It’s Charlie Brown New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad- Instrumentals Jid009
Amy Grant- Heart In Motion
Angel Olsen- Aisles
At first glance, an EP of ‘80s synth-pop covers might look like a well-deserved, lighthearted break from Angel Olson’s weighty, introspective full-length releases. Olson’s EP Aisles checks many of the fun boxes, from the over-the-top eyeliner and font on the cover, to a song selection that includes Laura Branigan’s “Gloria,” “The Safety Dance” and Alphaville’s instantly nostalgic “Forever Yong.”
But Olsen is not a whimsical artist, so even these performances are weighted down with portent. For example, “Gloria” is treated like a Cure song, with a funereal arrangement that brings out the underlying doom in the lyrics. “The Safety Dance” is delivered with the seriousness of an OSHA training video.
Olsen stays closer to the intent behind the original material on Aisles’ final tracks, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Top 5 hit from the film Pretty in Pink “If You Leave” and “Forever Yong.” Olsen lightens her delivery on these songs, bringing some joy to the performances.
This isn’t to say Aisles is a suffocating listen. There is fun to be had on this stop-gap release – it just might not be where you expect it.-Joel Francis
Black Sabbath- Technical Ecstasy
I don’t know about you, but within the first 5 seconds of this album, I felt like I was listening to a movie soundtrack, like School of Rock or something. With the release of “Technical Ecstasy,” in 1976, I think a lot of long-time fans were disappointed, while others were amazed. Personally I wasn’t taken for a joy ride, but I also find it to be a fun listen in certain times.
Starting off the short album with, “Back Street Kids,” it kind of sets listeners up for disappointment, because it sounds similar to some of their previous work, but the tracks following are extremely experimental for Black Sabbath. Lengthy track #2, “You Won’t Change Me,” starts off with new sounds for the band, using interesting synths to introduce the track. This song is by no means horrible, but around 7 minutes, it begins to feel like it’s dragging on. Despite the length and interesting choice in rhythm and synths, the guitar solo is killer, and it’s (for the most part) a pretty solid track.
I think they wanted to stand out, try something new; I mean I know after 7 albums I would want to switch things up a bit too. I respect them and give them credit for branching out, but overall I wasn’t too impressed with this album. There wasn’t a groundbreaking hit off of it, nor many streams compared to their other hits, most likely for the same reasons I’m listing. Again, not a horrible album, and I would listen to it if I were looking for experimental rock inspirations, but not for a general listen. Overall I’d give it a 6/10. -Nova Stebbin
Blue Stingrays- Surf-N-Burn
Bob Marley- Legend
Brandi Carlile- In These Silent Days
Brian Blade & Fellowship Band- Body And Shadow
Brittany Howard- Jaime
Buena Vista Social Club & Ry Cooder- Buena Vista Social Club (25th Anniversary Edition)
Charley Crockett- Welcome To Hard Times
Colleen Green- Cool
Daniel Romano- Cobra Poems
Daniel Romano- Fully Plugged In
Daniel Romano- How Ill Thy World Is Ordered
Duke Pearson- Merry Ole Soul
Eric Dolphy- Out to Lunch
Jazz musician Eric Dolphy built his reputation playing with Charles Mingus and Chico Hamilton in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Dolphy had a half dozen or so releases under his name when he signed to Blue Note Records and recorded the five songs that comprise Out to Lunch in early 1964.
Announcing all the musicians were leaders on this material, Dolphy put together a responsive and adventurous ensemble. While Dolphy split his talents across bass clarinet, flute and alto sax, he is backed by Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, bassist Richard Davis and Miles Davis’ drummer at the time, Tony Williams.
The five songs on Out to Lunch – all composed by Dolphy – are some of the most challenging pieces in the Blue Note catalog. Opening cut “Hat and Beard” is a tribute to Thelonious Monk that finds the band playing off Davis’ walking bassline before veering into more abstract territory. Final song “Straight Up and Down” was inspired by Dolphy watching a drunk man trying to walk upright and has appropriately off-kilter harmonies and rhythms.
