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Be Here Now: New Albums 3-20-20 – 3-26-20 Reviewed


VELVET – Adam Lambert – a spry version of disco meets soul gay glamminess, beautifully sung funkiness and though only three songs are new hearing it as a piece sure helps an overall appreciation- B-

E.P. – Alkaline Trio –  Though Matt Skiba might hurt in comparison to Tom DeLonge, he is more than at home singing lead for Alkaline Trio whose three song EP are all wonderful emocore rockers, three for three – B+

The Night Chancers – Baxter Dury – no, no Dance Hall and if Ian Dury was my dad that’s where I would have started, instead it is electronic, art funk plus spoken word and consistently clever arrangements. Not enough – C+

Kid Krow – Conan Gray – YouTube triumph of sadcore from his bedroom, Gray is a pretty boy who can write a song as the twelve  here will attest – B

Modo Avión – Dalex – despite opening with some very strong Latin-Trap, the Puerto Rican r&b singer soon is in soul mode without the songs to pull it off – C+

The Early Years – Def Leppard – “The Early Years 79-81′ box set represents the band’s first two albums, `On Through The Night’ (1980) and `High `N’ Dry’ (1981), and has been prepared in conjunction with singer Joe Elliott who has acted as executive producer on the set.”. Translation: pour your sugar elsewhere – C

Empty Country – Empty Country – Joseph D’Agostino, the Cymbals Eat Guitars, has always been a real talent and here finds 70s style songwriter in the early 00s sound, all written and performed by Joe himself, with a moody, very indie vibe and wall of sound backing – B

The Performer – James Righton – Klaxons songwriter’s sophomore solo is an obtuse, slow set of self-realizations about the price of fame and personal life because though he is hardly all that famous, his wife Kiera Knightley sure is. “Edie” is the creepiest song ever written for a daughter – C

Who Sent You? – Irreversible Entanglements – Not my scene, I am not crazy about freeform jazz or spoken word, though if I was this band would be my faves. The fourteen minute mid track asks “What are you doing here? Who sent you?” -as intelligent an interrogation as you could hope for – B-

kelsea – Kelsea Ballerini – she has never been a favorite country singer, she is no Brandi Carlile for one, and her vision of herself, tongue in cheek, semi-parodic self-portraits, can sound a little too sad. She is like a Kacey Musgraves without the social distortions. On kelsea, she only even slightly slips when she gets serious, the big hit “Homecoming Queen” is a lachrymose drag and pales in comparison to mini country operas “la,” the hysterical “hole in the bottle,” and the romantic blissed out “love me like a girl”. A breakthrough into classic country songwriting with pop leanings -B+

Modesty Forbids – Graham Gouldman – it opens with a song about performing with Ringo Starr but really, Gouldman starstruck? Why? I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy the album either though there is an occasional third tier Gouldman: maybe “Wake Up Dreamer” though the lyric… what gives? – C

Colores – J Balvin – J Balvin has been going from height to height ever since Beyonce jumped on “Mi Gente” three years ago. If Coleurs isn’t as great as his Bad Bunny collaboration last year, the epic Oasis, it is better than his own Vibras. Coleurs is a highly concentrated dose of reggaeton plus beats, each song a perfect pearl of dance plus dance melody, and while it could have used a couple more as great as “Verde,” more people could use a lesson in less is more, 37 minutes of relentless pleasure – A-

Through Water – Låpsley – you can hear it isn’t  a  bad mix of single chord piano and electronic background music and musically it has real strengths, breaking out the beats before it all goes wrong even while not breaking out of its isolation shell – B=-

Circles (Deluxe) – Mac Miller – Deluxe? They added two songs, we call that a single not a deluxe where I come from. Still, the title track is better than I gave it credit for – C+

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain – Morrissey – Of all the postponements so far this month, Saturday night’s cancel of Morrissey at the Apollo is a heartbreaker (he postponed the Hammerstein gig till September 17th -I’ll be at My Chemical Romance… I hope), especially since Moz, for all his grumpy, Fox News watching, bad vibes, has always been a man you miss at your own risk. I Am Not a Dog on a Chain is his third album in four years, and it is as explicitly tired of growing old as you’d expect and it is beautifully sung (plus “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know” has better background singing than Hayley Williams newbie) and beautifully produced: a widening of his sound that never seems to be wide enough (Grade: B+)

Folkesange – Myrkur – strong Swedish folk using traditional instruments, try “Fager som en Ros” – B+

Mixing Colours – Roger Eno, Brian Eno – Roger Eno and his brother Brian Eno’s Mixing Colours, is an ambient snooze that I am sure ambient fans will thoroughly enjoy while the rest of us try, really really hard to not hit next – C+

Skuba Sada 2 (Deluxe) – Sada Baby – Detroit rap, time and dirty Danny Brown sound alike with an edge to Sada’s sound wort listening to – B

Through A Dark Wood – Sea Wolf – Alex Church strumming folk with haunting background instruments behind the guitar – B-

After Hours – The Weeknd – Abel seems incapable of fallow periods, two years ago the EP Melancholy, My Dear is that perfect blue period pop sorrow and all three singles leading up to the big reveal, including smash hit “Blinding Lights” plus the Saturday Night Live performed “Scared To Live,” a song so great it is worth the fortune he must have spent sampling “Your Song” has promised a major release and The Weeknd has provided the good news. After Hours is a pop opera of sorts, connected songs about love and romance (and a disastrous arrangement) in the club late, late, late at night. 14 songs in a little under an hour and they are relentless excellent, sometimes druggy and disconnected a la Beauty Behind The Madness, sometimes a melancholy dear sadness, and sometimes Starboy tech stuff but always connected through a vision of life and music that is quiet and distraught except when he breaks through. If these are anthems of pop restructuring, they play like musical truisms nthd  – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Oasis Nocturno – TOKiMONSTA – gorgeous electronica from the Young Art label head with a clearer sense of pop music than you’d expect – B

Rejoice – Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela – world music giants, percussionist Tony and trumpeter Hugh jammed ten years ago, and here is the result: a Afrobeats and AFro-pop masters at work – A-


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