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Be Here Now: New Albums 1-18-19 – 1-24-19 Reviewed

Mint – Alice Merton – Singer songwriter from Canada with smarter than your average bear lyricism and at least one great song, album closer “Why So Serious” – B

Scholars – Buke & Gase – experimental pop duo handle it nicely on a weirdly addictive set of songs that sound special often enough – B-

Guitar Zeus – Carmine Appice, the classic rock drummer of choice in the 1970s, puts together his three Guitar Zeus albums, and if towering guitars that owe their existence to Jimi are your thing, binge away – B

Ain’t Nothin’ to It – Cody Johnson – Anybody who calls his fans CoJo Nation ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow, and that’s on the best song here “Y’All People”. Does Cody think he is gonna get away with it? Sure, I mean he gets high in the morning and drunk in the afternoon so why shouldn’t he – B-

songs for carmella: lullabies & sing-a-longs – Christina Perri – I was REALLY ready to hate on what can only be considered anodyne, self-loving, odes to her newborn. But that “Till There Was You” is exquisite and really so is the rest of it, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” is simply a joy, the singalong stuff I could do without – B+

Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? – Deerhunter – Man, are these guys overrated: a boring, plodding Americana goes to Brooklyn circa 2009 sound with the occasional goodie, “No One’s Sleeping” here – MUST TO AVOID – C

Human EP – dodie – It opens with an a capella beauty and doesn’t look back, even the big songs, the “If I’m Being Honest” are glorious, diamond hued pop singer songwriter moments – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS – FEVER 333 – Old time hardcore, roar and replace viscosity where the idiom prefers hard hammering – B-

Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD – Future – If only his lyrics were better I’d be all in on this one, which is one part Future and one part Hndrxx stuck together and called The WIZRD. The Travis Scott featured track is amazing, so are the two singles, and Future wanders between post-stardom and a sort of distilled anger built from the past like when he claims “you can tell I’ve been broke when you look into my eyes,” on the opener. There is nothing not very good here and if the melodicism of his Juice WRLD mixtape from last year, isn’t as strong now,  the hooks are the definition of a place to build ragers. Best song? Maybe one of his best ever, the Young Thug featured “Unicorn Purp” and second best? The Travis one “First Look” – B+

Act One – Music for Inanimate Objects – Goldie, James Davidson, Subjective – the drums and bass master  uses field recordings, sprinkled among scuzzy synth lines and harrowing drum patterns -I got that from Zara Hedderman of The Irish Times, thanks Zara though I find it a little more boring than you do – B-

Tides EP– Gone West – The great Colbie Caillat forms a Little Big Town type country soft pop quartet, all four songs are very strong – B+

Look Alive – Guster – The indy rockers have a coupla killers here, the title track is pretty thrilling and “Hello Mister Sun” plays like 60s pop psychedelia, but mostly it’s a bore music walls of bland – C+

WHERE TO FIND ME EP – HARDY – “All She Left Was Me” is a clever “Sunny Afternoon” redux, done as a country stomp that just is so rewarding it reminds you why you love country. Hardy takes controls of his songs with a commanding presence and this is the second good country release of the week – B

Assume Form – James Blake – A beautiful yet somehow slight modern singer songwriter piece of electronica set for his girlfriend Jameela Jamil (you might know as Tahani in “The Good Place”), and I am very happy for them. And their cast of first tier rapper friends.  At first it didn’t work for me (I kinda panned it last week) but “I’ll Come To You” is the gateway drug of Assume Form, a deliriously yet restrained song of absolute emotional immersion (and the best indie love song since the Dirty Projectors “Impregnable Question” -though Blake be careful, we all know how that ended) and the rest of the album electronic love songs about the joy of love and sound, join in – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Not Changing – Jim Basnight – A King of power pop is more like a last man standing of classic rock. Basnight had a coupla great bands in the nights and just kept on going ever since then. Not Changing is way too hard charging to sound like Big Star except for the title track with its background woos” and getting no closer than the jingle with backbone “Best Lover In The World”/ The former Moberly makes it seem simple here, the skills have soon imbued in the long performing together backing ip, it jars and smooths all the way down – B+

Fool – Joe Jackson – If I my eyes don’t deceive me Joe Jackson is channelling some of his new wave roots, and very well when he leads with his piano. The title track is a reworking of Shakespeare’s poem-song in “Twelfth Night,” and very good – B

