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Be Here Early: New Albums Reviewed 3-24-17 – 3-30-17

The Valley – Betty Who – Aussie popstar pushed along by a move to LA (hence the album title) not so obsessed with EDM that she can’t write smart and sharp pop songs ), something this album is filled with – B+

Identity – Colton Dixon – “All That Matters” was inspired by Colossians 3:11 – “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” Circumcised or uncircumcised? – D

Eternity, In Your Arms – Creeper – Loud, fast anthems and not much more – C

We All Want The Same things – Craig Finn – More songs about low lifes in the Twin Cities, except this may be as good a solo album as Finn has ever recorded. While there is no “Honolulu Blues” or “Balcony,” still much more than on the spotty Faith In The Future,  he narrows his vision and sharpens his songs – B+

Grow Up – Desperate Journalists – Guitar rockers who need to write better songs… they sound good but the songs don’t stick – C

More Life – Drake – Many voices are added to Drake’s  as he details a playlist by recording and immersing us in the sounds he loves – A-

Year Of The Snake – Fucked Up – Half an hour, 2 songs, one of which is 23 minutes in length and both of which have the visceral you know what-e you crave – B

The Afterlove – James Blunt – No, of course it is MOR slop, but occasionally there is a sign of life: “Lose My Number” is almost lively and Ryan Tedder and Ed Sheeran pull him into the 21st century – C+

The Psalms – Jessi Colter – Here is an unwitting guest overview off “Jessi Colter recorded The Psalms with Lenny Kaye, the guitarist best known for his collaboration with Patti Smith. The pair became acquainted when Kaye was assisting Colter’s late husband Waylon Jennings in writing his autobiography and, during this time, the writer discovered that the singer would often sit at her piano and improvise melodies to passages from the Book of Psalms. Kaye held two sessions in 2007 and 2008 then spent the next several years augmenting the spare sketches with tastefully chosen musicians.” Astonishingly powerful stuff, this is what Christian music should sound like – A-.

Mansionz – mansionz – This is Mike Posner and producer Mat Musto, they co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” together back when, and this is as good an album as you might expect from the man who gave you “I Took A Pill In Ibiza”. It isn’t all as brilliant as “Ibiza” (though “STFU” comes close),, but it is a consistent pleasure electronic pop singer songwriter groove – B

Ransom 2 – Mike Will Made It – It takes awhile but somewhere between the  Kendrick/Gucci, followed by Future, followed by set highlight Swae Lea, the album comes together as a state of the art Trap recording by the master Atlanta producer. Me, I like Trap fine but I am a little over it here. Remember when everything was dubstep? Like that  – B

A Crow Looked At Me – Mount Eerie –  Phil Elverum, reeling from  the death of his wife musician Geneviève Castrée at the age of 35, made an album about it. It opens eleven days  after her death and closes three months after her death and is an accurate vision of grief and mourning. Early, very early, Elverum sings death is not for making art or singing about, and dismisses poetry. So what s it? It is a utilitarian album for use by the stricken – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Flowers In The Dirt (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney – What’s good is great and enough is great to make it a good McCartney album. This Special Edition is remastered and adds  ‘I Don’t Want To Confess’, ‘Shallow Grave’ and ‘Mistress And Maid’ demos as well as a collection of original B-sides, remixes and single edits. There is also a $200 super duper with videos and making ofs- B+

Wild Horse – Raelynn – You can tell why she was so popular on The Voice, it’s because she has a voice. But she is too prosaic to be among the new Maren Morris world of advance country women, and so lives and dies on the strength of her songs.  And her songs are spotty but work here and there – C+

The Wild – Raekwon – This man can rap circles round most contenders, but as a solo artist he starts and ends with Only Built 4  Cuban Linx. Here Cee Lo, Lil Wayne and G-Easy make appearance but it is still a serious snooze – C+

Lower The Bar – Steel Panther – Satirists of a dead art form (hair metal) it might have been  uproarious if you were a thirteen year old boy in 1985. The rest of us are sick of the one trickers – C-

Wonderland – Take That – Dull as possible 1990s style boy band stuff – C-

Fox Box: 3 Nights – The Allman Brothers – Why these 2004 concerts? Well, why not… It’s that great 00s Allmans with Butch and Warren firmly in place and the drumming on the other side of genius and Greg in the best of health maybe ever – B+

Damage And Joy – The Jesus And Mary Chain – Business as usual hard rock bubblegum pm their first album in decades and business is good. If it doesn’t add to the story, well, it doesn’t distract. “Can’t Stop The Rock” is a terrific song – B

Tremaine The Album – Trey Songz – It’s a Christmas miracle, Trey makes a good album. The r&b singer with the abs who puts the pussy in pussy, has recorded a fine collection of ear tingling straight up, emotive, soul. I am shocked… start with “#1 Fan”. ps I hated all the singles at the time, only now I love em in context… – B+



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