It’s Shannon and the Clams New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Aaron Frazer- Introducing…
Aesop Rock- Appleseed
Anderson East- Maybe We Never Die
Barenaked Ladies- Detour De Force
Canadian rockers have developed a dedicated following in the 33 years since their first release, a moment winkingly acknowledged on their 20th album, Detour De Force. “After three decades, it’s still a good hang,” Ed Robertson rap/sings on “Good Life.”
The band plays perfectly to expectations on Detour De Force, which is a shame because the deeper one goes into the album, the more it becomes apparent that there is a perfectly good set of songs hidden behind all the zany joke songs the band feels compelled to deliver.
The back half of Detour De Force is filled with strong songwriting and touching performances. “The National Park” is a gentle folk song about the beauty of nature contrasted with landscapes of urban decay. This song is one of several written and sung by keyboard player Kevin Hearn. “Bylaw,” another Hearn song, is another standout.
Unfortunately, these moments are buried under more than a half-dozen cuts that try way too hard. These songs are the musical equivalent of that friend who masks an internal pain by laughing way too loud and trying too hard to convince everyone they’re having a good time, right? Right? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Songs like lead single “Flip” will undoubtably play well when the band hits Starlight Theater next June, but for every moment like “Flip” that kind of works, there’s a “Roll On” or “Flat Earth” that produce more groans than grins. It’s enough to make one wish that “One Week” had never happened and BNL were allowed to embrace their inner artists instead of fixating on their inner children.- Joel Francis
Black Light Animals – Playboys of the Western World
Beach Bunny- Honeymoon
Bikini Kill- Revolution Girl Style Now
Bikini Kill- Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Brian Jackson- Jazz is Dead 008
More than two years ago, back in February, 2019, producer Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the secret weapon in A Tribe Called Quest, gathered to record their first session in the Jazz is Dead series. Their collaborator that day was pianist Brian Jackson.
Jackson is best known for his decade of work with poet Gil Scott Heron, in the 1970s. His playing on Jazz is Dead 008 is so expressive and free, you wouldn’t guess this is just Jackson’s second album in 20 years. Jackson hops from various synthesizers to a Fender Rhodes and even plays flute across these eight songs.
Opening cut “Under the Bridge” sounds like the soundtrack to a lost Blaxplotation film. “Mars Walk” and “Young Muhammad” are deeply funky tracks, thanks in no small part to Malachi Morehead’s drumming. “Nancy Wilson” is a tribute to the late jazz vocalist that finds Jackson on flute. Closer “Ethiopian Sunshower” adds Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms to the mix.
While Jackson’s was the first Jazz is Dead session recorded, it informed the aesthetic and sensibilities of the entire series. It also marks the final partnership showcased on the first Jazz is Dead release, a sampler. If this is indeed the final volume in the Jazz is Dead series, Younge and Shaheed Muhammad have picked strong collects to end with (not that there are any bad volumes in the series). Hopefully, more collaborations are forthcoming.- Joel Francis
Chrissie Hynde- Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan
Deftones- Around the Fur
Deftones- Diamond Eyes
Deftones is one of those bands that people either really like… or really don’t. I think this is because of their experimentation, playing with rock, heavy rock, post hard-core, and gaze for one of the more unique sounds in the rock scene in their time. Fifteen years after their debut in the scene, Deftones released “Diamond Eyes” in 2010, keeping staple sounds, adding new variants to give them a fresh concept. In each album you can hear them evolving more and more, some songs leaning more “mainstream rock”, some becoming even more experimental- the epitome of Deftones.
The first song introduces the album well, including most elements of what the following tracks will entail. There’s a bit of heavy guitar, gritty vocals, and clashing drums, leading to a softer yet more full chorus. One of my favorites on this album would have to be #3, “CMND/CTRL,” simply because of how I feel listening to it. To me, that’s one of the factors that will determine how I rate a song-how it makes me feel. Whether it be nostalgia, sadness, catharsis, empowered, or happy, Deftones hits every one of these on the head.
“Sextape,” is one of the slower songs on the album but easily another favorite. I’m not sure what about it is so alluring to me, but it just reels me in and makes me feel at ease. It gives the album variation and balance with a slower tempo and more emotion evoking vocal lines and ringing guitar lines.
Overall this album is more than worth the listen- that is, if you like experimental rock. Again, most people will favor this band over any other, while others disagree with its sound entirely. If you like: Chevelle, Nine Inch Nails, and Slow Dive, I’m sure you’d enjoy this album. -Nova Stebbin.
