It’s Japanese Breakfast New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Adrian Younge- The American Negro
Ally Venable- Heart Of Fire
Art Blakey- The Witch Doctor
Bad Brains- Into the Future
Beatles- Let it Be
BINKER AND MOSES- Escape The Flames
Blackberry Smoke- You Hear Georgia
Bob Dylan- World Gone Wrong
Bruno Mars- 24K Magic
Can- Live In Stuttgart 1975
Circles Around the Sun- Circles Around The Sun
Curtis Amy and Dupree Bolton – Katanga
Czarface & MF DOOM- Super What
Hip hop collective Czarface’s second collaboration with MF Doom was ready to drop last spring, when the pandemic put everything on hold. Before the album was released, Doom died on Halloween, adding extra importance and significance to the album.
Sonically, Doom and Czarface are good company. From the comic book inspired artwork, super villain themes and a production aesthetic that leans heavily on the Saturday morning cartoon experience. The wide-ranging lyrics reference everything from comic book characters (of course) to Radiohead and Quinten Tarantino films.
While Doom gets co-starring status on the cover, this is mainly a Czarface show. The duo of Wu-Tang member Inspecta Deck and Esoteric handle the majority of the rhymes, although D.M.C. and Del the Funky Homosapien also stop by. (Del’s feature on “Jason and the Czargonauts” is one of the album’s best moments.) While Doom consistently appears, he often feels like a frequent guest than full-blown collaborator.
Super What is a fun, half-hour romp from two kindred spirits, that unfortunately got elevated with Doom’s passing. The album is enjoyable for what it is, but those looking for greater significance will be disappointed.- Joel Francis
Donald Fagen- The Nightfly
Dr. Dre- Chronic
Durand Jones & The Indications- American Love Call
The Doors- The Doors
The Doors- Waiting For The Sun
Etta James- At Last
Fountains of Wayne- Welcome Interstate Managers
The NYC-based power-pop quartet’s third album is best known for the Top 40 hit “Stacy’s Mom,” but the entire album is a sunny blast of guitar-based rock that will tattoo a smile on your face.
Across 16 songs (and just under an hour), Fountains of Wayne display big fuzzy guitars, even bigger choruses, great lyrical couplets – “I saw you talkin’/to Christopher Walken” in “Hackensack” is my favorite – a sprinkling of New Wave keyboards and sweet vocal harmonies. The result is an album that will make any fan of Weezer’s blue album turn green with envy, with a little Ben Folds to temper the party.
Scratch just below the surface and there are rainclouds hidden behind the sun’s glare. Opening track “Mexican Wine” details self-medication through alcoholism. “Hey Julie” is story of depressed white-collar worker relies on his wife to get through. The main character in “Hackensack” daydreams about the potentially glamorous lives of former classmates while stuck in his hometown.
The melodies are so infectious and the songs are so catchy these moments can often fly past undetected, but show an underappreciated nuance to Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger’s songwriting.
Schlesinger’s death from Covid-19 last year means there won’t be any more moments like this flowing from his pen, but the vinyl debut of Welcome Interstate Managers is the perfect excuse to celebrate the songwriter at his effervescent best.- Joel Francis
Frank Black – Frank Black Francis
Frank Black – Honeycomb
Frank Black – Fast Man Raider Man
Just because Frank Black reformed the Pixies, didn’t mean his solo work was taking a backseat. While indie rock fans were rapturously celebrating being able to see their favorite band perform, Black dropped three albums in as many years under his own name.
The first of these releases, 2004’s Frank Black Francis, made sense in light of the Pixies reunion. The first half of this set are 15 solo demos recorded the night before the Pixies recorded the Purple Tape (half of which became Come On Pilgrim). It’s a bit jarring to hear Black perform these songs alone, calling out where other instruments would figure in. His demented cackle in “Build High” becomes even more disarming as that song runs right into “Nimrod’s Son,” an even more demented tale. The second half of Frank Black Francis finds Black reworking a baker’s dozen Pixies tunes with Two Pale Boys. Many of the songs bare only slight resemblance to the beloved Pixies arrangements, but it is interesting to hear these well-known songs with fresh ears, cast in a different light.
