It’s Sturgill Simpson New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
2Pac – All Eyez On Me
Art Quartet Farmer – Art [180-Gram Gatefold Vinyl With Bonus Tracks]
Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
Alice in Chains – Facelift [150 gram vinyl]
Alan Vega & Revolutionary Corps Of Teenage Jesus Righteous Lite
Alice Coltrane – Huntington Ashram Monastery
Alice Coltrane – World Spirituality Classics 1: Ecstatic Music
Angel Bat Dawid – Oracle
Aaron Lee Tasjan – Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!
At just 34 years old, singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan has led a full musical life. He’s had a Top 20
country hit, songs produced by Jack White and Lady Gaga as an opening act. What could be seen as
detours for other artists has been the main path for Tasjan. Many of those roads are visible on Tasjan!
Tasjan! Tasjan!, the singer’s fourth solo album.
Echoes of Paul McCartney, ELO, Tom Petty, Wilco, the Beach Boys and more ricochet around these 11
songs. Lyrically, the album is nearly as diverse. In the catchy “Up All Night,” Tasjan sings “broke up with
my boyfriend to go out with my girlfriend” before ultimately deciding “love is like that.” On “Computer
Love,” Tasjan delivers a great summation on the state of rock and roll: “May the guitar rest in peace for
it’s dead once more/What old white men must police whenever they get bored.”
Tasjan shifts gears often enough that you won’t get complacent and the journey never feels stale. A few
days after listening to Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan! you’ll wonder where that catchy melody came from. Then
the light bulb goes off and you’ll play it again. -Joel Francis
Bangles – Doll Revolution (Limited Edition, White, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Brainticket – Psychonaut (Green, Limited Edition)
The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Buddy Rich – Just In Time – The Final Recording (Indie Exclusive)
Benny the Butcher – Burden Of Proof
Black Pumas – Black Pumas (Bonus Tracks, With Bonus 7″, Deluxe Edition, Colored Vinyl)
Beastie Boys – Beastie Boys Music
Black Foxxes – Black Foxxes (Orange Colored Vinyl)
The Beatles – Revolver
Bill Evans – Explorations (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Bill Evans Trio – Village Vanguard Sessions (180 Gram Vinyl)
Chess Club – You’re Lucky I Like You
Chet Baker – Guest Star: Bill Evans – Alone Together (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Chet Baker – Jazz At Ann Arbor (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Carl Perkins – Dance Album of Carl Perkins (Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Clifford Brown & JJ Johnson- Get Happy (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Clifford Brown – Three Giants (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Charles Mingus – Black Saint & the Sinner Lady
Count Basie – Atomic Mr Basie (180 Gram Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love.
Childish Gambino – Camp
The Doors – L.A. Woman (180 Gram Vinyl, Reissue)
The Doors – Strange Days (180 Gram Vinyl, Reissue)
DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall
DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age
DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
Dinah Washington – What A Difference A Day Makes
Dizzy Gillespie – On the French Riviera
Doja Cat – Hot Pink [150 gram Vinyl, Pink Colored]
Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day (Gatefold LP Jacket, 180 Gram Vinyl, Limited Edition, Clear Gold Vinyl)
Drive-By-Truckers – The Dirty South [Limited Edition, 180 gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP jacket]
Dan Lacksman – Dan Lacksman (Limited Edition, Green Colored Vinyl)
Drake – Take Care
Evanescence – The Bitter Truth
The Titans of goth rock return; with their first album of original music in a decade. ‘The Bitter Truth’ feels like a familiar friend; it is every bit classic Evanescence. Although this album may seem like a time machine to 2003, the content is still fresh and exciting.
Amy Lee’s powerful voice brings raw emotion to each track. Her rich, unique vocals are unlike anyone else’s on the scene. This angelic voice often contrasts with the ripping instrumentals backing her. ‘Broken Pieces’ is a prime example of this; with blistering guitar and hard-hitting drums, it’s like headbanging to a choir. High praise is in order for Will Hunt’s stellar performance on the drums; he smashes every song.
