Samantha Fish New Vinyl Thursday

It’s Samantha Fish New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:

A Place to Bury Strangers- Hologram

Beach Bunny- Blame Game

Beach Bunny- Honeymoon

Billy Idol- Roadside

Bob Marley- Legend

Cavetown- Cavetown

Weekly Review:

Artist Robin Skinner, or Cavetown, started his career early with youtube, releasing soft covers and originals, later moving to platforms like spotify and apple music. His top song, “This Is Home,” has over 160 million streams, making for himself a name and creating another subgenre of singer-songwriter. 

At the young age of just 16, he released his debut self titled album, “Cavetown.” This album includes a lot of different synths, and instruments, but track one, “Meteor Shower,” introduces the album with his staple sound- ukulele and soft vocals with whimsical backing synths. I like that he chose this song as the intro to the album because it sets up the other tracks well. 

This album could put me to sleep, not because it’s boring, it’s rather relaxing. The songs flow from one to another seamlessly. This is something I admire; it’s hard to make a variety of different elements come together as one, but I think he does this wonderfully. 

My favorite song on this album (and one of his top streamed songs) is, “Devil Town.” This song is a lot more upbeat and catchier than others on this album. I would’ve liked to see more like this following it, as I feel like this would’ve been a good mid/turning point. It’s still a great song and a great way to conclude the album though. It almost ends in a way that makes me want to repeat the album, just because the note it left me on. 

Overall I’d say this album is worth the listen. With only 8 songs it runs for about 30 minutes, so it’s by no means an over extended listen. I’d recommend this to anyone that likes: Dodie, Conan Gray, and Clairo. -Nova Stebbin

Chet Faker- Hotel Surrender

Chvrches- Screen Violence

Corinne Bailey Rae- Corinne Bailey Rae

Deftones- Diamond Eyes

Digital Underground- This is an E.P. Release

Weekly Review:

When Digital Underground MC Shock G died earlier this year, social media timelines were flooded with “Humpty Dance” videos. Digital Underground were so much bigger (and better) than their highest Top 40 hit, as their 1991 EP proves.

This is an E.P. Release bridges the gap between the group’s 1990 debut Sex Packets and their follow-up album Sons of the P, released in late 1991. This is an E.P. Release only contains six songs, but it makes each of them count.

Lead track (and first single) “Same Song” is a prime slab of G-funk built around a Parliament sample that features the recording debut of Tupac Shakur on the final verse. Recorded for the Dan Aykroyd/Chevy Chase film Nothing but Trouble, “Same Song” belongs on any early ‘90s hip hop playlist. 

“Tie the Knot” and a remix of “Packet Man” showcase a jazzy side of the group. The former is built around jazz piano riffs on the traditional wedding march song. D.U. sound a bit like A Tribe Called Quest on the horn-and-bass driven remix of “Packet Man.” 

The centerpiece of the release, “Nuttin’ Nis Funky” is more than 9 minutes of Shock G and Money B trading lines over a Miles Davis sample. It’s not the strongest song on the EP, but is a great encapsulation of what makes Digital Underground great: inventive sampling, laid-back feel and rhymes that are both sophisticated and fun.- Joel Francis

Green Jelly- Garbage Band Kids

Gruff Rhys- Seeking New Gods

Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Heartless Bastards- A Beautiful Life

Weekly Review:

Midwestern roots rockers Heartless Bastards were busy in their first decade, releasing five albums between 2005 and 2015. Erika Winnerstrom proved to be the group’s only consistent member through those albums and when she released a solo album in 2018, the future of the Bastards seemed in jeopardy. After a six-year layoff between albums, the Heartless Bastards – and Winnerstrom – are back.

A Beautiful Life opens with “Revolution,” a sonic homage to the ‘60s that starts like an acoustic folk number before electric instruments and drums add psychedelic day-glow colors to the song. Most of the other 10 songs follow suit, existing somewhere between the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield.

