The Early Bird: Top New Releases 11-10-17 – 11-16-17
“New Year’s Day” is Taylor Swift’s best ballad since “State Of Grace,” and Reputation accumulates strength through a just about unerring and consistent collection of 15 great pop and dance songs for nearly an hours worth of top notch product. Occasionally she sounds relatively generic but this runs circles around current pop purveyors, it is a real and true pleasure. Grade: A.
On to the singles front, Elvis Costello’s “You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way ” finds Elvis in Painted By Memory mode, or, since it is from the movie “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool,” or maybe his cover of “She”. “Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame finds romance and happiness with a younger man, but her life changes forever when she is diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s.” Great, so imagine “Notting Hill” as a tragedy. A beauty, nevertheless. Grade: B+. The new DJ Premiere and A$AP Ferg song, “Our Streets” is one of the best hip hop singles and the only great Ferg song in, what? Two years. It sounds like Nas plus dance track plus “turn the music back up” are the only words I wanna hear. Grade: A
Some more albums? Reissues, deluxe, etc? The deluxe version of Little Richard’s debut album, Here’s Little Richard, you know, the one that begins with a wail of “Wop-bop-a-loo-mop alop-bom-bom,” is beyond words. Some demos and early takes included. Grade: A+. Elton John (and Bernie Taupin’s), 50th Anniversary Greatest Hits Diamonds, knocks on four hours with ease, all the way to the excellent “The Train Don’t Stop Here ANymore”. This is a good package. Grade: A. I am not a big R.E.M. except for everything between 1991 and 1996 -a five year span of unparalleled excellence and Automatic For The People fits in nicely. This deluxe edition includes a live album and demos. Grade: A
Hip hop wise, Jidenna a well dressed, self-aware man who immigrated from the poverty ravaged Nigeria and hit paydirt with “Classic Man,” has his sophomore release here, a terrific r&b slayer – Grade: B+. I saw Sleigh Bells open for Red Hot Chili Peppers a coupla years ago and they were very, well, energetic, though a little better living through science. So is their new EP, Kid Kruschev, “Panic Drills” is one part echo chamber electronics and two parts ballad in hiding. Grade B+. The “Shut Up And Dance” guys, Walk The Moon are very consistent and if none of their new album of indie pop rock What If Nothing hits, it isn’t their fault. Grade: B. Wiz Khalifa has never done it for me, though listening to Laugh Now, Pay Later, if you can get past the smell of kush all over it, he knows his way round a hook better than a rhyme. Grade: C+.
Finally, Seals Covers album is yet another trip down the Great American Songbook, but why? Grade: C-. Kevin Jenkins EP She: A Tribute To Joni Mitchell is way too short, this should have 50 songs because if you are looking for Clouds what you are getting is The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, and not “In France They Kiss On Main Street” either. Well, you show me a release with a song as great as “Shades of Scarlett Conquering,” and I will show you Joni or Kevin. Next time how about “Big Yellow Taxi”? Grade: A
Full update on new releases plus full length reviews of Taylor and Kevin will arrive eventually.