Depeche Mode- Songs of Faith & Devotion
Depeche Mode- Ultra
Dexter Gordon Quartet- Something Different
Drive-By Truckers- Plan 9 Records July 13, 2006
Garbage- No Gods No Masters
Grant Green- Idle Moments
Harry Styles- Fine Line
Since he started as a solo artist, Harry Styles has found success finding his own sound after splitting from One Direction. With over 1 billion streams, track #2 off of Fine Line, “Watermelon Sugar,” broke charts and sky rocketed his career. Styles is not one to fear trying new things and standing out, as he is an icon in multiple realms. He’s always challenging new fashion trends, sexuality stereotypes, and most importantly new sounds in his music.
Released in 2019, Harry’s sophomore album Fine Line showcases a change in maturity. You can tell he’s beginning to find himself more and more with this album as he grows into the persona he’s built for himself starting with his debut album. He strays from fitting into just one category with his music, which is something I admire; he always finds the most creative ways to convey how he’s feeling-raw and intimate sounding. The usage of indie, singer-songwriter, R&B, rock, and pop, makes for a beautiful clashing symphony.
One of my favorites off this album would have to be track #3, “Adore You.” This song puts romance to rhythm and fire to passion with groovy gliding bass lines, electric guitar, and funky synths. Most love songs are either cliche or sad, but Styles puts his talent to work and makes for a fun, bouncy, catchy love song that leaves you reminiscing and excited, rather than sulking.
Another song I really like off this album is, “To Be So Lonely,” for its message and the way it’s conveyed. I see this song as Harry struggling to recognize mistakes in a toxic relationship. He knows the sweet taste of when the relationship is harmonious but is simultaneously aware how unhealthy it is and would rather be painfully lonely than put himself back into that position. This song resonates with me as I’m sure it does many other listeners. Everyone wants to be loved, and it’s so extremely hard to distance yourself from something so alluring and comforting because you know it’ll only cause pain. I think the concept of this was executed perfectly with this song.
Overall, I’d recommend this album to anyone who likes any of the previously listed genres. He did a wonderful job with incorporating various sounds to create something pleasant, unique, and memorable. Music should be a reflection of who you are as a person and this is something I think he does extremely well; he puts his heart and soul into what he does. -Nova Stebbin
Harry Styles- Harry Styles
Hazel English- Wake Up!
Hiroshi Suzuki- Cat
J. Cole- 2014 Forest Hills Drive
James McMurtry- The Horses and the Hounds
John Coltrane- Another Side Of John Coltrane
John Coltrane- My Favorite Things
John Hiatt- Leftover Feelings
John Mayer- Sob Rock
Judas Priest- British Steel
Jungle- Loving In Stereo
Kanye West- College Dropout
Kendrick Lamar- DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
Kenny Burrell- Midnight Blue
Killing Joke- Pylon
Lorde- Solar Power
Lee Morgan – The Complete Live At The Lighthouse (Limited Edition, Boxed Set)
Mac Miller- Swimming
Michael Jackson- Thriller
Mr. Bungle- California
Mudhoney- Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
My Bloody Valentine- M B V
My Chemical Romance- Life On The Murder Scene
Neighb’rhood Childr’n- The Neighb’rhood Childr’n
Nick Drake- Pink Moon
Nico – Drama of Exile
Nirvana- In Utero
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Pearl Jam- No Code
When the Seattle grunge stalwart’s fourth album, No Code, dropped late in the summer of 1996, it seemed to be a test of fans’ loyalty. Sure, you may watch the old music videos (since new ones weren’t being produced), wore the t-shirt and sang along to the radio hits. But could you embrace the world music flavor of “Who You Are” and spoken word components of “I’m Open”? What about letting guitarist Stone Gossard handle lead vocals for “Mankind”?
No Code contained all of these conundrums, in addition to a song about a hospital stay caused by food poisoning (“Red Mosquito”), a lullaby (“Around the Bend”) and a frantic, 62-second tribute to Mudhoney bass player Matt Lukin that is really about a stalker (“Lukin”).
Dotted among the detours are several choice cuts of red meat. “Hail Hail” is as fine a slab of rock as the band ever released. “Smile” recalls PJ’s work with Neil Young on Mirrorball, a high point for all artists. “Off He Goes” continues the band’s streak of strong, heartfelt ballads.
