School of Rock New Vinyl Thursday

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

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad- Instrumentals Jid009

Weekly Review:

Producer Adrian Younge and former A Tribe Called Quest turntablist Ali Shaheed Muhammad kicked off their ambitious Jazz is Dead series back in March, 2020, with an eight-track collection that showcases one track from each of their collaborators in the series. Now they’ve come full circle with Jazz is Dead 009: Instrumentals.

As the title indicates, Jazz is Dead 009, or JID009, collects the best instrumental tracks from across the series. While there aren’t any new songs in this set, a few performances have vocals removed, providing a new experience. This includes Roy Ayers’ “Hey Lover” and “Nao Saia da Praca” with Marcos Valle, which also appeared in their original vocal form on the inaugural Jazz is Dead release.

At 19 tracks and more than an hour, Jazz is Dead 009 is also the longest release. While the collaborators around Younge and Muhammad shift from song to song, the sound is remarkably consistent, making for an enjoyable, surprisingly cohesive listen.

Most of the tracks hover between the three- and four-minute mark, which means the songs lack the extended improvisation found in most jazz performances. Although the cuts are succinct, there is still plenty of great interplay and conversation between the musicians. 

An enterprising MC could build a heck of a mixtape out of the instrumental cuts assembled on JID009. The rest of us, can just relax and get lost in the endless grooves and rhythms.- Joel Francis

Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad- Jazz Is Dead 001

Angel Olsen – Aisles

Weekly Review:

Hot off the heels of her new box set: Song Of The Lark and Other Far Memories, never one to rest on her laurels, Angel Olsen has just released a new EP of five cover songs entitled Aisles.

If Olsen’s new look on the cover didn’t give it away, “Aisles” contains hits from the golden era of 80’s synth pop.
Obviously, too young to have been around when these songs were in heavy rotation on MTV, Olsen was born in 1987, her inspiration for choosing the tracks were from memories of the music played over the sound system while walking the aisles at her local grocery store during the pandemic.
The album opens with Laura Branigan’s epic hit about a woman’s identity struggle: Gloria.
Track two is the fiery classic Billy Idol power ballad “Eyes Without A Face.”
The Men Without Hats tune “Safety Dance” offers a bit of levity. But all the tracks get the fully weighted slowed down AO treatment.
Everything on Aisles sits on a crispy bed of vintage synth sounds and digital reverbs.
During the pandemic Olsen started hanging with Adam McDaniel, a local engineer and producer in Asheville, NC.
According to Olsen, “Adam had set up 5 or so synthesizers, and we’d get lost on a part for a while… I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!“
The OMD’s track “If You Leave” and Alphaville’s classic “Forever Young” round out the EP in perfect dream pop fashion.
This might be a stretch but I find the parallels between the Cold War politics of the time in which these songs originally came out and the current pandemic environment to be eerily similar at times.
However you wanna slice it, an opportunity to listen to Angel Olsen’s deep, haunting voice on some new recordings is always a good day for me. Can’t wait to see what she does for her next album of original material! – Major Matt

BadBadNotGood- Talk Memory

Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billy Cobham- Spectrum

Billy Strings- Renewal

Blue Stingrays- Surf-N-Burn

Bob Dylan- Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985) (2LP)

Buena Vista Social Club- Buena Vista Social Club

Weekly Review:

Guitar player and musicologist Ry Cooder’s unassuming trip to Cuba to capture songs by aging musicians known only on their native island exploded into an international phenomenon upon its release in 1997. Buena Vista Social Club, both the name of the album, the name of a long-defunct music hall in Cuba and the name given to the collective of musicians who perform on the album, has sold more than 12 million copies and spawned not one, but two documentary films.

The album’s charm lies in songs that sound exotic, yet accessible, delivered with an infectious joy that is conducive to both dancing or engaging background music. The malleability of the 14 songs on the original album meant it was both the outlier in the music collections of most of the people who bought it, yet right at home with what they already owned. 

For its 25th anniversary, Buena Vista Social Club is not only easily available on vinyl for the first time in nearly a decade, but augmented with five outtakes from the original sessions. For longtime fans of the original album, this provides the perfect way to revisit these classic performances. New fans will find them just as engaging, once again giving new life to once-forgotten gems. -Joel Francis

