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Brief Encounters: Top Album Releases 12-25-20 – 12-31-20 Reviewed

871 – 00110100 01010100 – aka Four Tet, the tracks are odd instrumentals, sometimes they sound like House like bleeps and other time they sound like acoustic beauties – B+

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Music from the Netflix Film) – Branford Marsalis – I’ve had the Netflix movie in my sights for a coupla weeks now, the August Wilson play brought to life. “The album features score music by critically-acclaimed saxophonist, instrumentalist, composer, bandleader and educator BRANFORD MARSALIS, as well as newly-recorded covers of both popular Ma Rainey tracks and blues and jazz standards from the era…” Viola Davis sang those Dogs Of Mine”? Not much of a voice but it’s the thought that counts  – B+

Parallel – Four Tet – The UK DJ is much more ambient here than on 871, but it goes on forever – B

Matter of Time – Eddie Vedder – ho hum acoustic in isolation, etc. The “Growin’ Up” – Springsteen’s one, is worth your time – C+

It’s Never Really Over (Expanded) – Johnny Orlando – why do all these teen emo bedroom singers look like that bloke in “Call Me By Your Name”? This is catchy, electronic pop vibes and romance songs… wish Johnny luck in his High School senior year – B

The Voice – Lil Durk – The Chicago drill guy, his father is spending two consecutive life sentences in prison, his brother was murdered, his cousin was murdered, his friend King Von (who appears on one song here) was murdered earlier this year. So, yeah, this is OG drill and trap tracks that feel seriously lived in. The opening song, “Redman,” is not about the rapper but about rappers, and the stories keep on adding on a violent, homicidal snapshot of a life you wouldn’t want – B+

The New Covenant – Lil Woo – If you wanna know how hard conversion is, listen to Chicago rapper’s born again album, featuring Sunday Service on two tracks, with a sound that feels unsettled but heart felt – B

Whole Lotta Red – Playboi Carti – On his first album in two years, the fashionista pop rapper still ain’t got much of a rhyme, a flow, or a track, but what he has is industrial strength hooks, and a way of using them over and over again till you can’t stop listening – A-

For The Streets – Rubi Rose – Despite the Cardi B homage that opens the mixtape, Rubi is not a stripper turned rapper, she is an upper middle class model, raised in Geneva Switzerland, even appeared in the “WAP” video, and has the modern woman, electric spit and rhyme so popular today. She ain’t Texan but she ain’t bad – B

At the Moonbase – Slaughter Beach, Dog – Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald’s solo project and it is what you might expect. And that’s a huge compliment, there are few better indie bands and Jake has as strong a collection of indie rock with an acoustic background and a voice with a slight Lou Reed edge to it, that is one great song after another   – A-

Emmanuel – Sunday Service – Composed and Executive Produced by Kanye West, it is twelve minutes of beautiful chants and words of faith in Latin, if Jesus Is King was Yeezus meets Jesus, and Jesus Is Born was Gospel by other means, Emmanuel discharges the last remnants of pop music and finds its eternal faith – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Ain’t Gone Do It / Terms and Conditions – Too $hort, E-40 – Bay City bombers Too $hort and the great E-40 just did a Verzuz (the only one I’ve seen is with Jeezy and Gucci Mane, who was excellent and in a foul mood, but I may have to stream this one as well), join together for Ain’t Gone Do It / Terms and Conditions – putting both of their last albums in a 20 song extravaganza, if you missed the initial release go straight to E-40’s “Mob”  A-

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