Sadly, by the time Out to Lunch appeared in record stores in August, 1964, Dolphy had passed. Just over a month earlier, Dolphy lapsed into a diabetic coma while touring in Europe and never recovered. While Dolphy’s career ended too soon, albums like Out to Lunch continue to carry his legacy forward.- Joel Francis
Etta James- At Last
Herbie Hancock- Maiden Voyage
Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock was 24 years old he entered the studio for his fifth album for Blue Note Records. His goal was to conjure and channel the power of the ocean – its current, its inhabitants and its explorers. To help him achieve this ambitious vision, Hancock brought in almost all of his bandmates from the Miles Davis quintet: drummer Tony Williams, bass player Ron Carter and George Coleman on tenor sax. Completing Hancock’s ensemble was Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.
This group not only accomplished Hancock’s lofty goal and created a masterpiece album, but generated two new jazz standards. The first of these is the title and opening track, “Maiden Voyage.” Close your eyes and you can hear the waters move around the boat in Hancock’s piano and Williams’ cymbals. Hubbard’s trumpet evokes the sun piercing the sail and birds flying overhead.
Album closer “Dolphin Dance” is the other song that has been covered extensively. This gorgeous, laid-back melody expresses the playfulness in the song’s title and stands in contrast to more adventurous and aggressive numbers on the album, such as “Eye of the Hurricane” and “Survival of the Fittest.”
Despite its oceanic pretext, Maiden Voyage is inviting, accessible album. It succeeds as both a wonderful gateway to the world of jazz for curious listeners and place where longtime fans can bask in and celebrate the nuances. – Joel Francis
James Brown- Soulful Christmas
Jimi Hendrix- Smash Hits
John Prine- Fair & Square
Juice Wrld- Legends Never Die
Jungle- Loving In Stereo
Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound
Little Willie John- The Complete R&B Hit Singles
Lloyd McNeill- Tori
Lloyd McNeill- Washington Suite
Mad Season- Above (2LP)
Neal Francis- Changes
Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon
Pixies- Trompe Le Monde
Poor Trompe le Monde. Before the Pixies reunion albums, the Boston quartet’s fourth album was the most underappreciated and overlooked entry in their catalog.
Now celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, Trompe le Monde looks – and sounds – a lot better. Granted, it’s not as catchy as anything on Doolittle or as explosive as Surfer Rosa, but Trompe le Monde is a visceral ride into the sunset perhaps not on par with the band’s initial offers during its original run, but not far behind them, either.
The high points from Trompe le Monde remain staples of Pixies set lists to this day. A reading of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” – one of the few covers in the Pixies’ catalog – rivals the original. “Subbacultcha” is a sideways story of seduction (sample lyric: “I was looking handsome/She was looking like an erotic vulture”). “Motorway to Roswell” might be the Pixies best performance on record. On most songs, the band would build to climax by increasing the tempo and gradually releasing more anarchy. Here, the performance is measured, building in intensity based on a meticulous arrangement before ending with a piano melody. Album closer “The Navajo Know” sounds like a spaghetti Western with surf guitar.
Trompe le Monde opens with a manic burst of songs that barely provide relief. Songs steamroll into each other, blurring into a mass of Black Francis’ yelps and screams, David Lovering’s relentless drums and Joey Santiago’s frenzied fretwork. Oh yeah, Kim Deal’s here, too, but aside from her inventive basslines, she’s barely audible. Chalk it up to professional envy from Deal’s success with the Breeders or any other handy excuse you like.
Trompe le Monde is the sound of a band taking out taking their collective frustrations on their respective instruments. It is also proof that great music that makes listeners happy can be created when all the musicians are miserable.- Joel Francis
For nearly twenty three years Trompe Le Monde was regarded as PIXIES fourth and final album. Released in 1991, at the time, it was probably their least popular album. True confessions, there is very little I don’t love about the Pixies first four albums and I find it next to impossible to place one above another.
Plain White T’s- American Nights
Porcupine Tree- The Incident
Rudolph Johnson- Second Coming
Samantha Fish- Faster
Sarah Jarosz- World On The Ground
Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming
Spiritualized- Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
“Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space,” says an airy vocal introducing the track, and album. Released in 1997, this album is fortunately making a comeback. Spiritualized has been around since 1992, paving the way for new genres and sounds. Since their debut album, “Lazer Guided Melodies,” they’ve been around as an experimental rock/ space rock/shoegaze band, creating new and original sounds that many bands take inspiration from.
Something I really like about this band is their ability to take a multitude of instruments and sounds and mend them all together as one, somehow keeping a consistent flow from track to track in each album. Their third album is no exception, as it really hones in on the concept of the album- floating in space.
