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Brief Encounters: New Albums 1-20-23 – 1-26-23 Reviewed

The Songs Of Bacharach And Costello (Sampler) – Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello – from an upcoming box set arriving in March here is dropped three live tracks, including a lovely “Anyone Who Had A Heart” so we will see when we get closer – B

the record sampler – boygenius –Though not quite an album yet, three songs have dropped early from boygenius and, unlike Alyson Camus (here), I am quietly positive of at least one song, Julien Baker’s break-up a second time “$20” is easily the highlight of the three, Phoebe Bridgers is up to nothing much but I always admire Lucy Dadus, you can hear all three tracks on the sampler for the March dropping debut album the record – B+

Cabaret (2021 London Cast Recording) – 2021 London Cast – the movie was a game changing adult musical and Bob Fosse’s undeniable masterpiece, if Joel Gray and Liza Minnelli were the standard bearers and the 1998 Alan Cummings the true revival, major film stars Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley appeared on the West End in 2021 for some box office boffo and two Olivier’s (aka the UK’s Oscars). Listening to it, it is pretty good (a little difficult to go wrong) but not up to the standard we’ve heard: neither Jessie nor Eddie are quite there vocally – B

Rap Game Awful – Clavish – featuring names no bigger than D-Block Europe, the UK 20 year old’s 28 track mixtape is borderline major: his cool, insistently cool breeze and laconic downbeat rapping about, well, himself as well as local gangsters for the “public driller”, is worth a listen – B

St. Jude (15th Anniversary Edition) – Courteeners – arriving ten years after Brit Pop’s peak in the 1990s, in 2008, but the Manchester band continued the legacy brought down from The Hollies to Stone Roses and beyond as Oasis style hard rockers. I missed the album in 2008 but it is my bad because this is near perfect English rock – A

Radio Songs – Dave Roundtree – Dave is the ginger drummer from the album sleeve of Blur’s Parklife and it is a low key (I mean Damon Albarn solo low key) set of electronic singer songwriting to lull you to sleep, except “Downtown” is lovely and still sleep inducing – B-

Live at the Capitol Theatre – David Crosby and The Lighthouse Band – Crosby’s final release dropped in December and has his backing band, harmony pros, joining him on songs from the 2010s and a handful of CSN&Y – B

Rage Against the Dying of the Light – Ghost – known as synthwave, these are ambient tracks that fail to heed Dylan Thomas’s recommendation- B-

La La Land – Guided By Voices – the decades old power poppy post-punky culty boys can write a melody even if the execution can fail to thrill – B-

The Lion King Suite – Hans Zimmer, The Disruptive Collective – nothing like what I expected as Zimmer harkens to African beats and sounds and handcuffs them to exciting, but incidental, music in a live setting – B

MERCY – John Cale – This is better than you’d expect and you’d expect it to be really good. The former Velvet Underground has averaged an album every three to six years since the mid-70s (more before) and they can be impenetrable and not much fun, but not always: with the addition of young turks Weyes Blood and state of art rock Animal Collective, John is less dystopian and more real life bummer: dip yourself deep in sonic hellaciousness and disquiet – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

I Have Nothing Against Homosexuality So Long as No Fellow Male Tries to Force Himself On Me, and at This Point, I Don’t Think I’m in Much Danger – John Mendelssohn – Pop music success is 10% genius, 90% blind luck, and the former rock critic hasn’t had much luck but while he might not be a genius strictly speaking he is still one of the most unique singer songwriters in the business. “Nothing Against” is a body blow to Trumpism just in time for The Donald’s third campaign. Consider John a more baroque musically, less understanding politically take on the US (where the California native left for the UK years ago): closing with a country and western ode to the horrors of his life on “My Heart’s An Open Book” after spending ten tracks railing at the GOP and the dimming of the light, he is left with: “The lamb isn’t silent anymore, the chickens have come home to roost, I can’t seem to get up off the floor, my vaccine’s may need a boost” and the rarest thing, an album about being ravished by old age – A-

Like..? – Ice Spice – kudos to Pitchfork’s Heven Haile for this ace simile: she’s the drill Elle Woods. These are drill nastiness with hooks aplenty from the clever clever “Bikini Bottoms” (which is here by the way) – B+

4 (The Pink Album) – Lukas Graham -white soul pop from the Danish uberwhite boy and it is still much better than “Seven Years” – C+

Five Easy Hot Dogs – Mac DeMarco – The indie fave has always been a boring take on Robert Morse but never at the level of this disastrous instrumental road album of milquetoast, dull as a roadside gus stop, tasteless as Oatmeal milk, the slow and ponderous if quietly melodic instrumentals with smooth jazz drums and acoustic everything, Five Easy Hot Dogs is as witty as its name – C-)

RUSH! – Måneskin – the Italian Eurovision song contest are a straight-ahead rock band without very much to recommend them – C-

B-Sides, Demos & Rarities – PJ Harvey – the compilation of the outtakes, demos, B-Sides that PJ Harvey has been dropping for a coupla years and spanning her entire career sounds great when altogether. It reminds me why you worship her – A

MANSION MUSIK – Trippie Redd – Trippie got fired from opening for Travis Scott on the “ASTROWORLD” tour and it is easy to see why one of the champions of soundcloud rap -that genre that blew up with Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion’s death imploded, wasn’t taken seriously. At places like the basement of Webster Hall, folks like the featured here Ski Mask The Slump King mistook chaos for exuberance. HOWEVER, Redd is excellent on this feature packed to the gills (Future, Kodak Black, the before mentioned Travis… many more) album of rap as pop and a whole lotta chest beating that all adds up to a sensation and a potential smash – A-

Lobe – We Are Scientists – post punk as power pop classicists translate to a smart recording of songs that, not for the first time with this duo’s reliance on keyboards, adds synth and fails to click – C+

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