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Brief Encounters: Top New Recorded Releases 6-24-22 – 6-30-22

Lavender Days – Caamp – Taylor Meier looks like a 70s porn star and plays like a low key rock Americana with songs about the quieter moments of life, some of which are lovely -especially the one with the banjo – B

Breezy – Chris Brown – it must be the autotune that makes Chris sound exactly the same in every track despite features from WizKid, H.E.R., Lil Durk, Jack Harlow and a cast of thousands, the 24 song Breezy is less a breeze and more a snooze but not without its pleasures – C+

Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind – Coheed And Cambria – this is the sound of modern prog as stadium anthem, ongoing stories I have never gotten or followed, but on the plus side the songs work by themselves – B

Superache – Conan Gray – the ultimate bedroom sadboy with his second album and what was cute when Conan was 17, is sad in a different way when he is 23 on the dour summer bummer – C

Ella At The Hollywood Bowl: The Irving Berlin Songbook (Live) – Ella Fitzgerald – during a split program of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin repertory at the Hollywood Bowl, on Aug. 16, 1958, Ella performed with the Hollywood Bowl Pops Orchestra, conducted by Paul Weston, who’d also conducted and arranged the orchestra on the Berlin songbook album and now the Berlin portion is available, the show was on the heels of her very popular “Sings The Songbook” series (the Berlin original recording was nominated for a Grammy), and live is maybe not the wow of the “12 Nights” from a coupla years ago yet is still pretty wow – A

Give Or Take – Giveon – If you didn’t know the soul singer before, his features on Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” and Drake’s “In The Bible” was the wake up call, these r&b tracks have an experimental sound and a working soulfulness – B

Happy Hour – Hollie Cook – Paul Cook, the Sex Pistols drummer, daughter Hollie continues to mine her guiding spirit, the late great Ari Up, on a collection of dub and lover’s rock rock Caribbean sweetness – B

Meet The Moonlight – Jack Johnson – produced by Blake Mills and it sounds it, a typical lugubrious Jack too sweet to stay awake with songs that are easy going down but imminently forgettable – C+

The Spur – Joan Shelley – low key and beautiful, quiet and intense singer songwriter with the slightest of twangs – B

Tulip Drive – Jimmie Allen – DeFord Bailey, Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, have lead us to Kane Brown, Mickey Guyton, and Jimmie Allen, with Jimmie doing the best job of glomming on r&b crossover: he isn’t soul but the sound is informed by r&b to a certain degree. Allen’s second album jumps genre’s from time to time, especially on the T-Pain and Cee Lo Green (Cee Lo was just heard on Eminem’s “Elvis And Me”) featured “Pesos” and constantly lands on its feet, the album has a seamless flow of Allenness, family friendly vibe that embraces everything, and especially country rock (check out the guitar solo on “Settle On Back”) on a very good modern country effort – B+

Barbarism – Katie Alice Greer – The former leader of DC punks Priests first solo album is an industrial noise variant on singer songwriter goth that should scrape your ears out – B

7220 (Deluxe) – Lil Durk – adding 13 songs to Reloaded, on this hour long wait for “Broadway Girls” – B

Summer Special [Flip That] – Loona – why is it that K-Pop bands are more cult than gang? The twelve girls who make up Loona are the definition of bizarre pre-fab K-Poppers and while there is nothing wrong with the dance pop album, there is nothing right with it either – C+

Growin’ Up – Luke Combs – it is easy to underestimate Luke, he’s a bit of a schlub, Wallen sells more, Eric is sexier, Combs live performance is pleasant enough with zero charisma and considering his songs should be better (here) and with all that he is a superb songwriter who can fill an album with excellent country mainstreamers with an effortlessness that belies his skills. Business as usual sure, but Luke knows his business well – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

DRILL MUSIC IN ZION – Lupe Fiasco – Lupe is a good rapper with energy and flow and heavy duty political whateverism and he can’t help but having his jazz vibes drift off into tedium, “Ms. Mural” is good enough – C+

mainstream sellout (life in pink deluxe) – Machine Gun Kelly – one part eight song add, one part soundtrack to the Hulu documentary (which does a pretty good job of rehabilitating his image) – B-

Finally Enough Love – Madonna – Maddie is in the process of reviewing her back pages and re-releasing em and if anyone should be on top of that it is Madonna, here we get first rate disco remixes built solely for the dancefloor, and with songs from “Into The Groove” to “Medellin” it works; the “Frozen” didn’t do it but everything else is excellent- A-

Magic Sign – Martin Courtney – Real Estate’s Martin with a pandemic era compositions of Real Estate sounding 00sish folkie dream rock – B

Love At Leeds – Mikey Erg – the legendary punk rock drummer with guitarist Jeff Rosenstock and Steve Albini producing, and a nice Who pun on the title, this is straightforward pop punk with a side of grungey momentum – B+

MUNA – Muna – I saw the four piece, lesbian indie rockers opening for Harry Styles at Radio City five years ago, and liked them more than I do on the indie somewhat sophisticated Phoebe Bridgers interfered, mild rock album – C

Home, before and after – Regina Spektor – recording by herself in an upstate New York Church, these are variously disappointing tracks, overworked till the charm is diluted to thin gruel sounding too big for their boots – C+

Sometimes, Forever – Soccer Mommy – apparently the indie woman is getting steadily better and opening track “Bones” is a real goodie but it tends to move into grage indie blues stuff and it really shouldn’t – C+

High School – Tim Heidecker – the comedian Tim sounds a lot like Mac DeMarco (the album is recorded in Mac’s studio) on these very astute and brutally well remembered songs of life during High School – B

The Blonde & Pink Albums – Trixie Mattel – The winner of 2018’s “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” she is also a very songwriter specializing in sweet sounding New Wave played directly – B

GUV IV – Young Guv – Despite the occasional psychedelic work out, the majority of the album is jingle jangle power pop chock full of good if not great songs – B

Arkhon – Zola Jesus – Goth with a side of electronica, like Cate Le Bon misinterpreting Nine Inch Nails – C+

ELVIS (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists – maybe because it was so ace in the movie, Austin Butler’s “Baby Let’s Play House” is a lascivious masterpiece, nothing else hits that huge, inside the park home run though Eminem’s rework of “Jailhouse Rock” comes close, and the entire album’s “re:imagined” Elvis kinda works especially the early Doja Cat to Eminem to Swae Lee – B+

SZNZ: Summer – Weezer – there is nothing to be done with Rivers, the first two albums were flukes, the next two had their moments, and then strictly diminishing results for seventeen years – C-

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