It’s Angel Olsen New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Angel Olsen- Aisles
Billy Harper- Antibes 75
Billy Idol- The Roadside
When we last heard from Billy Idol, he had just published his autobiography and released an introspected companion album (well, introspective for Idol, at least). That was seven long years ago. Now Idol is back with a four-track EP written during the pandemic.
Opening track “Rita Hayworth” will get fists pumping, but has more going on underneath the arena-ready melody. What sounds like a celebration of a beautiful woman is really a cautionary tale. “Bitter Taste” is a ruminating tune that lies somewhere between Chris Isaac and lounge lizard Iggy Pop.
The other two songs aren’t as memorable, but still a lot of fun. “U Don’t Have To Kiss Me Like That” is a throwback to Idol’s ‘80s heyday. The presence of Idol’s longtime guitarist Steve Stevens adds a great deal to the song’s old-school appeal. Finally, the ballad “Baby Put Your Clothes Back On” is the weakest – and least convincing – song on the EP. Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. “Rebel Yell” would ask a woman to pump the breaks on a physical relationship?
The Roadside is the first of three Idol Eps planned for release over the next year. It’s a nice way to start again.- Joel Francis
Bob Marley- Legend
Bob’s Burgers- The Bob’s Burgers Music Album Vol. 2
Brittany Howard- Jaime
Corinne Bailey Rae- Corinne Bailey Rae
DJ Shadow- Endtroducing….. [Half Speed Remaster / 25th Anniversary Endtrospective Edition]
Digital Underground- This is an E.P. Release
Dougie Stu- Familiar Future
Drive-By Truckers- Go-Go Boots
Drive-by Truckers- The Dirty South
Elliot Smith- Elliott Smith
Eric Dolph- Out To Lunch
Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits
Heartless Bastards- A Beautiful Life
Herbie Hancock- Maiden Voyage
Hockey Dad- Brain Candy
Holly Golightly- All Her Fault
Horace Silver- Song For My Father
Jackson Browne- Downhill From Everywhere
Kacey Musgraves- star-crossed
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Butterfly 3000
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach
Lynyrd Skynyrd- (Pronounced ‘Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd’)
Modest Mouse- The Golden Casket
Modest Mouse’s first album in over 6 years was long awaited but well worth the patience and hardwork. It ranges from psychedelic, to post-punk, to indie, throwing in some experimental sounds along with it.
With a lot of time between albums, comes a lot of change, learning, and growth, and that is certainly reflected in this album. Track two, “We Are Between,” talks about being in the middle of conflicting thoughts, and duality. To me, with the way the instruments are used, I interpret this track as more of a happy, accepting song. Though saying, “somewhere between dust and the stars,” can sound existential, I think their goal was to approach confusion with optimism and gratitude. This ties in perfectly with track #3, “We’re Lucky,” rather than being focused on the negative, daunting aspects of existence, he’s honing in on why we should be grateful to even exist at all. This theme continues throughout the album, which they do in interesting but definitely apparent ways. “The Sun Hasn’t Left,” ties into this theme with playful synths and whimsical tones. “Not everything’s gonna be the best, but there’s still something left…I don’t know you, you don’t know me,” they basically walk through the idea that despite who you are, despite what you’re going through, there’s always something good to look at; you’re always a deep breath away from a positive perspective.
Overall I think this album is more than worth the listen. It’s definitely different from their past work; it gives them a more modern sound that I like. Most of the time I don’t like when artists change their sound, but Modern Mouse did it in a way that not only keeps their staple sound, but gives them more to their name. -Nova Stebbin.
MONO- Pilgrimage of the Soul
The 11th studio album from Japanese experimental/post-rockers MONO is one of those records that makes you wonder if there is something wrong with your speakers. After lengthy quiet sections – which cause the listener to gently and repeatedly nudge up the volume – the entire band kicks in, exploding out of the over-amplified speakers and knocking a hole in the other side of the room.
The eight instrumental tracks on Pilgrimage of the Soul clock in at just under an hour and take the listener on an incredible journey. Over the course of their 22-year career, MONO have mastered how to successfully milk a long crescendo, but the quartet also adds new elements to their sound by incorporating electronic elements and textures.
