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Be Here Now: New Album Releases 12-07-18 – 12-13-18

EXOTIGAZ – A.CHAL – Electronic mood music, a thing of beauty over an EP – B

The Missing Man – AFI – Everything you hate about modern rock in one tasty morsel of whine – MUST TO AVOID – D+

FRIENDS KEEP SECRETS – benny blanco – seven sure fire hits from Maroon 5’s savior/producer, all too bland for my taste – C+

Ticket To L.A. – Brett Young – “Chapters” is such bathetic self portrait it puts  a pall on a straight up country album that at least has its moments, the title track is a keeper for one, “1,2,3 Mississippi” for another – B-

Home – Canon – Chicago self-improvement rapper, affiliated with Lecrae so you just know jesus is waiting in the wings – C

Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Carpenters, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – If we must have these posthumous mash ups, at least half of the Carpenters is here to oversee it. Every song is much, much worse than the original, but at least they aren’t sins against nature – C-

Cauty VS Young Cauty – Cauty – Heavy duty, beat oriented, Reggaeton – B

Live In Buenos Aires – Coldplay – I’d say you had to be there but I have been there and it doesn’t help – C-

December – Gabrielle Aplin, Hannah Grace – Not unpleasant seasonal folk take on standards by two fine voiced women. An exercise in redundancy of course, but what else is new in December? – B-

State Dogs: Singles 2017-18- Generationals- Instead of releasing an album, Generationals spent a year releasing pretty good synth pop melodic songs and then brought em all together – B

Evil Genius – Gucci Mane – Gucci is the King of Trap, the head of Atlanta, a prolific, smart, master of rap. And this is his first album in a year… so why is it so bland? The one with 21 Savage is a goodie, the one with Bruno Mars and Kodak Black as poppy as you could hope for, “Cold Shoulder” includes a great Young Thug verse… but it isn’t more than an alright album – B

The Hits Collection 1938-53 – Harry James – Frank Sinatra started his career with James, before Tommy Dorsey stole him. Harry took it like a man and continued being a world class and famous conductor and trumpet player till he died in the early 1980s. That’s what happens when you jumpstart your career working for Benny Goodman as a teenager. This compilation is really impressive, especially his trumpet playing – A

Homegrown Kids Country, Vol. 1 – Homegrown Kids – Kids who aren’t Kidz go country – C+

Blessed – Iamsu! – For a guy who promotes positivity (sure, a buzz word for Jesushead), he ain’t bad. Try “Blessed (Done Deal)” – C+

Everythangs Corrupt – Ice Cube – The NWA  rapper turned actor downsizes to fuck da POTUS on this 80s style rap album that finds Ice Cube still more than capable of rapping, though the “Heart Of The City” sample is a bit of a cliche. His first album since 2010 is straightforward  to the place where it is boring but worth representing  – B-

Sketches II – Jarami – Swedish production duo are excellent on this soulful electronic EP – B

The Sound of Music – Laibach – These are the guys who toured North Korea performing songs from “The Sound Of Music”, as documented by the New York Times (here), an eerie gothy lo fi take – C+

Heart to Mouth – LP – I once saw LP open for Bryan Ferry -she did a good job as well with a great set of lungs, and a deeply emotional delivery, this is uneasy pop soul singer songwriter craftwork. The songs could be a touch better – B

plum blossom – mxmtoon – The Ukulele is the last refuge of quirk for this Cali teen girl who has a way with words both “cliche” and also entirely original – B

Wild Life (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney, Wings – Great album and the home recordings are ace – A

Red Rose Speedway (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney – “ooooh lazy dynomite….”, but the outtakes are iffy and the live tracks are meh, even so who doesn’t love “Mary Had A Little Lamb”?  – B+

My Kind Of Christmas – Reba McEntire – It’s not necessarily Reba’s fault that there is absolutely nothing left to add to songs like “Winter Wonderland” or “White Christmas” or “Jingle Bell Rock” -her problem is that there are unborn generations of Christian children who will be forced to consider this the equal of Bing Crosby’s version, and it isn’t at all – C

1800 Seconds: Curated By Pusha-T – Various Artists – “A first-of-its-kind compilation album featuring 10 new tracks from 10 rising artists. Curated by hip-hop legend Pusha-T, brought to life by 1800 Tequila.These artists were flown to Los Angeles, California for album sessions where  the rising artists connected with Pusha-T for a crash course in craftsmanship, selecting beats, bouncing song ideas and refining their writing with one of rap’s greats.” Oh, yeah? I wonder how many careers it is gonna jumpstart? Not that it is good or bad but that the hard beats are more a matter of Pusha T vibing than new rappers arriving – C+

Sam Huber: Acoustic Sessions – Sam Huber – A slower, more felt take on a handful of songs Sam has released over the past two years ; “Plastic Love” even improves on the original – B+

Blue Tuesday – Sam Martin – Odd covers from the likes of John Lennon, U2, and Ane Brun. The Wb singer songwriter is much better when he is introducing, as on on the new to me masterpiece “All My Tears” then on the ones we know by heart – B

The Sensation – Sech – The Panamanian autotune lover performs Latin pop ballads, forty singles in two years, his second album is generic and harmless – C+

Good Company – Tone Stith – r&b guy waiting for his act two after breaking on a Chris Brown song. This ain’t it – C

Feelin’ Right Saturday Night: The Ric & Ron Anthology – Various Artists – a A celebration of the 60th anniversary of Ric Records, the legendary New Orleans R&B label, and its sister label Ron Record: Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, Chris “I Like It Like That” Kenner… as a neophyte on this stuff I couldn’t be more impressed with all the stuff I’ve never heard – A

Mary Poppins Returns (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists –  Of Course it can’t compare to the Sherman Brothers “Mary Poppins” original. But what can? The best we can hope from composer  Marc Shaiman and lyricist Scott Wittman is that they don’t get lynched by the end. “A Cover Is Not The Book,” “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” “Can You Imagine That”… Emily Blunt handles the Poppins chores and Lin-Manuel Miranda kills the joyful “Underneath The) Lovely London Skies”. Best of all, Angela Lansbury Returns on “Nowhere To Go But Up” -all insure they won’t – B+

Hill Climber – Vulfpeck – Half with vocals, half without, funky but fun – B-

SKINS – XXXTENTACION – It’s a toss up between XXX and Guc for the album of the week. I’m going with XXX. The more I hear, the less the man is who he was, he isn’t a mumble rapper, or emorap or any straight genre, but a sound guy messing with textures and images on song after song: the album doesn’t coalesce, it feels a little pieced together, but it sounds mesmerizing and it’s off hand demoness helps as well.  XXX stands as one of pop music’s big losses however often he might have beaten women pregnant with his child  – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – B+

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