It’s Czarface New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Abbey Lincoln- Abbey Is Blue
Ally Venable- Heart Of Fire
Arctic Monkeys- Am
The release of “AM” by Arctic Monkeys in 2013 blew listeners in the alternative scene away. In their prime, Arctic Monkeys were classified under genres of garage rock, and post-punk revival, but “AM” turned over a new leaf for them, and gave them more unique sounds to keep under their belts.
Something I think they execute extremely well is how they align beautiful vocal melodies with overdriven guitar riffs and groovy bass lines for an overall harmonious sound . The space from verse to chorus, and chorus to bridge, allows for the build ups to thicken and allow the incoming vocals and riffs to pack a greater punch. An example of this would be in track #4, “Arabella”, because after each crash of the symbol and each strum of the guitar there’s a split second of silence right before sound emerges again. The solo at the end of this song gives the track so much texture and the urge to bang my head along is irresistible.
Another thing I really appreciate about this album is the way it evokes emotion. Vocalist Alex Turner emphasizes his message with beautifully layered harmonies following an emotional chord progression. Listening to this album is cathartic for me as it explores a wide range of topics, raw emotion, and gives me a sense of comfort in feeling.
This record is easily a 10/10. They experiment with sound, timing, and utilize theory in such an effective way. I think when artists make music, it’s not only important to spread a message, but use their imagination to convey that message in the most effective, unique, memorable way and Arctic Monkeys definitely hit the nail on the head with this album. – Clara Stebbin.
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billy Preston- 16 Yr Old Soul
Blackberry Smoke- You Hear Georgia
The Black Keys- Delta Kream
Way back in 2006, the Black Keys dropped a six-song EP devoted to the songs of Delta bluesman Junior Kimbrough. It’s hard not to think of that release when listening to their latest album, Delta Kream.
The Keys’ ninth album is their first since 2019’s Let’s Rock and finds the group covering 11 Delta blues songs primarily associated with either Kimbrough or R.L. Burnside. To assist, founding Keys Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney brought in their trio of touring musicians and a pair of longtime Burnside and Kimbrough sidemen. Delta Kream’s problem isn’t in the delivery as much as the approach. The performances are simply too laid back and lacking in any urgency and energy. Put another way, there’s no fire in the belly.
To be fair, there are some good numbers on Delta Kream that could contribute to a solid Keys playlist. “Poor Boy a Long Way from Home” stings and “Coal Black Mattie” burns. Put these on another EP and you’d have something much closer to a winner.
Delta Kream is the sound of seven men working hard to recreate what two people did so effortlessly before. To hear stronger performances in style of playing, check out nearly any electric blues title in the Fat Possum label catalog – including former efforts by the Keys themselves.- Joel Francis
Brian Setzer- Rockabilly Riot Volume One: A Tribute To Sun Records (Colored Vinyl, Red)
Cassius Clay-I Am The Greatest
Creedence Clearwater Revival- Green River
Czarface & MF DOOM- Super What- this week’s Czarface New Vinyl Thursday feature.
Dave Matthews- Crash Anniversary Edition
Devin the Dude- Soulful Distance
Donald Fagen- The Nightfly
Dua Lipa- Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition)
The Doors- 13
The Doors- L.A. Woman
The Doors- Strange Days
The Doors- Waiting For The Sun
Eric Johnson- Ah Via Musicom (Limited Edition, Anniversary Edition)
Fountains of Wayne- Welcome Interstate Managers (Limited Edition, Colored Vinyl, Red)
Frank Black- Fast Man Raider Man (Clear Vinyl)
Frank Black- Frank Black Francis (Colored Vinyl, White)
Frank Black- Honeycomb (Colored Vinyl, Gold)
Gary Numan- Intruder
Casual music fans who only know Gary Numan for his 1979 hit “Cars” are missing out on a fascinating and adventurous career. Intruder, Numan’s latest album, builds on the concept and feeling established on 2017’s Savage: Songs for a Broken World. Inspired by a poem written by his 11-year-old daughter, Numan wrote a song cycle about global warming from the Earth’s perspective.
The Middle Eastern influences introduced on Broken World remain, adding to an impressively broad range of sonics across these 13 songs. Sweeping, cinematic strings heighten several tracks and otherworldly background vocals lift others. “I am Screaming” recalls Depeche Mode, while “The Gift” echoes “The Prodigy”.
Elsewhere, like on “Saints and Liars,” Numan applies industrial elements used to great effect by Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. I supposed an uncharitable person could accuse Numan of copying, but are you really copying when you helped originate the field?