Andrew Bird drops by to add some violin on the meditative “The River,” while “Went Around the World” snaps the listener back to more modern times with a drum program and piano loop that hints at “O.P.P.” before a string section arrives, steering the track back to flower power. My favorite track on the album, “Photograph,” which opens like a lost Jefferson Airplane song before morphing into a wonderful cosmic jam.

Winnerstrom is lyrically on point throughout the album, throwing darts at the avarice of modern society while remaining hopeful and optimistic. Love – either romantic or brotherly – permeates most of the songs. Winnerstrom gets existential on “Dust.”

Whether A Beautiful Life is a repurposed Winnerstrom solo album under a more marketable name or a glorified follow-up to her first solo release, there is plenty here for aficionados of the 1960s and faith in humanity.- Joel Francis

Rumor has it Erika Wennerstrom, the voice and songwriting force behind Heartless Bastards, came up with the name of the the band from a deceitful bar trivia game where one of the options given to the question: What is the name Tom Petty’s backing band? was… “The Heartless Bastards.”
It’s a statement that gets thrown around a lot but there something special about how Wennestrom’s voice manages to weave together a sound that is
both classic and contemporary.
Despite the cynical nature of their band name Heartless Bastards’ new album, A Beautiful Life, is full of songs of grounded, personal transformation and, dare I say, optimism for the future.
The opening track and single, Revolution, comes off like a lost early Dylan track. Wennerstrom’s voice is bathed in a silo reverb as she poetically rattles off a laundry list of injustices while coming to the conclusion that “The revolution is in your mind.” The dual potential meaning is driving home by the constant repetition of the phrase and the sudden McCartneyesque  style shift for the last part of the song  brings the song to a conclusion with and exciting bar rock freak out.
Existing as a trio for many years, A Beautiful Life, sees HB really stretching out musically more than ever. The string arrangements and nylon string guitar arrangements on tracks like, “When I Was Younger” and “You Never Know” hearkens back to a golden age of music making where female artists like Dusty Springfield and Nancy Sinatra we’re filling the airwaves.
The title track, “A Beautiful Life,” makes nice use of Mellotron and Wurlitzer  sounds creating a slightly more contemporary Folk vibe that reminds me a bit of one my favorite 2020 albums: Total Freedom by Kathleen Edwards.
The back half of the album slips into several more groovy track, like “Went Around the World” & Doesn’t Matter Now” with backbeats that lean more to contemporary R&B
The grounded simplicity of Wennerstrom‘s mindful songwriting is utterly refreshing.  On The track “You Never Know,” she drops some truly sage advice for those of us who occasionally allow our minds to get ahead of ourselves.
“What else am I going to do, but wonder my days through
You never know unless you let yourself see
You never know unless you open up your eyes
You never know until ya do”
The scope of this record broadens for me with every new listen. It’s almost like very inexpensive therapy, on purple colored vinyl!
-Major Matt

Henry Franklin- The Skipper at Home

Holly Golightly Ft Brokeoffs- Long Distance

Holly Golightly- Medicine County

Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced

Jimmy Giuffre- Jimmy Giuffre 3 1961

John Coltrane- Coltrane

Jungle- Loving In Stereo

Justin Townes Earle- Saint Of Lost Causes

Kacey Musgraves- Star-crossed

Laura Jane Grace- Stay Alive

Weekly Review:

For nearly two decades, Laura Jane Grace was the face of Against Me! a punk band that owed as much to Billy Bragg as it did to Minor Threat and Anti-Flag. Nearly a decade ago, Grace documented her transgender experience on the album Transgender Dysphoria Blues (and in a book of the same name). Now Grace is back to her roots, singing alone with an acoustic guitar on her second solo album, Stay Alive.

Dropped as a surprise release in October, 2020, Stay Alive is the sound of an artist enduring extended isolation and trying to comfort herself through music. While Grace’s singing and acoustic guitar provide 90% of the album’s music, don’t mistake Stay Alive as a relaxed folk album. The arrangements may be unplugged, but the performances are undeniably electric. 

