It’s Alice Coltrane New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
2Pac- Until The End Of Time
Northern California rockers have come a long way since their 1990s roots as a hardcore punk band. The quartet’s 11th builds off the sound established on their previous album, 2017’s The Blood Album, and bears the heavy influence of 1980s legends Depeche Mode and The Cure.
The ‘80s homage is day-glo bright back-to-back cuts “On Your Back,” which sounds like a Cure outtake and “Escape from Los Angeles,” which could almost be a New Order song. Later, “Death of the Party” would be the hit of any New Wave party, despite the song’s title. “Back from the Flesh” could easily hide in a Depeche Mode playlist.
But the band’s more traditional, guitar-driven roots are still available in ample supply on the bouncy “Begging for Trouble,” anthemic “No Eyes” and the stop-start “Looking Tragic.” AFI also get an assist from Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan on “Too Far Gone,” which marries a soaring ‘80s pop chorus with rock verses and textures.
Although Bodies is an homage to a bygone era, it is also the sound of AFI continuing to expand their sound. After 30 years as a band, this adventurousness should be applauded. That they are clearly having a lot of fun in doing so is the cherry on top of this sundae.- Joel Francis
A Perfect Circle- Thirteenth Step
Alice Coltrane- Kirtan: Turiya Sings
The widow of jazz legend John Coltrane, pianist and harp player Alice Coltrane spent the decade after her husband’s passing creating a path of groundbreaking and intense spiritual jazz albums. By the 1980s, however, Coltrane had largely passed from the public eye. Coltrane traded the jazz stage for a church rostrum, developing music for an ashram in California.
Kirtan: Turiya Sings is drawn from one of Coltrane’s early ‘80s spiritual cassettes, available only to other ashram members. The nine songs here were professionally recorded and reflect Coltrane’s Hindu spirituality. The songs also represent Coltrane’s debut as a vocalist. With singing in Sanskrit, the performances are stately and reverential. Listeners expecting Coltrane’s avant garde jazz approach will be disappointed. Here, Coltrane takes her time letting the sacred mantras advance at their own speed. This is less music for active listening, than to let gradually infuse the atmosphere and, eventually, the soul of the listener.
Several of the songs here were included in a 2017 compilation on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Hearing them as the hour-long cycle Coltrane intended creates a strong devotional experience for the patient listener.- Joel Francis
Alexis Marshall- House Of Lull . House Of When
Allen Stone- Building Balance
“Rebuilding Balance” was released in 2019, giving Gen Z a taste of modern R&B/Soul. From the first 10 seconds of the album, my head was bobbing to Stone’s heavy, rhythmic guitar riff with backing wavy synths. Allen brings elements of indie and pop to the classic soul sound, making for a very unique record.
Track two, “Sunny Days,” couldn’t have been placed in a better spot on the album. Track one introduces the album with R&B, to flow with Stone’s previous work, but track two contrasts with sharper indie guitar flings, complimenting bass riffs, and powerful vocal lines immediately giving the album variation.
As I continued listening, I found only well constructed, entrancing tracks. Similar to English artist Jacob Collier, Allen Stone makes use of every sound that would complement each element to fill the space for the most fulfilling listening experience. One thing I notice with that trait, is that with each listen I find something new. “Hold It Down,” is a perfect example of this. It starts off with a simple, yet alluring guitar chord progression. As the song continues, he adds layers of vocal backing, doubled guitar, and multiple synths, to lead up to a powerful chorus. He executes this concept of fullness throughout the entire album, yet somehow there is very minimal repetition in elements, which I find admirable.
It’s hard to choose just one favorite from this album, but if I had to, I’d narrow it down to, “Give You Blue,” as it reminds me of one of my favorite artists, John Mayer; a beautifully constructed R&B track. The other favorite would have to be, “Back To The Swing.” In my opinion this is one of the most empowering, strongest tracks on the entire album. There are so many aspects of the song that make it impossible not to headbang. It almost reminds me of a modern, R&B version of a Rage Against the Machine song, as it talks about important topics in an empowering, gritty manner.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this album from start to finish and I’d recommend it to anyone that likes artists such as: John Mayer, Tingsek, and Amos Lee. – Nova Stebbin.
Bad Brains- Bad Brains
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billie Holiday- Lady Sings the Blues
Billy F Gibbons- Hardware
Black Pumas- Black Pumas
Bohren & der Club of Gore- Geisterfaust
Can- Live In Stuttgart 1975
Chet Baker- Sings
Cinderella- Night Songs
Curtis Mayfield- Curtis (50th Anniversary Edition)
Dazed and Confused- Dazed And Confused (Music From The Motion Picture)
Descendent- 9th & Walnut
Dexter Gordon- GO!
