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The Early Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 9-3-21 – 9-9-21 Reviewed

SohoJohnny of debut single

In the mid 2010s a pop movement called “Yacht Rock” came out of SoCal, essentially what we would call soft rock in the ’70s, and glomming on the work of Bread, Loggins and Messina, and Rupert Holmes. The latest manifestation has been John Mayer’s Sob Rock … until now. rocknyc stalwart SohoJohnny has just dropped his debut single, a cover of Climax’s Yacht Rock classic “Precious And Few” and it is a wonderfully arranged version that dovetails nicely into his philanthropic concerts; with an acoustic strum leading the way Soho croons in a melodious countertenor that caress the melody and functions as an act of deep empathy that includes not just the loved one he sings to but a world of people sharing these passing fair moments and explodes in a terrific, er, Climax (Grade: A)

Over at albums, the difference beet Ye and Drizzy is the difference between a great artist and a great popstar, Drake’s fifth album, follows last year’s fifth mixtape with his follow up to 2018’s Scorpion, Certified Love Boy. While it pales in front of Kanye’s release, on its own terms it is Drake at his poppiest, interloping everything from The Beatles to Right Said Fred, and with a cast of thousands, it is a supremely confident and addictive pop jones with its eyes clearly on the top of the pops (Grade: A-), Little Simz is also art-rap with a big sounding hip hop triumph that will make her huger than ever (in the UK), “Introvert” just worked its way onto my best songs of 2021 (Grade: A-); on her remix album Dawn Of Chromatica Lady Gaga tricks hyper-pop into her disco worldview on a fine revisit, hang around for the great DJ Planningtorock on “1,000 Doves” followed by the rap inspiring “Babylon” (Grade: B); a recently unearthed concert from 1973 in LA from Bob Marley And The Wailers, The Capitol Session ’73 (Live), it isn’t Coltrane in Seattle but it is a beautiful collection with both Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (Bunny would leave the following year and Tosh a little later) still part of the vocal trio though Bob takes lead on nine of the twelve songs; there is a movie dropping as well (Grade: A); The Ultra Vivid Lament, following Manic Street Preachers’ Nicky Wire’s parents deaths, is a quiet and moving collection of birth and rebirth songs on their 14th album (Grade: B+); Imagine Dragons have grown up and while Mercury – Act 1 isn’t a disaster, the electronic rockers sound like an Americana variant than anything human (Grade: C+).

In singles, I reviewed Abba’s new songs “I Still Have Faith In You,” a gorgeous recherchez and resurrection (Grade: B+) and “Don’t Shut Me Down” -a plodding disco track (Grade: C+) earlier today (here); it is always a pleasure to hear from Maria Taylor and “It’s Coming For You” has the guitar oriented singer songwriter with the sort of indelible melody we expect from her and an exceptional coda (Grade: B+); apparently Kanye isn’t the only place where I am alone, the equally cancelled Van Morrison has never had a fallow period and if his 21st Century work isn’t the equal of his 20th Century, well, neither is yours and it is never bad, he released a fine, widely ignored album earlier this year now has released “Up County Down” off it so you get a second chance (Grade: A-). Finally, back from the dead Lindsey Buckingham returns with his best song since his “Holiday Road” or at least Out Of The Cradle with “Scream” -the other two songs we’ve heard from his upcoming album aren’t as good so…. (Grade: A)

I Still Have Faith In You – ABBA – B+

Don’t Shut Me Down – ABBA – C+

The Capitol Session ’73 (Live) – Bob Marley And The Wailers – A

Certified Lover Boy – Drake – A-

Mercury – Act 1 – Imagine Dragons – C+

Dawn Of Chromatica – Lady Gaga – B

Scream – Lindsey Buckingham – A

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert – Little Simz – A-

The Ultra Vivid Lament – Manic Street Preachers – B+

It’s Coming For You – Maria Taylor – B+

Precious And Few – Sohojohnny – A

Up County Down – Van Morrison – A-

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