It’s John Prine New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
All American Rejects – The All American Rejects [Black Colored, 180 gram Vinyl]
Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
Autechre – Amber [Gatefold LP Jacket]
Billie Holiday – Lady Sings the Blues
Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago
Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
Cocteau Twins – Four Calendar Cafe
Counting Crows – August And Everything After
Collective Soul – Collective Soul [25th Anniversary Edition]
Denzel Curry – Unlocked
Elizabeth Cook – Aftermath
Four years ago, Elizabeth Cook released Exodus of Venus, an album about death, divorce and addiction
that filtered country music through blues, psychedelia and R&B. The topics cut Cook so deeply she is still
exploring them on Aftermath, her newest album and just her third in 10 years.
Producer Butch Walker, whose resume includes collaborations with Weezer, Katy Perry, Green Day,
Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne gives the songs an expected poppy sheen. While “Bones” opens the album
with a rock and roll stomp, Aftermath eventually embraces Cook’s rural roots. “Daddy, I Got Love for
You,” a song about her late father, features a mournful pedal steel guitar and sympathetic string
arrangement. Singles “Thick Georgia Woman” and “Perfect Girls of Pop” are the kinds of songs that
would have made the new (Dixie) Chicks album more interesting.
Cook’s sense of humor keeps Aftermath from getting too dark and weighty. On “Marry, the Submissing
Years,” Cook retells Jesus’s story through his mother’s eyes (while paying tribute to John Prine in the
process). Cook’s lyrics often find a way to reference her heroes, from Carol King to George Jones, Elton
John and more.
Obviously still affected by tragedy, it is anyone’s guess when Cook will release her next album. Until
then, Aftermath offers plenty to explore. -Joel Francis
Elliot Smith – Elliot Smith [25th Anniversary Edition, Expanded Book]
The Five Americans – Progressions
Ghostface Killah – Ironman [180 gram Vinyl]
Heliocentrics – Telemetric Sounds
The Heliocentrics’ second album of 2020 is a mostly instrumental affair. The album states its intentions
early, with the opening, 13-minute title track that wanders somewhere between a mad scientist’s
laboratory, Krautrock and jazz.
The general feeling of uneasiness and dread that pervades on the first cut spills into the majority of the
albums seven remaining tracks. “Deviation,” the second track, finally coalesces around an ominous
bassline and haunting saxophone. “Space Cake” builds on the funk established in “Deviation,” while
adding an almost-intelligible spoken word part and touches of flute. “The Opening” is the most musically
accessible performance, resembling a Martin, Medeski and Wood production, complete with funky
bassline, creaky organ and swooping sound effects.
While Telemetric Sounds is steeped in paranoia, it is an irresistible listen, not only as a reflection of our
current days of apprehension and frustration, but as a companion to the band’s February release Infinity
of Now. -Joel Francis
John Prine – Sweet Revenge
John Prine – Diamonds In The Rough
John Prine – John Prine
John Prine – Common Sense
John Coltrane – Giant Steps [60th Anniversary Edition]
Kanye West – Ye
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Loren Oden – Adrian Younge presents Loren Oden: My Heart My Love
The Locust – Plague Soundscapes
Lil Baby – My Tum (Blue Colored Vinyl)
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going on [180 gram Vinyl]
Massive Attack – Mezzanine [180 gram vinyl]
Neighb’rhood Childr’n – Neighb’rhood Childr’n
Nas – Illmatic
The debut album by Nasty Nas from Queensbridge is the phantom he’s chased his entire career. This
isn’t to say Nas hasn’t made some great albums – and banging singles – since Illmatic’s 1994 release, but
it seems like the roots of all his other victories somehow wind back here.
Aided by production from Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Large Professor, Illmatic is a tour of the
ghetto where Nas grew up. A look at the ambition, desperation and consequences of the people who
live there, told with a fluid, literate flow.
Illmatic is the album that, combined with Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die, released five months later,
turned some of spotlight away from West Coast G-funk and gave some shine to New York City, the
birthplace of hip hop.
The album carries so much weight it was released in a 10 th anniversary edition, and then as Illmatic XX
ten years later. Four years from now, it will no doubt get the 30 th anniversary treatment. But there’s no
reason to wait until then. The music holds up and can be enjoyed an any point. So, if you don’t have
Illmatic, here’s your chance. If you do, then pull it out and give it another spin. -Joel Francis
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets [180 gram Vinyl]
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut [180 gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket]
Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn [180 gram Vinyl]
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding [Pink colored Vinyl]
Prince – Purple Rain
PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love
PJ Harvey made her debut with the primitive Dry and followed it up with the even more visceral Rid of
Me. For her third album, 1995’s To Bring You My Love, she pulls back a little bit. Organs and chimes
color her songs and even a string quartet makes several appearances.