Because of its eclectic and experimental nature, No Code doesn’t sound as of-its-time as PJ’s other ‘90s releases. The 13 songs here are the sound of a successful band throwing off the shackles and determining who really wants to come along for the ride. It isn’t as immediate as the band’s previous releases, but just as rewarding for those with patience.- Joel Francis
Pixies- Wave of Mutilation: The Best of Pixies
Prophets of Rage- Prophets Of Rage
Rage Against the Machine- Evil Empire
Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against The Machine XX [20th Anniversary]
Shannon and the Clams- Year Of The Spider
Slum Village- Fan-Tas-Tic 1
Son Volt- Electro Melodier
With his working-class approach and musical debt to Woody Guthrie, Son Volt songwriter and frontman Jay Farrar’s politics were never hard to infer. Farrar didn’t make the connection explicit – or necessary – until the band’s 2019 release, Union. There, Farrar made clear his distaste for the current U.S. presidential administration and its polarizing effect on the country.
Electro Melodier continues this motif and while Farrar doesn’t have any trouble letting the listener know exactly where he stands and why, it also feels like he’s holding back some of the emotional heft that would have helped drive his points even further.
Farrar has no trouble conjuring the weary everyman and his lyrics inhabit this space well. “Where is the empathy? Where’s the soul?” he sings on “Living in the U.S.A.” “Guardians not grifters,” he calls in the next song, “Someday is Now.” “United for another day.”
The album works best when unexpected elements jump into play. Laura Cantrell’s backing vocals on “Diamonds and Cigarettes” work so well I wonder why they haven’t been used more often. Mark Spencer’s piano on “Like You” gives the song a Laurel Canyon vibe.
These elements stand out because similar arrangements built around acoustic and lap steel guitars start to make the songs blend together after a while. An over-reliance on mid-tempo pacing also hurts otherwise strong songwriting. It’s been a while since Farrar gave fans a good barn-burner. Dropping one in the middle of this playlist would give the set a much-needed burst of energy.
More than three decades into his celebrated career, Farrar isn’t looking to alter anyone’s expectations. That he can continue to turn out music this good is why so many dedicated fans have stuck with him so long.- Joel Francis
Stanley Turrentine- Look Out
Sturgill Simpson- Sound & Fury
Sun Ra- Outer Spaceways Incorporated
Sun Ra- Pathways To Unknown Worlds
Tame Impala- Innerspeaker
Taylor Swift- Speak Now
The Beatles- Abbey Road Anniversary
The Beatles- Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Clash- Combat Rock
The Grateful Dead- Grateful Dead
Even in their early days, the Grateful Dead championed their concert experience. The self-titled album affectionately known as Skull and Roses arrived nearly two years after their first live album. While 1969’s Live/Dead was designed to showcase the Dead concert experience, 1971’s Skull and Roses shows off new material and covers. The songs are also shorter, with only one track consuming an entire album side.
Although compiled from different concerts (and featuring several very obvious overdubs), Skull and Roses plays like a complete show. New song “Bertha” is a great opener. The choogling rhythm practically drags the listener onstage. An 18-minute version “The Other One” showcases the group’s legendary improvisation skills and consumes all of side two. A medley of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and the folk standard “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” ends the collection on a high point.
Scattered between these peaks are songs by Merle Haggard, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin and Jimmy Reed. These numbers, along with stellar originals “Playing in the Band” and “Wharf Rat,” display the Dead’s versatility as musicians and diverse influences.
A top-selling album when it was released, Skull and Roses remains highly recommended to fans who want to experience the Dead’s early ‘70s sound without sifting through armloads of complete concert recordings. – Joel Francis
The Killers- Pressure Machine
The Traveling Wilburys- The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1
Tori Amos- Under The Pink (2LP)
Songwriting goddess Tori Amos’ second album is often unfairly overlooked in her discography, viewed as a stepping stone from her almost perfect debut to the cathartic and challenging third record. Those who discount Under the Pink only shortchange themselves, as it contains some of Amos’ best songs and performances.
Under the Pink’s best-known songs are “God” and “Cornflake Girl.” The edgy production – and lyrics – on these singles helped Amos stand out from what would become the Lilith Fair crowd and kept her from falling into the Adult Alternative crevasse that swallowed up many of her lesser contemporaries.
As good as those songs are, they’re not the best moments on Under the Pink. The first of these is “Past the Mission,” a song about sexual abuse that joins a deceptively upbeat verse with a haunting chorus (and features Trent Reznor on backing vocals). The second is “Baker Baker,” a moving culinary metaphor about lost love.
While there are a minor couple missteps, Under the Pink stands as a testament to Amos continued artistry and should be part of any singer/songwriter collection.- Joel Francis
Tyler The Creator- Flower Boy
Type O Negative- Slow Deep And Hard (30th Anniversary Edition)
Van Halen- 1984
Various Artists – Almost Famous Original Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition, Boxed Set, Anniversary Edition)
Various Artists- Goodfellas (Music From The Motion Picture)
Weezer- Weezer (Blue Album)
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