Despite the ten-year gap, the band continues to create massive anthems. Like the lip sync, air drum worthy ‘Wasted On You’ and the empowering fight song ‘Part of Me’. An industrial edge washes over in songs like ‘Feeding the Dark’. Whilst the eerie ‘Blind Belief’ is the perfect ending to a killer album.
Evanescence has recreated all of the raw power that makes them one of the most beloved bands of the genre. Beautifully dark and mysterious, ‘The Bitter Truth’ is a magnificent return that was worth waiting for and you should run, walk, skip or jump to the Vinyl Underground for yours. -Albert Schmurr
Weekly Review #2:
Amy Lee is a treasure. Busting on to modern rock radio in 2003 with her band Evanescence, this former wannabe Mozart turned 90s rock fan mixed her love of classical, gothic, and rock music into two Grammy awards and six nominations for their album Fallen. Carried by Lee’s soaring vocals, Fallen was a perfect blend of grinding guitars and whispy, piano ballads.
Fast forward through line-up changes and legal battles to their fifth and most recent studio album The Bitter Truth. It’s been 10 years since Evanescence released new music. Sure, they did some reimagined stuff during that time releasing the orchestral Synthesis, but The Bitter Truth is 12 brand new tracks. The good news for starved fans is that if you like Evanescense, you will enjoy this album. They have kept their signature sound, and Amy Lee sounds as fantastic as ever. Her vocal authority on songs like “Broken Pieces Shine,” “Better Without You,” and “The Game Is Over” harken the Grammy golden days of Fallen. She can still belt out a ballad, as evident on “Far From Heaven” or the love as a drug piano-led ballad turned rocker “Wasted On You.”
If there is a downside (other than having to wait 10 years for this album) it’s in the mixing. The first few songs you don’t really notice, but the longer it plays, the more it starts to stand out. Amy Lee’s vocals start to become overwhelmed by guitar and drums. For an artist that needs no support, the backing is heavy-handed.
Ten years is a long time to overthink things and play with “new directions,” which can be nerve-wracking for fans. For a band like Evanescence, The Bitter Truth is Amy Lee is that consistent, black gothic metal thread that helps keep their signature sound from evanescence (vanishing), and we are glad she is back. – Brad Simmons
Weekly Review #3:
After nearly five years away from the spotlight and a decade removed from their last album of all-
original material, Amy Lee and Evanescence are back. The good news is that band’s distinctive blend of
gothic piano pop with thunderous drums, big guitars and Lee’s potent voice remains intact. The bad
news is that the band’s sound hasn’t evolved much since its 2003 debut.
If you are one of the 17 million people who bought Fallen or jammed to “Bring Me To Life” on the radio,
The Bitter Truth will send you right back to your happy place. Lead single “Wasted On You” opens with
Lee’s singing, piano and some electronic percussion until the rest of the band slams onto the track.
There’s no doubt it won’t sound incredible in arenas once tours can safely resume.
On the contemplative “Far From Heaven,” Lee tries to reconcile the death of her brother with her
spirituality. “Broken Pieces Shine” marches on the quick syncopation of a guitar and drum part that
wouldn’t be out of place on a Korn album. The best moment comes on “Use My Voice,” a song written
in response to a sexual assault trial and used in a voting campaign last year. As drums and guitars storm
overhead and a chorus of backing vocals soar underneath, Lee stands her ground. “Gather your friends
and wave your gun in my face,” Lee sings, “but I will use my voice.”
It’s enough to make the last decade disappear. -Joel Francis
Ella Mai – Ella Mai
Ella & Louis – Ella & Louis (Gatefold LP Jacket, 180 Gram Vinyl)
Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (180 Gram Vinyl)
Ella Fitzgerald – Hits (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket, Limited Edition, Remastered, Special Edition)
Fleetwood Mac – Mr.Wonderful
Floating Points – Promises
Funkadelic – Free Your Mind…and Your Ass Will Follow (Limited Edition, Red)
Funkadelic – Reworked By Detroiters
The Flying Burrito Brothers – Burrito Deluxe (Deluxe Edition)
The Freedom Affair – Freedom Is Love
Fantastic Negrito – Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?
