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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 3-24-23 – 3-30-23 Reviewed

Since I Have A Lover -6lack – his first album since 2018 finds the usually excellent rapper-r&b guy with some of the most boring songs he hasn’t ever written; it never lets loose and if this 6lack not in PARTYNEXTDOOR mode, it sure sounds that way – C

Love In Exile – Arooj Aftab, Shahzad Ismaily, Vijay Iyer – gifted pianist and composer Vijay Iyer, singer Arooj Aftab and bassist Shahzad Ismaily, come together for an ambient sound that does very little – C

TWENTY SOMETHING: Messing It Up – Alana Springsteen – straightforward and classically sound country, about the drags of growing old and otherwise, a little obvious but not bad – B

Live at Bush Hall – Black Country, New Road – art rock, indie post-punk and better when they remember to write the song though the arrangements are unique – B-

A Fistful of Peaches – Black Honey – Kudos to The Telegraph who dubbed em Paramore Lite on this obvious piece of indie rock product with a female lead singer – C+

Memento Mori – Depeche Mode – the remembrance is of keyboard player and original keyboard player Andy Fletcher who died in 2022. This isn’t a particularly good one, very 80s synth tech -a sound w are all over and just subject wise it is such a bummer that even when a melody explodes it doesn’t save them the way it usually does – C

Honky Château (50th Anniversary Edition) – Elton John – is this the third Honky Chateau special edition? Fewer outtakes now but a live album – C+

So Much (For) Stardust – Fall Out Boy – their eight album finds the emo rockers moving between rock and roll maelstrom and pop punky ecstasy but they can’t rebuild 2013-2015, they don’t have those songs anymore – B-

SURF OR DROWN – Hit-Boy – the big time hip hop producer of heavy weights with a strangely boring set of mid-paced, not particulalrly well rapped, tedium – C

SCARING THE HOES – Jpegmafia, Danny Brown – the one time I saw JPEG i thought he gave experimental rap a good name and both times I saw Danny I was convinced he had the best voice in the business. Here they come together with trap beats and outstanding and if the title means stop being an asshole, well, both Danny who sounds like a nerd on drugs with a voice, and Jpeg, who produced and interlopes with abandonment – A-

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey – the ultimate nepo baby went through a run through from Born to Die to Norman Fucking Rockwell, but the last two were failure to take off business as brood albums and this one has managed to blow songs with both Bleachers and Father John Misty. This is an hour and seventeen minutes of hard to zone in, Americana, piano based, whateverisms riding -without the help of a hit single. This is the woman who gave us “Summertime Sadness”, “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games”. There is nothing that good here and the experimental “AW” is less than that – C+

Gettin’ Old – Luke Combs – what is with the over long albums? Over an hour of fine but ultimately wearying country rocker. If this was 30 minutes it would kill – B

Celebrants – Nickel Creek – Americana is over and Chris Thiel killed it through overexposure and now that he returns to the band they sound as though they are trying to stretch their sound till it has nothing to do with bluegrass. But why? – C

The Dark Side Of The Moon (Live at Wembley 1974) [2023 Master] – Pink Floyd – I saw Roger Waters perform this at MSG some 28 years later and this version is better, a straightforward presentation of one of their masterpieces – A-

RR – ROSALÍA, Rauw Alejandro – the Latin pop dream couple unite for three terrific songs, especially “Beso” – B+

How You Make Me Feel/ if We Don’t Have each Other – Smokey Robinson – The horrible named Gasms doesn’t drop till late April but Smokey is 83 years old and I’m not getting any younger so I figured I would take a listen to both and while “How You Make Me Feel” if art r&b and a straight one, “If We Don’t Have Each Other” is a fine, late career Smokey – B+

The Journey – Pt. 1 – The Kinks – who is this for? Not for me, I’ve got it all and in deluxe takes as well. Anyway, this compiled 36 songs from their 60s ending with “This Is where I Belong” (actually that’s the penultimate take but it should end it…) – B

I Go To The Rock: The Gospel Music Of Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston – I only saw Whitney live once (opening for Michael Jackson believe it or not) but I was already a huge fan and as her Australian tour imploded rocknyc championed her from 2009 till her death in 2012. If you want to know why, try this excellent compiling of her Gospel recordings: with her mother, Sweet Sensation legend Cissy Houston and Godmother Aretha Franklin, Gospel was in her blood from when she was a child singing in the church choir. It is all over this thrilling Gospel album – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

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