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Brief Encounters: New Albums 10-15-21 – 10-21-21 Reviewed

Young Thug

All Hours – Anz – “All Hours was built to be a soundtrack for 24 hours, from sunrise to the next. Dance music for people who are up all hours – through the day to the club and onwards, each track leaves traces in the one that follow,” claims the Manchester (England) DJ and while the concept is a hard sell, the dance tracks add up nicely and “You Could Be” is, er, timeless – B+

Puppies Forever – BLACKSTARKIDS – the trio perform pop variants and genre blends that defy just about everything, including the bands age and color. Real cotton candy pop strokes for the modern world – B+

At Christmas – Brian Courtney Wilson – get out your Dove Awards for the pleasantly voiced Christian popster, full of dreams that never come true but at least it isn’t CCM. Only four songs but when one is by Nat King Cole, and another by Donny Hathaway, you’re probably safe – B+

When I Close My Eyes – Chelsea Cutler – the sadgirl who had a smash hit with Jeremy Zucker is still performing bedsitland songs and still can write a song, sometimes not even sad though mostly “it hurts” – C+

Music Of The Spheres – Coldplay – the UK trend following bad news bears are not scared according to them: which is why they added BTS and Max Martin to the mix and after claiming they were saving the planet (not to mention my ears) by not touring anymore, are going on an Arena tour – C-

Out of the Blue (Deluxe Edition) – Debbie Gibson – Set for its 35th year anniversary, Debbie’s bubblegum disco stands up exceedingly well. The extended disco mixes are fun and the title track completely kills it. A pleasant reminder – B+

Optimist – Finneas – I’ve been unimpressed with Finneas solo until the literate and very clever “A Concert Six Months From Now” turned me all the way around, it is the best song Conor Oberst never wrote -I mean the good Conor, not the imposter we now have. The rest of the album isn’t as strong but it maintains a sense of Finneas as a young guy dating in a mess world and answers the musical question: “how can you sing about love when the kids are all dying”, a young man’s question if there ever was one – B+

Church Street Station Presents: George Jones (Live In Concert) – George Jones – Unbelievably, Jones’ catalog is a bigger mess then it was when he passed. This album doesn’t even include the year it was recorded, let alone who was in his band at the time. Apparently, it comes from a DVD in 1984. 22 minutes in length… fucking ridiculous but great to hear the great man – B+

Moondust For My Diamond – Hayden Thorpe – The Wild Beasts singer goes solo, and the result is a remarkable collection of art folk modulations, so well crafted and haunting mood music and electronic tempered dreamscape… it is really great, you must try it – A-

Georgia Blue – Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – Isbell tributes Atlanta as a benefit album, and he is fine with R.E.M. and even Vic Chesnutt, but James Brown? Not so much and not so much ABB. In other words, not an untypical hit and miss affair but yes, sometimes hits – B-

Fever Dreams Pt. 1 – Johnny Marr – it sounds great but the singing is terrible and the lyrics are nothing – C+

Skin – Joy Crookes – The UK has a cottage industry of soulful women swooning round r&b and smooth jazz and even in some pretty rarified air, Joy has a terrific voice and she could transfer to cabaret no questions asked. The problem is while Crookes is responsible for her own songs, her own songs need something that her “I Don’t Mind” and “Kingdom” have -memorability and “19th Floor” trips on its own ambitions – B

After Dark – Kirk Knight – I was wondering what was happening with Pro Era just the other day and here is one of their crew with a gorgeous hip hop meets r&b autotuned (but not to death, to echo) and it has been three years of no production, no nothing, but this is a strong selection of soul songs on his welcome return – B+

A Tear in the Fabric of Life – Knocked Loose – six super-aggressive hardcore tracks that renders bowels of hell singing a matter of personal choice. I can’t really make out the words but rumor has it that they are very good and the double tracking, and, well, maybe harmony isn’t the word, but the overall sell is unique – B

Sparks 2 – K. Sparks – Kyle Hunter defines African-American middle class Queens boy, and he has been at it since 1993 though he sounds a little old fashioned on this slow and mellow rap EP – B-

Le Temps Perdu – Imogen Cooper – The English pianist is 71 years old now and as good a time to revisit lost times on a solo selection highlighted by sensual and beautiful Ravel sonatas – B+

Not A Son – Lawrence Rothman – spoken world, I mean really spoken word poems – C+

Euphoria – Louis The Child – DJ duo with complete control of the form on a series of addictive dance tracks – B+

