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The Early Bird: New Albums 10-11-19 – 10-17-19 Reviewed

1000 gecs – 100 gecs, Dylan Brady, Laura Les – Indie duo mash up everything in sight and mess with their voices beyond recognition, or even Justin Vernon, and are a lot of fun as well – B

Head In The Clouds II – 88rising – The “hybrid management, record label, video production, and marketing company” is a breeding ground for Asian, and Asian American,  pop artists that makes even K-Pop feel a little old fashioned as it maneuvers through the usual state of the art rap and EDM. The only name I recognize is Rich Brian, but nobody here would sound of place on the Hot 100… having said that, nothing much stands out, fine but generic – C+

LAHS – Allah-Las – Low key, psychedelic, melodic best rock with “Holding Pattern” the best thing they’ve ever done and the rest a snooze within ten minutes – C+

ASYLUM – A R I Z O N A – Meet the first good ARIZONA album, a mix of pop and proto Americana and beats which at just 28 minutes in length never falters, and at its best includes songs of strong caliber. Opening with two of their best tracks “Let Me Know” and “Nostalgia,” it doesn’t reach those heights again, and the EDM production on “Still Alive” ruins it, but moment for moment, their best to date – B+

Sun Songs – Art Alexakis – It sounds like Art, but an Art who can’t write clingy melodies anymore – C

Metal Galaxy – BABYMETAL – Let’s hear it for “Shanti Shanti Shanti,” where the all girl K-Pop meets loud guitar trio add Bollywood to their bow. The oddly attractive mash of  Asian girl would be giggly vocal above a strong rock band is appealing on a few levels, mostly as an obtuse settling kick back of metal’s toxic masculinity – B-

Two Hands – Big Thief – had an excellent, relatively considered pop move album earlier this year, the follow-up album, Two Hands, is, if anything, better, certainly better than the singles we heard, slower and sadder, less UFOF and more folk indie, with the exception of a track or two it is very sturdy, especially the opening and the title number – B+

Que Quiénes Somos – CNCO – Latin boy band, and Grupo Mania aren’t losing sleep over these boring Bachataish low impact guys – C

True Love – Devon Welsh – singer songwriter, piano confessional. Slow and boring but “Uniform” (at least) is saved by the lyrical literariness – C+

Giants of All Sizes – Elbow – 2017’s Little Fictions was a fall to earth for UK art rockers Elbow and while Giants Of All Sizes is alright, it isn’t among their best – B-

Sketchbook – Fantasia – It opens as absolute r&b hip hop and settles into straighter r&b and soul, Fantasia sounds great and considering her history (I once saw her open for Charlie Wilson, where she beat her fists on the stage, and bawled and praised Jesus…), she sounds fine, and when she finally breaks, on “Bad Girl” she breaks great – B+

Sinatra Sings Alan & Marilyn Bergman – Frank Sinatra – Frank covers the Berman’s on a swell compilation, Sinatra Sings Alan & Marilyn Bergman, the Bergmans have some killer songs in their catalog, “The Windmills Of Your Mind” anyway, but except for “Nice ‘N’ Easy” it is all a little obscure, though well worth listening to – B+

Never Boring – Freddie Mercury – Freddie Mercury had a thundering voice, a tenor by design, but except for the hits, Queen were nothing much and he had zero solo successes, as Never Boring, a compilation of his best moments, attests – C

Awake – Hillsong Worship – I realize “it’s alright” isn’t much of an endorsement, but when it comes to the dreaded Hillsong Worship cult, it is practically a rave of huge proportions. “Awake My Soul” is the best spiritual rocker mood music they’ve ever recorded, and “No One But You” is pretty good as well, so maybe Awake is the one for non believers – C+

No Home Record – Kim Gordon – The singles we had heard warned us that Kim Gordon had a strong debut solo album up her sleeve, and No Home Record is a strong one indeed, on a bedrock of good songs she fucks about with their insides and gets away with it – B+

Black Anima (Bonus Tracks Version) – Lacuna Coil – An hour of goth-y hardcore from the Italian veterans. It’s all a bit much though worth the mediocre stuff for when Cristina Scabbia sings lead – C+

9 – Lil’ Kim – The pint sized diva never came close to Hardcore, and neither does her MOR rap and soul here. Not unpleasant but nothing holds you – C+

True 2 Myself – Lil Tjay –  r&b internet sensation, has a fair collection of hip hop soul on his debut album – B-

Keep Going – Mike Posner – No longer mourning for his late father, now he is just whining… no “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” here – C+

Another Kind Of Christmas – Ne-Yo  – Soul Christmas from one of soul’s top singers (who missed his natural habitat, the 1980s) – B-

The Academy – Rich Music LTD, Sech, Dalex – Urbano Latino from a new indie outta Miami, not bad – B-

Evening Star – Robert Fripp, Brian Eno – Finally on streaming services, and a natural continuation of No Pussyfooting – B+

No Pussyfooting – Robert Fripp, Brian Eno – An early example of ambient from 1973 – A

British Tone Poems, Vol. 2 – BBC Philharmonic, Rumon Gamba – second volume of Rumon Gamba’s fascinating survey of lesser-known British musical gem – A

Dirt Emo Vol. 1 – Ruston Kelly – The Americana guy recounts his fight with drug addiction – C+

Live In The City Of Angels – Simple Minds – 40 songs recorded live on stage from October 2018, so there should be no guessing as to what you’re getting – B-

Devour You – Starcrawler – Sweet meet Gary Glitter meet Ratt… we’ve been here before but not in a long time – B

Welcome To The Vault – Steve Miller Band, Steve Miller – In what precise sense is “The Joker,” one from the vaults? 38 from the vaults and the rest of the 52 songs are the hits (of which I know two) – C+

Um Dada – Stephen Mallinder – What else do you expect from a man who named his band Cabaret Voltaire? Art bleeps without that shiny newness of their post-punk years -B-

The Invisible Light: Acoustic Space (Instrumentals) – T Bone Burnett, Jay Bellerose, Keefus Ciancia – Without the vocals (obviously) – C

The Act – The Devil Wears Prada – State of the art Christiancore screamo – B+

Wow… That’s Crazy – Wale – hip hop r&b, and the best music of his career – B

The Golden Child – YK Osiris – On the strength of his ghastly performance at XXL earlier this year, Osiris appears to be a studio creation, and if he is one, he is a very good one on a fine collection of new style pop meets rap – B

AI YoungBoy 2 – YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Still not broke, less young – B

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