“I am a haunted swimming pool,” Grace sings on album opener “Swimming Pool Song.” “I am emptied out and drained/My capacity remains unchanged.” Grace then adds the kicker: “I know I will be full again.”

Across these 14 songs and 30 minutes, Grace shows the same defiance on display in her band’s amplified performances, refusing to back down or be buckled by circumstance, no matter how severe. 

“There’s always someone dying to leave/where you’re dying to get to,” Grace reminds us on “Shelter in Place” before asking, no demanding, “give me refuge in your shelter.”

Across her journey, Grace torches America’s former president on “Hanging Tree” and delivers upbeat ear candy with “Supernatural Possession.” The latter is one of the few songs on the album with drum machines and electric instruments. While the arrangement provides a different texture to the album and help these songs stand out against the acoustic performances, it also makes them feel like demos.

Ultimately, Stay Alive feels like rough sketches of an Against Me! album we’ll never hear, but provides cathartic satisfaction for everyone worn down and worn out by the pandemic.-Joel Francis

Laura Nyro- American Dreamer

Weekly Review:

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro’s best-known song provides a snapshot of her legacy. “And When I Die” was recorded as a jaunty folk sing-along by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1966. One year later, Nyro included her version on her debut album. In Nyro’s hands, the song sounds like a Broadway number, complete with orchestra. Finally, in late 1968, Blood, Sweat and Tears took their horn-laden jazz interpretation all the way to No. 2 on the charts. One song that allowed for three very different interpretations and a mostly forgotten author.

American Dreamer, an eight-album box set containing the seven studio albums Nyro released between 1967 and 1978, aims to correct Nyro’s forgotten legacy. 

Nyro’s brilliance as a songwriter and performer shine brightest on the first five albums in the set. Released in 1967, More Than a New Discovery displays Nyro’s songwriting talent across several songs that would become hits for other artists. When Eli and the Thirteenth Confession followed just a year later, the growth of Nyro’s talent was explosive. Given more freedom by her label, Nyro played piano and co-produced the album. Regarded as Nyro’s masterpiece, Eli is consistently named as a huge influence by many artists over the years.

New York Tendaberry is starker and more intimate that Nyro’s previous releases. Produced by Simon and Garfunkel producer Roy Halee, the album doesn’t feature as many hits-in-waiting for other artists, but the soulful, gospel-based approach displays Nyro’s range as a singer. Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, Nyro’s fourth album in as many years, features two distinct sides, one recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with the musicians who backed Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and, later, the Staple Singers and Paul Simon. The other side was recorded in New York City with many of the city’s greatest session musicians. Nyro’s fifth classic album, 1971’s Gonna Take a Miracle, found Nyro exploring R&B covers, backed by LaBelle and produced by Philly soul legends Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. This concept may seem incongruous with Nyro’s previous material, but she sounds so relaxed and comfortable leaning into this material, that it is a true delight.

After a five-year break, Nyro returned with this collection’s final albums, Smile and Nested. Both albums are enjoyable and display the maturity of a woman who by now has married, had children and divorced. Marked by smoother production and jazz-based arrangements, Smile and Nested are solid, but not as spectacular as Nyro’s previous releases.

Nyro took another multi-year break, returning with an album in 1984 and another nearly a decade later, in 1993. Eight years after that, in 2001, a posthumous collection of songs recorded in the mid-‘90s came out. None of these post-1970s albums are included with this box set.

An album of rarities and live recordings completes the American Dreamer collection. Featuring demos, 1971 performances at the Fillmore East and single versions, this eighth volume fills in the cracks between Nyro’s prime albums.

