It’s Almost Famous New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Alice Cooper- Welcome To My Nightmare
Almost Famous / O.S.T. – Almost Famous / O.S.T.
Amy Winehouse- Back to Black
Amythyst Kiah- Wary + Strange
The third time is the charm for folk singer Amythyst Kiah.
Wary + Strange is not only Kiah’s third release, but in several instances the third time Kiah has recorded some of that album’s songs. The result is an unflinching and deeply personal song cycle that finds Kiah discussing her experiences as a Black, LGBT woman in mostly white eastern Appalachia.
Kiah doesn’t waste any time wading into deep waters. After declaring she “don’t want to hear your soapbox speech” on the opening song, Kiah punches hard with “Black Myself,” a protest song. She goes even deeper on the next song, “Wild Turkey,” which discusses the suicide of Kiah’s mother.
The intense subject matter is tempered by producer Tony Berg (who also helmed Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher). Kiah worked on these songs for a while before meeting Berg. His presence convinced her to re-record several songs. The extra effort paid off, with strings, Mellotron and other instruments that add depth and buoyancy behind Kiah’s often stark lyrics.
Wary + Strange is a proud continuation in the vein Tracy Chapman, Rhiannon Giddens and Brittany Howard have also successfully mined. It will resonate with fans of these audiences and anyone else who appreciates honest, unvarnished songcraft.- Joel Francis.
Bad Brains- Bad Brains
Benedek- Bene’s World
Big Brother & Holding Company- Sex Dope & Cheap Thrills
Bill Evans- On a Friday Evening
Jazz pianist Bill Evans died more than 40 years ago, but his legacy continues to have an impact. On a Friday Evening is a semi-companion piece to the 2017 live set On a Monday Evening. Both shows are sourced from FM radio broadcasts, recorded within a year of each other, share several songs and find Evans working with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Elliot Zigmund.
While this may appear to make Friday Evening redundant on paper, it is a welcome addition to the Evans catalog. The show was captured just a week after Evans’ sessions with Tony Bennett, which resulted in The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album, a high point for both artists. Friday Evening’s sound is also a slightly warmer, providing a better showcase for the trio’s interplay.
The set is a mix of oft-explored songs, such as Miles Davis’ “Nardis” (a song never recorded by its composer) and era favorites, including “T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune),” and “Up with the Lark.” There are no bad moments in the one-hour recording, but high points include Evans’ extended solo intro on “Sugar Plum” and the standard “How Deep is the Ocean.”- Joel Francis.
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go
Billie Holiday- Golden Hits
Billie Holiday- Lady Sings the Blues
Black Pumas- Black Pumas
Blonde Redhead- Blonde Redhead
The Beatles- Abbey Road Anniversary
Caspar Brotzmann Massaker- Black Axis
Caspar Brotzmann Massaker- Home
Caspar Brotzmann Massaker- Koksofen
Chet Baker- Sings
Clash- Combat Rock
Clash- London Calling
Comet Is Coming- Death To The Planet
Crow / O.S.T.- Crow / O.S.T.
Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
David Bowie & Trevor Jones- Labyrinth (From the Original Soundtrack)
Death Cab for Cutie- Codes and Keys
Codes and Keys definitely strays from Death Cab for Cutie’s original music which I find intriguing as I personally like when an artist tries something new while still keeping their staple sound. This album is by far more experimental, upbeat, and separate from their past work which I admire. I hear a lot of similarities in this album to The Strokes, with their incorporation of a more pop/flangy indie/rock sound.
Track #5 kind of lingers in the pop indie genre but I think it suits not only the sound of this album, but the direction in which they chose to go. The overlaying guitar riffs, with an apparent bass line paired with a beautifully constructed vocal melody makes for an overall catchy, enjoyable listen.
