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Be Here Now: New Albums 1-17-20 – 1-23-19


X: The Godless Void and Other Stories – …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Impressive art rock meets anthem rock on their tenth album, you can’t expect more than this from rock and roll now: a roiling, electric guitar riff monster which still feels youthful and timeless 25 years on – B

Modus Vivendi – 070 Shake – On Kanye’s label, progressive r&b songs with a fine singer, electronic and strange and futuristic – B

Been Around – A Girl Called Eddy – A pop singer, Erin Moran has a soulful voice and a taste for old school pop (she includes Burt Bacharach as an influence, thus the horns). but the songs don’t click – C+

Good Luck Everybody – AJJ – Of the three state of the nation albums, AJJ’s folk rock horror story is the better, with a melodic yet wide eyed relentless horror at the state of the nation, the strength of the songs, the single of the year so far “Normalization Blues” especially, are in no way weakened by making their point with quiet and intense loveliness – A-

There Is No Year – Algiers – The hard rockers also reverberate politicalwise, which often becomes astringent in its actions – B

20/20 Vision – Anti-Flag – The angriest sounding, finger in the eye to the Trump administration, Anti-Flag are as furiously disgusted as possible; it might be simple but it is simple about simple protests. “Christian Nationalists” is the best second best song of the year – B+

Land of No Junction – Aoife Nessa Frances – The Irish singer songwriter has lovely songs and lovely arrangements on top of them, but she is slow and boring l – C+

Countless Branches (Deluxe Edition) – Bill Fay – This guy is slow and boring as well – C

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong – Bombay Bicycle Club – As a non fan of the boring indie rockers, and having not missed them during their six year hiatus, and having not enjoyed any of the six songs they’ve released prior to EEHG dropping, I was surprised that the songs improve in context with the producer John Congleton and lead singer Jack Steadman writing consistently good songs. After six years, it is  both unassuming and certain of itself… and a little boring – B-

How To Be Human – Chelsea Cutler – too poppy to be sad pop or bummer indie, too droopy to be EDM, it travels a mid-distance of finger snapping, bass hooking, electronic  bedroom pop – B-

Years – Criteria -noisy alt rocks via the former Cursive, Stephen Pedersen, they are a  typical Saddle Creek band though this is on Cursive’s label; there is an edge to the songs, and a hint of prog, though the songs aren’t memorable – C+

Flamboyant (Deluxe) – Dorian Electra – They are in a line that includes Troye Sivan but without Troye’s highly illuminated pop star halo, the gender fluid Dorian performs experimental pop poems and beat manifestos that fail to hold your attention – C+

Live at Third Man Records EP – Broken Social Scene – The Canadian alt rock meets everything collective at Jack White’s venue in Nashville, and it is as underwhelming as you’d expect from the overdone post-punk rockers… all five songs are snores, but the last song is an eleven minute snore – C

Revenge Of The Dreamers III: Director’s Cut – Dreamville, J. Cole – Adds twelve songs to the original and has Ari Lennox (whose excellent Shea Baby Butter I missed last year) emerge as a top up and coming soul singer, JID, EARTHGANG and Lute are all over it, and Vince Staples and T.I. make guest appearances – B+

Tullahoma – Dustin Lynch –  popular child of bro country, grown up, which means he sings about girls and his Momma’s house in equal quantities and throws in guitar breaks all over the place – B-

Sides – Emily King – soulful singer songwriter with lovely songs to spare, performed with acoustic backing – B-

Music To Be Murdered By – Eminem – The former Slim Shady knows the pop world wants him murdering his enemies and taking on the vast majority of everybody though middle aged hasbeens whining about how the world doesn’t understand him has a very limited shelf life. Having said that, Eminem is one of the best rhymers and rappers ever, and sometimes it is all worthwhile, the end of “Godzilla” is the best speed rapping you’ll hear, the Outkasts by other means “Yah Yah” is a world class banger, and “Stepdad” -his best revenge fantasy because its enemy deserves Em’s ire. If The album was 30 minutes it would be as great as anything he has done – B+

Manic – Halsey – I should never have left Jingle Ball early last year, as Halsey drops a grown up look at romantic malfeasance, and while it is nauseating to imagine she is concerned enough to use so much effort on the G-Eazys of the world, she sure knocks the world into shape and we can only hope it breaks pop – B+

The Chauncey Hollis Project – Hit-Boy – The West Coast rapper compiles the first two installment of and the third, in an expansive, straightforward rap album filled with anger (“white man gets promoted, black man gets crucified”) and astounding tracks, as you might expect from the man who produced “Niggas in Paris” by Hova and Ye, “Trophies” by Drake, “Clique” by GOOD Music and “Racks in the Middle” by Nipsey Hussle & Roddy Ricch – B

Deleter – Holy Fuck – neither holy nor fuck, the synth pop tech band expect too much from 80s bleeps with 20s production – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Is That So? – John McLaughlin, Shankar Mahadevan, Zakir Hussain – I saw the great fusion guitarist at Blue Note a coupla years ago and he spent a portion of the evening begging us to buy his DVDs as his royalties ahd dried up… this excellent tabla plus album of post-Bollywood culture mindmeld should help a little – B

