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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 9-24-21 – 9-30-21 Reviewed

It took forever for Anthony Hamilton to hit it big, his first two albums in the 90s weren’t even released and his third was in 1996 but it did no business; surrounded by D’Angelo, apparently one huge crossover r&b singer at a timeis all the business can handle. By 2003, D’Angelo was in the rearview mirror and the old school soul singer came to the top. But he isn’t very prolific:

1990s – one album

2000s – three albums

2010s – two albums

But they are all first rate soul with a feel for hip hop productions yet not within a mile of drowning in it, and the wittily named Love Is The New Black, is a triumph of black soul singing and features Jennifer Hudson on a cover of the Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett composition “Superstar,” as well as a fistfull of prime originals including Rock Ross on “White Hennessy”. This is one of a dying breed that isn’t emorap or soundcloud, ior rap at all, even not hip hop, but an 80s style beauty that brings to mind… ta dah… Luther Vandross (Grade: A-)

A whole lotta action on the singles from, I reviewed the early dB’s “If And When” soundalike “Tell Me Two Times” this morning (here) (Grade: A)… and now some more stuff. My dislike for Coldplay is visceral and BTS hit me as the definition of nothing special, if you want K-Pop stick with Monsta X, they come together for the abysmal and by the numbers “My Universe” -a cynical money grab stuck down our throat by Max Martin, BTS and Ed Sheeran didn’t pay off but this smells like a hit (Grade: C-); RÜFÜS DU SOL is an electronic dance band that have kinda passed me by over the years though the moody “On My Knees” makes me wonder if I was right (Grade: B); Whitney left us nearly ten years ago and as a rule of thumb remixes mean one thing only when you’ve been gone that long, there’s nothing in the vault, but when one of the top EDM bands Clean Bandits get their hands on a song you just know it’ll be a goody and they do what they should, they put all the emphasis on the singing (Grade: A); alt-J are the Radiohead disciples who went their own way by adding an English folkiness to the sound, they are great live and “U&ME” is their first new music in three years and a goodie with an earworm hook bridge and outro (Grade: B+); Gunna, the melodic rap guy, has been in the papers for all the best reasons, it was Hannah Arendt who noted fifty years ago that even Einstein would have been unable to get good grades if he was very hungry and that is now axiomatic and so the Atlanta rapper Gunna opened a free clothing store and grocery store in his old High School “Gunna’s Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store which is set to provide students of McNair Middle School with access to free meals, clothing and toiletries for years to come…” As for his song? “Too Easy” is stolen by Future, or did he give it away? (Grade: B+).

Back to albums, indie stalwarts from Matt Berninger to Kurt Vile, with Iggy Pop and Michael Stipe representing the old guys, all come to together with one thought in mind: How can we turn an epochal rock album into something ordinary, as they do with I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico (Grade: C); Mickey Guyton pulled the racism card after ten years of not being able to release a country album, and I am sure she’s right just as I am sure Remember My Name is very average country rock (Grade: C+), I was at the Beacon in 2018 when this live version of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly was recorded (here) and trust me pop pickers, he messed with it a whole lot in the studio which makes it an exercise in redundancy (Grade: B) also this week Donald Fagen continues to bury Walter Becker with more recordings not featuring him on NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: STEELY DAN LIVE (Live), also without Becker, also in 2018 (Grade: B-)

U&ME – alt-J – B

Love Is The New Black – Anthony Hamilton – A-

My Universe – Coldplay, BTS – C-

The Nightfly – Donald Fagen – B

Too Easy – Gunna, Future – B+

Remember My Name – Mickey Guyton – C

On My Knees – RÜFÜS DU SOL – B+

NORTHEAST CORRIDOR: STEELY DAN LIVE (Live) – B-

Tell Me Two Times – New York Rocker – The dB’s – A

I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico – Various Artists – C

How Will I Know – Whitney Houston, Clean Bandit – A

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