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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Release 12-9-22 – 12-15-22 Reviewed

The debut collaboration between Tomas Doncker and Yusef Komunyakaa was The Mercy Suite, pieced together the way Kanye West pieced together The Life Of Pablo, with featured singers and artists, under the apt name of the Shapeshifters Ensemble. Consider The Mercy Suite (20th Anniversary Edition) a “slight return” celebration of a job that endures, with eight of the eleven songs tweaked to a degree as it takes its place before New Apple Blues, Endangered and other Doncker- Yusef Komunyakaa. If you know the album well it is great to get back to “Deja Vu”, and the re-imagined “Sweet Emily – 2022”. In some ways, it is like being shaken awake to an album you’ve always loved and nearly 20 years after its first iteration it sounds better than ever (Grade: A).

Staying with albums, five years later SZA drops the eagerly awaited SOS and it is a gorgeous, state of the art, hip hop black excellence as middle class mainstream (reviewed here) (Grade: A), Metro Boomin’ is a first rate producer with a lotta friends in the business on HEROES AND VILLAINS including John Legend, Future and Travis Scott (together, two times) and what sounds like a Brian Wilson composed harmony but isn’t (Grade: B+), Caroline Polachek was fantastic with the Chairlift duo and better solo, on February 14th we get her new album Desire, I Want to Turn Into You, and in the meantime her four song taster EP Welcome To My Island promises good stuff: a hyper pop EDM pop here and there with four terrific songs (Grade: A-), the talented autotuned soul star is always good for maybe ten songs a year, and four of them are on Me vs Myself this year (Grade: B).

Follow me over to singles where one of the bands I dislike most, fronted by the ponderous and self-satisfied Gorillaz’s Damon “Skinny Ape” has an Albarn- Blur type ballad (Grade: B), Cardi B with Ye and Lil Durk (why do you think the drums are drill?) on “Hot Shit” on what reads like a barnbuster and is actually a bust except for Kanye’s terrific verse (Grade: B), the new Lana Del Rey single is, despite the song title of the week with “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” , a sleep inducing bore (Grade: B-), I have to be careful with Paramore after dissing “This Is Why” and having to eat cake when it took over for a coupla days, anyway I don’t expect the same thing from “The News” (Grade: C) . Finally, it is December 9th which means IHEARTRADIO’s Jingle Ball and last week I was a little indifferent to Dove Cameron, the Disney actress, but “Boyfriend” was very good uber-modern pop and her cover of Edwyn Collins “Girl Like Me”‘s Brit pop classic , so now I am looking forward to seeing her (Grade: B+)

Me vs. Myself – A Boogie Wit da Hoodie – B

Hot Shit (feat. Ye & Lil Durk) – Cardi B – B

Welcome To My Island – Caroline Polachek – A-

Girl Like Me – Edwyn Collins – B+

Skinny Ape – Gorillaz – B

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey – B-

HEROES & VILLAINS – Metro Boomin – B+

The News – Paramore – C

SOS – SZA – A

The Mercy Suite (20th Anniversary Edition) – Tomas Doncker, Yusef Komunyakaa – A

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