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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 4-14-23 – 4-20-23 Reviewed

The Feeling of Falling Upwards (Live from The Royal Albert Hall) – 5 Seconds Of Summer – taking their lead from One Direction and not NSYNC and therefore in pop rock and not dance they still never took over 1D’s position as headboy; 5SOS aren’t a bad band but they are bland and they never quite got the album they need. However, at a huge concert they maintained their skill set and singled (sic) out their best songs – B-

SEA/SONS – Abraham Alexander – low key soulfulness meets a shyboi whispering in your ear – B-

Forever Means – Angel Olsen – Angel is too minor to be a major irritant and these four slow, dark ballads are well crafted valium – C+

Multitudes – Feist – Leslie Feist returns with a set of slowly strummed, beautifully sung lullabies, many to her newly adopted daughter. Made during the height of the pandemic and it has that sort of muted summer of 2020 feel: if it hadn’t been so filled with death and trauma, the summer of 2020 would feel like a golden age where humans stopped for a breath, animals roamed free and the planet licked its wounds – B+

Big Picture – Fenne Lily – a very new women in indie folk vibe we are getting a consistent barrage of, and if you listen to it right after Angel Olsen it is coming from the same place only Fenne writes better songs – B+

Speed Run – Frost Children – Angel and Lulu Prost, the siblings with a machine… if you don’t love the great faces of hyperpop putting everything into a blender for best modern pop this side of 100 Gecs with cool to spare. A truly fun ride – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

A River Running to Your Heart – Fruit Bats – “Rushin’ River Valley” is instantly one of the best songs of 2023, and Eric, the old My Morning Jacket’s buddy, releases an album that doesn’t hit the sweet spot often enough though when Eric pulls it off it is a lovely thing – B-

3P – Logic – three tracks and “Vroom Vroom” is as addictive as the title suggests – B

72 Seasons – Metallica – it is loud, it is plodding, the songs go on and on and clock in at an average of over six and a half minutes, and is almost precisely what you expect from an album named after the first eighteen years of your life. The boys are so far past their prime it ain’t funny but there are worse ways to spend 77 minutes of yours though “Screaming Suicide” is beyond stupid for a band of sixty year old late middle aged men – B-

Keep Your Courage – Natalie Merchant – the 10,001th maniac returns with featured artist the lovely voiced Abena Koomson-Davis of the Resistance Revival Chorus (the 60 women of color strong Gospel as protest) and it is a strong outing, with some lovely orchestration and Natalie at the top of her powers – B

Cottonwood 2 (Deluxe) – NLE Choppa – good rapper, great sound, trap more than drill, and well lyricked, no gnats and stuff but he sounds pretty overwhelmed even when he has no great reason to. Having said that, this might end up way up there with Trippie Redd best rap album by the end of the year – B+

Morning Glory – Ryan Adams – now on streaming services, he can sing it and he has a reason to do it, but completely defangs the album and then removes all its anthem vibes and tosses em. I don’t deny Noel’s melancholy but it is always submerged by Liam’s worldview and all we get is Noel – C+

Gloria (Special Edition) – Sam Smith – his best album since they were buddies with Disclosure, as well sung as you expect but livelier and more fun and it includes seven live songs from the 2022 Royal Albert Hall show and two outtakes – A-

Nymph_o – Shygirl – they is not that shy, low key, electronic singer songwriter confessional with tons of digital effects so strong they veer into ambient – B-

Henry St. – The Tallest Man On Earth – the folk Americana indie star is great, surreal, at arranging his simple songs and wailing em like a Dylan acolyte (Sometimes). It is just a pity he doesn’t have another “Bless You” – B-

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