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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 11-10-21 – 11-16-21 Reviewed

B4 AVA – A Boogie Wit A Hoodie – the always prolific Boogie with a quick dip 7 song EP of superior hip hop – B+

Observatory – Aeon Station – The Wren’s bassist Kevin Whelan goes solo for some indie Americana that probably translates better on stage – C+

KEYS – Alicia Keys – 90 minutes of Alicia at her best and by that read most mediocre, a long slog of genre boredom with the only thing of interest the Pusha T verse – MUST TO AVOID – D

First Flight To Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings – Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Charlie Parker track is genius, the Thelonious Monk its equal, and while some of us will always have a problem with drum solos, Blakey has always been an answer – A

One Two Melody – Beach House – second EP leading to the album is four songs of impeccable loveliness and tastefulness – B+

Belinda (35th Anniversary Edition) – Belinda Carlile – her best solo album only improves with a coupla extended mixes, and some live songs – B+

Big Sleepover – Big Boi, Sleepy Brown – Atlanta soul singer joins an Outkast for a set of hip hop rap tracks on Big Sleepover – B

One Year (50th Anniversary Edition]- Colin Blunstone – The Zombies lead singer two solo albums from the 1970s. They stand out as beautiful baroque pop tracks and catchier than his work with the Zombies – A-

Blind Date Party – Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy – from Billie Eilish (“I Wish You Were Gay”) to Steely Dan (“Deacon Blue”), the two Americana folkies blend their voices on one strong cover after another and an absolute highlight the version of “The Wild Kindness” featuring the late David Berman’s wife, Cassie – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Dead Best – Dead Best – 13 barnburners recorded during the heart of the pandemic, via Pennsylvania – B

Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas (Expanded Edition) – Ella Fitzgerald – now 18 songs deep, and I’ll take it over Michael Buble every single time. But that doesn’t make an all swinging Christmas a great idea and even on the quieter “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” it keeps the tempo from swing. It is a swing manifesto. Here we get three alternative takes, all fine, and album highlight: Count Basie’s “Good Morning Blues” – A-

A Very Lonely Solstice – Fleet Foxes – a live stream of their 2020 album performed by Robin Pecknold at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn. Just about what you hoped of from the art indie band with a couple of toes in Americana – B

BBC Sessions (Live) – Green Day – From 1994 – 2001. Starts off great and then slackens – B

Fighting Demons – Juice WRLD – I wasn’t keen on the first single “Already Dead” -a nightmare trip to the voices in his head and whose irony was tasteless. But that is the worst of it, the second single “Wandered To LA” (featuring Justin Bieber) is an autotuned emo melody added to a trap beat and the sound is hip hop not rap. Everything here is hip hop not rap, not even emo rap, it sounds like a deeply melodic set of completed songs not the usual stray verse cobbled together with guests and beats – A-

No Church In A While – Lecrae, 1K Phew – if we must hear CCM for god’s sake make it rap, this collab between label mates consider what the pandemic has done to church going – C+

Balens Cho (Hot Candles) – Mach-Hommy – a concise addendum to Pray For Haiti, Newark rapper Mach-Hommy is “Sneaker shopping in Bel-air, I’m on my 12th pair, The closet got more loafers than welfare,” even as he attempts to open a Technical School in Port-Au-Prince – B+

Pray For Haiti – Mach-Hommy – I missed this in May when it dropped, if you did as well be aware that this astonishingly rhymed and rap (with Mach-Hommy back on Griselda Records with Westside Gunn) as he interlopes Creole and past rap to emerge with an album filled with implications crystalized in the last three songs where he explains precisely why we are praying for Haiti – A

The Time of the Foxgloves – Michael Hurley – fifty years into the Village denizen’s “outsider folk,” he sounds wonderful on this collection of his own, light and airy songs – B+

Memphis Ice – Nicole Adkins – a sophisticated Americana sound, her last album, 2020’s Italian Ice performed live in the studio – C+

Barn – Neil Young – a harvest moon about thirty years later finds Neil mellow and melodic though some of us are of the thought that maybe, just maybe, Psychedelic Pill would be the better template – B+

Paul Weller – An Orchestrated Songbook With Jules Buckley & The BBC Symphony Orchestra – Paul Weller – Paul Weller’s solo career, like his years with The Jam (less so The Style Council), has remained an English phenomenon and with a stunning take on his “English Rose” setting the standards, he manages to make a case for the sheer loveliness of his very English sounds – B+

Richer Than I Ever Been – Rick Ro$$ – this should do it for Ro$$ -the album is as good as any Maybach music, and it is still gonna stiff – B-

In This Room – San Fermin – a lowkey chamber pop folkiness – B-

Interior – Teen Daze – The Canadian producer with an ambient added some collectively fresh beats on borderline EDM (but never tech) – B

Flag Day (Original Soundtrack) – Various Artist – featuring Eddie Vedder and Glen Hansard plus two songs from Cat Power, though only “My Father’s Daughter” does it – C+

Tokyo Glow – Various Artists – The French label WeWantSounds has hooked up with Nippon Columbia to compile 22 songs worth of disco, funk and soul from Japan’s semi-popular sounds. It sounds right on the money – B+

West Side Story (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists – The 1961 soundtrack wasn’t so great either but it had the standard takes on “Something Great,” “Maria,” “America” and others which this one sure don’t – C+

nothing ever changes. – will hyde – Melbourne popstar and one half of electronic duo SŸDE, returns on his second solo EP as a sad boy doping quiet and sad songs like a poster child for post-pandemic Gen Z – B

Wiz Got Wings – Wiz Khalifa – hand this to Wiz, he’s been doing it for over 15 years with no drop in quality, and if he never hit it BIG he has remained biggish -these are r&b songs in th chorus, raps in the verses and pretty bluesy backing – B

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