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Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 7-29-16 – 8-4-16


Til The Tomb – Beaty Heart – electronic pop songs with a lot of better living through science but also with a UKish bent that suggest moody new wave – B-

Afraid Of Heights – Billy Talent – We’ve heard this before, started life as pretty good pop punks from Canada opening for the likes of the Buzzcocks, and have ended here, lousy hard rock rockers with a prog like attitude barely in abeyance – C

Red Earth And Pouring Rain – Bear’s Den – Horrible Americana folk crap – C-

And Friends – Brian Wilson – Enough already. How many live albums before you say knock it off. Sure, it was a terrific concert (I hear -he didn’t get closer to me than Jones Beach), but how many times do we need “All Summer Long” and as for  those crap No Pier Pressure tracks, who want em? Exception: the “Wild Honey” is definitive – C+

Nothing Above, Nothing Below – Death Spells – Electronic art sounds like metal machine music with melodies – C+

Hypercaffium Spazzinate – Descendents – This is SOCal punk, and, despite the aging subject matter, and despite the death of guitarist Frank Navetta back in 2008, their first album in twelve years is an energetic punky pop melody and speed that sounds the way you’d want it to, like Superchunk meets Sugar, the comeback kids? We all want them to win… – B+

Major Key – DJ Khaled – He has been morphing into to the Avicii of hip hop since 2011, and cemented his position with the opening slot on the current Beyonce tour. His latest release rounds up an astonishing featured artists herding from Jay Z to Drake, Rick Ross to Nicki Minaj and many many more. But it is a drag of an album, the same old same old pop and beats and raps deal -nothing terrible, nothing special. Exception? Meghan Trainor (plus Wiz Khalifa and Wale) on “Forgive Me Father” – C+

Pigeonheart – DM Stith – A sad sack emotional boy with an ear for acoustics and a way with a pro tools, this is a surprise pleasure – B+

The Definition Of – Fantasia “I’m young and I’m black and I’m missing a screw…” Fantasia claims to kick off post-After Midnight world, and it is pretty good soul though she could have pushed her vocals a little harder. Funnily, she claims it isn’t a reflection of this pop moment but any time you see Harmony Samuels name as producer, you tend to doubt it and when you hear the album itself, it is just another soul hip hop hybrid and a little more . The R. Kelly written “Sleeping With The One I Love” incorporates so much that she has learned from the blues and not jazz – B

POWER – Group Crew 1 – Christian soul one man band, I disliked it immensely when I thought it was mainstream but given the genre, it least it makes a real effort to manifest Christ in the midst of hip hop… not that I’ll ever listen to it again – C

Love Remains – Hillary Scott And The Scott Family – The best in class since Amy Grant’s last one but that doesn’t make Hillary in the same league as Amy: it isn’t good enough, the upbeat country swingers are ok but the Jesus ballads are brutal – C-

American Love – Jake Owen – No “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” here, but even so, it is the essence of country pop that doesn’t kowtow to modern hip hop production values, fun without being fancy but still, where is that one song this time? “Everybody Dies Young”? -Wow, is that an original thought? – B

Platinum Hits – Jason DeRulo – Rode skills aplenty as a pop songwriter and six pack abs to to the top of the charts and though only “Trumpets” is a must hear, it is harmless populism… plus six pack abs. PS: he sucked live – B

The Bird And The Rifle – Lori McKenna – The problem here isn’t the songwriting, which is epic, and consistent, the problem is the sound, that bores well before the country songwriter is done with us -odd right, an album without a naff song can’t hold your attention – B+

TranceClassical – Maya Beiser – The proggy classical rock mix updated with some attitude – B-

For All We Know – Nao – Catchy neo-soul from the UK, bubblegum soul with edge – B

The King Of Whys – Owen – American Football’s guitarist Mike Kinsella’s band of the decade, are a bit on the strange side even for rockers getting sensitive, but after a spin or two the dynamics of the sound (dreamscape by rock band ebbing and flows) click into place – B

Pylon Live – Pylon – From relatively late in the Athens, GA poster children’s first shot, in other words 1983, it really couldn’t have aged much better, all angular hooks and bubbled up pop hooks, it is like a jingle triangle geometric dream pop test world – B+

Snake Churh – Ringworm – “You are gonna die, you are gonna die, you are gonna diiiieeeeee…” claims Human Furnace on this loud and yet business like harcore offering from 90s stalwarts – B

40KI – Steve Aoki – Straight up no chaser house music EP, a real pleasure to leave the fiddling about MOR moves out for a change – B+

Sugar Sugar – The Complete Albums Collection – The Archies – Don Kirschner’s response to the rebellious Monkees was to invent a band that literally had no internal life of their own being cartoon characters. Lead singer Ron Dante had a sweet and unthreatening singing voice and the band perfected what was then bubblegum and is now power pop. Sure, all you NEED is “Sugar Sugar” and “Everything’s Archie” but with variants on Greenwich-Barry setting the songwriting standards, it sounds like forgotten garage pop rock today – B

Simplicity – The Bouncing Souls -Loud, fast, power pop punkers, around forever, and they haven’t done much with the formula. Of course it doesn’t need much either, as long as they have songs like “Hey Aliens” asking the visitors from outer space to save us from the super rich – B

S+@dium Rock : Five Nights at the Opera – Titus Andronicus – If ever a band deserved a Bruce Springsteen-ish, five album live retrospective, this band is that. Instead, Patrick skims the best moments off last years (terrific) rock opera. What a waste though waste or not, Titus Andronicus is one of the greatest live bands ever, and this is pretty darn terrific. It just isn’t enough – B+

1-800 Dinosaur Presents: Trim – Trim – Is it rap or is it spoken word? Yes, this London guy is more poet than anything else but his instincts move towards Wu Tang or do I mean John Cooper Clarke? – B-

Quiero Creedence – Various Artists – “Rodando, rodando, rodando en el río…” look, I am the guy who ripped that Fogerty and friends varient on CCR to shreds last year, so when I say this is brilliant, take my word, this is fucking brilliant. I don’t know many of the Latin American bands tributing CCR here, Los Lobos, Juan Gabriel, Ozomatli, Los Lonely Boys, a coupla others, but everybody is great and the “Proud Mary” by El Tri is a revelation. It roars, it stomps, the drums are at the forefront, and the energy is relentless in a great way. A complete shocker – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Viola Beach – Viola Beach – They sounded like a purer and, if possible, more English early Arctic Monkeys, and had every possibility of making it just that big. This is an entirely satisfactory debut album, held together by the excellent opening track and breakthrough song “Swings And Waterslides” and closed with their other hit “Boys That Sing” -the latter a sad epitaph to rock and roll and young men. In between it doesn’t quite maintain the energy level but the band doesn’t level off either, you’d enjoy it even if the sad ending didn’t overwhelm you – B+

GENERATIONWHY – ZHU – The DJs schtick is anonymity but the sound is DJ Shadowy electronic cut and paste. Pretty enough in places and does what it says it will, but anonymity shouldn’t extend to the music – C+

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