A variety of great music…

One of the things I love the most about KEXP is being able to hear a real variety of great music, and that was definitely the case this past week, with an incredibly diverse assortment of notable new releases arriving at the station.

This week’s highlights include the 2nd solo album from underground Brooklyn rapper/producer/Definitive Jux label owner El-P. I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead combines his almost avant-garde, ultra-dense production with dark, unsparing lyrics depicting these dark times. El-P recruited an impressive variety of special guests to help out including Trent Reznor, Cat Power, Aesop Rock and members of the Mars Volta. It’s quite a guest list, but the focus of the album is definitely on El-P.

It was also great to hear Low getting back to their slower, more somber sound on their latest album Drums and Guns. While I enjoyed the relatively more upbeat and rock-oriented The Great Destroyer, they are masters at slow and spare, and that approach works well with their bleak new material, featuring a number of powerful songs about life during wartime.

I love hearing new young bands revitalize old musical traditions, and Pine Leaf Boys do just that on their new album Blues de Musicien. One of a handful of young Lafayette, Louisiana bands leading a revival of Cajun and Creole music, Pine Leaf Boys bring a more energetic, rocked-up approach to the music that’s getting young crowds all fired up down in Southwest Louisiana. Hopefully they’ll make it up to Seattle someday.

Another exciting new album is the latest from Tinariwen, a band from Mali who met while living in a rebel camp based in Libya. Members of the nomadic Touareg tribe who roam the Sahara desert, Tinariwen offer up an intriguing, bluesy blend of African and Middle Eastern styles. Their new album Aman Iman: Water is Life brings a stronger rock edge to their sound, spiking their droning desert blues with hypnotic electric guitar riffs.

Other new albums to keep an ear open for include the first album in 10 years from the California jazz-funk combo Greyboy Allstars, British band Klaxons’ debut of schizophrenic, beat-happy post-punk, Son Volt’s latest the Search, which finds them freshening up their roots-rock sound by using more keyboards, horns and guitar effects, and a cool new compilation of classic Indian film music titled Bollywood Gold. Now *that’s* musical variety!

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