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Charlie Brown New Vinyl Thursday

It’s Charlie Brown 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

Amy Grant- Heart In Motion

Angel Olsen- Aisles

Weekly Review:

At first glance, an EP of ‘80s synth-pop covers might look like a well-deserved, lighthearted break from Angel Olson’s weighty, introspective full-length releases. Olson’s EP Aisles checks many of the fun boxes, from the over-the-top eyeliner and font on the cover, to a song selection that includes Laura Branigan’s “Gloria,” “The Safety Dance” and Alphaville’s instantly nostalgic “Forever Yong.”

But Olsen is not a whimsical artist, so even these performances are weighted down with portent. For example, “Gloria” is treated like a Cure song, with a funereal arrangement that brings out the underlying doom in the lyrics. “The Safety Dance” is delivered with the seriousness of an OSHA training video.

Olsen stays closer to the intent behind the original material on Aisles’ final tracks, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Top 5 hit from the film Pretty in Pink “If You Leave” and “Forever Yong.” Olsen lightens her delivery on these songs, bringing some joy to the performances.

This isn’t to say Aisles is a suffocating listen. There is fun to be had on this stop-gap release – it just might not be where you expect it.-Joel Francis

Arica- Heaven

Black Sabbath- Technical Ecstasy

Weekly Review:

I don’t know about you, but within the first 5 seconds of this album, I felt like I was listening to a movie soundtrack, like School of Rock or something. With the release of “Technical Ecstasy,” in 1976, I think a lot of long-time fans were disappointed, while others were amazed. Personally I wasn’t taken for a joy ride, but I also find it to be a fun listen in certain times. 

Starting off the short album with, “Back Street Kids,” it kind of sets listeners up for disappointment, because it sounds similar to some of their previous work, but the tracks following are extremely experimental for Black Sabbath. Lengthy track #2, “You Won’t Change Me,” starts off with new sounds for the band, using interesting synths to introduce the track. This song is by no means horrible, but around 7 minutes, it begins to feel like it’s dragging on. Despite the length and interesting choice in rhythm and synths, the guitar solo is killer, and it’s (for the most part) a pretty solid track.

I think they wanted to stand out, try something new; I mean I know after 7 albums I would want to switch things up a bit too. I respect them and give them credit for branching out, but overall I wasn’t too impressed with this album. There wasn’t a groundbreaking hit off of it, nor many streams compared to their other hits, most likely for the same reasons I’m listing. Again, not a horrible album, and I would listen to it if I were looking for experimental rock inspirations, but not for a general listen. Overall I’d give it a 6/10. -Nova Stebbin

Blue Stingrays- Surf-N-Burn

Bob Marley- Legend

Brandi Carlile- In These Silent Days

Brian Blade & Fellowship Band- Body And Shadow

Brittany Howard- Jaime

Buena Vista Social Club & Ry Cooder- Buena Vista Social Club (25th Anniversary Edition)

Charley Crockett- Welcome To Hard Times

Colleen Green- Cool

Daniel Romano- Cobra Poems

Daniel Romano- Fully Plugged In

Daniel Romano- How Ill Thy World Is Ordered

Duke Pearson- Merry Ole Soul

Eric Dolphy- Out to Lunch

Weekly Review:

Jazz musician Eric Dolphy built his reputation playing with Charles Mingus and Chico Hamilton in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Dolphy had a half dozen or so releases under his name when he signed to Blue Note Records and recorded the five songs that comprise Out to Lunch in early 1964.

Announcing all the musicians were leaders on this material, Dolphy put together a responsive and adventurous ensemble. While Dolphy split his talents across bass clarinet, flute and alto sax, he is backed by Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes, bassist Richard Davis and Miles Davis’ drummer at the time, Tony Williams.

 The five songs on Out to Lunch – all composed by Dolphy – are some of the most challenging pieces in the Blue Note catalog. Opening cut “Hat and Beard” is a tribute to Thelonious Monk that finds the band playing off Davis’ walking bassline before veering into more abstract territory. Final song “Straight Up and Down” was inspired by Dolphy watching a drunk man trying to walk upright and has appropriately off-kilter harmonies and rhythms.

