Be Here Now: New Recordings 8-28-20 – 9-3-20 Reviewed

Written by | September 3, 2020 4:30 am | No Comments

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Renaissance – Aluna – In which Aluna leaves George at home and the London EDM talent has composed electronic, bubbling synth and 808 tracks that come across as woke blackness for the woman raised in a predominantly white UK and who has found this moment to reconnect to her roots – B-

Whole New Mess – Angel Olsen – the indie rock star does quiet well here, as she reworks her 2019 All Mirrors for an acoustic guitar indie folk album, which gets old at fast – C+

Black Pumas (Deluxe) – Black Pumas – r&b neo-soul duo from Texas with a great singer and a whole lotta feel to it, but it goes on forever and drifts off – B

Desire – Bob Moses – electronic indie duo are a snooze but not unpleasant – B-

Una Niña Inútil – Cazzu – for sure, “Bounce” was a major breakthrough for the Argentina singer-rapper, the EP still uses trap though  for deep feel pop ballads with more limited success – B

Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs – Colter Wall – The Canadian country swing guy has a memorable, even timeless, voice, and the 25 year old can write the songs he needs to write on his third album – B

Los Chulitos – De La Ghetto – The Puerto Rican superstar and lesser half of a duo with Archangel, is insanely prolific (according to his bio, De La Ghetto was featured on 24 singles and albums on the first two thirds of 2018 alone), that translate as a lot of presence but too many songs that translate to no more than a freshly purchased beat and a keen vision of how to rap sing on them – B-

De-formation: Piano Variations – Diamanda Galás – The operative Goth Queen from the 1980s with a piano composition of scary and bass like piano… for twenty minutes – B

ENERGY (Deluxe) – Disclosure – so Disclosure keep the featured artists bopping from Slowthai to Kelis, but for sound and not for the pop success they were chasing in the 2010s. I prefer pop but the duo are capable of switching up dance to electronica… with ease – B

Club Future Nostalgia (DJ Mix) – Dua Lipa, The Blessed Madonna – I liked the original disco album and I like this disco remix, extended version with mostly not Madonna (who appears on one song) but DJ The Blessed Madonna (FKA The Black Madonna), amd they can’t pull it off as a new edition except maybe on the dancefloor – B-

Elliott Smith: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition – Elliott Smith – As the editor of a website that has been relentless in its pursuit of justice for the late Elliott Smith, I have never been a big fan. Clearly, he had many gifts but melody wasn’t one – B

The Neon – Erasure – same ol’ synth pop mix and match dance, and on “Hey Now (Think I Got A Feeling)” the duo exemplify everything you ever loved about the 1980s – B+

All Rise (Deluxe) – Gregory Porter –  HIs first album of freshly composed songs in four years, All Rise, could use some better songs but Porter remains a charming and intelligent jazz-R&B etc etc singer and his voice and delivery saves even the worst moments and on the Gospel tribute to his father who taught Porter how to sing on “Dad Gone Thing” -a rare beauty, it is simply as far frpm a worse moment as you can get – B

All Of My Best Friends – Hillsong Young & Free – The Christian collectives worst to date, an overblown piece of spiritual rock slumming  obsequiousness – D

Living In History – Jackboy – Kodak Black buddy with a well constructed set of traps and samples and a dark sound and a voice abrasive and well doctored – C+

We Get By – Jamie Webster – Liverpool born singer songwriter with a bit of a skip in his step and a working class vision, adds electronic to his songs but only to burst up the sound. Try “This Place” – B

Smile – Katy Perry – Her best album since Teenage Dream has both the gentlest and sweetest vibe to date, and if the kick is that it isn’t as fresh as her earlier work, well, neither are you – A-

Inner Song – Kelly Lee Owens – electronic instrumentals with plenty of strange sounds and riveting beats – B

Love Always Wins – Kem – six years since his last album, a selection of smooth r&b that needs better songs to signify as a major contribution to 1980s soul – B-

BACK TO ROCKPORT – Kidd Keo – Spanish rapper performs Latin Trap in English and Spanish, and exceedingly well with a flow that you have to hear to believe – B+

Cross Pollination – Lane 8 – trance electronic sleepy soundscapes by Denver DJ – C+

conversations with myself about you – lovelytheband – alt pop rockers know a hook but their concerns are not mine and the songs begin to blend though the feelings of teenage angst don’t – B-

