It’s Skid Row New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
311- Mardi Gras 2020
Aesop Rock- Appleseed
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billy Harper- Antibes 75
Bob Dylan- Rough And Rowdy Ways
Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 2 (1968-1974)
Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer
Chvrches- Screen Violence
In the late winter of 2019, just before the world shut down, Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches collaborated with American producer Marshmello on the stand-alone hit “Here With Me.” Sadly, Marshmello followed this song with a pairing with Chris Brown, the rapper convicted of assaulting Rhianna. This led to Chvrches tweeting their disapproval and, in turn, haters feasting on Chvrches on social media.
These events seem to have shaped the intent behind Screen Violence, Chvrches’ fourth album. With vocalist Lauren Mayberry leading the way, the band sounds confident and ready to take on all challengers.
On lead single “He Said She Said,” vocalist Mayberry decries the numerous double standards women are expected to balance in society against a shimmering bank of synths. “Look good but don’t be obsessed,” Mayberry notes before confessing “I feel like I’m losing my mind.” on a chorus seemingly built for summer festival stages.
Other songs deal with the feelings of sadness and loss that have accompanied the ever-continuing pandemic. “I don’t want to say that I’m afraid to die / I’m no good at goodbyes,” Mayberry sings on “Asking for a Friend.” Robert Smith of the Cure lends lead vocals to what sounds like an homage to his band on “How Not to Drown.” Smith’s voice dances with Mayberry as the pair darkly intone “watch as the pull me down” on the chorus.
While the themes on Screen Violence are dark, the album is never gloomy. The song “Final Girl” examines the fate of the last girl standing at the end of a horror film, while intrinsically understanding that the underlying theme of any decent horror film is survival. This will to carry on and move forward propels Screen Violence to new heights (and repeated listens). -Joel Francis
Crow- The Crow (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Music plays an outsized role in The Crow, a dark movie made even darker by the accidental death of its star Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) near the end of filming. First-time film director NAME, a veteran music video director, links music and visuals so closely throughout the movie that even now, nearly 30 years later, it is impossible for me to hear certain songs without conjuring a moment from the movie in my head.
The Crow soundtrack is appropriately ominous, gathering 14 tracks peeled from the alternative underbelly. The Cure open the proceedings with “Burn,” as the kaleidoscopic guitars and synthesizers plunge us into the world of The Crow. Nine Inch Nails’ haunting cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls” and the Machines of Loving Grace track inhabit a similar space.
Elsewhere on the album, Helmet and Pantera bring their trademark heavy intensity, while Rage Against the Machine play against type with the nuanced, textured “Darkness.” Henry Rollins foreshadows his spoken word career on a cover of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider” and Jesus and Mary Chain deliver another solid slab of shoegaze with “Snakedriver.”
The Crow’s big hit was “Big Easy,” a cut that also appeared on the Stone Temple Pilots’ second album, Purple. It was impossible to spin the radio dial in the mid -90s and not encounter this laid-back, slide guitar jam that somehow blossomed into a huge chorus.
More than 25 years later, The Crow soundtrack holds up surprisingly well. It will continue to delight anyone who wore out (or scratched up) their CD back in the day or newer fans who want to know what the dark side of the grunge era was all about.- Joel Francis
DaBaby- Blame It On Baby
Dazed And Confused- Dazed and Confused (Music From the Motion Picture)
Richard Linklater’s 1993 comedy film about the last day of school in the mid -70s is appropriately paired with a soundtrack designed to be a jam all summer long.
The music works so well on-screen, you get the feeling the characters are experiencing the songs with you. The soundtrack is just as expertly paced, slowing down at just the right times only to jam the foot back on the accelerator again.
After rocketing out of the gate with Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” the set stacks hits on hits on hits with prime cuts from Foghat, Alice Cooper, Black Oak Arkansas and ZZ Top before finally slowing down for a moment with “Love Hurts” by Nazareth. Other standout tracks include “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways, which is smartly paired with Sweet’s slamming “Fox on the Run.” Tapping the brakes once again for “Low Rider” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s forever melancholy “Tuesday’s Gone,” the set closes with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” and oft-played hits from Kiss and Black Sabbath.
And sure, you can hear most of these songs on classic rock radio, but they’d be larded up with obnoxious commercials, overenthusiastic DJs and a bunch of tired songs you never want to hear again. So do yourself a favor, save time and grab this awesome collection – and its reissued companion, Even More Dazed and Confused.- Joel Francis
Deep Purple- Whoosh!
Deftones- Diamond Eyes
Drive-By Truckers- The Dirty South
Fela Kuti- I.T.T.
Fela Kuti- Music Of Many Colours
Fela Kuti- Open & Close
Frank Derrick Total Experience- You Betcha!
