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Brief Encounters: New Albums 5-7-21 – 5-13-21 Reviewed



Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street – Alex Chilton, the Hi Rhythm Section – at a 1969 benefit, the Big Star was joined by the top Memphis session players on a fine collection of rock standards – B

Forever Isn’t Long Enough – Alfie Templeman – The eighteen year old English singer songwriter calls it “indie r&b” by which he means he can write bass parts for pop songs, pretty good pop songs – B

A Touch of the Beat Gets You Up on Your Feet Gets You Out and Then Into the Sun – Aly & Aj – has the consistency we insist upon in pop song albums,the duo returns with their first album (there has been plenty of singles) in fourteen years and it is a pretty, somewhat MOR but none the worse for that, collection of ear catchers – B

Better Mistakes – Bebe Rexha – Bebe is still knocking on that pop royalty door, and it is slushy stuff like Demi Lovato without the overdoses, except for the opening track, “Break My Heart Myself,” produced by the ubiquitous Travis Barker, which is killer. Some big name features but it doesn’t help much – B-

Young Heart – Birdy – You may remember the UK pop savant for her beautiful cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” though over the years her own songwriting of pop folk songs take precedent. On her latest she has some early Joni about her, a comparison nobody wants, and sure she ain’t Joni but she has her own flutterry interpretation of 60s style folk pop and it works pretty well – B

HELLRAISERS Part One – Cheat Code – The LA based DJ trio with a half hour of bad EDM – MUST TO AVOID – D+

Build A Problem – Dodie – The UK youtuber’s first album is quiet and sweet indie pop album with sticky songs you need to lean forward to catch, “I Kissed Someone (It Wasn’t You)” is as good as its title – B+

Reprise Rarities (Vol 3) – Frank Sinatra – The best so far, it is a deep dive into tracks you can’t quite remember but know you should, don’t miss the piano only “Empty Tables” or, god knows, set closer disco “All Or Nothing At All” – B+

if i could make it go quiet – Girl In red – the patron saint of lesbian Tik Tokkers began life as sad girl bedroom pop but success breeds success and she widens her scope entirely with the Fineas produced best work yet from the gifted woman – B+

Fortitude – Gojira – the French death metal band have been kicking since 1995, and sound as powerful and ear bleeding loud as ever with guitars that tap into prog with ease – B

Watch Out – India Jordan – The UK House DJ with a thoroughly thrilling EP of charged up instrumental, electronic dance – B+

Archive Series Volume No. 5: Tallahassee Recordings – Iron & Wine – Americana hero Sam Beam’s back pages “the lost-in-time debut album from Iron & Wine. A collection of songs recorded three years prior to his official Sub Pop debut” it claims on bandcamp, and it is so strong maybe he was fully formed before he joined Sub Pop – B+

J Period Presents… Story To Tell (Chapter One) – J Period – Dave Chappelle, another guy who should keep to jokes, does the introduction on the first part of a three part hip hopera of sorts which doesn’t work with its chatty off handedness as self-importance, “Gran Combo” featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, is a highlight – C+

Black Ants Always Fly Together, One Bangle Makes No Sound – Kasai Allstars – Congolese collective who sound like South African pop with quieter instrumentals and brilliant drumming – A-

You And Me – Nancy Wilson – half of Heart’s first solo album with a covers album of stuff like… “The Rising”? – C-

Education, Entertainment, Recreation (Live) – New Order -The one time I saw New Order on stage (I’d seen Joy Division several times), I thought they were dreadful in 2012 and in retrospect I was being kind, there is nothing interesting in a bunch of guys behind synths and the songs we know and on this nothing special live takes on some great and some less than great songs – C+

Missing Persons (Alive Forever) – Procol Harum – three song EP that sounds just like their renaissance hard rock plus keyboards in their 55th year – C+

Life By Misadventure – Rag’n’Bone Man – His first album was a huge Brit style Americana smash on the other side of the pond, stirred by his pounding voice, this one is quieter and better but it goes on forever and while it will hit, it will replicate the charms it should, in fact, beat – B-

Crooked Machine – Roisin Murphy – The Irish disco diva’s remix album of art craft beats and electronic zooms that is as thoroughly brilliant a conceptualization that it is equal and different to the original – B+

Bright Green World – Squid – electronic, jazz band from England is an acquired taste in a post-punk mix and match bore – C

Coral Island – The Coral – This is the first time the UK, 60s style pop rock band have really nailed it, a nearly hour long of gorgeous pop rock track world of sounds. A triumph for the band 25 years into their career – A-

Smoke From The Chimney – Tony Joe White – The late, great New Orleans swamp guy behind “Pork Salad Annie” who died in 2018. His son found some demos and forwarded to Dan Auerbach and between them recorded new backing on a fine collection of country tracks if not swamp boogie – B

Capricorn – Trevor Powers – Trevor used to be known as Youth Lagoon, and I once saw the mesmerizing wall of electronica musician open for The National at Barclay Center and was very impressed… still am, this is a gorgeous set of ambient sounds and you can up the grade if you love ambient anyway – B+

Latest Record Record Project, Vol 1 – Van Morrison – Cancel Van? Really? why? Because you think he is an idiot because of his anti-vaxxer position (he calls it satire during the interview above). Van isn’t a politician, he’s a rock and blues and jazz genius whose music remains vibrant on album after album… but please go back to reviewing his song titles, don’t let me stop you. For the rest of us, Van Morrison changed circa 1994 with A Night In San Francisco, where he paired his sound to his genre and narrowed his vision to blues, soul, jazz, and Celtic mysticism. And he has done the same on album after album, and they are all about as good as each other ever since, with the occasional humdinger, like 2008’s “Behind The Ritual”. His latest is a steady hander Van, “Psychoanalysts Ball” is the best, and while the rest is just what Van does and as generic as its title, it’s the equal of all but the best of his 90s material. But if you are as big a fan as I am you’ll be glad to own his 42nd album it and if not please feel free to give Van Weezer hugs and kisses – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Van Weezer – Weezer – Rivers channels hair metal, and gets it right, I guess. I never much cared for hair metal and Weezer has been running on fumes for decades – D+

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