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Be Here Now: New Album Releases Reviewed 8-26-16 – 9-1-16


Anything But Worlds – Banks And Steelz – If Wu Tang were simultaneously the most influential and the most overrated crew of their time, and RZA was the top of that hip hop crew, what does that make this odd collaboration with Interpol’s Tony Banks? It isn’t big enough to be overrated, so what it is is a moderately entertaining mix and match of post-punk pre-Biggie aesthetics, with guest stars galore. The Kool Keith collab is big time  – B-

Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway – Barbra Streisand – Talk about slumming it, Barbra sings circles around every one here, except Anthony Newley. A rotten idea, especially the dialogue intros. Painful… except Anthony Newley… – C

Glory – Britney Spears – In the late 00s, Britney had recovered from her meltdown and found her artistry in self-revelation and state of the art EDM pop. But then she turned down “Telephone”, and the 00s have found her going through the motions in Vegas (when I saw her in ’11, the moves were lousy) and recording zeitgeist chasing house pop. Glory is her best of the decade, sugar sweet and sexy on the poles and in the charts sex songs. It doesn’t add up to anything much, but if it sells well, it adds up to a lot more – B (unless it sticks on the charts, in which case: B+)

Stay Gold – Butch Walker – Is Ludlow the new Bowery? well, the song is a loser on an album with a lot of winners. Butch has been battering around Ryan Adams backyard for years now (even opened for him a coupla years ago) but finally the student outstrips the master on this slice of classic rock goes Americana. Ryan’s best album since his 2008 Cardinology, and easily Butch’s best ever- B

EMOTION SIDE B – Carly Rae Jepsen – I didn’t much care for the album and feel about the same for this collection of B Sides – C

Ibifornia – Cassius – Featuring Mike D,  Ryan Tedder, Cat Power, and, Nr, Neptune himself Pharrell, the French duo’s first album since 2006 is their best since 1999, all house bop disco moves of the first order, try the 13 minute album closer, “Action XXL” – B+

Mangy Love – Cass McCombs – Bluesy Americana by an overrated singer songwriter, who occasionally hits it out the ballpark. if you insist, try “Rancid Girl” -which sounds like mediocre Warren Zevon, like “My Shit’s Fucked Up”    – C

Encore Un Soir – Celine Dion – Her second album this decade is a French language, serious update of her sound; perhaps more than an update, a change from the tonsillitis ballad daring do  she has trademarked for decades. A live album, in the wake of her manager, Svengali , husband  René Angélil death, sounds far better than we are used to. She should keep to French – B-

And the Anonymous Nobody – De La Soul – Too long at over an hour, the kickstarter financed album is a hodge podge of featured artists, from Damon Albarn and David Byrne on one side, to Jill Scott and User on the other, and with a whole lotta nothing in the middle. A disappointment, though that Little Dragon track still shines – C+

Moonbathers – Delain  72 minutes of Danish metal, like Heart meets a hand dryer – C-

This Album Does Not Exist – Dreamers – Isn’t it a little early for the 2010s revival? These indie rockers are talented enough but the songs are undercooked – C+

Lifelines – Elias Kranz – Two tracks, heavy ambient but with melodies that bypass the wallpaper and intrigue you – B-

Narrative – Fire From The Gods –  “This album is the personal narrative of a minority man living in major cities and being American.There’s a socio-economic theme throughout the whole record that carries from each song to song. It’s all about the underdog. We’ve all had to fight for everything we have in this band. The political climate in our country is quite racially and socially charged. There are a lot of issues and energy people are expressing along with misguided hate and anger. I want to channel this in music that can resonate. This is where we come from and who we are as a band.” Perhaps, but it sounds like shit – C

Dig Your Roots – Florida Georgia Line – God, Country, Family? Fuck em all and fuck these guys with em. A horrendous duo of asses who manufacture the worst country around. “God, Religion, And Me” is creepy, “Dig Your Roots” is xenophobia as circle jerk. Ziggy Marley, Backstreet Boys, and Tim McGraw are along for the ride. This is the dividing line,and it ain’t the lifestyle choices (whatever works just count me out, I say), it is the songs, which suck – D-

How To Be A Human Being – Glass Animals – Blue eyed neo-soul with an indie brain and a tech beat – C

Hoops EP – Hoops – Post-post vibe pop, catchy as hell – B

Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith – Inquisition – “Anu is the god of all gods, the cosmos, the all. His seeds were dropped to the soil of earth and life was spawned. His wings represent those who came here and seeded the earth. Still today those wings continue to return and are at times seen in the skies in various forms in the most unnatural forms transcending through interstellar portals to earth.” Guitar based metalcore for gameboys – C

Midnight Motel – Jack Ingram – Big Machine tend to know a hit country guy when they find one, but while this Americana Texas country singer has moments, “I’m Drinking Through It” is pretty good, there is way too much plod – C+

It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense – Ingrid Michaelson – Lilith fair was never this cool, a sweet, smart singer songwriter, with one anthem “Celebrate”, worth celebrating, and two potential hits – B+

Dis Manibvs -Imperium Dekadenz – Melodic hardcore from Sweden where, apparently,  having everything from cradle to grave ain’t all it’s cut out to be – C

