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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 6-10-16 – 6-16-16


ALBUM OF THE WEEK: 6-10-16 – 6-16-16


By The Way – AD – Average and out of time pure gangsta rap… lotsa gunfire. lotsa boom boom – C+

Twentyears – Air – One side greatest hits, one side rarities and odds and sods, both sides excellent – A-

American Tunes – Allen Toussaint – The great pianist died last November and this final album isis a more than fitting farewell. Jazz inflected piano based songs from the likes of Professor Longhair and (!)Paul Simon (the title track). The terrific Rhiannon Giddens adds her voice to two Duke Ellington songs and the entire enterprise is topped off by a smooth and elegant instrumental on his signature “Southern Nights”. The perfect conclusion to a glorious career – A

Fire – Amy Klein – Where punk sensibility, feminist idealistic grrrl self confidence and a classic rock sensibility meet up to pull a major variation on the rock and roll anthem. It is like Sleater Kinney without the quirkiness, it plays itself straight and therein lies the variant – B+

Shaking Hands With A Snake – Apathy, the epitome of underground hates clubs more than baby seals  is one of the best rappers you don’t know. Props to the the Supremes sample – B+

Why Are You OK – Band Of Horses – “Solemn Oath” is quite a pleasant ditty, not exactly sprite but the verse, the way he tips up, is quite pleasant. But for the most part these are real Americana plodders, same as ever – C

High Passes – Bracken – Talented electronica, a step above the average in its ability to sound unlike itself here and there – B-

Big Day In A Small Town – Brandy Clark – The follow up to 12 Stories, is an additional 11 stories by the best of the new breed of country girl songwriters who have paid their due and become singers as well. The quality of writing here simply can’t be higher, there isn’t a dud in the pack, and it makes her contemporaries seem like also rans. It might not be fair to use Brandy to beat on Kacey Musgraves (who she has written with) or newbies like Maren Morris,but it is just about irresistible. “The Girl Next Door” has levels upon levels while rocking righteously – A-

Milestones – Chrisette Michelle – After breaking with Def Jam, this is Michelle’s first album as an independent, and the hip hop go to singer Queen of the hook, has fashioned a very fine r&b album for adults, sounding oddly un-rap and more mainstream Divaish. “Steady” is  Rihanna with a much better singer – B+

Colvin And Earle – Colvin Earle – Shawn and Steve’s voices should be oil and chalk, but they mix well and the covers are all fine, though “Ruby Tuesday” is an unfortunate reminder of how far Steve has fallen. The originals are pretty and sweet and will leave you smiling. Buddy Miller produced! Inconsequential I guess, but not everything has to change the world or reclassify the paradigm – B

2Square – Clarke:Hartnoll – Intensely ordinary electronica – C

Sleep Cycle – Deakin – By a founding member of Animal Collective, this isn’t as experimental as you might think, a song like “Just Am” as a trinkling Asian background music to a mainstream folk pop song. It works pretty well for people who find Animal Collective somewhere between pretentious and pompous and want something easier to enter into a dialogue with – B

Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country – Dexys – Yes, Kevin has a gorgeous voice, but he is too weird and too many choices has you wondering what his problem is. The song speak of “To Somebody” is a major missed opportunity, “You Wear It Well” a guitar brush up but the vocal is charmless, and “Both Sides Now” performed a la Dexy is a success but how much? It isn’t as good and has little to add. Having said ALL THAT, the man goes his own way in a cookie cutter world – B-

Turn To Gold – Diarrhea Planet – Their third album and the first not to knock me flat on my black, these punky pop slackers are funny enough to call a song “Bob Dylan’s Grandma”, but not smart enough to do anything with the concept – B

My Way Home – Eli Paperboy Reed – Neo-soul with a terrific album of movers and shakers, the voice is there, the songs? If they were just a touch better… – B

Daydream – Empty Houses  – From the opening drum roll -as pure a stick on skin as you’ll hear, bending towards a “Twist And SHout” shout out and then a Motown sideways jolt into a fine pop song, you know this Indie pop band have their own agenda. From there they mine 60s pop for the modern age with creativity and passion – B+

Fitz And The Tantrums – Fitz And The Tantrums – Eurotrash continues their quest for the perfect disco album, and this isn’t it… AGAIN – C+

Majesty – Flamingods – “Majesty was written and arranged with a conceptual narrative, cohesive both musically and lyrically following the story of protagonist Yuka on his journey of enlightenment through an exotic jungle landscape.” I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong, this is an enormously beautiful psychedelic soundscape of dream music, especially the first half,  and “Anya” may well be the best track of the week – B+

The Exodus – Gemma Ray – UK songstress with an edge – C+

The Orange Glow – Globelamp – If Regina Spektor performed twee indie folk rock, it would sound like this, pretty good for around ten minutes – C+

For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also For Those Of You Who Have) – Hercule S. – With a title like that it was either emo or electronica, but this week you just know it is electronica – C-

