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Brief Encounters: New Albums 7-16-21 – 7-22-21 Reviewed


Kirtan: Turiya Sings – Alice Coltrane – The original form of the album was a cosmic jazz groove from 1981, on Kirtan  the spirituals, recorded at the same time, are paired down to their essence as songs to meditate to. Mrs. Coltrane is a much loved jazz great though not to my taste – B

Hologram – A Place To Bury Strangers – The shoe-gaze alt indie sad songs trio with a strong five songs of sounds to slit your wrist to – B

Palladium – April March, Olivia Jean – the split EP is half April’s French language ye-ye, and half Olivia’s garage rockers – B

Detour de Force – Barenaked Ladies – or is it They Must Be Giants… I went to see Alanis Morrissette open for these guys with a love of my life in 2004 at Jones Beach and I wasn’t thrilled. But I’m not sure why. They are funny, smart, quirky and can write a tune. They do so here… – B-

Vivir en la Habana (Live from Havana, 2019) – Blondie – I’ve written about Blondie plenty in the past (here is a live review from 2018) and I’m a big fan, I can’t wait for the short film about Blondie in Cuba, and on this song live presentation, the band add Spanish rhythm to pure pop moves, two songs you might not know, 2011’s Panic Of Girls track “Wipe Off My Sweat” and the exceptional 2017 vintage “Long Time”, written by Debbie Harry and Blood Orange. When you aren’t going straight to the hits you know it’s a goodie though the nine minute “Rapture” is a magnificent thing, so you really can’t go wrong – A-

Hotel Surrender – Chet Faker – electronic r&b from the Aussie weirdo – B-

Sing – Clairo – Rich girl, sad girl, bedroom pop scion of the wealthy is about as manufactured as Lana Del Rey but without the talent, at the beginning her music had an otherness about it and I was almost a fan till she put me to sleep at a music festival. The only song here worth the time is the Belle And Sebastian sounding “Zinnias,” otherwise skip this hype – C

Grateful Deadication – David McMurray – the saxophonist arranges Dead songs for jazz, a marriage that definitely makes sense and one the former member of Was (Not Was) absolutely makes the most of these invigorating and concise revisionisms – B

Eric Clapton (Anniversary Deluxe Edition)  – in which Eric remixes the songs from his solo debut… again – B

How Many More Times – Esther Rose – The New Orleans native has a voice that registers Joni Mitchel in her upper register, and neo-country women like a Maren Morris elsewhere, but Rose’s country morphs effortlessly into pop with sharp arrangements and clever songs. Only six songs and each one a gem, the first one featuring Shamir and the title track the best of the lot  – A-

Dreaming of You (1971-76) – Karen Black – the actress not the The Voluptuous Horror of…, the for the first time anywhere release, brought to us by Cass McCombs, is low key singer songwriter folk and way ahead of its time – B

INSOLO – Gary Kemp – I couldn’t stick Spandau Ballet, though the New Romantic team had their moments, there was something too much of the MOR striver about the band. As for Kemp himself, I only got into him at all at the Nick Mason gig where he sang and played lead guitar and learnt nothing if this dreadful set of Phil Collins rejects is anything to go by –  D+

For Once In My Life: A Celebration Of Motown – Il Divo – I saw Il Divo open for Barbra Streisand in 2006 and the entire evening was middlebrow and middle of the road despite Streisand’s magnificence. There is nothing the multinational (tenors coming from France, Switzerland, Spain and the United States) aged out of New Kids On The Block lookalikes can’t turn into a dribble glass, here they attack Motown with a cleaver of tastefulness and the interloped Smokey and Marvin just makes things worse – MUST TO AVOID – D

Sob Rock – John Mayer – Mayer tackles 70s style, soft rock with a collection of guitar oriented tracks and the occasional flash of  leather on a bridge. The songs don’t cut it, except for outlier “New Light”… I mean, I was never crazy about Bread but Mayer’s attempts aren’t in the same league – C+

