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Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 9-9 -16 – 9-15-16


Calico Review – Allah Lahs – Pedrum Siadatian is a terrific guitarist and lead singer Miles Michaud Lou Reeds it up with the best of em, but for both garage and psychedelia it is all a little psued and a little quiet. Check out “Could Be You” – B-

Wild World – Bastille – Rock anthems for people who don’t know the first thing about either rock or anthems, a painfully bad album that takes the worst aspects of current rock and roll and blows em way out of proportion – D-

Homages – Benjamin Grosvenor – The British pianist performs works where great composers pay tribute to their predecessors: “Both Mendelssohn and Franck look back to the Prelude & Fugue form made so popular by Bach, while Busoni takes Bach’s great solo violin Chaconne and reinterprets it in a bold and imaginative transcription for piano. Chopin breathes new life into the traditional Barcarolle of Venetian gondoliers, followed ten years later by Liszt’s tribute to Italian folksong, Venezia e Napoli.” – B+

Thin Line – Billy Ray Cyrus – Guest stars aplenty, Shelby Lynn is on two of em, Joe Perry on a very iffy country rocker, Shooter Jennings… you know like that, for what is a mid-80s sounding country album. Ordinary, sure, but not bad mannered – B-

Something Worth Saving – Gavin DeGraw – Dowdy pop songs, that don’t hook AGAIN, there is something so tentative about this guy that he seems ready made for 30 something moms who want to be cool but don’t know how – D+

Big Mess – Grouplove – Another album that opens with a big bang, the terrific “Welcome To Your Life”, and then spins out with more big pop multi-everything feel good bland outs – C+

Shapeshifter – Ian Sweet – Indie pop trio, a little weirder than usual but it keeps your attention for long enough: it has a peculiar post-punk late 70s feel – B

Jack White Acoustic recordings 1998 – 2016 – Jack White, the White Stripes, the Raconteurs – A career retrospective by other means, which means it is great during mid-period White Stripes and solo White 2012, and not great elsewhere. You’d think something somewhere was being revealed, but musically, he made the right decisions and an acoustic “Hotel Yorba” is fun but finite and typical– B

Borderland State – J Churcher – Beautiful sounding crooner with ornate but not too ornate orchestration at the service of fine and big ballads… but not too big – B+

Kin – KT Tunstall – Singer songwriter oldschool by a real talent who shoulda broke bigger here. One good song after another, that’s all – B+

Sunlit Youth – Local Natives – A plodding LA indie band, they make Cold War Kids look cutting edge – C

In Loving Memory Of When I Gave A Shit – LOLA – Stylish pop soul singer, she mentions Candi Staton but the vernacular soul songs here are more Amy Winehouse. “Heard It From A Friend” is the goods – B

Stripped – Macy Gray – Macy plus jazz band, covering herself and some other people. It’s alright with me, except for “Redemption Song”, which much like “Hallelujah”, should be given a miss at this point – B-

Aim – M.I.A. – I love everything M.I.A. has ever done, including the Wikileeks mixtape and including her live performances. But if this had been the follow up to Kaya, she would have lived up to her world conquering capabilities. M.I.A. as poppy as possible and still rhyming Devon with Yemen – A-

Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave – If you can get past the horror, what you have is an orchestrated, relentless beauty in the face of horror. “Distant Sky” is a uniquely perfect organ slow sweet sadness, spiritual in nature if not in intention, and typical of the way in which Cave’s relentless gloom over the years, is put into use to detail not the story but the moments of pure tragedy -ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Polar Similar – Norma Jean – The Christiancore band of your dreams, loud, clever, brutal, faithful. Good stuff – B+

Cosmetic – Nots – Now this is pure post-punk punkiness, loud, aggressive, and right in your face while moving from fast drone to hard rock – B

Cold War – Of Mice And Men – The first track is alright but otherwise it is over arranged hipsterish metalcore and a little on the light side given the genre, though it can get crunchy – C+

Away – Okkervil River – I’ve never liked these solemn indie folkies till now, but there is no denying “Mary On Her Way”, a song so strong it pulls this dreary thing out of the doldrums, and makes you search for a coupla songs worth listening to. And which you might, in fact, find – C+

Going Home – Pain – Scandinavian producer of metal’s side project, a little more heavy metal and a little less metalcore than you’d expect – C+

Future Echoes – Pictish Trails – Deep harmonies buried along with iffy song – C+

Strangers – Psychic Twins – Electronic dark pop strokes, the singer is pretty nice and it feels like 80s synth pop that just heard its boyfriend was dead – B-

Ramones 40th Anniversary Anniversary Deluxe Edition? – The Ramones – That’s the way to do it, the album, mono mixes, the singles, demos and a live from the Roxy 1976 concert – A+

Internal – Safia – Aussie indie electronic pop band, soulful enough – B-

Sea Of Noise – St. Paul And The Broken Bones – They would be much better if they were much better, these Average White Band guys have the sound but not the songs – C+

Arcadian – Symbion Project – Electronic singer songwriter compositions, can be quite beautiful from time to time – B
Here – Teenage Fanclub – They’ve been mining power pop for decades, never better, never worse, it bores me sideways though it is hard to actively dislike this much guitar – C+

Live At The Hollywood Bowl – The Beatles – There is that old semi-boot live in Germany, there is the mid-70s release of this album never to return, and there is the live on the roof tracks off Let It Be and that’s it for live Beatles. I loved the first iteration of Hollywood Bowl (a 1964 and a 1965 concert stuyck together, as Jack Hurta mentioned), and prefer this. It is the cleanest sound you’ll get and it is proof that even deafened by the screams, they sounded fine and both John and Paul could really sing. The actual album is a little strange, “Long Tall Sally” was the end of the concert but then it circles back for some bonus tracks. It takes you out of the dream of being there. Both Paul and John are as witty, charming and sweet natured as you could hope for. More than history, less than an important addition to the canon, it’s the Beatles, they are live, what’s not to like? – A

Darren 4 – The Tyde – LA band sounds like a mix of 60s and 80s UK rock, some of it is pretty terrific but there is a fussiness to them that puts me off – B-

Signs Of Light – The Head And The Heart – Americana meets prog rock meets classic rock meets a bottle of dramamine – C

Same Words, Different Language – Tim Burgess & Peter Gordon – That’s Tim, the lead singer of the Charlatans, and experimental smartypants Peter, and this is a very lovely and powerful meeting of minds where, really, minds shouldn’t be meeting. “Love Is All Around” is the best song I’ve heard all week – B+
Mud – Whiskey Myers – Americana country boys go Southern rock, that fiddle is pretty tasty though this is ordinary enough – C+

Star Treatment – Wovenheart – Dark and brutal Scott Walkerish fearsomeness – C+

Schmilco – Wilco -Quiet Americana that opens very very well and then steadily declines either because the songs are unacceptable (“Common Sense” is a major irritant), or, more likely, because we are fed up with the sound – C+

Live – Great Hits From Around The World – ZZ Top – A useless concept for a pointless album – C

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