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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 9-2-16 – 9-8-16



Bad Vibrations – A Day To Remember – There was a time, maybe five years ago, I thought maybe the pop mosh boys were pretty good, but this is another lot of screamo over emo pop melodies and metal riffs, that is simply too lame to be taken seriously. And they are worse live – C-

Poets And Saints – All Sons And Daughters – What the Civil Wars has brought together, is being shovelled back to the stone age with couple duets performing dragged out fagged out Americana folk with steadily diminishing results: adding God just plusses out the negatives – C-

Spotify Sessions – Anderson Paak – Two years ago I was raving about this guy and he still hasn’t hit as big as he will, but this won’t help. The least Spotify could have done was captured him right. This misses the live excitement… – B-

Verismo – Anna Netrebko – The popular German soprano, working with her husband, goes for the dramatic (note the album name), and hits the high notes with stamina, even without the gifts of her youth intact. Her bottom has bottomed out. Jason Serinus has a terrific review on Stereophile (here) – B

MYWOMAN – Angel Olsen – Sure, I liked “Unfuck The World” and “Lights Out” , but the operative word is “liked”. I never really bought into the slowpoked Lilith gal tough without signifying stuff all that much. And then the three singles off MYWOMAN? I wasn’t crazy about any of them. So it might be worth mentioning that they sound better in context on an album that rattles its own cages, with a poppier yet powerful indie rock and rail against itself songs – B

Glass: Prophecies – Anton Batagov – Philip Glass re-arranged for solo piano and better than you think it is, Koyaanisqatsi and Einstein On The Beach highlights are completely alive here – B+

Want It Need It – Baby Strange – UK rock, it could be worse it could be US rock – C

No Mind No Money – Beach Baby – The title track is a keeper but they can’t maintain a sparkling indie rock post punk otherness through the album – C+

Animal – Big Scary – If the vocals were stronger they could mine a Yazoo electronic buzz to completion – B-

What Are We Fighting For – Dodgy – The Britpop band return with a coupla good tunes before devolving into Britrock 16 business as usual – C+

Autumn – Chatham County Line – Indie meets bluegrass, comes with its own pillow – C

Can’t Die – Chris Farren – Inspired by “Coconut Records, Belle & Sebastian and Magnetic Fields” , this is melodic indie pop, catchy but Farren should get other people to sing his material – B-

False Readings On – Eluvium – More ambient soundscapes with classical leanings – C+

Messenger Of The Gods: The Singles collection – Freddie Mercury – Freddie took what he had learnt from fronting Queen on heavy metal and/or dance tracks, and put it on top of MOR ballads, with predictable results – C

Better Together – Gaither Vocal Band – Grammy winning Gospel harmony band, bring all the fun of revelation on this light on its feet C and M but not quite contemporary sounding dreaminess. Finally some joy for being lead out of bondage – B+

Stillicide – Helms Alee – Dreamscape deep throbbing sounds that try and sooth and pound and instead sound confused – C+

The Sun’s Tirade – Isaiah Rashad – Top Dawg know a good rapper when they hear one, and Rashad’s sophomore effort is a very good one. Coming back from the brink of addiction to pills and alcohol which left the album unrecorded, it was pretty much worth the wait. Rap and soul slow burns, beautiful done – B+

A Moment Of Madness – Izzy Bizu – Neo-soul with a protean singer who moves from Billie Holiday to Macy Gray and back, on this pretty good modern disco album – B

We Move – James Vincent McMorrow – It wasn’t exactly a movement, but everybody from James Blake to James McMorrow seemed to be the scion of Bon Iver -dark mood singer songwriter with a falsetto leading and tech skills a gimme. McMorrow is one of the best, strange and strangely arranged singer songwriter songs that build inroads after a coupla spins- B

I’ve Got This Covered – Johnny Thunders – If ever a man was born to do justice to the Stones “I’d Much Rather Be With The Boys”, this is the man. Not great recordings of cover songs -just about what you’d expect, Chuck Berry, the Monkees, ray Charles – less than one take, indeed, live on stage. I love it, but I can put my arms round a memory – B+

Nine Pin – Kaia Kater – Recorded in just one day by the 22 year old Americana singer, she should have taken a little longer. It sounds like there is a very good song trying to get out but harmed by stuff like the unbearable a capella “Harlem’s Little Blackbird”. Much better is the banjorine “Nine Pin”, and a couple of others also fill the boredom gap – B-

Astronaut Meets Appleman – King Creosote – DIY follow up to his breakthrough, adds bagpipes to folk for some very pleasant singer songwriter moves, especially the one where his baby daughter’s gurgles the entire lyric – B
Pens From Spain – Loch Lomond – An eight piece band with the sort of arrangements you’d expect from Beirut, pretty and intelligent but a little on the quiet side even for indie folk, even so they can really get it right. “A String” is a stately love song – C+

