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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 11-26-21 – 12-2-21

World Of Walker – Alan Walker – the DJ/producer hasn’t had another hit the size of “Faded”, and while in the early 10s it seemed possible it might, EDM never supplanted hip hop and the last chance died with Avicii. But Walker is pretty good when he deeps into house, and not good when he produces pop music – C+

Las Leyendas Nunca Mueren – Anuel AA – Puerto Rican Anuel is second only to Bad Bunny and J Balvin when it comes to Latin Trap and urban sounds and Las Leyendas Nunca Mueren hot on the heels of his collaboration with Ozuna is banger after banger trap by a master – B+

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Brian Wilson – “featuring unreleased tracks, alternate versions of classic songs, and a new song by the legendary Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. The song by Wilson and GRAMMY-nominated Jim James of My Morning Jacket, “Right Where I Belong,” (a pretty nothing). I rented the documentary but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet – B+

Live at the Village Vanguard – Christian McBride – the jazz band leader and bassist follows up 2015’s live at the Village Vanguard with thrilling instrumentals that burst out of the tracks, I wish I had been there – A-

Brilliant Adventure (1992 – 2001) – David Bowie – it should have been a double, his estate should have culled his best moments in the 1990s to provide a revised opinion instead of sticking the whole lot to be waded through – B

We Dressed the City with Our Names – Defcee, August Fanon – is this analog? The drums sure sound live. ANyway, tricky art rap meets jazz – B

Cabrones y Vagos – El Fantasma, Los Dos Carnales – first rate Regional Mexico sounds with plenty of accordion and songs that straddle the line between Latin pop ballads and Mariachi band joyfulness – B+

The Dream of Christmas (Deluxe) – Gary Barlow – The Take that other half with a Middle Of The Road bore filled with songs you don’t know and won’t remember on a difficult, and mostly failed, attempt to do more than cover the classics – C-

The Stars Beneath My Feet (2004 – 2021) – James Blunt – sure, sub-Ed Sheeran, sub everything, and while “1973” is almost good, you just know “You’re Beautiful” is lurking to destroy your day on a 30 song recap of his career – C

I Thought of You – Julie Doiron – The indie rock and pop singer songwriter with her first new album in nine years and it was well worth the wait, a just about immaculate collection of tuneful and throughout rock poppers all, the twang suggests alt country but her hold in her songs is complete for it to matter not as much as you assume – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Beautifully Black – LORD JAH-MONTE OGBON – superb rapping and better tracking using orchestration here, jazz samples there, and the entire sound comes together with immense, calm brilliance – A-

Gather Up – Matt Berry – if you only know Matt Berry from the sublime sitcom “What We Do In The Shadows”, the terrific comedy actor is also an accomplished musician and the 55 song compilation over 10 years with Acid Jazz Records Gather Up is a superb introduction to a man who is more than capable of off-center singer songwriter tracks that gathered together can’t help make you believe that you have been ignoring him at your own peril, full disclosure, I myself hadn’t heard of him before his brilliant turn as a sex addicted vampire – A-

Where The Viaduct Looms – Nell, The Flaming Lips – The fourteen year old Nell covers Nick Cave with Kevin and co providing backup, surprisingly good neo-Goth – B+

the Light Emitting Diamond Cutter Scriptures – R.A.P. Ferreira – “11 concise chapters of pure will with no dilution.” claims Rory with a dank and dark album brimming over with jazz sounds and cold raps – B

Remedy Meets WuTang – Remedy – from the sound of bees that open the album, Remedy has the Wu Tang mood from the 1990s, plus Conway The Machine for some boom-bat – B+

Henki – Richard Dawson, Circle – modern day UK folk, which means slower and more dreary than Americana – D+

Joyride 30th Anniversary Edition – Roxette – the Swedish pop rock and dance duo’s second smash hit doesn’t need the 50 odd songs to make its point but if you love it then you should have few complaints – B+

Rufus Wainwright and Amsterdam Sinfonietta (Live) – Rufus Wainwright and Amsterdam Sinfonietta – Rufus never fully recovered from the death of his mother and hasn’t recorded anything great since 2010 although his huge ambitions make him at least an interesting failure. No stranger to classical but best at pop on his first three albums, Rufus claimed of this 2017 live performance: “These were some of the most challenging and most fulfilling shows I have done in my life. Never have I sung so many songs from such different styles and worlds of music from French baroque to classical arias to contemporary music”, Try “Gay Messiah” – B

Up – Sam Huber – I reviewed the Finnish soul man last week (here), a fantastic collection of the sound of Philadelphia variants and a climate control protest song – A

Everyday Is Christmas (Snowman Deluxe Edition) – Sia – The EDM queen weirdo with a pleasant, childlike set of new songs – B

Probe 6 – 8 – Tangerine Dream – The German prog rockers from the late 60s sound like Vangelis – B-

The Christmas Album – Now That’s What I Call Christmas – Original Plus – Various Artists – A Spotify playlist (here) from the UK original 18 tracks plus 12 more, 80s style Christmas pop songs – B

Wild Dreams (Deluxe Edition) – Westlife – the aging Irish boy band with a slew of middle of the road pop dross for hausfraus – C-

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