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Be Here Early: New Album Reviewed 5-5-17 – 5-11-17

in-ter-a-l-ia – At The Drive-In – Jim Ward is really missed, but this is in your face emocore that works as the soundtrack to your lack of a prom date – B-

Pollinator – Blondie – In their earliest incarnation, Blondie were a great recorded band who couldn’t get out of the way of Debbie Harry’s ice cold chic on stage, then they got really great live ( a 2011 review here) but sucked on record. Here, they don’t suck on record. With songwriters from Dev Hynes to Johnny Marr on commission only, Blondie nail one great song after. Their best since, no not No Exit , but Autoamerican – B+

All The Beauty In This Life – Brother Ali – The Muslim member on the Rhymesayers label is a major rhymer himself, serious stuff about life and death and… and not as boring as that sounds all the time – B

Versus – Carl Craig – Techno meets classical, interesting but not interesting enough to hear more than once – C+

From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton – if he oozed sincerity any more deeply it would drip from his lips like blood on a  vampire right after din-din – C-

Alive – Cimorelli – If you can call this living, and aren’t their dresses a little short for CCM? – D

Love Hope Faith – Colt Ford – Country meets rap and all are punished – C-

Turn Up The Quiet – Diana Krall – Nobody does quiet jazz as well as Krall, this is an ace album of gorgeous, perfectly performed, NKC-y trioism (or four or five, but the trios are for the purists), that pays huge dividends for those who have anticipated this return for so long, at least since 2009 – A-

5/8/77 – Grateful Dead – If you wanna know what punk was a reaction against, listen to this. I realize people live for the Dead….but 77 was not a good vintage – D+

Magic Valley – Goodbye June – classic metal high pitch Paul Rodgers vocal over headbanging school of ho hum – C+

Big Bad Luv – John Moreland – He doesn’t have another “Hang Me In The Tulsa County Stars” here, but who does? Song for song, this is the standard bearer for Americana. Nobody does singer-songwriter better right now,  if only it peaked a little higher it might be an album of the year, play it side by side with the new Stapleton and you’ll see what I mean – A-

For Crying Out Loud – Kasabian – 128 minutes of boys being boys UK rock is 100 minutes too long. What starts as a fun rush of adrenaline fueled cheekiness goes on and on and on – C+

7 Series – Kid Ink – s poppy as modern r&b knows how to get, “No Strings” is really good and nothing isn’t really good, this answers all claims of smugness and attitude – B

Waves Of The New – Las Robertas – Somewhere between shoegaze and alt rocking alternative, this is a sweet and tough handful of songs via Costa Rica – B

You’ll Never Make A Million From Grime EP – Lethal Bizzle – Trap meets Grime on “Wigback Ting,” but it improves neither. I have a huge taste for Grime, but this EP doesn’t really happen. The raps are good enough but the tracks are irritating – C+

Everybody – Logic – “You are every human being that ever lived and ever will live,” says Neil DeGrasse Tyson as god, in one of the oddest explanations of the afterlife from biracial rapper Logic. It makes as much sense as this heartfelt yet inadequate rap slice, 70 minutes of a terrific new song called “Hallelujah” and a whole lotta blah that even Chuck D can’t save – C

Lost In You – LP – Middle Of The Road big time balladeering by a mainstream artist who is alternative by way of her gender fluid persona. Her voice is always a treat, a gargling sweet messiness, her songs aren’t as great as her best moment, “Up AGainst Me” – B

This Old Dog – Mac DeMarco – A bit of a snooze by the likable but overeager indie singer songwriter – B-

Bold – Mary Lambert – When she sings she is a little soppy but not as bad as “Same Love” would have you believe. The spoken word stuff should be shot at dawn – C

Graveyard Shift – Motionless In White – Goth meets metalcore, it’s their party and they’ll die if they want to – C

Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds 1984 – 2014 – This should solve the Cave problem, he tends to suck over an album, by boiling it down to the best moments – B+

No Shape – Perfume Genius – His third album was the one where it just happened, a pained beauty so intense it burnt you. This isn’t that, it couldn’t be replicated. So this is the same pen but with the magic weakened and the volume raised – B

There’s Really A Wolf – Russ – It starts off with a bang but the rapper while talented enough, the opening track uses wolves as a hook and is a howler, and can rhyme well enough, his r&b isn’t up to the job – C+

Safe Haven – Ruth B – She can write a song but she is such a romantic wet, her declarations (“loving you is my greatest sin”? -not quite) makes me uneasy. If you’ve ever had someone you don’t really like throw their heart at your feet, you’ll know what I mean. Still, her best melodies recall early Elton – C+

Don’t Kill My Vibe EP – Sigrid – The young, Norwegian, popstar had a hit with the title track, a not unusual mix of singer-songwriter goes beatwise track, the other three are good as well and she has a lush and sweet voice – B

Slowdrive – Slowdrive – The most aptly named band on earth have spent 22 years between albums, and I am sure there is a huge market for this deep background-foreground music, a sort of sleepy ringing originality that you can’t quite shrug off – B-

TajMo – Taj Mahal And Keb Mo – “Squeezebox”? Ha. A highlight on a fine if minor  entry by 74 year old blues giant Taj and Delta blues great Mo. Not bad at all but not much more than that – B

In Spades – The Afghan Whigs – Shut up and play “Summer’s Kiss” – C

Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years Of The Story (An Album To Benefit War Child) – Various Artists – The album was always excellent but this tribute album, with Pearl Jam and Adele at the top of their game, and Shovel And Rope, the Avett Brothers, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, and more, performing these lovely story songs near the top of their craft. Especially Adele – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

HOWSLA – Various Artists –  Hits and misses from Skrillex’s label. Drop the bass already – C

Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol 2 – Various Artist – Now the KTEL years are so far behind us, take it as a snapshot of a quarter of 2017 in pop. “Bad Things” first, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” next – B


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