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Brief Encounters: New Albums 3-19-21 – 3-25-21 Reviewed

The Plugs I Met 2 – Benny The Butcher, Harry Fraud – Pitchfork’s Pete Tosiello compares Griselda superstar Benny The Butcher to pre-retirement Hova,  even though Benny  can’t withstand comparison to Hard Knock Life Vol 2, but what he can do is take care of business on a brutal and strong nine song suite of street legal gangsta rap – B+

House Music – Bell Orchestre – this is the Arcade Fire second ringers instrumental band, it is very clever and fun but they can’t sustain it over the album and it ends up as a snooze- B-

Chemtrails Over The Country Club – Lana Del Rey – in which Lana leaves the West Coast for the West and the midWest, and can’t come up with the incredible mojo that was Norman Fucking Rockwell, still moody and beautiful , and clever, but even so it doesn’t kick and if it was her first album it might be a problem. “Let Me Love You Like A Woman” is an exceptionally lovely song – B+

1176 – Guapdad 4000, !llmind – two years after Dior Deposits, the West Oakland bad boy who had nothing but problems rising from a family that found him as the eldest, protecting his brother and sisters as his parents were in and out of jail. Yes, rap raised him above what seems so inevitable, and his second strong. life on the streets, abum is straightforward and clever, try “She Wanna”  – B-

Alone With My Faith – Harry Connick, Jr. – Man, how good was New Orleans guy, Harry Connick Jr., his skills were immense (in 2005 I say him off Broadway in “The Pajama Game” and he was incomparable) but here  he comes to terms with God on a mix of traditional hymns and new Christian songs with a jazz edge – C+

WE ARE – Jon Batiste – The Late Show bandleader built a studio in his office at the Ed Sullivan theatre and recorded this piece of ego shrug – C-

Justice – Justin Bieber – why are MLK speeches on an album filled paean for his wife and romantic love? When he can’t breathe he isn’t being murdered by police but because he loves Hailey so much: honestly. not half as good as Changes, it is MOR electronic embarrassments though the first single, “Holy” isn’t bad – C

To Kill A Sunrise – Kota the Friend, Statik Selektah – Statik is a top producer and Kota can rap over jazz flutes with ease, and more obsessed with music than gangster Brooklyn, “Wolves” is one of the best songs of the week – B+

Still Woman Enough – Loretta Lynn – at 88 years of age, all power to the second greatest woman in country history (her friend Patsy Cline is better), here she introduces the current generation of  women singers, the Maren Morris’s and Margo price, as well as a generation earlier Tanya Tucker and Reba McIntire, and it all sounds wonderful. One complaint… where is “Fist City”? -A-

Everything Will Be Ok Eventually – Michigander – one person band, big sounding Indie Americana vibe with consistently nagging melodies, best is “Better” although everything is good enough – B+

Beyond the Past • Live in London with the Platinum Anniversary Orchestra – MONO – Twenty years on, the Japanese instrumental rock band had a huge party and the album couldn’t sound better – B+

The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All – New Pagans  an Irish post-punk goth band with a unique perspective and a different matriarch feel and a a great many strong riffs and… quite a good drummer, a first rank debut album – B+

Spaceman (Deluxe) – Nick Jonas – sounds better with some fresh songs, especially the Jonas Brothers one – C+

FlySiifu’s (Deluxe Edition) – Pink Siifu, Fly Anakin  – the deluxe version of a very good alt rap album by two pros who work from samples upon samples to build a comfortable place to rap – B

Greatest Hits Vol.2 The Better Noise Years – Papa Roach – eleven years later, the great “Last Resort” hardcore rockers sound excellent on volume two, a true greatest hits with every one of the 21 songs must be heard and memorable. An indefatigable energy is placed at the center of rock hard rock and emo rockers. I don’t usually make a best of my album of the week, but in a great week for rock it is undeniable – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Zoom In EP – Ringo Starr – It includes last years best Ringo moment “Here’s To The Nights,” which isn’t very good good, and four other slices of moldy 60s – 70s rockers –  C

Lifeline – RJ Thompson – otherwise known as Synth Springsteen, this is pub rock as Americana alt rock-pop… it’s pleasant and also mediocre and a touch overblown – C+

Arlene – Rodeola – fuzzy Americana by way of Bloomington, Indiana -not at all bad, twangy yet clearly folk the sound is immersive, even suffocating, melancholy singing by songwriter Kate Long, try “Teenage Situation” – B+

Elasticity – Serj Tankian – There are three worldwide, repulsive actions against people, one is Saudi against Yemen, one is China against  Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and the third is Turkey against Armenia. I have Armenian nieces and great-nephews, so I am aware of it more than most. so is System Of The Down Serj (check out the tail of his last name)  who returns with a solid prog rock plus eclectic sounding instruments and a complete winner – B+

All the Right Noises – Thunder – 2020 was the worst year for rock in living memory, perhaps simply proven  by Springsteen’s dreadful Letter To You. Or perhaps exemplified by this week in 2021 in which the likes of Serj Tankian, and the 1990s hard rock Londoners Thunder with a heads down, no nonsense, hard rocking guitar band as good as anything they have ever done – B+

The Virtual Road – U2 Go Home: Live From Slane Castle Ireland EP (Remastered 2021) – U2 – part of the Elevation tour in 2001, I believe the actual show is video streaming in their fanclub… the four tracks we get are fine, especially a wonderful “Stuck…” – B

REAPER SZN (Deluxe) – YXNG K.A – there is a world of melodic rap, em rap if you will, that bubbled after Juice WRLD, xxxtentacion, and Lil Peep died very young, and exploited by dril melodic rapping hero Lil Durk, who shows up  on 17 year old wunderkind from Philly (and therefore Meek Mill pal) YXNG. If you don’t like drill, grime, East Coast OG, that sort of stuff, then try this beauty of a debut. Lyrically, it is the same ol’ OG for children but the sounds are so gorgeous, and his rapping so gloriously free flow, you can understand why he is considered a savant – B+

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