Not that To Bring You My Love is baroque orch-pop by any stretch. But where Harvey would have dug in
and drawn blood before, she holds back a bit, content with leaving bruises and burn marks instead of
Part of this might be because Harvey plays organ on each song, instead of guitar as in the past (although
she still plays guitar on a handful of tracks). It may also be that like a predator toying with its prey,
Harvey heightens the mood by hinting to the listener that there is plenty more bubbling just under the
surface. Check out the whispered outro on “Down by the Water” for maximum creepiness.
Regardless, To Bring You My Love is a compelling step forward for a fascinating artist and a must-own
album for fans of literate, combustible, emotional music. -Joel Francis
PJ Harvey – To Bring You My Love – Demos
The reissues of PJ Harvey albums have been an embarrassment of riches to longtime fans. Not only are
fans able to own Harvey’s albums on vinyl without paying exorbitant prices, but Harvey has paired an
album’s worth of demos with each release. This month’s To Bring You My Love delivered the third demo
collection. While it is unclear if her collaborations with John Parrish – also part of the reissue campaign –
will be paired with demos, the chance to have these behind-the-scene documents is impressive.
The Dry – Demos collection showed how much of Harvey’s sound was already there in her head, before
the band was assembled. Rid of Me – Demos, a.k.a. 4-Track Demos, proves that the visceral, raw force of
Rid of Me had less to do with Steve Albini’s abrasive production than the bloody, unfiltered approach in
Harvey’s songs. Even better, it contains a half dozen songs that didn’t make the album, but hold up very
well. With the release of the ornate To Bring You My Love this month, Harvey gives us another set of
demos. These works-in-progress pull back the more elaborate production and illustrate how she
imagined the arrangements before they were built up.
I can’t wait to hear what future demos reveal behind the sophisticated polish of Stories from the City,
Stories from the Sea or the haunting, minimalist White Chalk. Fortunately, since the entire reissue
campaign is scheduled for one year – and we’re already three albums deep – we won’t have to wait
long. Even better, since Harvey has packaged the demos as stand-alone releases rather than coupling
them in pricey deluxe editions, I can budget for them easier. -Joel Francis
Richard Thompson & Linda – Hokey Pokey
Richard Thompson & Linda – I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Richard Thompson – Pour Down Like Silver
Raveonettes – Pretty in Black
The sophomore album from the Danish indie rock duo Raveonettes is a love letter to pre-British Invasion
rock and roll. Acoustic track “The Heavens” opens the album with sound of a needle dropping on a
record and sounds like a lost Ricky Nelson side. Ronnie Spector brings her wall-of-sound vocals to “Ode
to L.A.,” while Velvet Underground drummer Mo Tucker plays on several tracks. There’s even a cover of
“My Boyfriend’s Back.”
Of course, these elements figured heavily on the Raveonettes previous album, but Pretty in Black is
more modest in its goals. The performances are more straightforward, lacking the shoegaze elements
that made The Chain Gang of Love, their major label debut, so appealing (although “Somewhere in
Texas” comes close). It is tempting to dismiss Pretty in Black as a less adventurous redux of Chain Gang,
but that’s not entirely accurate. For the first time, the band explores territory beyond the three-minute
songwriting mark and don’t limit their arrangements to one key. Sharin Foo’s heavenly vocals are almost
worth the price of admission on their own.
While Pretty in Black may not be the first album Raveonettes fans reach for, it remains charming in its
own way. Pretty in Black is an understated stepping stone between the band’s debut and the menacing
triumph of Lust Lust Lust. -Joel Francis
Rebelution – Falling Into Place
The Rolling Stones – Goats Head Soup [Deluxe Edition, 2 LP, 180 gram Vinyl]
Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ectsasy
Slowdive – Souvlaki [180 gram vinyl]
Spoon – Everything Hits At Once: The Best Of Spoon
The Talking Heads – The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads
Throwing Muses – Sun Rackets
Tom Waits – Closing Time [180 gram Vinyl]
The Velvet Underground – 1969
The Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White heat
Warren Zevon – Excitable Boy [Red Colored Vinyl]
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