It’s George Harrison New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Aesop Rock- Appleseed
Amythyst Kiah- Wary + Strange
Anita Baker- Rapture
Arrested Development- 3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days
Barbra Streisand- Release Me 2
Big Brother & Holding Company- Sex, Dope And Cheap Thrills
Bikini Kill- Revolution Girl Style Now
Bikini Kill- Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Billie Eilish- Happier Than Ever
Growing up in the light, Billie Eilish has always had the pressure on her back to start and carry out a legacy she was “born for”. I think she found
herself in a place of serenity being so attracted to in her youth, but as she grew into her sound and continues to grow, she has to deal with the struggles of being a teenager in fame.
You don’t get to enjoy a normal childhood when there’s constantly eyes on you, “things I once enjoyed, just keep me employed now,” she sings in ‘Getting Older’, track one off of “Happier Than Ever.” She grew up with the love of music and thoroughly enjoyed making it but as the spotlight grew, so did the pressure. For her, music was an outlet, then a stressor, then an outlet again. I think she’s starting to find the balance of living life happily outside of music while still keeping her reputation. You can hear this with her new album as she gets more experimental yet raw and real. “Oxytocin,” is more of a hyper pop with the duality of gritty and explosive vocals, giving it a darker feel while “my future” and “GOLDWING” contrast this idea. These tracks showcase her beautiful range of octaves in catharsis, yet with a catchy vibe making for the perfect tracks.
Throughout the album, she explores real topics such as: death, relationship issues, self love issues/doubt, and stepping into her power. She does this meticulously, with each song exploring different ways to convey and draw out emotion. – Nova Stebbin
Black Francis – Bluefinger
The Pixies reunion in 2004 took a while to bear fruits beyond the concert stage. Sure, legions of devoted fans were finally able to see the band perform and hear the songs they cherished, but new material was a little slow in coming. After a couple rootsy singer/songwriter albums, Pixies frontman Black Francis finally delivered the raw, caustic rock and roll fans craved on 2007’s Bluefinger.
A tribute to the Dutch artist Herman Brood, Bluefinger doesn’t take long to deliver the goods. Opening song “Captain Pasty” is full of what Francis does best: stabbing guitar lines, galloping drums, obtuse and yelped lyrics with lines about “alabaster faces.” The next number, “Threshold Apprehension” is very much in Pixies mode, with Violet Clark standing in for Kim Deal on backing vocals.
While Bluefinger will please Pixies fans, it’s not a rote rehash of glory days. Album standout “Angels Come to Comfort You” shows how Francis’ has grown as a songwriter during his solo career. The choir on song outro strike a balance between haunting and comforting that only Francis can achieve. “Discotheque 36” borrows a couple tricks from Francis’ Nashville sojourn.
Bluefinger isn’t just Francis best rock album since his first two albums with the Catholics more than a decade before, but it’s a better Pixies record than Indie Cindy. A showcase of Francis at the top of his game, this is a must-own. -Joel Francis
Bleachers- Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night is the third album from Jack Antonoff’s band/solo project, Bleachers. While Antonoff explored new wave on the past two Bleachers albums, the sound of this new record recorded during the COVID lockdown feels more like the project of a singer-songwriter. Many of the album’s odes to sadness would sound at home in a playlist with Arcade Fire and The National.
It’s an album full of big singalong choruses slathered in slapback reverb. If Springsteen’s appearance didn’t play enough to nostalgia, then the tenor sax solos most certainly do. But for all the partying the band’s sound evokes, there sure is a lot of anxiety and, well, sadness in the lyrics. A song like “Chinatown” is a perfect single, and Antonoff somehow makes it sound like crying in bed, dysfunction, breakups, and getting bored out of our minds is one big party.
The quietest songs work the best, perhaps because they provide some variety and a break from the other anthemic songs. “91” starts the album with baroque millennial pop, a sort of updated “Eleanor Rigby” for 2021. Later, “Strange Behavior” works well with its subdued horn arrangement. Songs like “45” or “What’d I Do with All this Faith?” don’t swing for the fences and give the album some proverbial room to breathe. Antonoff’s talk-singing performances on these songs seem like a bit of a comedown after the party of the other tracks.