Intruder commands a lot of energy to fully absorb and appreciate, but it rewards the effort. Numan’s time on the charts may be in the rearview mirror, but his path forward is limitless.- Joel Francis
Green Day- Nimrod
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
The Grateful Dead- Workingman’ Dead
Harry Styles- Harry Styles (With Booklet)
Imagine Dragons- Night Visions
Janet Jackson- Rhythm Nation
Jimmy Bryant- Fastest Guitar in the Country
John Coltrane- 1963: New Directions (Boxed Set)
Jon Batiste- Soul (Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture)
Junior Murvin- Police & Thieves (Limited Edition, Colored Vinyl, Gold Disc)
Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
Linda Jones- Let It Be Me
Lou Barlow- Reason to Live (Baby Blue Vinyl)
Machine Gun Kelly- Tickets To My Downfall
Marcos Valle- Marcos Valle
Mdou Moctar- Afelan
Mdou Moctar- Afrique Victime
On paper, Mdou Moctor look like any number of rock quartets: lead vocals and lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums. But the sound they create is powerfully unique.
Lead guitarist and vocalist Moctar plays his electric guitar with African chord changes and scales that recalls Ali Farka Toure or Songhoy Blues. But underneath Moctar’s distinctly African playing are flashes of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix.
Open track “Chismiten” features the band rocking out in a Western mode, with heavy drums hitting in standard time. “Ya Habibti” features more traditional African rhythms, but touches of electronic drums. The conventional African song “Tala Tannam” is hypnotic and soothing.
The Nigerian Moctor sings most songs in his native tongue, creating a kaleidoscope of textures for Western ears. At first glance, one might assume “Layla” to be a cover of the famous Eric Clapton song, but Moctar has only swiped the name for his song of reciprocated love to a devoted partner.
The album builds to the sweeping title track. Moctar’s playing in the opening measures sound like a prelude to “Kashmir,” but his voice takes the song in another direction. Across nine songs and 42 minutes, Moctar paints an impressive and consistent portrait of what it really means to rock in the free world.- Joel Francis
Mick Fleetwood- Celebrate The Music Of Peter Green And The Early Years of Fleetwood Mac
Missio- Can You Feel The Sun
Motley Crue- Saints of Los Angeles
My Bloody Valentine- M B V
Expectations can often amplify or diminish experiences, and this was certainly the case when My Bloody Valentine reformed and released m b v 22 years after its previous album, Loveless. Looking back now, there was probably some wisdom in starting the album with a couple of purposefully not bombastic tunes that allow fans a chance to ease into the album.
By the time the drums (and slapback treatment of the drums) open the third track, “Who Sees You,” it feels like expectations have been recalibrated. This record simply isn’t going to give the listener the colossal opening that made Loveless immediately recognizable upon hitting play. It seems like the album starts to pick up steam but then “Is This & Yes” brings the album to a halt. It’s a floating song with sparse vocals that somehow manages to feel indebted to Van Dyke Parks (in its chord changes) as it does to Brian Eno (in its sparse ambience).
The following two songs open with drums, and it briefly feels like maybe there will be a rocking return to the band’s old sounds, but instead, it sounds like the listener is dropped into the middle of each song. It’s almost like the band has already made it to the second verse. With repeated listens, the songs feel less like fragments and more impressionistic. They set up the end of the album, where it the band finally introduces its new sound.
“In Another Way” is upbeat and features a harsh backbeat, but not nearly as intense as the next song, “Nothing Is.” The assault of the slapback on the drums and the repetitive riff is dizzying on this instrumental. The album closer is a treat for the headphones with a sorta reverberating drum’n’ bass pattern surrounding vocals that seem to just slip out of the mix before being overtaken by a whirlwind of guitars.
As a whole, m b v is undoubtedly a slow build. But when the band finally arrives, there is no question that it’s the work of musicians who brought the world such beautiful noise nearly a quarter-century ago. Dissonant string bends bury the drums at times, and guitars warble in and out of tune in places as fans would expect. The record may lack cohesion from one song to the next as if a compilation of ideas it has tinkered with since Loveless, but that doesn’t mean it lacks vision. After 22 years, any new music from such an influential band is welcome, and there is plenty of open space in the songs that invite the listener back for repeated listens.- Jonathon Smith
The long-awaited follow-up to My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 masterpiece Loveless took on mythical proportions as the years rolled by. When that album finally arrived in 2013, it couldn’t help but feel like a letdown compared to those expectations.