In 1997, at the tender age of 49, Nyro died from ovarian cancer. In the years since her passing, Nyro has become your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter. Testimonials from many of her famous fans dot the booklet included with the box set. If their words won’t convince you, the music here will surely do the trick.- Joel Francis

Laura Nyro- Go Find The Moon: The Audition Tape

Lee Konitz & Gerry Mulligan- Lee Konitz Plays With The Gerry Mulligan Quartet

Lindsey Buckingham- Lindsey Buckingham


Weekly Reviews:

It’s difficult to drop the needle on Low’s HEY WHAT without thinking about Double Negative, the album that preceded it. Sure, there were indications from the band’s 2015 album, Ones and Sixes, that the band might be heading into a chillier, electronic landscape, but Double Negative was a line of demarcation for the band. It was harsh, overblown, and electronic. Like music software being pushed to its rational end.

If the band (and producer BJ Burton) seemed to focus on reinvention with Double Negative, then it seems to be asking, “Now what?” The shock of harsh sounds on the last record could obscure the songs. (But great songs like “Fly” were there! It just required some patience and work to find them.) Sure, the bit-crushed crescendos and auto-tuned vocals return on HEY WHAT, but the songwriting and the band’s trademark harmonies are prominent this time around. It’s an embrace of the band’s strengths and a logical step forward.

The first side opens with “White Horses,” which sets the tone for the record with upfront vocals and a guitar that could also be a synthesizer. Or maybe it’s a synthesizer that sounds like a guitar? Or maybe both? That closing chopped-up guitar sound segues into the second track, “I Can Wait.” It’s the first of several smooth song transitions on the record, which give the impression that each side of the LP is a song suite. Although the band covers a lot of ground with some long songs, the track order and flow of songs make the experience almost effortless.

The songs seem to plod along without the aid of much percussion. Through the years, Mimi Parker became known for standing as she plays a stripped-down drum kit, but there’s almost no drumming on the album until the final song. Or if there is percussion earlier in the album, it’s been so processed and, like the guitars, it sounds like synthesizers or pulsating white noise. Either way, the album somehow moves along with a pulse and never gets dull.

“Days Like These” opens the second side with an acapella verse and Mimi and Alan harmonizing. It’s a bit of a sonic palette-cleanse until (presumably) BJ Burton distorts it all, and the song collapses like the band’s old songs used to do. So, despite all the studio chicanery, the pacing of the record feels quintessentially Low. It’s hard to compare this album to Trust or Things We Lost in the Fire, but it’s also difficult to think of any other band making an album like this.- Jonathon Smith

It’s a small club of artists that can claim their own genre.  But I think it’s safe to say that when discussing the style of indie rock commonly known as Slowcore, it’s only a matter of time until Low enters the picture.
Their ability to fill album after album with compelling and dynamic songs that often barely crack the fifty BPM mark is nothing short of alchemy. Never satisfied with their status quo, Low would continue to twist and prod their sound over the course of twelve studio albums.
As they’ve evolved the core element that always kept the landslide from disappearing into the ocean is the hand in glove vocal relationship of married couple Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. And this is what truly emerges on HEY WHAT.
Low’s thirteenth studio album has rightfully been described much in the context of their 2018 album Double Negative. If Double Negative, their second album with producer BJ Burton (Bon Ivar, Lizzo, Charli XCX), was a digital deconstruction of the band, then HEY WHAT is what happens on the other side.
The opening track, White Horses, begins with what sounds like a guitar being eaten by a computer. This is followed by a distorted pulse that emerges like a cyber heart beat… and then the voices enter, both independently and like one:
“The consequences of leaving
Would be more cruel than if I should stay
Though it’s impossible to say I know
Still, white horses take us home”
Like many Low records there’s something very contemplative and personal going on just beneath the surface of this record. The lack of rhythm in the conventional sense of anything resembling acoustic drums or a”groove” gives this record a much more cinematic, possibly even modern classical vibe.
The track, Days Like These, comes in at the halfway point like a post Armageddon folk tune with harmonies teetering on Mama’s and the Papa’s Vs. Nine Inch Nails.
The song “More” featuring Parker in lead vocal expertly express what the Buddhist’s call Dukkha,  the general feeling of unsatisfactory that life inevitably brings
“I gave more than what I should’ve lost
I paid more than what it would’ve cost
You have some of what I could’ve had
I want all of what I didn’t have”
Low’s Mormon spirituality is no secret, but it feels like for the past several albums, the band is making a move more towards the metaphysical. In the promo for HEY WHAT Sparhawk sports a pair of overalls with what appears to be Buddhist Mala necklace.
The only song containing anything remotely resembling a conventional drum track Is in the final song: “The Price You Pay (It must be wearing off).”
“I don’t have to pause
To feel the magic burn
Deep within my heart
‘Neath the surface of the earth”
Like most Low lyrics the text can be take in multiple ways. Even with all the brooding song-craft and blown out digital processing there is an underlying spark in HEY WHAT that leaves me hopeful and looking forward to the next chapter. This is the magic of Low!
– Major Matt

