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Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 10-20-16 – 10-26-16

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Arms – Bell X1 – Big in Ireland, dreary pop rockers though the first song is a keeper – C

Complete Third – Big Star – Demos, rough takes, alternate vocals, alternate versions -the full monty for Big Star freaks. I’m not one but even so, this is a terrific album given the works it deserves – A

Like An Arrow – Blackberry Smoke – Zac Brown opening band. “Waiting For Thunder” is better than you might think… the Gregg Allman song sure aint – C

Ruminations – Conor Oberst – An unlikeable, slow, acoustic slog, that seems to herald the end of his greatest gift (songwriting, in case you forgot) – C

WOPTOBER – Gucci Mane – Are you kidding me? I’m barely finished with the last one. Guc, knock back a bottle of Nyquil and take the day off already – B

Building A Beginning – Jamie Lidell – Blue eyed soul, the songs need to be better – C+

Walls – Kings Of Leon – Not the disaster the singles predicted, it is still their worst to date: a needy vocalist and a dodgy rhythm section goes with the territory, but the quality control seems to have nodded off. One boring ballad after another, it is as irritating an album as you’ll hear all year. I guess “Conversation Piece” gets the tune right – C-

Requiem For Hell – Mono – Excellent hard rock meets noise instrumentals via Jap. The  nearly 18 minute title track is a mindblower if you can get through the first 12 minutes – B+

Diamonds And Demons – Nemes Gomes – Unspeakable deeply felt art balladeering – D

Yes Lawd – Nxworries – Parenthetically speaking, this has been Anderson Paak’s year, starting with an album, Malibu, in my top five STILL, and ending here, with his beats master Knxwledge collaboration on an album that could well end up in my top twenty. Nineteen neo-R&B meets hip hop soul tracks of unfaltering finesse – B+

Be Here Now (Deluxe Edition) – Oasis – Album number three separated the boys from the men, and me, being a man, thought it was a masterpiece of melodic riff guitar rocking genius and one of the boys greatest moments. And I was right, as this three hour plus, right over the top, extravaganza proves: the live tracks are great, the outtakes are great, the singles are great. Yeah, the lyrics do suck but I forgive em -ps: the CD box set is pretty terrific as well – A

The Singles (Expanded) – Phil Collins – Phew, I thought I missed some – D

Sport – Powell – UK electronic bleeps and bloops – C

Superwoman – Rebecca Ferguson – With so much going against her, a middle of the road poster discovered on the UK X Factor, and with one of Adele’s biggest writers on her farm, proves the doubters wrong. Rebecca is a clear voiced wonder of populist sounds, soulful in a 70s way with songs to burn – B

Only Ghosts – Red Fang – Hard rock blah via Seattle – C

EVOLution – Sabrina Carpenter – Another girl soul pop product via Disney, a little worse than average but then, which of em isn’t? – C

Back To Eden – Shawnee Kilgore and Joss Whedon – TV producer rides a fair to middling singer for a boring folk album – C

TCR EP – Sleaford Mods – Premiere UK post-punk rock band, kill it on the title track and maintain for four other tracks – B+

Order More Disruptions – Smash Hi Fi – Exciting DJ duo use house beats and disco tracks for really good disco, “Blacklights” is terrific UKish Major Lazer plus – B

Crown Posada – Smoove And Turrell – First rate pub band soul and funk old school , great cover of “You Could’ve Been A Lady” is a terrific start off, and if the rest ain’t as good, well, the rest ain’t all covers – B

Lover Beloved: Songs From An Evening With Carson McCuller – Suzanne Vega – Songs from Vega’s play about the Southern writer Suzanne Vega, though I think you’d have to see the play to connect the dots. Minor league but well felt singer-songwriter blues and jazz swamp things – C+

Cashmere – Swet Shop Boys – Anybody surprised to see a Das Racist here? A truly brilliant state of the sub-continent, side of Islam lads living with Western world racial profiling. “I’m so fly bitch but I’m on a no fly list…” Words to live by, and shout out to Heems and Riz for really representing   – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – B+

Halloway EP – Tessa Violet – Vloggers mainstream popisms are catchy and shallow – B-

1992 – The Game – I once requested more social conscious from rap -I hereby rescind the request. Only The Game would write an album about a random year, and just guess who “Fuck Orange Juice” is about – C+

Do Hollywood – The Lemon Twigs – Buzzy pop symphonists are better live than on record, perhaps if they preferred the Beatles to Wings and calmed down a little. Perhaps they will – C+

The Wave – Tom Chaplin – Any one of these songs by Keane lead singer Tom, would make a terrific Christmas commercial for Lewis’s – D+

Gameshow – Two Door Cinema Club – The overhauled Irish rock band sound terrific on this blue eyed soul dance album, a major shift that I hope works for them – B+

Reach – Tyketto – Mainstream 90s rockers reform, and sound much the same – C-

Say Yes!: A Tribute To Elliott Smith – Various  Artists – This isn’t a bad collection of alt rockers  performing well intentioned, sometimes quite smart, Smith covers. Shout out to Juliana Hatfield for getting good marks  – B+

Northern Lights – Zeds Dead – Did you read Jonah Weiner’s The Chainsmokers interview? You know, rich kid boys who never got out of dude mode, make very good. Well, that’s the way I always imagined Zed, but apparently I underestimated him. This would be a pretty good album if only for the Styles P/Jadakiss track, but the Rivers Cuomo-Pusha T ain’t bad either, and while what we are talking about is only smart pop moves, these are still smart pop moves, and there are more as well – B

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