In 2005, Black threw everyone hoping for a Pixies reunion album for a loop when he dropped Honeycomb, an album recorded in Nashville with some of the best session musicians from yesteryear. If few were expecting Black to record with Booker T. and the MGs guitarist Steve Cropper and Neil Young sideman Spooner Oldham, even fewer were anticipating covers of “The Dark End of the Street” and “Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day.” Surprisingly, Honeycomb works because while Black’s songs are certainly unconventional, they are constructed well. Black plays to these strengths – particularly with his singing – throughout the album.
Only 11 months later, Black dropped Fast Man Raider Man. In many ways, the 95-minute album feels like a sequel to Honeycomb. Black recorded part of the album in Nashville again, but casts an even wider net this time, enlisting Al Kooper, Buddy Miller, The Band’s drummer Levon Helm, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke and many others. The result is sonically diverse as well, ranging from the jazzy “If Your Poison Gets You” and Irish drinking song “Dirty Old Town” to the garage rock of “Where the Wind is Going” and “The End of Summer,” which resembles an extremely polished Tom Waits number.
Pixies fans will enjoy different versions of their favorite songs on Frank Black Francis, while those who appreciate Black the songwriter will find much to love across Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man. – Joel Francis
Frank Zappa – Zappa (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Clear Vinyl)
The Fall- Live At St. Helens Technical College 1981
Gary Louris- Jump For Joy
GZA- Liquid Swords
Gary Numan- Intruder
Guns N Roses- Appetite For Destruction
Japanese Breakfast- Jubilee
Jason Isbell, Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood- Live at the Shoals Theatre
Jess & the Ancient Ones- Vertigo
Jesse Dayton- Mixtape Volume 1
Jimi Hendrix- Electric Ladyland
John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – Leftover Feelings
John Hiatt probably isn’t your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter – that’s likely another John, Prine – but Hiatt is presumably high on their list. Across the decades, Hiatt’s songs have been covered by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Nick Lowe, Roseanne Cash and countless others.
With a couple dozen albums in his catalog, Hiatt reaches for something new on Leftover Feelings, partnering with the Jerry Douglas Band. With a career reaching back nearly as far as Hiatt’s, Douglas’ list of collaborators is just as impressive. Hiatt’s always been more of a rock and blues guy, but Douglas’ bluegrass playing fits Hiatt’s rootsy aesthetic perfectly.
Leftover Feelings opens with the 21st century cousin of the rockabilly classic “Brand New Cadillac.” Hiatt’s long black electric Cadillac has AI and only needs two stops to traverse the continent – one for groceries and one for a charge. Douglas’ dobro and his band keeps the pace choogling despite the lack of percussion. On “Little Goodnight,” one of the few songs with electric guitar, Christian Sedelmyer delivers one of the record’s best solos on his violin.
The album reaches its emotional apex with the breakup lament “I’m in Asheville,” a song that would work well with Allison Krauss, another of Douglas’ frequent partners, and “Light of the Burning Sun,” an honest telling of Hiatt’s brother’s suicide. While Leftover Feelings never regain the quicker tempos found before, but it remains delightful and rewarding throughout.- Joel Francis
Kate Bush- Hounds of Love
Kevin Morby- Sundowner
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Live In San Francisco ’16
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Murder Of The Universe
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach
The Knife- Silent Shout
Korea Town Acid- Metamorphosis
Liz Phair- Soberish
Lou Barlow- Reason to Live
While J. Mascis has always hidden his emotions behind his guitar in Dinosaur Jr., bassist Lou Barlow has been the one to treat his songs like therapy sessions. After Barlow was booted from Dino in the early ‘90s, he pioneered the lo-fi movement with groups Sebadoah and Folk Implosion. Reason to Live, Barlow’s first solo album in six years, finds him in a better space, both emotionally and aesthetically.
Barlow plays almost all the instruments on Reason to Live and recorded the album at home, but the sound quality is much improved from his early days. There’s no hiss or sounds of tape slipping. Barlow is in a better place emotionally, as well. As the title indicates, Barlow is satisfied in his life as a father of three. (He even reconciled with Mascis several years ago and is a key player in Dinosaur Jr.’s incredible second act.)