Frank Turner & Jon Snodgrass – Buddies II: Still Buddies
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
Glass Animals – Zaba
Guns N Roses – Greatest Hits (180 Gram Vinyl)
Godspeed You Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! (Incl. 10″)
Harry Styles – Harry Style [180 gram Vinyl]
Herbie Hancock – The Herbie Hancock Trio
Herbie Hancock – My Point Of View (180 Gram Vinyl)
Juice Wrld – Legends Never Die
Jhené Aiko – Chilombo
Joe Strummer – Assembly
John Coltrane & Johnny Griffith – Blowing Session (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket, Bonus Tracks)
Johnny Griffin – Johnny Griffin Sextet (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (2020 Remaster)
Joy Division – Substance (180 Gram Vinyl)
Jimi Hendrix – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix [150 gram Vinyl]
John Coltrane – Giant Steps (60th anniversary edition)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Live In San Francisco ‘16
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
Kenny Dorham – Inta Somethin [180-Gram Gatefold Vinyl With Bonus Tracks]
Lee Morgan – Here’s Lee Morgan
Luca Yupanqui – Sounds of the Unborn (Clear w/ Green Splatter Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Second Helping
Lonely the Brave – Things Will Matter (Redux)
Mac Miller – Swimming In Circles (Deluxe Box Set)
Mad Season – Above (2 LP)
Mr. Bungle – California
Misfits – Die Die My Darling
Misfits – Misfits Collection
Metallica – Garage Days Re-Revisited
Metallica – And Justice For All
Miles Davis – Miles & Monk At Newport [Mono Vinyl]
Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess [Mono]
Miles Davis – Sketches Of Spain [Mono]
Nils Frahm – Empty
Nils Frahm – Tripping With Nils Frahm
Nina Simone – A Very Rare Evening
The Notorious B.I.G. – Greatest Hits
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
Neil Young – Young Shakespeare
Exactly one month after freeing a mammoth, full-band, rocking performance from his vaults, Neil Young
does a 180 for his next archival release. Young Shakespeare is a 50-minute, intimate, acoustic set.
The dozen songs on the setlist play like a greatest hits collection: “Old Man,” “Ohio,” “Helpless,” “Sugar
Mountain” (with funny banter from Young halfway through). A medley of then-unreleased gems “A Man
Needs a Maid” and “Heart of Gold” is priceless for Young’s pre-song apology for his piano playing.
Acoustic performances of “Cowgirl in the Sand” and “Down by the River” – typically full-band, electric
barn-burners – are disarming in their nakedness and brevity.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because the Young Shakespeare concert took place just three days
after a show at Toronto’s Massey Hall, which Young released back in 2007. The Massey Hall show is
slightly longer, but it is also out of print on vinyl and fetches three figures. Young claims Young
Shakespeare is the better of the two performances. If you’re not the type who feels compelled to have
both shows and you don’t have Massey on vinyl, it’s easy to take Young at his word and pick this up. -Joel Francis
Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return of the 36 Chambers
Otis Rush – Original A-Sides
Porcupine Tree – Up The Downstair
Premiata Forneria Marconi – Storia Di Un Minuto [Red Colored Vinyl]
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – And Now For The Whatchamacallit
Prince – Purple Rain (180 Gram Vinyl, Remastered)
Pulp – Different Class
Portishead – Dummy
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Paul Stanley’s Soul Station – Now and Then
Six months after Paul Stanley’s former bandmate Ace Frehley released an album covering songs that
inspired him to become a musician, Stanley takes a similar path for his second solo release away from
While Frehley’s Origins album featured songs by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the Beatles, Stanley’s
Now and Then highlights songs by the Spinners, Smokey Robinson and Four Tops.
The biggest issue with Now and Then is that the arrangement and performances by Stanley’s 15-piece
band dubbed Soul Station are so comprehensive, Stanley’s vocals almost seem incidental. Putting Peter
Criss on the mic wouldn’t change these performances by much.
The best part of Now and Then isn’t the covers, but the five original songs Stanley wrote for the album.
