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The Early Bird: Top New Releases 5-18-18 – 5-24-18

Although nothing is previously unreleased on Otis Redding’s Dock Of The Bay Sessions,  as a non-completist these outtakes from Redding’s final recording sessions are brand new, and even if you know em, why not have them all in one place? The “Hard To Handle” here, taken at a slower clip is remarkable but really? Otis was to soul what Jimi was to rock (Grade: A). Now here’s another perfectly compiled album,  Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s, and not just for Townes Van Zandt but from kick off, Waylon Jennings’ sublime “I Don’t Think Hank Did It This Way” to end, Rodney Crowell’s perfect “Ain’t Living Long Like This,” it is a clear reminder of what I’ve long contended, the 1970s were the best years ever for pop music (Grade: A)

Off to the singles, Christina Aguilera is joined by Demi Lovato on her fourth consecutive great single off her eagerly anticipated newbie, “Fall In Line” (Grade: B+). “Girlfriend” is a major post-breakthrough release from Christine And The Teenagers and this is a funky r&b winner (Grade: B+). We haven’t heard from Disclosure in years and while  Fatoumata Diawara is not Sam Smith, what she is is a standard bearer for new African music and “Ultimatum” puts them back near the top, stick with the six minute version (Grade: A-). ATtthis moment of time, anything Drake adds his voice to is a hit, but here he goes front and center on the first verse of Lil Baby’s addictive  “Yes Indeed” (Grade: B+). The late Lil Peep offers a woozy, drugged out masterpiece “4 Gold Chains,” (feat. Clams Casino) it sounds like the seventh of a ten day bender where you’re drinking and drugging to get back to feeling normal (Grade: A-).

Albums:  two hipsters I have rejected in the past have made believers of me. Parquet Courts Wide Awake! is such a great old school post-punk New Yorker album I have to conclude that Leonard Abrams was right and I was wrong when he included an interview with the band in that East Village Eye anniversary issue (Grade: B+). The other big surprise is Courtney Barnett, a person I’ve never much liked despite admitting she is a great lyriicist. My problem is her voice, which turns every song into the same ol’ goddam singalong: all I ever hear is “Avant Gardner” but either  she has gotten better or I’ve gotten used to her because Tell Me How You Really Feel jumps every hurdle to prove itself her most easily enjoyed and, also, her best album to date (Grade: A-). From two new releases that are peaks, to two that aren’t. The Front Bottoms new EP Ann is so irritating, a voice I can’t take speak singing bad tracks with lousy names like  “I Think Your Nose Is Bleeding,” Grade: C. Of the five times I’ve seen him, including twice with Pavement, he has sucked four of them, plus another of their voices, go directly to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowie Zowie, and you’ve all you need from Stephen Malkmus., with the Jicks his new Sparkle Hard is more of the same indie outie rock brusqueness pretending to be a grown up, Grade: C+.

See you next week with a more thorough round up.

Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato – Fall In Line – B+

Christine And The Teenagers and Dam Funk – Girlfriend – B+

Tell Me How You Really Feel – Courtney Barnett – A-

Disclosure and  Fatoumata Diawara – Ultimatum – A-

Lil Baby and Drake – Yes Indeed – B+

Lil Peep – 4 Gold Chains – (feat. Clams Casino) – A-

Otis Redding – Dock Of The Bay Sessions – A

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! – B+

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard – C+

The Front Bottoms – Ann – C

Various Artists – Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s – A


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