Lump- Animal

Metallica- Metallica

Weekly Review;

“Sad but True.” “Wherever I Roam.” “The Unforgiven.” “Nothing Else Matters.” “Enter Sandman.” These are the songs that have defined a generation of heavy metal and dominated the airwaves since their release 30 years ago.

A look beyond these metal mainstays reveals a band harkening back to its roots with thrash numbers like “Holier Than Thou” and “Through the Never.” On the other hand, “My Friend of Misery” and “The God that Failed” point ahead to the lengthy mood pieces found on Load and Reload. 

Sure, you’ve heard these songs a million times, but prior to now owning hearing them on vinyl has been an expensive endeavor. What’s more, they sound better. The new remaster has cleaned up the tracks, making the drums kick harder and crunch louder. James Hetfield’s grunts and growls punch in tandem with the music, like a boxer working a punching bag.

So, buy this metal masterpiece for the hits you know by heart, but give some spins to the lesser-known tracks as well. They tell the other half of the story.- Joel Francis

Modest Mouse- The Golden Casket

Weekly Reviews:

No one ever accused Modest Mouse leader Isaac Brock of being an optimist, but the title of the Oregon-based indie rock band’s seventh release promises a particularly bleak experience. Fortunately, The Golden Casket isn’t as dark as its title implies, thanks to several upbeat songs that punctuate the nihilism. 

The reason for this unexpected cheer also explains the six-year wait between Casket and the band’s previous album: Brock’s daughter. Brock sounds positively giddy (and sentimental) when “Lace Your Shoes” arrives two-thirds of the way through the album. “The sunshine pours out of your mouth and eyes,” Brock sings while listing some of the events he can’t wait to experience with his daughter. Lest you think Brock is going soft, the next song is titled “Never F-k a Spider on the Fly.”

The Golden Casket doesn’t contain anything as catchy as “Float On,” the band’s breakthrough single from 2004, but there are several tracks that figure to be longtime fixtures on playlists and set lists. Lead single “We Are Between” is instantly recognizable as Modest Mouse as Brock gets existential, musing “We are between/ Somewhere between dust and the stars.” The playful “Sun Hasn’t Left” sounds like a collaboration with the Flaming Lips.

On the other side of these sunny numbers lies what Brock calls the tinfoil hat part of the album. “Transmitting Receiving” is an inventory of electronic gadgets and appliances that may or may not be messing with our minds. “Wooden Soldiers” takes aim at “hash-tagging, photo bragging” and embraces a luddite world where “you just being you’s enough for me.”

While these the cheerful and paranoid natures seem oppositional, they manage to coalesce nicely, making The Golden Casket one of the most consistent and engaging Modest Mouse albums in some time.- Joel Francis


Mono- Pilgrimage of the Soul

New Order- Brotherhood

Nick Lowe- The Convincer

Nick Lowe- The Old Magic

Noreaga- N.O.R.E.