These songs not only complement the classic soul covers, but make me wish he’d written an entire
album. “I, Oh I” is a great song, full stop. The duet on “Whenever You’re Ready (I’m Here)” recalls
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
Now and Then doesn’t rock hard enough to pull a Kiss fan away from Destroyer or have enough soul to
be confused for a Motown release, but Stanley’s new songs are good enough to make one hope an all-
original follow-up album is in the works. -Joel Francis
Roscoe Mitchell – Discussions
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (XX 20th Anniversary Edition)
Rob Zombie – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy (Red w/ Black & White Splatter)
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass – Vol. 2 (Cowboy Arms Sessions, Blue White Clear Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Sunny War – Simple Syrup
Folk singer Sunny War has lived a life that seems torn from a Woody Guthrie broadside. She bounced
from place to place with her mother, picked up the guitar at age 13, started an acoustic punk band, lived
on the streets and overcame substance abuse problems. War also just released her third album in four
War’s latest album Simple Syrup will please fans of the Okie folkie and his many musical descendants,
most prominently Tracy Chapman and Rhiannon Giddens. War doesn’t play her guitar with a pic, letting
her nimble fingers pluck the chords. In another throwback to Dust Bowl-era folk, War’s songs often tell a
“Deployed and Destroyed” is about a veteran returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Its
Name is Fear” was written about an aunt who died from COVID-19 and the cousin who thought the virus
was a government conspiracy.
While not all of her songs tell a story, War told an interviewer that all her songs start as poems, with
music added later. You can hear that poetic dance in lead single “Lucid Lucy” and “Like Nina,” which not
only namechecks inspiration Nina Simone in the title, but discusses the appropriation of music made by
Black female singers by White society.
In 2019, War’s second album Shell of a Girl generated quite a buzz. Although the musical and societal
landscape look considerably different just two years later, there’s no reason to think Simple Syrup won’t
build on that success. -Joel Francis
Shakey Graves – Roll The Bones X (Gold & Black Vinyl)
Sublime – Greatest Hits (Colored Vinyl, Yellow)
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble – The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
SZA – CTRL (Gatefold LP Jacket, 150 Gram Vinyl, Colored Vinyl, Green, Download Insert)
Smashing Pumpkins – Gish
Gish serves as a fine example of what a debut album should be. It contains dynamic songwriting, offering moments of finesse alongside the fuzzed-up mania, and is performed with a balance of raw intensity and technical prowess.
The Smashing Pumpkins work tremendously as a collective, that much is certain, but the individual performances are too good to overlook. Jimmy Chamberlin’s drumming is frenetic; the basslines performed by both Darcy Wretzky and Billy Corgan are consistently strong, at times very progressive; and the multi-layered guitar work is a hazy delight. Corgan’s playing is particularly impressive, laying down solo’s that are infectious.
The record is a rich and glorious collage of sounds. It stands strong in a place somewhere between Pixies and Nirvana, with an added injection of psychedelic rock to ensure The Pumpkins nail down a sound of their own.
The Pumpkins occupy a great space; it’s not always polished, but it is often engaging, and Gish manages to keep its illusive atmosphere to the end. In the middle of the album lies an outstanding trio of songs that highlight the range of The Pumpkins’ vision — they rock out on “Bury Me”, before singing hopelessly about love on “Crush” and channelling their inner Doors on “Suffer”.
It’s as good as ’90s alt rock gets. An essential listen for any alternative rock fan. Get one while they last from the gang at the Vinyl Underground. -Albert Schmurr
Sade – The Best of Sade [180 gram Vinyl]
Tomahawk – Tonic Immobility (Clear Vinyl, Coke Bottle Green, Indie Exclusive)
A Tribe Called Quest – Low End Theory
Three 6 Mafia – The End
Todd Snider – East Nashville Skyline
Todd Snider – Songs For The Daily Planet (180 Gram Vinyl)
Thelonious Monk – Trio (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Tune-Yards – Sketchy
The fifth release from California indie duo Tune-Yards is a dangerous album. The polyrhythmic songs
bubble over with such infectious joy that you’ll be dancing and singing along before the lyrics about
abortion rights, gender dysphoria and gentrification are absorbed by your gray matter. By then it’s too
Merrill Garbus started Tune-Yards as a homemade project with her idiosyncratic vocals, all sorts of
found percussion and ukulele. Each subsequent album in the decade-plus since then has built on and
expanded that sound while remaining true to its spirit.
