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Be Here Now: New Music Reviews 12-2-16 – 12-8-16



“Awaken My Love” – Childish Gambino – Art provoked neo-soul. He has the voice but is sunk by the songs – C+

W:/2016ALBUM/ – Deadmau 5 – Deadmau5 has said it was rushed and just released to pay the bills. But it sounds to my ears about as good or lousy as any tech nightmare Joel Zimmerman. So can you dance to it? I can’t – C

Perfectly Imperfect – Grace VanderWaal –  The twelve year old “America’s Got Talent” winner gives precocious whole new levels of meaning. But she has the songs, especially the breakthrough “I Don’t Know My Name”, and she has the voice, so maybe give the ukulele just teen chanteuse a chance – B

Darkness And Light – John Legend – State of the art r&b from a man whose anger has caused him to shake off his player piano smoothness and tighten the funk to a noose around the neck deal breaker. Blake Mills produced? Yeah, I agree – A-

Kane Brown – Kane Brown – I know what you think but look at this: Kane dropped outta “The X Factor” when he refused to join a boyband they wanted to manufacture. Now he is a country singer with a big voice and a whole lotta baggage as a biracial man raised by a single Mom in the deep South. His debut album is a country based loud and rocky thing, saved by anything but the usual unusual lyric try the seven year old Kane being beaten by his step-dad for wetting the bed. The song is a country rapper plus slide “Learning” -B

Before The Dawn – Kate Bush – After a 35 year old break from live performances, Kate Bush and  her ensemble “The KT Fellowship” performed a 22 date residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Apparently the performance was as wildly ambitious as you’d imagine but since we aren’t getting the DVD any time soon, this live document will have to stand as proof. Broken into three acts (and “discs”), the first includes biggies like “Hounds Of Love” and “Running Up That Hill”, the second act is a pop opera version of second side of Hounds Of Love, where a woman is lost at sea (wow, could it be a metaphor) while her husband and son go about their life, a remarkable good art rock progger. Less successful is Act Three which I can’t understand at all (guess you had to be there) though when they shut up and sing it works fine, especially on closer “Cloudbusting”. In the end, you had to be there but if you weren’t, it’ll have to do – B+

In The Next Life – Maria Taylor – Maria starts her own label, invites her Saddle creek extended family along, and takes the joy of new marriage and motherhood that informs Something About Knowing, and widens it to songs of love and family and the process of aging. Who else does this? No one, not really, maybe Amy Grant… Nobody but Maria – A

Oh My My – Onerepublic – Did I miss this, or did I review it and forget it as Ryan Tedder’s band sunk without a trace and deserved to? – D+

Hairspray Live! (Original Soundtrack Of The NBC television Event) – Original Television Cast Of Hairspray – Marissa Jaret Winokur exuberant Tracy Turnblad is irreplaceable, and this NBC doesn’t come close. Because of that, everything rags just a little. Maybe it will make sense on television today (12/2) – B

Hamburg Demonstrations – Peter Doherty – “You made a fortune but you broke inside,” Pete sings for his old and gone friend Amy Winehouse in the heartbroken and forlorn “Flags From The Old Regime”. It is a rare song on an album of rare and beatiful shambles and sweet alt rockers. Lo fi but solid,   but is his best work since the early days of the Libertine… or at least that Babyshambles first album- B+

Don’t Smoke Rock – Smoke DZA & Pete Rock – Good advice… if you’ve been in a hole for the past thirty years, but acceptable punwise I guess. “Black Superhero Car” is Rick Ross’ best verse in ages – B

The Dream Synopsis EP – The Last Shadow Puppets – Two re recordings of songs off their last album, four covers including Alex Turner singing The Fall: the seventh ring of hell personified – D

Blue And Lonesome – The Rolling Stones – as obscure as Moondog Matinee, as reverent as Rock n Roll, and as fresh as England’s Newest Hitmakers, it is better than any of them because to play the blues you have to know the blues, and the Stones know the blues, and they have never played it better – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Def Jam Presents Direct Deposit – Various Artists – Odds and sods compilation from recent releases, the 2 Chainz- Drake opener is great and I missed it earlier this year, though the highlight is Def Jam’s very own Future, Desiigner, Kanye West kills the “Tiimmy Turner” remix, and new signing Amir Obe fits in nicely on “No Peace”.  Oh and, sure the YG and Nipsey Hussle (and Fitty) “I Wanna Benz” is excellent but they should have used “FDT” instead – B+

The Hamilton Mixtape – Various Artists – Saves Lin-Miranda’s wordy obscurantism by pinpointing every song through different singers. Ashanti and Ja Rule top of the list with “Helpless”, but Chance The Rapper and Andra Day close by. Unfortunately, nothing can save the flawed theme song “My Shot” -not even Busta Rhymes – A-

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