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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 5-20-16 – 5-26-16


ALBUM OF THE WEEK: 5-20-16 – 5-26-16


Collect – 18+ –  Samia is from Honolulu, Justin from Berlin, and the duo’s second album is a goodie, moody dark sounds with hip hop in its DNA. All of it is good, two voices, delayed and far apart coming together, it uses rap sing speak to its own ends. “Wet Blunts” is better than good – B+

In Our Bones – Against The Current – Does the world need another but younger Paramore? Sure, why not? – C+

Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande – Because Ariana actually has a great set of pipes, the hope is she’d up the quality of her songs beyond the EDM with blues jones she walks. But you’d be wrong – C

BNL Rocks Red Rocks (Live) – Barenaked Ladies –  These old school rock folk Canadians are like Blues Traveller without the fat guy, though the live setting doesn’t harm. I didn’t realize they were behind the “Big Bang” theme song, one of the few times their humor and chops connect even if live the keyboards are an annoyance. What else? The best song here belongs to Colin Hays – C

Don’t Wake The Riot – Black Pistol Fire – Classic rock take on duos like White Stripes and the Black Keys, ambitiously excited, it probably signifies on stage at their local Austin club, because on record it is a snore – C+

If I’m Honest – Blake Shelton – If you are gonna go through a divorce and hookup up with a No Doubt, you might as well exploit the fuck out of yourself. Better than his last one, not as good as the one before last… the duet with Gwen is pushing your luck – C+

Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan – I wish there was more “Polka Dots And Moonbeams” and less “Come Rain Or Come Shine” but even so, the arrangements are rewritten for Dylan’s Americana band and sound unlike the versions you’ve heard all these years at least on that level, and the vocals hit their notes, with phrasing that belongs to Dylan and yet honors the precedent – B+

Mayday – Boys Noize – Germany’s Boys Noize is the last and final absolute House to rave master DJ, and here collaborations with  Hudson Mohawke, Spank Rock, Poliça, Remy Banks and Benga, changes nothing. They don’t make em like this any more – B+

Por Favor – Brett Dennen – This guy seems incapable of writing a bad song, maybe a little quiet, maybe a touch boring, but even so, the songs are always great. Here as well, just another Brett Dennen album filled with pop rock low impact but charming and effortless singer songwriter moves – B+

Daydreams In A Roach Motel – Cat Be Damned – There are teenage girls in college dorms who will eat this lo fi bedsitland stuff up, but adults may find the same key same tone for 8 songs (but only 17 minutes) a little tough going – B

Teens Of Denial – Car Seat Headrest – Another bedsitland singer songwriter, though this is pretty darn advanced, breakthrough mode, for Matador Recording artist (as they say in the trades) Will Toledo. It’s like emo if emo was fucking awesome. “Friends are better with drugs”, Will claims, friend are also better with this album  – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Lily – Christy Moore – If you remember his earlier group Moving Hearts, once a favorite of mine, you will understand that a step quieter and a step older   makes Christy’s solo work no less beautiful. If you don’t know his earlier band, you are in for a real treat. The opening track is a beautiful thing – B+

Suck On This (Mixtape) – Die Antwoord – Eccentric South African band, can jump too far off the deep end, but when they concentrate, the songs are distressingly yucky yet good – B

I Still Do – Eric Clapton – If this is indeed Clapton’s final album, what the fuck is he covering “Little Boy You’ve Had A Busy Day” for? This is as useless as the Dead tribute. Shut up and playing electric guitar, you dick – C

The Silent Partner – Havoc – Queens rapper who came out of the 1990s, so when you listen to this and think he sounds like Wu Tang, just remember, he actually sounds like himself – B+

Camp Echo – Highasakite – Indie rockers from Norway, no worse than their US counterparts. No better either – C

Afterglow – In Mourning – Epic emocore  via Sweden – C+

Headspace – Issues – A mix and match of every worst aspect of 2016 mainstream rock in one big blob of meh – C-

The Fall Of Hearts – Katatonia – The acceptable sound of metal, all guitar riffs and surface melodies – C+

British Road Movies – Kate Jackson – Suede guitarist Bernard Butler produced it, former The Long Blondes singer wrote and sung it, for an album of UK style rockers. can’t say I am crazy about it – C+

