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Be Here Now: New albums reviewed 10-21-16 – 10-27-16

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American Football (LP2) – American Football – Emo meets Americana folk stylings, sometimes the melodies kick nicely, but it wears out fast – C+

Tennessee Christmas – Amy Grant – Yup, we are so sick of Xmas albums, even Amy can’t save the genre – C

The Cracks That Built The Wall – Communist Daughter – Somewhat on the depressingly gorgeous side, coulda been Americana with a tad more folk in its tail but is actually lo-fi pop of the first order. from Minneapolis  – B+

Dreamless – Crocodiles – I really enjoyed their last album, but this is a half hearted stomper and a sinkhole sound. Plus those keyboards? No  – C

Lighthouse – David Crosby – After 2014’s Croz, I was pretty much convinced that sobriety had caught up with talent, and Crosby was set to become that rarest of long term artists, the one who improves with age. But Lighthouse is a boring album, a shockingly ponderous ride, where Crosby’s vocal charms aren’t close enough to carry the day – C

The Deaner Album – Dean Ween Group – “Dickey Betts”, the Allman Brothers rip, is excellent, but, much like the band they root from, they aren’t half as cute as their protean, hard rock musical chairs sound should be – C

BIG BABY D.R.A.M. – D.R.A.M. – Sure “Broccoli” was a killer track, though Lil Yachty sucked live, this album is a pure pop move, and a constant pleasure whether it’s the fast and smooth “Monticello Ave”, the neo-soul Erykah Badu featured “WiFi”, or the soul pop “Misunderstood” with Young Thug, who knows a thing or two about pop himself – B+

Shadows Swallowed the Flood – Goes Cube – Final album from prog metaler, wish em luck – C+

Holy Oysters EP – Holy Oysters -Experimental popsters from San Francisco, therefore tie dyed and bad dreamed at the same time – C

Big Box Of Chocolates – Hooton Tennis Club – Off melody rock? How 1992 – C

Ping Pong – Jacuzzi Boys – Iffy garage rock – C

Let It Be You – Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis -I hate it when a good album goes all weird on you, both “Broke Me In Two” and “Magic Lamp” are aces, but leave early because “Motorway’? Pretty tough going – B_

Rage & The Machine – Joe Budden – Sure. “Wake” was the Drake takedown we’ve been waiting fpr. But it ain’t on this album, and really, the Slaughterhouse superstar is getting very obvious – B-

Winter Wheat – John K. Samson – Slow paced singer songwriter slog but give it times, and the songs have moments of quiet clarity. Try “Capital” – B-

Bonito Generation – Kero Kero Bonito – K-Pop goes indie with an English accent – C

Oleic EP – Kelly Lee Owens – Pretty good techno mood pieces – B

Instigator – Kevin Devine – The difference between Kevin and other singer songwriters of his elk, is the songs are uniformly good with Kev, he doesn’t forget the melody, or the chorus, or the hook. If he only had a better voice… B

The Serenity Of Suffering – Korn – “kill me, kill me…” Jonathan requests, and who is to blame him. Metal ordinaire, no better than Mithras, though much less proggy so that’s to the good – C+

Joanne – Lady Gaga – Pop stars default used to be rock, now it is Americana. But will it sell? The excellent first single “Perfect Illusion” didn’t and if that didn’t, how will the album it came from manage to? Better than Born This Way and Artpop, it has the remnants of the little monsters superhero, tied to improved songwriting and improved singing, but a loosening grasp on the world of pop – B+

You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen – If Cohen, a great poet poet, had won the nobel prize for literature, you’d have heard no complaints from me. He is also, along with Zimmy himself, the exception that proves the rule as to finite songwriting gifts. His last FOUR albums (yes, the live one as well), including this wintery work of dark beauty, have been masterful. Leonard has claimed to be ready for death, in song here, and interview, but for all his quiet I’ve turned my back on the devil Gospel endings, he sounds a way off – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A –

Confessions – Nico Muhly & Teitur – Muhly once wrote a cantata to “The Elements Of Style”, so I guess this singer songwriter plus strings makes sense, to a degree. But try as you will, you’ll only hear meh singer songwriter tropes plus strings – C+

