The Early Bird: Top New Releases 5-15-20 – 5-21-20 Reviewed
It used to be that an album every two years was average, now the kick is that Future, who has already released two featured songs with Drake among other songs, seems to be slowing down with only first full lengther in 2020. The good news is the Atlanta trap superstar has features up to his ears on the 21 song, 70 minute, sprawl High Off Life with yes, Drake, and daBaby, and Lil Baby, and Lil Uzi Vert and more…. I didn’t even mention Meek Mill! “Life Is Good” gets a killer remix. And the songs seem to have shaken off once and for all the codeine and bruises of his earlier work on a collection of great trap tracks about how Future is dealing with immense success (Grade: B+). The opposite side of the coin is Americana superstar Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit’s Reunion, where Jason said more about class, culture, and the deep south white working class on “Outfit” than either Drive-By Truckers and Isbell have done on both albums combined. Reunion is a crappy album where Isbell’s overwhelming ego trips him up (as his wife, Amanda Shears had warned him it would in the New York Times interview). Clearly, Jason has never been as arrogant or as bad… ever. The Grade just proves I still respect him enough to doubt my ears (Grade: C+).
Still on albums, in 2010 I wrote that Bruce Springsteen was the best live act I’d seen since James Brown, and it remains true till today. As a huge fan I must have bought a dozen of his live albums off his website, including the 2016 longest show he has ever performed in the US and which I attended (here), but not the one represented on the ongoing thematic releases represented with The Live Series: Songs of Summer: this “Rosalita” dates from a Nassau Coliseum gig in 1978 and is the best I’ve heard, as well as the obscure “Frankie” recorded circa Born To Run initially though it ended up on Tracks. The rest is sometimes good and always unnecessary except for “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” which I loathe and you love (Grade: C+) . We reviewed the single from it last week, and now we have David Bowie’s Liveandwell.com, a live sampler from his Earthling tour in the late 90s and released online a decade before anyone even thought of it. It’s worth noting that Heroes track for the late Kraftwerk co-conspirator, “V-2 Schneider” was a late add (Grade: B+).
The surprise Future drop changed the sense of the week, before it seemed also a little anemic for big albums, so many of which are on hold, but not now. Between Jason and Future, the albums seem safe for another week. The singles remain action packed, The Jonas Brothers are joined by the huge Latin popstar Karol G for a pleasant enough “Havana” rip on “X” (Grade: B-), Katy Perry is back with a very strong EDM pop groove plus ballad on “Daisy” so it is especially sad Taylor Swift isn’t on it (Grade: B), on “Don’t Give Up,” Alice Cooper offers an anthem to standing up to Covid-19, thanks Alice (Grade: C+), “About A Girl” is indie rockers Bully’s fine version of the Nirvana classic (Grade: B+), Dion, Patti Scialfa and her husband single was awful but with Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker on board, “I Got Nothin'” is a fine blues work out (Grade: B+). Linda Thompson’s singing on the original “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” is a schooling on sex and youth and hedonism and the sturdy EDM of Mark Ronson’s cover and Raissa’s ordinary vocal adds nothing at all but it is still a pleasure to hear the song as it drips in irony (Grade: B).
Sometimes I just feel like I don’t get Charli XCX, her latest album , how i’m feeling now, composed and recorded in quarantine, is a wonderful, experimental, electronic pop album with hooks out its ears, sounds I have no idea where from, and songs of love in isolation, is very, very good and I guess that’s it, I’m a fan (Grade: B+). Finally, Moses Sumney adds part one to part two and releases this significantly beautiful, r&b speckled with the pop dusting through 20 flawless songs of baroque pop arrangements, gorgeous falsetto, and significant songwriting craft known as grae (Grade: A)
Don’t Give Up – Alice Cooper – C+
About A Girl – Bully – B+
The Live Series: Songs of Summer – Bruce Springsteen – C+
how i’m feeling now – Charli XCX – B+
Liveandwell.com (2020 Remaster) – David Bowie – B+
I Got Nothin’ – Dion, Van Morrison, Joe Louis Walker – B+
High Off Life – Future – B+
Daisies – Katy Perry – B
Reunions – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – C+
X (with KAROL G) – Jonas Brothers, KAROL G – B-
I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight – Mark Ronson, Raissa – B
græ – Moses Sumney – A