It’s Spiritualized New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Amythyst Kiah- Wary + Strange
Angel Bat Dawid and tha Brothahood- Live
A few songs into Angel Bat Dawid’s riveting live album, Dawid repeatedly intones the phrase “black family” like a shaman as drums, saxophones and pianos shatter around her. By the end, she begs the audience to join in her chant: The black family is the strongest institution in the world. As the crowd demurs, she uses the phrase as a critique of their complicity. An audience that wants to witness art without participating or acknowledging its origin. The song ends unresolved, spilling into the comparatively gentler piano number “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black.”
This spirit of confrontation, imploration and revelation galvanizes Dawid’s sophomore release. Live features many of the songs from Dawid’s debut The Oracle, performed with a full band in full flight at the 2019 JazzFest Berlin. A series of racist events Dawid experienced during her stay in the city add power and fury to the free jazz performances and are partially documented in the album’s opening and closing tracks.
Dawid’s performance draws from Sun Ra and Linda Sharrock and is infused with the calls for racial justice that have always been a driving force in jazz. That these calls continued to be unheeded from generation to generation adds urgency to Dawid and tha Brotherhood’s playing. This is serious, intense music that will not accept compromise from the listener or institution.- Joel Francis
Arctic Monkeys- AM
Arctic Monkeys- Arctic Monkeys Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Bill Evans- On A Friday Evening
Billie Holiday- Golden Hits
Billie Holiday- Lady Sings the Blues
Billy Harper- Black Saint
Bob Dylan- World Gone Wrong
Bob Marley- Legend
Britney Spears- Baby One More Time
Cavetown- Animal Kingdom
At just 22 years of age, Robin Skinner can’t be considered a veteran, but he’s been around the music industry a surprisingly long time. Skinner started uploading original songs to Youtube in 2013 and released his first album at the tender age of 14.
Animal Kingdom collects five singles Skinner released under the name Cavetown in 2019. The first five songs find Skinner on acoustic guitar with the help of a drum machine, keyboards or friends on backing vocals. The back half of Animal Kingdom features Sidney Gish, Simi, Chloe Moriondo and Spookyghostboy. A lo-fi, bedroom pop aesthetic unites each side.
Skinner frequently draws comparisons to Elliott Smith and it’s not hard to see why. Both men sing in a close-miked, whispered (and often double-tracked) style against a starkly strummed guitar. Skinner colors the gently loping “Juliet” with a synthesizer part that would make Sufjan Stevens proud. “Boys Will be Bugs” could be a lost Ben Folds song. Here, the teenage subject hides his uncertainty and insecurity behind profanity and exaggerated machismo. A cover of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control” provides album’s most mellow moment. The winsome, nostalgic “Hug All Ur Friends” concludes Cavetown’s song cycle.
The second side opens with Simi’s “Lullaby,” a soothing, mellow song that lives up to its title. “Waves (Piano)” is a no-frills, downbeat number, while “hh” features a lovely synthesized string arrangement build around a slide guitar. The set ends with a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Somebody’s Baby” by Sidney Gish. – Joel Francis
Chico Freeman- Sweet Explosion
Childish Gambino- Awaken My Love
Crowded House- Dreamers Are Waiting
After 11 years away, Neil Finn and Crowded House are back with a new record and a new lineup. It’s not like Finn hasn’t been busy since the last album, Intriguer, though. He’s released two solo albums, toured with Paul Kelly, and was a member of Fleetwood Mac’s touring band. Finn also helped Roger Shepherd buy back the rights to the Flying Nun catalog and bring the label back home to New Zealand.
No matter the project he’s been involved with, Finn has remained consistent in pointing back at the past and also to the future. The Beatles remain an influence on his melodies and chord changes. Songs like “Playing With Fire” or “Sweet Tooth” would be at home on a Paul McCartney record, and it’s not difficult to imagine John Lennon singing a song like “Whatever You Want.” But it’s the band’s flourishes, from warbly piano treatments to synthesizer riffs to the shifting time signature in “Bad Times Good,” set Dreamers Are Waiting apart from simply being a tribute/nostalgia project by a band that made its first record 35 years ago.
