The Early Bird: Top New Releases Reviewed 12-1-17 – 12-6-17
Songs Of Experience is as good as Pop, which makes it U2’s best album since All That You Can Not Leave Behind. And it is their best album without the band reworking their sterile studio habits where they track a song to a stand still. This is a good time for Saint Bono’s the epistle from the island of the one percenters, we might not be in this together financially, but the nuclear holocaust will rain hard on all of us. Every song with “love” in its title works, and except for that Kygo remix, everything else does too. It’s because of the melodies, it is because of the playing, the singing, and the subject matter. We are in the mood for earnestness. Let me add that this is why David Fricke never did U2 any favors overestimating their run of lousy albums this century Grade: A-
Now that’s out of the way, on to singles. Head for the Ed Sheeran and Beyonce remix of “Perfect”. They should have started the song with Bey’s verse but otherwise it is a terrific song and they sound great together (Grade: A). Jessie Reyes returns for the first time since her came changer debut EP way earlier this year. Her voice is like a ringing torch of desire and so is her song: this lo fi clarion call is a subtle but forceful beauty and continues her ascension unabated. Grade: A. Cardi B is still working herself forward from “Kodak Yellow” but Juicy J’s explicit “Kamasutra” might not be the best place, she can handle a hook like “Boy, you better fuck me all night” with the same aplomb that she spits on a dick, Grade: C+.
Why does Spotify make no mention that Taylor Swift’s Reputation (Grade: A) is available for streaming? She sold over 1.5M copies of the album and yet Spotify don’t think their clients are interested? In the end, Spotify is neither a record company nor a social media platform: they are distributors whose responsibility is to help their clients find albums they want to hear, and they want to hear Reputation.
Singers, we’ve got singers: DRAM seemed like another rapper on the cusp when “Broccoli” was first released, but opening for Kendrick earlier this year he proved himself much more than that, he is a mainstream neo-soul singer with every trick of the trade. “Wifi” (featuring…. wait for it… Erykah Badu) is gorgeous, brooding mood music, the aforementioned “Broccoli” and its equal “Gilligan” is here, and if calling a song “I Have A Dream” is looking for trouble, it doesn’t find it and “Sweet VA Dream” is proof of his skills on straight up soul(Grade: A-). More of Chris Stapleton’s backpages on From A Room: Volume 2: a dreary motherfucker with a voice that imparts power on Americana country, that doesn’t deserve it -if you are in the market for “Drunkard’s Prayer” in which he is too ashamed to go to Church, be my guest. Grade: C. Miguel is The Weeknd for morons, he has one great song, “The Valley,” and lots of bland r&b and even J. Cole can’t save him. Grade: C. Lots of people owe lots of favors to blackbear, and here they pay em back on this state of the art emo-rap album and soul cluster fuck. Hang around for the Tinashe song, a first rate sex track. Grade: B+. Wisin has been on a roll since breaking with Yandel, and, unlike US break ups, they have no problems performing together, they do so on Victory, twice, both are excellent on this first rate reggaeton meets Latin pop workout, “Todo Comienza en la Disco,” which includes Daddy Yankee as well, is best of all. Yes, that is an English language track featuring Timbaland. Grade: B+
Finally, I didn’t have great expectations for the Rolling Stones On Air, a collection of rarely heard radio recordings from their formative years 1963-1965, well I was wrong… despite mishaps (that “Rock And Roll Music” saved by Keef and Keef only) there is so much great stuff on this 84 minute, 32 songs compilation. Grade: A.