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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 9-30-16 – 10-6-16

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The Easy Truth – Apollo Brown & Skyzoo – The other side of rap, semi-underground rhymin’ and sampling from all points on the compass, nod to it – B+

The Alter – Banks – Catchy EDM pop mood music, like a female The Weeknd meets a female Hailee Steinfeld – B

Masculin Féminin – Blonde Redhead – I keep mistaking em for Concrete Blonde and wondering why the whiplash changes from post-punk brutality to hard rock banalities. This compilation should make it all clear – B-

Blue Mountain – Bob Weir – The Americana album of the year, it drags after a while, but cmon, what do you expect? It ain’t jam, it is folk and even when the songs bore, the voice is excellent. A real shocker – B

22, A Million – Bon Iver – After a five year gap, Bon Iver return with a high tech album of folk tracks with beats, completely current, very confident, but still stuck somewhere in Wisconsin conceptually. “00000 Million” is a perfect Bon Iver song, “715 – Creeks” is Pitch Perfect break up by other means, and if you give the rest of it the time, you’ll hear electronic voice manipulation give way to piano and back, while the instrumentation rearranges itself in your ear. It takes concentration but it is worth the effort – B+

Tao Of The Devil – Brant Bjork – Tasty riffs that seem to want to metal on but have too much on their mind – B-

Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown – More songs about cunninligus and coke, or how to be orally fixated without sounding like a prat. With a unique, nasally whine of a voice and a flow that makes everything sound cool and funny if a flow can sound like an adjective, and backing tapes that the Guardian recently compared to Captain Beefheart, this is mainstream rap that sounds experimental, a power popping perfection on “Really Doe” where he is joined by Kendrick Lamar (which figures) and Earl Sweatshirt (which certainly doesn’t), and that ain’t the best. There is no worse, so test drive anything you want – B+

The Complete Trio Recordings – Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt – Both of the 80s albums, and a taste of the third albums unreleased and different takes. Which had me scurrying to Itunes because I remembered I was being offered completion, and over and above the two original albums, it didn’t hit me as complete.So I bought the entire collection and got my hands on all 20 new releases instead of the measly 5 songs on Spotify. That was the plan, wasn’t it? -the complete complete Trio is two hours and twenty seven minutes, an additional hour, of time well spent. – A

American Band – Drive-By Truckers – Easy to hate in principle, this collection of protest songs is very very good, for one reason only: They wrote the songs that were needed.The lyrics are too blunt and that’s the only complaint: DBT have a voice and they they have a point of view and they maintain their political and social horror vision right the way through. “Once They Banned Imagine” is a song of the year – B+

Bad Bitch – Jenny Hval – “Jenny Hval’s conceptual takes on collective and individual gender identities and sociopolitical constructs landed Apocalypse, girl on dozens of year end lists and compelled writers everywhere to grapple with the age-old, yet previously unspoken, question: What is Soft Dick Rock?” All well and good but organizing principles are not songs… “The Great Undressing” is a song – B

Scheherazade.2 – John Adams – If all Adams had ever composed was On The Transmigration Of Souls, quite possibly the best albums of the 2000, this post-modernist’s every release would be a must hear. So heart it, it is interesting side background classicisms – B

For Better Or Worse – John Prine – Prine sings duets with female contemporaries on popular and semi-popular country standards –  ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Rhea – Oathbreaker – Death metal, I like the chick leadsinger – C+

1- Off World – Electronic instrumentals, with the occasional jazz backgrounding, try “Primitive Streak” – B-

Sorceress – Opeth – Plodding prog metal via Stockholm – C-

Head Carrier – Pixies – I’ve never been a fan and these proto-grunge tracks are worse than most of their 80s stuff – C

Arc Angel – Planetary Assault Systems – Techno, and not bad, the sounds are really strange and keep on throwing up something different (is that animals in the wild? Er, no), for around five minutes and then you’re ready to move on – C+

