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Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 9-16-16 –

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A truncated version before we move to next week…

Artist – A Boogie Wit A Hood – Superb when he opened for Drake earlier this year, this New Yorker has skills to spare and while this doesn’t capture how much fun he can be, it still heralds the arrival of a new major player in the scene. Trust me on this, I am the guy who wrote about Chance two years before he hit… “Friend Zone” is finally available for streaming   – B+

Shape Shift With Me – Against Me! – More of the same from Laura, brimming with fun hard rockers and cool attitudes by the punk who expressed transgender politics for a generation. “Boyfriend” is killer and the bluesy and brilliant “Delicate, Petite And Other Things I Will Never Be” expresses the dichotomy of changing sexes – B+

I Remember – Alunageorge -As a long time non believer, I am happy to admit that the electronic duo, featuring a fine singer (Aluna) and a first rate producer (George)   maintain it well over the entire album of state of the art pop. Being hip is being hip, but adding Dreezy AND Leikeli, on “Mean What I Mean”, goes beyond posturing, into the realm of exemplary taste. “Full Swing” is where soul meets tech, and everything here is as powerful and fully formed as pop ever gets – ALBUM OF THE WEEK –  B+.

My Piece Of Land – Amanda Shires – It takes a lot to be a first family of country, Johnny and June did it, George and Tammy… but, yeah, it is tough. Maybe two years ago Jason and Amanda seemed to be closing in, but the last Jason album wasn’t good enough, and this album is hurt by Amanda’s characterless singing, and pleasantly indifferent songs. Woman does not live by slide guitar alone… and definitely not by violin,.She is waiting for that one song and “Slipping Away” isn’t that. – C+

We’re All Gonna Die – Dawes – All guest appearances notwithstanding, this is yet another Dawes album with one killer song, “One Of Us”, no “All Your Favorite Bands” but good enough, and a whole lotta crapola. Jackson Browne must be turning over in his grave (yeah I know, but why ruin a good one liner) – C+

Blonde – Frank Ocean – Finally reaches streaming services, so we can put “White Ferrari” on our playlist… now how about the soundtrack to the “Endless” video? – A

Fingers Crossed – Ian Hunter And The Rant Band – Hunter has been on a tear since 2009’s Man Overboard and while his main subject today is Ian Hunter road warrior, it is a good subject and this is his third slice of classic rock UK style in a row. I guess Ian can just write em right, right now – B+

The Divine Feminine – Mac Miller – When not playing Yoko to Ariana Grande’s John,  former indie rapper is as mainstream as possible on his best album to date, “Skin” is a very good song, “Dang” -the one with Anderson Paak is great, and “My Favorite Part” is terrible r&b featuring his own private Ariana. PS if the grade looks bad, you should see the others – C+

Braver Than We Are – Meatloaf – You can’t go home again and this rematch with Jim Steinman doesn’t come within a million miles. Even Ellen Foley can’t save this Kurt Weill goes to hell disaster. Though, it is so bad it is a camp classic of sorts, try “Going All The Way Is Just The Start” -giving new meaning to none out of three ain’t bad – D+

Tidal Wave – Taking Back Sunday – These guys are the definition of what doesn’t work in rock and roll, the songs are never there and the mood is way too earnest so here we are at l;bum # 7 and with every caveat in place, “Tidal Wave” is the best Clash rip off I’ve heard in years, and if nothing else matches it, at least it opens up the album a little. Those choir of rockers singing is an amazing irritation but if emocore is what you want, you will do much worse – C+

Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions – The Beach Boys – Not everybody is in the market for six takes of “Surfer Girl” or eight takes of “Surfin'” plus demo and master, this isn’t for you, but if you care a damn about the Beach Boys, this is the more than history, it is exposition – A

Unseen – The Handsome Family – Ho hum Americana by an extremely popular married duo – C+

Hard II Love – Usher – This is a not a return to R&B heaven, it isn’t Confessions, and it certainly isn’t My Way. There was a time when Usher jumped through hip hop tropes to tangle with a Michael Jackson elegance, and now his smoothness gets overwhelmed by them: he plays with rap stalwarts and uses hip hop production to find a middle ground that please no one. This was meant to be a return to form and it isn’t. What a turkey – C

For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price – Willie Nelson – I have a blindspot when it comes to Willie, he put me to sleep on stage once too often, and all that pot stuff is a drag. Even so, Ray Price was a terrific songwriter, the “For The Good Times” is definitive, and Nashville’s the Time Jumpers perform excellent back up – B+

Light Falls – Wrekmeister Harmonies – JR Robinson’s creation is a gorgeous when not brutal sounding heavy dude -lots of not just guitar but strings of all sorts add to the sense of impending nothingness. The problem is, if this isn’t gonna bash me around, what do I need it for? Dunno, but I don’t mind having it – B

Echoes – Young Guns – I was discussing the death of rock in the UK just a coupla days ago. This is really awful stuff, the standard issue modern rock bereft of wit or humor, a terrible sounding band – D

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