The pacing and length of the album temper any feelings that Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night is merely an exercise in nostalgia. The album has ten songs, so it doesn’t get stuck in any mood for long. With so many lengthy releases now aimed at boosting statistics with streaming, it’s nice to hear an artist be selective with the number and order of songs. -Jonathon Smith
Branford Marsalis- The Secret Between The Shadow And The Soul
Brian Jackson- Brian Jackson Jid008
Charles Mingus- Mingus At Carnegie Hall Deluxe Edition
Cigarettes After Sex- Cigarettes After Sex
David Byrne- Love This Giant
Depeche Mode- Songs Of Faith & Devotion
Dermot Kennedy- Without Fear
Drive-By Truckers- Plan 9 Records July 13, 2006
Dropkick Murphys- Do or Die
Durand Jones & The Indications- Private Space
Soul revivalists Durand Jones and the Indications have never been afraid to wear their influences proudly. On their third album, the Indiana-based quintet mine the late ‘70s groove of Earth, Wind and Fire, the Isley Brothers and – gasp! – disco.
Opening number “Love Will Work It Out” sounds like a lost slab of Philly soul. The vibe flows into the next song, “Witchoo,” which skitters across the dance floor and promises a heavenly night of escape. Late-era Kool and the Gang wish they could produce something this smooth and fun.
While some lyrics reference the pandemic and social justice issues, Private Space exists as an escape. A place where dreamy slow jams like the title song, the love-drenched “Ride or Die” (with excellent vocals from drummer Aaron Frazer) and lustful “Sexy Thang” create an alternate reality where the strength of love is enough to solve all problems.
Jones and his crew expand their sound enough on Private Space to keep it from sounding formulaic. The record plays like a lost album from the glory days of soul/disco, but proves it’s the perfect sound for today as well.- Joel Francis
Durand Jones & The Indications somehow find a way to bring 80s/90s soul and R&B to the modern age beautifully with their new album, “Private Space.” I actually listened to this album for the first time right after Leon Bridges’ new album and it seemed to go together naturally. Jones’ range is a bit more expansive than Bridges’ but radiating the same energy. With bouncy, bass heavy tracks layered with synths and jazzy guitar riffs, every track on this album is catchy in my opinion.
I admire how they stick to one overall message of the album: love. Specifically in track one, “Love Will Work It Out,” Jones sings about the overarching power of love, “don’t you ever doubt that love will work it out” with cheery tones and powerful melodies complimenting this theme. In terms of theme, despite there being repetitive elements from track to track, they each seem to carry a different message all relating to intimacy and affection. They use differentiation of melodies, artist features, and unique contrasting synths to carry this theme seamlessly throughout the album.
One of my favorites off this album has to be “Witchoo,” simply because it’s one of the catchier songs on the album. From start to finish, the bass carries the track with layers upon layers of vocals leading to a memorable hook, “I just wanna be witchoo.”
Overall I think their new album is a hit, and I think many others would agree as it’s only been out for a short period of time and it’s already making charts. I’d recommend this album to anyone who likes Leon Bridges and Black Pumas. – Nova Stebbin
Fela Kuti- Afrodisiac
Fela Kuti- J.j.d. (johnny Just Drop)
Fela Kuti- Music Of Many Colours
Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits
Frankie & Witch Fingers- Sidewalk
George Harrison- All Things Must Pass
Green Day- Nimrod
Greg Foat- Symphonie Pacique
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
Henry Franklin- The Skipper at Home
House of Pain- House of Pain
Jackson Browne- Downhill From Everywhere
Jimmy Smith- Root Down
Joao Donato- Joao Donato Jid007
John Mayer-Sob Rock
Juice Wrld- Legends Never Die
Killing Joke- Pylon
Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin IV
Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound
Leonard Cohen- Songs from a Room
Mac Miller- Go:Od Am
Mac Miller- Swimming
Macy Gray- Stripped
McCoy Tyner- Expansions
Metallica- Ride The Lightning
Method Man- Method Man Presents Street Life
Rapper Streetlife made several high-profile guest spots on Wu-Tang affiliated albums throughout the ‘90s building anticipation for his solo debut. That album finally debuted in 2005, long after the hype built from appearances on Tical, Wu-Tang Forever, Iron Flag and Tical 2000: Judgment Day had worn off.
