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Brief Encounters: New Albums 10-8-21 – 10-14-21 Reviewed

A GIFTED, VERY BORING ON STAGE, SUPERSTAR

SKYVIEW – AJ Mitchell – the twenty year old singer is a variant on Charlie Puth though without the beats, I’m surprised he hasn’t been picked up by the Wales of the world. Boring? Yeah, but in an okay way – B

Images – Anna Lapwood – the closest the UK gets to a classical celebrity, Anna Lapwood is somewhat genius level in music and here performs on a church organ classical mood music from the likes of Debussy and Britten – B+

If the Ceiling Were a Kite: Vol. 1 – April Magazine – San Francisco lo-fi popsters get their singles and EPs compiled on a quietly strong collection of earworms – B

WORD? – Atmosphere – the rappers are good and so are the, er, atmospherics, but despite the skill set it ain’t much fun – C+

Talk Memory – BADBADNOTGOOD – the title is close to Vladimir Nabokov’s masterful memoir “Speak, Memory” and the instrumental jazz prog band are certainly cultured enough to know that, though impractical enough not to care – C+

eat ya veggies – bbno$ – Alex Gumuchian (Armenian via Canada) pop rap is a variant on hyper pop waiting to happen on these addictive and well wrapped collection of very strong tracks – B+

Tempting Fate – Carolyn Wonderland – “Fragile Peace And Certain War” is one of the best songs of the week, a powerful piece of rockabilly from the gifted blues rock guitarist who seconds as lead for John Mayall’s Bluesbreaker… want more? Mike Nesmith officiated at her wedding. Her first album in four years is produced by Dave Alvin who mostly gets out of the way on the stomping good album – B+

Colors II – Between The Buried And Me – hard rock meets hardcore with various results, when it is loud and fast with bowels of hell vocals it gets the job done – B-

Life Of A Don – Don Toliver – My great nephew Andrew’s friend Nicholas recommended Don Toliver when I was in Orlando to celebrate Andrew’s father’s life. I was vaguely aware of Don through his featured vocals on one of the best rap albums of the immediate past, Travis Scott’s Astroworld, but at Nick’s recommendation I jumped in further this year, and now it has paid off with Toliver’s hip hop and r&b triumph, Life Of A Don, which features Travis twice, and maintains its equilibrium through neo-r&b with rap production values- A-

The Faust Tapes – Faust – The industrial Krautrockers 1973 breakthrough reaches streaming services – B+

Audio Drag for Ego Slobs – Gustaf – Post-punk angularity as written from (No) New York, hit the mark on an almost tribute-y album to an nyc long gone – B

Friends That Break Your Heart – James Blake – Blake adds the intensity of Scott Walker to the melodic grace of The Walker Brothers, he keeps things reflexively simple on the surface so you can’t miss the song of the song while his production and arrangement are deceptive and filled with touches that second as hooks (try the clapping on “Funeral”), while he still has his romantic high hills even when that high horse is remembering an ex it isn’t that sad; a maturing of romantic conceptualism – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

New Stage – Jesse McCartney – The pop confessional is iffy except he is a funny guy and “Yours” is saved by the lyric (“Yeah, I been a singer, Yeah, I been a smoker, Yeah, I been the face in every bedroom on a poster”) and he is sincere without being a drag… still, the songs ain’t great – C+

Justice (The Complete Edition) – Justin Bieber – may well be Justin Bieber’s best album and the deluxe adds three goodies to 22 songs – A

A Song is Way Above the Lawn – Karen Paris – the The Innocence Mission songwriter’s children’s album is certainly not The WIggles and its complete lack of whimsy is an odd decision that makes the songs come across as indie slow stuff and not songs for children at all… still, adults should enjoy it – B

Piecework – Kowloon Walled City – sludge metal like drowning in a swamp of thickness and despair – B

Local H’s Awesome Quarantine Mix-Tape #3 – Local H – a grunge duo who have so much goodwill over “Eddie Vedder” we have forgive them most things, even “When Doves Cry,” if not “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” – C

A Pillar of Salt – Noah Gundersen – imagine Neil Young at his most moribund, say On The Beach, over years of albums, and there you will find Noah – C+

22 Break – Oh Wonder – at this stage in their career, the London synth pop duo may be regretting Lil Uzi Vert sampling them, but the truth is they have a lot more intensely lovely songs than just “Landslide” and 22 Break shares a handful of them – B

Hindemith: Mathis der Maler (Live) – Paul Hindemith – the German composer from the 1920s and 1930s opera is given a well deserved performance that seconds as a tribute and a question mark as to why there aren’t more (Nazi repression is hardly a reason 80 years later). New to me, New York gave the first performance of it outside Germany but where is Lincoln Center? Not since 1995. They would be hard pressed to beat out the Wiener Symphoniker performance here – A

Thanks For Waiting – Potter Payper – just signed to Def Jam, he hasn’t gotten more commercial with violent gangster tales in low key drill style from the UK – B-

Outsider – Roger Taylor – Perhaps you care about Queen more than I ever have and could care whether this over blown glam rock by the band’s drummer is a disappointment, I consider it an expectation fulfilled – MUST TO AVOID – D

Seventeen Going Under (Deluxe) – Sam Fender – Sam is compared to Bruce Springsteen but I can’t hear it myself, I mean he isn’t The Killers, this is a cool 70s rocker with tunes to burn and star power all the way through, so OK, maybe Bruce – B+

This Thing Of Ours 2 – The Alchemist – he was so good performing Alfredo with Freddie Gibbs late this summer that I am ready for a major consideration, and I approve of his production here… though his rapping isn’t all there – B

Noise Noise Noise – The Last Gang – talented pop punk with a well voiced leader and an ear for hooks – B

Tales from The Script: Greatest Hits – The Script – the dreadful rock band with dreadful songs on a dreadful greatest hits… though “Breakeven” is better than I remember – C-

Illusory Walls – The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – a typical for them indie rock tweeness saved by a good drummer – C

Horizons / East – Thrice – a definitive post-hardcore band, and while there are enough melodies for the emo-core monicker, they sound like prog by another name – C-

In The Court Of The Dragon – Trivium – a rock opera mixing hardcore with prog and thrash, and the sort of multiverse building you expect from Yes – B

Why Do Birds Sing? (Deluxe Edition) – Violent Femmes – for its 30th Anniversary, the album has actually improved with time, the not untypical Gordan Gano as Jonathan Richman vibe includes demos and a live album and sounds better than I remember it. “American Music” is “Blister In The Sun” level of greatness – A-

Huffy – We Are Scientists – the indie rockers have a synth and have used it every other year since the mid-00s on pleasantly forgettable pop rock… like this album – B-

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