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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 3-11-22 – 3-17-22 Reviewed

Oxy Music – Alex Cameron -Alex is an Aussie indie rocker, he co-wrote two songs on The Killers album if that matters, and this is an excellent and tuneful set of indie pop tracks that Pitchfork gave a 5/10 so you know it’s a goodie (plus that album name. hahhahaaa)- B+

Tana Talk 4 – Benny The Butcher – The Griselda Records honcho with the fourth of his 90s inspired Tana Talk mixtapes, and to prove his 90s credentials he has “10 More Commandments” on a terrific update of Biggie’s classic featuring Diddy himself – B+

So Happy It Hurts – Bryan Adams – his best album since 2015 is a tight little rocker – B

27 x 2 – Cosmic Bull – An EP with a song called “Joe Namath Moment” could go either way till you realize that the man behind it is Chicago’s finest songwriter Mark Vickery, then you luxuriat in it s moody sound and brilliant groove on song after song. Time for a tour… – A-

Run, Rose, Run – Dolly Parton – she has had an iffy decade but Run, Rose, Run is a return to fine form even as it seconds as a soundtrack to a thriller she wrote with James Patterson (I know), the first two songs are vintage Dolly with a big band and a fiddle – B+

Hygiene – Drug Church – pop punk, with a lot of punk, a loud, clever, melodic sixth album from a great band – A-

Everything I Didn’t Say – Ella Henderson – the popular featured singer for bands like Clean Bandit has a crossover EDM to singer songwriter… it will be huge in the UK . “Let’s Go Home Together” is a keeper – B

mozart x 3 – Elsa Dreisig – The French-Austrian soprano is a Mozart specialist and here she handles highlights from “Figaro” “Cosi Fan” and others with perfect just about everything – A-

Zhigeist – Elzhi, Georgia Anne Muldrow – the Detroit rapper doesn’t get out of the 1990s but doesn’t need to as his rap is completely unlike drill and Georgia is a populist hook monster of r&b – B

Frank – Fly Anakin – the dextrous hip hop rapper emerges from the rap underground with some fine tongue twisters though the vibe could be a whole lot more upbeat and the skits are useless – B-

Hits To The Head -Franz Ferdinand – the Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand are a witty and intelligent bunch of wiseass rockers and they should be the best of what survives from Brit Rock but the songs don’t snap you into place, not even over a greatest hits like Hits To The Head celebrating their 21st anniversary – C+

IMPERA – Ghost – the Swedish band perform progmetal, all intricate time changes and mix and match metal, though the subject level is very High School – C

The Chicago Experiment – Greg Spero – electronic jazz series, a little ambient, Daryl Jones on bass by the way – B-

SKIN – Ho99o9 – ‘DEATH ROW DEATH ROW DEATH” – an astonishingly vicious, industrial sounding punk with producer Travis Barker giving the duo a bed to burn down, screamo is seldom better and as for the quote at the start? From a song called “Nuge Snight” – B+

Classic Objects – Jenny Hval – electronic pop, but not EDM, it is quiet and assuming pop with a gorgeous voice as you merges jazz, adult pop, singer songwriter and a hardness with the soft like Lilith with a flocknife – B+

John McLaughlin: The Montreux Years (Live) – John McLaughlin – one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen was John pleading with the audience at Blue Note to buy his DVDs as his source of income had dried up. According to GuitarWorld (here) the fusion king’s “seven-track collection sees McLaughlin pick his favorite moments from six sets, spanning the years 1978 to 2016. Among them are appearances with bands and former collaborators, including The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Heart Of Things, The Free Spirits, The 4th Dimension and Paco de Lucía.” The highlight is the 1978 “Friendship” with the One Truth Band but the album isn’t cohesive – B+

Toxic Chocolate – Kali – this is the equivalent of a woman centric neo-r&b, think Solange, but way sexier, Kali is behind the brilliant “Mmm Mmm” from earlier this year and a remix appears here… a must hear and the entire EP is fantastic – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Late Nights With Jeremih – Jeremih – the r&b singer’s first mixtape comes to streaming service and survives quite nicely – B

