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Brief Encounters: New Albums 6-10-22 – 6-16-22 Reviewed

Shining Night – Anne Akiko Meyers – the violinist adds jazz to baroque for a lovely set that reaches its zenith with “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – B+

Feel Again Part 1 – Armin van Buuren – you can take the state of trance out of the man, but you can’t take the man out of the state of trance on part 1 of a trilogy more like a state of indifference – C

Let Go (20th Anniversary Edition) – Avril Lavigne – the pop punk woman back when she was seventeen but it suffers from the Chris Cornell school of whininess – C-

Proof – BTS – a 35 song box set, story so far from the K-Pop boy band superstars… maybe if you’re a fan – B-

Denim & Rhinestones – Carrie Underwood – she is the good guy I hate to dislike but her country is so overblown and overwrought I can’t hear her at all and this is more of the same – C+

Madman Across The Water (Deluxe Edition) – Elton John – as a fan of sorts (I liked him somewhere between Honky Chateau and Rock Of The Westies plus later singles), Madman remains an overwrought piece of whatever, and listening to it for 34 songs is nothing but more – C-

I Told Bessie – ELUCID – he is half of Armand Hammer and he maintains the standards with an eerie weird out set of electronica and horrorshows with creepy rapping – B

The Resurrection Of Rust – Elvis Costello, Rusty – the 50th Anniversary of his first band, with Liverpool mucker Allan Myles, Rusty, reunited to record and release the EP they didn’t manage to before, Rusty happened five years before The Honky Tonk Demos, so this is extant and it is great: Neil Young and Nick Lowe come out smelling like roses, and the real calling card is a very early Costello song “Warm House (And An Hour Of Joy)” that finds him already a strong songwriter – B+

Gold Rush Kid – George Ezra – Perhaps his voice is why he has never really broken the States because it sure ain’t the songs which are amazingly good singer songwriter happy happy tracks that are addictive and improve with every hearing, Ezra also has a hand for a wondrous hook as you’d expect from a guy who wants you to hold a party on the day he was died – A-

Essential Classics, Vol.2: Harry James (Remastered) – Harry James – Harry James was the new Glenn Miller, and his trumpet was all tone if not all dexterity, he was a popular mainstream band conductor and musician, and this is a pretty good second tier hits – B+

on to better things – iann dior – a little obvious, emo pop with autotuned and swell songs though all a little obvious sadboy. Still, not bad at all – B+

40 oz. to Fresno – Joyce Manor – the power poppers from Cali with a typical album with energy, melodies, and a fine skill set even if it is nearly precisely what you might expect, it opens with the best track, “Souvenir” – B

Kellyoke – Kelly Clarkson – Kelly was always a little overblown for my tastes, still I’ll give her the Roy Orbison and the Radiohead covers (not singalongs at all) (though I’ve yet to see her TV talk show so maybe it all works better in context) – B-

Too Bad / Cursed – King Princess – so, Mark Ronson hits the road and Ethan Gruska tries a little of the Phoebe Bridgers magic and doesn’t get it, Mikaela is not right for indie rock Americana, she is too cool for it, and this has all the marks of a major disaster – D+

KISS Off The Soundboard: Live In Donington – Kiss – you wanted the best, you got more of the same instead – C-

1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs – Kula Shakur – covering Groucho Marx will only get you so far, even if we are given to give Kula Shaker the benefit of the doubt because the lead singer is Hayley Mills son, at least we were in the 90s, and the debut album of Indian derived Brit rock was pretty good, but this is unspeakable 60s rock, “go go go” indeed – C-

Substance – Marvin Sapp – rowdy Gospel sing alongs and r&b vibes, Marvin has been doing this since the 1990s and remains a thrill ride of a faith rollercoaster, even, maybe especially, if you don’t like faith based music, this one’s for you – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

I Live Too Fast to Die Young – Michael Monroe – the Finnish star who lead Hanoi Rocks and heralded the birth of hair metal, the three singles leading here all promised a strong set of metal bubblegum and that’s what we get – B+

The Versions – Neneh Cherry – the rap and hip hop innovator begins with a complete blast on this set where she is joined by friends, kicking off with Robyn, Sia, and the beautiful voiced ANOHNI performing on old Neneh songs – B

Tape – Patty Griffin – just in time for the next Lilith fair, feel free to meet the arbitrator of slow and sweet folk country Americana, slower for sure because they are demos, the song with Robert Plant is a soft shoe shuffle and the best song here – C+

Twelve Carat Toothache (Deluxe) – Post Malone – if it stiffs (it’s a little wobbly at the moment) it will be less good (pop needs to be popular) but even if it does stiff this deluxe which adds two songs is a moving dream of a nightmare album – A-

Nowhere Generation II – Rise Against – if you are a fan, the agitprop whiners are as good as ever, ergo not – D+

Rufus Does Judy At Capitol Studios – Rufus Wainwright – Rufus really sings the American songbook very very well. He has everything, the voice so tender and moving yet with none of Judy’s emotional fragility so it is a clearer connection to the material. The difference is, and this is a huge compliment, Judy made these song her own but Rufus made them belong to Judy and to their own time and place in history (the 40s and early 50s, not 1961. We didn’t need a third album but we got it anyway – B

Ctrl (Deluxe) – SZA – too soon for marriage, too late for summer crushes, five years later – A

So Far So Good (+ The Fall) – The Chainsmokers – the deluxe take on a pretty good album that has failed to do what it is built to do, sell, how “High” missed I’ll never know – B-

Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions – The Dream Syndicate – Steve Wynn continues his second act with a first rate set of Paisley colored guitar rock that can jangle and can jingle as necessary and is solid as anything the wonderful fuzzed out band has ever done, you’ll have to hear “Where I’ll Stand” yourself – B+

Licked Live In NYC – The Rolling Stones – from January 2003 at MSG, and yes I was there (the tickets were pricey even 20 years ago), and it was a fine performance though it doesn’t survive this sort of scrutiny – B-

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