Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 2-9-18 – 2-15-18

Written by | February 12, 2018 6:28 | No Comments

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2 Chainz – The Play Don’t Care Who Makes It EP – Four songs, all great and I’m not even  a big 2 Chainz fan, plus “Proud” -with YG and Offset, is not only one of Offset’s best moments of the year (and remember, he is a third of the new Migos brick), but also: how often do you hear a song about trying to make momma proud? – A-

Alela Diane – Cusp – Outstanding album about the joys and less than joys of motherhood, a subject only Carole King has written about with any consistency. Start at the top, “Albatross” is completely captivating, and don’t stop till you reach the end – B+

Allen Toussaint – 25 Best Of… A little random, but I don’t care. A lot of instrumentals and some stand out boogie  – B+

Brigid Mae Power – The Two Worlds – Great voice but a bit of a snooze – C+

Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows – Sure, I’ll give him “Heartbeat Here”… but the rest of the album doesn’t do the job on this lo fi return to emo – C+

Don Diablo – Future – Known as Future House, it’s an intricate mix and match house and straight up pop groove – B-

Elevation Collective – Evidence – From Elevation Church in North Carolina, this undercuts my antipathy for CCM with a soft touch and a willingness not to go off the deep end… opening track “Here As In Heaven” is especially good – B

Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus – Fascinating singer songwriter dreamscapes go nightmare, try “God Lifts Up The Lonely” – B+

Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending – Guitarist  Nick McCarthy has left, but the synths are still here and the dance beats are still catchy enough – B-

Harms Way – Posthuman – Loud and yet clever metalcore – B

Hovvdy – Cranberry – Catchy but boring guitar mellow – C+

Joan As Police Woman – Damned Devotion – Did you know that the Joan in question, Joan Wasser, used to date Jeff Buckley? I didn’t mostly because she has never been quite good enough to maintain my interest, maybe I didn’t give her the time. The lead single here, “Tell Me” changed that, and this is a terrific, soulful, white soul rebels of an album. It kept my attention and while I think there is something missing from the mix, I am not sure if it makes any difference because just about everything is quite good enough. A luminous, lovely, thriller of an album where Joan gets her disco on but only just – ALBUM OF THE WEEK – A-

Jonny Greenwood – Phantom Thread (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Like most soundtrack albums, I guess you had to be there, though Jonny’s use of small orchestras will make it easier for live performances – C+

Kendrick Lamar – Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By – Kendrick curates and performs on four tracks and it all has that Kendrick touch, hard yet serious. Jay Rock and Future are on one of the best songs of the year so far, the SZA duet made a complete believer of me, and Schoolboy Q needs no introduction – A-

MGMT – Little Dark Age – Were they ever any good? Sure, “Kids” was good. This is electro pop dross, and if, as Andrew Sacher in Brooklynvegan claims, they are purposeful alienators, they still suck. Also, one of the worst live bands I saw last year – C-

Nashville Cast – Nashville, Season 6: Episode 6 (Music from the Original TV Series) – Four songs, all lousy. “Raised On A Song” is everything wrong with country in one tidy package – D+

Natalia Lafourcade – Musas (Un Homenaje al Folclore Latinoamericano en Manos de Los Macorinos), Vol. 2 – Old school Mexican Flamenco – B+

Ralo – Diary of the Streets 3 – Atlanta rapper from the mean streets of Atlanta who knocked off a life of crime and turned to rap -in other words, a cliche. The album is streets is listening slash and burn, with better than average autotune and echoes singing and multivel voice production – C+

Ravyn Lenae – Crush EP – Soft and sweet r&b with modern neo-soul technique, “Sticky” is a great song  – B

Social Club Misfits – Into The Night – Wait a second, “God in the center is the reason why we’re trying to link…” Yes, indeed Fern and Marty are Christian rappers… not bad, I’ve always preferred Christian rap to Christian rock – B-

The Atlas Moth – Coma Noir – Better than average metal, the bowels of hell vocals are, well, vocal, and the playing rolls out one killer riff after another, finally shout out to the drummer who hammers it home – B

The Oh Hellos – Eurus – Somewhere between folk, ambience, anti-ambience, siblings raise their voice in twee – B-

The Wombats – Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life – The Wombats consider themselves witty lads from England with some of that Arctic Monkeys look good on the dancefloor working class stuff, I consider them wombats – C

Toto – Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun – They hold back “Rosanna” and “Africa” till the end, which means you have to slog through 38 pieces of absolute crap, really… I’m not exaggerating, try “I’ll Supply The Light” -just unlistenable, before reaching two other pieces of crap -MUST TO AVOID – D

Various Artists – Fifty Shades Freed (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – I’ll give em both Julia Michaels songs, the new Sia, and maybe the Miike Snow. But there is no excuse for Jessie J covering James Brown as a blues fuse- C+

Wade Bowen – Solid Ground – It starts with the worst song on the album, but when this country pro is playing straight he’s pretty good, plus anyone who can sell me on a song called “Death, Dyin’ and Deviled Eggs” and make it stand up can’t be all bad – B-

Wild Child – Expectations – These brothers are better than I ever even nearly gave em credit for, this collection is as good as the songs they’d already pulled out. But it gets a little much – B-

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