Sadly, by the time Out to Lunch appeared in record stores in August, 1964, Dolphy had passed. Just over a month earlier, Dolphy lapsed into a diabetic coma while touring in Europe and never recovered. While Dolphy’s career ended too soon, albums like Out to Lunch continue to carry his legacy forward.- Joel Francis

Etta James- At Last

Herbie Hancock- Maiden Voyage

Weekly Review:

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock was 24 years old he entered the studio for his fifth album for Blue Note Records. His goal was to conjure and channel the power of the ocean – its current, its inhabitants and its explorers. To help him achieve this ambitious vision, Hancock brought in almost all of his bandmates from the Miles Davis quintet: drummer Tony Williams, bass player Ron Carter and George Coleman on tenor sax. Completing Hancock’s ensemble was Freddie Hubbard on trumpet.

This group not only accomplished Hancock’s lofty goal and created a masterpiece album, but generated two new jazz standards. The first of these is the title and opening track, “Maiden Voyage.” Close your eyes and you can hear the waters move around the boat in Hancock’s piano and Williams’ cymbals. Hubbard’s trumpet evokes the sun piercing the sail and birds flying overhead.

Album closer “Dolphin Dance” is the other song that has been covered extensively. This gorgeous, laid-back melody expresses the playfulness in the song’s title and stands in contrast to more adventurous and aggressive numbers on the album, such as “Eye of the Hurricane” and “Survival of the Fittest.”

Despite its oceanic pretext, Maiden Voyage is inviting, accessible album. It succeeds as both a wonderful gateway to the world of jazz for curious listeners and place where longtime fans can bask in and celebrate the nuances. – Joel Francis

James Brown- Soulful Christmas

Jimi Hendrix- Smash Hits

John Prine- Fair & Square

Juice Wrld- Legends Never Die

Jungle- Loving In Stereo

Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound

Little Willie John- The Complete R&B Hit Singles

Lloyd McNeill- Tori

Lloyd McNeill- Washington Suite

Mad Season- Above (2LP)

Neal Francis- Changes

Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon

Pixies- Trompe Le Monde

Weekly Review:

Poor Trompe le Monde. Before the Pixies reunion albums, the Boston quartet’s fourth album was the most underappreciated and overlooked entry in their catalog.

Now celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, Trompe le Monde looks – and sounds – a lot better. Granted, it’s not as catchy as anything on Doolittle or as explosive as Surfer Rosa, but Trompe le Monde is a visceral ride into the sunset perhaps not on par with the band’s initial offers during its original run, but not far behind them, either.

The high points from Trompe le Monde remain staples of Pixies set lists to this day. A reading of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” – one of the few covers in the Pixies’ catalog – rivals the original. “Subbacultcha” is a sideways story of seduction (sample lyric: “I was looking handsome/She was looking like an erotic vulture”). “Motorway to Roswell” might be the Pixies best performance on record. On most songs, the band would build to climax by increasing the tempo and gradually releasing more anarchy. Here, the performance is measured, building in intensity based on a meticulous arrangement before ending with a piano melody. Album closer “The Navajo Know” sounds like a spaghetti Western with surf guitar.

Trompe le Monde opens with a manic burst of songs that barely provide relief. Songs steamroll into each other, blurring into a mass of Black Francis’ yelps and screams, David Lovering’s relentless drums and Joey Santiago’s frenzied fretwork. Oh yeah, Kim Deal’s here, too, but aside from her inventive basslines, she’s barely audible. Chalk it up to professional envy from Deal’s success with the Breeders or any other handy excuse you like. 

Trompe le Monde is the sound of a band taking out taking their collective frustrations on their respective instruments. It is also proof that great music that makes listeners happy can be created when all the musicians are miserable.- Joel Francis

For nearly twenty three years Trompe Le Monde was regarded as PIXIES fourth and final album.  Released in 1991, at the time, it was probably their least popular album. True confessions, there is very little I don’t love about the Pixies first four albums and I find it next to impossible to place one above another.

