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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 6-23-23 – 6-29-23 Reviewed

Melodies on Hiatus – Al Hammond Jr – The Strokes guitarist has his moments, “Thoughtful Distress” with an assist from Arctic Monkey’s Matt Helders and Billy Idol long term guitarist Steve Stevens and a handful of killer classic rock goes post punk and back with “Downtown Fred” and “Old Man”, just not enough – B

Loving You – Amanda Shires, Bobbie Nelson – Willie’s big sister and keyboard player passed in 2021 at the age of 91 but before that (well duh) she recorded an album of Americana and standards with little brother joining them for “Summertime” and Amanda paying her debts – B

Changes: The Complete 1970s Atlantic Studio Recordings – Charles Mingus – Mingus died in 1979 but in 1973, after being dropped by Columbia, he signed to Atlantic for the final seven albums, at least two, Changes I and Changes II may well be considered masterpieces – A-

Coi – Coi Leroy – the L.A. via Jersey rapper is on her fourth album in five years and has some sure shots, sampling James Brown and Hall And Oates, but the more soulful stuff is a drag – B

The Definitive 24 Nights (Live) – Eric Clapton – At the Royal Albert Hall with three different sets rotating, including blues, pop and rock but no Americana (three years before 461 Ocean Boulevard) – B

Far From Saints – Far From Saints – featuring Kelly Jones of Stereophonics with Austin’s Patty Lynn and Dwight Baker of The Wind and The Wave, and the voice makes a difference but the Americana touchy feely is a little obvious – B-

Mystical Magical Rhythmical Radical Ride – Jason Mraz – Jason’s dance album using some hip hop production but mostly digital synth based pop disco with various degrees of success – C+

chemistry – Kelly Clarkson – the American Idol superstar and talk show host’s divorce album, chock full of middle of the road pop ballads about as brutal as you thought it would be – C-

Feed The Beast – Kim Petras – it’s not that there is no “Unholy” here, there is one, she tacked her Sam Smith to the end, and if nothing else will kill ya so what? It is the essence of hedonia and exactly what we want from disco – B+

supernatural thing – M. Ward – with an impressive list of assists (Jim James, Shovels & Rope, First Aid Kit twice), on what he claims is the follow up to his best album, 2015’s Transistor Radio on as impressive and successful album as you can possible imagine a follow up to an indie Billie Holiday cover album can be – B

The Good Witch – Maisie Peters – Maisie is the English singer songwriter signed to Ed Sheeran’s label but don’t let that put you off, she has the wittiness of Lily Allen mixed with the sweetness of Taylor Swift on this first rate collection detailing a break up – A-

Memory Lane – Old Dominion – the country Americana boys with three new songs and five oldies of middling if not unpleasant plod country – B-

GÉNESIS – Peso Pluma – breaking through the Billboard 200 all the way to top, this is Regional Mexican closing in on reggaeton and a horns eccentric dance album with complete skills, in a year where Latin Urban seemed on a downward swing, Peso’s swinging sound is a pure pleasure and the album is a masterpiece of Spanish pop, the best new rep since Bad Bunny- ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

SMASH – The Singles 1985 – 2020 (2023 Remaster) – Pet Shop Boys – the one PSB you must own if only for “Go West” though there is a whole lot more. They are nothing special on stage and have problems over an album except for the first time but as singles artists they are major – A

Chris Black Changed My Life – Portugal, The Man – an ode to one of the band’s best friends who died in 2019 and it gives them a central infusion, a laser sharp tightness of execution and while I never much cared for the indie major label guys that much, “Feel It Still” was in 2017, just now they may be more than a one hit wonder on a superior set -their best to date, it fits like a mourning classic – B+

The Days of Wine and Roses (40th Anniversary Expanded Edition) – The Dream Syndicate – back to the days when they sounded like Velvet Underground dabbling in psychedelics. This expanded edition includes rehearsals, outtakes, and a live album… well, of course it does – A

Your Next Wolf – The High Water Marks – The Apples In Stereo were a masterful manifestation of the Elephant 6 pop manifesto and co-founder Hilarie Sidney, who sounds like Bright Eyes meets The Weeklings, remains a guiding force – B+

I Don’t Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard – Willie Nelson – a goodie cover album of the country songwriter Harlan, all of which is well within Willie’s capabilities even at 90 years of age. Call me impressed with his ability to bring “Streets Of Baltimore” to life again – B+

Every Day Like the Last – Wye Oak – a compilation including six loosies and three newbies from the indie Americana duo in Merge which kinda proves it – B

BUSINESS IS BUSINESS – Young Thug – the aptly named career criminal meets the sound of emo hip hop and two years after his personal best Punk, a straightforward rap album with fine flow but an air of distraction…. – B+

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