Kyle Forester – Kyle Forester – I like the way he arranges his songs, always something to admire, but the songs themselves are indie rockers of indeterminate strength that don’t quite click – C+

Mac Gollehon And The Hispanic Mechanics – Mac Gollehon And The Hispanic Mechanics – Powerful mix and match of salsa drums, neo-soul jazziness and r&b flavored takedowns of mammoth proportions, half of which are remixes, all of which are dance tracks, and one of which, “Eleganza” is all of the above at one time – A-

Strangers – Marissa Nadler – Ethereal voice, ephemeral charmers but after awhile they get irritating and you want to give her a shake – C+

Fire In The Church – Montana Of 300 – I love the tracks this guys has, and his voice has a first rate undertow to it, “Fighting Demons, Dropping Jewels” is as clever as a state of his life can be, and while it is dated as far as it goes, so what? – B+

2 – Mudcrutch – Tom Petty on bass, Heartbreakers style rockers without the bluesiness, and a certain amount of self-confidence to sell the songs. Misplaced self-confidence – C+

Ondeadwaves – On Dead Waves – This meeting of minds on vacation from their main gigs, has everything you’d imagine to be as self-indulgent and sloppy as musically possible. But it ain’t bad, rock mood music with the occasional goodie – B-

The Triad – Pantha Du Prince – Techno snoozer – C

El Astronauta – Quaker City Night Hawks –  Kim Kelly wrote this in Noisey about the band: “The overall impression of a gang of scifi-obsessed ZZ Top superfans who’ve gone rogue, strapped on their own weapons, and slid down into a weird, uncanny valley of slide guitars and bottom-heavy distortion pedals”. Yeah, fair to middling blues rockers but I prefer the way Kim says it.

Cowardly Deeds – Randolph’s Leap – The eight piece via Glasgow have a way with a song and if it seems over arduous the songs are always good enough, “Not Thinking” is typically playful and lovely- B+

Terminal Nostalgia – Reuben Hollebon – London sound engineer for alt rockers takes his own shot on these of off-center rockers – C

Along The Shadow – Saosin – The MOR version of screamo – C

Fury – Sick Puppies – Rock ordinaire from former Silverchair fans – C

Live – American Outlaws – You know the roll call, Johnny emerges as the band leader, and this live recording from the cavernous hellpit known as Nassau Coliseum back in 1990, is worth listening just because everybody sucks at Nassau Coliseum, and these guys pull if off more or less – B

The Very Best Of – The Highwaymen – Legendary singers, terrific performances, superstar wattage, intelligence and self control -you name it, Johnny, Willie, Kris and Waylon had everything except for good songs – B

Wanga – Throes And The Shine – The Portuguese- Angolan band perform what they call “Rockudoro”, world music African style with shifted rhythms – B

V – Tiger Army – Sound like Del Shannon, not prime Shannon but even so… – B+

In Glendale – Tim Heidecker – The Adult Swim comedian makes straight up singer songwriter so-cal album with some very fine songs indeed, try “Work From Home” – B+

Celebrate – Tiny Moving Parts – They sound like the Front Buttons but less emphatic – B-

Day Of The Dead – Various Artists – A good idea that gets seriously derailed and fast. Look, the Grateful Dead may have been many things but a song band they certainly weren’t. If these alt rockers, indie guys, and credible musicians wanted to show abeyance, just cover Workingman’s Dead and call it a dead day. Long before you reach Fucked Up’s “Cream Puff War” followed by the Flaming Lips’ “Dark Star”,  you’ll be ready to kick the whole lot in the pants. Are there exceptions? Sure, Lucius’ “Uncle Tom’s Band” for one, but that was always a great song. And maybe five out of 59 songs is hardly great odds  – C

Savage Life V – Webbie – The sort of rap that gives Phil Mushnick a heart attack, and pretty good in my opinion. Opening track “This Me” should be illegal – B

Midnight Cometh – Wo Fat – Heavy handed old school metal monster – B

Chapters – Yuno – Malaysian r&b world chanteuse has some help, Usher for one, on a born to teach rappers who they most need on their track showcase  – B

Skybreak – Zo! – Knockout r&b album, old fashioned in an 80s way but still just about perfect by this utility player – B+



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