Sadly, the writing was on the wall for the band’s demise. Bassist Kim Deal had just released the debut album for her side project The Breeders, to critical acclaim.  Rumors about creative differences between Deal and Pixies frontman Frank Black swirled throughout the underground music press.  It didn’t help that 100% of the writing credits on Trompe Le Monde went to Black and even Deal’s signature backing vocals seemed nearly non existent.  One critic even described Tromp Le Monde as Frank Black’s first solo album.
Band politics, aside the album was somewhat of a return AND a move forward, sonically speaking.
Pixies have always been the kind group that could say more in two minutes than most indie rock bands could do in a whole album.  Clocking in at just under forty minutes, TLM’s fifteen songs are tight explosive packages more reminiscent of tracks from their ground breaking second album Doolittle than the sprawling surf experiments of the previous album, Bossa Nova.
Still, the production on TLM seems to have undergone a few more strokes of the polishing rag, a quality that bands like Weezer and Queens Of the Stone Age would adopt and popularize.
A searing rendition of Jesus and Mary Chain’s Head On rounds up the first six tracks of the album of in your face rockers, each under three minutes in length.
Standout tracks include the fist pumping U- Mass, a homage to the university where Black and lead guitarist Joey Santiago originally met, and subsequently dropped out of to form the band . The infectious groove and sing along chorus of “It’s Educational!” is equally appropriate for both frat parties and basement black light affaire alike.
Subbaculture is a tongue in cheek vision of an underground art scene with plenty of eyeliner and black clothing. The song contains all the favorite Pixies tropes, a snarling dissonant lead guitar line, a locked in wiry groove, and Black’s pained screams coupled with Kim’s deep, whispering backing vocals.
I was lucky enough to see the Pixies on this tour at the Student Union Ballroom at The University of Kansas. The opening act was the legendary art rock band Pere Ubu. It was possibly the best show I ever say there, which is saying a lot, considering Nirvana would perform there the very same year. They were a band firing on all cylinders at the time. I recall them flipping on all the house lights for their final song, U- Mass. It felt like a gigantic sock hop!
Trompe Le Monde holds up a a great album that probably deserves more credit that it got at the time.  This 30th anniversary reissue sounds amazing on limited edition green vinyl!
– Major Matt

Plain White T’s- American Nights

Porcupine Tree- The Incident

Rudolph Johnson- Second Coming

Samantha Fish- Faster

Sarah Jarosz- World On The Ground

Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming

Spiritualized- Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Weekly Review:

“Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space,”  says an airy vocal introducing the track, and album. Released in 1997, this album is fortunately making a comeback. Spiritualized has been around since 1992, paving the way for new genres and sounds. Since their debut album, “Lazer Guided Melodies,” they’ve been around as an experimental rock/ space rock/shoegaze band, creating new and original sounds that many bands take inspiration from. 

Something I really like about this band is their ability to take a multitude of instruments and sounds and mend them all together as one, somehow keeping a consistent flow from track to track in each album. Their third album is no exception, as it really hones in on the concept of the album- floating in space. 

One of my favorite tracks on this album would have to be, “All Of My Thoughts.” Listening to this song with noise canceling headphones makes for a whirlwind of an experience. Starting off slow and calm, leading to a cacophony of noise, then back to calm, it’s simultaneously chaotic and relaxing. I think that emphasizes the meaning of the song very well though as he sings,

Don’t know what to do by myself

‘Cause all of my time was with you

I just don’t know what to do on my own

All of my thoughts are of you”

There’s a wide scope of emotion conveyed in this song though he sticks to the same few lines which I really like.

Another track off this record I really like is, “Cool Waves.” This track is really calming, and resonates with me because it’s (to me) freeing. It gives me a sense of relief and safety in knowing that I’m free and encouraged to do what I need to do for myself. 

Overall I’d recommend this album to just about anyone. Though it doesn’t necessarily have too many genre variants, I’d still recommend anyone to listen to this to get the same freeing, calming experience I had listening to it. -Nova Stebbin

Steely Dan- Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live!

Steve Earle & the Dukes- J.T.

Strung Like a Horse- WHOA!

Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain

System of a Down- System Of A Down

Taylor Swift- Fearless

The Freedom Affairs- Freedom Is Love

The Go-Go’s- Greatest

The HU- The Gereg

Weekly Review:

The Mongolian quartet the HU have gained a considerable following on the metal circuit, but they could fit just as easily into an album or festival curated by world music advocates Peter Gabriel or David Byrne.

The Hu’s debut album, The Gereg, is powered by native instruments, powerful drums and throat singing. For listeners who don’t speak Mongolian, the words become another layer of texture and rhythm to the songs, creating a hypnotic or trance-like experience.

That’s not to say The Gereg is a laid-back affair. “Wolf Totem,” the second song, thunders with the intensity of a Metallica track. “The Great Chinggis Khaan” sounds like the score for a film not yet created. “Song of Women” tips the album closer to Peter Gabriel territory.

It’s no coincidence that “Wolf Totem” and “Song of Women” appear as remixes with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach and Lizzy Hale, respectively. Combining English vocals with Mongolian throat singing and adding a little electric guitar provides just the nudge needed to get these songs on the radio and generate more exposure. The three acoustic performances that follow the remixes go the other direction, peeling back instrumentation to provide more pastoral performances.

