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The Early Bird: Top New Releases 1-1-19 – 1-7-19 Reviewed

A misstep, though not a disaster, Ariana Grande has put aside her Sex In The City 2019 persona that made Sweetener and thank u, next, such works of brilliance, for her curated Charlie’s Angels (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) and hasn’t returned to her old school r&b mini-diva stuff, either. With the exception of the inexcusable “Don’t Call Me Angel,” she has provided us with middle of the road EDM, female centric shrugs forgotten as you listen to em, though with a few exceptions – including the Kash Doll and Kim Petras claimed “How It’s Done,” the song with Chaka Khan, and Black Caviar’s theme of remix (Grade: B-). If you are serious about this stuff, you don’t need me to tell you to pony up the twenty bucks for Bob Dylan’s ‘Travelin’ Thru: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15, 1967-1969. The first seven tracks are John Wesley Harding alternate takes, he moves onto Nashville Skyline, including a ton of stuff with Johnny Cash and that would be two Jimmy Rodger’s medleys, plus a coupla tracks with Earl Scruggs (Grade:A)

Over at the singles parade, “Unbroken” is as shitty a plodder as you’d expect from Bon Jovi (Grade: D) ; Teyana Taylor is not untalented but every subsequent release reinforces how much Kanye West did for her on K.T.S.E., “Morning’ features Kehlani and is by the numbers r&b (Grade: C+). I hated Haim for years, saw em opening for other bands a number of times, and hated them more. Till this summer’s “Summer Girl” blew me away, and here they are even better with a sweet bopping, 2020 style SoCal dream song about… depression, “Now I’m In It” (Grade: B). It’s been four years since Wildheart broke him big, and, even including the Spanish language EP from earlier in the year,  Miguel has been closer to Terence Trent D’Arby than Prince, “Funeral” defines wooziness, baked in acid dreamscape pop that is born to flop (Grade: B-).

Back to long players, Earl Sweatshirt was so atrocious on stage earlier in the year, it became crystal clear the man exists solely in the lab Feet Of Clay is “a collection of observations and feelings recorded during the death throes of a crumbling empire,” and very beat strong and weird sounds plus strong rapping and the flow impeccable, so just don’t see him live (Grade: B+). If your taste runs to 90s rap, Gang Starr mix raps from the long gone Guru and DJ Premier, One Of The Best Yet we’ve been flipping out over the  singles, and the album maintains it (Grade: B+). Sam Smith does a perfect Donna Summer on “I Feel Love” (Grade: B+), Finally, Tame Impala calms down and nails a lo fi psychedia on “It Might Be Time” (Grade: B). Not only was Jeff Lynne a complete snooze at MSG but the first song from the Mach II was a snooze as well, On the other hand, From Out Of Nowhere is a small, well crafted, orverarranged, melodic pleasure (Grade: B). Have Hootie And The Bluefish learnt absolutely nothing in fifteen years. The gospel according to Imperfect Circle would seem to make the case, a quick reminder that nostalgia only works if you remain in the past (Grade: C)

‘Travelin’ Thru: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15, 1967-1969 – Bob Dylan – A

Unbroken – Bon Jovi – D

Feat On Clay – Earl Sweatshirt – B

From Out Of Nowhere – ELO – B

One Of The Best Yet – Gang Starr – B+

Now I’m In It – Haim – B

Imperfect Circle – Hootie And The Blowfish – C

Funeral – Miguel – B-

I Feel Love – Sam Smith – B+

It Might Be Time – Tame Impala – B

Morning – Teyana Taylor, Kehlani – C+

Charlie’s Angels (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Various Artists – B-



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