Both new and old fans will find it refreshing how, after all these years, Neil Finn’s lyrics continue to read like journal entries: thoughtful, personal, and even transparent. “Real Life Woman” seems to reflect on his time sharing the stage with Stevie Nicks. Crowded House made much of the album during the COVID-19 pandemic, so isolation and weariness come up at times. “Playing With Fire” is about both the personal (his wife being in quarantine) and political (“let’s all be quiet, the next generation’s talking”). In “Too Good for This World,” he laments, “There’s a mob set on violence. There must be a way to escape from the follies of men.”
It’s no coincidence when some songs on Dreamers Are Waiting feel vaguely like b-sides from In Rainbows by Radiohead or Wilco (the Album) by Wilco because members of these bands participated in Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide projects. Yet the new album feels unmistakably like a Crowded House record, influenced by the past and anticipating the future. In all, it is another collection of good songs from a songwriter who continues to be consistent and influential. -Jonathon Smith
David Bowie- Hunky Dory
Dead Meadow- Live At Roadburn 2011
Death Cab for Cutie- Codes and Keys
Dexter Gordon- A Day In Copenhagen
Durand Jones & The Indications- American Love Call
Dwight Trible- Mothership
Ed Kelly- Ed Kelly & Friend
Ella Fitzgerald- Sunshine of Your Love
Eminem- Eminem Show
Fleetwood Mac- The Best Of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac
Frankie & Witch Finger- Heavy Roller
Freddie Hubbard- Hub Of Hubbard
HARRY PARTCH ENSEMBLE / GATE 5 ENSEMBLE- Harry Partch: Portrait
Harry Styles- Harry Styles
Hippie Death Cult- 111
Hiss Golden Messenger- Quietly Blowing It
Songwriter M.C. Taylor was looking for some down time away from the rigors of touring when the pandemic cloistered most of the world. Writing and recording at Taylor’s home studio became his sanctuary. The songs that gradually emerged became Hiss Golden Messenger’s 10th album, Quietly Blowing It.
The result is a reassuring album that reflects the tumultuous world during its creation – virus death counts, civil rights protests, an ugly presidential election – while containing the light of making it out the other side unscathed. “Count up our losses/lay a rose at the crosses,” Taylor sings on “If It Comes in the Morning.” “And hope hope is contagious.”
Although Taylor composed and plays multiple instruments on all the songs, he got help from a stellar cast including Emmylou Harris’ frequent six-string foil Buddy Miller and members of Dawes and the Lone Bellow.
These songs inhabit the same dusty Americana sound that gave birth to Blood on the Tracks, Gasoline Alley and Sweet Revenge. The earthy production and rootsy musicianship provide an additional layer of comfort.
On “Sanctuary,” the album’s lead single and closing track, Taylor knows where salvation lies. “Feeling blue/can’t get out of my own mind,” he sings, buoyed by a gospel organ and chorus, “but I know how to sing about it.”
Amen.- Joel Francis
Iggy & Stooges- Jesus Loves The Stooges
Janelle Monae-Dirty Computer
Jimi Hendrix- Smash Hits
Jimmy Smith- Back at the Chicken Shack
Jazz organist Jimmy Smith released albums at a clip that would make Robert Pollard blush across a six-decade. Back at the Chicken Shack stands out among that bunch by virtue of the young sidemen joining Smith.
Saxophone player Stanley Turrentine had mainly played in blues and R&B groups with limited recording experience. Guitarist Kenny Burrell was an established player, but hadn’t done much in the B3 arena. The combination of these three men – Smith, Turrentine, Burrell – and Smith’s longtime drummer Donald Bailey, cooked up something so greasy and funky that it helped establish and define the subgenre of soul jazz.
The album’s four lengthy tracks provide plenty of space for the quartet to stretch out. Turrentine falls right in behind Smith’s blues playing on the opening title cut. After a lengthy solo from Smith, Burrell bends some very bluesy notes in his own showcase. This sound could have emanated from any number of clubs in Chicago or juke joints dotting the American South. On Turrentine’s original “Minor Chant” the composer takes a long, swinging solo to open the song. Burrell doesn’t appear on this song, but he’s not missed as Bailey rides in the pocket and Smith provides expert support, before stepping into the spotlight.
