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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 12-1-17 – 12-7-17

André Rieu – Amore – The old school light opera buff is perfect for people who want to doze through music whatever their party affiliation is. Here he conducts the Johann Strauss Orchestra and it seeps through your brain like oatmeal in a sinkhole. Elvis Presley died for this? – D

Andy Grammer – The Good Parts – Soppy, stupid singer songwriter who gave us the execrable “Honey I’m Good” three years ago, has upped his production values but still offering up the same old septic, emotionally vacuous lies about romance – D+

Chief Keef – Dedication – Great songs, great arrangements, great rhymes… this is Chief Keef? You coulda fooled me… B+

Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 2 – It is one thing to dislike a popular artist, I do it all the time, but it is another to actively loath everything they sing. That goes from outlier to crank. So I listened long and hard to Americana dramatise Stapleton and I guess “A Simple Song” is OK… but I am still a crank – C-

Cindy Wilson – Change – The B-52’s Disco Queen mellows out on this gorgeous electronic mood music. A good change of pace – B+

Danielle Bradbery – I Don’t Believe We’ve Met – I’ll give her “Sway” but that’s it,these are painted by numbers country fusion with modern pop sensibilities – C,

DRAM – Big Baby DRAM -Just because he looks like a doofus, don’t judge the hook by the hoofer. Dram is a serious soul singer, with both grit and humor, and skills to burn and this is a major addition to the 2016 14 track release with an additional 8 songs – A-

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella At Zardi’s – A 1956 residency survives, best moment the last when she takes a request from Ella Sings Gershwin, “It’s been out for three years” she laughs  before crushing “I’ve Got A Crush On You” – A-

Ella Vos – Words I Never Said – Australian dozy singer songwriter, will bore you to tears – C

Five Finger Death Punch – A Decade Of Destruction – One of the best heavy metal bands you’ll listen to,  this best of opens with a terrific new song, “Trouble,” adds another newey, an Offsprings’ cover, and then gets going with over an hour of high octane riffarama. 5FDP keep it simple, loud fast guitar rock with an eye to heavy metal past (that’s Rob Halford on “Lift Me Up”)  and hardcore, listen to Ghost’s bowel of death vocals – B+

Glassjaw – Material Control – Long Island post-hardcore band releases first album in fifteen years… did you miss them? – C+

Gnod – JUST SAY NO TO THE PSYCHO RIGHT-WING CAPITALIST FASCIST INDUSTRIAL DEATH MACHINE – Hard as hell, brutalized up against the wall agitprop, from Salford in the UK -a dodgy area if there ever was one: all snapping attack – B

Grayson Capps – Scarlett Roses – New Orleans singer songwriter Americanaish and can get a little boring if you are not in tune with self reflection as a lifestyle choice  – C+

Midge Ure – Orchestrated – Midge takes some old Ultravox songs and adds orchestration in a brave attempt to make them worse -C-

Neil Young And Promise Of The Real –  The Visitor – Imagine how we would feel about Neil if he had ODed in 1979? I am bored with him even as we agree about a lot of things. Oh and The Nelson sons are not Crazy Horse – C

Miguel – War & Leisure – When did Miguel become Musiq Soulchild? – C

Ralo – Plugged in with the Cartel – Average gangsta trap rap via Atlanta, but who is DJ Kutt Throat??? – C+

Richard Dawson – Peasant – Experimental singer songwriter from the UK, if the songs were a little stronger it would be a whole lot more worth the effort – C+

Roy Woods – Say Less – At nearly an hour, the fine r&b singer loses momentum, but at his best, the title track early on, he lives up to the kudos – B

The Rolling Stones – On Air – Well, they certainly weren’t Pat Boone, but changing “some stupid jerk” to “some stupid guy” is suspect indeed from the “let’s spend some time together” boys. “Memphis, Tennessee” is a horror show, and if you ever had your suspicious that in the early years the Beatles were significantly superior on every level to the Beatles, this should confirm them. You’d think Brian would shine through if Mick couldn’t on these 1963 – 1965 live on radio cuts, but no. It belongs to Keith Richards. Everybody would get better in time – B

The Staves, y music – The Way Is Read – Garage rock meets chamber music and chamber music wins – B

U2 – Songs Of Knowledge – Opening with “Love Is All We Have Left” and closing with “Love Is Bigger Than Anything we have,” U2 make no concessions to haters such as me, but of their sincerity is over the tops, those two songs plus “Get Out Of Your Own Way,” “American Soul,” and “The Showman (Little More Better)” , makes five songs better than anything they’ve written in well over a decade. The rest of it ain’t bad either –  ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Van Morrison – Versatile – This is to jazz what Roll With The Punches was to the blues – B+

Wisin – Victory – The Latin American popstar is calling victory on who, exactly? As long as I’ve known the man, he has won every war. Here he is joined by old friend Yandel as well as Latin Trap maven Bad Bunny, Eminem pal Timbaland and more, on a star turn of an album. Not important, but quality and fun – B+

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