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Brief Encounters: New Albums 5-6-22 -5-12-22

Let It Be Blue – !!! – indie EDM band’s first album in three years is one more, ultra playful, punk dance songs plus electronic jams from the NYC team – B

Loner – Alice Wonderland – EDM as digital singer songwriter – C+

WE – Arcade Fire – clearly a disaster of epic proportions as AF discover the formula has stopped working and the beats miss James Murphy – D+

My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me – AWOLNATION – much like the weather this Spring, it looks lovely but it feels awful, the one man indie guy singing “Material Girl” with Hanson, “Take A Chance On Me” with Jewel, and the Cars “Drive” solo and I hope he is very happy – C-

A Bit of Previous – Belle And Sebastian – the UK folkie conglom going since the 90s and still to improve on When You’re Feeling Sinister, this is what they do seven years after the last time they did it – C+

Ribbon Around The Bomb (Deluxe Edition) – Blossoms – as deluxe’s go, ten versions on piano seems a little besides the points, especially because you don’t know Blossoms though you actually do, they were Rick Astley’s backing band for the Smiths covers performances last year and they are the first great rock band from Manchester since the 1975, this album is a major breakthrough and a great piece of work and “Ode To NYC” is better than “Empire State Of Mind” – A-

Un Verano Sin Ti – Bad Bunny – Benito breaks up with a girl and plans to spend the summer celebrating the summer days and summer nights on an album that moves from Latino Trap to top underground reggaeton brought to the worldview, a huge hit for Benito as we await a misstep he has yet to make – A-

Heart On My Sleeve – Ella Mai – Straightforward soul from the “Boo’d Up” woman, the Latto feature is nothing if not prescient – B

Let’s Say For Instance – Emeli Sandé – Emeli has been a huge influence on black women in UK pop whether it be Sault or Cat Power, Em is part of the template for sure. This is one of her best works to date, electronic r&b with beats, melodies, and a great singer; a surprisingly strong album – A-

Live: Songs For Beginners / Wild Tales – Graham Nash – The 2016 tour was excruciating (here) and it sounds like the 2019 concerts, with Nash performing his first two solo albums on separate days, albums from the early 1970s and beyond disappointing and more in the nature of career derailing, were worse – D+

With A Vengeance – Hans Gruber and the Die Hards – the ska revival continues via Austin where they add thrash to ska – B-

Spell 31 – Ibeyi – These are the Afro-French Cuban twin sisters and they meld their influences sometimes very well but sometimes a little too ambient – B

Come Home The Kids Miss You – Jack Harlow – it is strange how little it can take, his 2020 single, four years into his career, “What’s Poppin'” was a huge hit, his feature on Lil Nas X’s sublime “Industry Baby” was even bigger (though Jack made an ass of himself in The Grammys) and next thing you know Harlow is headlining Gov Ball and throwing hit singles off his new album to the top of the charts. Pitchfork gave the album a 2.9 (out of 10), but at least it has “Nail Tech” and “First Class” and the invisible man Justin Timberlake on one song – B-

Shuckin’ Sugar – Karen Dalton – the folkie from Texas who ended up in the village while Dylan ruled and died at the age of 51, this superb collection of never before heard takes are an expressly excellent way to listen to the woman. Karen nearly never wrote her own material but she arranged traditional blues and folk songs and covered her contemporaries and she was everything you had heard she was, with a voice so raw and tender that she can make Blind Lemon Jefferson (the title track) her own, on these newly discovered songs – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe) – Mary J. Blige – extended, business like Mary J album, the deluxe adds some sizzle with H.E.R. on the title track – B-

Meth Lab Season 3 : The Rehab – Method Man – if you don’t know Method Man from Wu or from his epic verse with Biggie (“fuck the world don’t ask me for shit, everything you get you’ve got wo work hard for it”) you might be on the wrong website. This is 90s boom bat with 90s stars like his buddy Redman, Jadakiss, and the rap consigliore KRS-One – B

The Last Resort: Greetings From – Midland – they don’t have the voices of an Eagles, but they do have the right side of twang and they do have the songs, “The Last Resort” is special – B

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971 (Live) – Neil Young – a young after After The Goldrush, a year before Harvest, Young at his folkie zenith captured on stage, including a must hear “Heart Of Gold, moving and genius and an early headlight for the seventies – A

Mr. Crawford – NoCap – sing speak rap with melodies on a dark, marauding album of sorrow and hopelessness from the young rapper who just hit the charts – B

Super Champon – Otoboke Beaver – J-rock, but really, that messes up the genre which is fast, loud rules by the Kyoto women who have the answer to your questions as to toxic masculinity on “I Am Not Maternal” and “I Do Not Serve Salad” -or, if you prefer, oh bondage up yours. The solution? Sixteen seconds of “Let’s shopping after show” – A-

Pure Evil – Puppy – proggy hard rock UK band – C

Endless Rooms – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – the Aussie post-punks with a fine set of melodic and yet angular indie rock – B

We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong – Sharon Van Essen – I give up on this critics fave, a dreary bore with the occasional zinger, try “Mistakes” – MUST TO AVOID – D

Misery Made Me – Silverstein – just before the 2020 lockdown I caught Silverstein (here) and unanointed them as my go to post-hardcore band, though they sure have their moments and if nothing else, and even if generic, Misery Made Me is filled with major strong songs to slit your wrists to, “misery made me nothing can break me” are words to live by – B+

Happiness Not Included – Soft Cell – the synth pop soul duo from the 80s are still around on a dark and brooding bummer of an album – C+

I Can’t Let Go – Suki Waterhouse – in the born to it stakes, the stunning Suzi has been a poster child for model, actress, and popstarness… she is currently living with The Batman, and her new album are minor league pop brooders from the UK, with only “Moves” special – C+

Headful of Sugar – Sunflower Bean – their third album finds the New York indie rockers over arranging themselves on song after song, though if they had cut the bridge “In Flight” coulda been a contender – C+

Dopamine – Thunder – the honest roar of bland metal UK style – D+

Transmissions – Trauma Ray – shoegaze meets thrash meets grunge power product via Austin, “Liftoff” is masterful new hybrid rock – B+

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