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Brief Encounters: New Albums 3-4-22 – 3-10-22

Things Are Great – Band Of Horses – rock Americana with a fan base though this might hurt it, unless you’re into whiny singers – C+

Untitled Vol. 1 – Caspr -sounds like Lil Peep without the magic, and Travis Barker never helps – C+

Ghost Song – Cécile McLorin Salvant – her voice is so lovely she performs half of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” a capella, and on the very next song she starts with The Wizard Of Oz’s “Optimistic Voices” and continues with Gregory Porter’s “No Love Dying” moving from AOR art rock to jazz, , so by the third song, the title track, she wrote herself and it sounds like world music and everything resonates from the singing – B+

23 – Central Cee – if a man is gonna tattoo “Trap King” across his stomach you might wanna take him seriously, his Great Grandfather was an Arawakan, his dad is Guyanese, his Mom is Irish, he sounds like an East Ender and he performs self-portrait hybrid rap – B+

Topical Dancer – Charlotte Adigéry, Bolis Pupul – excellent art electronica with a pop edge that keeps on fulfilling a promise – A-

COMMANDO – COMMANDO – according to Local News Matters (here): “The members of COMMANDO are Principal Dammit (aka Travis Andrews of The Living Earth Show); Van Jackson-Weaver; Juba Kalamka of the homo-hop group Deep Dickollective; Lynnee Breedlove, former member of the San Francisco queercore band Tribe 8; Drew Arriola-Sands of the queer punk band Trap Girl; Krylon Superstar of the queer electro-hop group Double Duchess; Honey Mahogany, a contestant on Season 5 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the vice chair of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee; and Meyerson himself”. And you have to think that songs like “What It’s Like For A T-Girl” and “George Michael” make their point well enough and yet the album doesn’t’ have a center of gravity and between the loud and the quiet is nothing much – B

BETTER THAN YOU – DaBaby, YoungBoy Never Broke Again – An interesting time for musicians who have been cancelled, Morgan Wallen sold out MSG (here), Ryan Adams sold out Carnegie Hall (here) and DaBaby (his deeply offensive and stupid remarks at Rolling Loud certainly deserved rebuke: “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up,” he told attendees. “Ladies, if your pussysmell like water, put your cellphone lighter up. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up.” He then doubled down and his career, from the top rapper in the US to invisible, his singles ignored, taken off Gov Ball for one followed, and is struggling to get his footing. Today’s surprise drop of his Better Than You album with YoungBoy Never Broke Again might do it, and if this doesn’t get DaBaby back to the top nothing will: tough, husky, sharp rapping plus Youngboy autotuned and emo-rap, at 33 minutes it doesn’t stop for breath on a minor masterpiece, “Hit” is a great song, so is “On This Line” but you could take your pick here, it is a superb slice of modern pop – A-

Diplo – Diplo – extremely average EDM pop, the first song features Miguel, the next features Leon Bridges so absolutely caveat emptor on this house pop – C-

The Body Never Lies – Krewella – popular yet tedious electronica – D+

Wasteland – Laura Lee & the Jettes – the German band lead by Laura Gertken are in the process of winning over North America and this straightforward post-grunge sound will only help the cause – B

Same History, New Feelings – Madi Diaz – two years after History Of A Feeling, folkie Madi reworks songs from the album, and if “Resentment (New Feelings)” is better than the original “Resentment” it is just a question of a degree here and there – B

Pa’lla Voy – Marc Anthony – well, it’s better than J Lo’s last though it is all very Julio Iglesias – B-

External Combustion – Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs – if you wanna understand what made Tom Petty great, listen to what makes his guitar Mike so ordinary. It isn’t the performances, it is the songs which are riffs in search of glue, and the voice which isn’t much – C+

PAINLESS – Nilüfer Yanya – the English singer songwriter started life as an indie pop avatar but now adds an edge of r&b along with the prettiness – B

From 2 To 3 – Peach Pit – they sound like what they are, a 2010s indie pop melody band with sweet yet indistinct melodies – B

Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater – RZA, DJ Scratch – The Wu Tang leader rap skills is his best in years and DJ SCratch finds thrilling samples from (dubbed) Kung Fu movies, the entire album is an absolute blast in a great meeting of minds and while RZA is a great producer, using another producer is a terrific idea and one as great as DJ Scratch makes it a two man supergroup – B+

Oochya! – Stereophonics – UK rockers who need better vocals – C+

Multitude – Stromae – from Belgium, in French, electronic pop chanson francaise meets hip hop, they are headlining MSG so clearly somebody knows something I don’t – B

It’s A Shame About Ray (Expanded Edition) – The Lemonheads – Evan Dando was the heartthrob of the 1990s (he infamously took Juliana Hatfield’s virginity and took a whole lotta drugs), one result was the great 1992 album, his fifth, which stands as very melodic songs about girls and hard drugs… He includes nine demos, which amounts to the same song without the band, and it is fantastic, let’s hope we get Come And Feel The Lemonheads next – A-

How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars – The Weather Station – is this anti-folk? A subdued and quietly intense set of folk Americana from the Canadians – B

333 (Deluxe)- Tinashe – adds four song to last years r&b meets electronic album, try “Shy Guy” – B

YOD Wave – Your Old Droog – The Ukrainian via Brooklyn rapper is so prolific you can’t keep up, he sounds great but why invest so much time on him when you just know that there will be a new album tomorrow? – B

This World is Going to Ruin You – Vein.fm – an excellent hardcore band, currently touring with Touche Amore by the way, and the ear bleeding slaughter of the lambs of this wild and harsh ear sound that moves toward horrifying doominess – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

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