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Brief Encounters Top New Recorded Releases 1-14-21 – 1-20-21

I wrote the review to Lael Neale’s new single before having seen the video, now I’ve done both I am knocked out by Lael’s glam 60s outfit and movements on the video for “Hotline”, the song itself is a minor masterpiece of airy pop tones and sweetness and light, a wonderful surprise (I bet Sub Pop were overjoyed as well) (Grade: A-).

More singles, Kae Tempest’s “More Pressure”, I saw Tempest at Governors Ball and was blown away, but her last album was a little too earnest, this single is a huge return and his bar skipping and clever lyrics and not just the obvious “More desire, Less deceit, Less complex, More complete, Less push, More flow, Please, Let me let go” but a sublime “One soul’s epiphany’s, another soul’s madness”, is so good he doesn’t really need Kevin Abstract though Kevin far from hurts (Grade: A-), Fontaines D.C. always hit me as not up to their reviews which is not the same as calling em, bad, “Jackie Down The Line” however lives up to the hype, the Dublin rockers are as god as post-rock gets on this outstanding pseudo political dark track filled with a metallic clang that’s quite addictive.; this is the first song they’ve recorded I’ve sincerely admired (Grade: A-), Rose Thomas’s cover of Bjork’s “All Is Full Of Love” is part of the “Lullabies For Parents” compilation on the horizon and a lovely version of a jewel of a song. Singing backup? Among a cast of dozens Sufjan Stevens, the Shins, Iron & Wine, The Lonely Bellows and The Head And The Heart. The Sub Pop (who had a good week) indie folkie Rose is highly credible (Grade: B+), after swerving from indie pop and lesbian rock show, (on her masterpiece “1950” she sounds like Todd Haynes “Carol” switching mediums) to EDM she has disappointed, “Little Bother” finds King Princess not hitting the Mark Ronson (he didn’t produce either) catalog of dance production for a much better piece of indie pop (Grade: B+), “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out Of You” is the 1973 song by Lavender Country’s classic now re-recorded by him for a highly anticipated first album in decades, the long player was dubbed by the Country Music Hall of Fame as the first openly gay country album, and this opener is perfect (Grade: B+)

Over to albums, and surprisingly enough Elvis Costello and the Imposters have dropped their best album to date, The Boy Named If (my review here), a great set of Attractions like New Wave marinated in Americana (Grade: A-), when he was YBN Cordae, his first album was the magnificent The Lost Boy in 2019, then I lost track of him till he returned as Cordae and performed one of the most thrilling sets of 2021 and returned as Cordae again open his second LP, From a Birds Eye View, a fine mainstream rap album without the throttle of his live shows (Grade: B), Kid Ink has over 100 tattoos, and a penchant for sexism mooted since his long term relationship, still his songs are good even as his rapping is icy cool and Alive is as good as even his best (Grade: B), Fix Yourself, Not the World is the completed Wombats fifth album and it plays like an entire album of potential (in the UK I mean) hit singles, and while they are always too cute for their own good, show me a song as great as “Kill The Director” and I’ll show you “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You” on this one (Grade: B+), Nickel Creek is the lost, great Americana folk band and The Punch Brothers, where Chris Thiel took his mandolin and ran to, isn’t their equal, even so on Hell On Church Street they treat you to a terrific version of Bob Dylan’s “One More Night (Grade: B+)

From A Birds Eye View – Cordae – B

The Boy Named If… – Elvis Costello And The imposter – A-

Jackie Down The Line – Fontaines D.C. – A-

More Pressure – Kae Tempest, Kevin Abstract – A-

Alive – Kid Ink – B

Little Bother (feat. Fousheé) – King Princess – B+

Hot Line – Lael Neale – A-

I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You – Lavender Country – B+

All Is Full of Love – Rosie Thomas – B+

Hell On Church Street – The Punch Brothers – B+

Fix Yourself, Not the World- The Wombats – B+

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