Be Here Now: New Albums 8-21-20 – 8-27-20

Written by | August 26, 2020 7:09 am | No Comments

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Agora – Bebel Gilberto – Her first album of new material in five years adds even more 808 to her Brazilian pop sheen and crafted Spanish dance sound  a fine exercise in electronica  – B

A Celebration Of Endings – Biffy Clyro – For whatever reason, there are some bands you just can’t hear the attraction of. Biffy Clyro rock hard, they crunch them riffs with authority, but as soon as the vocals hit they put me off (the vocal arrangements are iffy)  and the songs are too busy – C

Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was – Bright Eyes – It’s been a long time since Let’s Not Shit Ourselves, and maybe it is less than Conor has lost his magic as much as he doesn’t want to provide it. The Bright Eyes is a band vibe means it is over arranged and over performed, and if the hooks aren’t buried that would mostly be because they aren’t here to start with. But they certainly mean it man, and if there is no “Lua” here, who can expect that from a 40 year old man who let himself be seduced by Phoebe Bridgers? – B

SUGAREGG – Bully – Bully is to indie rock what Big Thief is to indie folk: top of the class, Alicia Bognanno has a big voice and a big way with roundelay hooks. Her sophomore effort sees zero slump, not a sausage, the album is one excited rocker after another. Start from the top with the seriously addictive “Add It On” and don’t stop the meaty and beaty set closer “What I Wanted”. A terrific set that does what great albums do: set a mood and effortlessly sustains even as it sweats like the Replacements and jangles like Big Thief (second reference, I realize) – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

SuperGood – Duckwrth – melodic rap that isn’t emo, it is a restless pleasure with a great rapper and a sound that eschews the aggravated roar of rap for a mellow MOR sound that works perfectly – B+

APOLLO – Fireboy DML – so now Nigerian Urban has a name, “Afro Life,” and it sure has its moment with Burma Boy, Wizkid, and now Fireboy DML hitting the US pop charts. It sounds like Dancehall with hip hop production and has one extremely pleasant song after another – A-

Mirrored Aztec – Guided By Voices – It doesn’t work as power pop and it doesn’t work as classic, it doesn’t work as prog rock though if they added organ it might. The prolific band, their fifth album since 2019, should stop peeling em off and locking em up and work harder in a difficult genre, if I never hear the off tune “Citizen Blitz” again it will be too soon – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Peace Be Still – Hope Darst – can somebody hand her a Dove award so I can get outta here…Just moldy emoting CCM. The first words? “Here I surrender”  – D+

Westward – Jonathan Terrell – a country Bruce Springsteen, and that is, if nothing else, a damn good idea. He can’t pull it off, but he sure does try – B+

Country State Of Mind – Josh Turner – Country covers album, with features from Kris Kristofferson and Maddie And Tae among others, the rumbling voice country star does his job well, especially on a terrific take of The Dukes Of Hazzards “Good Ol’ Boys” with a sparkling guitar solo – B

Restoration – Lecrae – His last album was called Let The Trap Say Amen, and yes, before Kanye discovered God and Trump, Lecrae was the best Christian rap performer. The thing about CCM is it is too near beer, looks the same but tastes like piss. Lecrae isn’t like that, he is a talented rapper and a good rhymer and he creates songs that can stand with most rappers out there. Kirk Franklin on one song, BJ The Chicago Kid, but I guess he couldn’t tear buddy Chance The Rapper away from the strip club – B

Peace – Levellers – the 1990s born English rockers were quiet in the 2010s, with only two releases, and their return is welcome to a degree. If this is folk rock, where is the folkiness? Anyway, the sound is too big – C+

AUGUST – Lewis Del Mar – Original sounding duo adds some heavy beats to post punk meets singer songwriter – B-

A Nashville Songbook – Mandy Barnett – The former Patsy Cline cover artist is a first rate interpreter of other people’s works and in Songbook, from Hank Williams to Eddie Rabbit (the Rabbit song opens the album and adds a dose of country to the Yacht sound), a just about flawless collection – A-

PAPI JUANCHO – Maluma – he is a superstar Colombian proponent of Reggaeton, Latin pop, Bachata, and rap, and on the 22 song, 73 minute genre buster album he is both welcome and long winded. Last year he dropped in on a good Madonna song, here he remains at a roots level of his ten years in the music business, there is no denying the 26 year old’s skills, but he should have broken off at twelve, if you want to skim try “Bella-K,” “Boy Toy” and the Urbana version of “ADMV” – B

