The Early Bird: New Record Releases 2-7-20 – 2-13-20 Reviewed

Written by | February 7, 2020 6:56 am | No Comments

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Three big stars, Green Day, Hayley Williams, and Justin Bieber with an album, half an EP, and a single respectively. Green Day prove that less is more with Father Of All Motherfuckers, a straight up pop punk stroke with relentlessly strong material and though it doesn’t reach the heights of, say “J.A.R.” , so what? They haven’t in decades.  Certainly as an album as opposed to individual songs, it is better than anything since American Idiot, if you are looking for that one track they haven’t pushed out as a single, try “Stab You In Your Heart,” and if you want them to prove they’re down with an ace riff, “Sugar Youth” (Grade: A-). Hayley Williams of Paramore, a band that hit a height in 2013 and have been getting steadily worse ever since, is getting steadily worse as a solo act, though hand Hayley this: Petals For Armor is a studiously arty move, somewhere that Paramore and Charli XCX might meet, of the five songs three are dogs and two are good enough (Grade: C+). Going in the opposite direction, Justin Bieber released two bad songs that did no business, this despite his Youtube platform reality show being the most popular original program in their history, has a very good one with “Intentions”. It’s childlike domesticity, something that seriously infected “Yummy” notwithstanding, “Intentions” is a lovely confection, Quavo adds a fabulous verse, and it is in support of  Alexandria House. “a nonprofit offers safe housing for women and children transitioning from emergency shelter situations” (Grade: B+)

Still with singles, Meek Mill with a featured Justin Timberlake chorus at the top and in the middle is middlebrow Meek on what amounts to the usual unusual,  when multi millionaire pop stars tell me to “Believe” I tend to ignore them (Grade: C). When they’re not fighting, Tory Lanez is one of Drake’s pals (he was the best thing I saw on Drake’s “Scorpion” tour) and he has excellent flow, and while Love Me Now from 2018 was certainly better than last year’s come and gone Chixtape 5, his latest single has a strong sax sample to open and Tory spitting and sounding (‘fucking a ho in her kidney”?) nasty as you like (Grade: B), sure Khalid can sing, and sure the kids love him, but I wasn’t crazy about either of his albums, as for Disclosure? They never managed to maintain their position as to the top EDM duo in the biz, so the return of the “Talk” meeting on “Know Your Worth” needed to be a goodie and it is, in fact a goodie, drums and bass with a hint of lover’s rock and a fine (but this we knew) vocal from Khalid (Grade: B+). H.E.R. has had the best 2020 of anyone at all so far, I’ve seen her on stage once, opening for Chris Brown, and she made me a huge fan (she will be at Gov Ball on Friday June 5th) and this year this is her FIFTH great single, one a featured performance with Skip Marley, one a remix, and here her third newbie, “Comfortable”  is a gorgeous chill soul acoustic dream pop record (Grade: A-). Compare Savages’ Jehnny Beth acoustic, hard and rolling “Flower” to Hayley’s songs, Jehnny delves into the power of quietness she doesn’t have with Savages and has a reason to be alone (Grade: B+).

The most useful album imaginable is Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974 -a very early solo Ferry, circa the classic Another Time, Another Place debut and it is an absolute treasure… if they are going through the shelves I’d prefer one in 1978, you know, The Bride Stripped Bare, till then he kills “Don’t Worry Baby” -actually he kills everything (Grade: A). Possibly the biggest pop star here, Pop Smoke is a brutal performer of a particularly brutal genre of rap, drill, though New York not Chicago based; OG? Yes, but stronger, it is a dark and haunting sound and perfect for wetting pre-teens in the projects play area (Grade: B+).

A few more singles, it isn’t  Amanda Shire’s fault we are sick of her, her husband, and her husband’s former band, but we are and “Deciphering Dreams” is more and a little better than average, if you aren’t bored give her a “B” (Grade: C+), it is odd that Britney Spears would return with yet another remix of “Toxic” (like anyone will improve on the Ol’ Dirty Bastard” remix), by (according to his bio) professional sellout Alexander Lewis (Grade: B). Finally, a big question mark, why have Bully (the best indie band since Bg Thief) have  released a hip hop meets electronic song, it isn’t bad but for Bully’s first release in three years? (Grade: B)

Deciphering Dreams – Amanda Shires – C+

Rhinestones – Bully, J-Rod X Kryptic, HyperActive RM – B

Toxic – Y2K & Alexander Lewis Remix – Britney Spears, Y2K, Alexander Lewis – B

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, 1974 – Bryan Ferry – A

Father Of All Motherfuckers – Green Day – A-

Petals For Armor I – Hayley Williams – C+

Comfortable – H.E.R. – A-

Flower – Jehnny Beth – B+

Intentions – Justin Bieber, Quavo – B+

Know Your Worth – Khalid, Disclosure – B+

Believe (feat. Justin Timberlake) – Meek Mill, Justin Timberlake – C

Meet The Woo 2 – Pop Smoke – B+

Broke In A Minute – Tory Lanez – B

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