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Brief Encounters; New Albums 6-16-23 – 6-22-23 Reviewed

Lavette – Bettye Lavette – ho hum by Bettye’s standards, a set of mainstream, beautifully sung but bland soul tracks – B-

Mount Wittenberg Orca (Expanded Edition) – Bjork, Dirty Projectors – the 2011 mash-up EP about small stores where opera was performed in the 1500s in Italy is released with additional tracks and live tracks and the brilliant “On And Ever Onwards” – A-

Cassadaga: A Companion – Bright Eyes – at the time it was a bit of a disappointment but in retrospect, along with Conor’s eponymous debut, it is their last hurrah and the proof is this is the first of the “companion” EPs that isn’t unbearable though it isn’t that great either…. what you liked you always liked – B-

Noise Floor: A Companion – Bright Eyes – that’s an incredible take on “Motion Sickness” – B

The People’s Key: A Companion – Bright Eyes – “Jejune Stars” remains a great song but the album was the beginning of the end of Conor as superstar – B-

Paranoia, Angels, True Love – Christine And The Queens – as a non fan I am impressed by Christine taking on the great gay fantasia “Angels In America” on an album of low key, electronic pop tracks – A-

Peace…Like A River – Gov’t Mule – Warren Haynes at his best and while recorded at the same time as 2021s blues set it is a classic rock dream set and his finest Mule to date positioning itself less with the Allmans and more like Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and a dreamlike pleasure – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

a Gift & a Curse – Gunna – better than last year’s filled with features album, this is straight up soundcloud rap by a remainer – B

Sugar the Bruise – Hand Habits – an indie everyperson, working on sessions for major indie bands and releasing his own work, tedium like this – C

Be Opened By The Wonderful – James – the baroque Brit pop band with a full orchestra return to their earliest catalog – C+

Orpheus Descending – John Mellencamp – remains a sincere Americana folkie asshole with a voice so raspy only a lifetime of smoking can do it – B-

Michael – Killer Mike – hangs together as a single track ATL thought and also hangs together with some top rappers (we’re looking at you Young Thug), a return to the South; consider it the gospel according to Mike with two or three goodies if no “RAP Music”, though “Down By Law” is wonderful – B+

PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – the opening track sounds just like Motorhead and the rest of the psychedelic acid rockers don’t get into the garage – C+

Little Richard: I Am Everything (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Little Richard – the documentary was fine (here) and this set of Little Richard classics are more than that. All the classics live up to your memory – A

The Omnichord Real Book – Meshell Ndegeocello – Meshell goes digital with a set of electronic r&b – C+

Dream Box – Pat Metheny – quiet guitar jazz includes a coupla standards and a whole lotta new stuff – B

In Times New Roman… – Queens of the Stone Age – Josh Hommes divorce album, not to mention post-cancer album finds him at the top of his powers. a bluesy, brooding, shredding, grungy work of classic rockism and an axiom for the year: “emotion sickness, I wanna die”…. “Paper Machete” is the song Foo Fighters couldn’t pull off – A-

Live at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki 1972 – Sonny Rollins – “Night And Day” has to be heard to be believed as the tenor saxophonist joined by three Finnish musicians for a rare thrilla in the summer of 72 – B+

See Ya – Wiz Khalifa – an overwhelmed 25 track mixtape with quite shocking consistency, and this is while we await the inevitable Snoop Dogg collab – B

King Of The Land – Yusuf/Cat Stevens – the pop star Imam returns with a collection of folk spirituals and inane protest (“Bad storms or clear skies those politicians keep telling lies. Daylight, deep dark: They steal hope from the people’s hearts”), with a set that reminds you how great a songwriter he is and how much a scald he can be. And while the album closer, “Take The World Away” made a great single, “Son Of Mary” was CCM and God keeps on rearing its head towards the devout Islam – B

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