Bummer- Dead Horse

Candi Staton- Unstoppable

Charley Crockett- Music City Usa

DJ Shadow – Entroducing
Weekly Review:
Joshua Paul Davis, better known as DJ Shadow is celebrating twenty five years since his debut album, “Entroducing,” with a half speed mastered reissue from Abbey Road Studios.
Though certainly up for debate, Guinness World Records cited “Entroducing “ as the first record created entirely from samples. Davis claims the only tools used in creating the album, aside from his vast collection of over 60,000 vinyl records, were an Akai MPC60 sampler, a Technics SL-1200 turntable, and an Alesis ADAT tape recorder.
“Entroducing” was the album that that brought instrumental Hip Hop to the world and paved the way for other great DJ/ turntable artists such as DJ KRUSH, J Dilla and Madlib.  In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Endtroducing as the 329th greatest album of all time.
Davis caught the bug at an early age experimenting with a four-track recorder while still in high school in Davis, California outside of Sacramento and later as a disc jockey for the University of California, Davis campus radio station KDVS.
I’ve said many times that a good album is like a journey.  It’s not until you start digging into what you’re actually hearing with DJ Shadow and consider the process under which it is created that your realize what he’s doing is nit just an artistic creation but a historical account of his listening.
Delving into track two, “Building Steam With A Single Grain Of Salt,” (a song slicendes by Chevrolet in 2014) one uncovers six different samples of source material, the center of which is an interview  with Jazz Drummer George Marsh mixed with beat taken by the 1969  hit Soul Food by Frankie Seay & the Soul Riders. The track serves as a perfect introduction to Shadow’s process and focus which is essentially rhythmic at it’s core.
Thus continues this historical dialogue between artist/ producer and listener over the course of 13 tracks and more than sixty minutes of music.
Shadow elevates the art form of Hip Hop production to almost classical status, introducing recurring themes and even movements within songs.  On the track Changling/ Transmission, he weaves a bass line and occasionally a single note taken from the intro of  Soft Shell by Motherlode in and out of two distinct atmospheric movements that include pieces of works by the ambient Krautrock band Tangerine Dream and a track by the flautist, composer/ Dianic Priestess Kay Garner.
The levels at which this music operates is truly impressive. But perhaps the the best part is you don’t have to think about any of that to enjoy it. The beats are solid and plentiful, which makes Entroducing a no brainer go to for your next vaccinated house party!  Major Matt

Duke Pearson- Merry Ole Soul

Weekly Review:

Jazz pianist Duke Pearson was a restless soul during his five-year, nine-album stint on Blue Note Records in the late 1960s. He shifted between small groups and big bands, and sonically moved from post-bop to Latin-tinged recordings to smooth R&B-inflected pop jazz. In the middle of it all, Pearson dropped a Christmas album that showcases his strengths as a performer and bandleader.

Released in 1969, Merry Ole Soul finds Pearson working with mostly in a trio setting, with Bob Cranshaw on bass and Mickey Roker on drums (Airto Moreira adds percussion to three tracks). While the song selection is fairly traditional, the arrangements are often inventive. 

“Sleigh Ride” opens with Pearson at the piano before switching to the more delicate celeste partway through. “Little Drummer Boy” put Roker front and center with an almost military style of playing that relegates the rump-a-pum-pums to the periphery. On side two, Pearson unearths the “Wassail Song” and closes the affair with a hymn-like solo reading of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Although the holiday season is still some time off, it’s never to early to grab this and tuck it away until the yuletide festivities again. Pearson and his trio’s relaxed performances of these standards make this the perfect soundtrack for a busy brunch or a quiet moment lounging by the tree. -Joel Francis

Echo & the Bunnymen- Siberia

Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits

Flying Lotus- Yasuke

Fred Eaglesmith- Standard

Garbage- Version 2.0

Hank Jones- Sarala

Kevin Morby- Kevin Morby ‘A Night At The Little Los Angeles (Sundowner 4-Track Demos)

Kishi Bashi- Sonderlust

Lee Fields & Expressions- It Rains Love

Lou Reed- New York

Minus the Bear- Infinity Overhead

My Chemical Romance- Black Parade

N.W.A.- Straight Outta Compton

Neil Young- Carnegie Hall 1970

Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears

P.O.D. ( Payable on Death )- Satellite

Pink- All I Know So Far: Setlist

Primus- Miscellaneous Debris

Queens of the Stone Age- Rated R

Weekly Review:

Listening to “Rated R” is definitely an experience. Queens of the Stone Age released their debut self-titled album in 1998, bringing a new sound to rock. If what they wanted was to make a name for themselves, they definitely achieved that goal pretty quickly. They identify with heavy, fuzzy bass, funky melodies, and clashing drums with their debut, while their second album differing in sound, adds wonderful new elements to their discography. 

With their sophomore album, “Rated R,” they gave themselves more room to expand musically. Rather than sticking with clashing drums and loud/distorted guitar for every track, they add in new elements like synths, keys, and a tambourine. As if singer Josh Homme’s voice didn’t already stand out in style and talent, they add a plethora of interesting harmonies to not only make his voice pop, but to contrast with the instrumentals beautifully. 

Instrumentally,  I love what they did with this album. Going from their debut album to this one, gives listeners an entirely different listening experience. With variation in instruments, to different themes, to the way all of the sounds are mended and constructed, it’s a perfect blend of noise. It’s definitely not like normal rock or grunge, they kind of fall somewhere in between those and post rock, which I like (not knowing what to expect). It’s interesting to see how artists vary in sound from album to album.

One of my favorite tracks off this record is, “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret.” The way the instruments build off of each other in the verse makes for a curious and catchy tone. The chorus explodes into, “Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone,” the main theme of the song. I like the way they executed this idea: distrust, security in another, etc. 

Lyrically throughout the album, I also think they did a great job getting across their message in each track. Overall, I’d recommend this album to anyone that likes: Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. I personally like their debut album slightly more, but I do admire their eagerness to switch things up and experiment. -Nova Stebbin. 