I’d have to say from this whole album, Monday Morning is my favorite. It’s not only extremely catchy, but it has such a feel-good vibe. I also personally resonate with this song because of it’s beautiful metaphors and the message being executed so well. I feel I can relate to this track in a lot of ways.
I also think that although this is different from their previous work, they still keep their original craft but aren’t afraid to experiment, giving the album variation. Something else I really like about this piece is that their work is open for interpretation, lyrically and instrumentally. I like that the meaning to each listener varies, and every time I listen back again I find something new that I hadn’t before. – Nova Stebbin.
Death- Scream Bloody Gore
Dexter Gordon- Go
Dwight Trible- Mothership
Los Angeles-based jazz singer Dwight Trible may not be a household name, but it’s very likely your favorite musicians know him. Over his 20-year career, Trible has worked with J Dilla, Kamasi Washington, Pharoah Sanders and Bobby Hutcherson.
Trible’s 2019 album Mothership is similarly eclectic. The opening title track – featuring Washington on saxophone – is a propulsive shot into outer space. Later, Trible covers the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” a psychedelic masterpiece laced in studio trickery. Trible’s version maintains the original version’s propulsive drum part, but steers the other instruments into free-jazz territory.
Trible’s sonorous baritone rich and versatile, recalling Isaac Hayes, Barry White and Johnny Hartman. On a stirring cover of Donny Hathaway’s “Thank You Master,” Trible conjures the spirit of Paul Robeson. While Trible is most definitely a jazz singer, he mixes plenty of gospel and rhythm and blues into his delivery. It wouldn’t be surprising to find him singing opera at some point.
Mothership is a 75-minute, spiritual opus that takes the listener on a powerful voyage. It should also provide Trible with the more open recognition he deserves.- Joel Francis.
Elvis Presley- Elvis Presley
Eugene McDaniels- Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits
Frankie & Witch Fingers- Heavy Roller
Golden Earring- Live
Goldie- Inner City Life
Goldie- Timeless (25 Year Anniversary Edition)
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
Harry Styles- Harry Styles
Joni Mitchell – The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) (Boxed Set)
Jimi Hendrix- Both Sides Of The Sky
Jimmy Smith- Back at the Chicken Shack
Josh Ritter- Sermon On The Rocks
Kanye West- College Dropout
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard- Teenage Gizzard
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity
Lowell Davidson- Lowell Davidson Trio
Lucinda Williams- Lu’s Jukebox Vol. 2: Southern Soul: From Memphis
Mac Miller- K.I.D.S.
Mac Miller- Swimming
Though his tragic death shocked his fans and loved ones, Mac Miller remains legendary in the hip-hop/rap scene. Swimming was released in 2018, bringing a new sound to his name. His previous pieces of art included faster paced beats, lines, and definitely fit more into the rap genre. Swimming experiments with spacey synths, unique beats, intricate layering of vocal melodies and instruments, bringing to his name (and hip-hop) a fresh sound.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is track #5, Self Care. Firstly, I think this track is unique instrumentally due to the usage of reverb-y, spacey synths in conjunction with a really catchy beat, he keeps it simple so the vocals pop, but it’s simultaneously complex which really intrigues me. The bridge completely changes the vibe of the song as the beat and synths change key and tempo- it almost sounds like a different track when it first transitions which I think is really cool- how he conveys the same message but in a different way. Secondly, the message of the song resonates with me. As you can probably guess from the title he talks about self discovery, struggle, and love. This is not only very relatable but comforting to hear someone you admire address.
I also really like track #7, Ladders. It’s a little bit like Self Care in the aspect that the beat isn’t overpowering the vocal melody, rather complimenting it. This song does a good job at talking about something dark- like the ups and downs in life and how dark it can be after intense brightness- in a lighthearted way. I admire when artists do this because emotions can be released without sulking in them.
All in all I would rate this album 10/10. From vocal melodies, to complexities in instruments and beats, to lyrical meaning, to track to track transition, this album flows beautifully and I personally can’t get enough of it. – Nova Stebbin.
