Brief Encounters: Top New Releases 12-18-20 – 12-24-20 Reviewed

Written by | December 24, 2020 6:25 am | No Comments


Happy Thoughts – Andy Mineo – the legitimate, artistic side of rap, away from the trap, drill and OG, Andy and lyricist Wordplay are serious about the art form, and can nail fresh beats and also write excellent lyric… the rapping on the other hand… – B-

Riquiquí;Bronze-Instances(1-100) – Arca – five hours plus of remixes of the same hyper pop electronic strangeness by one of the most interesting popstars of the year. I got through two hours – A-

alone in a boyband (deluxe) – boyband – the remnants of soundcloud rap sounds like Juice WRLD without the gift, but still the voice of young America, songs like “Realtree” are a strange and wonderful thing that seems as though puberty hit him hard  – B

all-star – contradash – sadboy, bedroom, one man band stuff – B-

From King To A GOD (Deluxe) – Conway the Machine – a mainstay of the prolific Buffalo rap label Griselda, expands on an excellent album – B+

TRON: Legacy – The Complete Edition (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Daft Punk – just what we want from the electronic duo, the complete, breakthrough, instrumental  album to a world that never expected it – A-

Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley: Snake Oil (Deluxe) – Diplo – Diplo goes country with a lot of featured artists including Thomas Rhett, Morgan Whalen, Noah Cyrus, and more. Just unspeakable – D

Music To Be Murdered By – Side B (Deluxe Edition) – Eminem – 36 songs, nearly two hours in length, Eminem adds an entire album to the original for all Slim Shady all the time. Sure it sounds old, he is 49, and absolutely, Shady is having headaches growing old, but it has moments – B-

Corta Venas – Eslabon Armado -where Regional Mexican meets sierrena music, the voices are pleasant but the songs aren’t up to much – C+

Reprise Rarities (Vol. 1) – Frank Sinatra- according to a thread (here), these are B sides and songs left off the original albums when they were re-released as CDs, it is all first rate – B+

Everything’s Strange Here – G-Eazy – in which the dreaded rapper is reborn as a mainstream rock singer and songwriter and, amazingly, gets  not strange but worse – C-

I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep (Again) – Ghostpoet – spoken word over Goth sounding minimalism – B-

Wonder Woman 1984 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Hans Zimmer – It sounds an awful lot like the music in the first Superman movie, hardly a shocker since Hans composed both – B

50 Live – Hawkwind – original proggers deliver for their audience of jam, keybs, tedium to noodle your brain to – C+

Petals For Armor: Self-Serenades – Hayley Williams -three tracks off the tedious Petals For Armor, slower and more boring – D+

Love Me While I’m Here – Jackboy – with the great Kodak Black in prison, Jackboy heads up the Sniper posse with his best work to date, Broward County style OG features Kodak on “IDK”, it’s a highlight but if the beats sound trap, the sound is a pure rap sound and one of the best of the year – A-

Live in Extraordinary Times – James – the Britpop, glam rock band James are a long way from the 1990s, but in releasing a straight forward album of brood rockers recorded live the Laid guys sound really great when the song is really great, maybe a fifth of the time. Try “Getting Away With It” -which sounds like they met up with Manic Street Preachers – B

Hood Life Krisis Vol. 3 EP – J.I the Prince of N.Y – J.I. joined by hip hop stalwart A Boogie wit A Hoodie on a strong EP of break up songs – B

Say It – Jordan Feliz – mainstream CCM classic rock, in which Jordan mistakes Santa for someone else on “Jesus Is Coming Back” – MUST TO AVOID – D-

The Clouds Are Gone – Jorge Elbrecht – jingle jangle power pop with strong instrumentation (the man has a flute and he’s going to use it), but why it is solo and not the Floridian’s band Violens I have no idea – C+

Radio Redhead, Vol. 1 – Karen Elson – the aptly named album by the form are recorded takes of her Instagram Live quarantine covers series, the five songs are all great and the “Believe” and “Dancing On My Own” are better -she cuts the thrills and does straight up MOR balladeering of intense pleasures – B+