King’s Disease – Nas –  his most clearly commercial album since 1999’s Nastradamus. Nasir was a better album than it was given credit for, people were sick of Kanye and they felt he preempted God’s son on his own release. On King’s Disease once you get past “Ultra Black” there is a lot of ace material here, including “Full Circle” with -gasp- The Firm including Foxy Brown and “Car #85” with Charlie Wilson. Nas remains, debatably, our best rapper, it is certainly a pleasure to see only his name as the writer, and this is a strong collection of outro aggro black excellence. And? “The McCartneys live past the Lennons, but Lennon’s the hardest”… Amen – B+

Twelfth – Old 97’s – The dB’s once had an album called Like This, and it would a good name Old 97’s twelfth album, this is how the band makes alt country, last band standing albums. It should have a coupla killer tracks, an “Oppenheimer” or something, but that doesn’t really weaken the sheerly thrilling rock songs, they are all very, very good from a band that have been doing it longer than you’ve been alive – B+

Open Up Your Head – Sea Girls – The English rock band’s debut is as good as you’d hope a debut would be, well trodden songs Sea Level know like the back of their hand because they made their bones on stage, lead by the breakthrough (there not here) single “All I Want To Hear You Say,” the pop rockers with a touch of glam are a delight. The next 1975? – B+

Imploding The Mirage – The Killers – This is credible? Really? I gave it a “C+” which does make it their best album probably ever, but that’s all it is. All these big time rock anthems are boring and way overcooked Yes, it is better than we had any right to expect, it still isn’t all that because The Killers are U2 for Americans who read at an 8th Grade level, and the album ain’t that much though  better than the singles had us expecting, and while I dislike the band’s bombast rock as much as the next guy at least there’s a clutch of memorable tunes here, including the opener “My Own Soul’s Warning,” the closing title track, and K.D. Lang featured “Lightning Fields” in which Brandon tries to compete with the great singer – C+

Songs for the General Public – The Lemon Twigs – Brothers in bands, when they go the harmonies they can Everly you out of your mind and Lemon Twigs do so  here on an album that adds fun. (the band) widescreen sound to pop tunefulness and rock semblances – B

En Espanol – The Mavericks – The top Tex Mex band sing in Spanish, for an entire album, but it sounds more Spanish than the fusion they excel at, a pity though everything about it is great, there are better at this Regional Mexican stuff out that – B

Good Luck, Seeker – The Waterboys – Mike Scott reminds me of a man like Willie Nile, well into the third act of his career the UK guy is still producing decent records of rootsy rock and classic rock, sometimes combined and often not. This is more of the same, which means some good stuff, some doesn’t work, and nothing big enough to blow you away – B

Here On Earth – Tim McGraw – as a complete non fan of McGraw, I can still tip my hat at his achievement here, mixing singer songwriter SoCal sounds with typical country balladeering. It’s nothing much and still better than anything he has done in years – C+

In A Dream – Troye Sivan – Troye Sivan is a masterful singer songwriter for teens and especially young gay bottoms, everywhere, if “Call Me By Your Name” was a pop star, it would be Troye Sivan. His latest release is the six song EP  with some dream pop, some electronic disco beats, and lots of downbeat sad songs that aren’t really sad, like “STUD”  – A-

I May Destroy You – Various Artists – Compiled by Spotify, songs taken off the HBO show features 2020s style black and Latin pop with the occasional Daft Punk thrown in for tastes. At over three hours in length, it is as consistently excellent as these things can get and a first rate primer on this golden age of black pop. It is so good, I may watch the show on MAX – A

V TAPE – Vic Mensa – Last week, “No More Teardrops” was a major, if late to the party, #BLM triumph, but the Kanye West find hasn’t really brought it since “Wolves” -he has always seemed peripherally great and yet not quite exciting enough. The  EP good not great and though the sound is certainly one of a kind, it doesn’t quite slap you into shape and it needs to. And doesn’t include “Teardrops”  – B-

WHO IS WHIPPED CREAM? – WHIPPED CREAM – The EDM producer and DJ Caroline Cecil has an EP of two and a half minute electronic trance songs that are tailor made for remixing on the dancefloor… plus, not many women in EDM at the best of times so it’s cool to meet one  – B

Zafari – Zac Farro – The Paramore drummer’s (mostly) instrumental (always) reggae EP is a pleasure, a simple take on dub and riddem – B

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