Although billed as Method Man presents Streetlife, Method only appears on three tracks. Inspectah Deck appears on another cut, leaving Streetlife on his own for most of the album. This isn’t a problem because, as proved on his many features, Streetlife is a talented rapper.
The problem with Street Education lies mainly with unsympathetic producers, who often create tracks that either don’t complement Streetlife’s flow or – even worse – are flat-out mediocre and boring.
Street Education had the potential for launching another major talent from the Wu-Tang universe. Instead, it stands as Streetlife’s only full-length to date, a sad footnote that will only be of interest to the most devoted Wu-Tang fans. – Joel Francis
Motley Crue- Saints of Los Angeles
Mudhoney- Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Mudhoney debuted in 1988, making their mark in the music industry. I think a lot of bands have taken inspiration from them since, as they technically classify as rock but they took rock and bent it slightly. Being a rock band from Seattle in the late 80’s was almost competitive since plenty of other young teens were banning together in their garages with the thirst to stand out. When Nirvana signed to DGC records the rock scene blew up in Seattle, and that’s when Mudhoney signed to Warner Bros, kicking off their start with Warner with, “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.”
They stray from their previous work with this album as it’s a bit more experimental and post-rock rather than punk or hard rock.This album kind of reminds me of a mix of early Queens of the Stone Age and Nirvana, but leaning more on the post-rock/ grunge side. This lengthy album covers everything from rock, to punk, grunge, and alternative rock. They play with the sound of rock like it’s a toy, and that’s one thing I admire about them; they’re not afraid to be different. Around the time this album came out, there wasn’t much incorporation of psychedelic rock with hard rock, with post-rock, and other genres found in this album, but they certainly jumped on the train of discovering what sounds they could make.
Overall I found not only entertainment, but joy listening to this album. It personally draws me in when I don’t know exactly what to be expecting. From track to track, they use various elements swiped from different genres to create something truly unique. Calling for a surprise thinking you’re about to hear something completely different than what’s playing is what I like. This is what makes them Mudhoney. -Nova Stebbin
My Chemical Romance- Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge
Nada Surf- High/ Low
I’m sure if someone said the name Nada Surf they wouldn’t know who you were talking about, that is until you play their song, “Popular.” This song was a hit in the 90’s with over twenty million streams off their album, “High/ Low.” This was their debut, immediately gathering a following because at this time, this was a new sound to listeners. They use spoken word and melodic rock mixed with grunge and post-rock for a unique sound, bound to have inspired many to follow. They remind me of a band called La Dispute, debuting in 2006, using prominent bass lines and gritty soloed vocals to really emphasize their message and evoke emotion.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is, “Zen Brain.” This song is similar to the hit “Popular,” but softer due to its use of quieter drums, and literate and melodic lines to reel in to a specific sound. I like the variation on this album while still keeping their sound. I think a lot of their sound comes from the way singer Matthew Caws utilizes his melodies and ranges which I like. Some artists try to over exert themselves to fit into a category unlike themselves, only highlighting what they should stick to, but I think Caws sticks to his range while still having different variants.
I’m glad this album is resurfacing because it’s more apparent now where a lot of current bands take their inspiration from. I’d recommend this album to anyone who likes La Dispute, and Balance and Composure. -Nova Stebbin
Nathaniel Rateliff- Red Rocks 2020
Five years ago, Nathaniel Rateliff, his band the Night Sweats and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed an energetic, engaging set before a full house at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver, and released the concert one year later as Live at Red Rocks. It remains the best introduction to Rateliff’s work.
Red Rocks 2020 could not be a more different album. While both released draw from the same venue, they occurred in very different paradigms. The absence of any horns is an immediate signifier, but even more significantly there is no audience.