The sessions that produced Back at the Chicken Shack were so fruitful they also generated enough material for another album, Midnight Special. In fact, Smith wears the same red shirt on both album covers.-Joel Francis
Joe Harriott- Bbc Jazz For Moderns
Joni Mitchell- Blue
Joy Division- Substance
Kanye West- 808S & Heartbreak
Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity
Lady Gaga- Chromatica
Lightnin Hopkins- Mojo Hand
Liz Phair- Soberish
Mad Season- Above
Maggie Rogers- Notes From The Archive: Recordings 2011-2016
Marvin Gaye- What’s Going on
Michael Jackson- Thriller
Mother Mother- Inside
Last year’s pandemic sidelined many bands and their plans, but somehow Vancouver’s Mother Mother managed to build a bigger following during the downtime than they could have touring.
Thanks to several songs taking off on TikTok and an acute resonance within the LGTBQ+ community, a particularly eager audience awaits the band’s eighth album. The result, Inside, echoes the band’s acoustic folk roots while embracing an electro-alternative edge.
Lead single “I Got Love” has an upbeat, Michael Franti vibe that proclaims carrying a heart full of agape is the best way to meet all of life’s uncertainties. The equally enthusiastic “Like a Child” echoes that sentiment. Across soaring layers of guitars that would make Billy Corgan smile, Ryan Guidemond and his sister Molly declare “it’s time to love, just like a child.”
The Guidemonds know how to apply their vocals effectively. Molly’s vocals – frequently paired with keyboardist Jasmin Parkin – create a comforting, intimate feel. Ryan’s singing can be just as sensitive, but often comes with more bombast. This ying-yang can be especially compelling when used within the same song. On “Until It Doesn’t Hurt,” the siblings voices capture the struggle between fight or flight agonizing the subject’s soul. The song “Weep” veers between acoustic verses that build into a huge chorus with oversized drums and sinister synthesizers.
Inside represents a step forward for Mother Mother on several fronts and should serve as an effective launching pad to the larger audiences the band will face when touring resumes. -Joel Francis
Nick Cave- Carnage
Oliver Nelson- The Blues And Abstract Truth
Pink Floyd- More
Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon
Pulp- Different Class
Queen- Greatest Hits I
Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against The Machine XX
Rage Against the Machine- Renegades
Rosie Tucker- Sucker Supreme
Skid Row- Rise of the Damnation Army
Sonny Clark- Cool Struttin’
From the album cover – depicting the legs of a woman in motion – to the final drum roll at the end of “Deep Note,” the concluding track, there isn’t much about Sonny Clark’s 1958 release that isn’t perfect.
Clark remains an underrated hard bop pianist, likely because his career only lasted 10 years and he died so young. During Clark’s brief orbit, he played on celebrated albums by Dexter Gordon, Grant Green and Hank Mobley. Cool Struttin’, Clark’s eighth release as bandleader, remains his pinnacle.
Part of Struttin’s appeal lies in first-rate lineup. Supporting Clark are Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, who comprised Miles Davis’ rhythm section at the time, Art Farmer on trumpet and Jackie McLean on alto sax. McLean’s horn plays well of Farmer’s staccato approach and Clark knows just how to add depth behind the soloists and just when to push the ensemble in a new direction. The pair of Chambers and Jones could make Pat Boone swing.
Three of the four lengthy cuts on Struttin’ are walking blues. The fourth, a cover of “Deep Night,” opens sans horns and provides a wonderful showcase for Clark’s soulful playing. It’s fun to hear Farmer and McLean play in unison, diverge and support each other, then meet back up on “Blue Mirror.” The two horns and Clark’s piano bounce off an almost Latin rhythm on “Sippin’ at Bells.”
Cool Struttin’ is always a gratifying experience that can be enjoyed by deep jazz aficionados but is accessible enough to appeal to newcomers as well. Buying this album will make any record collection exponentially cooler.- Joel Francis
Sonny Rollins- On Impulse! (Verve Acoustic Sound Series)
Sparks- No 1 In Heaven: 40th Anniversary Edition
Spiritualized- Pure Phase
Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
Styx- Crash Of The Crown
System of a Down- Toxicity
The Black Keys- Thickfreakness
The White Stripes- The White Stripes Greatest Hits
The Zombies- Odessey & Oracle
Thee Oh Sees- Mutilator Defeated at Last
Tom Petty- Angel Dream (Songs From The Motion Picture She’s The One)
VAMPIRA WITH SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS / O.S.T.- Vampira With Satan’s Cheerleaders
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Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max
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