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The Early Bird: Top New Releases 12-7-18 – 12-13-18

As of July 2017, the theoretically retired George Strait, has been a Tequila backer: “The Grammy Award winner is publicly backing Código, an ultra-premium tequila that was consumed privately by a small group of Mexican families (and family friends like Strait) before becoming commercially available last year.”Codigo”,  the single, is his first release since 2015 and it is a killer, a swinging hootenanny of a track with a great instrumental break on the fiddle, Strait sounds jumped up and fun, and the song is pure ear candy (Grade: A)

Two Special Editions. We are at the point where special editions are uniformly excellent. This year we’ve had the Presley 68 comeback, the Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Electric Ladyland, The White Album, and more, and all great. The Coltrane First Steps was huge. This week Paul McCartney and Wings offer Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway. Wild Life is demos  outtakes, plus singles and B Sides, and Red Rose does the same plus live tracks. I haven’t heard “Mary Had A Little Lamb” in decades, and I really love the deft response to “Hi Hi HI” and “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” being banned by the BBC. The Grade for both is A-.. I’ve had serious question marks over Mary Poppins Returns -for the movie, the four leads aren’t in the same league as the originals. But the trailers is well beyond outstanding and  astonishingly enough, if Marc Shaiman’s compositions aren’t up to the Sherman brothers standard, an impossibly high one, they are good enough and come from similar place (Grade: B+)

On to new singles, Beck’s witty “The Little Drum Machine Boy” is a good seven minutes of art-rap (Grade: B). We haven’t heard from Broken Bells in nearly five years, so with “Shelter” now to we have (Grade: C+). Kodak Black is bumming big time on “Testimony” (Grade: B-), Kyle is joined by Lil Yachty on the insanely catchy “Hey Julie” (Grade: B), Naughty Boy is joined by Emilie Sande on the atmospheric but minor “Bungee Jumping” (Grade: B-), Zayn has one of the best upper registers in the business, but he seems incapable of constructing a hit and doesn’t again on “Good Years” (Grade: C+). Steve Gunn is back with the acoustic guitar Americana “Stonehurst Cowboy” (Grade: C+), Toby Keith’s “Don’t Let The Old Man In” should put you to sleep though if you can concentrate it is a lovely tune (Grade: C+)

I haven’t liked any of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s orchestrations of pop icons like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. But on Carpenters With at least Richard is still alive to decide how he wants his sister represented, and Carpenters do lend themselves to MUZAK, though they should have left “Superstar” alone (Grade: C+). I’ve loved Gucci Mane since way before he went to prison for a second time, but 2018 wasn’t much of a year till now, his new Evil Genius is a feature filled piece of iceman cometh trap (Grade: B+). Finally, XXXtentacion’s Skins is a 20 minutes remains of the album he was working on, a brooding a dark thing featuring a very good Kanye West song “One Minute” (Grade: B+)

The Little Drum Machine Boy – Beck – B

Carpenters with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – C+

Codigo  –  George Strait –  A

Evil Genius – Gucci Mane – B+

Testimony – Kodak Black – B-

Hey Julie – KYLE, Lil Yachty – B

Testimony – Kodak Black – B

Red Rose Speedway (Special Edition) – Paul McCartney – A-

Stonehurst Cowboy – Steve Gunn – C+

Don’t Let The Old Man In – Toby Keith – C+

Mary Poppins Returns – Various Artists – B+

Wild Life (Special Edition) – Wings – A-

Skins – XXXtentacion

Good Years – Zayn – C+

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