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Brief Encounters: New Albums 10-29-21 – 11-4-21 Reviewed

Moongate – Alina Baraz – r&b by the numbers EP plus sonic reduction arrangements – C+

Symphonic Suites – Andrew Lloyd webber – Andrew at his worse, when ever he plays footsie with classical he looks like a plank – C-

LIVE.LOVE.A$AP – A$AP Rocky – ten years after A$AP Rocky’s debut mixtape LIVE.LOVE.A$AP dropped it arrives at streaming platforms with more than historic interest, even if “Pesos” is no “1 Train’”. Plus a newbie – A

What You Expect – Big Sean, Hit-Boy – a stopgap with a top producer on board – B+

The Myth of The Happily Ever After – Biffy Clyro – With Beirut out of commission, if I had to live anywhere else I would choose Scotland… but only if these guys moved to Wales – D+

The Million Things That Never Happened – Billy Bragg – both pretentious and ponderous, a huge bummer – D

The Phantom Tomorrow – Black Veil Bride – the goth band from the early 10s have grown up, lead singer Andy Biersack married, and grew less glam and heavier, on the latest he sounds more like All Time Low with heavy metal prog vibes aplenty… still, I never thought he’d make it past his third album – C

The Reggae Remix EP – Bob Dylan – nice gig for RAS owner Doctor Dread, “Jokerman” lends itself to reggae and “I And I” was always rasta down to its very bones – A

Some Lovers (World Premiere Recording) – Burt Bacharach, Steven Sater – Sater wrote the words to “Totally Fucked” so excuse me for assuming he could nail the words to Bacharach’s musical on record, but while they tell the story they don’t do more. As for Burt… he is 93 years of age, cut him some slack – B-

Coco – Coco – a Dirty Projector and a Lucius join a Pavo Pavo with a indie folk, sleep inducing middle grounded album – C+

The Photo Album (Deluxe Edition) – Death Cab For Cuties – has it been ten years already since I hated this album? – A true bore – C-

A Holly Dolly Christmas (Deluxe Edition) – Dolly Parton – This is the second deluxe this week with less songs than the original – C+

FUTURE PAST – Duran Duran – I didn’t like this boy synth band when they were the biggest in the world, I don’t like this synth stuff today any more, or any less, than I ever have – C

= – Ed Sheeran – Two of the three singles that heralded the release of Ed Sheeran’s fifth album have been generic disco vibes and disappointments, but the rest of the singer songwriter confessional album are surprisingly strong, with “Tides” as good as anything on Divide, and the entire second half of the album one winner after another. MOR? Absolutely. But “Collide” for his wife and “Visiting Hours” to his Grandpa about his daughter, are saccharine and yet still effective… plus after listening to it for a coupla days it sounds even better – A-

Backslider – Elvie Shane – I love his hard twang, and “Love, Cold Beer, Cheap Smoke” not only lives up to its name but is a top country song… and nothing else hits much – C

Out of This World: Live (1970-1997) – Emerson, Lake And Palmer – Is there any point in continuing to slam these three turkeys? Perhaps not, but that 35 (yes, THIRTY-FIVE) minute “Pictures At An Exhibition” needs to be avenged – MUST TO AVOID – D-

Projector – Geese – impressive indie rocking post-punkers teenage band from Brooklyn , opening for The War On Drugson the upcoming tour -which is as close to an honors roll as rock gets nowadays, and in the process of getting anointed by NYT as this decades Strokes… – B

Ironman (25th Anniversary) – Ghostface Killah – as good as anything Wu did except their first two (maybe three) albums, but if you were hoping for a box set you are out of luck – A

USEE4YOURSELF (Deluxe) – IDK – dumps the instrumentals and adds a handful of bonus track but doesn’t change “Red” because when you have Westside Gunn, MF Doom, and Jay Electronica, on your song you are best leaving it alone – B-

Brighten – Jerry Cantrell – The Alice In Chains leader with his third solo album, a hard rocking but indistinctly crafted album, it takes no prisoners but is too ill-humored to be any fun – C+

Bear’s Sonic Journals: Live At The Carousel Ballroom, April 24 1968 – Johnny Cash – one of Johnny’s golden ages, though I wouldn’t mind hearing some other era live stuff: I was at that 1999 TBS All Star Tribute and would love to hear it again. This was his newly married tour and he sounds very chill – A-

Lily We Need to Talk Now – Lily Konigsberg – this woman can write pop songs, and she can write happy songs about sad things that destroy you and lift you up on every chorus – B+

Hushed and Grim – Mastodon – nearly 90 minutes of metal mood tedium – C

Something for Thee Hotties – Megan Thee Stallion – I tried too hard to like this tough Texan sexpot but she was so bad on stage I don’t think I can anymore… and yet, this mixtape is ace so maybe I can – B+

Nina Simone For Lovers (Deluxe Edition) – Nina Simone – Her “I Loves You, Porgy” is an understated glory from a Carnegie Hall gig – B+

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (25th Anniversary Edition) – R.E.M. – R.E.M.’s run of greatness started with 1991’s Out Of Time, and ended five years later with New Adventures In Hi-Fi, this 25th year anniversary is a welcome return, we all missed “E-Bow The Letter”! The box set includes outtakes, and live tracks from a 1995 show in Atlanta, as well as their brilliant version of “Wall Of Death” – A

Acoustic Hymns Vol. 1 – Richard Ashcroft – Richard has every right in the world to make a living recycling his one hit because 1) it’s good and 2) the Stones ripped him off his royalties – C+

Spice (25th Anniversary / Deluxe Edition) – Spice Girls – i went to see these guys in 1998 (ticket stub below) and I liked them less than 20K screaming girl-power tweens and their moms. But I liked em enough so I am surprised how poorly the album has word, it sounds like Little Mix on their best day (Spice Girls were better live as well) and a truly sad reminder that they were never as good as we thought – C-

Intra-I – Theon Cross – The tuba player performs songs arranged to bring Tuba to the forefront -whether it deserves to be at the front is a different matter – C+

Y In Dub – The Pop Group, Dennis Bovell – they are the opposite of their name (back in the 80s they were the anti-Human League), the synth group as impenetrable, industrial art. Bovell is as dubby and eclectic as ever – B

I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War On Drugs – exceptionally overrated, but also has Adam’s best song, and two in the running – A-

Ocean To Ocean – Tori Amos – early Tori, say Little Earthquakes through Boys For Pele, are must hears, and then everything else fails to click… including this bore – C

The Harder They Fall – Various Artists – yeah, of course it is mostly dancehall, including a terrific cover of the title track by Koffee, and two Jay-Z tracks, neither of which are worth your while – C+

The Sun Shines Here: The Roots Of Indie-Pop 1980-1984 — Various Artist – Cherry Red with another excavation of a past genre (in the UK). Some of these guys, Subway Sect, Pulp, Prefab Sprout, and more, you know, some you don’t , and none of it is a relation to US indie pop. But song for song, indie-pop as post punk has never made more sense – B+

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