Mariah Carey- Mariah Carey
Matchmakers- Bubble Gum-A-Gogo
Michael Jackson- Thriller
Miles Davis- Merci, Miles! Live At Vienne
Miles Davis- Round About Midnight
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – Carnage
Carnage is the title of the first full-length studio album by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis as a duo, exclusively, apart from their extensive work in film music. The album was created entirely during the COVID 19 epidemic.
The word Carnage is most frequently defined as “Large-scale killing or maiming, as in war or an accident.” Given Cave’s penchant for sobering, gothic, lyrical imagery and Ellis’ ability to intermix sweeping, atmospheric, musicality with dark dissonance, I think you can get the picture of where this is going.
Anybody who knows anything about these guys knows they’re a couple of pretty dark, old, dudes. The songs on Carnage certainly reflect that. But the good thing about dark “old” dudes is that they have learned how to suffer with grace and even the occasional bit self effacing humor.
On the opening track Hand of God, Cave declares:
There are some people trying to find out who
There are some people trying to find out why
There are some people who aren’t trying to find anything
But that kingdom in the sky, in the sky
The lines are immediately followed by a descending sting pad as if the air had been just let out of an enormous balloon. It’s this kind of interplay between Cave’s apocalyptic words and Ellis’ cinematic instrumentation.
On the song, White Elephant, Cave brilliantly uses the white alpha male imagery of Hemingway to help portray the anger behind the BLM movement.
The white hunter sits on his porch
With his elephant gun and his tears
He’ll shoot you for free if you come around here
A protester kneels on the neck of a statue
The statue says, “I can’t breathe”
The protester says, “Now you know how it feels”
And he kicks it into the sea
What I live about this record is that every time I think it’s gonna be one thing it takes a left turn. This is perhaps best exemplified in White Elephant where halfway through this plodding minor rhythm it suddenly bursts into a full on gospel tune.
Side two of Carnage feels more somber and reflective. Lavender Fields is a beautiful song about the peace of solitude.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the man but I’ve been a pretty big fan of Nick Cave’s catalog going back to The Boys Next Door and Birthday Party and I’d say this is the most exciting record of his since the second Grinderman album.
For some people it may be a little too soon for this record, but I think as time goes Carnage will prove to be one of the best albums to have drawn upon the COVID-19 pandemic for inspiration.
—- Major Matt
Oliver Nelson- The Blues and Abstract Truth
Composer Oliver Nelson is best known for writing television and movie music, but before his career in Tinseltown, he worked as an arranger on large-ensemble jazz products. His 1961 album The Blues and the Abstract Truth was one of the first albums released on the new Impulse! label. The album not only stands as the high point in Nelson’s catalog, but as one of the finest ensembles assembled.
Joining Nelson here are trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, saxophonist Eric Dolphy, pianist Bill Evans, bass player Paul Chambers, who anchored the Miles Davis Quintet, and drummer Roy Haynes. Nelson puts all of them to good use, adding George Barrow on baritone sax to thicken up the ensemble’s sound.
Opening cut “Stolen Moments” allows each musician a moment to shine. “Stolen Moments” is one of those songs that instantly makes the listener feel like he has carried that melody around his entire life. In this case, however, that might be true. The song has become a staple, inspiring covers by everyone from Ahmad Jamal to Frank Zappa.
The next song, “Hoe-Down” is a bit of a sonic outlier, but shows Nelson’s range as an arranger. He adapted part of classical American composer Aaron Copland’s Rodeo suite for the song.
Although Impulse! earned a reputation for championing boundary-pushing jazz, The Blues and the Abstract Truth illustrates that groundbreaking music can still be accessible and easily enjoyed by all.- Joel Francis.
