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Brief Encounters: New Albums 3-26-21 – 4-1-21 Reviewed


El Dorado – 24kGoldn – it’s not true there is no “Mood” here, there is precisely “Mood” here. Everything else is hip hop pop from the same guys and it is a good, not great set, that could hook itself back into the charts. A fun time killer – B

OK ORCHESTRA – AJR – sure, the indieish alt pop duo have only one  “Bang1” and it is here, the highlight though not the only light on the insanely catchy top song after song, all potential singles clever clogs fourth album – B+

Down in Texas ’71 (Live) – Allman Brothers Band – a month before we lost Duane, a good live set with a stellar fifteen minute “You Don’t Love Me” – A-

Haram – Armand Hammer, The Alchemist – alt rap, a bit of a blur and bore till “Stonefruit” but that’s a very catchy track – C+

Collections From The Whiteout – Ben Howard –  jazzy boring English singer songwriter gives the keys to Aaron Dessner and together they have a strong sounding Alt Americana which will lull you asleep in no time – C

FRIENDS KEEP SECRETS 2 – benny blanco – the producer (behind hits like “Move Like Jagger”) and Juice WRLD friend and musical companion adds six songs to the 2019 EP and it sounds terrific, Justin Bieber is great on “Lonely,” Juice WRLD on “Graduation” (you know: THAT GRADUATION SONG), another song has Ty Dolla $igh AND 6lack, even the late 6 Dogs makes an appearance… a very, very song set by a man who was always a music smarty and should one day have the success Juice WRLD once had, in a strong week it is a strong album – A-

Written & Directed – Black Honey – Brighton, England, rockers, “I Like The  way You Die” is a classic rocker if not Divinyls classic rocker, the rest is good to less good – B-

Dekadrone – Cabaret Voltaire – The 70s art experimentalists, Shadow Of Fear dropped last November to mixed pleasures and this nearly 50 minute track of sound modulations is at least Dadaist and metal machine music – B

My Savior – Carrie Underwood – better than the singles lead me to expect because the further it goes away from classic hymns, from the “Softly And Tenderly”‘s of the world, the better it sounds – B-

Rammellzee – DJ Muggs, Flee Lord – straight up rap collab between Cypress Hill producer and prolific Griselda guy, it isn’t your go to for either but you’ll like it when you hear it – B

Breathe – Dr. Lonnie Smith – live at the Blue Note for his 75th Birthday, the jazz organist sounds in his prime, the Iggy Pop studio tracks that open and close the album define unnecessary – B+

La Face de Pendule à Coucou – Elvis Costello – I somewhat prefer this to Hey Clockface, “No Flag”‘s appropriation of R.E.M.’s classic “Crush With Eyeliner” sounds inspired. As for the grade? Hey Clockface was awful – C+

How Many Times – Esther Rose – anybody who uses the violin this much should be considered old school country not new school Americana, and at her best, of which there is a lot, she might be considered both on the New Orlean’s singer songwriter’s third album, a consistently lovely and pleasurable in the in-between of country 2021 – B+

Who by Fire – Live Tribute to Leonard Cohen – First Aid Kit – here is a great idea, make a man who could be lugubrious (back in 2009, reviewing Cohen on stage, I dubbed him boring and never heard the end of it here) and make him a touch more boring. That’s what the folkies First Aid Kit have done. The problem is they re-arrange to step on melody to highlight harmonies and to highlight more astringent instruments – C+

Promises – Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders – The Guardian gave the collaboration five stars out of five, it is jazz ambient electronica with the London symphony Orchestra joining the two giants on a seriously academic effort – C+

Head Up High – FITZ, Fitz and The Tantrums – dance pop as opposed to his signature dance r&b, Fitz was selling this as a solo album but added his signature band’s name in the end… it sounds like the sort of here and their pure pop of a Maroon 5 and you should think if it doesn’t break pop it’s because the market isn’t crazy about the French man – B

Neptune – Gallant – the soul singer guy with an ear for 90s era r&b, and an assist from Brandy – B+

Dream Weapon – Genghis Tron – twelve years after their last album, the electronic troncore band don’t hit as hard as they used to and though that makes for slower stretches , when they hit it right it can explode – B

Last Train to Tennessee (Live 1983) – George Jones – The 2002 DVD gets a streaming release and the world is better for it, Jone’s is is in peak form on this terrific greatest hits set, he is joined by Merle Haggard on “No Show Jones”. They really don’t make em like this any more – B+

IU 5th Album ‘LILAC’ – IU – sweet as sugar sounds from K Pop princess who has been working in the music biz since she was in elementary school – B

