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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 1-21-22 – 1-27-22

If the MCU wanted a country singer superhero Ray Wylie Hubbard would suit the job down to his ragged beard and cowboy boots. I’ve loved Hubbard since rock nyc writer Steve Crawford introduced me to his garage Americana country back in 2012 circa The Grifter’s Hymnal, the rest haven’t always been that good but they have always been very good. His latest single, the breathtaking bad news bears leaving Cali for Arizona “Hellbent For Leather”, featuring the best man you can imagine, Steve Earle. The two outlaw bad boys trade verses and harmonize with a winner and a lament of sorts (Grade: A-).

Staying with singles, Taylor Swift dropped the Max Martin and Shellback early co-conspiratorial “Message In A Bottle” (not the Police one) from her Taylor’s Version and it is nothing special, though remixed by Fat Max G -whoever he is (Grade: C+), Laurie Anderson was an original, electronic arts major in 1982 on the title track “Big Science” now remixed by the growing legend that is Arca. It is the album that gave Laurie her only pop breakthrough “O Superman”, Arca goes all in on the remix, for over ten minutes the backgrounds itself into the front with strong drums and lotsa churn(Grade: B+), Superchunk are a pretty good old school pop punk band come indie label owners and “This Night” is a good little pop rock, not “Digging For Something” but not bad (Grade: B), with a new album due in February and a coincide with her appearance at the Super Bowl Halftime show, this is the best of the three songs we’ve heard from Mary J. Blige’s upcoming album, though a little laid back (Grade: B), Ernest is the Morgan Wallen co-conspirator, and Morgan seems to have weathered the cancellation, helped immensely by Lil Durk, I thought it was overblown anyway but I was discussing with a friend who noted that while Morgan might not be a racist, his use of the word is an excuse for his fans to do the same, the flip side is “Flower Shop” isn’t worth getting upset about (Grade: C+).

Over at albums, I reviewed John Mellencamp’s spotty but not terrible Americana Strictly One Eyed Jack earlier today (here) (Grade: C+), I know London 1977 – 1979 very well, and on NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL PUNK AND NEW WAVE I know quite literally everything. And love a lot. But it could have delved further, I mean at least include “Lipstick” (Grade: B+), half an hour of a duo that should have had more, on Billie And Stan, both Holiday and Getz, are excellent and invigorated all the way through (Grade: A), Walker Hayes continues to mine “Fancy Like” for everything it is worth on what will be a huge breakthrough for him Country Stuff The Album, though there isn’t another song as indelible, not even “Drinking Song” (Grade: B-).

Amazingly, albums are still on the skimpy side and so I will stop here for now…

Billie And Stan – Billie Holiday And Stan Getz – A

Flower Shops (feat. Morgan Wallen) – ERNEST – C+

Strictly One Eyed Jack – John Mellencamp – C+

Big Science – Arca Remix – Laurie Anderson – B+

Rent Money (feat. Dave East) – Mary J Blige – B

Hellbent For Leather – Ray Wylie Hubbard, Steve Earle – A-

This Night – Superchunk – B

Message In A Bottle (Fat Max G Remix) (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift – C+

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL PUNK AND NEW WAVE – Various Artists – B+

Country Stuff The Album – Walter Hayes – B-

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