Patti Smith- Horses
Peter Brotzmann- 14 Love Poems
Pixies- Surfer Rosa
Porcupine Tree- Up the Downstair
Prince- Purple Rain
Queen- A Day At The Races
Rival Sons- Rival Sons
Rose City Band- Earth Trip
Sparks – The Island Years (Boxed Set)
Say Anything / O.S.T.- Say Anything / O.S.T.
Snoop Doggy Dogg- Doggystyle
Sonny Rollins- On Impulse
Spacehog- Resident Alien
Spiritualized- Pure Phase
The opening moments of Spiritualized’s sophomore album always make me wonder if I accidentally cued up the wrong track. A half-minute of drunken, underwater calliope sounds eventually slide into the appropriately druggy “Medication.” This introduction encapsulates Pure Phase as a whole – a transitional album that makes you think it is going one direction, before veering into another.
Pure Phase straddles the middle ground between the art-rock band’s atmospheric debut and their ambitious masterpiece, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. “Medication” starts off dirge-like, as if under the haze of a heavy dose, before turning into a full-tilt jam during the final third. Upbeat rockers “These Blues” and “Good Times” point the way toward Ladies and Gentlemen, while the Brian Eno-esque title song recalls the extended mood pieces on Lazer Guided Melodies.
Bandleader Jason Pierce does a good job of rewarding the listener’s patience with well-placed pockets of ear candy. The mesmerizing “Electric Mainline” leads into the horn-driven “Lay Back in the Sun,” one of Spiritualized’s best songs. The final three songs operate as one extended astral suite, but string quartets, chiming keyboards and soaring guitars keep things from getting stale.
Because of its transitional nature, Pure Phase has often been passed over in Spiritualized’s early catalog. Fat Possum’s ongoing Spiritualized reissue series provides the perfect opportunity to give Pure Phase another listen and the appreciation it deserves.- Joel Francis.
Released in 1995, Pure Phase continued to add to the experimental rock scene in that time period. With other bands like The Cure, Deftones, and Pink Floyd, Spiritualized contributed new sounds to rock using unique synths, guitar phases, and ear catching melodies.
Track #1, Medication starts the album off strong, giving the listener a hint of what the album’s about. It includes elements of shoegaze, rock, and pop. I personally really like this track as it gives a sense of confusion with the back and forth in sound. This adds to the message the song is conveying- the up and down with medication- euphoria, confusion, etc.
The entire album explores a wide spectrum of emotion. How they use their instruments in conjunction with the vocal melodies, synths, guitar tremors, along with the contradicting noisey drum clashes and strong leading guitar, it truly does fit in a song for any vibe. Track #5, These Blues, is a perfect example of this as the track directly before it left me feeling a little bit more mellowed out, and These Blues picked me back up.
I think the way they do this throughout the entire album is beautifully artistic. This is something I typically have trouble finding consistency in other artist’s albums. A lot of the time I find one consistent sound with little variation- consistency is nice but doesn’t hit the right chord when there’s nothing too unique from song to song. I think Spiritualized did a phenomenal job with this in Pure Phase, as they keep a consistent, recognizable sound throughout, while also throwing in different elements to spice things up. I would personally rate this album a 10/10. -Nova Stebbin.
Fat Possum has just reissued Spiritualized’s second studio album Pure Phase, originally released in 1995. This 180g double album with lacquer cut from original sources by Alchemy Mastering, in a gatefold jacket adorned by reworked art by Mark Farrow, and available in limited edition glow-in-the-dark vinyl.
Like the soundtrack for an imaginary movie, Pure Phase gets started like a psychedelic carnival ride that rapidly turns to a traveling shoes gaze sermon about the gospel of medication, which happens to be the title of the first track. Pure Phase is and extended sonic trip exploring noise, pop, and even the blues.
British musician Jason Pierce aka J. Spaceman is the main songwriting force behind Spiritualized. Pierce was a founding member of the revolutionary space rock/ shoe gaze band Spacemen3 formed in the central UK town of Rugby, Warwickshire in the early 80’s.
