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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 11-4-16 11-10-16

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Here – Alicia Keys – The first two songs, “Gospel” and “Pawn It All” are as strong as Alicia will ever get -a strong Gospel-R&B hybrid. Everything else is dreadful. The spoken word interludes, the blues, the piano parts, the hectoring, all of it puts the fear of an unforgiving god right atcha just like those bloody awful pictures of Keys without her makeup on – C-

Goodbye Terrible Youth – American Wrestlers – “Vote Thatcher” is a terrific song by indie rocker Gary McClure from Missouri via Scotland. The rest is the usual unusual fuzzed out guitar band stuff, but not unpleasant. “Terrible Youth” could break em indie – B-

Lunaris – Arkana – Black metal via metal, and say what you want about these sincerely head pounding album, the song titles are cool, “Nie dla mnie litość” is a personal fave. Still, they go from the loud and deranged to the sad and quiet with extreme skills – C+

H.O.G. – Big Scoobs – Big pals with Tech N9ne, this is straightforward, 90s sounding rap, by a real talent. “Bitch Please” won’t piss off Little Baby Jesus – B-

This House Is Not For Sale – Bon Jovi – Jon comes up with a hard rockin’ album after years of trying to replicate the crossover appeal of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” (from 2005!) and failing miserably. Odd that he should come out with his hardest rocker in years “Living With The Ghost” without Richie Sambora, not odd that nothing else much sticks, not even the “Rockin’ In The Free World” knockoff “Knockout” – C-

Black America Again – Common – As a politician, Common is an iffy rapper. Wasn’t always, he used to be the man but then he friended Maya Angelou and became an unbearably pompous asshole, king of the self evident. He still is. But a handful of these songs stick – C+

A Fistful Of Peril – Czarface –  Inspectah Deck plus 7L & Esoteric and not much more… all that Wu Tang sounds the same, this is a bit more techno than we’re used. The rapping is occasionally exceptional – C

Atoma – Dark Tranquillity – Melodic metal -a little goes a long way – C+

Older Terrors – Esben and the Witch – Like walking in a dark and eery forest and getting mugged Little Red Riding Hood – C+

Built to Last – Hammerfall – One of those albums that has you worrying about live choices, when you could be sleeping, or watching the game, and here you are listening to this crazy funny camp crap metal. I want “Hammer High” playing at my funeral…  – C-

Glass – Illum Sphere – Experimental techno ambient – C

Until the Hunter – Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions – Like Mazzy Star only slower – C+

The Blanket Truth – Jared Evan – A talented singer songwriter soulful solipsist with a hip hop jones, his first album should cement his position as a major songwriter for hire – C+

Eternally Even – Jim James – What a dreary piece of blues rock jam mood snoozes – D

To Thine Own Self Be True – La Coka Nostra – Everlast’s supergroup, a little bland but they use multi-voices pretty well from time to time – C

FLOTUS – Lambchop – He rides with so much ease on pop music changes and wall of sounds lo fi electronics, it is almost too simple, the skill is hidden but on this fine album (his third good one in a  row) the skill is there. but there hasn’t been a song as catchy as “If Not I’ll Just Die” in years – B

Can’t Touch Us Now – Madness – One of the great Brit bands have never been worse than on this bad album of middle of the road plodding songs and not a ska between them – C-

Weekly Mansions – Omar Rodríguez-López – Mars Volta stalwart, reinvents noise as mood rockers – C+

I’m Yours – Pixie Geldof – Haunted indie mood torch songs – B

On Air – Queen – The BBC sessions from 73 – 77, that speed junkie “We Will Rock You” is fun, but song for song, it is Queen and Queen are only as good as their hits and their hits are mostly not here – C+

The Heavy Entertainment Show – Robbie Williams – There is one on every Robbie album, here it is “Motherfucker” -an ode to his son that rhymes “nutter” with the title and makes it stick. Nothing else comes close unless you’re English and have a Williams fetish… Put on “Mixed Signals” and tell me whether it is better or worse than the new Bon Jovi – C+

Lodestar – Shirley Collins –  A pre-Fairport Convention UK folkie transports us back to England in the 1600s, on this her first album in 38 years. Though her voice has dropped  her control is impeccable and her strangeness intact – B+

Romantic – Slow Hollows – Over arranges his best songs, though his best songs have the potential to jump out of the straight jacket he puts em in – C+

Being No One, Going Nowhere – STRFKR – A future of dance type album, indie sounding electronic dance singer songwriter guys, who are maybe what Hall & Oates might have been if they were moodier and had never heard of Philadelphia (and had to high end) – B

Collages EP – The Chainsmokers – A sign of the time, the EDM duo who have spent the last ELEVEN weeks at the top of the Billboard charts with “Closer”, put the nail in the coffin of album artists everywhere as they still haven’t released one. Instead, we get this five song EP, two of which have already scaled the charts. But maybe they are onto something, five songs is just enough to have these EDM pop tracks spinning into infinity forever. All of it is well crafted and effortlessly clever pop moments, the other three songs, one of which is already released as a single, should do very well – B

Centerfold – The Darcys – Not bad EDM popsters with at least one tongue in its cheek… the singer isn’t quite right for the sound – C+

The Empire – Vader – Thrash and roll metal… a little more proggy and the drummer knows a roll when it hits him – C

Nightride – Tinashe – alt-r&b, “Lucid Dreaming”, the opening song, sounds like one, and the rest of the album is equally dreamscape poppy with soul songs from the actress-model. An intoxicating and beautiful album that stands out and in at the same time – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – B+

Now That’s What I Call Country # 1s – Various Artist – Conservative, tired, fake, and flimsy, everything that made country dead is here. They are like sincere shysters, using the country songwriting mill to add hip hop production scales drum pop moves with a twang and feigned stories of apple pie and heartache. From Carrie Underwood to Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley to Hunter Hayes, this is dreck. An exception? Miranda Lambert’s track is real good – D

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