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Brief Encounters: New Album Releases 7-15-22 – 7-21-22 Reviewed

Girls – The 2nd Mini Album – aespa – four girl band of typical K-Pop, maybe more electronic based than pop, and state of the art whatever as the manufactured by SM Entertainment pull a variant on K-Pop and make lots of money (there is before and after video of the girls that shows how the management keeps improving on their prettiness via plastic surgery till they look like cookie cutters – B-

Aftershock – Alexander 23 – The singer songwriter of sadness co-wrote “You Can Hate Me If It Helps” with Olivia Rodrigo but the aftershock of love album is a little too prosaic for big things, still he can absolutely write a melody and that is something – C+

This Mess We’re In – Arlo McKinley – the Americana country singer has some of Ryan Adams in his make-up and with “City Lights” some of the skillset near the start of a first rate country mood piece – B+

Beatopia – beabadoobee – following a tedious live show that finds her static and distant the thought might have been that we were done with her, but the truth is she is terrific on this gorgeous set of singer songwriter tracks, the quality of songwriting is impeccable – B+

Hellfire – Black Midi – progressive noisiness from the UK band who take off from UK electronic prog and add no wave and post punk angularity on the title track but quieten down into more mainstream rock by the time you reach the Scott Walker-y on “Dangerous Laisson” – B

a lighter shade of blue – Christina Perri – her first album in seven years in a painful load of singer songwriter soft sell, deep feel – C-

Dead To Me – DaniLeigh – a wonderful, hip hop production valued, r&b from a fine singer – B

Elvis 30 #1 Hits (Expanded Edition) -Elvis Presley – completely useless of course, but any excuse to hear “Little Sister” followed by “Bossa Nova Baby” is a good excuse – A

You Gotta Be My Baby (Original Starday Records Recordings) – George Jones – Hank Williams died in 1953, George Jones recorded his earliest songs in 1953, and so there is something of a passing of the torch between them. Jones is certainly the second name of country (that’s Jones and not Cash) with at least two groundbreaking periods in his career, the second 1973 till 1980 and that album with the cream of country (plus Elvis Costello) covering Jones , and the one documented here in the late 1950s, 21 songs from his first record company, including touchstones for his entire career, “Color Of The Blues”, “Just One More” and “Singing The Blues” and 18 more, and this is before his first big hit. There is no second guessing any of it, if you don’t worship Jones you don’t worship country or pop for that matter – A+

18 – Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp – I thought Alyson Camus was being a little weird in her support for Depp (here) but it is similar to Latin American citizens supporting Trump -women didn’t like Amber Heard taking their vote for granted. Which leads us to this mostly instrumental, guitar album with covers from everyone from the Everly Brothers (on a lugubrious “Let It Be Me”) to the Velvet Underground to Brian Wilson (twice) on a dreadful piece of dreck – MUST TO AVOID – D

Jack In The Box – j-hope – avant the hiatus, J-Hope is the first BTS member to try his hand and is very impressive, more daring and experimental than BTS this ain’t r&b it is industrial electronic pop with well spitted verses and an arrogance that is not helped by all the Greek myth stuff and yet doesn’t fall apart… a real surprise – B+

Yesterday Is Heavy – Lil Silva – seven years after his last release, r&b English guy adds his voice to songs featuring neo-soul giants like serpentwithfeet on a set of quietly lovely r&b experiments which still circle mainstream – B

The Course of the Inevitable 2 – Lloyd Banks – The co-sign on G-Unit and the noughts gangsta rapper returns with e same ol and a reminder of how powerful old school gangsta can get – B

Gran Hotel – Interpol – like Joy Division on steroids (and without the producer), Interpol remain a wearying bunch of whiners and worriers, I would be underwhelmed but by Interpol’s standards it does the job – C+

Special – Lizzo – the thing about using a coupla dozen producers on a dance record is that even Max Martin can’t overwhelm the Lizzo vibe and an even and enjoyable outing with two hits already on her fifth album and a couple more in the wings this is a terrific album and a summer thriller – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

About Last Night… – Mabel – includes her terrific “Let Them Know” and the rest of the charming EDM popstar is much better than we had any right to to expect, everything sounds like a potential hit – A-

CHAPTER 3: The Burning – Madeline The Person – consider her a pop fringe Elvis Costello with takeaways like “You said I take too much space half an inch from my face and you meant it, you grabbed my hands and you smiled as you kicked me right out my own sentence…” I don’t think the singer songwriter requires me to mansplain this one – B+

Medusa – Melii – her voice is a touch too nasal but her vocal arrangements are as good as hip hop stars get -which she isn’t yet but probably will be – B-

Self Explanatory – Ne-Yo – Ne-Yo has a wonderful voice but despite all his attempts come across as a Babyface wannabe and years away from his hit making days, this is pure indifferent r&b… but well sung – C+

Boy Alone – Omah Lay – The Nigerian Lay plays Afro-fusion, and he fused with Justin Bieber on “Attention”, here he is a low key singer deeping into electrifying beats in song after song – B

Gigaton (Tour Edition) – Pearl Jam – a great band but not necessarily a great recording band, like Phish before (I mean after of course) them, they prove it on stage, so the expanded one is better because it includes the songs, a whole lotta hot stuff, live on stage – B

Live & Rare – Rage Against The Machine – live outtakes from early 90s concerts prime Rage – B

Rebel vs. Rowdy – Rowdy Rebel – Bobby Shmurda pal with some so-so gangsta rap – C+

emails i can’t send – Sabrina Carpenter – on the title track Sabrina takes her father, who is cheating on her mother, to the woodshed (and makes an important point: when you are married with children their are a lot of victims to infidelity), the rest of the album is awash in mediocre singer songwriter poptones -Julia Michaels is the co-sign behind it (and wants you to know it)- C+

Gemini Rights – Steve Lacey – a weirdo piece of prog r&b from a guy who bored in The Internet (Syd was clearly the name) and is a bore here – C

Gangsta Art – Various Artists – Yo Gotti’s new label with signees in Moneybagg Yo, 42 Dugg, Blac Youngsta, Mozzy, EST Gee, and the back to prison featured Kodak Black, on well rapped and rasped but nothing special collection – C+

Now Yearbook 1980 – Various Artists – With The Jam and Madness included early it is clear that the compilation comes from the UK, and the headline names here, The Police, The Stones, Blondie, Dexys, the Pretenders, and…. “Funkytown” and it makes a case for 1980, certainly a lost year after 1977-1979, a pretty ace year anyway – B+

Obsessed (Deluxe) – Yahritza Y Su Esencia – Regional Mexican pop goes lo-fi for these Latino teens with a fifteen year old lead singer, Yahritza herself, and her two brothers, one who is even younger. They write their own material and it looks like they won’t be joining their father and Uncles picking apples, pears, and cherries in the fields of their village, as they have broken big – B

ACT I: ORIGINS – Young The Giant – indie rock band following Imagine Dragons and Bastille onto electronic rock and dance musing on a minor though not bad EP – B-

Summertime Blues – Zach Bryan – on the heels of his 34 song 2022 release, is a much more limber 9 song EP (and no, not Eddie Cochran’s blues), at least the country Americana doesn’t drag here – C+

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