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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 3-5-21 – 3-11-21 Reviewed


As something of a non fan, I’ve never been entirely crazy about Kings Of Leon, but the first three singles we’ve already heard from their first album, while a touch dowdy, have been strong enough to make them an outlier in the Americana rock market. But, not unlike New Coke which was great for three sips, not so much over an entire can, the album,  When You See Yourself, as a whole is just too slow and moldy: it is beautiful and yet tedious, different and samey, and just a straight out snooze.

Still on albums (well, long players), Drake’s new three song EP (reviewed earlier today here) Scary Hours 2 is three songs, two features, one of which is quite big, and the same beat (Grade: B-) . Zara Larsson is a Swedish poster and, essentially, Robyn for dummies. So if you don’t expect much, do expect her third album Poster Girl to be a faintly addictive pop and synth gift of nothing but good vibes and nothing more than pure pop dreaminess (Grade: B), the always lovely sounds of Elizabeth and The Catapults returns with a life in isolation album sincerely, e where, as she wittily puts it, “I am just phoning it in, quite literally…,” as she pounds and pedigrees her excellent piano work… remind me to tell you about the time I met Elizabeth (Grade: B). The Scottish indie alty Arab Strap return with As Days Get Dark, a brooding work of noise and spoke sing with a Scottish accent on their first album since 2005 (Grade: C+).

Singles have yet another busy, though not especially good week ahead. Silk Sonic is Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars, and it is a nothing special R&B but Bruno’s  first (second, there was a single by the same band earlier this year) new material in five years and it really  is Anderson’s, I don’t know how much of it Bruno wrote but “Leave The Door Open” is both lovely and well performed (that’s Bootsy Collins on the track) and yet after all these years really, a little more please (Grade: B-). The first posthumous single from Justin Townes Earle, featuring Americana star Dawn Landes, finds the duo covering the excellent Dolly Parton song ” Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” with a washboard and a banjo (Grade: B+). I polished off Wandavision (it builds straight up through to episode seven, then the last two episodes are down a little) first thing this morning, the best episode featured the TV theme from the end of Episode Seven, “Agatha All Along” written by, but much more fun than “Let It Go,”  the Disney songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Robert Lopez,  is an ultimate TV theme of a sitcom that doesn’t exist while all but sampling “The Munsters”  (but I sure wish it did..) (Grade: B+), “Seroten” is Girl In Red meets Finneas (literally, he produced) and it is a big move for her, out of the closet and into the lab, as it were on a synthy, indie pop move (Grade: B). I know you think it is “It’s The Hard Knock Life” but I would claim “If I Was A Rich Man” is the most sampled song on Broadway, the great female rapper Flo Milli uses that down beat all over the song to rap against on the fine “Roaring 20s” (Grade: B+). Jazz guy Dr. Lonnie Smith is joined by Iggy Pop on a pretty ace jam psychedelic coolness with  Donovon’s “Sunshine Superman” (Grade: B), Shakey Graves makes pop blues into acoustic Americana on his The Boss cover “I’m On Fire” (Grade: B-).

Finally, is there anybody better at funk in 2021 than Amp Fiddler  -the former George Clinton band member who plays the funkiest keyboards this side of… well, I can’t think of a living performer better, maybe a dead one? Bernie Worrell. We heard Amp last year with Tomas Doncker, on “Change” and hear it backs up the wonderful huskiness of hyperpop in waiting Sam Huber on the timeless Sly and The Family True Grooveish “I’d Rather Be” (Grade: A-)

As Days Get Dark – Arab Strap – C+

Leave The Door Open – Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic – B-

Scary Hours 2 – Drake – B-

Sunshine Superman – Dr. Lonnie Smith, Iggy Pop – B

sincerely, e – Elizabeth & the Catapult – B

Roaring 20s – Flo Milli – B+

Serotonin – girl in red – B

Agatha All Along – Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Kathryn Hahn, Eric Bradley, Greg Whipple – B+

Do I Ever Cross Your Mind – Justin Townes Earle, Dawn Landes – B+

When You See Yourself – Kings of Leon – B-

I’d Rather Be – Sam Huber, Amp Fiddler -A-

I’m On Fire – Shakey Graves – B-

Poster Girl – Zara Larsson – B

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