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Brief Encounters: New Albums 10-21-22 – 10-27-22 Reviewed

Here Goes Nothing! – Adam Melchor – emo jazz? Singer songwriter Americana confessional debut album – C+

True North – a-ha – the Norwegian synth pop electronic one hit wonders return with a collection of pop jones as good as anything they have ever done – B

Pawns & Kings – Alter Bridge – add three members of Creed to two metal guys and stir for 18 years – C

Reason In Decline – Archer Of Loaf – The 90s alt rock band from Chapel Hill return 24 years after their last album (and ten years after they reformed) have what they had, an original ear and hooks that appear from nowhere as a way rock might go forward – B

The Car – Arctic Monkeys – Alex Turner and the rest of the Arctic Monkeys complete their pivot to UK rock and roll lounge lizards – B-

Girls Night Out- Babyface – remember “Take A Bow”, Babyface and Madonna, and yeah, Babyface can play with women and here he is joined by the likes of Kehlani, Queen Naija, Ella Mai on some middling Babyface while admitting that there is zero wrong with midling Babyface – B

Leave The Light On – Bailey Zimmerman – closer to Americana indie than country pop, and not all that good either – C

The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen – the Canadian call me maybe is a truly talented songwriter and a pop star and yet she can’t write that follow up she needs, this is alright but not very memorable – C+

Wandermüde – David Sylvian, Stephen Mathieu – Japan’s pop leader with an ambient sounds album – C+

Stumpwork – Dry Cleaning – spoken word over post punk -and pubes on the soap – C+

Chrome Bull – Duckwrth – the electronic performer knows from a song and on this too short 21 minute EP, especially “11:30” and the one with Syd, he provides the song – B+

Oh Death – Goat – a Swedish alty rock band with some forms of experimentation that fail to bail out the psychedelic weirdos – C

Bolts – Hagop Tchaparian – electronic, techno meets ambient with a touch of the Middle Eastern flavor – C+

Rarities Oxhumed – Volume One – John Entwistle – it’s about time he was given a decent send off and while there is no Who here, Keith Moon makes an appearance on the lead off track so you have the Who’s rhythm section back together, and while John had his moments as a solo performer the compilation proves that maybe not enough of them… love the title pun – B-

The Disney Book – Lang Lang – The Chinese classical pianist is perfect for re-arrangements of Disney songs that are improved by more guided performances where the ease and the difficulty combine – B

Takin’ It Back – Meghan Trainor – in 2015 Meghan showed up with doo wop, very clever lyric, and tunes to burn…. and then she decided to become a glam pop star ala Katy Perry and blew it. Now, married with a child she returns to her doo wop roots and it is her best album since Title – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Phenomenal Woman – Olivia Newton-John – Hallmark and the late Olivia with a seven song EP to benefit breast cancer research taken off her 2005 album, the title track reworks Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”. A fine remembrance of the woman and one of her best vocal performances on the title track – B

I can’t eat nearly as much as I want to vomit – Shutups – not bad alt punk via Cali, but not as pissed off as they should be – C+

Dig Me In: A Dig Me Out Covers Album – Sleater Kinney – Dig Me Out was back in the day when SK were the greatest band in the world and it was their best album, these covers never come close, Wilco on “One More Hour” is dreadful, St. Vincent adds nothing to the title track, Margo Price destroys their best song here and except for Courtney Barnett everyone fails the band – C-

The Final Battle – Stryker – typical heavy metal, prog opera – C-

Direction of the Heart – Simple Friends – Jim Kerr does what should be done, by which I mean he releases a Simple Mind album every three years or so it and plays it between 80s hits on stage – C+

Lessons Learned – Robert De Leo – Stone Temple Pilots bassist with some mainstream classic rock meets country vibe – B-

Midnights (3am Edition) – Taylor Swift – a very good album of strongish electronic synth pop and self-revelation, let’s say her best since 1989, but how good is that? The problem is it doesn’t hook hard enough, in plain english her gifts are not what they once were and yet she is probably the best in class but think of this: what if her competition was Joni Mitchell and Carole King and not Courtney Barnett or Amanda Shire? – A-

Crybaby – Tegan and Sara – the twins with a set of major bummer tracks in the midst of the pandemic, weed, loneliness, and under successful arrangements abound – B-

Here Is Everything – The Big Moon – all girl indie rockers from London take an eye at motherhood – C+

Live at The 100 Club – The Libertines – from 2002, considered to be one of three outstanding performances at the punk venue (the Clash and Oasis were the other two) and it should have cemented them as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Unfortunately, the lead singer couldn’t control his drug addiction and even if he could they are a hugely English band -our loss – A

Up the Bracket: Demos, Radio Sessions, B-Sides & Live – The Libertines – if ever an album deserved the big deal deluxe that album is the Libertines debut and they sure live up to our memories of them – A

Up the Bracket: Early Demos – The Libertines – they sound so good, always chaotic and a bit more chaos hurts nothing – A

50 – The Manhattan Transfer, WDR Funkhausorchester – fifty years on, they rearrange some of their bigger hits in a fine collection of lovely middle of the road – B-

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