Playing to an empty house in a venue that holds 10,000 people adds a level of loneliness and sadness to these performances. This isn’t to say Red Rocks 2020 is a sad album. There is a charm to these lower-key, rootsier presentations. Rateliff’s strengths as a songwriter have a chance to shine a little more than usual without the dynamic interplay from the horn section. Here, he comes off in the same strain of Americana shared by Dawes and Lord Huron.
Red Rocks 2020 is a wistful, introspective live album, the Sunday-morning comedown to Live at Red Rocks raucous Saturday night. Combined, both Red Rocks live volumes paint a comprehensive portrait as Rateliff as an artist.- Joel Francis
The Neighb’rhood Childr’n- Neighb’rhood Childr’n
Nf- Clouds (The Mixtape)
Nf- The Search
Nico- Drama Of Exile
Oasis- (Whats the Story) Morning Glory
Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears
Paul Simon- Still Crazy After All These Years
Peter Brotzmann- Alarm
Peter Gabriel- So
Prince- Purple Rain
Prince- Welcome 2 America
In the five years since his death, Prince’s infamous archive has blessed fans with several supplemental releases. Welcome 2 America is the first stand-alone release to come from the archives.
Originally recorded for release in 2010, but shelved for unknown reasons, Welcome 2 America sounds like other Prince releases from that area: slick funk with impeccable precision, but so polished it blunts the music’s energy. But the lyrics are what make America stand out and why it is a welcome addition to the catalog, even 11 years later.
Prince was no stranger to social commentary – see “Sign O’ the Times,” “Planet Earth” and “Baltimore” – and Welcome 2 America continues this trend. Across a dozen songs and just shy of an hour, Prince tackles racial justice and equality, technology and corporations and what it means to be human in the midst of these colliding – and conflicting – paradigms and priorities.
While the funky music keeps the lyrical themes from getting too weighty, Prince tosses in a couple of his best pop songs to lighten the mood as well. “Hot Summer” is made for backyard parties and poolside dancing. Likewise, it is impossible not to scoot and shuffle during “1000 Light Years from Home” (which doubles as a utopian vision for America).
Listening to Welcome 2 America, I wondered if Janelle Monae had perhaps heard these songs if they influenced her similarly themed Prince tribute album Dirty Computer. Regardless, both albums prove that the best way to get a heavy message across is with a light rhythm and funky arrangement.- Joel Francis
Rock N Roll High School- Rock ’n’ Roll High School (Music From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Sam Cooke- The Best Of
Takuya Kuroda- Fly Moon Die Soon
The Beatles- Revolver
The Clash- London Calling
The Intruders- The Best Of The Intruders
The O’Jays- The Best Of The O’Jays
The Zombies- Odessey & Oracle
Various Artists- Nativity In Black: Tribute To Black Sabbath
Velvet Underground- Velvet Underground and Nico
Wu-Tang Clan- Enter Wu-Tang
Yola- Stand for Myself
The year 2020 didn’t provide much good news for many people, but England-born, Nashville-__ soul singer Yola got a particularly rough batch of bad news. Her residency at the famous Ryman Theater was postponed, as was her first film role. Yet Yola doesn’t drown in her tears on her sophomore album, Stand for Myself. Neither does she beat her chest with an album full of “I Will Survive” anthems.
Instead, Yola is open and honest about the ups and downs of the past year, taking her audience along for the ride. Yola’s honesty throughout makes Stand for Myself an intimate experience which builds as Yola exposes more and more of her soul.
Album opener “Barely Alive” provides the album’s thesis: “Where will you start living/Now that you’ve survived?” On the way to answering these questions, Yola – along with producer and guitarist Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys – runs through ‘70s AM pop (“Diamond Studded Shoes”), R&B (“Break the Bough”), blues (“Starlight”) and country (“Whatever You Want”).
By the time we get to the closing title track, a rock and roll masterpiece, Yola has answered her opening question: “I’m alive, it’s hard to explain/It took this much time and took this much pain,” she sings. “You can get here if you’re willing/Let go of yourself for a new beginning.” – Joel Francis
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