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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 5-28-21 – 6-3-20


I’ve been a J Balvin fan since March 2018, when I saw him at United Palace joining Bad Bunny for a coupla songs (here) and the reggaeton second generation star has been unstoppable since then, with 2019’s Bad Bunny collaboration, the banger filled Oasis, and 2020’s solo bangers filled Colores. Earlier this year there was “The Boy From Medellin,” a masterpiece of sorts documentary as Balvin readies himself for the biggest concert of his career in his hometown as the city reals with demonstrations on the street, and has worries about his mental health. Today we got a new single featuring the Argentinian Youtube star Maria Becerra on the sexy sizzler “Qué Más Pues?”(Grade: B+). His friend Bad Bunny dropped a new track featuring Luar De L which, already sounds like Bunny by the numbers urbano trap on “100 Milliones,” and is the better for it, and if you don’t like it, Bad Bunny goes English with a shout of “Suck my dick motherfucker” (Grade: B+)

Over at albums, I reviewed DMX’s first album after his death yesterday (here), the feature packed Exodus, some of which is excellent -the Jay Z song, and some of which isn’t, the deep feel  Usher track (Grade: B+), old school southern boogie with a straightforward, hard rocking Blackberry Smoke’s Hear Georgia, a former Allman Brother, Warren Hayes, is on one song, and the deep and growly favorite son Jamey Johnson is on another (Grade: B), Lou Barlow follows up his excellent work with Dinosaur Jr. earlier this year, with a fine collection of Americana acoustic pop dips on Reason To Live (Grade: B), 86 year old Greek legend Nana Mouskouri has been working since 1962 and has over 200 albums to her name, and this one filled with Dylan covers from all periods of her career, some in English, some in Greek, and a French language “Farewell Angelina”…  all delicate and respectful and beautiful, better than Chrissie Hynde’s recent Dylan covers album, highlighted by “Tomorrow’s Long Time” and “Every Grain Of Sand” in both English and Greek. Just about flawless (Grade: A), of all the iffy concepts, k.d.lang as EDM star is among the worse and this remix, makeover,  album misses the point of Lang entirely -aka that voice that went from country to torch but sputtered at EDM… the exception? “Theme From The Valley Of The Dolls” (Grade: C), the dirty secret is that math rock is prog rock meets art rock, and standard bearers black midi’s second album Cavalcade is better than their first, though somewhat vapid and sometimes fascinating and always pretension (Grade: C).

Back at singles, I will never get why a woman with surely the finest voice of her generation, Faith Evans, couldn’t get out from under her husband and his best friend’s shadow and forge a successful solo career, at least to Mary J Blige size. Here is an acoustic version of her biggest hit, “Love Like This (Stripped Version) – Remix”  (co-written by Chic, Diddy and Faith) (Grade: A-), the Wombats problem is the Australian bands first album, which has their two best songs, was so good that everything else missed the sweet spot between satire and sorrow, and singles like “Method To The Madness” just ain’t good enough, plus knock off the clapping  (Grade: C+), the fourth cut off Foxing’s upcoming album is more of the same epic emo anthem, but lightning doesn’t strike thrice on the overlown snooze “Where The Lightning Strokes twice (Grade: C+).

Finally, any cracks about the early bird being late will not be appreciated! Though I am thinking of a new name for the column…


100 MILLONES – Bad Bunny, Luar La L – B+

Hear Georgia – Blackberry Smoke – B

Cavalcade – black midi – C

Exodus – DMX – B+

Love Like This (Stripped Version) – Remix – Faith Evans – A-

Where The Lightning Strikes Twice – Foxing – C+

Qué Más Pues? – J Balvin, Maria Becerra – B+

makeover- k.d. lang – C

Reason To Live – Lou Barlow – B

Every Grain Of Sand – Nana Mouskouri – A

So May We Start (feat. Simon Helberg) – From “Annette” –  Sparks, Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg – a near perfect distillation of Sparks  looks like it might well be a very good musical – B+

Method To The Madness – The Wombats – C+

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