Weird – Juliana Hatfield – I loved her Olivia Newton John cover album, and this is pretty good as well: it sounds nearly exactly like the woman behind “Spin The Bottle” and what more can you ask for? – B+

Rat’s Spit – Julian Lynch – Lo fi ambient pop collages – C+

KIDZ BOP 39 – Kidz Bop Kids – We don’t listen to Kidz Bop Kidz because we don’t wanna hear swear words, we listen to it because they used to deconstruct pop songs and rebuild them with a minimum of tracks so we get absolute sound clarity (we can hear what the pop producers were doing). And now they don’t – C-

What a Wonderful Industry – M. Ward – Poor Ward, once he was running for President and now, well, now his main form of finance has been disseminated through no fault of his own. Ward self-released this not untypical collection of songs. It could do with a sure shot but that notwithstanding, it does the job – B

Heard It In A Past Life – Maggie Rogers – Debut album by the electronic based pop girl with a taste for r&b, “Overnight” is quite good – C+

Malibu Ken – Malibu Ken, Aesop Rock, Tobacco – One of the best rhymers around, and has been for a coupla decades, this is a spritely and smart little album… light on its feet, something I thought I’d never write about Aesop. Try “Save Our Ship” – B

A Real Good Kid – Mike Posner – A memento mori for his recently deceased daddy and pal Avicii is no excuse for a 30 year old man to write “I became a man the day my daddy died”. Not bad but there is no peak and it is too drear for fun – C+

Who Do You Trust? – Papa Roach – These guys are past their quarter of a century mark and remain a first rate hard rock band, tight, loud, great singer and a great sound with a minimum of fuss… who do I trust? Papa Roach – B+

Phoenix – Pedro The Lion – rock plodder – C

The American 20th Century in 100 Songs, Vol. 1 – Peter Stampfel – This was released in October and I missed it. From 1906 to 1975 with stops along the way, lots of greats tuff, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “Rave On,” “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and more. Actually, every song is excellent and more than given its chance to shine and when in doubt Peter adds his accordion – A-

Living Hope (The House Sessions) – Phil Wickham – As CCM goes, this guy can actually write a song if not a sentiment – C+

The Duets – Ronnie Milsap – The great country guy forged a career despite being blind, and all these years later everyone from Willie Nelson to Dolly Parton to (personal best) George Strait give their all – B+

El Mal Querer – ROSALÍA – Rosalia is on one of the James Blake tracks, so I went in search and found this lovely neuvo-flamenco album via Catalana circa 2018. It is excellent and I am sorry I missed it – B+

L Is for Love! – Sesame Street – A new album, sweet and harmless but could have a touch of bite thought that “if you want to touch somebody because it makes you feel good” advise could well end up putting you in prison  – B

Remind Me Tomorrow – Sharon Van Etten – I went from loving it to shrugging it to thinking it doesn’t sustain “Comeback Kid” to admitting it does. Sharon’s best album moves between electronic post punk and guitar post punk and though it could use a couple of stronger tracks, it does sustain your interest  – B+

Skid Row (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – Skid Row – Remastered, an unreleased song, and a live performance from April 29th, 1989 – B+

The Unseen In Between – Steve Gunn – Acoustic Americana, has its moments – B-

About The Light – Steve Mason – The the Beta Band leader can arrange the fuck out of a song, nobody integrates horns into an indie rock track like he does and nobody sustains it with quite that much click to it… the songs need to be better – B-

NATIVE TONGUE – Switchfoot – Former CCM band, proving you can take the Christ out of the rock band and they will still stink – C-

I Used to Be Pretty – The Flesh Eaters – Chris D’s early 1980s supergroup reunites with original members from the Blasters, X , and more. Still suck – C

IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME – The Twilight Sad – Always liked these indies guy, the sound is big and crashing and small and moody at the same time. Plus they have the best song names ever – B-

Outer Peace – Toro y Moi – Chillwave pioneer has electronic sounds down to a fine art though his material is wanting – B-

We All Shine – YNW Melly – Excellent emo-rap via the mean streets of Florida, autotuned yet catchy and while the milieu and the world it arrives from is as mean as streets can get, Melly  can sing love songs as well. ANd the one with Kanye West does nothing if not make him a lot better than Lil Pump – B+

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