The Early Bird: Top New Record Releases 2-14-20 – 2-20-20 Reviewed

Written by | February 14, 2020 7:32 am | No Comments

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I completely get that James Bond is the poster child for white male toxicity, but is that to resist the catharsis of fucking girls and killing people? It was all very Tom And Jerry, harmless dumb fun shaken not stirred. And then came Daniel Craig, so inept he let M bleed to death and the one woman he loved (well, the other one woman -remember Diana Rigg) die: a humorless bore. Just like Billie Eilish’s theme to his latest 007 (and last with Craig) “No Time To Die”. My bet is they kill off Bond at the end and promote his black woman other 00 to Bond status or just reboot the entire shananagines (note how the picture above doesn’t mention Bond: it is the start of the rebranding). I hope they do give it to Lashana Lynch, perhaps they can leave her to fuck and kill with impunity before they woke me to sleep. As for Billie? Shirley Bassey showed us how to do it and Paul McCartney taught us it could be a rockstar, but Billie is more like a-ha: flavor of the moment on a dramatic snooze with Johnny Marr on guitar and  Hans Zimmer arranging. It never reaches the place it needs to be, it is so subdued and you can’t blame Finneas and Billie, subdued is what they do, and it is certainly better than their last single, but it doesn’t explode and while it works as such, it isn’t strong enough, and it couldn’t be: that isn’t what Billie does… Who would I have used? Actually, despite my dislike for the band, Foo Fighters (Grade: B-)

So far, 2020 has been all about singles. Last week I reviewed a hundred of the suckers, this week it is more like 60 but with a ton of new albums. And at the top the new Justin Bieber. Changes, Bieber’s wedding album, is better than I thought it would be after “Yummy” and “Get Me,” but it is a little boring. Justin tangles between one man boy band and pop star sugar highs, with its eyes on one place only: the charts. So its skills will be purely boiled down to, is it a hit? Yes, but to what degree? Well, the Metlife gig will sell out if that is any indication, the grade will go up to B+ if it is  mega (Grade: B).

Still, on albums: I ignored Bruce Springsteen’s money grab of thematic live albums last year, but one is worth your while, The Live Series: Songs Under Cover takes you from 1975 and “When You Walk In The Room” to 2017’s  “I Fought The War” (as an aside, I considered including Bobby Fuller in the top five losses in pop music history),  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” is masterful, “Stayin’ Alive” a thing of glory (Grade: A). Four of the five additional songs on the King Princess deluxe Cheap Queen, are better than the original especially the exquisite “All Dressed In White” (Grade: B+). Fetty Wap blew his window of opportunity (though do you get the sense he had a blast blowing it?), the new seven song EP Trap And B lives up to its name, every song is a little pop gem of trap, echo and autotune, if it bombs it is because people are sick of him (Grade: B). People are not sick of A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Artist 2.0 is a featured packed sing rap triumph and could even nip Justin to the # 1 spot, a little too long true, but any album with two Lil Uzi Vert features can’t be all bad, and there is daBaby and there is Roddy Ricch (Grade: B). I usually use this column for the most popular artists, but I would remiss in not pushing you to Gary Wilson’s best album since 2010’s Electric Endicott, Tormented: a theme album about making out and breaking up, so why don’t you call him him on his new telephone? (Grade: A).

This is the third time I’ve written about Jason Isbell And The 400 Units shout out to his fellow musicians “Be Afraid” since it was released four days ago -a great song (Grade: A), I lost interest in Sam Smith after a crap show at MSG a coupla years ago, but “To Die For” is a gorgeous, well sung ballad (Grade: B), Bad Bunny is the sine qua non for how to maintain a steady presence on the charts without overstaying your welcome, “Ignorantes” isn’t the J. Balvin type bangers he was releasing last year, this is a low key trap beats ballad (Grade: B+), Boys Noize is one of the greats no doubt, and Rico Nasty’s same sex curiosity works well on “Girl Crush” -a very sexy dance track (Grade: B+). Two strong rock tracks, Enter Shakiri’s “{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }” moves between noise and a hooky chorus and back (Grade: B), New Found Glory’s “Greatest Of All Time” is a pop punk meets proggy blast (Grade: B-).

Finally, Luke Bryan is back with a moving dream of a world I don’t know on the steadfast Red State “Born Here Live Here Die Here,” where he makes a strong case for a world that works like a daydream of consistency: “Ride the same roads, work the same dirt, go to the same church and drink the same beer”. It makes sense of what I can not understand (Grade: B+).

Till we round up all the singles and albums next week, take it sleazy.

Artist 2.0 – A Boogie Wit da Hoodie – B

Ignorantes – Bad Bunny, Sech – B+

No Time To Die – Billie Eilish – B-

Girl Crush – Boys Noize, Rico Nasty – B+

The Live Series: Songs Under Cover – Bruce Springsteen – A

{ The Dreamer’s Hotel } – Enter Shikari – B

Trap And B – Fetty Wap – B

Tormented – Gary Wilson – A

Be Afraid – Jason Isbell And The 400 Units – A

Changes – Justin Bieber – B

Cheap Queen (Deluxe) – King Princess – B+

Born Here Live Here Die Here – Luke Bryan – B+

Greatest Of All Time – New Found Glory – B

To Die For – Sam Smith – B

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