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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 6-3-16 0 6-9-16

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Fading Lines – Amber Arcades – Indie walls of mood guitars via Holland refugee now Brooklyn one of them. “I Will Follow” is as sweet as humanly possible – B-

Friends Share Lovers – And The Kids – Well, some friends share lovers and this 20 something pop folk album explains how and why it works and goes wrong – B

Aggressive – Beartooth – Power riffage metalcore rockers, all attack all the time – B-

All You Need Is Bach – Cameron Carpenter – Organ master Carpenter concentrates on a central figure in his creative process, his signature International Touring Organ (ITO) – B

Treasure House – Cat’s House – Sixtyish songs of emotional congress – C+

Faraway Reach – Classixx – Cali EDM indie duo come up with the goods, especially the T-Pain autotune track and the Passion Pit sweetness overload – B

Obsessed – Dan + Shay – These guys were close to big time when I caught em live a coupla years and these country pop tracks should get them there this time round – B-

Reign – Dark Funeral – Melodic metalcore, with towering drums and at least one killer track, “Unchain My Soul” – B-

Until This Star Explodes – Erik Pitluga – Lo fi, intelligent folk songs for 20 somethings – B-

Vanilla – Evans The Death – A year and a bit after the excellent debut Expect Delays, this is more of the same except without the surprise quality. Good but not as thrilling and the songs are a step behind the first – B

Fear Of Men – Fall Forever – Quite the weak week for indie girls whining about the men. Another week you could up this a bit, by now  I am sick to death of it – – C

Means – Fews – Post punk wannabes, “There are elements of early The Cure, a bit of Scandinavian flair akin to Leaves, a dab of DIIV, a splash of early Foals’ math-rock and a whole lot of repetitive krautrock beats. Oh yes, and they’re inspired by the guitars of Interpol’s Daniel Kessler.” I didn’t say that Graeme Marsh of MusicOMH did. Yeah, still post-punk wannabes – C+

Strange Little Birds – Garbage – Electronic rockers return with a brooding little album filled with bon mots like, “I want to get wasted, forget all about it, like the blue dress in my closet”. Relentless heartache for nearly an hour -C+

#GPG – Guizmo – This is the real deal, 90s style rap only in French by a man who can really rap and, indeed, sounds to non French ears like he has something to say: powerful stuff. The guy had covered “Gangsta Paradise” in the past and this is closely related to US hip hop but it isn’t pop, it is darker  – B+

Bait Is For Sissies – Kino Kimono – “Passion is the mashed potato of my love” says lead singer Kim Talon, who recorded this along with Lee Ranaldo. Fuzzed out guitars and light and tight vocals and mashed potatoes – C+

Soul Searchin’ Jimmy Barnes – Smart album title from Australia’s standard bearer of old school soul, listen to his “Cry To Me” and what you get is so much swing and a voice that has so much undertow it swoops you along – B

The Illusion Of Logic – John Keenan – Indie hip hop rapper and producer has recorded a different sort of album, just very straightforward indie songs but rapped not sung – B

Wild Things – Ladyhawke – Very very mainstream pop from New Zealand with an eye on the charts, but it is oddly out of time. It doesn’t sound like it will make it out alive it is so static – C

Music For Outkasts – Leland Sundries – The Brooklyn folkies have a lot of good songs here, at their best on “Apocalypse Love Song” they match alt rock with folkie inclinations and a choppy rhythm, witty lyrics, and  a Lou Reed-y speak singy lead singer – B

Hero – Marin Morris – This female current singer is good but she isn’t great and so she is yet another woman country singer in 2016 who is finding herself overrated – B

Nasses Loaded – Melvins – 20 years after Cobain’s death, Buzz and  the boys sound exactly the same -post-punk monochromatic punk rock – B-

SOULROCK – Michael Franti And Spearhead – He is a smart lyricist but the songs, soul rockers as the title suggests, are Ben Harper boring – C

Minor Victories – Minor Victories – Given the pedigree, an Editors here, a Mogwai there, it is left arty than you might expect, some good, some less wonderful songs, try “For You Always” -if you like it you’ll like the album. I like it well enough – B-