One of my favorite tracks on this album would have to be, “All Of My Thoughts.” Listening to this song with noise canceling headphones makes for a whirlwind of an experience. Starting off slow and calm, leading to a cacophony of noise, then back to calm, it’s simultaneously chaotic and relaxing. I think that emphasizes the meaning of the song very well though as he sings,
“Don’t know what to do by myself
‘Cause all of my time was with you
I just don’t know what to do on my own
All of my thoughts are of you”
There’s a wide scope of emotion conveyed in this song though he sticks to the same few lines which I really like.
Another track off this record I really like is, “Cool Waves.” This track is really calming, and resonates with me because it’s (to me) freeing. It gives me a sense of relief and safety in knowing that I’m free and encouraged to do what I need to do for myself.
Overall I’d recommend this album to just about anyone. Though it doesn’t necessarily have too many genre variants, I’d still recommend anyone to listen to this to get the same freeing, calming experience I had listening to it. -Nova Stebbin
Steely Dan- Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live!
Steve Earle & the Dukes- J.T.
Strung Like a Horse- WHOA!
Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain
System of a Down- System Of A Down
Taylor Swift- Fearless
The Freedom Affairs- Freedom Is Love
The Go-Go’s- Greatest
The HU- The Gereg
The Mongolian quartet the HU have gained a considerable following on the metal circuit, but they could fit just as easily into an album or festival curated by world music advocates Peter Gabriel or David Byrne.
The Hu’s debut album, The Gereg, is powered by native instruments, powerful drums and throat singing. For listeners who don’t speak Mongolian, the words become another layer of texture and rhythm to the songs, creating a hypnotic or trance-like experience.
That’s not to say The Gereg is a laid-back affair. “Wolf Totem,” the second song, thunders with the intensity of a Metallica track. “The Great Chinggis Khaan” sounds like the score for a film not yet created. “Song of Women” tips the album closer to Peter Gabriel territory.
It’s no coincidence that “Wolf Totem” and “Song of Women” appear as remixes with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach and Lizzy Hale, respectively. Combining English vocals with Mongolian throat singing and adding a little electric guitar provides just the nudge needed to get these songs on the radio and generate more exposure. The three acoustic performances that follow the remixes go the other direction, peeling back instrumentation to provide more pastoral performances.
Released during a time of extreme isolation because of world health conditions, The Gereg shows how interconnected the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of humanity truly are and makes a strong case for music as the international language.- Joel Francis
The Roots- Things Fall Apart
Tom Tom Club- Downtown Rockers
Trees Speak- Posthuman
Various Artists- Home Alone Christmas
Various Artists- I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico
Brian Eno’s oft-repeated observation that everyone who bought the Velvet Underground’s first album upon its initial release started a band has nearly become a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is any less true.
More than half a century after Velvet Underground singer, guitarist and songwriter Lou Reed walked away from the band over frustrations from the band’s lack of success, a diverse celebration of the Velvet’s first album confirms the band’s legacy to a new generation of fans.
I’ll Be Your Mirror mimic’s the track listing of the Velvet’s first album, with the famous banana cover. It was the final project assembled by the late Hal Wilner, a master of pulling seemingly disparate artists together and providing a new look at a familiar songbook through that diversity. He doesn’t cast as wide a net here, but manages to assemble an impressive cast of indie and alt-rock heroes.
Stand-out performances include Michael Stipe’s warm, inviting “Sunday Morning” and, at the other end of the spectrum (and album), Iggy Pop and guitarist Matt Sweeney’s conversion of “European Son” into a Stooges song. St. Vincent’s spoken-word interpretation of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” somehow feels both antique and futuristic. Kurt Vile turns “Run Run Run” into a psychedelic freak-out while Courtney Barnett gives “I’ll Be Your Mirror” her typical deadpan, minimalist treatment.
OK, that’s five of the album’s 12 tracks and the others – by the National’s Matt Berninger, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Fontaines D.C. and Andrew Bird – aren’t half bad either. The best part about I’ll Be Your Mirror isn’t that it continues to provide inspiration to these dozen artists more than 50 years after its release. It’s the promise that a lot of young listeners are going to hear this, become inspired and start a band.- Joel Francis
Various Artists- The Daptone Super Soul Revue Live! At the Apollo
Vince Guaraldi- A Charlie Brown Christmas (2021 Edition)
Vince Guaraldi- It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Walter Bishop Jr.’s 4th Cycle- Keeper Of My Soul
Whiskey Myers- Firewater
Zacherle- Zacherle’s Monster Gallery
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