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The Early Bird: Top New Releases 5-3-19 – 5-9-19

Ezra Koenig was better with Rostam Batmanglij and Joy Williams was better with  John Paul White, but both Vampire Weekend’s Father Of The Bride and Joy Williams Front Porch are just about good enough. Ezra’s album is nearly an hour of this is not “Ya Hey” -it is quirky, and the duets with Dianne Haim (of the sister act Haims) are lovely, but it lacks soul, it reminds me a little of “ME!” -it sounds like it is doing the job, but it lacks depth. Or maybe the difference between LA and New York (Grade: B). Joy Williams is purebred Americana, with a lovely domestication that can’t hide a certain slackness (Grade: B).

Much better is Shawn Mendes, his singer songwriter with pop production “If I Can’t Have You,” with a clever on the road lyric as he spends all his nights reading her texts (Grade: B+).  I’d decided the new Rhiannon Giddens album, There Is No Other  was gonna be a comedown, but I seriously misread the vibes and it is a gorgeous Americana mixing folk with African and Arabic sounding world arrangements, with Italian multi instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi – a wonderful, beautiful, woke as fuck, recorded in five days in Dublin, masterpiece (Grade: A).

Big Thief’s U.F.O.F. had the potential to be the equal of their breakthrough Masterpiece, it is lovely indie folk and relatively up beat, but it drags by the halfway mark… let’s concede it may take a few more listens (Grade: B+). I Need A New War, Craig Finn’s new one, started life with three great singles, and then fell off,  the album is missing Finn’s usually melodiousness and with his sing speak vocals it fails to grab (Grade: B-). The return of L7, the Runaways as grown ups, return, after twenty years, with the fine, rocking hard Scatter the Rats  (Grade: B.

Singlewise, Kate Tempest writes a sex sng for her girlfriend on “Firestorm” -but she is better when pissed off (Grade: B), Iggy Azalea’s first single off her big return was the excellent  “Sally Walker,” single # 2,”Started,” is a terrible piece of chest thumping (Grade: C), “I Thought You Were Dead” is better than Morrissey’s covers, an outtake from his last album, it is terrific and typical (Grade: B+). “Homicide” is Logic and Eminem vibing on the 00s, Eminem has an incredible flow and Logic is as good as he ever is as he seriously channels Eminem and Eminem who channels himself (Grade: B+)

U.F.O.F.  – Big Thief – B+

I Need A New War – Craig Finn – B-

Front Porch – Joy Williams – B

Firestorm – Kate Tempest – B

Scatter the Rats – L7 – B

Homicide – Logic, Eminem – B+

I Thought You Were Dead – Morrissey – B+

There Is No Other (with Francesco Turrisi) – Rhiannon Giddens, Francesco Turrisi – A

If I Can’t Have You – Shawn Mendes – B+

Father Of The Bride – Vampire Weekend – B

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