Be Here Now: New Albums Reviewed 3-15-18 – 3-22-18

Written by | March 20, 2018 6:35 | No Comments

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Andrew Lloyd Webber – Unmasked: The Platinum Collection (Deluxe)- This is an odd greatest hit, from Boyzone to Barbra Streisand,it is linked to his memoir but doesn’t follow his career trajectory as written about in Unmasked (which ends with Phantom).Still, it’s nice to hear the best (more or less -three songs from “Aspects Of Love” at the end -just… don’t) in one place – B+

Anthem Lights – Hymns, Vol. II -Christian boy band and a good one, sometimes they go secular, sometimes they just sing low impact hymns and are the better for it – B

Bill Frisell – Music IS – The terrific jazz guitarist who you may know from his wonderful recording The Sweetest Punch is at the top of his game on this self-explanatory immersion in solo  acoustic guitar – B+

Boys Noize – Strictly Raw, Vol. 2 – The German wunderkind DJ and the absolute king of House is dealing with pure beats here and it is a primer in everything EDM has lost over the years: distinctively and crazy rhythms ping pong off each other till settling into a groove and then stopping… I read where his next release is with RL Grimes, stay tuned    – A-

Dorothy – 28 Days In The Valley – Hard rock ordinaire, the Dorothy in question has a great set of lungs but the songs are suspect – C+

Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else – Brighton indie poppers have a synth and they’re gonna use it on this collection of mediocre tunefulness – B-

Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens – Old school no nonsense hard rock, heavy riffs but not too heavy by former Drive Like Jehu’s Rick Froberg and John Reis (Reis was also part of Rocket From the Crypt). reunited after a decade and a half break, define two guitar attack – B

Junkie XL – Tomb Raider (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Incidental music with a touch of the gameboy visceral by the Dutch composer – C+

Kash Doll – Brat Mail (Mixtape) – The Detroit rapper has skills, especially on “Dividends” and a one track mind and it sure ain’t on sex – B

Max Richter – Sleep – So quiet it could be ambient if not indeed Ambient PM – B-

Meshell Ndegeocello – Ventriloquism – Though I’m not crazy about her Jazzy cum Americana rethinks of pop could be classics, I am crazy about one of the best “Sometimes In April” you’ll ever hear – C+

Mount Eerie – Now Only – Last year’s A Crow Looked At Me made art where there is no art from the devastated loss as his 35 year old wife died from cancer, Now Only continues his life as he raises his daughter and raises his head. More of the same, though “Now Only” is actually catchy and pretty (the chorus goes: “people get cancer and die”) – B+

PRhyme – PRhyme 2 – AntMan Wonder has his beats used all the way through it, DJ Premiere creates the grooves and Royce Da 5’9″ is better than ever on this featured artists galore hard rap album. Hang around for the late in the set Big K.R.I.T. featured “Made Man” – B

Rich Homie Quan – Rich As In Spirit – Atlanta rapper breaks through on his first release on Motown, this is rap as  a pro move, over an hour of beats and raps and only one featured act, but it is Rick Ross so… – B

Sango – In The Comfort Of – Neo R&B and the kitchen sink on this first rate collection of  electronic soul music. “Life Without God Is Nothing” may well be the song of the week, the rap is nicely integrated, the hooks hook, the mood maintains, this isn’t Gospel but it is faith oriented music and the producer works magic on one quiet beat after another. In conversation he drops Frank Ocean’s name and you can hear why, you can also hear why it took him over three years to complete – ALBUM OF THE WEEK  – A-

Saweetie – High Maintenance – “Icy Girl” is my jam, but the rest of the EP is nearly its equal though not as icy as I thought it’d be – B+

Scotty McCreery – Seasons Change – American Idol winner has a powerful voice, and disinteresting country songs – C

Snoop Dogg – Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love – Last time I bothered to look, Snoop had discovered Jah, on this 32 song album with one featured artist after another, including Faith Evans, he hunkers up to Jesus Christ and shares his pain. It’s not Snoop’s fault but he doesn’t have a voice for anything but drug dealing – C+

Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots (2018) – STP had one great album in them and it was so great they never even thought of replicating and this isn’t remotely close to it – C

The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl – These guys are so great live I am not sure why I don’t like em on record, this synth based (at least that’s the hook they’re selling) is essentially irrelevant, as is the album – C-

The Fratellis – In Your Own Sweet Time – Has it been over a decade since Costello Music? Well, this is a rock solid pop rock album and their most accomplished to date. The Fratellis might not have much ambition but they have good will and high spirits to burn here – B+

The Oak Ridge Boys – 17th Avenue Revival – Producer Dave Cobb has worked with every major country contemporary superhero from Jason Isbell to Chris Stapleton and here he Rick Rubins the Oak Ridge Boys spirituals – B+

This Is Us on NBC – This Is Us – Season 2 (Music From The Series) – I haven’t seen the show but after thoroughly enjoying Sterling K. Brown on SNL two weeks ago I read the synopsis. From Fleet Foxes to Cat Stevens and beyond, you’ll believe a grown man can cry – B

Various Artists – Protocol Vibes – Miami 2018 pt. 2 – Excellent, heavy duty House – B+

Wale – It’s Complicated – EP – Wale gets romantic and compares a woman to Bonnie Parker riding shotgun – C+

XXXTENTACION – ? – Ripe for religion, XXX has released a lo fi and yet intense and intelligent album that suggests his way forward is to leave Soundcloud Rap behind him and hope he doesn’t get jailed… it goes on too long (and is only the first of a trilogy this year) but it is good if not earth changing. “Floor 555” is overwhelming and great – B

Yo La Tengo – There’s A Riot Going On – YLT go lo fi just like Fakebook – B

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