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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 1-14-22- 1-20-22

The Gods We Can Touch – Aurora – you might have heard Aurora with The Chemical Brothers, or maybe on the Frozen II where she is the voice calling to Elsa, either way she has a unique sound that is both deep and a little spacey – B-

Billie And Stan – the 1954 album reaches the streaming service with a very young Stan Getz on sax – A

W – Boris – via Japan, where sludge meets shoegaze – C+

Skeletons (Deluxe) – Brothers Osborne – the country and rock duo add three tracks to their 2020 album – C+

Love and Other Lies – Charlotte Sands – ah yes, Tik Tok -where you’re a billionaire before you’re 20 and dead before you’re 30… Sands blew up big in 2020 and the EP is more singer songwriter stuff and not terrible – B-

Myths And Legends – Ghost – the Manchester, England instrumental digital band, sound like a soundtrack to a really bad video game – C+

La Fuera – Christina Aguilera – Spanish language pure Latin pop with Christina in excellent voice and “Pa Mis Muchachas” with Becky G featured. The upbeat dance tracks are great, the ballads not nearly as much – B-

on to better things – Iann Dior – Dior is definitely more than “Mood” because he not only has a sweet and yet supple voice, he is a king of tunefulness as well as electronic arrangements and his third album in three years is just a wonder of mode, a terrific album no doubt, and even better than El Dorado – A-

The Light at the End of the Line – Janis Ian – well, it is better than Sarah McLaughlin, and that is good, except who cares if it is better than her? More power to Ian, for sure, but musically, except for “At Seventeen”, O can’t really hear her – C+

Infection – John McLaughlin – the last I saw the jazz guitar maestro he was planning to sign albums after the show because streaming had destroyed his retirement fund back catalog (here), and this EDM-y beats and noise album won’t change anything – B-

Strictly A One-Eyed Jack – John Mellencamp – four goodies out of twelve and none of the three including Bruce Springsteen is included – C+

Good To Be… – Keb’ Mo’ – don’t worry, be happy on the L.A. singer songwriter who keeps his sunny side up on a decent if boring collection, the Darius Rucker duet is a meeting of minds – B-

Fall in Love Not in Line – Kids On A Crime Spree – this strange Swedish band released an album in 2011, an EP in 2021, and a first rate indie pop, pop beauty, hooked and sinkered set of ear candy on the first order – B+

Bloor Street – Kiefer Sutherland – awful Americana from the actor, as bad as the first – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Sorry 4 The Wait – Lil Wayne – while Weezy was having problems with Cash Money we were left waiting for Carter IV, so Lil Wayne dropped this reminded of how great he was, first time streaming – B+

Underwater – Ludovico Einaudi – the pianist at his most accomplished on a set of keyboard based tracks that merges towards ambience – B-

Dollar Menu – Mach Hommy – trying to cash in on last year’s breakthrough, the Haitian-American rapper is releasing to streaming his 2017 release with ThaGodFahim, a very tight seven songs of rap and beats – B+

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (Soundtrack from the Amazon Original) – Mark Mothersbaugh – nothing of too much interest for those who don’t both with incidental music, maybe the Sabre dance and the “Blue Danube”, the latter by a zombies band – C+

Change The Show – Miles Kane – you might remember Kane from The Last Shadow Puppets, and he is still, guitar and bass influenced but with more soulfulness – Corinne Bailey Rae makes an appearance, she hasn’t done an album since 2016 and only the occasional featured performance, so it’s great to hear from her – C+

Havasu – Pedro The Lion – David Bazan’s surprise drop takes him on a trip back to the second of five cities for five albums where he has lived in the past. The Seattle band is all in on a memory album about his years in Havasu, Arizona, and it isn’t bad though Bazan’s voice isn’t si attractive – C+

Brightside – Rich Brain – with his cringey other, other name Rich Chigga, in the rearview, the Indonesian rapper has one of the best flows in 22, he just skips through bar after bar with a full skill set. – B

Rework Collection 3 – Sneaker Pimps – The electronic band have released one new album in twenty years, of course this is an EP of remixes featuring reworks by Liam and Chris under different alias , try “Love Me Stupid” – B-

Down The Rabbit Hole – The Dollyrots – odds and sods from the pop-punk duos backpages, a terrific band by ny standards – released on Stevie Van Zandt’s garage rock label – B+

Ghost Stories – The Whitmore Sisters – The sisters harmonize very well as you would expect from two of Austin’s mainstays, Eleanor plays with Steve Earle’s band and is married to Chris Masterson, together they perform as The Mastersons. Here the sound of people dying and the sound of folk Americana half the time, country the other, it might make you think of The Roches and kudos to Bonnie on “Hurtin’ For A Let Down”. With Kelly Willis heading for a divorce, place The Mastersons at the top of the alt country married couples list – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

1979: Revolt Into Style – Various Artists – Cherry Red don’t really work on streaming services where they put up about 25% of the hard copy box set and the sense of the movement gets lost. I know some of these 28 songs, some not so much, always a pleasure to hear The Fall, ATV, 999, the Freshies and two by the Outsiders who I’ve never heard of. But as an overview of New Wave/Post Punk it isn’t close to what we need… the box set might be better – B

Now That’s What I Call Punk And New Wave – Various Artists – if you are the market for dozens of songs you loved in 1978 but haven’t thought of in decades try this – B+

Country Stuff The Album – Walker Hayes – five years after “You Broke Up With Me” managed another one hit, “Fancy Like” and really, he can maintain a song with skill and if the songs through an album can get awful average, he has the right – B

The Overload – Yard Act – post-punk somewhere between The Fall and Sleaford Mods, the Leeds band’s debut album is fair enough angular 80s+, try “Pay Day” which is weird and groovy – B-

Night Call (New Year’s Edition) – Years And Years – one of the premiere gay (bottoms?) in the pop business is more than comfortable with EDM, his new album is a double including long released songs with Elton John and Kylie Minogue, and his terrific version of “It’s A Sin” with Elton and produced by Pet Shop Boys. The single was already huge, so should be the album… in the UK – B+

Long Live Young Dolph – Paper Route EMPIRE – after Young Dolph being shot to death, his posse Paper Route EMPIRE have released an album of mourning, featuring Key Glock on “Proud” and while the rest of the artists are unknown to me the mood is consistent and there is a sorrow at the heart of it, less poncing and one a share of love with the charity filled rapper who’d been on the streets of Chicago since he was 16. A real loss and this is a decent remembrance, “Love For Me” -which features Young Dolph- is, dare I say it, delicate and moving – B+

Truth Be Told – Young T & Bugsey – where dancehall meets hip hop and even Chronixx makes an appearance, an addictive good time that will get your on the dancefloor (some of the time) – B

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