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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 11-5-21 – 11-11-21 Reviewed

Voyage – ABBA – never a great album band and not so great 40 years later, nothing here approaches first tier ABBA and “Ode To Freedom” is as crappy as you thought it was, but the honky tonkin doo woppy “Just A Notion” is a winner – B-

Queens of the Summer Hotel – Aimee Mann – Mann wrote the music for a show based upon major bummer “Girl, Interrupted” and it isn’t bad, but where are the gorgeous melodies Aimee gave us for years on end? They aren’t here – B

TWOPOINTFIVE – Aminé – short, sharp, pretty, catchy twelve songs in less than half an hour – B+

AWW! – Amy Allen – we’ve been through this before, Amy has made the move from pop songwriter for the likes of Harry Styles, goes solo as the queen of emo writing and calls a song “Tom Brady”, “Staircase” is great – B+

Happy Holidays – Billy Idol – Is it Christmas already? And how Christmas-y can you be when Billy Idol is dropping a seasonal album and really, somebody should have told him to dump it and release a double a side single with his Chuck Berry “Run Rudolph Run” and Presley’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” -the latter of which might be reason enough to check it out – C+

If Words Were Flowers – Curtis Harding – the Atlanta based, deeply dramatic soul guy can play a horn and can sing a song, if he could sing a great song you’d have something here – B

Thank You – Diana Ross – Nobody is sicker of Jack Antonoff than I am, but the lukewarm reviews of his production for Diana are misguided, if this is Ross’s swan song it is filled to overflowing with lovely pop soul tracks and while the sound is a little tinny it is enough – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

FORΞVΞR (DΞLUXΞ ΞDITION) – Don Diablo – the Dutch DJ adds seven songs to the EDM pop tracks album with better than average bass and beats – B

Engine of Hell – Emma Ruth Rundle – a piano based, goth miserable L.A. player in local bands is as dread as Edgar Allan Poe and as scary – B

Still Rising – The Collection – Gregory Isaacs – the last soul man who finds that line around Smokey Robinson and Nat King Cole. This world of odds and sods finds him capable of culling 34 songs with absolute ease on an album you can play without skipping a song… welllll, maybe pass on the Paloma Faith track. Oh, yes, NKC shows here as well – A-

Good For You – Houndmouth – impressive folk Americana with a good singer and a set of lovely songs – B+

Jason Mraz Live & Acoustic 2001 (20th Anniversary Edition) – Jason Mraz – SNL called him a hasbeen on Saturday, which was cruel and not entirely accurate. But it takes a certain sort of person to vibe on the pretty and bland bore… sort of ted Lasso without the charm – C

The Solution Is Restless – Joan As Police Woman, Tony Allen, Dave Okumu – Joan goes jazz and the late Tony Allen manages the beats and make it central. Tony died before it was finished and Joan wove the album together during the lockdown. At its best, the great “Get My Bearings” early, “Geometry Of You” later, it is a sublime piece of jazz fusion – B+

Yellow Tape 2 – Key Glock – of his name didn’t give it away, Key is a gangsta rapper with ice cold delivery from Memphis and is as good as gangsta ever gets – B

gg bb xx (deluxe) – LANY – adds eight songs to the electronic popsters teen built pop maneuvers, though they are in deadly need of a hit though when “Never Mind, Let’s Break Up” didn’t do the job you’ve got to wonder – B

Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Guide to the Universe – Lee “Scratch” Perry, New Age Doom – The legendary dub producer passed this summer at the age of 85, but he left us with this left field, deeply experimental sounds and, presumably, a ton more in the vaults – B

STILL SUCKS – Limp Bizkit – Fred the misanthrope and misogynist grows up and becomes a father on a nu-metal for sure album of winners that don’t creep you out – B+

Woods & Water – EP – Locash – country rock duo are water enough to write a tribute to The Beach Boys, and another tribute to and forest enough to claim “all good in the wood” – B

Solar Power (Deluxe Edition) – Lorde – adds 2 songs to the disappointing album of sunny sorta vibes, it would have been better if she had recorded the entire album in Māori (though the title track remains a winner) – C

Patroas 35% – Marília Mendonça – The 26 year old Brazilian pop singer died last week at the age of 26, a huge fan fave in her native land, and clearly a gifted singer and song maker, her latest album stands as a sad reminder of what we lost – B+

both feet en th infinite – model kitchen – it sounds as though the Don Giovanni band have added dub effects and woozy tracks to deeply weird rap songs seeped in electronics… talk about niche – B

The Future – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – the soulful Bob Dylan fan has always hit me as a studious bore, same here only there are moments that breakthrough… especially the title track – B-

A Way Forward – Nation Of Language – if Ian hadn’t died but the band still became New Order they would sound like these brooding pop synth guys – B

Gardner Express (Deluxe) – Pressa – the Cali local who puts his ID on his album cover and doubles the length of his 2020 release with 14 goodies and melody to burn – B+

Pretenders (Deluxe Edition) – Pretenders – as debuts go, this is up there with Olivia Rodrigo, take a fine tooth comb to it and tell me what isn’t great. The outtakes and demos are first rate and thankfully only one live album – A

Pretenders II (Deluxe Edition) – Pretenders – At the time it felt a little disappointing, today it sounds excellent and “Talk Of The Town” remains one of Chrissie’s greatest moment. Also, we lost James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon soon after. But as deluxe goes, there is a handful of demos and two live shows from 1980-1981 – A-

Kid A Mnesia – Radiohead – Kid A and Amnesiac are my two favorite Radiohead albums, so a box set , which adds a third album of outtakes (11 of em) is a worthy add to their two masterpieces – A

DEACON’S Grove – serpentwithfeet – An addendum to Deacon (why he didn’t just release a Deluxe Edition is between him and god) Deacon’s Grove has two new songs, one of which, the children’s nursery rhyme “Down Nuh River” is amongst his best songs, a “Hyacinth” with strings, a remix of “Fellowship” which adds Roc Nation signing Ambré and Ashley Isley (her father and Uncles are the Isley Brothers), and the voices are yearning and lovely and add shading and texture to a tremendous song – A

Valentine – Snail Mail – headed by Lindsey Jordan,another lesbian teen, and though her chosen group monicker suggest misandry par excellence, on stage she is less the hushed lustiness of Julien Baker, and more a 90s style wall of sound though in a lo fi manner. Her sophomore album is first class singer songwriter confessional with its heart on its sleeve and arrangements filled with promise for a bright future – B+

Still Over It – Summer Walker – Summer can sing r&b, old school despite the hip hop accoutrements though tailored for women with bad men to revenge on… the songs aren’t memorable – B-

Drones – Terrace Martin – the big time rap producer uses his skills very well on the title track and elsewhere he keeps just enough jazz vibes to keep it interesting. Meanwhile, one of his best production jobs was for Kendrick Lamar, who repays the favor by saving a song here – B

The Immediate Family – The Immediate Family – L.A. sessionmen supergroup featuring the man who wrote the lick to “Werewolf In London,” guitarist Waddy Wachtel and Danny Kortchmar, soft rock producer extraordinary, with an ordinary hard rock album that is better than you thought it would be – B-

Blade Runner Black Lotus (Original Television Soundtrack) – Various Artists — some major teen popsters -like Alessia Cara and Iann Dior, on the soundtrack of the upcoming animated Blade Runner – B

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