The delicate, glacial “Heaven in a Wild Flower” almost sounds like something Sigur Ros would do. Album closer “And Eternity in an Hour” is stunningly beautiful and emotionally moving. On the other hand, “Riptide” feels almost punishingly intense after an extended quiet and gentle introduction.
Pilgrimage of the Soul is an album that opens a sonic world for the listener to get lost in and explore, with each new listen revealing new layers and dynamics.- Joel Francis
Nick Lowe- The Convincer
Nick Lowe- The Old Magic
In the back half of the 1970s, British singer/songwriter Nick Lowe was releasing power pop/new wave gems like Jesus of Cool and Labor of Lust, writing hit songs for Elvis Costello and producing records by the Damned and the Pretenders.
Careers that blaze this hot at first are often forgotten by the final chapters, but a pair of reissues show that Lowe’s flame still burns bright.
On the cover of 2001’s The Convincer, Lowe looks laid-back and relaxed, smoking a cigarette without a care in the world. The bemused confidence in Lowe’s eyes reflects his satisfaction with the sturdy songs he’s written as a quasi-homage to the songwriters at the Brill Building. Songs that could be delivered country or R&B or Top 40 numbers and work just as well. Lowe has opted to perform most of the material as undemanding and unhurried rockabilly numbers, delivering just enough kick to keep them moving out of the gate. Three bonus tracks – including another stellar original – are appended to the end of this 20th anniversary edition.
Ten years and a couple more albums later, Lowe was still mining the same mature style on The Old Magic. The rockabilly leanings have been smoothed out with a lounge panache. There is nary a note – or hair – out of place on this album. In other hands, this might stifle all the fun from the performance, but a good portion of the joy on The Old Magic comes from listening to the songs unfold at their own pace and being swept up in their vignettes and moods. There are no bonus cuts on this 10th anniversary edition, but the album has been remastered and is presented at 45 revolutions per minute.- Joel Francis
Paul McCartney- Wings Greatest
Pixies- Trompe Le Monde
Plasmatics- Beyond the Valley of 1984
Porcupine Tree- The Incident
I was born in ’67 – the year of Sgt. Pepper – and ‘Are You Experienced?’
So was I…and so was Porcupine Tree lyricist and band leader, Steven Wilson. The above lyric is the beginning of the nostalgic yet poignant song “Time Flies” contained on Porcupine Tree’s 10th and final studio LP entitled The Incident, originally released in September of 2009, and being reissued on Snapper Classics label. I can’t believe the time that has flown – 12 years – since it’s initial release, and it’s equally difficult to accept the fact that this band is no more, and we have to rely on their past existence in time to enjoy them. There is a lot to enjoy here.
This album consists of a whopping 18 tracks, 14 of which comprise a 55-minute song cycle named “The Incident”. The concept came to Steven Wilson when he was stuck in traffic due to what a sign delineated as a ‘police incident’. Steven was taken with how impersonal the word ‘incident’ was in conjunction with the tragedy. In his own words: “The irony of such a cold expression for such seismic events appealed to me, and I began to pick out other ‘incidents’ reported in the media and news. I wrote about the evacuation of teenage girls from a religious cult in Texas, a family terrorizing its neighbors, a body found floating in a river by some people on a fishing trip, and more”. He figured writing the songs in first person would humanize what the media tends to dehumanize. From the opening, thundering power chords of “Occam’s Razor” to song cycle ending lullaby of “I Drive The Hearse”, the listener is immersed in an atmospheric aural exploration of weighty subject matter through melodies that are both haunting and holistically consoling.
The four separate-from-the-song-cycle tracks that round out the album are 20 minutes of Porcupine Tree flexing their musical muscle. Check out Gavin Harrison’s merciless drum assault on “Bonnie The Cat” juxtaposed to his finesse in “Flicker”. He is a drummer worthy of all the accolades he has garnered. Keyboardist Richard Barbieri and bassist Colin Edwin provide their own textures to Steven Wilson’s melancholic yet sometimes bombastic guitar passages.
