The Early Bird: Top New Releases 2-8-19 – 2-14-19
Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next, is the least disappointing album you will ever hear, if her job was to cement her position as the pretender to Taylor Swift’s crown as the Princess Of Pop, this ridiculous awesome collection of flawless modern pop gems will do the job. The title track you know, what you don’t know is “NASA” (“one giant leap for womankind”) and “Break Up With Your Boyfriend, I’m Bored” and “Needy” and “Ghostin'” it’s like a modern “Sex In The City” set to the most addictive pop songs in the world today -potentially the best album of the year (Grade: A). Speaking of the best of the year, Beck ropes in Robyn and The Lonely Island for a lesson in what Justin Timberlake failed to do on his “Trolls” soundtrack with “Can’t Stop The Feeling” -a nursery kids block, joyful song that finds The Lonely Island back in ‘Everything Is Awesome” land, with the super cool “Super Cool” (Grade: A-).
Over to singles, I have never said a kind word to Florida Georgia Line ever: till now. “Y’All Boys” is a difference maker, sure the 808s are a drag, but the lick is straight outta Elvis Presley in rockabilly mode and the “ain’t got a buddy named buddy” is a great line (Grade: A-). Sure, H.E.R. isn’t Aretha, but H.E.R. has the heart of a soul singer and her take on “Think” is strong enough to be a serious attempt at a classic (Grade: B+), I’m not saying this is the end of Migos as we know them, but they are spinning their wheels on “Position To Win” an EDM rap move (Grade: B-), “Pearl Cadillac” is a bad song by Gary Clark Jr (his interview in the Stone current issue will have you throwing up in your mouth) a man who never improved on his debut EP and has been trying to justify Eric Clapton’s hype ever since. He has the soul of a turnip (Grade: C).
Back to albums, or in this case EPs, where Meghan Trainor after years in the wilderness returns to her clever, catchy life as lived songs with the excellent The Love Train, a terrific recapitulation of the woman who gave us “Dear Future Husband,” and her best work in five years (Grade: B+). Two albums I was getting bad vibes from but are actually pretty good, Bob Mould’s Sunshine Rock is high melodic quotient classic rock that roars and purrs in equal measure (Grade: B+), and The Lemonheads Varshons 2 starts with Yo La Tengo and ends with The Eagles, both first rate covers, and only wobbles occasionally in between (Grade: B). Panda Bear is still the Animal Collective experimental, pop weirdo, but his sense of the pop is now as strong as the experimental on Buoy (Grade: B). I’ve really gotta get around to watching “Roma” before it wins the Oscar for Best Picture, if this Songs Inspired By is anything to go by, first up? Listen to the Billie Eilish song :When I Was Older”,and very next a masterful Patti Smith song “Wings,” follow up with the addictive Jessie Reyez “Con el Viento’ and conclude with Laura Marling covering “Those Were The Days” (Grade: B+). One more and then that’s your lot till we take a closer look next week: I don’t like “Wicked” by I do like Kristin Chenoweth and I do like Idina Menzel -both of whom are all over the Wicked (15th Anniversary Special Edition) (Grade: B-)
Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande – A
Super Cool – Beck – A-
Sunshine Rock – Bob Mould – B+
Y’All Boys – Florida Georgia Liner – A-
Pearl Cadillac – Gary Clark Jr – C
Think – H.E.R. – B+
The Love Train – Meghan Trainor – B+
Position To Win – Migos – B-
Buoy – Panda Bear – B
Varshons 2 – The Lemonheads – B
Music Inspired By The Motion Picture Roma – Various Artists – B+
Wicked (15th Anniversary Special Edition) – Various Artists – B