Assembly – Joe Strummer – “Coma Girl”! who could possibly not love an album that opens with it? A fine mix of rarities and fan faves can’t fail – B+

Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) – Justin Bieber – have we forgiven him for the MLK interloping? I guess so, at over an hour in length Justin’s soft and sweet romantic love stuff can get boring but it can also pay dividends on the hits like “Holy” and “Peaches” and… it is pop music that is popular – B

KG0516 – KAROL G – the reggaeton pop star with a weak set – C

Lamb of God (Deluxe Version) – Lamb of God – adds the  Livestream event on September 18, 2020, plus two new songs to the metalcore greatest band’s excellent 2020 return – A-

Menneskekollektivet – Lost Girls, Jenny Hval, Håvard Volden – electronic, beat and voices,  featuring the Norwegian experimental artist behind blood bitch. Not bad though an acquired taste and recommend you go with the actually listener friendly “Carried By Invisible Voices” – B-

Art Dealer Chic 1 – 3 – If you think this is a whole lot better than his recent stuff, you are right. It dates from 2012 and the three EPs have just been released in preparation for Vol 4, dropping in on April 9th, this is the stuff that’s whispering the love that dare not be named: Prince – A-

Young Shakespeare (Live) – Neil Young – From January 1971 (a month before Harvest dropped), Neil harvesting his hits to date on acoustic guitar, from this time period it is the best live one I’ve heard, yes, better than Massey Hall Young called it the performance of that era and as a guy who has grown indifferent to Young and his Vaults, this one ain’t like that. The show was filmed by a German TV crew and is out on DVD somewhere. During a very good week for albums it is simply unbeatable – ALBUM OF THE WEEK  – A-

CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE) – NF – The white, born again, poster child for mental illness returns with a fine, very strongly rapped (think Eminem at his tongue twisting best) set of 00s style rap – B+

SoulFly – Rod Wave – hip hop trap by the powerful, not to mention prolific, rapper singer. Go straight to the only feature song, “Richer” with Polo G – B-

Los Angeles – Scarypoolparty – Polymath Alejandro Aranda American Idol contestant creates lovely, electronic pop songs that sound like nothing else, dedicated to how different you can be and still deeply accessible – B

DEACON – serpentwithfeet – the only reason this isn’t album of the week is because I am about to make it album of the year year (so far) – A

TOO YOUNG TO BE SAD – Tate McRae – the sadgirl includes here her biggest song, “You Broke Me First” and her masterpiece “rubberband” and while the other four aren’t up to those two, they aren’t bad – B+

Green to Gold – The Antlers – happy to have Silberman back on this lovely and boring slice of Americana, also a shame we don’t have the old Antlers to whinge with – C+

The Love Language – Trevor Jackson – The grown-ish actor with a collection of vaguely planet quiet storms – C+

sketchy. – Tune-Yards – pretty good experimental by the duol, one of whom perfected the use of the loop years ago. The songs are not as catchy as Merrill Garbus can be, the verses are difficult to rave over though the choruses can be great…. again – B

I TAPE – VIC MENSA – Vic goes #BLM to great effect on “Shelter” with Chance The Rapper and a splendid Wyclef Jeans  and less thrillingly elsewhere – B-

Saint Cloud +3 – Waxahatchee – one of the best albums of 2020 sounded a lot less exciting at Saturday’s live stream, and the entire album feels as though it is missing something right this this moment. Perhaps the quiet danger of life last Spring was made for a deep, lovely, and fairly quiet set of songs in ways 2021 doesn’t need em.  As for the +3, Katie Crutchfield does nothing much to Bruce and Lucinda, but kills the Dolly Parton track – B+

OH NO – Xiu Xiu – there are some people you kinda think, maybe you should like, but simply don’t. Sharon Van Etten is a poster child, and Jamie Stewart is first runner-up, put them together on the first track here and if the electronic wall of sound mid-90s Bowie mode doesn’t work this is not for you, it sure ain’t for me – C

VISIONLAND – YBN Nahmir –  The YBN collective (Nahmir,  Almighty Jay,  Cordae) broke up, the other two are not in Cordae’s league and Nahmir does himself only two favors here -the opener, “Still (Family)” where Ty Dolla $ign adds soul and the remix of “Oppa Stoppa” where 21 Savage adds viciousness. If you are in the mood,  you might try the badass “Politics” – C+

Dum and Dummer 2 – Young Dolph, Key Glock –  the duo’s follow up to 1 in 2019 is sing song Memphis smooth slow and hard edge, and good for Key Glock, but Young Dolph is better solo – C+

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