Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 11-17-17 – 11-23-17

Written by | November 19, 2017 13:34 pm | No Comments


Barenaked Ladies – Fake Nudes – Opening the proceedings with a brilliant pun, the early thirty year veterans of clever though a little boring soft rock. We take em for granted, they do it like breathing – B+

Bleachers – MTV Unplugged – The singalong to “I Wanna Get Better” is invigorating, the “Rollercoaster” rearranged as an acoustic beauty is just fine, so Jack Antonoff’s two best songs with his band works and everything else doesn’t – C

Bob Seger – i Knew You When – Bruising hard rock without the songs to sell em except for the Lou Reed cover, as apt a commentary on 2017 as it was in 1989 – C+

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest – Her fifth album has a truckload of French language songs and they are all upsetting as Charlotte comes to terms with her step-sister’s suicide and with her late father, the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. Produced by Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (aka Daft Punk) and French electronic musician Sebastian “SebastiAn” Akchoté (Frank Ocean’s go to), it is a very strong collection of sad songs without being particularly memorable – B

Green Day – Greatest Hits; God’s Favorite Band – This should fix your Green Day problem easily enough. No “J.A.R.” and that’s a real pity, No “Jesus Of Suburbia” either. Also, don’t call a song “Back In The USA” unless you’re covert Chuck. But song for song this is punk pop of the first order – B+

Cyhi The Prynce – No Dope On Sundays – Back to the mean streets from the Kanye West collaborator, a gangsta who finds room for God… how much that helps is open to debate – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: The Live Chapter – The live take on a great english style heavy metal album. If you like this you’ll love it – B+

Jaden Smith – SYRE – Black folk music by a teen who goes on quite a bit, needs an editor and someone to hold his pretensions in check, the ambitions nearly sink it but the underlying intelligence keeps it afloat – C+

& – Jesse Rutherford – The lead singer of the Neighborhood goes solo, and this indie pop and rap song is a relative triumph. “Born  To Be Blonde” is a masterpiece and while nothing else works as well, nothing else sucks either – B

Langhorne Slim – Lost At Last Vol 1 – This exceptional collection of singer songwriter confessionals and Americana strumming with a lively intelligence and skill is a complete revelation, the songwriting here couldn’t be better. Every song is worth your while – A-

If All I Was Was Black – Mavis Staples – Pop Staples daughter, the woman who turned down Bob Dylan’s marriage proposal, a terrific singer, a Gospel queen, and here with Jeff Tweedy writing for her and producing for her. Yeah, unfortunately I did say Jeff Tweedy. The songs aren’t there and the performances aren’t there either – C

Mexican Institue Of Sound – Disco Popular – Mexican DJ plays with merengue and salsa beats, merengue and mariachi horns. Not bad but why bother? – B-

Morrissey – Low In High Places – Moz is so far past his prime that claiming this as his best work since 2006 isn’t much of a compliment. I have no kick against him propping israel, somebody has to, but his consistent misanthropy and ill temper is a bore, and the songs are the new old without a memorable tune in the lot. So why not a worse grade? I like his vocals – B

Paloma Faith – The Architect – Overblown ballads by a singer who is a mix of Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse, and Billie Holiday… only much worse – C

PnB Rock – Catch These Vibes – The thing to keep in mind is that there is a world of hip hop stars, like this major playa from Pennsylvania, who had unspeakable childhoods. Pass by on PnB’s childhood spent in juvenile and the 33 months he spent in prison at the age of 19, and you’re left with his father being murdered when he was three years old. Now he is a breaking big r&b guy, and this terrific album, featuring everybody from Smokepurpp to Wiz Khalifa is all the more surprising – B+

Sampa The Great – Birds And The Bee9 – A Zambian poet and musician, better when she’s singing bon mots like “money makes the world go round but I ain’t fucking with no paper,” somewhere between rap and spoken word with world music backing tracks – B-

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman – Always loved her voice but neo-soul hit me as bad r&b with bad soul songs. I am not sure i’ve changed my mind entirely but her singing is so powerful here, recorded between chemo sessions for the cancer that would eventually kill her, that I’ll just have to suck up my problems with the songs – B+

Sia – Everyday Is Christmas – Sure all that won’t show her face is irritating posturing, and sure it makes for a brutal live show, but this is an excellent album of new seasonal songs – B+

Talib Kweli – Radio Silence – A third of the classic Black Star team, this proves one more time that Talib is more than Mos Def’s sidekick. This is classic rap, all rhyming and mad skills and, on “Traveling Light” with Anderson Park, he is quite comfortable with r&b skills as well, the title track is so cool it includes Amber Coffman, sure that’s 2010 but it is 2010 in a good way – B+

Teen Daze – Themes For A New Age – electronic ambience, sweet in a sleepy way – B-

The Doors (50th Anniversary Expanded Edition) – Strange Days – Expanded? Remastered stereo, mono, and on your bike. Completely useless – D

The Rest Of Our Life -Tim McGraw And Faith Hill – A coupla months ago I was meant to see em live so I went deep into their catalog. Never again – MUST TO AVOID – D

Tove Lo – Blue Lips (Lady wood Phase II) – The concept, EDM girl with indie sensibility and high powered sexuality, ain’t bad, the execution is bad – C

T-Pain – Oblivion – It pains me to say this, but this auto-tuned out of its mind R&B return doesn’t deliver. I had a bad feeling with “Texting My Ex,” and that song certainly isn’t much, there are some real goodies (try “May I” with its wonderful piano jazz solo), but wow does it stall and by the time you reach the end, “Second Chance (Don’t Back Down)” all you feel is baffled – C+

Tracey Lawrence – Good Ole Days – Two new songs, nine oldies, featured good ol boys all the way through, and a quick reminder why it isn’t you who hates new country music but new country music that hates you – B+

Various Artists – A Very Roc Christmas – DNCE steal it, but the Yo Gotta, Fabolous, DJ Khaled track, “3 Kings” comes awful close. It’s no Ze or Spector, but it’s good – B

Various Artists – Coco – Soundtrack to an animated feature celebrating Mexican traditions. Nice sentiments and the livelier songs are pretty good – C+

Various Artists – Major Laser Presents: Give Me Love – Some from, some inspired by, Major Lazer’s concert in Cuba, the demo version of “Lean On” is really interesting, the rest of it is good dance – B-





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