While Barlow is more content and well-adjusted, he remains an honest lyricist. On standout track “Love Intervene,” he muses “Tide after tide, change is the meaning of life/ It turns any wall into sand.” Two tracks later he offers a counter perspective on “I Don’t Like Changes.”
Reason to Live originated as an 18-month project through the Artist Enabler Club, where fans paid a quarterly fee for digital content from Barlow’s vault and limited-edition pressings of new material. These songs are too good to remain the sole province of hardcore fans and thankfully may now be enjoyed by everyone.- Joel Francis
Menahan Street Band- The Exciting Sounds Of Menahan Street Band
Merry Clayton- Beautiful Scars
Metallica- Ride The Lightning
Michael Jackson- Off The Wall
My Bloody Valentine- M B V
The Meters- Struttin’
Muddy Waters- Muddy Waters At Newport 1960
Mick Fleetwood and Friends – Celebrate the Music of Peter Green and the Early Years of Fleetwood Mac
Night Beats- Outlaw R&b
Pink Floyd- The Wall
PJ Harvey- The Peel Sessions 1991-2004
Cult British songwriter and guitarist PJ Harvey’s collection of sessions recorded for the legendary BBC DJ John Peel are the closest thing to a live album in her catalog. The dozen songs in this anthology trace her from her time as an emerging artist in late 1991, to a final session recorded six weeks after Peel’s death.
In the liner notes, Harvey confesses the oversized importance recording for Peel meant for her as an artist. You can hear that reverence in the performances, particularly in the version of “Water” delivered nearly a year before Harvey’s debut dropped. The final song, “You Come Through,” is a particularly poignant moment. Singing at a tribute to Peel, Harvey delivers the lines “Come on my friend/drink to good times/golden wishes/to your health and mine.”
While many of Harvey’s biggest songs are missing, she sweetens the pot by including a couple covers originally released as b-sides, a non-album soundtrack contribution, Japanese market bonus track and duet with John Parish. Despite the wide range of material and performance dates, The Peel Sessions winds up feeling personal and intimate in a way that a more traditional in-concert live album couldn’t. As a sampler of Harvey’s catalog and testament to her ability as a songwriter and performer, The Peel Sessions is a necessary addition to any PJ Harvey library.- Joel Francis
Precious Bryant-The Truth
Rise Against- Nowhere Generation
Rod Stewart- Rod Stewart: 1975-1978 (5LP) (Boxed Set)
Rose City Band- Rose City Band
Royal Blood- Typhoons
St. Vincent- Daddy’s Home
The Sisters of Mercy- Some Girls Wander By Mistake
The Specials- Ghost Town
Described as a sister album to Folklore, Taylor Swift’s ninth album came out only five months after her previous release. Working again with The National’s Aaron Dessner, Evermore finds Swift continuing in the same vein of chamber pop accented by fingerpicked acoustic guitars, quiet pianos and a dusting of strings.
Lyrically, Swift approaches more mature subject matter. Early songs about crushes and puppy love have given way to portraits of romantic love and marriage. The song “Marjorie” is a tribute to Swift’s grandmother, the opera singer Marjorie Finlay and even samples one of Finlay’s songs.
Elsewhere, assisted by Haim, Swift weaves a tale of true crime on “No Body, No Crime.” On the contemplative “Coney Island,” Swift is joined by the rest of The National and duets with Dessner as a pair of long-time lovers looking back on their relationship and wondering when their paths diverged.
Fans of Folklore will definitely enjoy the second helping of Evermore. As one of the most popular musicians on the planet, Swift doesn’t need to expand her fan base, but Evermore may convince skeptics that there is more to Swift’s artistry than the naïve country-pop hits from her early albums.- Joel Francis
Too $hort- Life Is…Too $hort
Tribe Called Quest- Midnight Marauders
Tyler, The Creator- Flower Boy
Waxahatchee- Saint Cloud
Wolf Alice- Blue Weekend
Wu-Tang Clan- Enter the Wu-Tang
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