The Early Bird: Top New Recordings Reviewed 10-27-17 – 11-2-17
“He called me baby, baby all night long…” What’s the difference between songs that work on Lee Ann Womack’s The Lonely, The Lonesome And The Gone (besides the clumsy title?), Patsy Cline’s “He Called Me Baby” is an old and glittery masterpiece and “All The Trouble” isn’t. Luckily, there is some classic stuff here: Lefty Frizzell, Harlan Howard, Johnny Cash, George Jones, and performed with a clear conscious and a soulful wide, peripheral vision gorgeousness; the newbie “Someone Else’s Heartache” is beyond beauty (Grade: B+). Even better, though no longer country and now pop, is Kelly Clarkson’s pop-soul Meaning Of Life (Grade: A), with r&b production duo The Monarch all over it, her first album for Atlantic is among her best: the strength is threefold, strong production values, it sounds excellent, an astounding collection of sturdy songs that will blaze through her concerts, and songs, songs, songs. Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” has 233M streams on Spotify, the next closest is 50M and it falls apart from their (verifying my old theory that you get one more chance after a huge hit, and then you’re toast); Waves is electronic pop with an ear for the big moment though it needs a huge audience to signify and little girl’s can be very fickle. Grade: C+.
Jon Pareles is a legend (he edited me once at Voice while Christgau was on vacation in the mid-80s) and he is still a great music critic at the New York Times, so when he writes ““Pacific Daydream” is a collection of pop-rock songs with old-fashioned verse-chorus-bridge structures that Brian Wilson would recognize: wistfully melodic tales of yearning, full of nonsense-syllable hooks, vocal harmonies and chunky guitars,” we listen even though not one single Weezer have released from the album has been anything but a drag. So we listen without prejudice and it is OK, I guess, its biggest selling point being that Greg Kurstin and Max Martin are nowhere to be found. Right, Right? So why is Butch Walker producing? A pop move that won’t pop and isn’t built to. Grade: C+. The new Morrissey has been put off till November 17th, a major mistake because this was a quiet enough Friday for it to have fit right in.
So off to hip hop, Ty Dolla $ign is a schitzo hip hop performer with one eye closely affixed to the charts and the other a studier of modern rap. No wonder one song on his mixtape Beach House 3 is called “Droptop In The Rain”. This is all strong modern pop, with Future featured on two songs, and guest appearance by Lil Wayne, Jeremih, Pharrell and more. Grade: B+. Big K.R.I.T. also feels like a reaction to the relentlessly downbeat trap sound of 2017. 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time has moments of soul power, especially the Cee Lo Green featured “Get Up 2 Come Down”. Grade: B.
The complete rundown of new albums and singles will appear in a couple of days.
4eva Is A Mighty Long Time – Big K.R.I.T. – B+
Meaning Of Life – Kelly Clarkson – A
The Lonely, The Lonesome, And The Gone – Lee Ann Womack – B+
Waves – Rachel Platten – C+
Beach House 3 – Ty Dolla $ign – B +
Pacific Daydream – Weezer – C+