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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 12-3-21 – 12-9-21 Reviewed

kick ii – Arca – starts off like bedevilled reggaetón before emerging as an electronic guide to Arca with more discipline than we’re used to but also with enough zingers, “Prada” is another Arca leap sideways – A

kick iii – Arca – this is where she earns her money, a wild sonic mindfuck of electronic moods and sounds and textures, sung in Spanish, and sure to rip the flesh from your mental bones (if you hear what I mean), it repays constant listening with absolute bafflement – A

kick iiii- Arca – includes the best song of the entire, four album drop -“Queer” with Planningtorock and the prettiest “Witch” on an album that makes sense of her poppiness – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

kick iiiii – Arca – The fifth album is less hyperpop and more ambient sounds featuring no less a personage than member of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s Ryuichi Sakamoto -who knows a thing or two about electronica, some of which he invented. A gorgeous piece of music – A

Emergency Telephone – Billy Nomates – The English spoken word Sleaford Mods friend has evolved into a folk pop singer with a better ear for melody than ever before – B+

Body Language (Deluxe) – Blake Shelton – adds some lousy songs to a lousy album – D+

Many a Mile – Blue Rodeo – The Canadian roots rock Americana band long running show with a very typical, though not unpleasant, set of well played twangers – B

LIVE IN BRIGHTON 1975 – Can – the second live album, this time a 90 minute post-rock (though not at the time) twist into electronics and jam from the German band – C+

Wild Type Droid – Failure – Failure’s sixth album is a concentrated force of psychedelic rock jones which at its best, “Submarines,” is a texture, druggy wildness but mostly just rock ordinaire – C+

Ride The High Country (Live 1981) – George Jones – from the Bottom Line and the actual recording, taken from tapes released for radio, sounds terrific and includes some of his biggest hits including set closer “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “White Lightning” with Johnny Paycheck and “The Race Is On,” the only complaint is that is only 35 minutes in length – A

REMIX ED – Jarv Is – Cocker hasn’t had much of a 21st century, the French songs were not very good and this remix of Jarv Is isn’t very good. You’d have to go back to Further Complications to see him using his actual skill set – and I make no bones about it – C-

2.0 – JLS – more English boyband now men return after an eight year break (aka puberty) with a weak r&b pop construction -though at least they aren’t Westlife – C

Scenic Drive – Khalid – the r&b singer settles into his crooning, lovely voice songs on a 28 minute set that is as good as anything he has ever done… except it’s missing a “Young, Dumb & Broke” to pull you in – B

Nina Simone And Her Friends (2021 – Stereo Remaster) – Nina Simone – rubbing salt on the wound, Bethlehem Records re-release their 1959 outtakes, originally dropped without Nina’s foreknowledge. Two other singers are here as well, Chris Connor and Carmen McRae, but look at whose name is front and center. There are only three Nina songs, outtakes from her debut album, but the delicate “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hand” is worth the price of admission – B

It’s All Smiles – No Rome – A part of the Dirty Hit label family of avant-pop with a more mainstream sound than, say, Arca. On the 24 year old’s debut the hits just keep on coming with a baroque, electronic friendly set of catchy songs – B+

Magical Nights: Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul 1964-1966 – Phương Tâm – during the Vietnam war, local Vietnamese musicians played pop rock and surf (because Charlie might surf, no doubt). Fifty plus years later, they sound like a brilliant interpretation of American rock via Asian moods, and a surprisingly great sound. Somebody should make a movie about it – A

Evergreen – Pentatonix – unspeakable a Capella takes on seasonal songs, it’s like having your soul sucked out by satanic angels, it includes a “Home For The Holidays” which will have you scurrying back to Perry Como as fast as your little Santa sleigh will take you – MUST TO AVOID – D

Hall Of Fame 2.0 – Polo G – adds an entire album to the 20 tracks earlier this year, including a Michael Jackson sample that must have cost him half his budget but worth it on “Bad Man (Smooth Criminal)”. Hang around for the Lil Tjay feature and then go to the first albums “No Point” with The Kid Laroi and Lil Durk – B+

Changephobia Remixes: Part I + II – Rostam – Two EPs put together, remixing the former Vampire Weekend’s last album but the songs arrangements are pretty extreme hyper pop from the start and while A.G. Cook is always welcome as a guy with one of the great sounds in modern pop, he really isn’t needed – B

Blues In Mono – Seasick Steve – sings and plays circles around Dion’s new bles albums, not to mention anything the Black Keys have ever done, it is a fine collection on intense, acoustic blues written by the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside and originals in a which is an original sweepstake by the incredible English blues singer -a must here – A

Madison – Sloppy Jane – the queercore band recorded the album one day and night and here it is, a thematic united sadgirl triumph that exults in its ambitions even as it misses from time to time, Haley Dahl has written the album “as a grand gesture for somebody who I was trying to make love me” and the songs are baroque pop maneuvers with highlights like “Jesus And Your Living Room Floor” -a nightmare song where suicide only matters if she thinks her love will remember her kindly – A-

Prologue… (Comic Book Soundtrack) – Static Dress – one part comic book, one poart soundtrack, all parts post-hardcore obstreperous ear bleeders via the UK – B-

El Camino (10th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) – The Black Keys – not worth a tenth year anniversary dump, though the two versions of Black Keys best original song, “Next Girl” are well worth a listen, along with 2014’s – C

L.A. Woman (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – The title track, “Love Her Madly, “Riders On The Storm” and then what? Robby Krieger just dubbed it his second favorite Doors album. Really? I’d put Strange Days and Morrison Hotel before it, as well as the debut. This is the usual live songs, demos, etc – B+

Rap? – Tierra Whack – Three song EP, all are great from one of the top new(ish) rappers, with her most average work to date (it’s not Whack World at all) and yet average good, all three are catchy and clever – B+

Surrounded By Time (The Hourglass Edition) – Tom Jones – adds six songs and an interview, including a second Bob Dylan cover, it is easy to lose an album in the shuffle so this is at the very least a reminder of some fine covers – A-

The Atlas Underground Flood – Tom Morello – Tom shoulda become a studio musician, he can play guitar but he can’t create a song and does an iffy job on a genre busting album with everything from house to Americana. Nothing at all works – C-

Scaled And Icy (Livestream Version) – Twenty-One Pilots – the indie duo have yet to match their 2015 height, but the live streamed take on their last album, Scaled And Icy is better than you remember Scaled And Icy being and you remember it being as poppy and addictive as they have perhaps ever been – B+

tick, tick… BOOM! (Soundtrack from the Netflix Film) – Various Artist – Jonathan Larsen died just before “Rent” previews, and “tick…tick…boom!” is Jonathan Larsen’s first musical… the Netflix movie tells the story of the musical’s creation and the songs, rock songs mostly, are better than your average Steve Schwartz monstrosity. Not having seen the movie, I consider it a pretty good – B+

Servant Of The Mind (Deluxe) – Volbeat – The Danish prog rockers plus classic rock band are overblown on their eighth album of should be better songs, although the story of the first Swedish witch trials “Lasse’s Birgitta” might bring a smirk to your face – C

Space Bar – Your Old Droog – YOD is a great rhymer and he has flow to die for, it is all the more impressive when you consider that the Ukrainian emigrants first language is Russian. This is his fourth album of the year , he still sounds like 90s rap and he still sounds like Nas… but we didn’t need another album though try “2001: A Space Yodyssey” – B

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