Expert Knob Twiddlers – Mike And Rich – The title says it all, old time electronic music – B-

Fresh Outta Space 3 – Nef The Pharoah – San Fran rapper phenom, sounds almost light hearted on the Snoop Dogg story of weed “Smoke Suffa”, otherwise it is too good natured to swagga so just give into the fine rapping -all of which are fun when compared to the Kanye’s mom died sound emanating from rap nowadays – B

Athol Brose – Nouvelle Vague – Songs covered in ambient dreamy yet Brazilian soundscapes, the Cocteau Twins version works, the Joy Division doesn’t… which makes sense when you think about it – C+

Music For Raising – Odd Nostrum – Ambient dreamscape – C

Cold World – Of Mice And Men – The title track is killer but it soon reverts to metalcore mode – C+

The Golden Age Of Bullshit EP – PARTYBABY – First rate alt-rock, aggressive diffused dissonant temp swerving rockers – B

Nothing To Fear Nothing To Fight EP – Robots And Monsters – Depression and anxiety are the themes but the sound is as tough as the symptoms are upsetting. Great guitarist and “Never Again” is a powerful roar – B

Blisters EP – Serpentwithfeet – Queer soul and pop postmodernism by the beautiful voiced Josiah Wise on a stunning EP, five songs, all moving explorations of gay love and the complexities that happen when “the chord connecting us two is made of gossamer” -what a warning. I wish there was more – A-

Sex Stains – Sex Stains – Bratmobile singer Allison Wolfe leads these post punk riot grrrl rockers, on Don Giovanni so you know it’s pretty darn good, Allison declares with the best of em, and the album has impressive uniqueness. The ska “Cutie Pie” is terrific – B

Skye And Ross – Skye And Ross – Two members of Morcheeba go solo, together, and it is pleasant Afro-pop MOR. The opening track “Repay The Savior”. is better than that – B-

Filler Road (feat Patti Smith) – Soundwalk Collective, Jesse Paris Smith – Patti reads the late chanteuse Nico’s poetry over Soundwalk Collective’s ambient music and featuring her daughter Jesse. I don’t think it could be any more boring… I mean, how? – D+

Familia – Sophie Ellis-Bextor – If CHR still existed, Sophie would be its poster-boy on these over-arranged, main string pop tracks. “Wild Forever” is a keeper – C+

Foreverland – The Divine Comedy – Neil Hannan’s new album is proggy, orchestrated, overly dramatic UK pop. You can hear the six years of effort between albums on every moment of this deeply arch and overreaching old school album – B

Twisted Love – The Quireboys – 80s UK glam metal rockers, reformed at the turn of the century and if you enjoy crunchy bubblegum. rough hewn by the number rockers, come and get it – B-

Birds In The Night Sing McKnight – Travis $cott – Don’t let the huge amount of guests fool you (André 3000, Kid Cudi, Swizz Beatz, Cassie, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, The Weeknd and more). this is layered trap beats and vocal ruminations on $cott’s only subject -himself. It sounds terrific, Rodeo was a great album (which he couldn’t perform on stage), and this is better: sure, you have to appreciate both trap and autotune, and not expect its gifts to announce itself at first, but with repeat listening Travis comes to the front. A fighter and lover with a sense of self that sounds paralyzed in power – B+

Cartwheels – Ward And Thomas – Mainstream UK country pop, like Taylor Swift circa Fearless with about a tenth of the skill. Meaning: not bad, they might break here. Tim McGraw should give the twin sisters an opening slot and see if lightning strikes twice – B-

Songs From The Pale Eclipse – The Warlocks – Psyche rock LA style by a West Coast Zelig, featuring a four guitar attack that doesn’t enough – C+

Epic Lit – Various Artists – Epic has found gold in dem thar hills, compiling songs from their hip hop roster. The first couple were alright, but this is too French Montana heavy, carrying a whole lotta folks not quite ready – C+

Going, Going… The Wedding Present – Mope rockers from the 80s still mope tunefully – B-

Growing Over Life – Wretch 32 – Part of the Grime crew Combination Chain Gang, and a major player who never got the recognition of a Spekta, though on the strength of this rap and soul, he should have. Towards the end of the album both Laura Mvula (who has one of the best albums of the year to her credit) and Emile Sande make guest appearances, and are welcome but not needed. This is populist modern Afro-pop, an exquisite series of melodies and raps and a major coming of age for Jermaine Scott. If this doesn’t break here, chalk it down to bad luck – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Ultra – Zomby – Old school dubstep before it became the 00s version of trap, now it is so fully integrated it is pointless to mention. Unless you’re a DJ like Zomby, who knows how dubby bass is meant to sound – B

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