O.V. Wright- A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades

Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears {30th Anniversary}

Weekly Review:

Here we go again – yet ANOTHER 30 year anniversary edition of yet ANOTHER breakthrough album, yet THIS TIME it IS a 2LP reissue. I want to apologize for stating Amy Grant’s Heart In Motion reissue would be a 2LP set in last week’s newsletter. That is how it was promoted pre-release with no hint at being a single LP. H o w e v e r, No More Tears – Ozzy’s 6th solo studio LP and guitarist Zakk Wylde’s 2nd with Ozzy – DEMANDS a 2LP reissue. This album clocks in at close to 60 minutes, and those minutes are filled with brutal guitar tones, heavy bass riffing and drums that thunder like drums, not like cardboard boxes on Ozzy’s previous The Ultimate Sin album.

Released actually on September 17th, 1991, a week prior to Nirvana’s Nevermind, No More Tears became Ozzy’s strongest solo outing – boasting 4 Top 10 Mainstream Rock Tracks and a Grammy winning song “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”, peaking at #7 on the Billboard 200, and going on to sell 4x Platinum in the U.S. Positive critic’s reviews and heavy MTV video rotation for lead off single, “No More Tears”, cemented this album’s popularity with metal fans. Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister helped pen 4 of the album’s 11 tracks, including the 2nd single, “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, which went on to become a rock radio staple and a favorite of soldiers coming home from active duty. Rounding out the singles released from this record are “Time After Time”, “Road To Nowhere” and  the naughty “Mr. Tinkertrain”.

But the metalheads are gonna gravitate to tracks like “Desire”, “Hellraiser”, and “Zombie Stomp”. Guitarist Zakk Wylde pummels the strings of his signature Les Paul on these metal classics. And his guitar solo in the title track is just iconic. The band as a whole exhibits cohesiveness in every song, which in turn gives this album life within the listening experience. It’s dark in some ways, but more fun than most metal doom & gloom. He IS known as the “Prince of Darkness”, but he has more fun poking fun at himself and his critics than being a self-absorbed mouthpiece. Ozzy has often pointed out how fun it was making this record, and that exuberance is evident in the grooves. The band is firing on all cylinders. Drummer Randy Castillo and bassist Bob Daisley provide a solid foundation for Zakk & Ozzy to rip it up.
Happy 30th to an iconic slab of metal m/  ~ David Lombardo

Roy Brooks- Beat

Royal Blood- Typhoons

Samantha Fish- Faster

Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming

Weekly Review:

The debut release from West Virginia native Sierra Ferrell is one of those albums that feels instantly familiar, even on the first listen. 

Ferrell brings together Dixieland, Western swing, bluegrass and 1950s pop on a dozen songs that mostly ruminate over romance, with consequences of Biblical proportion. A singing saw makes opening number “The Sea” feel like it is about to capsize as Ferrell sings about waves putting her flames. A similar metaphor pops up on the Mariachi-flavored “Far Away Across the Sea.” 

Ferrell gets a little too cute and comfortable on a couple tracks. The arrangement on “Made Like That” is too saccharine and salvaged only by the percussion line and baritone guitar. “Bells of Every Chapel” gets a little too adorable with a cloying arrangement that echoes Ferrell’s lyrics.

But these are isolated moments and trivial matters in the scope of the album. Channeling Bob Wills, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Patti Page, Long Time Coming points to a fruitful career.-Joel Francis

Slothrust- Parallel Timeline

Spirit Adrift- Forge Your Future – EP

Spiritualized- Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Taylor Swift- Evermore

The Beach Boys- Pet Sounds

The Beatles- Abbey Road Anniversary

The Brian Jonestown Massacre- Tepid Peppermint Wonderland 2

The Doves- Lost Souls

The Nerves- One Way Ticket

The Rolling Stones- A Bigger Bang Live On Copacabana Beach

The Velvet Underground- Velvet Underground & Nico

Theo Croker- Escape Velocity

Theo Croker- Star People Nation

Various Artists- Motown Greatest Hits

Various Artists- Very Best of Death Row

Vince Guaraldi- It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Wayne Shorter- The All Seeing Eye



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