Nearly a decade later, it is possible to look at M B V on its own merits. While it’s true that M B V doesn’t soar to the heights of Loveless, it remains an enjoyable and worthwhile listen. M B V is set up to start with the familiar then gradually take the listener to new places. The opening three songs will feel familiar to fans who have absorbed the band’s back catalog.
In the middle third, Valentine mastermind Kevin Shields even introduces some new wrinkles into the band’s sound. The song “is this and yes” doesn’t feature any guitars, riding an ethereal organ line and Bilinda Butcher’s heavenly vocals, before ending abruptly.
Previously, Shields buried drums and percussion in the mix, treating them like another texture amongst all the guitars, but on the final third of M B V the drums are prominently at the fore. In fact, the rhythms on “nothing is” almost feel pulled from a drums-n-bass club track. (Although, good luck actually dancing to this song.)
After 22 years, M B V is the gift no one expected to have. Eight years later, if this winds up being the final statement in the band’s catalog, it is a strong note to leave on.- Joel Francis
Orgone- Connection (White Vinyl)
Ornette Coleman- Free Jazz
The words free jazz can intimidate even the most adventurous music fan, conjuring an image of instruments run amok, with little trace of melody. To be sure, the style isn’t very accessible, but the best free jazz recordings are worth the work.
Saxophone player Ornette Coleman pioneered the sub-genre of free jazz in the late 1950s, but didn’t give a name to his unique approach to playing until his sixth album, 1961’s Free Jazz. The album is subtitled A Collective Improvisation by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet. That’s a lot of syllables, but essentially it means there are two self-contained quartets playing continuous, improvised music with a couple short periods of pre-determined music.
The quartet in the left channel features Coleman and Don Cherry on trumpet, with a rhythm section. The right channel quartet includes Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and a second rhythm section. Each quartet was recorded live in a single 37-minute take with no edits or overdubbing.
The presence of two rhythm sections adds an urgent, chaotic feeling to the playing as they combine to add complex rhythms. At times, Charlie Hayden’s bass playing on the right channel complements Coleman’s sax on the left so well it takes a moment to remember the two parts were recorded separately and independently.
At first, unaccustomed ears may get overwhelmed searching for melody, harmonies. Coleman’s music isn’t based on these conventions. The more the listener is able to let go and allow the music to seep in, the more interesting and invigorating it becomes.- Joel Francis
PJ Harvey- The Peel Sessions 1991-2004
PJ Harvey- Uh Huh He
Pete Rock & Cl Smooth- Mecca & Soul Brother
Playboi Carti- Whole Lotta Red
Porcupine Tree- Up The Downstair
Prince- Purple Rain
Queen- Greatest Hits
Rage Against the Machine- Evil Empire
The Residents- Gingerbread Man
Reigning Sound- A Little More Time with Reigning Sound
Greg Cartwright’s band Reigning Sound has worked with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and recorded at Daptone Studios in Brooklyn. These touchstones summarize Cartwright’s sound: garage rock with a soul feel.
The band’s eighth album – and first in seven years – A Little More Time, has a warmth that takes away any rough edges that may have been found in the garage and replaces it with a sound that feels comfortable and accessible. Even when the band turns the amps to 11 on a cover of Adam Faith’s “I Don’t Need That Kind of Lovin’,” Cartwright and company sound more like Little Richard than the Troggs.
On the propulsive opener “Let’s Do It Again,” Cartwright sings he has been counting the days until he and a partner can “turn down the lights and play records all night.” A few songs later, the sunny AM pop song “Oh, Christine” lets you know Cartwright has studied plenty of sides in his time. “Moving and Shaking” even adds a pedal steel guitar to the mix.
A Little More Time may not have been the album Cartwright envisioned before the pandemic forced him to relocate to his hometown of Memphis, but the result captures both the mood of the lockdown while providing an outlet to celebrate sunnier times.- Joel Francis
Robert Finley- Sharecropper’s Son
In the 1960s, eager folk artists and musicologists sought out forgotten pre-War blues artists and gave them a second career in their twilight years. In the 1990s, the Fat Possum blues label undertook a similar endeavor, bringing bluesmen seldom heard far from their farms to national audiences.
At age 67, Robert Finley continues this trend with his third album, Sharecropper’s Son. Producer Dan Auerbach does a better job framing Finley’s autobiographical songs than he does on his own recent release with the Black Keys.