Ha Ha He – Mourn – The group ages are between 16 and 19, and this has the widely formed sound of a band who have figured out they can do it. “Evil Dead” reminds me of The Fall, uncluttered wide of center art rock – B+

The Capsule – Necro Deathmort – Electronic goth sounds for the background of your waking nightmare, it bleeps and it bothers like the three witches in “Macbeth” – C+

What A Tease – Nico Yaryan – Hanni El Khatib’s drummer releases a singer songwriter album on the dull side – C+

Inside Another Side – Paul Foglino – When the folk revival finally kicks in, Foglino will be there ahead of us all, with this excellent collection of acoustic guitar flavored songs. The former bassist for 5 Chinese Brothers, studied with Dave Van Zonk, and has been playing around town  ever since. This collection contains the eagerly awaited “That’s How I Know” -a live staple which the Wiggles should cover. But there are no disappointments here – B+

Stranger To Stranger – Paul Simon – Paul’s more than legitimate thanatological stresses is smarter and scarier on “The Werewolf” than it was five years ago on “The Afterlife” five years ago, but “The Afterlife” was a better song. Song for song, that’s the problem with his electronica meets mutated African beats. It doesn’t sound as good as even his first album of the ’10s. There is no “Dazzling Blue”…. having said all of that, it is still good enough – B+

Inner Journey Out – Psychic Illness – This is straightforward classicist rock sounds, fair to middling songs but with a strummy yet obtuse feel – B

Robert Ellis – Robert Ellis – The follow up to The Lights From The Chemical Plant are mighty mighty fine, without the arched here it is Americana attitude of his breakthrough. Here he adds a 60s veneer to his country indie Americana sound – B+

Reason – Selah Sue – Electronic soul singer working MOR for all its worth via Sweden – B-

Live At Third Man Records – Shabazz Palace – Jack White in the house for some digital planets hip hop hocus pocus – B-

Eyes On The Lines – Steve Gunn – I considered Gunn a poor man’s Kurt Vile for a time, and I don’t even like Vile. He has the same easy going sound, the same ease in his drowsy skin. So does this, but it is better. Not the playing as such, less guitar hero histrionics than I am used to, for sure. More the easy flow of acoustic guitars. It is all good and “Full Moon Tide” is a masterpiece – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – B+

Love You To Death – Tegan And Sara – The modern day Indigo Girls as pop rockers only with much better songs. Both “Boyfriend” and “100x” are terrific and if modern tech production makes the sound on the slushy side (the drums on “U-Turn” could come off the new Ariana Grande), there are some other good tracks that break through – B

Ash And Ice – The Kills – If it ain’t broke. right? And this duo’s reduction of Jack White’s blues rock is far from broke. So here is more of the same. How long can they do it? One more album, at least – B-

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – The Lonely Island – A boy band not satire, which suggests an opinion, but parody. Relentlessly unfunny and unpleasant parody – C-

Future Present Past – The Strokes- The sooner the Strokes stop trying to be contemporary and accept their fate as a nostalgia act, the better for all concerned. This is business as usual, three songs and a remix and one is very good – B-

Seal The Deal And Let’s Boogie – Volbeat – If ever a band was in line to step, if not in Motorhead’s vacated shoes, in Motorhead’s shadow,  to excite the constitutions with the classicist’s classic rock, Volbeat are. This is close, it has moments, but something is missing. They seem to cut their sound, metal vs classic rock and doles em out in different songs instead of melding them together – B

Light On The Lake – Whitney – A little samey but these two Smith Western survivors have released a fine of soul country tracks that go from strength to strength, so that makes two for two viz former SWs – B+

Black Terry Cat – Xenia Rubinos – Cross pollinated electronic soul that defies such an easy categorization. Xenia is a fine singer and her songs are modern pop tropes of the first order – B+

Topiary – Xeno And Oaklander – Chilly synth mood music, a bit more melodic than we are used to B-

The Dream Concert: Live From The Great Pyramid Of Egypts – Of course it is elevator music, always has been. But it is elevator music at the Great Pyramids… – C

Colt – Young Moon –  With his dark and rich baritone, Montgomery lends gravity with what sounds pretty weighed down to start with. “Fell On My Face” is devastated – B-

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