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Brief Encounters: New Albums 11-17-23 – 11-23-23 Reviewed

Quarter Life Crisis (Deluxe) – Baby Queen – poppy earworms filled with cynicism and self-doubt and yet addictive and clever if not as clever as she might think – B+

The Complete Budokan 1978 (Live) – Bob Dylan – he ages so well. In 2009 I dissed Christmas In The Heart to within an inch of its life and nearly fifteen years later I can’t live without “Must Be Santa”. In the middle of new wave/nowave/post punk, this album sounded terrible on its first run; bad rewrites of oldies. 22 times on the double. But it doesn’t sound like that today, the band is better than you remember from Upvoxx (here) “Dylan employed an expansive 11-piece band staffed with, among other musicians, three backup singers, an extremely audible percussionist, an ex-King Crimson drummer, Eddie Money’s keyboardist, a blonde guitarist who performed in the Broadway production of Hair, and (most notoriously) a horn player doing double duty on saxophone and flute.” Pretty wild and… Dylan opened his first visit to Japan with the nuclear catastrophic “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” as an instrumental and ended it with “The Time’s They Are A changin” and the distance between is one Japan has travelled – A

Mamouna (Deluxe) – Bryan Ferry – this might be his fourth best album INCLUDING ROXY MUSIC. The first three songs are flawless and nothing dips at all; sure, the instrumental deluxe adds aren’t up to much though the demos are goodies – B+

Rockstar – Dolly Parton – look at it this way, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with her cover of the Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” featuring P!nk and Brandi Carlile, but it has none of the world changing, honest frustration of the original. Unlike other things, simply covering classic rock isn’t enough. Lizzo on flute for “Stairway To Heaven” works, “I Dreamed Of Elvis” -by Dolly herself, is a lot of fun, and while it goes on and on it is certainly her best work 2011 since . She should have done some Jerry Lee Lewis again, another “Great Balls Of Fire” would go down well. But she needed something more country – B

For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition – Drake – Drake hasn’t been the same since Scorpio and while this looong 29 songs, knocking on two hours, makes it difficult to find an “Hold On, We’re Going Home” ten years a later – B

Hearth Room – Frost Children – we all believed hyper-pop would be to the 2020s what EDM pop was to the 2010s; a revisionist and original sound at the same time. It didn’t happen. But this is the duo’s second album this year and second winner featuring the well performed instruments of strangeness that was “Birdsong”. “Bob Dylan” spoken word, huh? – B+

Dirt On My Diamonds, Vol. 1 – Kenny Wayne Shepherd – you knew what blues’s problem was when Kenny, a teen wunderkind, failed to break big. he has been at it since he was 13 and while this is too rock, not enough blues, it does the job – C+

The Journey – Pt. 2 – The Kinks – This is odd, a greatest hits wherein Ray puts his songs together in the form of a rock opera – The songs are uniformly good, but you knew that – B+

Back to Moon Beach – Kurt Vile – “Another Good Year For The Roses” may well be the best thing he has ever written, and while the rest of the album is not untypical Vile Americana, it is certainly catchy enough – B

lofi chill vibes with machine gun kelly – lonelyboy – “a collection of songs MGK released over his last three albums re-recorded with the lush, calming sounds of lonelyboy’s lofi production” so ambient sounds and not much more – C

Theatre of the Absurd presents C’est La Vie – Madness – people of good faith might claim The Specials or Selecter… Bad Manners? as the two-tone UK band to beat. I could go with Madness -the Nutty Boys had the best mood in the world, any band who can pull off “I am as honest as the day is long, the longer the day the less I do long” are working class bad asses. Forty plus years later, this album is not prime madness; surely we have other bands better for existential dread? It is classic rock plus horns and ska beats and drear lyrics – B-

The Fine Art of Pissing In The Bushes Vol. 1 – Marla Mase – so we get two originals re-released: the first Brooklyn summer beauty of “8:30” to the sound of Bacharach Ish 60s swing, the next? I am not certain if “Dance Together” is Marla’s best song ever but it is among the top three songs of the year by anyone, “Satellite Of Love” is her popular Lou Reed track, of the final two, both are originals and “TMTFT (Tell Me The Fucking Truth)” has a killer instrumental guitar break and “Superhero” is indie rock by other means – A

Signature Philip Glass – Philip Glass – “Like Glass’ work as a whole, the content of this album is very diverse: music for theatre and for cinema, for chamber and for symphony orchestra, and recent works as well as some written almost 50 years ago!” – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

ROCK-STAR – Stray Kids – K-Pop as electronica – B

Vagabonds Of The Western World (Deluxe Edition) – Thin Lizzy – nothing here to compare with Lynott’s greatest moments, but plenty of good moments on what was the band’s third release and survives and thrives on this 40 plus songs version – A-

Merrily We Roll Along (New Broadway Cast Recording) – Various Artists – I saw Sondheim’s masterpiece last month, this one, this new recording, and it was sublime: coming right up against his “Sweeney Todd” it doesn’t lower “Sweeney” it raises “Merrily”. I gave it an “A-” (here) but just as music it is better than that – A

TROLLS Band Together (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Deluxe Edition] – Various Artists – In 2006 Justin Timberlake was thisclose to Michael Jackson size superstardom. He couldn’t maintain it, disappeared, came back, and now sucks on Trolls every three years – D

Wish (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artist – the best Disney animated soundtrack features Julia Michaels (the popular songwriter, less popular solo) and Adam Rice (engineered Lady Gaga’s “A Star Is Born), finally we emerge out of the Stephen Schwartz world into truly good pop tracks. Now I’m ready for the movie – A

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