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Brief Encounters: New Albums 9-9-22 – 9-15-22 Reviewed

Detroit – Big Sean – this is the 2012 mixtape now on streaming services, Big Sean doesn’t write songs like “Mula” anymore – A-

age/sex/location – Ari Lennox – the only woman on J Cole’s Dreamville Records can be found on many features, and on her own she has a gift for not soul music but soul singing on midtempo sex songs – B

Cross Country – Breland – it took a long time between Charlie Pride and Darius Rucker but country is getting some color in its makeup, and Breland is better than Kane Brown… then again he is better than Thomas Rhett who appears on one song here, as well as Keith Urban and Mickey Guytown. An unassuming but strong enough set – B

When The Wind Forgets Your Name – Built To Spill – The long-term indie rockers lead by Doug Martsch’s eighth album, first for Sub Pop, first since 2015 and eight overall has some fine moments, including both “Never Alright”, “Alright” and the personal best album opener “Gonna Lose”. Not classic Built To Spill, but good enough – B

De Adentro Pa Afuera – Camilo – if you can get past the moustache, Camilo is a superb songwriter who has written hits for the cream of Latin Pop in the 2020s, including Bad Bunny and Becky G, and his second album is a near perfect joyride of deeply pleasurable and infectious pop plus Latin trap high hats – A-

Always – Chris Tomlin – when I first heard the opening track I didn’t realize it was Chris and Christian Contemporary and thought the I love’s him were same sex based. Yes, there always seems like a sexual current of obedience and submission. That song isn’t terrible, and if we must hear CCM, Tomlin is a master… but do we have to? – C-

Back on the Road to You – Freedy Johnston – say what you want about Freedy (he hits me as a bit of a creep), the man can write a song and while we may never hear another “The Farthest Light”, this is a remarkably consistent pure Freedy album – B+

REBELS NEVER DIE – Hardwell – Big, big, big DJ is not what I would call EDM, he is more like borderline ambient mindfucks… – C+

Night Visions (Expanded Edition / Super Deluxe) – Imagine Dragons – the tenth year anniversary finds the band with a 54 track victory lap including a live album, demos, remixes, and more – B

I Love You Jennifer B – Jockstrap – ignore the band name, a UK duo performing post-punk variants with strong arrangements and incredibly lovely vocals – B

Legend – John Legend – 81 minutes of typical Legend meh – D+

Jude – Julian Lennon – awful and boring middle of the road blandness – MUST TO AVOID – D

Flavors 3 – LATENIGHTJIGGY – if his moniker sounds like a Will Smith stan, his songs are bi-lingual hip hop trap meets reggaeton and the EP, though a brief 8 songs, are all crossover in every direction with a touch too much autotune – B

I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos – Lou Reed – Lou comes across as, in modern terms, an alt folkie, the songs on the album, from the perfect “Perfect Day” off Transformer (1972) as well as songs that would appear in completed form on Sally Can’t Dance (1974) and Coney Island Baby (1976), from his VU days and his eponymous solo debut. Reed was about as fucked up as he’d ever been at this time, drug addled and outsiderdom badass gay culture but lyrically poetic and quietly uber-ordinary yet not even close to. You will want to know why it took us so long to hear the marginalized brilliance of the demo forms of “Hangin’ Around” and the unnihilistic title track “I’m So Free” – A

Revealer – Madison Cunningham – the LA singer songwriter is a folk-Americana artist and on this sublimely beautiful and moving sophomore recording she is better than ever before (and she has always been great), a sublime collection of beautifully composed and sung songs and it is all excellent though if it had a few more songs as great as the haunting loveliness of “Life According To Raechel” (a song worthy of Joni Mitchell) she would be a contender for album of the year and is… -ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Demons Protected By Angels – NAV – Punjabi-Canadian, I’m all in on this speak-song hip hop album of very strong tracks, perfect who for those of us who want our hip hop more r&b flavored – B+

Luxury Disease – One OK Rock – you’ve heard of K-Pop, meet J-rock, a Japanese post-grunge band who have a co-write from Ed Sheeran here – C

Hideous Bastard – Oliver Sim -The xx have always been the dance rock band to beat and bassist Oliver Sim is well beyond capable of crafting a superbly drawn and drawing in set of electronic, immersion pop on the excellent album – A-

Patient Number 9 – Ozzy Osbourne – With all the four star reviews, the old adage about whores and former satanist metal gods all end up respectable comes full circle, the older and closer to the great hell in the sky they become, the more respectable. That doesn’t save Ozzy Osbourne’s Patient No. 9., a feature creature of sludgy UK metal and guitar pyrotechnics with the Eric Clapton featured “One Of Those Days” at least one time you can hear what he isn’t doing on the rest of the songs – C

XXV (Deluxe Edition) – Robbie Williams – a greatest hits collection that makes a strong case for the former boy band bad boy to be considered nothing if not catchy… I saw him once and was blown away (at Jingle Ball!!) and hope he sucks up being stuck at Hammerstein Ballroom and gives us a visit – B+

Spirituals – Santigold – recorded during the 2020 lockdown, and it has if not a religious bent, certainly a sense of togetherness on some of the finest electronic pop tracks of her career – A-

Natural Brown Prom Queen – Sudan Archives – Pitchfork gave Brittney Parks (aka Sudan Archives) a nine out of ten, and while it’s difficult to go that far on the gifted rapper, arranger, instrumentalist (she started with a violin), still as far as avant garde actually goes it isn’t difficult, it is melodic and lovely… but it is still a touch out there for my tastes – B+

How Do You Burn? – The Afghan Whigs – I read where someone said no one sounds like Pearl Jam, well, Greg does sometime, more dramatic, even less catchy, and with precisely one great song “Summer’s Kiss” – this is just a bore – C

Muswell Hillbillies [Deluxe (2022 Remaster)] – apparently there is a box set featuring this and Everybody’s In Show Biz, but this is all I could find streaming…. any excuse to hear “Oklahoma USA” – A-

Lyfë – Yeat – the up and coming rapper has had a coupla of hits now and it is easy to hear why as raps very addictive lyrics over very clever beats and an inspired use of the bass – B

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