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Be Here Now: New Albums 6-29-20 – 7-2-20 Reviewed

6pc Hot EP – 6LACK – a strong EP from the hip hop singer, not a weak song, but not a great one either – B

Jagged Little Pill (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – Alanis Morissette – go with Alanis’s 2015’s Collectors Edition -all the deluxe adds is take off the outtakes and demos, even the acoustic live one, etc and add a less interesting live album, Collectors includes demos, outtakes, etc – B

What Are We Frightened Of? – Alberta Cross – inde Americana folk stuff, tasteful and boring – C+

KiCk i – Arca – At her most experimental she can lose me, at her poppiest I’m enthralled, though I may overrate the nonbinary star, all you have to do is note that Bjork is featured on a killer track that should be enough to win you over – A-

Pain is Temporary – Bankrol Hayden – You know how rappers use choruses sampled from r&b pop folks,  this is the r&b pop guy they should be sampling. Lil Baby kills his verse on one song – B

All Colors – Bassnectar – when 2014’s Noise vs Beauty dropped nobody could compete with the DJ, six years later he comes across like albient blah, a DJ Shadow where one DJ Shadow was one too many – C-

iHeart Radio Theater N.Y.C. 2012 – Blue Öyster Cult – BOC’s THIRD live album of the year, perhaps the itle will het them on the radio… but I doubt it – C+

Why Should I/Exodus – Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Why Should I” is a rarity I heard maybe ten years ago, the remixes are harmless and the dub versions are ace – B+

Exodus – Brian McKnight – Brian defines a certain, very old school form of soul man, has for decades, and now he claims this will be his final album of original material. Pretty good MOR soul, he does it well but it puts me to sleep – B

Upside Down 2020 – Buju Banton -circa Til Shiloh, with its cover of Bob Marley’s “Small Axe,” the baritone booming Buju seemed to have invented a new genre of reggae, call it Rasta Lite, and it was gorgeous. And then he went away from the sound for decades. This is similar, brilliant pop Reggae songs (how poppy? “Good Time Girl” is based upon “Blue Moon”, very tuneful and fleet footed. “Buried Alive” is one of his greatest songs – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

City On Lock – City Girls – female rap duos are a rarity, there is only 33 listed in Wikipedia and of them the only name I recognize is Salt N Peppa, so with JT out of jail (for credit card fraud) the Miami twosome is here to offer a sound not like Bey and Megan, or Doja Cat and Nicki, not a one off but an album’s worth of interplay, both together and separate, on some fine tracks for their second release. It isn’t Southern rap, it is classical street cred rap and worth your while – B

Agricultural Tragic – Corb Lund -From (here): ” (Cord Lund was) Taking time between cattle ranching and hanging out in the Canadian Rockies to write songs and perform them for folks when he can”. and here is the result, country and western swing songs with a sprizz of Americana on a very good collection of life as lived on the ranch. “I Think You Oughta Try Whiskey” should get Dave Edmunds back with Carlene Carter and “Louis L’Amour” is name checked – B+

LiVE SPiRiTS SOUNDTRACK – Depeche Mode – I wasn’t crazy about the album but the concert tour was good, and the album is unnecessary – B-

Memories EP – Eden Prince – UK DJ with a very good feel for house – B

Sauce Boyz Care Package – Eladio Carrion – a little too techno even for a Latin trap variant, but that doesn’t affect his skill with the beats at all – B

Riding with the King (Deluxe Edition) – Eric Clapton, B.B. King – This never really takes off, and you would think it should. But Clapton is a mensch and defers to King, who takes it as an opportunity to be only half way in. The two unlocked from the vaults are pretty good, especially the Willie Dixon cover – B

The Mothers 1970 – Frank Zappa, The Mothers – Featuring 70 tracks  from the best version of The Mothers, and the most accessible Zappa except when he is eating the yellow, everybody loves yellow snow – B+

2020 – Future Punx – I once saw these guys at a rave blow away every and all comers, including King of Trance Armin van Buuren, and then I lost track. So it pleases me no end to note that energy, beatiness, and badass songness is as great as I remember. If you want to get into Trance, start here – A-

Everything’s Strange Here – G-Eazy – If you thought studly rapper G-Eazy couldn’t get worse than his stuff with Britney Spears, this moody alt-rock indie sing stuff is worse – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Amends – Grey Daze, Chester Bennington – if you hated Linkin Park, you will loath Grey Daze, Chester’s first band. And if you feel bad about Chester’s suicide, just wonder how his teen children feel – D+

Women In Music Pt. III – HAIM – Easily their best album, this is Haim as art pop rockers, with skillful arrangements and some really great songs, opening with “Los Angeles” -maybe their greatest moment, and ending with “Summer Girl” -also maybe their greatest, and while it goes on too long, and I can count five songs I didn’t need, it is still fairly consistent. Plus, what’s with that sax all over the place? – A-

Inlet – Hum- Twenty-two years after their last album, this is where shoegaze meets metal in a glorious and beautiful sound that is unique. A shocker for me, my metal chops aren’t all that, but there is no hyping these guys, they sound simply and overwhelmingly beautiful – A-