GA-20- Does Hound Dog Taylor
When Bruce Iglauer first heard Chicago bluesman Hound Dog Taylor, he couldn’t believe the veteran Chicago bluesman didn’t have a record deal. NAME borrowed some money and started Alligator Records so Taylor would finally have some records on the market.
Nearly 50 years later, Iglauer heard a kindred spirit to Taylor in the Boston-based blues group GA-20. Both Taylor and GA-20 are practitioners of raw, gutbucket blues. Like Taylor’s HouseRockers, GA-20 are a trio that operate without a bass player. A pairing that seemed natural on paper works even better on record, as Try It … You Might Like It! A Tribute to Hound Dog Taylor.
Across these 10 tracks and 40 minutes, GA-20 deliver some of Taylor’s best-known songs, including his signature number “Give me Back My Wig,” the chestnut “It Hurts Me Too” and lesser-known gems such as “Phillips Goes Bananas” and “Let’s Get Funky.”
The only downside to Try It is that it’s over too soon. At that point, the only thing to do is to put on a Hound Dog Taylor album and keep the party going.- Joel Francis
Garbage- No Gods No Masters
Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Released just under a week ago, Halsey is already breaking charts with her new album, “If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power.” Being her senior album, she definitely shows a lot of change with this piece. Something I admire about this album is how almost every song loops back to the idea of having solitary power. Knowing Halsey’s past, fans know she’s been beaten down and used music as a mode of expressing those feelings, rather with this album she uses the songs to take power back.
Right off the bat with the first track, “Tradition,” she talks about a girl being broken down, sold and used, with the excuse “boys will be boys.” Immediately we can assume she’s been in similar (maybe not as extreme as being sold) conditions and is a good entry point for the album as she gives us a glimpse of what could’ve caused this rise of power/backlash.
Track #3 and 4 start to pick up the pace of the album, as the story goes on and builds so do the instrumentals. In “Lilith,” she says, “I’m disgustin’ I’ve been corrupted,” the song builds off the idea that she is self-destructive but now it’s too late, she is how she is now. “I can’t fall in love cuz’ I’m focused,” time after time she runs into the same mistakes, so now she’s putting her energy elsewhere. She’s basically running circles around the title of the album, if she can’t have love she wants power. This idea leads perfectly into track #5, “Girl is a Gun,” where she says, “I feel lighter in the waistline with no hands around me, no spit in my teeth.” From track to track she’s building this idea that she’s done with love/giving people her time and she’s now only worried about herself.
My favorite song would have to be, “You asked for this,” because it evokes emotion and brings an entirely different sound to the album. This track could almost classify as shoegaze/alt rock, as it uses clashing drums, a resonant guitar line, and heavier bass. I like that she threw this track in the mix, in the middle of the album too, to kind of switch things up and convey something similar in a different way. The message of this track resonates with me. She talks about being in pain so often that it becomes normal, as she chases her dreams but didn’t know the pain it would come with. “My tears fall flawlessly,” she says, referring to crying so many times she’s got it down to a science.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this album. I wasn’t a huge fan of Halsey until now. I think she does a good job at getting across her message in beautifully poetic ways, along with including various instrument variants to evoke a plethora of emotions. I’d highly recommend this album to anyone seeking personal growth/self love, I personally felt empowered listening to this. -Nova Stebbin
Hollywood Undead- Swan Songs
Horace Silver- Song For My Father
The Big Iron – We Will Fall
Jimmy Eat World- Clarity
John Coltrane- Blue Train
Kat Von D- Love Made Me Do It
Kenny Garrett- Sounds From The Ancestors
Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar has his way of packing the punch with every release. To Pimp A Butterfly released in 2015, dropping with it chaos, irony, theatrical, and mournful components all at once. This album is by far one of my favorite pieces of work in hip hop/rap because he includes new, intricate elements to rap, and incorporates real, raw stories.
Throughout the album, he mentions “lucy” quite a few times, referring to the devil. He talks about the struggles of trying to succeed in a greed ridden world consumed by power. Coming from the perspective of an African American, he passionately talks about not only the hardships of trying to make it, but in an atmosphere that his community is looked down upon. Stereotypes and lack of trust are just a couple of things he has to face as an artist, “Straight from the bottom, this the belly of the beast, From a peasant to a prince to a motherf*ckin’ king,” he raps in track #3. The way he incorporates two different aspects of struggle in such a poetic way is awe-inspiring.
Something I really want to hone in on is the multiple references to sacrifices and “lucy,” and how that ties in to being a struggling artist in the black community. Though he doesn’t directly say “I’ve made a deal with the devil,” he makes it quite apparent by saying he made it through ways of hard work and to be assumed, selling his soul. I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to this, but it is clear Kendrick wants a spot in the light, maybe for money and power, maybe to spread his message and awareness, I’m not sure, all I know is I left listening to this album with a shifted perspective. I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve faced a struggle of some sort, but to hear in depth, raw stories about things I could never even imagine, is mind boggling and eye opening.
