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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 10-29-21 – 11-4-21 Reviewed

Equals is not just for fake sugar

Two of the three singles that heralded the release of Ed Sheeran’s fifth album, =, have been generic disco vibes and disappointments, but the rest of the singer songwriter confessional album are surprisingly strong, with “Tides” as good as anything on Divide, and the entire second half of the album one winner after another. MOR? Absolutely. But “Collide” for his wife and “Visiting Hours” to his Grandpa about his daughter, are saccharine and yet still effective (Grade: B).

Still on albums, I reviewed The War On Drugs overrated but still Neil Young Americana pretty good I Don’t Live Here Anymore, earlier today (here) (Grade: B), ten years after A$AP Rocky’s debut mixtape LIVE.LOVE.A$AP dropped, it arrives at streaming platforms with more than historic interest, even if “Pesos” is no “1 Train’ (Grade: B+), the goth Black Veil Brides from the early 10s have grown up, lead singer Andy Biersack married, and grew less glam and heavier, on the latest, The Phantom Tomorrow, he sounds more like All Time Low with heavy metal prog vibes aplenty… still, I never thought he’d make it past his third album (Grade: C), now welcome to Billy Bragg’s worst album, the piano ballad aplenty tracks are painfully self-righteous on The Million Things That Never Happened -in some ways it is the antithesis of Joe Strummer (Grade: D+), R.E.M.’s run of greatness started with 1991’s Out Of Time, and ended five years later with New Adventures In Hi-Fi, this 25th year anniversary is a welcome return, we all missed “E-Bow The Letter”! The box set includes outtakes, and live tracks from a 1995 show in Atlanta, as well as their brilliant version of “Wall Of Death” (Grade: A).

Over at singles, Elvis Costello has recovered from being a genius on Spanish Model, and is back to sucking on the Attractions without the melody “Magnificent Hurt” (Grade: C+), it is a difficult time for liberals, none of us think that Biden is all that but he is perfection compared to the Union destroying Trump, and supporting Trump is the equivalent of supporting any South American crackpot dictator. Having said that, “Let’s Go Brandon” by Bryson Grey isn’t a bad rap knuckle rapping put down (Grade: B), a generic little rocking return from indie guys Spoon on “The Hardest Cut” (Grade: B-), Mabel’s “Let Them Know” is one of the better pop slices of the year and DJ Joel Corry has had five hit singles (in the UK) in succession, “I Wish” is another winner and should make it six in a row (Grade: B+), Lil Uzi Vert was the best thing about that Meek Mill’s MSG gig last week (here), and is equal to the Halloween rap, echoed out prettines “Demon Lover” (Grade: B+). Part of his upcoming “No Nukes” concert release from 1979, Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands” is a powerful take of one of his first tier songs (Grade: A)

LIVE.LOVE.A$AP – A$AP Rocky – B+

The Million Things That Never Happened – Billy Bragg – D+

The Phantom Tomorrow – Black Veil Brides – C

Badlands – Live at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – 09/22/79 – Bruce Springsteen – A

Let’s Go Brandon – Bryson Gray, Chandler Crump, Tyson James – B

= – Ed Sheeran – B

Magnificent Hurt – Elvis Costello + The Imposters – C+

I Wish (feat. Mabel) – Joel Corry – B+

Demon High – Lil Uzi Vert – B+

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (25th Anniversary Edition) – R.E.M. – A

The Hardest Cut – Spoon – B-

I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War On Drugs – B

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