Released during a time of extreme isolation because of world health conditions, The Gereg shows how interconnected the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of humanity truly are and makes a strong case for music as the international language.- Joel Francis

The Roots- Things Fall Apart

Tom Tom Club- Downtown Rockers

Trees Speak- Posthuman

Various Artists- Home Alone Christmas

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

Weekly Review:

Brian Eno’s oft-repeated observation that everyone who bought the Velvet Underground’s first album upon its initial release started a band has nearly become a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is any less true.

More than half a century after Velvet Underground singer, guitarist and songwriter Lou Reed walked away from the band over frustrations from the band’s lack of success, a diverse celebration of the Velvet’s first album confirms the band’s legacy to a new generation of fans.

I’ll Be Your Mirror mimic’s the track listing of the Velvet’s first album, with the famous banana cover. It was the final project assembled by the late Hal Wilner, a master of pulling seemingly disparate artists together and providing a new look at a familiar songbook through that diversity. He doesn’t cast as wide a net here, but manages to assemble an impressive cast of indie and alt-rock heroes.

Stand-out performances include Michael Stipe’s warm, inviting “Sunday Morning” and, at the other end of the spectrum (and album), Iggy Pop and guitarist Matt Sweeney’s conversion of “European Son” into a Stooges song. St. Vincent’s spoken-word interpretation of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” somehow feels both antique and futuristic. Kurt Vile turns “Run Run Run” into a psychedelic freak-out while Courtney Barnett gives “I’ll Be Your Mirror” her typical deadpan, minimalist treatment.

OK, that’s five of the album’s 12 tracks and the others – by the National’s Matt Berninger, Thurston Moore, Sharon Van Etten, Fontaines D.C. and Andrew Bird – aren’t half bad either. The best part about I’ll Be Your Mirror isn’t that it continues to provide inspiration to these dozen artists more than 50 years after its release. It’s the promise that a lot of young listeners are going to hear this, become inspired and start a band.- Joel Francis

Despite operating in relative obscurity for the six years of their original existence, there is no shortage of kudos in the world for The Velvet Underground.  In the forms of tributes, covers and even blatant plagiarism, the influences of this band are not hard to come by (one need look no further than the name of this store).  But if you’re like me, you just never get tired of those songs. They’re just that good!
It appeared, after a number of reunions, tributes and out- take releases, what there was to be known about The Velvets was nearing its saturation point.
After receiving co-operation from the surviving members of the band including founding members John Cale  and Maureen Tucker, director Todd Haynes has just finished a new documentary about the band. The film promises exclusive interviews and never before seen footage of the band.
As a companion piece to the film, Verve has just released “I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet and Nico,” a compilation of some of today’s best indie artists coving this legendary album.
The record starts off understated but strong with a beautiful rendition of “Sunday Morning” by Michael Stipe. Stipe is no stranger to paying his respects to VU, dating as far back as 1987 with REM’s B- Side cover of Pale Blue Eyes.
The album continues along the path of mellow heavy hitters including Matt Berninger (The National) and Sharon Van Etten until Kurt Vile’s enters like a welcome freight train with an almost seven minute long rendition of “Run Run Run.” For me this is the best track in the album. Vile’s sprawling deliver back by the infamous Mo Tucker beat and distorted tremolo drones guitar is a match made in Heaven.
St. Vincent & Thomas Bartlett’s Beat poetry deconstruction of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is sure to divide fans.  Admittedly, quite a departure from the song known to be Andy Warhol’s favorite Velvets cover, I enjoyed how this interpretation emphasized the heartbreaking and beautiful  lyrics to this song.
Other highlights are Thurston Moore’s perfectly detuned version of “Heroin” and Courtney Barnett’s solo acoustic, Dylanesque take on “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” The Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeney rendition of the album closer/ freak out “European Son” is icing on the cake.
Often these tribute, cover albums come off as lopsided. But I have to say this a really well balanced interpretation by a great collection of artists. On Indie exclusive yellow vinyl, this a no brainer for any VU fan!
– Major Matt

Various Artists- The Daptone Super Soul Revue Live! At the Apollo

Vince Guaraldi- A Charlie Brown Christmas (2021 Edition)

Vince Guaraldi- It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Walter Bishop Jr.’s 4th Cycle- Keeper Of My Soul

Whiskey Myers- Firewater

Zacherle- Zacherle’s Monster Gallery

 

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