Debris – Keeley Forsyth – dark and gloomy, heavy orchestrated string killer songs, which you’d be writing if you were from Oldham – B-

Nightfall – Little Big Town – typical Little Big Town, slow ballads and lots of harmonies – C+

Circles – Mac Miller – first posthumous release attempts to out a period after the last act, but “One Last Thing” -to just note a song from his first album, is much better than this depressing and terribly sad, and not very good quasi-tribute – C

Miracle of Science – Marshall Crenshaw – I interviewed Crenshaw maybe five years ago where he explained he wouldn’t waste his time recording albums any more after the superb Jaggedland failed to make a dent. Instead, he released EPs, and now he has released an extended version of his 1996 album, after regaining the copyright from the dreaded Razor And Tie. Nobody’s fave Crenshaw, it felt at the time like “Starless Summer Night,” the Grant Hart song, and ten others. A lovely album but too many covers. Nearly a quarter of a century later, it is clearly as good as anything in his catalog and the addition of two new covers,  as well as MC’s shaking up of  the song placement, and releasing one song backwards, all works completely… what’s not to like? – A-

R.Y.C – Mura Masa – state of the art pop from the UK producer, and you know it’s state of the art not just because MM produced Slowthai but also because Slowthai is on the album, as is Georgia, Wolf Alice, and others, all working on a dreampop plus heavy duty production values pop move that won’t – C+

UR FUN – of Montreal – typical Kevin Barnes pop and synth better living with PCs – C

Vault 9: Live in Seattle 12/8/93 – Pearl Jam – early period, nearly first period, PJ, with songs from VS getting their place in the setlist. It sure is fun to hear Eddie tackle “Daughter” a mere three months after its release – B+

Marigold – Pinegrove – Indie Americana, like the Felice Brothers without the harmonies or Tweedy without the twit – C

The Appetition – Raekwon – Three songs recorded over three days, and his first releases in three years, all of them are good, with hip hop represented with “Solid Gold” and OG with “The Chef” (because he mixes different beats to make a flavorful stew) – B

Ghetto Gospel – Rod Wave – From last year actually, but if we are going to listen to Southern sing-rap, let’s listen to these catchy tracks – B

Elgar – Sheku Kanneh-Mason, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle – Cellist Sheku performed at their no longer royal highnesses Harry and Meghan, and got seen by three billion (yup, with a B) viewers who would undoubtedly be as awed by the cellist as I am on these beautiful interpretations of Sir Edward William Elgar’s music for violins and cellos – B+

I’m Fine – Spencer Barnett – bedroom pop by a cute 20 year old – C

RICH YOUNGIN – Stunna 4 Vegas – the young Southern rapper had a busy 2019, and a busy 2020 about to kick in, “Do Dat” is a Tik Tok away from being huge – B-

ENTERFEAR Level 2 – Tech N9ne -electronic rap nightmares by a master at this, “Outdone” is the keeper, the more mainstream pussy tracks not so much  – C+

Algorithm & Blues – The Good The Bad and The Zugly – Oslo based punk rocker, can be as vicious and brutal as hardcore when the mood hits em (try “Kings Of Inconvenience”) – B-

Bebey – Theophilus London – Good to have London back on a pure soul pop move with hip hop production and a whole lotta featured artists including Raekwon, Tame Impala, and, er, Ariel Pink. A fine album of first rate bangers – B+

The Professionals – The Professionals, Madlib, Oh No – This is Madlib and his brother Oh No, as out there as samples can get – B-

3 – The Weeklings – Forget the Easybeats and Beatle covers because you knew they were going to be great anyway, and settle into the harp solo and then realize that’s the Beatles cover. Elsewhere the four piece power poppers meet garage rockers can occasionally come over more the late great Neil Innes then Lennon And McCartney, and that actually improves the tight and taut set of songs from the best at what they do (not Beatles impressions, power pop) on their best release to date – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

B – Z Sides (2003 – 2017) [In Rough Chronological Order] – The Wombats – – clever and snot nosed wiseguys singing catchy rock tracks with a punchline… FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS – C-

Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits – Tom Waits Tribute – Highlights include the great Iris DeMent on “House Where Nobody Lives” and Corinne Bailey Rae on “Jersey Girl,” and Courtney Marie Andrews’ “Downtown Train” . The rest is pretty good as well -I somehow missed it last year – B+

Bad Boys For Life Soundtrack – Various Artists – the winner is Buju Banton’s “Murda For Life,” as well as Pitbull built “Damn I Love Miami” featuring Lil Jon, and Meek Mill and Farruko’s “Uptown” – B

We Are Deadbeats (Vol. 4) – Zeds Dead – Toronto DJ duo excellerating house with a whole lotta label mates – B

Back 2 The Beach – Yung Pinch -teen, white rap with melodies, emo modes, and the occasional rapping – C+

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