The Human Condition – Jon Hellion – Painful blue eyed soul – C-

A/B – Kaleo – It sounds like Southern blues boogie… from Iceland – B-

Egomaniac – Kongos – Alt rockers who might be a one hit wonder but if they are it is not due to a lack of trying on this fine rocking clever clogs album – B

If I’, Not The Devil – letlive. – If their touch was only a little lighter, a song like “Nuromance” could breath, but it isn’t as this is thick skinned rock ordinaire – C

Wanderlust – Little Big Town – Four part harmonies their speciality, with good to great songs and a modern veneer provided by the producer, one Pharrell Williams. And they are joined by Justin Timberlake on the fine “Cmon”. Otherwise, WIlliams and the band wrote every song and they all work. “One Of Those Days” is a must hear  – B+

Blastoma – Ngaiire – Former Chet Faker back up singer, provides a glorious and soulful vocal for these slow burn pop songs, the songs are good as well – B+

Last Year Was Complicated – Nick Jonas – A break up album -something Nick knows a thing or two about, and slightly above average for the pop EDM scene. though just a touch. An occasional killer hook but the actual songs are nothing much. It should be huge – C+

Run – Olaf Stuut – Electronic compositions, not unpleasant in a tasteful way – B-

Pure McCartney – Paul McCartney – Got a catalog? Re-release it. No surprises here for the fan, but a couple of the 67 tracks, “English Tea” for one, “Fine Line” for another stands up really really well (both off the terrific Chaos And Creation In The Backyard), But too many dogs you’d hoped to never hear again, “Ebony And Ivory”, “Let ‘Em In”, “Say Say Say” and personal worse “Mull Of Kintyre”. Still, if you have the time, Paulie makes the case once and for all: he is the greatest melodist since Gershwin – A

Breakin’ Point – Peter Paul Bjork – Of course “Young Folks” was a fluke but a fluke these guys, who have been around since the end of the last century, deserved. This bores me but it isn’t terrible guitar based MOR – C+

Tooth – Raime – Electronic bleeper – C

Love, Lies, And Therapy – Saliva – Because I love the band name, I always expect these metal jammers to be good and they never ever are. They should change their name to spit – C-

Black Lights – Samaris – Electronic dark pop from Iceland, it sounds different just not different enough – B-

Tell Me If You Like Yo – Spring King – UK garage rockers who garage rock – C+

Rude Awakening – TGOD Mafia (Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa & TM88) – I can’t take these lame pussy and weed boys, at least in theory. In practice a handful of these tracks are pretty good hip hop party tracks – C+

Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary) – The Beach Boys – Are you fucking kidding me? Where are the 30th Anniversary Pet Sounds sessions? Who put this useless artifact together? Do they think the live tracks make up for it? I am furious – C

Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic – The Gotobeds – The problem is there is no “New York Sucks” to take you by surprise and strategy. But once you’ve said that, everything else about it is the definition of a great sophomore album. The DNA is the same, but songs like “Red Alphabet” define the aging process for bands who have just signed to a major indie like Sub Pop. It is the same only better, it rocks but not to distraction, willing to stagger in place when it feels like while it sheds and merges its post-punk influence – A-

Thick As Thieves – The Temper Trap – Pop rockers who brood too much for their own good, finally drop their follow up to their eponymous break through – C+

Patience – The Invisible – Apt name for this slow and steady beauty of mix and match downbeat ballads from the UK, start at the top with “So Well” and forgive them for not finding a better song for the estimable Anna Calvi – B

Throws – Throws – Electronic soul folk background and the two part harmonies are pleasant, but the songs aren’t really very good – C+

Wrong Crowd – Tom Odell – In theory, this guy is the perfect singer songwriter for the 21st century, his songs are strong and memorable and so is his voice. In practise, he was born to be the change up on a playlist and is tedious over an album – C+

Luxury Alone – Weird Dreams – A little bombastic for indie dream popscapes – C+

Tweens – Wye Oak – This Baltimore duo were always part of the sort of Brooklyn bill that had me pegging em electronic folkies, which they aren’t, they are indie rock folkies, and here they have loud but not calamitous rocking folkies on one goodie after another. This is one of those albums that deserve time so the hooks and melodies can settle in – B+

“.. It’s Too Late to Stop Now … Volumes II, III, IV & DVD” (3 CDs and 1 DVD) – Van Morrison – Extending what could well be considered one of the greatest livers ever, these adds taken from the same concerts in 1973 (Troubadour, Rainbow) loses nothing and adds only more terrific performances. The DVD is awesome, if Van’s pants were any tighter he could have proven it was turned on. Oh, and Van looks hysterically miserable during a singalong to “I Just Want To Make Love To You” – A+

King Chop – Young Chop – Apparently Chicago is the new Compton and here the producer of the huge Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” can’t find a hook as strong, though “Ring Ring” sure tries – B


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