IDK & FRIENDS 2 (Basketball County Soundtrack) – IDK – Basketball County is, in fact, Prince George’s County, home to 25 NBA players. The soundtrack is from IDK, and a lot of friends, so much so that one writer called it borderline curated. With features galore, from Juicy J to Denzel Curry, it is a consistently pleasurable exercise in film augmentation – B+

Massey Fucking Hall (Live) – Japandroids – The last song of the set and album is the brilliant “The House That Heaven Built” and if nothing else comes close, everything else is bloody minded, guitar punk rock explosiveness – B

Complete Mercury Albums 1986-1991 – Johnny Cash – If this is Johnny’s weakest moments, as he treads water till the American Recordings last act, it is still tremendous. If nothing else, it resurrects the legendary singers lost years – A

What’s Your Pleasure? – Jessie Ware – Jessie is ta great singer songwriter, in the UK she has been a major dance pop figure for years, along with the Clean Bandits and Rudimentals. This is considered a breakthrough but it is just as strong as her previous albums, which means world class disco as well as a smart woman who has glommed onto Robyn buddy Kindness on one song and a Banarama on the other.  All strong, all dance, nothing just a beat… it might be her best and that means it might be great. If you don’t know where to start, start with “Save A Kiss” – B+

The World is Watching – Kemba – smart young rapper  with social conscious horror stories – B

Mordechai – Khruangbin – The Texan instrumental (well, former instrumental now they plot in words) are an r&b sound that is all bass notes and drums, it sounds good without being enticing (and they are insanely boring on stage) but the trajectory is up and this is their best album – B-

Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 (Deluxe) – Lil Durk – Lil Durk adds six songs and 17 minutes to his popular trap album, which returns us to metronomes and cymbal beats – B

Here For Now – Louis The Child – DJ duo with electronic pop, they occasionally hit the sweet spot, try “Don’t Mind” but run for the hills on the Foster The People featured  anthem “Every Color” -which is worse than the title suggests – C

Soul Food: Cooking With Maceo – Maceo Parker – Maceo worked with Ivan Neville, Nikki Glaspie and Tony Hall in New Orleans which drains the swamp by piling on the funk, covering the likes of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, as well as Prince and Aretha Franklin, on this purely enjoyable throwback – B+

Gold Against the Soul (Remastered) – Manic Street Preachers – Their second album of industrial strength , politically daring Britrock receives the box set styling. Unfortunately, it isn’t in the same league as either the follow-up The Holy Bible or their follow-up to the follow-up, post-Richey Edwards triumph Everything Must Go. Still, I bet their UK fanbase is salivating over it  – B+

Tormé Meets The British – Mel Tormé, Wally Stott & His Orchestra – recorded in 1956 and as rare a Mel as you’ll meet and now on streaming services finds him covering England’s Great British Songbird, including “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,” “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts,” as well as a song  I betcha didn’t know were not by Irving Berlin, “These Foolish Things,” the Irish theme song “Danny Boy” and more – B+

Ex Machina – Metrik – electronic noise that become if not songs, definitely tracks – C+

Trap Tumbado – Natanael Cano -if you looked up Trap Corridos, this guys pictures is what you would find and this consistent album is a calling card that will catapult him – B+

Home Tapes – Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder, who you probably know from that Lil Uzi Vert song, do the impossible, they become slower and more boring , but can still nail a tune here and there – C+

How can I – 박혜진 Park Hye Jin – South Korean producer is all beats and house modes on this addictive EP – B

At Home – Pentatonix – Pentatonix is to a capella what Kidz Bop Kids is to Now That’s What I Call Music, and the lead off “Home” medley is painful except for the Madness bars – C

MONOVISION – Ray LaMontagne – I once spent a year watching Ray’s set at Governors Ball -he makes Alicia Keys sound like Weird Al. Slow, solemn, tedious, even when he nails a song it doesn’t take off although at least “Strong Enough” manages to plod – C

I’m Allergic To Dogs! – Remi Wolf – hella pop, r&b, electronic mix and match – B

DUALITY – Tatiana Hazel – such a wall of mooted colors backing tracks it borders on ambience, Tatiana performs electronic pop to be miserable to, “I was sitting in the room watching the sky turn dark, dark blue” she sings and take her at her word – C+

Q36 – The Rentals -presenting himself as the missing link between The Blue Album and Pinkerton, this over an hour sci-fi opus is a brutally bad, electronic dog Matt Sharp pushes his luck off a cliff – D+

The Lemonade Stand – Tenille Townes – country pop rock singer songwriter with a penchant for story telling over the mediocre songs she writes herself – C+

Introspection – UMI – chill-r&B/neo-soul is my go to sound in 2020 and Umi is excellent at it on this EP. Dock it to “B-” if it isn’t your go to sound  in 2020  – B+

Don Dada – Yungeen Ace – so you don’t buy all this gangsta shit, eh? Yungeen is the sole survivor of a quadruple shooting and he isn’t even a gangsta… yep, where you live matters  – B


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