Sam Cooke- The Best Of

Slothrust – Parallel Timeline
Weekly Review:
Slothrust is an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts. They originally formed in college while attending Sarah Lawrence College in New York State.
“Parallel  Timeline” is Slothrust’s fifth studio album but I confess I’m somewhat new to the band. I will refrain from the term growth because that implies earlier work as being somehow lesser, but a quick survey of the their catalog shows an incredible amount of musical expansion since their quirky, grunge fueled 2012 debut “Feels Your Pain.”
The opening lines to track one, Cranium, convey lead singer/ guitarist and main songwriting force, Leah Wellbaum‘s, ability to turn an introspective phrase while not being above injecting a little humor into the equation:
“I don’t want to be addicted to the noise
But when it goes away, I wanna die
Empty out my cranium and eat some cereal
Cut my sweet angelic face into a pie
Are you hungry? (Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh)
You look nervous (Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh)
Are you hungry? (Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh)
You look nervous (Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh)”
Anyone who can write about feelings and food while escaping novelty ranks high in my book.
Slothtrust has nothing to prove when it come to rocking out. Just check out any of their past albums, not to mention a loyal rendition of Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral” on their 2017 cover’s ep. “ Show Me How It Works.” But the rocking appears much more focused when it comes to this album.
Tracks like “Once More For the Ocean” and “The Next Curse” (featuring Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale) are dynamic rockers that address climate change through a more emotionally sensitive  lens than we are used to hearing on your favorite cable news show.
And this seems to be the magic of Slothrust, strong musical statements backed up by solid hooks, soaring Choruses and rock beats juxtaposed with Wellbaum’s soulfully reserved, thoughtful vocal tone.
The back third of this album settles into some nice piano and acoustic material that is sure to widen their fan base.
I’d say if there’s such a thing as secular, spiritual rock music Slothrust has the market cornered.  This is clearly a band widening their style while at the same time staying true to an inner voice, not something you see a lot in this click-bate, fast trending day and age.
Plus who doesn’t love them some translucent yellow vinyl?! Major Matt

Taylor Swift- Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

The Church- Starfish (Expanded Edition)

The Freedom Affair – Freedom is Love

Weekly Review:

The debut album from Kansas City’s own The Freedom Affair will help soothe the ache created by the passing of Sharon Jones. The Freedom Affair frequently embody both the spirit and sound of Jones and her Dap-Kings.

The sextet uses the word freedom in both the band name and album title and the concept weaves through the album as well. As album closer “Love Liberates” builds to a climax, a gospel choir sings the album title over and over.  

One cut earlier, the song “One Nation” features the chorus “We`ll never be one nation if we can`t have a conversation/can`t be the land of the free if you won`t hear me.” It’s a simple and heartfelt plea that will unfortunately be swept downstream by the crocodile tears over Dr. Suess, Muppets and a cartoon skunk.

Even the song titles reinforce the notion of freedom and love: “Move On,” “Rise Up,” “Give a Little Love.”

While the second half of the album is packed with flower power, the front is loaded with songs about resilience, romance, heartache and empowerment. At times the sound recalls Martha and the Vandellas or the sweet soul of the Stylistics. Ultimately, Freedom is Love is the type of feel-good album that will sound even better wafting from open windows and convertibles. -Joel Francis

The HU- The Gereg

The Notorious B.I.G.- Ready To Die

Tom Tom Club- Downtown Rockers

Weekly Review:

Forty years ago, indie rock power couple and rhythm section supreme Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth used some downtime from their main gig in the Talking Heads to create some fun, dancehall grooves as Tom Tom Club. The group’s first album spawned two major hits and the Tom Tom Club quickly took on a life of its own.

Tom Tom Club hasn’t been as active since the ‘80s. Franz and Weymouth have put out just one Tom Tom Club release each decade in the ‘90s and ‘00s. The most recent is 2012’s Downtown Rockers EP, which is finally reissued on pink vinyl. 

Downtown Rockers only boasts five tracks, but all are very strong. The lead, title track features the Club’s signature upbeat vocals from Weymouth and Victoria as Franz recites a list of influential underground bands (including the Talking Heads). “Won’t Give You Up” features a slow, funk guitar line and Weymouth’s vocals about a longtime love. The first side concludes with “You Make Me Rock and Roll,” which continues the funky, slinky vibe of “Won’t Give You Up.”

Side B opens with the catchy “Kissin’ Antonio,” the EP’s strongest track. The contrast of a funky clavinet against slick synthesizers and a B3 organ creates a sumptuous environment perfect for dancing. “Sweets to the Sweet” has solid production, but inane lyrics drag the track down.

Downtown Rockers isn’t an essential release, but the scarcity of recent(-ish) Tom Tom Club material will be a welcome addition to any ‘80s underground pop collection. -Joel Francis

Trees Speak- Posthuman

Van Halen- Diver Down

Van Halen- Fair Warning

Various Artists- I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico

Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas

Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas 2

Various Artists- School of Rock

White Zombie- La Sexorcisto: Devil Music

Yes- Union 30 Live

Yola- Stand For Myself

Yola- Walk Through Fire



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