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Be Here Now: New Albums – 11-16-18 – 11-22-18 Reviewed

Harry Hard-On – Allan Rayman – Hip hop production meets classic rock on this, unfortunately titled but otherwise forceful and brooding,  singer songwriter sophomore effort  – B

Narrated For You – Alec Benjamin – Story songs by a neo-folkie – C+

Oxnard – Anderson .Paak – His follow-up to Malibu is a beat clever r&b album which loses out on Anderson’s crossover appeal in return for another Cali  Dr. Dreish wallop of rhythm. Oddly arty, occasionally (“6 Summers”  and “Tint” powerful despite itself) it is seeped in mediocrity as it tries to rewrite the year in hip hop values . The best moment is Q-Tip singing for his fallen friend Phife Dog on “Cheers” – B

True Love Ways – Buddy Holly, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Perhaps we live in a world where Holly’s genius is lost in time, and if that is the case, well, OK, this is better than nothing. However, if you do know Holly, this album is a pointless affront to a past master – D+

This Too Won’t Pass – Can’t Swim – Emo rock bummer – C

Only Jesus – Casting Crowns – This isn’t the worst CCM in the world, the Bible thumping lyrics works from time to time against their state of the art production and heavy backbeat, but not often enough to make it remotely acceptable – C-

Chris Cornell (Deluxe Edition) – Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog – Any man with children under 18 who commits suicide is an asshole, and so, since I never enjoyed his music ever, I feel no urge to honor the dead. Histrionic, whiny, heavy, cumbersome, and incredibly influential, put rock and roll’s rotting carcass at Chris’ door  – D+

Girl Code – City Girls – Florida rap duet called their debut album Period, and the third song on this album “Panties And Bra,” which would make em a comedy trio that are easy to take seriously – B

mau5ville: Level 2 – deadmau5 – Some pop songs a la Calvin and Avicii, some heavy house – C

Wonderful Christmas Time – Diana Ross – Let’s assume she did it for the grandkids and leave it to that – C-

Disney Peaceful Piano: Lullaby – Disney Peaceful Piano – Just a coupla pianos and instrumental takes on Disney classics and semi-classics. The “lullaby” claim is a little lame, all of these peaceful piano albums have the exact same DNA, the one to catch here is “Baby Mine” at the end – B

Disney Peaceful Piano: Calm – Disney Peaceful Piano – The worst playlist, two off “Frozen” among other indignities – C+

Disney Peaceful Piano: Chill – Disney Peaceful Piano – Starts with a bang, and has two songs off “Mary Poppins” – B

Hard New Pills EP – Dyke Drama –  Sadie Switchblade’s latest manifestation is four hard rock songs, each one better than the other – B+

Sings For The King – Glen Campbell – the first song is a digital duet by Glen and Presley, but it is pretty good because Glen was singing in Presley’s key on “We Call On Him”. Written by Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne, as are the rest of these songs, Glen recorded them solely for Presley, so Presley could decide whether to record them or not. Of the 18 songs, Presley would eventually record 10 of them. Glen and Presley were close friends for decades, and this recently discovered recording isn’t a hard push, it is there for utilitarian reasons. Still, it is a complete pleasure – B+

Ralph Breaks the Internet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Henry Jackman – Alan Mencken was behind “A Place Called Slaughter Race” and Sarah Silverman kills it, the Imagine Dragon song is a goodie, and “In This Place” is by Julia Michael so you know, right? The rest is incidental music – C

The Live Mixtape (#Top5MCs Edition) (DJ Mix) – J. Period – The  Roots DJ mixtape, recorded at Sony Hall, and featuring  Rakim, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Black Sheep’s Dres, Smif-N-Wessun, Mumu Fresh and Stro Elliot, is old school excellence all the way through – B+

Mercury Lane – Jimmie Allen – Mainstream country by a black man who lived in his car while trying to make it – B-

1963: New Directions – John Coltrane After the 1963 lost album, here is 1963 complete -a transitional year for Coltrane, featuring Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Dear Old Stockholm, Newport ‘63 and Live at Birdland… the Hartman album is an all time great – A

Room To Spare: The Acoustic Sessions – Kip Moore – Kip is one of those bro country survivors who used to sing about his truck, but he has grown out of it on this simple but they say it slices of country. Try “Tennessee Boy” – B

IIWII – Kirk Knight – The Pro Era DJ and producer steps out on this strong set of hard bangers, the flows are how it is done and backing tracks are state of the artform – B+

Acrylic – Leikeli47 – Sure, wearing a mask on stage and pictures is dumb, it was dumb when Deadmau did it and dumb when Leikeli47 does it. But that is the worst thing you can say about this trip that takes her from the hair to the nail salon, though this time the hardness is in the nails as well. Influenced by the incident at 888 Happy Red Apple Nails salon in East Flatbush, where Asian owners and employees attacked two black women, Acrylic is a superb collection of snapshots of life in Brooklyn for this black woman. “Droppon'” is one of the best songs of the year, “CIAA” is one of the best r&b tracks you’ll here this year, and closing song “In My Eyes” ends on a high – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Love, me – Lennon Stella – The extremely popular youtube star’s first release after performing on the “Nashville” TV show,  is five, strong and stronger, pop bonbons – B

LM5 (Deluxe) – Little Mix – Girl power comes to Little Mix, and comes to Little Mix, and comes to Little Mix – C