Under the New Light – Maia Friedman – her work with Dirty Projectors (The EP) was nothing special and while this is strongly emotional it is also slow, too slow – C+

Dark Matters – Manaka – he was the indie guitarist with Speedy Ortiz, and he is a person of color which is why he is taking on racism in 22 and also black music fusion, including jazz – C+

An Hour Before It’s Dark – Marillion – the old prog rockers, tailor made for people who, er, like prog rock – D+

Gershwin Country – Michael Feinstein – if anybody is going to do Gershwin by all means let it be Feinstein and by ALL MEANS let it not be country, from Brad Paisley to Dolly Parton it is a pleasant waste of time – C+

KISS Off The Soundboard: Live In Virginia Beach – Kiss – From 2004, the sound is great but really, if you aren’t there why bother? – C+

Ley De Gravedad – Luis Fonsi – “Despacito” was so big you’d be excused for assuming Fonsi would be bigger than Maluma or J Balvin or even Bad Bunny, but he couldn’t sustain it so after 20 plus years he remains an essentially Latin American performer and his songs are a little boring here – B-

Buckles Laboratories Presents: The Intermission – Mariah The Scientist – alty r&b with a lot of fresh beats and a soulful singer, the songs are only okay – B-

Bronco: Chapters 1 & 2 – Orville Peck – he may not have the history or the the immense bravery of Patrick Haggerty, but he has a better voice and his latest release is his best work to date, sort of country as indie pop with a side of that booming baritone – B+

The Clifford Ball (Live, August 16 & 17, 1996) – Phish – Phish are a live band experience, and they are pretty good even over nearly eight hours in two days in 1996, the first night included “David Bowie” (don’t get excited, it’s not up to much) and a terrific cover of “Life On Mars”, the second night included some of their greatest moments, “Tweezer”, “Fluffhead” -like that – B

The Hope Six Demolition Project – Demos – PJ Harvey – this is the one where she let fans in to watch her record and around about here interests begins to wane and the demos don’t change that – C+

WHO CARES? – Rex Orange County – That’s Tyler on “Open A Window” during the bedroom popstar from the UK with a full sound and a whole lotta melodies – B

ALPHA – Shenseea – dancehall singer and crossover to hip hop songwriter uses Megan Thee Stallion better than Megan used Dua Lipa last Friday on “Lick”, meanwhile her solo “Shen Ex Anthem” is just as good and all the assists here (Offset? Check. Tyga? Opener and closer. 21 Savage, Beenie Man? And more) on a terrifically exciting set of first tier pop – A-

Keep On With Falling – The Boo Radleys – over twenty years after they broke up, the English band still travel in English guitar pop circles, with limited effect – C

Allhallowtide – The Monochrome Set – the post-punk band are still at it and Bid is still composing all the songs but they plod all the way through – C-

The Jacket – Widowspeak – dream pop duo, quietly melodic but nothing great – C+

mercy – Trey Anastasio – if you saw Trey last month at the Tibet House Benefit (here) you know he picks a mean acoustic guitar but this restrained piece of AOR folkiness is way too restrained – C

This Is My First Live Album. – Upsahl – if you don’t know Upsahl, consider her an alt pop alternative to Julia Michaels, this album is the same sort of crossover indie electronic dance and, to her credit, live doesn’t hurt – B

Six: The Musical (Studio Cast Recording) – Various Artists – all exposition of course, but with nine catchy rock and orchestrated tracks, check out Ken Davis review (here) – B-

Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up – Wednesday – Toronto punk noise band cover album and some of it will pin your ears back, the Gary Stewart cover is first rate, the Drive-By Truckers does em proud, the Billy Corgan is very on the nose… elsewhere not so much but they never lose track of the melody line, not ever – B

Magazine 1 – Wolfgang Flür – the former Kraftwerk percussionist with a set of electronic songs featuring Peter Hook and Midge Ure and it has a 70s vibe and strong songs – B

GUV III – Young Guv – some might say the former Fucked Up guy has a gift for melody on a strong set of power pop – B+

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