Nobody But Me – Michael Buble – Buble continues to mix and match his own proto-American songbook songs, variants on the same old same old, and heartfelt change ups on classic rock. Like the worst version of “God Only Knows” ever  and the title track, which makes “It Hasn’t Happened Yet” sound like “Blue Indigo”- C-

On Strange Loops – Mithras – If you’re thinking EDM, you are wrong. This is a hardcore metal trio, fast drums, roar from the bowel of hells, proggy guitar when it isn’t noising out – C

The Houston Oiler – Paul Wall – He hustles like a motherfucker, especially his grills, though this 16 tracker is filled to overflowing with slow beat, drunk sounding, woozy Houston rap, where Paul has been for the past ten years. There is something so sway and styling about the beat you can’t help but admire it from a distance – B

A Pentatonix Christmas – Pentatonix – If Amy Grant can’t do it, you can bet the rent these suckers can’t do it. “Coldest Winter”? What is this?  Kidz Bop Kids? – D

Prey – Planes Mistaken For Stars – I really tend to like emocore more than not, and this is hard pressed melodic roar and tear… try “Riot Season” – B

What I Said About The Pinecone –  Really Big Pinecone – Intensely annoying art pop indie style – C-

Alone – Pretenders – The title track is killer, the slow ones are slow but the voice is ace, the fast ones rock hard enough – B

Eye of the Soundscape – Riverside – Listen to “Machines” -so bloopy, keyboardy and twee… then listen to “Where The River Flows”, metal that forgets to metal Then do something else – C-

saintmoteltelevision – Saint Motel – Saint Motel have been terrific at everything they’ve ever tried, and have brought glam rock to classic rock to EDM, where Holy Ghost! meets T-Rex. It’s a good place to be, and while sales haven’t caught up with them yet, this is the sort of terrific dance album that’s a product placement away from doing it for them. They break the pop charts they’ve always stood as their goal, right here – B+

Savoy Motel – Savoy Motel – In theory, this is a pretty good indie band with sweet vocals and a smart vibe, in practice it feels decentralized and nothing seems to stick strongly enough – C+

Man Does Not give – Seputus – Very loud and vicious something or the other core, your ears may well bleed and the songs seem stuck in neutral: consider it ambient for the hard of hearing – C+

Apricity – Syd Arthur – From Canterbury, who know no better, prog rock UK style – C

Retribution -Tanya Tagaq – The Canadian singer can get awful noisy here, but hang on to the end and be rewarded by the best version of Nirvana’s “Rape Me” you’ll ever hear – C+

Mapping The Rendezvous – The Courteeners – Liam Fray is not a teen, not yet a man, on this overlong piece of rock bravado. But if the live album is overkill, and the recorded one ladrock overkill, at least they know what rock should sound like – C+

Who You Selling For – The Pretty Wreckless – Warren Haynes is on one track, the title track is a leap forward, and the album as a whole consolidates their strengths, garage rockers trying to keep the faith and failing, with all the rewards that perseverance brings. Oh, and a lot slower at it – C+

Before The Flood – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Soundtrack to a global warming documentary. I’ve admired this duo’s electronic dreamscape soundtracks ever since “The Social Network”, they are one of the few people who perform incidental music I want to hear. With the help of Mogwai, here, it’s  a nervy, nightmare drone album that continues their unblemished legacy – B+

Lazarus – Various Artists – Remember Michael C. Hall? His mpressive performance as “Hedwig” on Broadway, had a lot of Bowie in it. Yeah, he is the real deal as the lead in David’s musical. These arranged for musical theatre  rock multi voices Bowie songs, refitted to a sequel to “The Man Who Fell To Earth” storyline, promises a great deal when the production finally reaches the Great White Way. The entire cast album was recorded the day after Bowie’s death… except for the three new songs, recorded at the same sessions that brought us Blackstar. The new “No Plan” is a standout of the new songs, and the other two final recorded performances resonate even further than musical, which resonates far enough – A-

Runaljod Ragnarok – Wardruna – “Norway’s pagan heroes Wardruna re-enter the spiritual realm and complete their runic trilogy…” Perhaps, but it sounds like Monks gone mental – B-

Front Row Seat To Earth – Weyes Blood – Indie folk, too tasteful for its own good – C

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