to Time Will Wait For No One from 2023. But I’ll Wait For You picks up right where the LA outfit left off, showcasing their signature vocal harmonies and dreamy key and synth driven rock with layered percussion. – CS

Mahawam - Hot Pressed (Molly House)
The second EP from Oakland-based vocalist, musician, songwriter, and producer Malik Mays (aka Mahawam) is a solid set of expressive and expansive R&B. Featuring dynamic, kinetic, genre-blurring beats and an overarching focus on songs about “choice and getting out of your own way,” Hot Pressed finds the Black queer artist lyrically touching upon identity, self-definition, and personal growth upon entering his 30s. – AR

Newen Afrobeat - Grietas (Lichens Family)
Formed in 2009, Santiago’s Newen Afrobeat is a 13-piece collective hailed as Chile’s first Afrobeat band. Their latest release is another strong display of their colorful and reverential take on the genre, featuring lively rhythms, sweet horn-accented instrumentation, and jubilant vocals. Colombian and cumbia singer Lido Pimienta, former Fela Kuti band member Dele Sosimi, Brazilian singer and social critic Chico Cesar, and Chilean singer Joe Vasconcellos make guest appearances. –AR

Shabaka - Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace (Impulse!)
The second solo album from London-based British/Barbadian multi-instrumentalist and composer Shabaka Hutchings – also the bandleader for Shabaka and the Ancestors and former member of The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet – is another stunning set of meditative ambient explorations and spiritual jazz musings. His first solo album since the dissolution of The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet as well as his indefinite hiatus from the saxophone, Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace leans beautifully into his newfound passion for the flute. Whereas his first album was an entirely solo effort, here he's joined by a stacked roster of guest vocalists and musicians including Moses Sumney, Lianne La Havas, Saul Williams, E L U C I D, Floating Points, and Laraaji, plus uncredited contributions from André 3000, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Carlos Niño, Brandee Younger, and Esperanza Spalding. – AR

سليمان (Omar Souleyman) – Erbil (Mad Decent)
Named after the Iraqi city that provided solace and embraced him during recent uneasy times, the fifth proper studio album from veteran Syrian wedding singer and current global music icon Omar Souleyman is another high-energy set of his celebratory “techno-meets-Dabke” music that combines hard-hitting, rave-ready beats with saz (a Turkish stringed instrument), joyful keyboards (provided by his longtime collaborator Hasan Jamo), and Souleyman’s distinctive baritone vocals. –AR

New Music Reviews (4/22) (2024)
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