On Sketchy, Garbus and Neil Brenner retain the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach that makes
the album sound like David Byrne’s world music excursions in more than a few places. Opening cut
“Nowhere, Man” starts like what sounds like someone spinning a radio dial before a fuzzy bassline takes
over. Later, a primitive synthesizer track anchors “Be Not Afraid.”
Previous Tune-Yards albums suffered from the noticeable the weight of Garbus’ over-thinking. Sketchy
hits the sweet spot of sounding fun without collapsing under the burden of Garbus’ grand statements.
Drop the needle and let your feet show the way – your brain will catch up eventually. -Joel Francis
Various Artists – Rockabilly Fever
The Who – Who’s Next (180 Gram Vinyl)
Warren Zevon – Stand In The Fire (Deluxe Edition, Indie Exclusive)
Weezer – Ok Human
Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
In the liner notes to Speak No Evil, Wayne Shorter reveals, “I was thinking of misty
landscapes with wildflowers and strange dimly-seen shapes, the kind of places where
folklore and legends are born.” He does not speak of his music in conventional ways, but
perhaps that’s because he doesn’t write and play music in conventional ways. The focus
here is the energy and story-telling on this, his sixth solo album.
The opening piece, “Witch Hunt,” swings more like one would expect from a guy who
played in both Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ (second great) quintet. Its
blustering phrases make it feels like it could easily be arranged for a big band, and it’s a
nice opening piece that grabs the ear. It’s followed with “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum,” which kinda
wants to swing, but the horns seem a little restrained and hold Herbie Hancock back from
an all-out bluesy solo. The next song, “Dance Cadaverous,” starts even more hushed, like a
film-noir soundtrack. One can almost see the detectives walking down the misty, dimly-lit
alley as Freddie Hubbard steps up to join Shorter for the head after the final solo.
Side two begins with the title cut, a fun, mid-tempo tune allowing the drummer, Elvin Jones,
room to swing. The next song, “Infant Eyes,” is an homage to Shorter’s daughter. It’s tender
and feels mysterious, like an early autumn morning blanket of fog. The last song, “Wild
Flower,” picks up the pace, and there’s a spring in Shorter’s step that carries through
Hubbard’s solo. It’s a fun end to an album that’s moody, but never down.
A strength of Speak No Evil (and Shorter’s writing, in general) is in its layers. It can be
enjoyed just as a nice, fairly concise jazz album with catchy melodies. But with repeated
listens, it becomes evident that other things are going on. The music is occasionally
bombastic, but it’s more often impressionistic. Shorter chops up and plays with phrases.
Hubbard’s solos explore the main motif in interesting ways. Somehow, even amidst this
deconstruction and exploration, the solos are journeys. Many times, the steady, reserved
rhythm section is the proverbial glue holding things together as the melodies float above it.
And, while it can feel like an afterthought to mention this, it’s important to recognize Don
Heckman’s liner notes. As with much of Blue Note did (and still does), the notes on the back
cover were an important part of an album’s experience. Whereas liner notes had typically
served only as hype or sales pitches, Blue Note saw them as opportunities to explain the
music. The problem here is that the mechanics of music on Speak No Evil is so difficult to
explain and demystify. Heckman wisely focuses more on exploring the themes of the album.
He invites the listener to return and make sense of it, too, which is fitting when the music
seems to be more about energy, landscapes, or a journey than it is a particular destination. -Jonathon Smith
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter Wu-Tang
50% OFF Any 1 Red Tagged Clearance LP – Thursday, April 1st ONLY! -No Joke!
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Enjoy the music and we will see you soon. Your loving Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven staff:
Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max
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