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Brief Encounters: New Albums 5-20-22 – 5-26-22 Reviewed

Blue Hours – Bear’s Den – UK, low-key rock about that place where you meditate in peace on a surprisingly strong set of rock dreaminess – B+

emotionally unavailable – Cat Burns – the English modern day woman r&b world that gave us Cleo Sol, threw up a 2020 song from Cat this year, “Go”, and so we got an EP now, the excellent singer songwriter with limey accent proves that “go” wasn’t a fluke , try “anxiety” if you don’t believe me – A-

A Legacy of Rentals – Craig Finn – If John Cheever wrote songs instead of stories you might have this collection of bummer tracks from the Hold Steady lead, ahem, singer. Try “Due To Depart” – B

A Heartless Portrait (The Orphéan Testament) – Evergrey – melodic metal via Germany, they’ve been doing it for 25 years so you gotta think… – B-

Musa Italiana – Filarmonica della Scala – Italian style classical with music by Mendelsohn, Schubert and Mozart (who wasn’t that keen on Italian opera himself) finds the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan celebrating its 40th anniversary – B+

Palaces – Flume – maybe, maybe, maybe if it was 2015 and Avicii was the competition, Flume’s house pop endeavors would make sense. But it isn’t and time has passed this by as surely as it has passed Disclosure by – C+

Harry’s House – Harry Styles – when “As It Was” dropped I wrote that if he had just one more song as great as it the album was gonna be magnificent. He doesn’t have one more song as great as it. The steady move from the sax blast of energy “Music For a Sushi Restaurant” and the funky work out “Late Night Talking” through the moribund and overrated “Matilda” to the soft landing of “Boyfriends” and overshare “Love Of My Life” miss ignition – B+

Europiana Encore – Jack Savoretti – more MOR, please no no, like being stuck in the elevator from hell- D

Fables in a Foreign Land – John Doe – old school Americana story songs but search as hard as you like you won’t find a verse as expressive as:

“There are men lost in jail
Crowded fifty to a room
There’s too many rats in this cage of a world
And the women know their place
They sit home and write letters”

The same pen, different skill set – C+

EYEYE – Lykke Li – the Swedish sadgirl sweet and solemn singer songwriter with a good set of songs that wear off fast – B-

Wildhorse – Matt Koziol – country Americana via New Jersey, nothing much but “Work All Day” ain’t bad – C+

Carry Me Home – Mavis Staples, Levon Helms – From Rolling Stone: “In the summer of 2011, Mavis Staples and her band arrived at Levon Helm’s barn and studio in Woodstock, New York, to perform at one of Helm’s trademark Midnight Ramble shows. The resulting show, dropping May 20 with the title Carry Me Home, was a moving reunion of two American musical legends who’d known each other for 35 years.” It would have been nice to have had Levin able to sing more than a verse (he would die in 2012) but it is a very enjoyable and soulful romp – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Reprise – Remixes – Moby – good for Moby in maintaining any career whatsoever but an album of remixes of songs no one heard in the first place defines redundancy – C

rising – mxmtoon – The 21 year Cali girl does, to quote a song title, sad disco. She is a gifted melodicist and a strong lyricist and if there is something slight about her, well, a hit single will fix that – B

Whenever You Need Somebody (Deluxe Edition – 2022 Remaster) – Rick Astley – from the if you hang around long enough files, the 35th anniversary of Rick Astley’s  deluxe OTO smash adds 22 songs and it sounds better than it used to, so, sorry Nick Lowe, time has changed it and ghastly is no longer the word – B+

Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder To The Sky – Porridge Radio – Brighton’s punky post-punk is remaining the same on one level but on another level the songwriter is better and by better I mean as good as ever AND more accessible on these stirred up nightmare anthems – B+

HYPNOS – Ravyn Lenae – Steve Lacey’s pal, lushy sultry vocals, electronic neo-r&b sounds – B-

Afrikan Culture – Shabaka – experimental jazz saxophonist moves to various wood instruments for ambient mood sounds – B-

So Far So Good – The Chainsmokers – Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall are the best pop EDM guys around even if they are not much respected. Terrific on stage where they don’t allow the happenstance of DJing to tie em to the turnstile, this is their fifth album and the hits have stopped coming though what world finds “High” not charting? The best of thirteen songs, true, but everything here is as excellent as you could hope for – A-

Combat Rock + The People’s Hall – The Clash – the worst of the classic tro line-up was also their biggest hit, here they include the shelved tracks from the recording studio “The People’s Hall” produced by Guy Stevens as well as odds and sods. The album itself has improved over the years though to quote Richard Meltzer in Creem -it is the merest mere. Zig Zag’s Kris Needs has a must read review in Louder (here) – B+

AM Gold – Train – as aptly named a mainstream pop and soul album as you’ll find that is like Maroon 5 without the tattoos – B+

What’s It Gonna Take? – Van Morrison – sure, his antivaxxer opinion is paranoid bullshit but so what? What does one man’s opinion change? And the songs are Van Morrison form on form, not great but good enough for sure – B

American Heartbreak – Zach Bryan – plaintive sounding Americana folk – B-

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