The Early Bird: Top New Releases 5-25-18 – 5-31-18
This is a good week for new rap albums, A$AP Rocky’s eagerly anticipated Testing has a huge list of featured performers, including Frank Ocean, FKA Twigs, and Lauryn Hill, and they add to a well rapped, very dark, and, sometimes, very beautiful third album, and if there is nothing as good as “LSD,” the mood is that of serious contemplation though Rocky says:” It’s like the manifestation of drugs … without being so vocal about it.” “Changes” is astounding (Grade: A-). Chicago rapper Juice WRLD’s Goodbye & Good Riddance isn’t mumble rap and his second mixtape isn’t Soundcloud, but in its youthful sadness it is a a melancholic yet angry vision of the brutality of a break up (Grade: B+). Pusha T gets Kanye West and Rick Ross to join him, and while I have never been a huge fan what he always had he still has… a great voice that he uses to fine effect on the Kanye West produced DAYTONA, “If You Know You Know” is a killer track (Grade: B-).
On to singles: Belly is joined by The Weeknd on the lovely atmospheric “What You Want” (Grade: A-), Dwight Yoakam’s “Pretty Horses” is a guitar strummed beauty and when it kicks in it reminds you of everything you used to love about country (Grade: A-), I never cared for Linkin Park but Mike Shinoda has been on a run all year and while “Running From My Shadow” (feat. grandson) is the least of the three, grandson really gives him a bedrock sound to lean on (Grade: B). Zayn sounds gorgeous on his EDM ballad “Entertainer” (Grade: B+). Finally on singles, “Live It Up” is the Official Song 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia – Nicky Jam, it ain’t as good as Shakira’s “Waka Waka” but it does the job and,hey, that’s Will Smith (Grade: B).
CHVRCHES’s Love Is Dead is better than I thought it might be as they navigate past their sophomore slump on this melodic electronic sounding album (Grade: B). J Balvin’s Vibras is a little disappointing, I expected more from such a huge album for him and instead got a not untypical reggaeton that seems to leave his crossover dreams behind -the Wisin and Yandel track is a keeper (Grade: B-). Shawn Mendes ‘s eponymous latest isn’t bad, he sounds more like Charlie Puth every day and long gone is the skinny runt with a guitar opening for Taylor at MetLife -a kinda pity (Grade: C+).
See ya next week when we really get to work!
A$AP Rocky – Testing – A-
Belly, The Weeknd – A-
CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead – B
Dwight Yoakam – Pretty Horses – A-
Mike Shinoda – Running From My Shadow – Grade: B
Nicky James – Live It Up – Official Song 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
J. Balvin – Vibras – B-
Juice WRLD – Goodbye & Good Riddance – B+
Pusha T – DAYTONA – B-
Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes – C+
Zayn – Entertainer – B+