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Be Here Now: New Albums 7-31-20 – 8-6-20 Reviewed

Anjunabeats Volume 15 – Above & Beyond, Anjunabeats – A compilation double album from twenty years of dance releases, the first album is trance, the second is house and dance – B

Ain’t No Peace – Akon – taking time off his building of the $6B “Akon City” in Senegal, Akon releases seven #BLM inspired tracks, on a boring piece of hip hop song craft – C

Such Pretty Forks in the Road – Alanis Morissette – It sounds like Alanis without the indelible tunefulness and hooks that made her so loved. Admittedly, I might get it more if I was a woman – C+

Live at Tomorrowland 2020 – Around The World – Armin van Buuren – the virtual worldwide rave’s Jesus of Trance from pop to trance to (as WERAVEYOU noted) 138 BPM  – B

The Lion King: The Gift [Deluxe Edition] – Beyoncé – it is really good and “Black Skinned Girl” is great, but it is no more than that and Bey seems to be less on her game, on a steady trajectory downwards, since that five year run from 2011 – 2016 – B+

B7 – Brandy – her first album in eight years is a shimmering and shiny beauty of hip hop meets 90s sound and a lush and hushed sensuality, Chance The Rapper shows up late on the keeper “Baby Mama”  – B

s r&b Chris Tomlin & Friends – Chris Tomlin – Tomlin is one of the biggest stars in CCM, and on this country Christian album with some of countries biggest stars, from Florida Georgia Line to Lady A(ntebellum), to Cassadee Pope, they pile on these mostly forgettable tracks but at least country saves us from the more obsequious Godbutt kissing. Try “Thank You Lord” – C

Good Cops Don’t Exist – Chris Crack – if Chris was as good as his song titles… “Black Don’t Crack Unless You Smoke It,” “Reparations Not Decorations,” “Cute With Low Self Esteem” and the songs which amount to good bar gliding and rhymes with a consistent explosion of thoughts. The samples could be fresher – B

To Love a Fool – Cory Asbury – Hillsong alumni, CCM as Americana, two of my least fave genres but Cory has a voice to sell em – C+

What Could Possibly Go Wrong – Dominic Fike – 22 year old ex-con Fike has a great sound, a mix of new wave and rap, it is ear candy of the first degree and should break pop, especially with Columbia pulling the strings. With a whole lot riding on it, Fike delivers a blisteringly but loudly blistering set of potential hits – B+

Puerta Abierta, Vol. 1 (En Vivo) – El Fantasma – first rate Mariachi from the regional Mexico star – B+

A Hero’s Death – Fontaines D.C. – buzzy but mostly sad sophomore effort from the Irish rocker wannabes – C+

Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1 – Gillian Welch – five years after volume one, “Mighty Good Book” leads the way on these sweet sounding lost but now its found tracks – A-

Voices – Max Richter – classical leaning, ambient sounding, spoken wording, call of human  rights – B-

Dropped Frames, Vol. 2 – Mike Shinoda – Linkin Park lead singer drops the second volume of Dropped, quasi ambient music to bewilder his fan base – C+

Flaming Pie (Archive Collection) – Paul McCartney – considered yet another return to form when it was first released, it stands as a well executed set of very minor tracks (plus demos, etc)  – C

How They Remember You – Rascal Flatts – There is no good reason for me to consistently mistake Rascal Flatts for Florida-Georgia Line… except: they look like the same pasty, white yahoos. Anyway, so when I reach for a new release by Flatts I am always pleasantly surprised till I release it isn’t the dreaded FGL on a roll – B

Blanco – Ricardo Arjona –  The Guatemalan pop star opens with a feint, a classic country rock “Morir Por Vivir,” and then he throws loops to the Latin crooner genre with less success… but still success – B

twenty one, twenty two – somegirlnamedanna – if you can get over her ” self-discovery and the path to self-acceptance” stuff, this is sadgirl but with a poppier veneer and a coating of melody – B

Mafia Bidness – Shoreline Mafia – LA trap collective  filled with the usual preoccupations: sex, drugs, money – B-

It Means Fear of God – Theophobia – Theophobia are Dylan Mars Greenberg, the remarkable pulp movie director, and her childhood friend Matt Ellin, distilling their love of glam pop like Sparks and Meatloaf. On this debut three song EP Theophobia hit every spot , including the witty singalong that sounds like a 1970s saturday morning cartoon theme, “The Ballad of Miss Subways (No Social Distancing)”  and the intricate swooning New Order meets Burt  Bacharach inspired synth and keyboards on “Will You Love Me When I’m Dead” with its anthemic singalong “2,4,6,8, can you  take me on a date?” – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Made of Rain – The Psychedelic Furs – It isn’t that there isn’t a “Pretty In Pink” but that there isn’t a “Superman,” it isn’t turgid, and it sounds like the Furs and not just Richard, but the songs need to be better. Perhaps if you didn’t know who it was you might nod your head in agreement that it ain’t half bad despite its abrasive bad news vibe,  and sure it is better than, say, Bush, it still is distinctly unmemorable – C+

Lonely Trip – Trey Anastasio – it took him decades but it has happened, Phish released one of their best albums in April, and Trey has a memorable collection of three minute rock Americana songs on this fine piece of work, the title track is plain gorgeous – B+

Road To Fast 9 Mixtape – Various Artists – a mix of Latino Urbano and hip hop midsize stars on a mixtape to drive too fast to, Wiz is back from where he garnered his biggest hit “See You AGain” and NLE Choppa has a strong track, but this is mostly middling stuff – B-

Quien Contra Mi 2 – Yandel – The reggaeton superstar and half of Wisin &, gets together 22 collaborations while isolated in Miami, including “Fama” which includes both Snoop and Ruben Blades, as well as a full cast (except Wisin -they are working on an album together) reaching a height with the addictive J Balvin featured “No Te Vayas” – B

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