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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 12-17-21 – 12-23-21 Reviewed

4NEM – Chief Keef – first rate Chicago drill by a complete pro on his first new album in five years. “Picking Up Big Sean” is a must hear with its “Got a chopstick same size as Kevin Hart, but I ain’t picking Big Sean up” – B+

A Dust In Time – Del Sol Quartet -performing the classical composer and Chinese rationalist’s mix and match for strings and is an engaging and beautiful work that echoes the time in which it was written, early 2020 – B+

Benjamin Lazar Davis – Benjamin Lazar Davis – Davis most recently played bass in Okkervil River but he is a multi-instrumentalist and and on his sophomore album adds some zing and strings and general weirdness to singer-songwriter tropes – B

Cellular – Cal In Red – the synth pop duo from Michigan sound like a less dreamy, more fun fulfilled Beach House and they write pretty vignettes pop songs, try “Zebra” – B

Live From Blueberry Hill – Chuck Berry – at his own St. Louis club, Berry used to perform sets that lasted for hours every week. And this is what we get? 10 songs? What are they thinking of, Zappa gets a 154 tracks for a soundtrack album and the powers that be give us ten songs? It’s a disgrace – B

200 Motels – 50th Anniversary (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Frank Zappa – the movie was great (you remember with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon along for the ride), the double album from 71 included lotsa outtakes of dialogue on the 34 tracks, the 50 years adds 119 tracks so if you that big fan of Zappa at his most accessible, go right ahead – B

Queen of Hearts – Jewel – in an odd career move (if you can call it a career), Jewel appeared on and won The Masked Singer 2021 and while our first instinct might be to throw up, Jewel’s best, Pieces Of You in 1995, wasn’t much, her “Born This Way” here is credible , and while “What’s Going On” should not exist, her Patsy Cline cover deserves a spin – C+

Alla Napoletana – L’Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar – The Baroque period via Naples is given a small yet telling set of traditional and regional classic music resting on harmonies – B+

LIVE IN PARIS 28.05.1975 – Fripp and Eno – Two years from 1975 Eno would be taking on David Bowie’s Low, in 1975 he was inventing background noise and tape delays and pussy footin’ with Frippertronics and state of the art loops for the birth of ambient as side show to glam. The legendary concert, forthwith cleaned up and released to a public sick of lousy boots, is an exceptional addition to the story of electronic music and a must hear… but maybe only once – A-

So Icy Christmas – Gucci Mane – The past year has been a quiet one for Gucci Mane so it’s good to hear his FULL ALBUM, -more bragging rights and gangstaism for Christmas but fun nevertheless for allow a street n- Christmas… B

Mon nom est Johnny (Live) – Johnny Hallyday – you haven’t lived till you’ve heard Johnny cover Chuck Berry on “La Terre promise”. With Johnny dead four years now, the executors are coming to terms with his huge legacy. Earlier this year we got an odds and sods and now we get this memento from his 2014 US tour (including two songs from his Beacon Theatre gig, I reviewed him two years earlier at the same venue here), and he was a powerhouse. This is an exceptional piece of French rock history and a triumph – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Fever Dreams Pt. 2 – Johnny Marr – yes, the lyrics and the singing sucks but “Lightning People” sounds excellent – B

Éxitos Inéditos – Los Campesinos! – not the English indie gang, this is regional Mexican pop with a foot in , mariachi – B+

Philip Glass: SONGS – Martin Achrainer, Maki Namekawa – Pianist Maki premiered Glass’s “Four Movements for Two Pianos in 2008 so she certainly knows the district and Martin is a bass-baritone who manages some astonishinly lovely vocals on songs that connect Glass back to Tibet – A-

The Dreaming – Monsta X – The K-Pop boy band that isn’t BTS with a short collection of could be hits poppiness with a side of soul… in English – B

The Löst Tapes Vol. 1 (Live in Madrid 1995) – Motorhead – rock em and sock em live album nearly twenty years after punk – A

Universe – The 3rd Album – Neo Culture Technology – K-pop boyband who can do r&b, but then who can’t, though are specifically good rappers, which makes them special – B

Old Friends New Friends – Nils Frahm – The piano based composer excels at very quiet instrumentals of melodic beauty though existing in stasis – B

LIVE LIFE FAST – Roddy Ricch – The Compton native’s second album maintains his OG L.A. meets Atlanta trap vibe with a cast of features including 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Ty Dolla $ign, Future, and Kodak Black: a finely tuned take on hip hop – B+

Down – Sam Huber – funkier than part one with a Maggot Brain vibe and a Bowieesque booming baritone – A

Muse – Sheku Kanneh-Mason / Isata Kanneh-Mason – The cellist Sheku was awarded an MBE in the UK, his big sister is here performing compositions for cello by the likes of Rachmaninov. There are seven musicians in the Kanneh-Mason family and the talent runs through, try “Cello Sonata, Op. 6: II. Adagio – Presto” where the excitement almost overwhelms them at times – B+

Cahoots (Deluxe Edition / 2021 Remix) – The Band – the first side is pretty good but the second side gets overloaded with Robbie Robertson and all in all except for “Life Is A Caravan” it wasn’t a great album, in the deluxe the pickings are slim, a live album, remixes, a demo, an alternative take – B

R&B? – Tierra Whack – The Rap? EP from earlier this year was good, and though only three songs in length they are all smooth and sweet soulfulness – B+

Live in Concert – U-Roy – The master Toaster, indeed one of the inventors of the reggae form, died early this year, so consider this 2017 live album a wonderful going away present – A

Vaughan Williams: An Oxford Christmas – Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, William Vann, Joshua Ryan – According to Allmusic, a website exceptionally gifted in reviewing classical music (here), the Choir has been performing since the late 1600s. and is made up of “12 adult, mixed-gender singers: five sopranos, two altos, two tenors, and three basses” and they perform the early 1900s compositions and arrangements – A-

CUBA: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85, Vol. 2 – Various Artists – after the Cuban Revolution, regional record labels were nationalized and subsidized, the result was a letting loose of avantgarde variations on indigenous music by an incredible set of musicians and is as lively and sometimes as obtuse as you could hope for – A

Sing 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists – the new U2 song is unspeakable, the classic pop covers are rotten and I bet the movie is a dog – MUST TO AVOID – D+

From The Bayou – YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Birdman – in the 2020s, Youngboy has been a consistently fine rap and melody procurer of ace beats and Birdman is the Cash Money CEO and an essential stepping stone to Atlanta trap from the Southerner. Together they are harder than Youngboy solo but all the songs are strong bangers and it is a terrific album from deep in Louisiana – B+

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