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Brief Encounters: New Albums 5-21-21 – 5-27-21 Reviewed


Free Dem Boyz – 42 Dugg – He learnt how to rap in solitary confinement at 15 (for carjacking), and is under house arrest right now, but the Tee Grizzley find is as tough and self-aware, and living through, the real experience for black, blue collar men and makes it pay off with great trap beats – B+

Body Language – Blake Shelton – not great any more, but his earnest country pop at least knows what it wants… a hit – C+

Wink – CHAI – In this new age of AIPC, a charming, experimental, all female band with Japan are as happening as it gets. And these guys are first great (both “Both Donuts Mind If I Do” r&b pop and “Maybe Chocolate Chips” are wonderful), and then jumps in the deep end with too much artpop – B-

Déjà vu 50th Anniversary Deluxe – Crosby Stills Nash & Young – it hasn’t stood the test of time as well as it might have, the first side is alright but the second side sure ain’t. If they added “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Marrakesh Express” and maybe “Triad” and “Harvest” you’d have a masterpiece, but they haven’t and you don’t. Having said that, Steve Stills owns the extended deluxe, on track after track he is at a peak that would continue through his first three solo albums. If the album isn’t what we remember, the outtakes, demos, etc., are better than anything we have the right to expect – A-

Sensation – Erika de Casier – The only black woman from Denmark I’ve ever heard of, this 90s inspired, wall of electronic r&b album is a winner of hushed vocals and mood enhancing broken love songs – B

Present Tense – FACS – noise rock, semi-experimental, post-punk guitar, via Chicago on their immersive fourth album – B-

Intruder – Gary Numan – a strong outing of industrial electronic pop mood pieces – B-

Seeking New Gods – Gruff Rhys –  Wales’s favorite son, Super Furry Animals leader goes solo for a change up but sounds just about exactly the same as ever, so old and tired he needs a respirator on the dreaded “Distant snowy Peaks,” and rocks as hard as the opiate of your choice… If you insist, try “Loan Your Loneliness” – C-

Echo – Indigo Sparkle – neo-folk via Australia, with some Big Thief adding their touch on a fine collection, highlighted by lead off track “Colourblind” – B-

Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year – Kaonashi – post-hardcore with a bowels from hellish lead singer tells the story of a High School person being drawn to bringing two rifles to school for its revenge… Powerful stuff and acquired taste but with a singular, horrified, vision. Improves with listening  – B+

Showtunes – Lambchop – Kurt Wagner is a talented fellow, no doubt, performing deeply emotive wall of sound electronica mixed with analogue lo fi moodisms – B-

Long Lost – Lord Huron – Typical indie Americana and good for two and a half songs an album, sometimes one of them is killer but less so right now – C+

Pray Haiti – Mach-Hommy – the well respected Westside Gunn collaborator returns with a very strong, somewhat old school (“The 26th Letter”?) set, with one of the best flows you’ll hear on an excellent old school rap album – B+

Perfect – Mannequin Pussy – the Philly punk and pop -depending on mood, trio are fine on this EP from the controlled control to the manic title track – B

Afrique Mystique – Mdour Moctor – a mix of afrobeats, Moroccan sounding guitars, and Middle eastern vibes,aiming for world Music crossover and making it on the guitar licks time after time – B-

Dolenz Sings Nesmith – Micky Dolenz – though not as great as Micky’s masterpiece, Remember, from 2012, with one of the best covers of Lennon, “Good Morning Good Morning,” I’ve ever heard, but still good and there is also a great “Tapioca Tundra” here, and “Different Drum,” and Micky pays his bandmate all respect – B

Sour – Olivia Rodrigo – The obvious comparison isn’t Tay Tay, it is Elvis Costello and the precedent here -doing for misandry what Costello did for misogyny, is This Year’s Model and “Brutal” is the most brutal example of all. Olivia’s problem is that lyrically she isn’t sharp enough for her attitude. Will she be in the future? Possible, but not yet – B+

Take The Cake – PACKS –  guitar packed mix of hi lo fi post-punk angularity with tunes to help you along on an impressive debut dubbed slacker but not in a Pavement way  – B

If I Fail Are We Still Cool – Patrick  Paige II – The Internet bassist with a neo-R&B funk album – B

American Quilt – Paula Cole – Paula has up hers and downs by any standards, and this soulful Americana meets jazz is an up, beautifully sung, and seconding as a tribute to her parents, her eleventh album is just fine – B+

All I know So Far: Setlist – P!nk – The soundtrack to P!nks Amazon Prime documentary on her highly successful, not so hot world tour (here), over an album of live tracks and some self-congratulatory subtext, the only time I nodded my head in agreement was during her live cover of “About A Girl” – C

Shiesty Season – Spring Deluxe – adds a handful to the already poppier than rap has any right to be (except, of course, Lil Uzi Vert makes an appearance), and the Lil Baby feature is worth the opportunity to listen to it again, brrrr… – B+

A Little More Time with Reigning Sound – Reigning Sound – we had a word for this when I was growing up: new wave. The Memphis band are classic rockists with a taste for soul and a handle on tunefulness – B+

Sharecropper’s Son – Robert Finley – The America’s have Talent finalist is a 67 year old soul man par excellence, especially on the knockout  “Better Than I Treat Myself,” there is seldom a good word to be said about Dan Auerbach who produced but this is much better than the new Black Keys album – B+

As We Pass – Storefront Churches – is Lukas Frank, a typical face for indie Americana and guitar rock drama – C+

ZII – The Devil wears Prada – Christiancore metal as powerful as always from one of the top hardcore bands of the 10s – B+

Live from The Last Night of Tour – The Lumineers – What made Milwaukee finds The Lumineers dropping an EP of live songs from 2019 – B

Saskadelphia – The Tragically Hip – Canada’s favorite band, still reeling from Gord Downie’s early passing from cancer, are releasing old songs that never made it onto albums, from all points south of their 33year career. These are unreleased songs from 1991.  TTH were easy to miss if you weren’t Canadian, but a listen to their seventeen albums finds a great rock and roll singer leading a great rock and roll band band,  and a real loss – A-

Scaled And Icy – Twenty-One Pilot – It has been six years since Twenty-One Pilot were great on their breakthrough, and while Scaled And Icy isn’t isn’t Blurryface but it isn’t Trench either, rather it is somewhat a grown up soul pop album by the duo who have just hit their thirties and it shows, in a really good way, start with the excellent opening track “Good Day” – B-

Greatest Hits – Waterparks – the Texan pop punk outfit offer a genre busting mix and match and not a greatest hit in the lot – B

Kommunity Service – YG, Mozzy – a strong half hour of pop rap with guest stars galore, including one of Ty Dolla $ign’s best moments in a year, “Vibe with You” – B

Off The Yak – Young M.A. – well on her way to being my favorite rapper in 2021, the first listen to the post-breakthrough album, , finds her at the top of US drill now we don’t have Pop Smoke anymore, this is in the running for album of the year as she beats on everybody while fucking every woman (and treating them with the same respect as a male rapper). One word, ten letters – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Dr. EV4L – Young Nudy – The Rob Zombie of rap, Atlanta favorite son (and 21 Savage first cousin) with another set of dreading rap as scary as possible – B

Poster Girl (Summer Edition) – Zara Larsson – The EDM, Swedish popster adds six songs to her latest, and her skill at dance pop is impeccable, better than I originally considered the album, here we are as bright as a summer day – B+



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