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Brief Encounters: New Albums 3-3-23 – 3-9-23 Reviewed

Valley of the Dolls – Brix Smith – a hardcore and straight-up punk rock album, maybe a little busier than it needs to be, Mark E’s ex has an all female band she is taking on the road including two MBVs and two Savages/Royal Blood. She could use some of Mark’s intense prole swipes – B

Better Luck In The Next Life – Chiiild – lofi bedroom mood music – C+

PA Tapes (Live in Copenhagen, 8/23/2022) – Clutch – alright Denmark… proggy hard metal by a great band – B

Precious – Conrad Sewell – a superb little album from the Australian singer songwriter who is fully adept at dealing in r&b (“Ego”) or classic rock or alty rock with a rockers voice and a bands vibe – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

AURORA – Daisy Jones & The Six – The Amazon series was unwatchable (I may try again later) and the album is Blake Mills -the most boring session man on earth, with a whole lot of SoCal soft borderline parodies… – C

She Works Hard For The Money (Deluxe Edition) – Donna Summer – part of her born again phase, Christian disco as a thing from 1979, the title track is masterful but the deluxe really isn’t very, with an extended title track and instrumentals – B

Twenty on High – Drayton Farley – Now here is a revelation, an Alabama boy who can write a country track as good as anything Morgan Wallen can but more old fashioned, more George Jones could cover it, more better songs: a tremendous set of mainstream old school country songs – A-

The Songs Of Bacharach & Costello (Super Deluxe) – Elvis Costello And Burt Bacharach – if you loved “God Give Me Strength” you’ll be overwhelmed, if you feel it was an overblown disaster then maybe you wouldn’t. Still, there is Costello covering Burt-Hal along with Painted By Memory and other, not released songs. And anyway, there is always “The Sweetest Punch” – A-

Mudd Club/Munich ’80 (Live) – Frank Zappa – from a 500 SRO to an 11K arena, Frank sounded very good in 1980, more prog and less experimental – B+

Cracker Island (Deluxe) – Gorillaz – maybe it isn’t Gorillaz we hate, maybe it is Damon Albarn – MUST TO AVOID – C-

Good Person (Deluxe) Ingrid Andress – old school country singer for the modern times, like Brandi Carlile never happened – B-

Red Moon In Venus – Kali Uchis – a gorgeous little album by the Colombian singer filled with strings and dreams and a haunting soprano on a set which would be better with stronger melodies, a sound is not a song, even sounds this good – B+

Loose Lips Sink Ships – Ghost – “GHOST is a self taught producer, composer and musician based in Manchester (UK)” doing low key (not lo fi) instrumental dream whirls – B-

Finally Alone – The Sticks & Stones Tapes – Johnny Thunders – In April there is a box set, From The Beginning To The End, dropping and it should be revelatory if this totally excellent rarities album culled from the box set kinda proves – A

Ben – Macklemore – Macklemore appeared to be all “Thrift Shop” all the time and he hasn’t really regained his bearing, but to be clear: he has talent and this is an excellent collection of pure hip hop pop and earworms plus “NO BAD DAYS” that sounds like “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and rises the hook well – B+

Amelia – Mimi Webb – from the mid 2010s, the sound of EDM pop when singers were put on dance tune, Mimi was a UK fave and she can turn songs into anthems through her strong performance… unfortunately, the songs are not anthems at all – C+

One Thing At A Time – Morgan Wallen – with everything on the line, country boy follows up to his sophomore album Dangerous in 2021, which is still in the top ten after 112 weeks, he managed it with an album, 36 songs, that has quite the continuity and the craftsmanship of his last week. Plus, as a Yankee supporter I loved “98 Braves” – A

NINA SIMONE INTEGRAL 1957- 1962 – Nina Simone – Spotify is missing 21 songs from the 75 song boxset, that’s too much. This takes her from Little Girl Blue to Sings Ellington – all early heights – A-

UGLY – slowthai – at first slowthai appeared to be a King Krule knockoff but while his rapping has all but disappeared, his song construction is other worldly and the title track is enormous and brilliant – B

The Covers -Storefront Church – the L.A. based session musician has a unique, brooding sound that lands like an anchor on songs like “Pure Imagination” and “More Than This” – C+

After Hours (Live At SoFi Stadium) – The Weeknd – I’ve seen Abel several times on stage and he is the least charismatic performer known to man, I haven’t seen the show on HBO Max and this is pretty good, and no doubt the Superbowl taught him a lot, and he hits all his high points including “The Hills”, so okay – B

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