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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 6-1-18 – 6-7-18

Audra McDonald – Sing Happy – With the New York Philharmonic and if you’re gonna use a Philharmonic better with the terrific musical theatre star then the Beach Boys. This was recorded on May 1st at a concert performance at Geffen Hall for the New York Philharmonic’s Spring Gala. Just about flawless and best on the Sondheim-Rodgers-Hammerstein medley – B+

Beach Skulls – Las Dunas – Psychedelic soundscapes done lo-fi-ish – C+

Ben Howard – Noonday Dream – UK surfer dude who performs singer songwriter mood music, can get a little tedious but on a song like “A Boat To An Island On The Wall” -an electronic mindfuck, he rewards patience – B+

Big Freedia – 3rd Ward Bounce EP – Overwhelming hardcore dance beats over declarative vocals and the purest, melody less hi energy disco thrills, the title track has to be heard to be believed – B+

Cautious Clay – RESONANCE EP – Smart and well mannered r&b with a back beat like EDM – B

Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer – I’ve tried way harder to like this guy than there is any reason at all to, so maybe “Disappointing Diamonds Are The Rrest Of Them All” has a clever Jeff Lynn vibe -but he is a smug, self-satisfied, arrogant, aberrant fuckface who isn’t as clever as you or he thinks he is – MUST TO AVOID – C-

Freedom Fry – Classic – Tedious indie pop American-French duo – C

Ghost – Prequelle – “On the surface, Prequelle is an album about the black plague, a time when death was always looming and humanity was nearly wiped from the globe” only worse fron this pop metal band – C-

Harris Cole, Aso – Colors – Ambient snoozer – C

Joan Of Arc – 1984 – First rate old school experimental pop band, the first half is great and then it isn’t anymore – B

Juliana Daugherty – Light – This might well be the best album of the week, either this or Kanye. A low, melodic hum of despair that should be ethereal, the melodies should disappear and they simply don’t -this is a time for two things: multi tracked hip hop and women as indie pop quiet yet hard. Light’s a perfect variant on the latter – A-

Kail Baxley – Sugar Cane Sessions – Pretty good soul folk guy live EP – B

Kanye West – ye – At a scant seven songs and 23 minutes,  Kanye  has little room for mistakes and doesn’t make any, especially on “No Mistakes” with soul man Charlie Wilson, but then again why not when being bi-polar gives him superpowers on “Yikes”. At seven songs in length all seven songs lead the most streamed in the country and while there is no obvious hit, “Ghost Town” comes real close. Kid Cudi, Francis And The Lights and Benny Blanco are all over it,so though there is  something slight about it, there is nothing slighted – A-

Lauv – I met you when I was 18. (the playlist) – Lauv is a big time songwriter and you cn see  why , soulful pop moves at the upper register of his voic are his forte. Still, nothing is really outstanding except for maybe he leadoff “I Like Me Better” – C+.

Liz Vice – Save Me – Old school Gospel and soul blaster could do with better material – C+

Luke Combs – This One’s for You Too -A better than average country songwriter who can write a melody when the mood takes, try “Beer Can” – B

LUMP – LUMP- I’ve had it with Laura Marling, She peaked five years ago and everything since then has been a bore. This arty farty crap aint cutting it – C-

Maps & Atlases – Lightlessness Is Nothing New – Seven years ago I marked these guys as a potential alternative to Phish, they jam out with an indie electronic vibe and are more song and tune oriented.  Heavy on the synths, occasional on the jam, it sounds like the National covering Phish songs – B-

Mazzy Star – Still EP – Dream pop reworking of some catalog songs – B-

Michael Ray – Amos – Country blah pretty boy – C

Natalie Prass – The Future And The Past – Natalie goes Motown, and she has the voice for it and she has the songs for it on this terrific sophomore album. A widescreen funkiness that in a different time and place might have made her a superstar – B+

Neko Case – Hell-On – This is the second major artist loved by critics that have bored me to tears this week (third if you include Mazzy Star), this isn’t unpleasant, “Bad Luck” is ok, but it is such a bore… 52 minutes of yawn – C

Nick Cannon – Calling All Models: The Prequel – Better than expected r&b album, “Hold All Calls” is a great song – B-

Omar Apollo – Stereo – Son of immigrants is a thing suddenly, from Khalid to this classic producer who manufactures his own music in bedsitland on this simple pop product filled with arresting sounds, falsetto  and some really great soul – B

Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of – Here’s a clue to Daniel Lopatin’s tenth solo album, James Blake co-produced. In other words it is all shimmering beauty and widescreen depression and a strange electronic experiment gone wild that interrupts it  – B

Paul Simon – Graceland – The Remixes –  Some biggish names, Paul Oakenfold for one one, Groove Armada and Thievery Corporation for two others, do some serious remixing on these famous songs. OK, but why? None of it works for me, it is interesting and pointless (sort of like religion) – C

Roger Daltrey – As Long As I Have You – Not as good as that Wilko Johnson collab from a coupla years back, but still good as a the Who  (Townshend is all over it) have managed this entire century – B

Ruen Brothers – All My Shades Of Blue – Retro rockers like a modern day Chris Isaak, I wish they had more songs as good as the title one, though nothing sucks. Rick Rubin produced their debut so it has that glistening and clear tinkle – B

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Something Else – “Hold That Thought” is as good as Anton gets and while, as always, he gets a little samey  this is among his better efforts since that John Lennon album way back when  – B

Various Artists – African Scream Contest 2 (Analog Africa No. 26) – “DJ and researcher Samy Ben Redjeb and his label, Analog Africa. Founded in 2006 and with 28 releases to date, the label functions as a trail through the footnotes of Western African music and its biggest (and often forgotten) players.”.Pretty excellent rock and dance and Africa sounds, from the terrific label. This one is ace – B+



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