Be Here Now: New Album Reviews 4-22-16 – 4-27-16

Written by | April 24, 2016 17:07 pm | No Comments


Always Strive And Prosper – A$AP Ferg – If you took out “Let It Go” and “World Is Mine”, this would be a mixed bag, some of it a little too obvious when compared to posse member Rocky. “New Level” and “Yammy Gang” are minor average hook lined tracks featuring Future and A$AP Mob respectively, and those are the first two tracks. And if Chuck D, Chris Brown, and especially a great Big Sean, aren’t needed they add to something like a warm stew. The last track, a memento mori to his Grandma called “Grandma” and  Ferg’s best flow on the album, is major enough to make it a solid sophomore effort, even when a little obvious. With the two songs, it is a major step forward for the rapper – B+

Lemonade – Beyonce –  a state of the marriage snapshot, an inside look at bliss and betrayal with Judas Jay Z (who doesn’t appear on the album, neither does Blue Ivy except for a line after “Daddy’s Lessons”) being strapped to an emotional gurney as Bey explains what every woman understands viscerally, infidelity is not a victimless crime, and crimes are punished – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A

All Things Are Possible – B-fade – If there is nothing worse than Christian rock, the same can not be said of Christian rap. Every Christian rap artist I’ve heard this year, I hadn’t realized was religious based till a line about kneeling and praying caught my ear, or till I did a little research. This is a terrific album, whatever God you kneel to. Try “Don’t Stop” – B+

Tragame Tierra – Big Black Delta – Skip the Kimbra song, head straight to the Debbie Gibson one, and ignore the rest from this 80s and 808 pop guy – C+

Days Of Wine And Roses – Bill Evans – The great jazz pianist, who died at a ridiculously early 50 years of age, has this terrific compilation just issued on Spotify. I have no idea why, I can’t even find a mention of it ever existing… A

The Lost Session From The Black Forest – Bill Evans – A newly discovered, never released album from ’68. A lot of this is mainstream American songbook, but it is not where he starts, it is where he ends. Absolutely gorgeous – A

Three – Blue Man Group – Which would make it three too many – D

Home – Blue October – Odes to home to family, which ruins his only selling point: that he sang like a man who really, really had suffered through shock therapy – D+

Camp Cope – Camp Cope – “You went on tour and I went on medication…” They must be Australian, right? The songs are plodders but the lyrics have a romantic colloquialism – B+

Classic Carpenters – Dami Im – Winner of the Aussie X Factor, and representing the country in Eurovision song contest (Yeah, I know), this is a set of essentially useless Carpenter covers, but they sound good so why not? – B

A Master Speaks – George Coleman – Well, maybe not speaks. The former Miles Davis saxophonist (eventually replaced by Wayne Shorter) lt’s his instrument do the speaking for him on these glorious takes on the standard American songbook – B+

Only You Remain – Great American Canyon Band – Surely the guy in the married couple duo’s beard should be enough to warn you. But they aren’t garden variety Americana, the songs use wall of sounds that merge forward and drop off to build a unique vision – B+

Outer Heaven – Grey – Guitar based post punk, but they should pick up the energy level – C+

Please Be Honest – Guided By Voices – Weirdo heavy prog pop, works intermittently as always but please, stay away from “Sad Baby Eyes” – C

Neptune – Higher Authorities – Mixed by Adrian Sherwood, and featuring members of the estimable Clinic, this dubby album is a bore – C

This Is Rap – Joell Ortiz – The Slaughterhouse MC has skills to burn but this is up to nothing much, beyond dated, it sounds like 1996 – B-

The River – Jordan Feliz – You know how I wrote something positive about Christian Rap above (the B-fade review), so you know it isn’t theologically based when I say I’d like to drown this Christian rocker in the river of his choice – D-

New Lane Road – Josh Kelley – Country singer songwriter with a flair for rock and pop, he has the voice and he has the songs, try “Call It What It Is”, but lyrically he is a complete dud, and the songs aren’t that great – C+

Hello Clouds – Justin Martin – San Fran DJ, is first rate, all bass on top of melody lines, the title track is a real joy – B+

Honey – Katy B – Katy was never what I wanted her to be, a better Marina ANd The Diamonds, and her last album, while a UK hit was missing something. So does this, it misses that one uber alles track, but it is still a very strong dance pop album – B+

Rated Love – Keke Wyatt – R&B diva performed in an early version of Destiny’s Child, and she has a fine voice. This is old school soul diva style, maybe the drums are over pasteurized but the songs are a touch above the  norm  – B

Bottle Out Of Eden – Knifeworld – They claim a psychedelic bent but here the UK via Tehran band deep deep into prog and jazz, world and beats this side of EDM. Unfortunately, the songs aren’t impressive enough to force you to listen more deeply – C+

Temple – Matthew And The Atlas – Part of the neo-folk movement that gave us Mumford And Sons, without the commercial success that goes with it, these are talented guys playing an already well dated music form – C+

Therapy Session – NF – He sounds like Eminem, and I mean A LOT LIKE EMINEM – B-

Children Of God – Phil Wickham – More contemporary Christian rock, just plain atrocious – D

Table For Five – Project Kitchen Band – They call themselves pop punk, and I’d agree only they are neither pop nor punk, they are more like emo meets Daugherty – C-

Colours – Puggy – Belgiums can’t rock, they can’t pop either – C-

White Noise – Pvris – Add beats to rock ordinaire and what you got? Beats and rock ordinaire – C-

Take All My Loves – 9 Shakespeare Sonnets – Rufus Wainwright – His best work since 2010, has a huge misstep in spoken word recitations of some of the sonnets, and the grade only goes to show how brilliant the music is. The operatic song is great, the poppy Florence Welch track is great, and best of all the rocking Helena Bonham Carter and Martha Wainwright track is his greatest work in far, far too long. An astonishingly difficult concept, pulled off with complete confidence and consummate skill – A-

It’s So Good Live – Sundy Best – A  fine country duo’s live double, which, since they’ve never made the slightest impression on me before with these very same songs, suggest stage is where they should be met half way – B

Amplify – Tess Of The Circle – Classic rock meets new wave, but they don’t pull it off – C

Dark Side Of Black – Texas Hippie Coalition – A mix and match of metal, core and Southern boogie… if it was only faster – C+

Hope – The Strumbellas – They call it folk popgrass, and it is alright without being actually good – C

Deep House Top 100 – Various Artists – Is this dreary MOR crap the finishing end of House? – C

Helter Seltzer – We Are Scientists – Deadly indie rockers – C-

Born Lucky – William Poyer – If he didn’t sound so whiny this Welsh guy might be a major Americana find, “Two Days Later” is a real keeper – B-

Nocturnal Koreans – Wire – I was never a fan though the time has changed them from art rockers, to modernist post-punjers who can write a melody, Just not one I really want to hear – C+


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