The Early Bird: Top New Releases Reviewed 4-27-18 – 5-3-18
Two great and one actually, surprisingly, good new release. First, “black girl magic,” Janelle Monae’s which from the top, the Dirty Computer’s astonishing title track with the best use of Brian Wilson in a featured role I can remember ever hearing, the harmonies are glorious, the song just gorgeous, and it seldom falters all the way to “So Afraid” and beyond. This puts Janelle in a league with Beyoncé (Grade: A). Next, the new Sam Huber released (reviewed here) “Radio Friendly Enemy” is, as Helen Bach noted, “a drunken Bowie sitting in on a retro No Doubt”. Legendary Bill Laswell (may I recommend his dub version of Marla Mase’s “Anna Rexia”) is a gift on the title track and “Turnaround” (Grade: A). I may have a problem with rap in that it takes a little too long to hook me., I hated on Post Malone for all of last year, but earlier this year his single with Ty Dolla $ign “Psycho” clicked and his sophomore album, beerbongs and bentleys is a very good collection of moody rap tracks and bangers, borderline emo rap (Grade: B).
On to the singles, Camilla Cabello’s remix of her best song (featuring Kane Brown now) “Never Be The Same” is terrific, not improved but not weakened (Grade: A), We haven’t heard from She & Him in years, “He Gives His Love To Me”. Apparently there is another version where the genders are reversed as an LGBTQ tribute, the song ain’t much but Zooey Deschanel has never been in better voice (Grade: B-). The Internet have been quiet lately so I am happy to report “Roll (Burbank Funk)”i s a terrific piece of electronica soundscape pop, (Grade: B+). Linkin Park’s Mke Shinoda has moved past Chester’s suicide on this excellent EDM banger “About You”, blackbear helps (Grade: B+).
Back to albums, Okkervil River give beards a good name on the fine The Rainbow Rain, “Famous Trachetomies” is the second best song of the week, and easily the funniest (Grade: B). Three old timers, I always love Van Morrison, and it is great to hear “All Saints Day” on his jazz album You’re Driving me Crazy with keyboardist Joey DeFrancesco (in the Georgie Fame role) but, well, I wish he’d change things up again, “Magic Time” is here but this ain’t Magic Time (Grade: B). Willie Nelson? The singles told us Last Man Standing was going to be a lively country swing album, brimming with life, and I vastly prefer to Willie in ballad mode even as he works from the edges of old age (Grade: A-). Always a pleasure to hear from the former Stones bassist Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Time on the genre switcherino from funk to jazz to classic rock Studio Time (Grade: B). Let’s end with fresh indie, I have never been a huge fan of Speedy Ortiz (though thy are terrific on stage), my problem is, and remains, Sadie Dupuis’ off melody singing, but the songs here are so good that changes with this addictive, one killer alt rocker after another, Twerp Verse (Grade: B+).
Studio Time – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Time – B
Never be The Same (featuring Kane Brown) – Camilla Cabello – A
Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae – A
About You – Mike Shinoda – B+
The Rainbow Rain – Okkervil River – B
beerbongs and Bentleys – Post Malone – B
Radio Friendly Enemy – Sam Huber – A
He Gives His Love To Me – She & Him – B-
Twerp Verse – Speedy Dupuis – B+
Roll (Burbank Funk) – The Internet – B+
Last Man Standing – Willie Nelson