Surviving Twin – Loudon Wainwright III – The Netflix concert is also a live recording as Loudon works through his feelings for his daddy. Loudon never really records bad songs, and not just because he is great, but also because he has a formula and it sounds very comfortable even while the words are lacerating. On this album he takes words from his father’s “Life Magazine” column and builds them into songs… Those Wainwrights just can’t stop documenting themselves  – B

Caution – Mariah Carey – You know how singers sometimes record an album that returns to their own, personal roots; say Elvis Costello And The Attractions Brutal Youth… That’s what Mariah does on this collection of straight up r&b ballads and it is all mid-tempo sweetness -even the one that samples Lil Kim – B

Down The Road Wherever (Deluxe) – Mark Knopfler – Sure, it is a bit of a snooze, but this is the man that wrote “Local Hero” and if he wants to take on Scottish Highland sounds as well as his usual song, why not. It is all about the guitar, but halfway through the very first song you remember why you adore him – B+

Broken – Memphis May Fire – Feel good metal, “I wanna give me back, tell me how to give back” goes the first song. Unfortunately, this is metalcore without the strength of its convictions – C+

love (Deluxe Edition) – Michael Bublé – His son is in remission so feel free to ignore this album of Great American Standards, except for “Love You Anymore” co-written by Charlie Puth, and “Forever Now” written for his son, guess which one won’t have you throwing up in your mouth?  C-

Creed II: The Album – Mike WiLL Made-It – “Rare collabs, loud mixes, new flows, fresh melodies, new tempos, new frequencies,” Mike claimed and who am I to disagree, I’ll take this over “Black Panther” – B+

Rubberband EP – Miles Davis – From Miles aborted funk album in 1985, with Ledisi’s singing added much, much later. Usually I am adamantly against this kinda stuff, but Ledisi, the New Orleans r&b chanteuse,  is excellent and the songs come to life – A-

Delta – Mumford & Sons – It’s obvious why we all hated the brothers Mumford, among other things they thought the banjo was a lead instrument. But the years have been exceedingly kind to the band, and they have always been exceedingly good on stage. This song sounds like a companion to Mark Knopfler’s album though with less guitar: heavy, beautiful soundscapes. An impressive, expressive album of thought music – B+

Acoustic Live Vol. 1 – NEEDTOBREATHE – It’s seven years since “Drive All Night,” when these guys were giving CCM a good reputation, as if Jesus and Bruce Springsteen were God’s only begotten. Not any more – D+

Love The Holidays – Old 97’s – I guess this was that born again drummer’s idea… no swear words, what a relief – C+

The Last King Of Pop – Paul Heaton – From the Housemartins to the Beautiful South, Heaton was precisely the last king of pop … the solo stuff not so much – B+

Circles – P.O.D. – They may never manage another “Youth Of The Nation,” but a decade and a half later, they are still great.  “Rockin’  With The Best” may well be the best opening song this year as it rethinks “La Di Da Di,”  and if that is the height, the rest is just good ol’ P.O.D. – B+

Unchained Melodies: Roy Orbison & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Roy Orbison, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – I just went back to Buddy Holly and changed the grade from “F” to “D+” . As bad as it is, it isn’t this atrocity. This is so bad  that Roy singing “Blue Bayou” is still a terrible version, and, while it is a blessing, they sure didn’t plunder the hits. An exception that proves the rule? Costello’s “The Comedians”   – D-

MUDBOY – Sheck Wes – “Mo Bamba” is the breakthrough the Sengalian via New York rapper has been aiming for, I must admit to completely missing the hook on this and perhaps that’s one reason why MUDBOY sounds shrugged and loaded. He has a good staccato flow but that’s about it – C+

SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN. – The Smashing Pumpkins – Billy Corgan’s best album since 1995 (! -feel old now?), is like Costello’s Brutal Youth (yeah, same reference as Mariah… whatever works)  as he returns to his roots and discovers he can still do it – B-

The Green Trip – T3R Elemento – Mariachi goes electronic – B-

Diplomatic Ties – The Diplomats – Nine tracks, all heatmakerz… the years have been real good to these guys – B

Merrie Land – The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Jesus, Damon, the most miserable motherfucker in the UK (which is saying something), is still miserable with this supergroup – C

Voodoo Lounge Uncut (Live) – The Rolling Stones – A 1994 concert in Miami resurrected, the 1980s were a bit of a bummer for the boys, but by this tour the technology had caught up with the Arena band and they were awe inspiring live…  however, listening to it, there are vastly better versions of these songs elsewhere – C+

Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch – Tyler, The Creator – I’ve seen some terrible Grinches, Jim Carey’s live action version for one, but nothing as bad as this dog. The soundtrack is better than this… I am not sure what this constitutes but it doesn’t have Tyler’s “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which isn’t as good as “Goblin” though it’s certainly funnier – C

The Greatest Showman: Reimagined – Various Artists – No, please god, no – D

Shatner Claus – William Shatner – I have no idea how this one joke star can still be so funny. I just find his sincerity uproarious – B+

Ain’t No Goin’ Bacc – Yella Beezy – Yella’s big breakthrough, this is more r&b than hip hop though try and find the dividing line (I mean, beyond the raps), “Why They Mad” is absolute magic  – B

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