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Brief Encounters: Top New Albums 2-17-23 – 2-23-23 Reviewed

7s – Avey Tare – the Animal Collective guitarist’s solo material tends to be easier going than the experimental weirdness that is Animal Collective, “Invisible Darlings” is melodic and beautiful and “Lips At Night” is jazzy and though it eventually jumps off the cliff into sonic doodah, it is a trip getting there – B

Fast Net (Sampler) – Brix Smith – from the late Mark E.’s ex-wife, she returns with what feels like straight ahead US rockers, not punk, certainly not the Fall, but a reminder of how major she was with Mark, “FastNet” is terrific – A-

Rarities 1983-1998 – Eric Clapton -” from “The Complete Reprise Studio Albums Vinyl Box Set – Volume 1” is now out digitally and available on all streaming platform, the opening “Stone Free” ain’t bad, the “White Room” isn’t good – B

Cuts & Bruises – Inhaler – there are two types of UK rock bands at the moment, the unspeakable and the impeccable, 95% is unspeakable but this young Irish band is impeccable with fine tracks on a powerful collection that is a perfectly executed set of psychedelic but Brit pop songs – B+

The Complete Collection – Joséphine Baker – the legendary American flapper from the 1920s who became a huge star in France is remembered as a signpost for black rights (in the US she refused to perform for segregated audiences) and her chanson Francaise are blueprints, as proven on this collection of her best known songs – A-

Rolling Up the Welcome Mat – Kelsea Ballerini – the country popster details her divorce on six songs that start with her taking her ring off and ends with him gone for good on the tragic “Leave Me Again” – B+

Optical Illusion – Orbital – the long running electronic dance band return with some electronics and the occasional real good song, try “Ringa Ringa” – B

TRUSTFALL – P!nk – a quieter P!NK, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, on a fine collection of mainstream dance pop – B+

Land Of Sleep – Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Their third album finds the English metal guys adding post-punk noise to their prog tracks – C

All Fiction – Piles – I interviewed producer Kevin S. McMahon when he produced Titus Andronicus’s The Monitor and he has had an astounding career since then but Piles are indie whiners and this is an ambitious drag – C+

The Vivian Line – Rex Sexsmith – on his seventeenth album, Ron remains a top singer songwriter, songs like warm summer nights that just envelope. Here he is doing some Kinks sounding pop, some baroque pop, song after song of gentle beauty for an artist who is more consistent… why, he is more consistent than Freedy Johnston – A-

Desire Pathway – Screaming Females – debate is raging as to whether Marissa Paternoster is our greatest living guitarist, and she has yet to let us down on album after album with her three piece she is an epitome of indie rock and more, it is a goth dream-nightmare that shines as punk simple and raging, shredding prog recklessness. Nearly 20 years on, this is their best since that 2009 – 2012 three album highlight – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

Don’t Get Too Close – Skrillex – the return of the King of EDM, the first of two albums dropped on Friday, the day before his MSG rave; tons of guest stars on the barely half an hour rave up: a little bland and cmon couldn’t he make better use of Justin Bieber -what no whale noises this time? But it is a good album and a major return – B+

Quest For Fire – Skrillex – two days later, he dropped the follow up. “Rat-A-Tat” is the best song on either album, but this is a touch too MDMA for my tastes – B-

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