The Early Bird: New Big Releases Reviewed 10-5-17 – 10-12-17
A good week for old school rock and roll, with major releases by former Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher, and SoCal codgers Rockford, but first to the singles, and right after a week that was strange in its weakness, it is a biggie. Begin with “Almost Like Praying” (feat. Artists for Puerto Rico) headed by Lin-Manuel Miranda who, in keeping with his Broadway AND Puerto Rican heritage, samples “Maria” (from “West Side Story”) for perhaps the best charity single you’ve ever heard. Featuring the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Fat Joe, Gloria Estefan, Camila Cabello, Luis Fonsi, and Marc Anthony, it is a huge success (Grade: A). So is the new Sam Smith single “Pray,” an art pop soul track and vastly superior to the first single (Grade: A). Queen, The Smiths, and REM have all released demo versions, all our great. A great way to start the music week.
Back to old school rock em sock em. Liam’s As You Were is nearly an hour of first rate Oasis style rock anthems, beautifully sung and performed and no, neither Liam nor the ubiquitous Greg Kurstin are as great as Noel and all those mid-1990s singles, but “Paper Crown” comes close (Grade: A-). Rockford is the band rock nyc writer Ed Huerta plays drums for, and he wrote two of the songs on Experiments In Electricity And Light though Jeff Beals compositions are just about unbeatable, “My Cousin Flowers” is a ridiculously excellent Byrds zoom lens ringading and the guitar solo on “I Tried” is a showstopper. Any lover of rock and roll will down their Fall Out Boy for this terrific release and I am very happy for my good friend Ed and for the band, a very good band who should play nyc and I mean now. Grade: A-.
Last week Smokepurpp’s album wasn’t my album of the week, but it is the last man standing and I am still listening to it. The self-titled debut album by Lil Pump features Smokepurpp on four songs and is also absolutely great. Why these guys can’t do it on stage I can’t say but on record these are tremendous Trap meets r&b quietly devastated stories of growing up in Florida in the spiral of extreme poverty. Lil Pump is 17 years old, the 20th Century is a theory; the sound is just excellent and the sound is the best new sound of 2017. This is the fourth Soundcloud Rap album to blow me away. Grade: A-
Finally, after ending up upside down at his not very good gig at Hammerstein Ballroom last Saturday, Heaven Upside Down is less a return to form, his form has always been spotty, and more an up and down goth rocker with industrial beats and metalcore guitars, Grade: B