Never Enough – Public Access TV – The New York based indie pop rockers, lead by former Be Your Own Pet’s John Eatherly (who sounds like Julian Casablancas with less drugs), are ready for their close up on this catchy debut album which should cement their position as the city’s favorite sons – B+

Remember Us To Life – Regina Spektor – Four years on, this ain’t bad Regina, but it isn’t great either. “Grand Hotel” is a good song, there a lot of good songs. But there is no “Small Town Moon” or “All The Rowboats” -let alone “Ink Stains”. So on a curve, it is her worse to date, though as a standalone it more than provides us with great piano based singer songwriter songs with literate and clever lyrics and first rate tunes – B+

Live, Vol 2 – Saint Vitus – From a 2013 concert in Luxembourg, the Black Sabbath acolytes (check out their name), back from the 1980s and sludging your brains out – C+

Welcome – Slaughter Beach, Dog – This is Jake Ewald of Modern Baseball, a talented fellow no doubt and you will enjoy this fine indie rock exercise – B

Take Control – Slaves – SPIT IT OUT SPIT IT OUT! They breakthrough last year and this more of the same, very thrilling punk rock, though too many songs reach and pass the three minute time – B

A Seat At The Table – Solange – Beyonce’s kid sister has always been more than simply Beyonce’s kid sister, with an ear for indie (which she taught to Bey, it is hard to imagine “Hold Up” without Solange’s influence), and a deep neo soul arrogance, smart enough to be modern, real enough to work on stage. Her first album since 2012’s excellent True is her best to date. “Junie” is a typical disco meets funk, meets finger picked bass piece of aural intoxication, though everything here is great and with 21 tracks , things could’ve gone wrong. At the very least, hold up for the Q Tip appearance at the very least – A-

World Gone Mad – Suicidal Tendencies – With the original line up elvis, this still has Mike Muir so good enough, though it doesn’t sound half as vicious as it used to – C+

RR7349 – S U R V I V E – Ambient music but, get this, analogue! – C+

Be Yourself – Tamara Rutkovska – The most interesting pop singer since Meghan Trainor showed, she has the slighted of accents and adds beatbox to bass hooks and pop gooey bubblegum – B+

Don’t Be Afraid – Tami Neilson – Powerful voice blues country singer via New Zealand, here she sings some fair songs till they blow your mind – B+

Dream Darling – The Slow Show – Slow steaming rock mood ballads with a great baritone leading the way, this Manchester (England!) guys never falter: it is like waking up for a sweet dream to remember your girlfriend died the week before – B+

All Your Happy Life – The Wytches – Psychedelic garage rockers, with a certain visceral power to em though we’ve been here many times before – B-

Keep Me Singing – Van Morrison – This isn’t a great album, but it is quintessential Van Morrison and would have fit right in with those string of 90s albums: a little blues, a little Caledonia folk, some soul, some prosaic lyric weirdness, a little traditional, a little ritual… and missing the sort of songs that made him a legend, but not the voice that went with the legend – B+

Inspired By The Birth Of A Nation – Various Artists – Some of this is the run and hide, black lives bore breast beating you expect, but, Vic Mensa’s lead off “Go Tell ‘Em” is excellent, Mensa can beat his breast whenever he ever wants – B-
Dusk – Ultimate Painting – I expect more than this stuff from a UK band that call one track “Song For Brian Jones” -I once knew a plumber named Brian Jones, maybe they mean him? – C

Super Low – Warehouse – We haven’t heard anything out of Athens, Ga, in a long time, this is the usual unusual circa 1985, loud and low, scrawny and tough indie rock, DIY sounding though not in a contemporary manner: they should be signed by IRS – B

Toy – Yello – Swiss tech band from the 1970s -so like Kraftwerk meets synthpop, only tweeer – B-

Yellowcard – Yellowcard – Rock ordinaire though “Rest In Peace” is a clever idea – C

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