Taking the minimal drones qualities of bands like The Velvet Underground and mixed with more contemporary, production styles made Spacemen 3 one of the hottest British alternate rock prospects of the late 80’s. Sadly, the band would disintegrate due to creative difference between Pierce and other core member Peter Kember aka (Sonic Boom).
From the rubble of Spacemen 3 Pierce formed Spiritualized… a much more expansive project that would eventually incorporate gospel, blues and a full orchestra while maintaining his signature space rock veneer.
—- Major Matt
Stanley Cowell- Musa-Ancestral Streams
Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder- Dinner Party
Tiny Tim- God Bless Tiny Tim
Tom Petty- Angel Dream (Songs from the Motion Picture She’s the One)
On the surface, this posthumous Tom Petty release seems like an answer in search of a problem. Many of the songs released on the original She’s the One soundtrack came from the Wildflowers sessions. Ergo, a hefty portion of She’s the One wound up on the deluxe Wildflowers discs.
Angel Dream reimagines the She’s the One soundtrack as a Heartbreakers album and swaps out the Wildflower outtakes with four unreleased songs. While the bones of both versions remain the same, the spirit has subtly shifted.
By removing several of the jauntier songs, Angel Dream is more defiant. The opening title song and side two opener “Walls (No. 3)” seem like outliers compared to frustrated rocker “Zero from Outer Space,” the determined “Climb that Hill” and bitter covers of Lucinda Williams’ “Change the Locks” and Beck’s “Asshole.”
Despite the mood change, Petty and his Heartbreakers sound like they are having a blast playing these songs. The placement of two new songs back-to-back on the second side add a feeling of weary jubilation.
The She’s the One soundtrack built to a climax at “Hung Up and Overdue,” a beautiful statement of listlessness. In contrast, Angel Dream peaks at a new, extended version of “Supernatural Radio.” One of the stand-out tracks on the previous edition, the new capstone cements Angel Dream’s outsider/underdog spirit.
She’s the One was an overlooked diamond in Petty’s catalog. Hopefully Angel Dream will give these songs much-needed exposure. While only hard-core fans will need both releases, either one capture Petty and the Heartbreakers at a high point in both songwriting and musicianship.- Joel Francis
Tom Petty- Greatest Hits
Tyler, The Creator- Igor
Various Artists- Songs For You Vol. 1
Record Store Day 2021 Part Deux is right around the corner. But I wanted to mention one of my favorite various artists releases from last month’s RSD.
The sports shoe company Vans released “Songs For You Vol. 1” to support and spotlight the impact of Black-owned record stores. I’m not sure how I feel about a corporate sponsored record store day release but the music on this comp is really great so I’m gonna let that slide for now.
One of the most notable tracks on SFY Vol 1. is Roberta Flack’s previously unreleased rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” paying tribute to the 50thanniversary of Gaye’s groundbreaking album and song.
“Black-owned record stores have always represented something more than just a place to buy music in their communities. These businesses have been hubs for social and political activism, self-expression, culture and belonging,” said Michael Kurtz, co-founder of Record Store Day.
Side one is predominately more in the R&B zone with a sizzling opener by H.E.R.The side ends strong with the breezy jazzy soul number Find A Way by Duckworth.
Side two is more hip-hop oriented starting with a classic sounding gangsta track: God is Perfect by Freddie Gibbs flowing perfectly into the slightly more jazzy: Magnificent by The Roots’ Black Thought. Other notables are the disco infused What Do You Say (Move It Baby) by Common.
Keep your eyes out for Vol. 2 scheduled to drop next Record Store Day July 17. Both volumes of Songs for You feature artwork from award-winning artist Aamba Chavis, an emerging young voice in Black visual arts.
—- Major Matt
Wayne Shorter- Introducing
Weldon Irvine- Sinbad
William S. Burroughs- Williams S Burroughs & Brion Gysin
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