Be Here Now: New Albums 1-31-20 – 1-6-20

Written by | January 29, 2020 4:30 am | No Comments


Cut to the chase: once you get past Caspian, try Andy Shauf and J Hus.

The Neon Skyline – Andy Shauf – He’s like Mac DeMarco without the snark and with better songs, and excellent storytelling skills with intelligence, skills, and a consistent melodic sensibility – B+

Keeping Up Appearances – Basic Plumbing – Patrick Doyle died two years ago, but his guitar pop marches on with this gorgeous jangle  album – B+

Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart – Black Lips – I once saw these guys give Titus Andronicus a run for their money at Bowery Ballroom, as they hybrid the Mekons as a modern day punk rocker band of the highest order. No better than anything they’ve released, no worse either – B+

Bonny Light Horseman – Bonny Light Horseman –  a folk rock supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Fruit Bats and a National sideman, plus the wonderful voice and songwriter Anais Mitchell. It adds up to a pretty set of songs and not much more – B

Aurora – Breaking Benjamin – they claim it is for their fans, translation is they are re-recording old songs with metal featured performers – C

On Circles – Caspian – Undoubtedly some of the most gorgeous ambient by other means sonic dream landscape. It’s a little boring, though “Nostalgist” -which is the first song in five albums to feature vocals, proves they might want to reconsider their world of sonic beauty next time round – ALBUM OF THE WEEK –  B+

The Album, Pt. I – Chase Rice – about as maverick as Luke Bryan, this mainstream country guy with a rock band offers up the first half of his next, unremarkable, album – C+

More. Again. Forever. – Courteeners – ‘Heart Attack” went immediately among the best songs of the year, and the rest is lousy Brit rock – C

Speed Kills – Chubby and The Gang – three chord oi without the skinhead crap, like Angelic Upstarts with about the same skills at melody – B-

Live From Moscow (Live From Moscow / 1979) – Elton John, Ray Cooper – In case you were checking from home: proof Elton always overplayed and over sang on stage – B-

Juillet – En Attendant Ana – Lo fi wall of jangle guitars plus melody via France, the arrangements are strange and sparkling on stuff like “In/Out” and “From My Bruise To An Island” in the middle of the album – B

27 Miles Underwater – Higher Power – emocore with melody to burn – B-

Suite for Max Brown – Jeff Parker – The fusion master guitarist uses plenty of guitar and a ton of sounds hard to put a name to with these dense, but oddly clear, modern jazz accoutrements, tech loops and bloops I mean, to the sound – B

Big Conspiracy – J Hus – In 2018, J Hus was given eight months in prison for, of all things, carrying a concealed knife. His first album since getting out has none of the aggro of Grime, it is known as afroswing and it does swing though not from jazz, but rather a sing song coolness of rap – B

Wild West – Joey Trap – Modern trap sounds with the most high hat you’re gonna here on a record this year – B-

Dream In Motion – kirk Windstein -emocore from the sludge metal leader of Crowbar, like Satan crying himself (sorry. I’m in the middle of Sabrina Season Three)  to sleep at night – C+

Love Regenerator 1 – Love Regenerator, Calvin Harris – Harris dusts off his synths from the early 90s for a first rate beat manifesto, ” inspired by early rave, breaks, techno and house” he claims and it is, in a very good way. It feels as though EDM lost its way in the 10s and one of the main reasons is trying to take it back  – B+

Easy Money Baby – Myke Towers – Latin trap by a better than average Latino Urbano rapper – B

Concrete and Glass – Nicolas Godin  – “What Makes Me Think About You” is the poppiest thing the Air guy has ever done, and while the rest is more Air-like synth and computer generated walls of sound, it is all well worth listening to – B+

Watch This Liquid Pour Itself – Okay Kaya  – if the Norwegian singer didn’t write such sturdy songs, with clear melody lines, and prosody, stuff like the trip to the “Psych Ward” and the amusingly title, but quite right “Insert Generic Name,” are so good, and while she can’t maintain your interest for the entire 38 minutes, when you tune her in you’re listening to the lo fi disco “Mother Nature’s Bitch” – B

Paul Carrack Live: The Independent Years, Vol. 1 (2000 – 2020) – Paul Carrack – The journeyman soul singer and midwife new wave band joining guy is only as good as his material, which means he kills it on “Nick Of Time” (a rarity from 2005) and awful on the, hard as it is to believe, worse than Sting “Where Did I Go Wrong”. In other words: believers gonna believe  and most of us gonna shrug – C+

Hotspot – Pet Shop Boys – seriously disappointing synth pop disco well past its expiration date – C

Empty Parks – Pia Fraus – what happens when you add soundscape to electronica – C+

Beneath the Eyrie Demos, Pt. 1 – Pixies – About as good as the album, and MAYBE “The Good Works Of Cyrus” is a little better – MUST TO AVOID – C-

Live At Carnegie Hall 1969 – Simon & Garfunkel – I don’t know why they didn’t release the entire concert, this EP offers the very earliest look at four songs off their upcoming album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, a little more than history, a lot less than important – B

The Strange Ones: 1994-2008 – Supergrass – This isn’t the six CD everything plus, but a cut to the bone 32 songs, which makes the case for Supergrass and, as a nonfan, you’ll be in for a treat as the power Britpop trio makes exciting garage rock triumph after triumph – B+

all the things i never said – Tate McRae – the sixteen year old pop and soulful sad girl has a way with words, “Friends don’t look at friends that way” is sting smart, a deeper pitch from the girl who if she likes you she loves you and if she doesn’t she doesn’t  – B

Citizen of Heaven – Tauren Wells – Christian Contemporary with a Gospel soul edge peeking through, “Like You Love Me” is really good and God telling Elijah I whisper because I’m close is fascinating – C+

Kingdom in My Mind – The Wood Brothers – Jazz tweaked, Americana folkiness, great singer, opening track, “Alabaster,” is major, the bass player is excellent, and the songs aren’t all bad – B-

See My Girls – Tindersticks – I know who you are thinking of, Leonard Cohen with a stick up his nose, and the 90s Britacana guys can be very tedious, and very stick up their nose, except the title track is very good – B-

POWER – Twin Atlantic – garage rock trio from Glasgow, but that doesn’t help em at all – C-

The Turning (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – The Turning – This is the musical equivalent to Governors Ball lineup -great at the top with Courtney Love, Mitski, Soccer Mom -and then right down the drain – C+

Mind Hive – Wire – As unpleasant a sounding late 70s post-punk band as you’ve ever heard, still doing the same twitchy guitar art – C

Thin Mind – Wolf Parade –  any time I read the word wolf in a band title, I assume they were once part of the late 00s Brooklyn movement, but not these guys. They arrived in 2003 where the lead singer of Modest Mouse (who doubles as an A&R guy for Sub Pop) signed em up and received walls of guitar sound and post-punk angularity, which is still what they have today except today it is well past its due date. Still, “Forest Green” is pretty good and if nothing else is great, nothing is terrible – B-


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