Deeply entrenched in the “classic” forms of electronica, Kenna’s sophomore release, Make Sure They See My Face, layers the multitude of synth samples with a bit of otherworldly, artsy hooks. This Ethiopian-born artist truly has his hands on all the knobs and faders—smartly fusing shimmery breakbeats with a punchy kick drum line that never quite makes center stage, yet you feel its presence on every downbeat. With friends like “Chase” Chad Hugo—one part of production powerhouse The Neptunes (an obvious influence in “Loose Wires/Blink Radio,” with guest vocalist Justin Timberlake)—co-producing the latest effort, it’s no wonder that Kenna has risen through the underground ranks, landing an opening slot on Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan’s solo tour, and most recently opening for Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. It’s a sure bet that Kenna will find himself as the headliner of his own cellphone-lit club tour, where he will dazzle the audience with his new wave/synth pop stylings. I’m sure they’ll see his face just fine.
Must Plays: “Daylight” and “Sun Red Sky Blue.”
Producers: Kenna, The Neptunes. Engineers: Andrew Coleman, John Hanes, Anthony Kilhoffer, Richard Reitz, Tim Roberts, Scott Wilson. Mixer: Serban Ghenea. Production coordinators: Cliff Feiman, Katie Sullivan. Mastering: Chris Gehringer.