Dolly Parton- Early Dolly
Emma-Jean Thackray- Ley Lines
Emma-Jean Thackray- Rain Dance
Emma-Jean Thackray- Walrus
Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters’ self-titled album released in 1995, is not only their first album, but in my opinion one of their best. Rather than being trapped in a pit of sorrow and despair after the death of former band mate Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl channeled his emotions into something bigger than he ever knew it would be.
Grohl tracked a 15 song demo at Robert Lang’s studio, all by himself. He later took that demo and without hesitation started (for a short time a solo project) Foo Fighters. Knowing that he tracked all of this by himself, never having been a front man of a project before, is truly awe inspiring.
I’ll Stick Around is one of my favorite tracks as Grohl takes back at Courtney Love, which he didn’t admit to for over 15 years.
“I don’t owe you anything, I’ll stick around”
The death of Kurt shocked and broke the hearts of many, but nothing is going to hold Dave back, despite the ongoing drama with Love.
Another favorite on this record album is Weenie Beenie. This track stands out from the others almost immediately with loud, crashing drums and hard to depict fuzzy vocals. The emotion conveyed through the song could be seen as angry and even exhausted. The last song better executes this idea,
“I’m not around that much
Running exhausted and lost
If it could be undone
Will it have costed?
It’s taught and lost”
This teaming with Weenie Beenie gives me a sense of catharsis as it’s relatable and emotion ridden, but leaving absolutely no room for sulking.
Growing up listening to rock music, Foo Fighters was (and still is) by far my favorite. Not only do they play with elements from a plethora of genres, consistently bringing a fresh sound, but knowing their back story, I feel close to this band and look up to them immensely. – Nova Stebbin.
Glass Animals- Zaba
Graham Costello- Second Lives
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
Gun Club- Fire of Love
Ida Mae- Click Click Domino
Husband-and-wife duo Ida Mae may have taken their name from a Lightnin’ Hopkins song, but the pair reach well beyond the blues and embrace many facets of roots music on their second album, Click Click Domino. While the album was recorded during last year’s shutdown, it has a rambling energy that begs for a road trip.
The mournful opening track “Road to Avalon” has a Lone Bellow vibe, while the title track punches like the White Stripes. Piano ballad “Line on the Page” has a 1970s singer/songwriter feel. The diversity shown over these first three tracks holds up across the album, taking the listener on an adventurous, rootsy trek.
The couple recorded the songs in their Nashville home studio (a.k.a., a reconfigured living room) before sending the tracks back to their native England for drums and bass. Despite the ocean separating the musicians, the performances have a very live feel.
Prior to the shutdown, Ida Mae hit the road pretty hard. The songs on Click Click Domino already feel road-tested and should bring even more fans into the fold.- Joel Francis
Imagine Dragons- Night Visions
John Coltrane- Coltrane Jazz
John Mayer- Sob Rock
In a recent interview, John Mayer confessed his 12th album, Sob Rock, is a “shitpost.” A way to mock “where artists sit in front of you and play you what they think is their garbage.” From this aspect, Sob Rock is a resounding success. Mayer has created a bland collection of insipid songs that strain the credibility of both the musician and listener.
The contempt Mayer has for songcraft and his audience is most evident on the fourth track, “Why You No Love Me.” Proper grammar has never been a requirement for a good song – see, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – but Mayer’s attempt at cute baby talk falls beyond parody in the chorus, when he also asks “Why you no even care?” and “Why you no will be there?” Anyone who would sing lyrics this lazy (let alone write them) clearly has no respect for the creative process, himself as an artist or for the audience’s time.
The album cover is a parody of those soft-rock ‘80s records, from the pastel colors and word font down to a reproduction of the Nice Price sticker. Those adult contemporary ‘80s sounds permeate the production as well. There are no angles or rough edges – everything has been polished to a sheen. Mayer isn’t playing within those boundaries like the War on Drugs. Instead, he hides behind the tropes as an attempt to mask his creative bankruptcy.
Sob Rock has been made – and made better – dozens of times before. Fans wanting this style should turn to anything in the Air Supply catalog, Chicago 16 and 17 and Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life. Mayer fans wanting to hear gentle rock ballads are better off sticking to Room for Squares and Heavier Things.- Joel Francis
Growing up learning to play guitar and wanting to know more about music, John Mayer has always been one of my top inspirations, instrumentally and vocally. Record Store Day was packed with many great new releases, but I was most excited for Mayer’s Sob Rock. I wasn’t expecting this album to sound much like his root music, as his sound has been slowly evolving, but I was happily surprised with this release as it brings me back to what I was primarily inspired by.
He remains true to his sound while also adding in new elements like pop and indie, seen in track three, New Light. I like this track along with Wild Blue because they contrast to the other slower, more mellow “sob rock” songs. With playful guitar riffs, layered backing vocals, and a faster paced beat, these tracks are playful, experimental and catchy.