Some have called Porcupine Tree’s ‘The Incident’ their finest hour. Some have called it a sprawling dramatic beast. I call it an ambitious and triumphant musical exposé on human tragedy. The magazines Classic Rock and Eclipsed named it Album Of The Year, and it was nominated for a Grammy in the category for Best Surround Sound Album, which makes all the sense in the world since Steven Wilson has become the master of 5.1 Surround mixes of classic albums by classic artists. If you even remotely enjoy the music of Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, or Tool, you will find something to love in this album…it’s just too bad it was their last.
Time flies. ~ David Lombardo
Rare Earth- Ma
Sade- The Best Of Sade
Samantha Fish- Faster
Samantha Fish started her career cold-calling bars around Kansas City and asking for gigs. It was an ambitious plan that led to her becoming arguably the biggest blues guitarist in the city. More than a decade after her self-released debut album, Fish is celebrated nationally. Her latest album works from a palette that stretches well beyond the blues.
Looking to swim in a bigger pond, Fish brought in producer Martin Kierszenbaum, known for her work with Lady Gaga and Sting, and drummer Josh Freese, who has played with Guns N Roses and Nine Inch Nails. As a result, Faster often feels akin to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance – a pop album with blues dressings and accents.
Built around a serpentine guitar riff and programmed drums, “All Ice No Whiskey” could be a country song. “Loud” opens with quiet piano introduction before exploding into guitars, drums and organ. The track’s biggest surprise, though, is another KC music ion, rapper Tech N9ne. I’m not sure what is more astonishing, Tech N9ne’s feature or that it works so well. Fish throws a bone at her longtime fans with “Twisted Ambition,” which showcases her six-string skills against a pulsating synth bass line.
Let’s face it, the blues purists most likely to be rankled by Fish’s broader horizons, weren’t likely to buy this album based on the artist’s race and gender alone. So drop the needle on Faster and enjoy the party.- Joel Francis
Shinedown- Leave A Whisper
Slothrust- Parallel Timeline
A little more than halfway through the fifth album from Boston alternative rock trio Slothrust, singer Lea Wellbaum makes a confession: “My only crime/was pretending I’m tough.”
The lyric, from the song “King Arthur’s Seat” is a bit jarring, because there’s little on Parallel Timeline that’s tough. The album’s heaviest moment comes on single “The Next Curse,” when singer Lizzy Hale from Halestorm stops by to bring a little bit more of the apocalypse to a song about our planet catching fire. The buzzy “Once More for the Ocean” is another rocker guaranteed to get the crowd moving.
Other songs are considerably more subdued. “Strange Astrology” is a heartfelt love song, while the closing title song is a tender acoustic number. The album opens with “Cranium,” a song equal parts seductive and repulsive, where a romantic line like “I want to French braid your hair with honey on my hands” is followed with the head-scratcher (and mood killer) “I want to pluck your eyebrows for you with my grandma’s antique tweezers.”
Parallel Timeline points in a new direction for Slothrust, moving away from the walls of guitars that marked earlier high points “Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone” and “7:30 a.m.” It can take some time to get used to this new, nuanced approached, but once acclimated the songs linger happily.- Joel Francis
Spiritualized- Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
The Go-Go’s- Beauty And The Beat
The HU- The Gereg
The Rolling Stones- Let It Bleed (50th Anniversary Edition)
The Rugged Nuggets- Odds & Ends
Various Artists- I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico (Vari)
Wayne Shorter- The All Seeing Eye
Just under a year after John Coltrane released his spiritual masterpiece A Love Supreme, his contemporary Wayne Shorter a musical portrayal of “the meaning of life, existence and the nature of God and the universe” (according to the liner notes).
Shorter rounded up an impressive ensemble to help with this feat. In addition to Shorter on tenor saxophone, Freddie Hubbard plays trumpet, Grachan Moncur III contributes trombone and James Spaulding is on alto sax. For the rhythm section, Shorter brought in two of his bandmates in the Miles Davis quintet, pianist Herbie Hancock and bass player Ron Carter. Longtime Bobby Hutcherson and Archie Shepp drummer Joe Chambers completes the group.
As expected with such an ambitious concept, the music on The All Seeing Eye is intense and confrontational. This is not an album to be played quietly in the background of a dinner party. Rather, it is a guest who lectures passionately, causing the others around the table to question their preconceived notions on life, God and the universe. Pull up a chair, stare into the eye and see where it takes you.- Joel Francis
Weezer- Weezer (Blue Album)
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