Faces – Mac Miller – the late Mac Miller’s 2014 mixtape reaches streaming services and is much better than I remember, 2014 is not that early in his career (it is post-Watching Movies With The Sound Off) and it is a good collection of MOR rap with his frat boy persona is buried – B

Hard – Matt Whipkey – the Omaha indie rockers latest is a brilliant, extended divorce album – A-

Madame X – Music From The Theater Xperience (Live) – Madonna – I liked the album, I liked the live show, but the Paramount + concert documentary was mired in pretentiousness that pulled you right out of it, and while the album only is better, it isn’t as good as it should have been, still stuck in a pompous groove – B-

Five Legged Dog – Melvins – 36 acoustic rockers from their heavy, heavy, heavy catalog of sludgy hard rockers… but a case of where is an editor when you need one? – B-

to hell with it – PinkPantheress – Welcome to nostalgia for the 00s, where the 20 year old bedsit type performer misses her pre-teens with wistful, electronic pop moments. A smash on Tik Tok, her debut “mixtape” is lovely and wistful and not a little bizarre – B

All Day Gentle Hold ! – Porsches – Dev Hynes is on one song here but that don’t let this distract from a larger sounding sadboy vibe battered about emotionally by electronics – B

tell me your feelings and i won’t tell you mine – Powfu – absolute Powfu by the numbers on this five song EP, but the numbers add up on the electronic sadboy songs… that’s Jaden on the first song – B+

Juno – Remi Wolf – this isn’t hyper-pop but the English singer’s debut album plays like hyper-pop, it flips genres on its head and it keeps piling on the tunes. Plus anybody who can call a song “Anthony Kiedis” about dysfunctional families is alright in my books. This could break her big – A-

Blessings and Miracles – Santana – he was pretty good this summer at the truncated and terrible We Love NYC: The Homecoming (here), and while this is for the fans who already believe he still has it, the answer to the rest of us is clear: the man can play guitar – B-

Vanity – Starflyer 59 – the proto-shoegaze band are now closer to a middlebrow rock aesthetic – C+

Let It Be (Box Set) – The Beatles – many, many years ago I picked up the Bootleg Off-White, and it was both a secret and a thrill and, of course, included the “What’s The New Mary Jane” before the Anthology set. But if it had been a Let It Be boot? Not so shocking. I mean, the album is one long outtake. That’s the main problem here, However, Disc Four is what was going to be the Get Back album and it is proof there was a better album than Let It Be in there, somewhere, even while the choices are a touch headscratchy – A

I Thought You Wanted to Know: 1978-1981 – The dB’s – I thought I had these guys down by now -I mean, they were hardly that prolific, but half of these songs are new to me, the two covers are great, the songs we know aren’t changed much from the album versions, and it makes a good case for the dB’s -certainly my favorite rock band of the early 80s, as severely underrated – A+

A Gift To Pops – The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong All Stars – I appreciate the intention, and I appreciate the memories, but really: if you wanna give Satchmo a gift get his catalog sorted out – C+

Together Again – Tiësto – the post-pandemic set of five flat out bangerz is made for the dancefloor and that’s the place to hear em – B

The Atlas Underground Fire – Tom Morello – congrats to Tom on managing to manifest so much that is wrong with the dispiriting remnants of rock. The worst? That fucking AC/DC cover with Bruce and Eddie Vedder – MUST TO AVOID – D

Una Rosa – Xenia Rubinos – a unique jazz singer sounds like what might happen if Transylvania moved to Tijuana on one song, classical hive mind on another – B-

Musik Music Musique 2.0: The Rise of Synth Pop 1981 – Various Artists – only 26 songs on streaming platforms but hand Cherry Red, they make the real case for synth pop. However, as a survivor of that era I still hate the sound of synths and the beats would improve sure, but not here, in 20 years time. It is odd how even bands that passed me by still sound really bad. As an exercise in genre and a deep dive into 1981, fair enough. If you loved it, you will love it even more, so consider the grade for you and not for me – B+

Punk – Young Thug – so good on SNL last Saturday, the punk-pop meets rap melodious rapper is reaching a complete peak as his ability to use everything for the purpose of the song is viable. “Love You More” resurrects Nate Ruess from out of Jack Antonoff’s shadow, and a huge cast of features includes two dead rap icons and Drake and Travis Scott (on the same song) and rapper turned philanthropist Gunna on four songs in a selection of emo-rockers goes hip hop with Travis Barker in drums for credibility – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

shut the fuck up talking to me – Zack Fox – The Atlanta comedian cum rapper with a set of ego pounding raps that may be satirical, and are certainly overcooked – B-

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