Origen – Juanes – The Colombian rocker is one of the best in the business, as his current take on “Pump It Up” (here) is a standard bearer, but I missed the early June covers album which is not only Juan Gabriel  and Carlos Gardel tracks but also Bruce Springsteen and Bob Marley, it misses here and there and yet is still a simple and clever pleasure – B

Influences – K.D.A.P – analog (I could be wrong, but the bass sure sounds like the real thing) making not quite ambient sounds that are overwhelmingly pretty – B

All Over The Place – KSI – The UK youtuber is a much better performer of r&b pop than of rap, luckily that is what most of his second album is and the pop gooeyness of “Really Love” is the rule, not the exception (Craig David is featured -which can only help) – B

Good Morning America – Lawrence Rothman – Coming out as non-binary was a whole lot more daring in the 1970s than it is in the 2020s, though Rothman had a dick of a dad and basically had to go it alone so good for them for sure  but please stop singing about it – D+

Lucy & Aaron – Aaron Dilloway, Lucrecia Dalt – Aaron is a noise and electronic experimental sound weirdo, Lucy does the same and adds words, both together are very enjoyable if you like this Cabaret Voltaireish noise stuff – C+

Luminol – Midwife –  Midwife calls it heaven metal but as we learnt a long time ago, heaven is a place where nothing happens and this droney midwife crises doesn’t happen at all – C-

Faith – Pop Smoke – Smoke was an idiot but he didn’t deserve to be shot to death. So now Fitty and co hit his files for extant verses and add rappers, singers, and backing tracks. So, unlike the first post-humous album, the smash hit New York drill classic Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon, it doesn’t hang together quite right. We can expect to hear more like this – B

Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) – Tedeschi Trucks Band, Trey Anastasio – better than it has any right to be, this 2019 live performance of the Eric Clapton, electric guitar blues is given a fine workout. Headed by Derek Trucks (a child of Duane if there ever was) and Trey (who puts his jazz jones on hold to play the blues), the recording is thoroughly enjoyable and I bet the show was mind-blowing – B+

Are You Are Missing Winner (Deluxe Edition) – The Fall – Mark’s iffy, rockabilly behind his vocals on the 2001 disappointment sounds much better today on the continuing series of Fall deluxes via Cherry Red. 47 songs – B+

Welcome To The Madhouse – Tones And I – No “Dance Monkey”  here on  Toni Watson, the former buskers, debut album. The voice are as weird as you like but the beats are way too high in the mix and while the songs aren’t bad, that won’t be enough to save her  C+

Solid Gold – U-Roy – we lost the great Jamaican singer and toaster in February and this final album was completed just before his passing. With features from the likes of Ziggy Marley, Santigold and (gasp) Robbie Shakespeare as well as up and comer Jesse Royal, it is still U-Roy’s album, with some great toasting on “Man Next Door” and great songs updated.  A huge loss – A-

Get On Board The Soul Train Volume One: Philadelphia International box set – Various Artists – the first eight studio albums released by the label from 1971-1973, they are Billy Paul: Going East, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes: I Miss You, The O’Jays – Back Stabbers, Billy Paul: 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, Dick Jensen: Dick Jensen, The Intruders: Save the Children, MFSB: MFSB and Billy Paul: Ebony Woman… Harold and O’Jays we know but, except for “Me And Mrs Jones” I never considered Billy Paul a major soul man contender till listening to these albums fifty years later – A

Hideaway – Wavves –  Nathan’s surf rock meets Cali punk outfit Wavves, get Dave Sitek to produce an album of business as usual plus out there electronic add ons via the TV On The Radio guy. Eleven years after I first saw them, Wavves are more or less the same – B

lately I feel EVERYTHING – Willow – I’ve had nothing but time for Willow Smith ever since catching her command the Barclay Center’s stage with nothing but a guitar in the midst of a pop star packed Tidal concert, but I can’t join the accolades on this pop punk, Travis Barker produced anti-tuneful album, it is so acute it never hits the sweet spot and Willow, who can sing very well, won’t stop wailing – C+

The Asymptotical World EP – Yves Tumor – the experimental art popper, they have claimed Throbbing Gristle as a huge influence but their instincts are more mainstream and the EP sounds like a hyper-pop variant – B

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