The Early Bird: New Releases 7-19-19 – 7-25-19 Reviewed
Beyoncé ten songs on The Lion King: The Gift, her curated “inspired by” including Jay Z, Jessie Reyez, Kendrick Lamar, and more, move the doubtful concept (it is a toon, man) into the take it serious column. Her best work since 2016, includes her catchiest song since “Hold Up,” “Find Your Way Back” (Grade: B+).
The Streets released two of the best rap albums you’ve ever heard and then went crazy with success (essentially as he warned against), and disappeared till… YESTERDAY… when we got a new single! Featuring an excellent young rapper Flohio, who I missed completely last year, “How Long’s It Been,” should blast her through in the UK at least, neither trap nor grime, it is freestyle recorded live and the better for it, the rhyming is excellent, the sound so London, and a true return by one of the best rappers ever with a current self-portrait about the middle of life (Grade: B+).
Willow’s eponymous EP cuts the difference between her neo-art r&b and her burnished pop sensibility and comes out the better for it on her best song to date, “Female Energy, Part Two” (Grade: B+). Here is an Iggy Azalea story, after the show at Pier 47, she stopped to take selfies with her young fans and as people came out of the show, the scene got wilder and wilder till her handlers had to literally tear her away from them (my review here) So in her defense, and white women who fuck black guys exclusively need defending (from women of cokor especially, who hate her), In My Defense is a terrific and fun rap album that deserves to bring her all the way back (Grade: B+). Don’t read too much into the juxtaposition here, but My First Album by Peppa Pig would make a great first album for any toddler, catchy and sweet and very child appropriate (Grade: B+). The new James Taylor box set, The Warner Bros. Albums: 1970-1976 makes a strong case for it being his best period till 2000’s resurrection with October Road (Grade: A-).
Back to singles, two representatives of young pop lesbians, Hayley Kiyoko’s “I Wish” is as clearly clever electronic pop as she is pushed by desire, Hayley’s sound hasn’t moved forward but it is good where it was anyway (Grade: B). King Princess is steadying herself for her debut album but already seems onto the next phase of her career with “Prophet,” a very sexually intense r&b electronica and a clear move forward (Grade: B+). Speaking of next phases, Iggy Pop was born not to perform ambient music and “Free” while daring is dire (Grade: C-). Irish folk rocker Tess Callaghan has a new album hovering somewhere in the near future, and on “The Three Graces” finds a middle ground between classic rock, Brit rock, folk rock and a very alty vibe helped by her vocals which dip deep and sideways into melodies with a unique to her vibe (ps: the guitar solo is worth waiting around for) (Grade: B+). Latin Urban pop has breaking out for years now (you might remember my Mega review (here), but it works better over singles than albums, and the proof is Anuel AA’s reggaeton meets EDM “China” Featuring (wait for it) Daddy Yankee, Karol G, J Balvin and Ozuna. Balvin is having a good year, his Bad Bunny album was one of the best of the year (Grade: B).
Anything before we do a proper round up in a coupla days? Sum 41’s Order In Decline finds them back with all the skills intact after Deryck Whibley almost killing himself with alcohol, if punk rock as mainstream vibe is your scene try em, I aint hating it (Grade: B-)
China – Anuel AA, Daddy Yankee, Karol G, J Balvin, Ozuna – B
The Lion King: The Gift – Beyoncé – B+
I Wish – Hayley Kiyoko – B
In My Defense – Iggy Azalea – B+
Free – Iggy Pop – C-
The Warner Bros. Albums: 1970-1976 – James Taylor – A-
Prophet – King Princess – B+
My First Album – Peppa Pig – B
Order n Decline – Sum 41 – B-
The Three Graces – Tess Callaghan – B+
How Long’s It Been – Live from Abbey Road – The Streets, Flohio – B+
Willow – Willow – B+