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Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 5-25-18 – 5-31-18

Ace Hood – Trust the Process II: Undefeated – At  97 minutes this mixtape from the Florida also ran is way too much, but at his best the flow is about as good as anyone, try “3 Bless” – C+

Ari Roar – Calm Down – The amusingly named debut album is a lo fi acoustic plus drums effort that is quick and catchy and fun – B-

Arthur Alexander – One More Bar – I’ve been railing against rock for years and if you wanna know what it should be. listen to this excellent old school rocker’s new album, the title track is the best, but “Wang Dang Doodle” is seriously genius and “Bring It On Home To Me” changes the soul classic into a rock and roll ska revivalism – B+

A$AP Rocky – TESTING – The thing about Rocky, and we’ve known it for awhile, he is an artist using sound as a canvas… not unlike Frank Ocean on “Purity,” the brilliant conclusion to this musical continuation into sample heaven and strange, druggy sounds, where the rap of Trap doesn’t exist – ALBUM OF THE WEEK –  A-

CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead – The electronic UK band have never clicked strongly enough, and this one doesn’t either, perhaps it’s Lauren’s voice, perhaps the songs weren’t quite finished off. But here the all over the map producer Greg Kurstin gives them a place to play on these fine pop songs except when someone else takes the lead vocals -then they sound like a bad Depeche Mode cover  – B

Clairo – diary 001 – Nineteen year old girl went viral and is now a phenom – lo fi 2018 seems to have a life of its own  even as a backlash mounts claiming she is a label creation. I don’t think it is terrible, an indie electronic mix and match, but not bad – B-

Dear Nora – Skulls Example – A first rate folkie pop album from the West Coast band reform from the 00s, with catchy hooks and good lyrics, the more straightforward it is the better, the first four songs are amazing, and “White Fur” sounds like Jackson Browne -no, really, but then it spaces out – B+

Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo (Something To Say) – Malian pop queen, Afro popism, but I’ve never been crazy about Mali Music and the voice doesn’t save her – B-

G-Eazy – The Vault – More rap, less pop – C+

Halo Maud – Je Suis Une île – This is French pop the way Sylvie Vartan was French Pop only with its post-shoegaze dreamscape vibe it exists in a virtual here and now. Apparently it is part of a French psyche-pop scene along with Melody’s Echo Chamber, Moodoïd and cult label La Souterraine- B

Hoobastank – Push Pull – Tedious little rock album. well played but nothing much happening – C

J Balvin – Vibras – This has the sprawl of a major breakthrough for Balvin, but it plays out in a minor key. The 33 year old wants to redefine Latin crossover by aiming with trap-y beat heavy songs in Spanish aimed for everywhere. But the songs aren’t good enough and even if they were, what makes him think the US is gonna play along? – B-

Jennifer Warnes – Another Time, Another Place – “Up Where We Belong” and “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life”  you remember,  plus her work with Leonard Cohen, thirteen years after her last release and this is a sweet little album of covers, well sung, a little boring but her version of the Sun Session “Tomorrow Night” is aces – C+

Jenny Hval – The Long Sleep EP – Norway’s experimental popster is in top form on this wonderfully arranged, “Spell” may well be the song of the week – B+

Jessie J – R.O.S.E. (Empowerment) EP  – A neo-disco diva like Annie Lennox for a new generation though Jessie J glides and smokes em out, I thought it was odd she didn’t break bigger here, though breathy overwrought “Someone’s Lady” might be one reason why – C+

Jonathan Davis – Black Labyrinth – The Korn lead singer has released a towering album of unique hard rock, the simpler the better and sometimes it is too Korn-y, the first single “Walk On By” was just that, but at its best it is an important and different way to play – B+

Juice WRLD – Goodbye & Good Riddance – Excellent break up album, a slice of life that is pretty damn tough, taking Chicago Drill with the emo of Mumble Rap, and without rap’s swagger. “Lucid Dream”? “All The Girls Are The Same”? “Hurt Me”? All of those are aces on this powerful heartbreaker – A-

Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes On Saturday Night EP –  Apparently Brandon can pull out super arranged, well orchestrated, catchy songs with ease… all three of em here are pretty cool – B

Parliament – Medicaid Fraud Dogg – Excess is the sine qua non of George Clinton and after all these year (37 and a half!) between albums we expected excess and we get 97 minutes of it, sometimes looking backwards into funk and always looking forward into rap. You started off excited and end up searching for the exit, though the Scarface rapped “I’m  Gon’ Make You Sick O’Me” is as good as it has ever gotten – B-

Peach Kelli Pop – Gentle Leader – This is still the relentlessly genius Allie Hanlon as the gentlest of leaders though Peach Kelli Pop are now a band and the album is consistent and sweet pop punk shading into girl group here and there – A-

Pusha T – DAYTONA EP – This took awhile to kick in but the George Jackson sample on “Come Back Baby” absolutely did the job, and while I’m at it, the Pitchfork review by Paul A. Thompson did what I want reviews to do, got me past the bumps: “It’s like an album full of “Bound 2”s, without the sentimentality” – A-

Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes – Not as bad as I claimed, cute boy wants to meet up with cute girls: Strings Attached – B-

Snow Patrol – Wildness – Surprisingly strong album on their first since 2011 is a sad yet lovely look at ths waste of time called life -too long, though – B-

The Fall – Best of the Fall & Mark E Smith (Live) – I can’t find any info on this but it sounds like the 2010s – B

The Love-Birds – In the Lover’s Corner – Catchy lo fi indie guitar pop – B

Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny – You know Tracyanne from Camera Obscura and these lovely pop ballads have the ethereal in their DNA and yet are so solid as to not be ephemeral -it clings to you – B

Wooden Shjips – V. – The songs are too long but what do you expect from a psychedelic jam band from San Fran? Whatever you expect you’ll get plus huge melodies that they just can’t hide – B

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