Finley’s high tenor is equally comfortable in a Memphis soul setting that could have emerged from a classic session at Stax or Hi Records, as he is with a more primitive Delta blues setting. Sharecropper’s Son mines the same fertile soil that has informed some of the best work by Robert Cray and Buddy Guy.
The stories on the album depict a difficult life filled with hard work and tough luck. On the title track, Finley details what it felt like to spend the days working in the fields. Later, on “Country Boy,” Finley muses that he still can’t drive by a cotton field without getting a sympathetically sore back.
But Sharecropper’s Son is also infused with hope and gratitude. On “Starting to See” and “My Story,” Finley reflects on how far he’s come today from where he was then. In the concluding song “All My Hope,” he sings “Thank God my yesterdays are gone.”
Finley has discussed in interviews his religious father would only allow gospel music. We are fortunate Finley was able to navigate around this rule and deliver these great songs to us today.- Joel Francis
Royal Blood- Typhoons
Royal Blood made their appearance in the alternative scene in 2014 with their debut self-titled album, bringing a fresh perspective to listeners. Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher make being a two-piece seem like child’s play, as most wouldn’t even guess they only have two members. Though their sound has remained consistent, they somehow make the elements they use time and time again seem timeless.
Their new album, “Typhoons,” released April 30th, 2021, giving fans more of what they love, executed in a similar yet beautiful way. Though classified under the genres of alternative/indie, and even electronic, this new album personally gave me pop grunge, stoner rock vibes. I think that’s what I love so much about this album; as I’m listening I know I’m listening to something new, but it’s almost nostalgic to me as it makes me think this is what a 2021 version of Nirvana would sound like. This is because they have the staple elements of rock and grunge, while incorporating more modern/pop sounds like cowbells, more lighthearted drums, and electronic backings.
Track #8, Boilermaker, is one of my favorites on this album because of how catchy it is, simply put. Immediately I found myself bopping my head to the beat and overdriven, fuzzy bass and swinging vocal melody. Something I think they do extremely well is having balance not only in each song, but throughout the entire album.
The unique guitar-sounding bass sounds that they execute so well has ranked them high up in the British rock music scene and has hundreds wondering how to duplicate the sound. To say they’re one of a kind would be an understatement. Sure, there are other two-piece bands like Twenty One Pilots, and The White Stripes, but to me Royal Blood stands out since they experiment with and incorporate different sounds while keeping the staple rock sound. This album is not only worth the listen, but will most likely be the top album in my Spotify playlists. – Clara Stebbin.
Sons of Kemet- Black To The Future
Across a career spanning five decades, Sade has effortlessly combined pop, soul, jazz, world and reggae into a silky, sophisticated sound. While she may not be prolific, her level of quality control is pretty close to perfect. This Far encapsulates all six of Sade’s albums – remastered at Abbey Road – on 180-gram vinyl.
Diamond Life, released in 1984, established Sade’s sound on the track, the timeless “Smooth Operator.” But as that single illustrates, Sade is adept at creating and capturing complex characters in song. Diamond Life also punctuates the pervasive myths that Sade is more concerned with mood than substance and is emotionally aloof performer. As evidence, check out the portrayal of poverty and addiction in “Sally” and Sade’s tormented delivery in “Cherry Pie.”
Sade dropped a gem for her debut and has spent subsequent releases polishing that stone. She played against her laid-back image on 1988’s Stronger than Pride, added more guitars on 2000’s Lover’s Rock and dabbled with some hip-hop elements on 2010’s Soldier of Love (her most recent album to date).
All of Sade’s albums have been huge hits around the globe and spawned many iconic singles, including “The Sweetest Taboo,” “No Ordinary Love” and “Paradise.” While a set of this scope might be too much for a newcomer, be forewarned that Sade’s individual albums and a 1994 best-of collection are extremely tough to find on vinyl. Furthermore, once you dip a toe in these waters, you will be drawn back again and again. In other words, save yourself the trouble and just dive right in to This Far. Oh, and the best part? There’s space in the box for another album, hinting that new material may be on the way.- Joel Francis
Spiritualized- Lazer Guided Melodies (Indie Exclusive)
Steely Dan- Gaucho
Stone Temple Pilots- Core
Taylor Swift- Evermore
Various Artists- Soul Slabs Vol. 2 / Various
Winger- Winger (Bonus Track, Anniversary Edition)
Wings- WINGS GREATEST
World Party- Dumbing Up
50% OFF Dire Straits- Brothers In Arms
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