The Lockdown Sessions – Laura Marling – Has an artist ever collapsed as thoroughly as Laura did after Once I Was An Eagle,   she read her reviews and decided, hey, maybe she is Joni Mitchell on tedious and badly written album after another. Here she takes it even slower. Are we sure she ever actually wrote “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” – D

Live At The Roundhouse – Lianne La Havas – the r&b soulster sings from a July lockdown performance at the Roundhouse, with four songs from her last album and one from the album before – B-

Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011-2016 – Maggie Rogers – the folk popster is a terrific songwriter and the proof is these five years of pre-fame songs, which are enormously consistent. Culled from two solo albums and odds and sods it is all very well handled by a big time songwriter – B+

Operation: Wake Up – Mike Posner – the most self-obsessed songwriter around records an album after isolating at his parent’s home (his dad died on the previous album) and writing going to LA to sell a big song to Jessie J, have a big party with fellow songwriter blackbear, and end the album alone and depressed – B

The Beginning – Moon Taxi – indie rocks from the 00s, are as tedious as rock can possibly get, a plodder – C-

Para Mi Ex – Myke Towers  Latin trap beats and Puerto Rican’s fine raps over an EP, his singing not as hot as an avatar for modern day Latin Urbano  – B+

Christmas with Nana Mouskouri – Nana Mouskouri – Nana is the  beloved, late Greek singer loved my millions probably because she was so unremarkable, my French isn’t what it was but even so, it translates to “Sweet Night, Saintly Night” – C

McCartney III – Paul McCartney – Macca’s best album in fifteen years finds him one man banding on pop and The Fireman into a relaxed and extremely enjoyable album of first class music by an aging master who can still write a killer song – A-

It’s Just Music – Payday – the sixteen year old, red hair and freckles rapper, adds youthful pop to her songs and manages to nail it often on this mixtape that should break her on Tik-Tok if nowhere else. The songs are uniformly teen angst beauties, small but consistent and on “Techdesk” you can hear where she is going. A surprise treat – A-

Californialand – Rook Monroe – not unpleasant singer songwriter MOR pop moods – B-

Proud Of Me Now – Sheff G – New York drill from a master of the form, this intense outing should bring him to the top of the class with his third full length in two years. Flavio Five better watch out – B+

Swag 3 – Soulja Boy – this defines the difference between hip hop and rap, Souja Boy autotune rap above modern r&b sounds, all electronic and all mood – B-

The Prom (Music from the Netflix Film) – The Cast of Netflix’s Film The Prom – I haven’t seen it (though I may take a peek later), musically it is beyond lame musical theatre and the gay theme doesn’t do anything to change that – C-

CINCORIGINALS – Tobe Nwigwe – you would think the first generation Yank might have tapped into Afrobeats, instead the Texan distills his mean street upbringing into catchy rap songs of positivity, Blackthought and Earthgang make appearances but they can’t stop it for being a bit boring  – B

Rewind (Volume 1) – Todd Terry – the 80s House DJ original tracks and collaborations from 2020, Terry had a first rate year and if EDM is where it is at, this album provides the best of it – A-

Young Life Crisis – UPSAHL – The popular songwriter has started as a soloist with a really great song at the lead and less great songs following it – B+

Fully Recovered, Vol 2: A True Groove Compilation – Various Artists – Five years after the first cover album from True Groove, Volume Two has a lot to prove and for the most part does so.  For the artists signed to True Groove, Grace Jones “Living My Life” replaces Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, And Understanding” and changes the mood of the album, 2015 was, in part at least, a place setter for The Mess We Made, while Vol. II is a hidden in isolation request and require singalong. It is one long highlight with Marla Mase’s “Satellite Of Love” and Tomas Doncker’s sublime take on Yasiin Bey’s “Umi Says” with Kismet Lyles sublime backing vocals. And any way, where else can you hear the Queen of the blues, Regina Bonelli, cover the stones? – – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Stand Up – Various Artists – with Executive produced by Raphael Saadiq in the saddle, the Global Citizen charity album has moments, starting with Jordin Sparks excellent interpretation of Lennon’s “Come Together” the first and best moment, and Stevie Wonder and Marvin covers taking up second and their place – B+





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