The name of this album really is an accurate, short and sweet description of what it entails. One of my favorite songs on this album is I Guess I Just Feel Like. I feel a sense of closeness to Mayer, he talks about the reality of what it feels like to relate to everyone else in a negative connotation.
“Nobody’s honest, nobody’s true
Everyone’s lyin’ to make it on through
I guess I just feel like
I’m the same way too”
He talks about love saving the world gone mad, and how that’s how he wants it to be, and should be, but feeling hopeless in that ever happening. I feel this way sometimes too, and it’s nice to feel connected and related to someone of huge influence.
Overall, I really admire everything about this album. He truly added another masterpiece to his discography, despite the humor in the making of it. – Nova Stebbin.
John Williams- The Empire Strikes Back (Symphonic Suite From the Original Motion Picture Score)
Jon Batiste- Soul (Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture)
Kool Keith- Dr Octagon
Lauryn Hill- Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound
Lionel Loueke- HH
Lightnin’ Hopkins- Mojo Hand
A frustrating part of trying to explore artists from yesteryear is that while their reputations may loom large, their catalogs are often a confounding mess.
Texas blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded for more than 20 record labels during the course of his five-decade career. Recorded in 1960 and released in 1962, Mojo Hand is a solid entry into not only Hopkins’ catalog, but the acoustic Delta blues.
The nine performances on this 33-minute album are straightforward and unvarnished, just Hopkins on (mostly) acoustic guitar with a two-piece rhythm section. The support is hardly needed. Hopkins is a strong instrumentalist and the other musicians are mixed too low to much muscle to the tracks.
But this is nitpicking. Mojo Hand mostly operates in the boogie style that will be obvious to fans of John Lee Hooker or Canned Heat. While the approach might not be unique, Hopkins’ fingerpicked style of playing and warm vocals make the songs feel fresh and engaging.
Hopkins hops over to piano for “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” where the bass and drums are more present. It’s not hard to close your eyes and imagine hearing these songs in a Deep South juke joint. The album ends with “Santa,” a Christmas blues that seemingly arrives out of nowhere, but is fun enough to enjoy year-round.- Joel Francis
Lucy Dacus- Home Video
Lynyrd Skynyrd- (Pronounced ‘Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd’)
Marvin Gaye- What’s Going on
Metallica- St Anger
Miles Davis- Bopping the Blues
Miley Cyrus- Plastic Hearts
Mudhoney- Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Nada Surf- High/ Low
Old Crow Medicine Show- Carry Me Back
Old Crow Medicine Show- Remedy
Paul McCartney- McCartney III Imagined
Pink Floyd- Animals
Pj Harvey, John Parish- A Woman A Man Walked By
Royal Blood- Typhoons
Sam Webster- Grindstone
Sparks- A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
System of a Down- System Of A Down
The Wallflowers- Exit Wounds
The Zeros- Don’t Push Me Around
Thelonious Monk- London Collection, Vol. 2
Trees Speak- Posthuman
Tyler, The Creator- Igor
Van Halen- Fair Warning
Various Artists- Jackie Brown (Music from the Miramax Motion Picture)
Director Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to his smash film Pulp Fiction caught many new fans off-guard. The film is more deliberate and less violent, relying more on character development than snappy dialogue.
Likewise, the Jackie Brown soundtrack is a departure from the taut, crackling, eclectic Pulp Fiction album. Jackie Brown’s musical accompaniment stays in one place, drawing from soul cuts of the 1970s. As such, it works great as a primer for that era and as an homage to the Blaxploitation films Tarantino salutes throughout the Jackie Brown film.
Many of the songs on Jackie Brown are well-known, but Tarantino steers clear of numbers worn out from overexposure. Philly soul staple “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” is the closest the album gets to something you’d hear played at the mall. Any cred Tarantino may lose for being that obvious is instantly earned back (and then some) by the inclusion of the fuzz-guitar and sitar jam “The Lion and the Cucumber” by Vampire Sound Incorporation.
The rest of the soundtrack is a fun stroll through prime soul, with Kansas City’s own Bloodstone doing “Natural High,” Bill Withers, Minnie Riperton and the Grass Roots. Johnny Cash also pops up and Cars guitarist Elliott Easton’s closing surf instrumental brings the collection closer to Pulp Fiction territory.
As both a film and soundtrack, Jackie Brown may not grab you the first time through, but rewards those who take the time to savor its subtle pleasures.- Joel Francis
Velvett Fogg- Velvett Fogg
Wolf Alice- Blue Weekend
Yazz Ahmed- La Saboteuse
Yazz Ahmed- Polyhymnia
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