S&M2 – Metallica, San Francisco Symphony – Metallica have had a shitty 21st century, and the soundtrack to their second collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony in 21 years, the amusingly named S&M2!, maintains the standard. Needless to add it is relentlessly awful, the last album Metallica made worth hearing is Lulu with Lou Reed, this is so overblown it could crash your PC – MUST TO AVOID – D

…but i’d rather be with you – Molly Tuttle – an impressive set of folkie Americana highlighted by a cover of “She’s A Rainbow” – B

Out of Body – NEEDTOBREATHE – easily Christian Contemporary’s best rock band can be spotty but they up their game on these spiritual cum Americana Christ rockers, though they have gone secular on some tracks. “Bottom Of A Heartbreak” exemplifies everything they do wrong, overwrought yuck, but “Mercy’s Shore” is everything you dream CCM can be – B-

Gospel According To PJ – PJ Morton – since r&b’s roots are in secular Gospel, what is Christian r&b? Gospel, more or less, with modern production values – B-

Use Me – PVRIS – shaded alty-electronica break-up album sounds like one long whine – C-

1999 – Rich Brian – The Indonesian rapper formerly known Rich Chigga releases his best album to date, part sing, mostly rap, with a dexterous spit only time can get you and songs that are so good – B

The Room – Ricky Reed – Reed is the popular producer ( Lizzo, Twenty One Pilots, Halsey -to name just three), and he has finally dropped his debut album of social commentary and emotional haliography, featuring buddies like Jim James and Leon Bridges. He clearly worked hard on the material and it sounds alright but the hooks aren’t as gooey as the quiet Americana needs to be – B-

Shape & Destroy – Ruston Kelly – country Americana detailing Kelly’s recovery from drug addiction, “Radio Cloud” is a terrific song, most of the rest are alright to quite good – B

The Baby – Samia – if your scene is sad girl, lesbian, singer songwriter better Samia than Girl In Red, Samia writes a good song and performs in a straight forward indie culpable way – B+

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum – Seether – South African metal with a screamo basis and prog like riffing, it shouldn’t work this well – B

Higher Place – Skip Marley – a wonderful eight song EP including  the H.E.R. featured “Slow Down” (there is a great remix with Wale  as well), though not here), that puts Skip, Bob’s Grandson, as the only Marley capable of stepping out of the shadows – A-

Back in Heaven – Skyler Skjelset – The Fleet Foxes guy tries his hand at an electronic ambient dream sound, sort of a Mechanical Americana – B-

Bless Your Heart – The Allman Betts Band – the latest incarnation (incantation?) of an Allman Bros vibe is the next generation gets it on The Allman-Betts Band’s overwrought classic rock boogie bore, a more classicist version of ABB’s industrial strength Southern rock  – C

The Third Gleam – The Avett Brothers – after a couple of disappointing albums and concerts I had written these guys off, lovely harmonies does not a band make, but great songs sure do and there are enough here to make it their best slice of Americana since 2013 – B

Living Off Xperience – The LOX – Includes some of The Lox’s most poppy work maybe ever, with the trio in full force on songs like “Move” and “Miss You” and “Do To Me”. Elsewhere the Griselda crew lend a helping hand and right now nobody has a better hand to add. Otherwise, a little whatever 90s rap – B

Celia – Tiwa Savage – Nigerian world beat crossover is having a moment and breaking through with a whole lotta great performers entering the US consciousness. The beats here seem manufactured for Nigerian world music meets r&b, but the songs clock into place very nicely, try opening track “Save My Life” where the beats take over the bridge  – B+

Spell My Name – Toni Braxton – a fine soul album which moves sideways, though the production is hip hop the soul is, well, soul, only two features but from Missy Elliott and H.E.R. and both strong as hell for the woman who recently said she wishes she had more sex when she was younger. Amen – B+

Got To Be Tough – Toots & The Maytals – stunning roots and rock reggae work that finds Hibbert maybe a touch raspy but for a man at it since the early sixties, he is way on top of his game here. A masterpiece? Too soon to say but absolutely everything you want from reggae by one of the greats, try the first three songs in order and go from the Stones to Marley to Chronixx while lifting from none of them – A

1978: The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo – Various Artists – Lotsa early(ish – the year punk happened for me was 1976) on a forty song sampler that will have you buying the box set, no doubt. Most of the bands we don’t know (or at least , don’t remember) and quite a few we do know and  remember including The Fall, Alternative TV, U. K Subs and more – A-

PAIN? – Wifisfuneral – white boy rap that comes closer to emo than you imagined possible – B-

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