The second to last track, “i,” is one of my favorites off this album.
“I done been through a whole lot
Trial, tribulation, but I know God
Satan wanna put me in a bow tie
Pray that the holy water don’t go dry…
Dreams of reality’s peace
Blow Steam in the face of the beast
The sky could fall down, the wind could cry now
The strong in me, I still smile
I love myself”
From song to song and story to story, the album builds upon itself in instrumental and poetic beauty. After a full listen, I have immense respect for not only Kendrick Lamar, but people in his shoes as well. Knowing what he had to go through/still goes through as an artist is insane to me, and the fact that he can articulate his thoughts so uniquely is alluring. Overall I’d give this album a 10/10. He uses various instrumental elements, bringing a new sound to hip hop/rap, and personal, relatable stories to bring a fresh perspective and insight to all listeners. -Nova Stebbin.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Murder Of The Universe
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach
Lauryn Hill- Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Madlib- Sound Ancestors (arranged By Kieran Hebden)
Mike McCoy’s Trompe-l’oeil – Ogallala Pression
N.W.A.- Straight Outta Compton
O.V. Wright- A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon
Queen Latifah- All Hail the Queen
Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against The Machine XX
Richard Thompson- Mirror Blue
Royal Blood- Typhoons
Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming
Skid Row- Skid Row
Son Volt- Electro Melodier
Son Volt- Straightaways
Sonny Clark- My Conception
St Vincent- Daddy’s Home
Taylor Swift- Red
The Anniversary- Designing a Nervous Breakdown, Your Majesty
The Lawrence, Kan.-based indie/emo quintet The Anniversary didn’t even last a decade, but they left a huge mark on the local music scene and two amazing albums that hold up to the test of time.
After dropping some split singles, the band released its first album in January, 2000. Designing a Nervous Breakdown stood out from other similar acts – including Jimmy Eat World, Cursive and Kansas City’s own Get Up Kids – thanks to secret weapon Adrianne Verhoeven. Her keyboard playing – check out the Moog part in opening song “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and fuzzy synths on “The D in Detroit” – gave the band’s song a unique texture and feel. Verhoeven’s vocals stood out in male-dominated emo scene.
Designing a Nervous Breakdown is filled with punk energy, power pop hooks and heart-on-sleeve lyrics. The album recalls a simpler time, when the biggest worry in the nation was Y2K – both what it would bring and how to properly mark the occasion. While Designing a Nervous Breakdown recalls this time, it doesn’t feel tethered to it.
For their second album, 2002’s Your Majesty, The Anniversary dialed back on the keyboards and turned up the guitars, giving the album more of a classic rock feel. Verhoeven and guitarist Josh Berwanger’s voices blend effortlessly, creating a twin lead vocal approach reminiscent of the Beatles (liberal application of chiming guitars definitely help with the Fab Four comparisons as well).
The Anniversary were working on material for a third album when they broke up in 2004. The band reconvened for some shows in 2016. Who knows, maybe the reissues of these albums will spark some new activity. At the very least, having these beloved albums available on vinyl again will remind old fans why they loved the band so much and introduce them to a new generation of fans.- Joel Francis
The Beach Boys- Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971
Pet Sounds gets all the love and those wonderful 1960s singles get all the airplay, but Sunflower and Surf’s Up have always been hidden jewels in the Beach Boys’ post-Pet Sounds catalog. A new collection commemorating the 50th anniversary of Surf’s Up shines a new light on this underrated era.
Sunflower appeared at the end of August, 1970, and was well-reviewed, but sold poorly. Surf’s Up appeared one year later and sold better. The two albums have been conjoined since they were placed on a single two-fer CD nearly 20 years ago.
Around the time Sunflower and Surf’s Up were assigned to the same CD, Cameron Crowe used “Feel Flows,” a breezy psychedelic gem from Surf’s Up, over the closing credits of his film Almost Famous. This drove many music fans (including me) out to the shops to find this song and see if there were any other gems from this era.
Fortunately, there are, and this new double-LP set presents not only each album in its entirety, but several previously live performances and vocal tracks. The bonus tracks – placed at the end of each side, interrupting the album’s flow a bit – are interesting, but the real draw are the albums.
Sunflower is a team effort, with Dennis and Carl Wilson getting writing credits alongside brother Brian, and Al Jardine and Mike Love contributing as well. Those signature harmonies shine on “Add Some Music to Your Day” and “Cool Cool Water,” but the album is consistently enjoyable throughout.
Surf’s Up is more ornate and is a fantastic showcase of Brian Wilson’s unconventional genius. The second side is perfect for listening with headphones in the darkness. – Joel Francis
The Cramps- Big Beat from Badsville
The White Stripes- The White Stripes Greatest Hits
Trees Speak- Ohms
Vince Guaraldi- A Boy Named Charlie Brown
Weezer- Weezer (Blue Album)
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