I’m Alone, No You’re Not –  Joseph – Alt-folk sister trio from Portland, close harmonies with a back beat produced by Mike Mogis – C+

Take It. It’s Yours – Katy Goodman  And Greta Morgan – A former Vivian Girl and a current Springtime Carnivore cover punk classics from the Buzzcocks, the Jam, Iggy Pop, the Replacements and more, to middling effect, and sometimes to great effective (the Blondie one is a keeper… though really New Wave, right?). Not quite real folk, not quite punk goes pop reversed, it is a sweet nothing – C+

One For The Road – King Company – Hair metal from Helsinki, fun stuff  – B-

The Bells – Kornél Kovács – Electronic mood music with a bigger beat than usual – B-

Isn’t it Strange? – Lauren Aquilina – YouTube sensation, she is young but is that an excuse for these overblown ballads? – C-

City – Law Holt – Law is part of the scene that brought us the great Young Fathers, so indie mainstream gone experiential seems to be the form, “Summer’s Coming” would be a song of the summer, and in any world, why the heck did “Love Drive Through” not make the Top 10 in the UK? – B+

Lewis & Leigh – Lewis & Leigh – Shooting is too good for this Americana dribble, they should be forced to listen to themselves the way I was – D

Austerity Measures – Liam Beeson – “Bless the comedians, and spit at the past,” Betson the Younger advises, and he may be right though he can’t convince me on these draggy singer songwriter songs – C+

Part 1: Paris YK – EP – Lowell – You know young Lowell from her terrific vocal on “Ride” last year, I’ve been waiting for her to break back through but these three songs, all quite good electro pop, isn’t it – B

Skiptracing – Mild High Club – Unassuming dinner music, smooth – B-

Phase Zero – Morgan Delt – Borderline Kurt Vile-dom with a heavily acid as opposed to opiate daze – B-

Heavenly Bodies –  Midnight Faces – Maybe it’s the Andy Mackay soundalike, but “Sirens” could be Roxy Music with a lesser lead singer, and while the rest of it isn’t as good, more of a synthesized Dawes meets Roxy feel, the LA trio are pretty darn good consistently enough to make it a keeper  – B

Motion Graphics – Motion Graphics – Dubbed glitch-pop, it is exactly that, experimental fizz and pop computerized sounds over real pop songs – C+

The Party’s Over EP – Prophets of Rage – Not good enough for agitprop, no bad enough to be ignored, if the best they have is Beastie Boys meets Public Enemy it is time they hired A$AP Rock and renamed themselves Profits Of Rage… the live tracks are baffling except, nice Morello solo on “Shut ‘Em Down”… catch em live instead   – C

Instinctive Drowning – Red Pill – The alcoholism, depression, and suicide attempts of Detroit MC Chris Orrick, are detailed in excruciating detail, but excruciating in a good way, in a  pain shared way, on his sophomore album. The insistence that if you can’t die, you must live puts the lie to his “the new normal is hopeless” mantra  – ALBUM OF THE WEEK –  B+

We All The Light – River Whyless – Sounds like Crosby, Still And Nash-y folk pop-rock, pretty, well arranged… a lot to say about it but it is still a little boring and the songs are not quite there. Next time… – B-

Rapid Foray – Running Wild – German Judas Priest fans – C+

Decision Day – Sodom – When it comes to blood curdling murder riffs, these 30 year vets know a thing or two, here they tell us about war and war… and thrash hard while doing it – C+

Big Sky – Space Mountain – This is Cole Kinsler, who sounds like Tom Waits meets Lou Reed in a lo fi bedsitband, and considers Proust an influence – B-

Between Waves – The Album Leaf – Experimental sound modulations that sound like a supper club in a summer rain – C+

It’s Hard – The Bad Seeds – Post-modern jazz guys who think it might be cool to cover Peter Gabriel… and may well be right – C+

100 – The Hunna – Remember the 1990s, when every new UK rock band was cause for celebration. Well, forget it – D+

Total Depravity – The Veils – Produced by El-P (but to what end?), the Veils offer up an intense sort of overlong deep dark vision, like the National meets Interpol – C+

Tuns – Tuns – Canadian supergroup featuring  Mike O’Neill of The Inbreds, Chris Murphy of Sloan and Matt Murphy of The Super Friendz, performing Beatley power pop…. the guitar solo on “Mixed Messages” sounds like George, or do I mean Roger? Or Big Star? Maybe that’s it   – B

Prima Donna EP – Vince Staples – After the contender for best album of 2016, Summer ’06, as dark a vision of Compton as you’ll ever hear, Staples returns with a full frontal rap of the moment move, except it isn’t: more suicidal nightmares with rhymes to spare and a terrific title track, though if you’ve ever seen him life, you might wonder just how unhappy he is and how can a song called “Smile” have so much sorrow?   – B+

No, My Name Is Jeffery – Young Thug – His THIRD album of the year, a collection of odes to Young Thug’s idols, from Rihanna to Harambe, the gorilla who was murdered while protecting a child that fell into the her cage. With a Caribbean feel brought on by Wyclef Jean, and a pop sensibility, that is all calypso soul, this one by the Atlanta rapper is maybe the most rap like album since Gucci (also one of Young Thug’s idols here) got out of jail, is the keeper – B+

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