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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 5-14-21 – 5-20-21 Reviewed



Where Have You Gone – Alan Jackson – Jackson is well on his game on this beautiful collection of pure balladering and country singing, with the best one-two opening of an album this year. This is proving to be an excellent year for country – B+

At The BBC – Amy Winehouse – mostly radio, sometimes TV, these live cuts are excellent and with a tasty 38 songs, it will be a go to Amy album – B+

See My Friends – EP – Andy Bell – he has had a pretty good post-Ride career, last year he released a good debut as a solo act, and this is his second EP this year, and it is a dreamy and lovely shoegaze triumph – B+

Hindsight Is the Sixth Sense – Belvedere – Canadian punks, please make them go away – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Live at The Bunker Studio EP – Big Thief – the problem with the indie rock folkies is success has forced them to churn out song after song and they have lost their quality control. So they returned to 2019 and not 2020 for this EP of good songs that don’t seem capable of hitting, now they’re a jam band -thanks Adrienne – C+

Say It Like You Feel It – Cash Cash – the dance pop DJs are among the most melodic you’ll hear, and time after time they nail the catchiest sounds. So why is this not chart bound? “42” is a great song, the remixes are good, the originals are good, and while sometimes they miss the pleasure zone, sometimes they hit it very well – B+

The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania – Daniel Jarado – the Seattle based singer songwriter borderline Americana (but no country or folk, not really) at least in the depth of feeling and acoustic melody on song after song  – B

At The Kit Kat Klub (Live New York 99) – David Bowie – Bowie’s posthumous career feels like a mess, lots of live albums, including this one circa the brilliant Cabaret revival with the late Natasha Richardson’s defining performance at the renamed Kit Kat Club. Intimate, sure, but if they have the Roseland gig somewhere, that’s the one to hear – B

DJ-Kicks: Jayda G – The 74th album of the DJ-Kicks remix series is deep, deep house as dancefloor bound tracks from a Canadian DJ – B

The Off-Season – J Cole – This isn’t the one, it is a stop gap with long raps, occasional choruses and  good features with  21 Savage, Lil Baby, and 6lack – B-

Lost In The Cedar Woods – Johnny Flynn, Robert Macfarlane – the actor and the author join together with some neo-folk English style and even hit it from time to time – C+

Be Right Back – Jorja Smith – neo-R&B has been a little quiet, SZA, solange, H.E.R., and Noname have been biding their time, but their influence remains on this dreamy r&b album – B

Beethoven: Quartet Op. 59 No. 2 “Rasumovsky”; Bartók: Quartet No. 3; Dvorák: “American” Quartet – Juilliard String Quartet – The Juilliard house band have been together for 75 years, and return with a new contract with sony Classics, and an old fashioned set of the giants performed conservatively and with passion with new instrumentalists… welcome back – B+

Blood – Juliana Hatfield – Juliana has one great song, 1993’s “Spin The Bottle” and by now she is stuck in her Hatfield rock mode and it is okay but she can’t help but be ordinary. If nothing is great here, nothing is bad either, an ordinary but not mediocre sound of Hatfield – B

Haitian Boy Kodak – Kodak Black – his prison sentence was commuted by Trump earlier this year and this EP is some of his best rapping, as he embraces his Haitian parents who immigrated here. The rapping is really good – B+

Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi – Lise Davidsen -the 34 year old Norwegian soprano is well on her way to legend status, with a big voice for a soprano and completely at home with bombastic Wagner, big can(n)on Beethoven and especially Verdi in the terrific sets highlight,  except from his “Otello” – A-

The Blue Elephant – Matt Berry – the actor returns as a singer on a psychedelic jumble sale of rock whateverisms – C+

We Are More Than One – Michael Ball – The UK MOR singer is born for elevators -when life gives him lemons, he makes money – D+

Natalie Dessay à l’Opéra – Natalie Dessay – the coloratura soprano, now 56 years old, with a retrospective broken down by region (French, Italian, and German), and the Frenchwoman is considered a major French opera star, or did till she moved sideways into the entertainment. A beautiful collection from all parts of her career till her retirement from opera in 2013 – A-

Beam Me Up Scotty – Nicki Minaj – a set we can all agree upon: her 2009 mixtape, an hour plus of the sort of rapping, flow, and brittle lyricism, that births a superstar. with a new lead off song featuring Drizzy and Weezy at full strength on “Seeing Green” -a sort of reminder that the class of 2021 have not overtaken the best in class here, with an especially strong Lil Wayne verse – A-

Fat Pop – Paul Weller – no, Paul hasn’t hired a DJ to remix some beats in, instead this is a 70s style classic rock ism jumping from genre to genre (the title track is trip hop) but I’ll take “Away From The Numbers” over the lot – C

Copycat – Phoebe Bridgers – the popular indie artist of the 2020s with just strings on moldy re-recordings of alright to bad songs – C

About Time (Extended Vinyl Reissue)- Sabrina Claudio – she is a talented r&b singer and this adds a coupla tracks to a good set… though the adds aren’t up to much – B

Black To The Future – Son Of Kemet – Shabaka Hutchings is a smart jazz guy and this protest album is a jazz artiness that veers to pop,and with song titles like “Pick Up Younr Burning Cross,” it’s both obvious and also within its own dialect, important- B-

Daddy’s Home – St. Vincent – when the highlight of your big, bad 60s-70s style guitar based rockers includes a verse rewritten from Sheena Easton in the 80s, maybe you aren’t what everybody, including you, claims to be – C+

Delta Kream – The Black Keys – blues fans tend not to like the duo -I’m sure noty crazy about them myself, but this is one of their better efforts, a collection of classic blues which sounds a little trebly but it could be worse – C+

Scatterbrain – The Chills – New Zealand bands seventh album is more of Martin Phillipps deadly songwriter, nevermind the subject. It is not unpleasant and also pretty boring – C+

Livin’ the Apocalypse – Voodoo Glow Skulls – Efrem Schulz of Death By Stereo takes over lead vocals, and the album will have you skanking to a pure punk, hard, fast and with a taste of Sublime, though the ska is less willing to give into the songs – B

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