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

Is it Christmas already? And how Christmas-y can you be when Billy Idol is dropping a seasonal album and really, somebody should have told him to dump it and release a double a side single with his Chuck Berry “Run Rudolph Run” and Presley’s “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” -the latter of which might be reason enough to search out Happy Holidays (Grade: C), I reviewed serpentwithfeet’s perfect addendum to his last album, on the five song Deacon’s Grove (Grade: A); sometimes I wonder how Aimee Mann’s career would have sounded if she had taken “I’m With Stupid” and not “Driving Sideways” as the template for the rest of her career. A gifted songwriter, Mann is as mired in pretension as a woman who includes “Robert Lowell And Sylvia Plath” on her latest album (“pity the planet” indeed), Queens of the Summer Hotel, a musical based upon the harrowing “Girl Interrupted”. The album is better than it has any right to be, the lovely “At The Frick Museum” survives its song title, and while the problem of writing the book to a musical -it is all exposition if done wrong, afflicts her, Aimee survives it (Grade: B). Kid A and Amnesiac are my two favorite Radiohead albums, so a box set , Kid A Nesiac, which adds a third album of outtakes (11 of em) is a worthy add to their two masterpieces (Grade: A), Terrace Martin is a great hip hop producer and a multi-genre gadfly though he is mostly r&b plus jazz (unlike Robert Glasper who shows here and is mostly jazz plus r&b) and ten years into his solo career he is just too artsy for his own good, Drones has its moments, especially the title track where Kendrick Lamar reminds you how great he can be and Ty, Snoop, and James Fauntleroy takes what sounds like a major political statement and turns it into mush (Grade: B).

Over at singles, I go hot and cold with Jenny Lewis, when I met her at Gov Ball a coupla years ago I was ice cold till a terrific show turned me round, she wasn’t great opening for Beck at Forest Hill but last month she was awe inspiring opening for Harry Styles and her latest song “Puppy And A Truck” is a gorgeous and tuneful little country track and a winner… produced by alt country superstar Dave Cobb (Grade: A), M. Ward is given to covers, remember She And Him?, and The Sugarcubes, Bjork’s band before she went solo, were an electronic pop experimental crew, ripe for reevaluating. “Birthday” is made by Bjork’s vocals, and while Ward doesn’t undo the song by quieting the electronics, his vocals limits the songs thrills (Grade: B-), U2 will last till they die, they can release lousy albums for the rest of their careers but as long as they get on stage with that amazing run from 1981 – 2000 they’ll fill out stadiums. But since then? They just can’t do it, and “Your Song Saved My Life” just a facsimile of a ballad, it sinks like a stone. That “about a quarter past four” is bad writing (Grade: D). Idles “Car Crash” a noisy, vicious, somewhat scary song where Joe Talbot remembers an IRL accident and anybody who has been in one will recognize the speeding up and slowing time of and the violent impact (Grade: B). Your Old Droog’s “Yuri” is a masterclass in art rap New York style, not loved and yet respected a whole lot, and here he adds howling electric guitars on a cleverly arranged punch out from the Jewish-Ukrainian rapper. The guy is too prolific, he has already released three albums this year, but this is a specifically great song that deserves the highlight of a single. Joell Ortiz,the Slaughter crew member with a diary entry rap “In My Feelings” detailing his early days as a rapper for Eminem, “no hook, just talk” that lives on sharp rhyming (Grade: B+).

Queens of the Summer Hotel – Aimee Mann – B

Happy Holidays – Billy Idol – C

Car Crash – IDLES – B

Puppy And A Truck – Jenny Lewis – A

In My Feelings – Joell Ortiz – B+

Birthday – M Ward – B-

Kid A Nesiac – Radiohead – A

Deacon’s Grove – serpentwithfeet – A

Drones – Terrace Martin – B

Your Song Saved My Life – From Sing 2 – U2 – D

Yuri – Your Old Droog – B+

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