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Be Here Early: New Album Reviews 4-28-17 – 5-4-17

Madness – All That Remains -business as usual screamcore – C+

9 – Cashmere Cats – Debut album from the talented and very poppy EDM producer, with one stand out, “Wild Nights” featuring the Weeknd and Francis And The Lights, and a lot more featured top tiered artists,  none of whom make a strong enough impression – C+

Pleasure – Feist – The poster child for serious mainstream pop, this is as tedious as all her other stuff – C-

Astoria Roots Live – Filtron M – The follow up to their 2014 mandatory debut EP, Manu Koch is in celebratory mode on this instrumental jazz experimental and yet mainstream sound which adds worldbeat drums to organ strangeness and tidal wave mindmelds. A post-futuristic pop blender sound worth absorbing – B+

Humanz – Gorillaz – An overlong concept album (what if Trump won the Presidential election) by an overwhelmed concept band, in the market to fit together disparate elements of American hip hop and r&b to a Brit pop quirk, it is less than the sum of its parts. That even goes for the songs themselves, which have moments inside moments that really shine, but can’t sustain the concepts through entire songs let alone an entire 69 minute album. Fortunately for Damon and Jamie, there are enough moments within moments to  avert disaster – B-

Sad Clowns And Hillbillies – John Mellencamp – Three years after John’s break-up album, the moving Plain Spoken, his latest is a croaked up country-folk that while sporting a handful of goodies, still ain’t strong enough by half.  Carlene Carter helps but she is still Carlene not Rosanne. In the end, it is draggy Americana for sophisticates who wouldn’t know a hillbilly if they called em a deplorable – C+

Places – Lea Michele – The Glee star singing bad MOR songs – C-

Gargoyle – Mark Lanegan – I saw Screaming Trees open for Oasis 20 years ago and was very impressed, but solo Mark’s dark goth-y baritone blues stuff is a drag – C

Strength Of A Woman – Mary J. Blige – A powerful testament to the elastic heart that is Mary J., who recovered from an “All ABout Eve” type betrayal and divorce with last year’s excellent tour and this battled down, beautifully sung, brimming with rage and beauty, break up album. One of her best to date. “Set You Free” is a new height – A-

Visuals – Mew – Their first post-guitarist Bo Madsen album sounds exactly the same as the others, melodic but sleepy alt-rock – C+

The Chang Project – Nef The Pharaoh – The second mixtape by Bay Area hero  Nef is among the brightest and most upbeat rappers around, in a post-Drake world where everybody seems upsets he has a smart and sweet touch and skills to match. This should break him through, especially the Ty Dolla $ign featured “Back Out”  – B

Makes Me Sick – New Found Glory – These guys are old pros by now and they resist the whininess that effects the genre for the most part on this well crafted same ol’ same ol’ – B

50 Years Of Blonde On Blonde (Live) – Old Crow Medicine Show – This would be easy to screw up and these bluegrass rockers don’t come close. Listen to the violins on “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later),” to the respectful rockabilly of “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” the speeded up “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands”: it is unmistakable, Old Crow Medicine Show nail every single thing they need to and come out with their reputation enhanced. Actually, I prefer their “Sad Eyed Lady…” – B+

Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm – Robert Cray – I saw this cat a coupla years ago holding his own between Buddy Guy, BB King, and Eric Clapton, so he knows the blues. but does he know soul? Here Cray gets the late Willie Mitchell’s house band the Hi Rhythms and performs some ace soul songs from the likes of Bill Withers and Tony Joe white along with some originals, and comes out sounding just great – B+

Prisoner (B-Sides) – Ryan Adams – he may well be a complete dick, but Prisoner is one of the best albums of the year abd B-sides, odds and sods that didn’t make it on the album is almost its equal. 17 songs of unfailing and unflinching emotional devastation – A-

async – Ryuichi Sakamoto – I remember this guy when he was a titan of New wave with Yellow Magic Orchestra, now he is all about new age on this pretty ambient album – C+

What Now – Sylvan Esso – Future shock folk-EDM, “Radio” is built to hit but “The Glow” is better – B-

Carrie And Lowell Live – Sufjan Stevens – The entire album, plus two songs off The Age Of Adz and a cover of “Hotline Bling,” recorded on November 9th, 2015 at North Charleston Performing Arts Center in South Carolina- ALBUM OF THE WEEK  – Grade: A

Something Else – The Cranberries – acoustic versions from their catalog plus three new songs. It’s a living – C

Rock N Roll Consciousness – Thurston Moore – Irritating no doubt, but at least it is rock n roll and while you might not listen to it for fun, you wouldn’t walk out of a party because “Cusp” was playing, though you would be on your guard – C+

Parking Lot Symphony – Trombone Shorty – The New Orleans boy wonder is better live, this has its excitements, but the energy isn’t quite enough to push it through – C+

The Authorized Bang Sessions – Van Morrison – “The first disc focuses on the original masters from Morrison’s Bang sessions, the second I is rarities from the sessions” but the third!!! “dubbed the Contractual Obligation Session, as it closed Morrison’s tenure with the label – contains 32 short, stripped-down and less-refined songs”. I hadn’t heard “Shake It Mabel” before… Sublime – A+

SHINE – Wake – The mid-00s phenom still sells enough but he is still an everyman rapper, good if you are a rap fanatic but the rest of us tend to shrug him off. Apparently, there are a lot more rap fans then we knew… “My Love” with Dua Lipa is a keeper – C

God’s Problem Child – Willie Nelson – This might not have the arched concepts that Willie has been adding as a fillip to his albums since Red Headed Stranger. Rather, it is a straightforward set of country music and variants at its best when it has a skip in its step – B-

Herstory EP – Young M.A. – the cold world for a cold girl is icy on these raps on a world far too hard, which. though missing the shock of the new from her debut EP two years ago, is steely in its unlinking power – B+



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