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Chvrches New Vinyl Thursday

It’s Chvrches New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:

Beach Bunny- Honeymoon

Weekly Review:

Female fronted indie rock bands typically don’t resonate with me, as I feel a lot of bands that classify in this genre seem like they’re going for a sound they just can’t attain. It’s hard to understand exactly what they’re striving for, making for a “try hard” sound and unsatisfactory listen. Beach Bunny on the other hand, does a really good job at portraying what a female fronted indie rock band should sound like. They incorporate elements of indie, rock, and pop punk, mixed with beautifully bright vocals, giving them a fun, whimsical tone. 

Debuting in 2016, it didn’t take long for Beach Bunny to take off, with their song, “Prom Queen,” reaching over 100 million streams since it was released in 2018. Since then, they’ve grown not only in popularity but maturity as a band. Their debut EP, “Pool Party,” was released in 2016 showcasing a much different sound, as they’ve been progressing throughout the years. 

Off their new album, “Honeymoon,” one of my favorite tracks would have to be, “Cloud 9.” This is a love song, honing in on the feeling you get when you’re with your special person. This track is faster paced and extremely catchy, being only 2 minutes long, it makes you want to listen to it over and over. It uses simple instrumental elements but they’re constructed in a way so that they compliment each other and the vocals. That trait is one I admire about Beach Bunny- how they can take extremely simple guitar/bass riffs and turn them into something memorable and catchy, rather than repetitive/boring and they do this throughout the entire album. 

Overall I really enjoyed this record, because they incorporate various messages and sounds in upbeat, fun ways. A lot of the time with pop punk and indie rock, bands will use chords and melodies that bring you down rather than lift you up. Even if it’s a sad topic Beach Bunny finds a way to approach it optimistically.- Nova Stebbin

Blaze Foley- Clay Pigeons

Boygenius- Boygenius

Boygenius is a unique supergroup consisting of three of the best contemporary indie rock songwriters: Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers.
The project was hatched after both Dacus and Bridgers had toured opening for Baker on separate occasions and started discussing how often each performer was getting compared to the other.  Instead of trying to distinguish themselves more they decided to join forces.
The project started with a simple idea. Each artist would bring in one completed song and one half finished one. For the completed songs the other two would serve however the songwriter saw fit and for the three incomplete songs they would collaborate.
The name Boy Genius comes from an inside joke the artists would use in the studio to encourage each other’s ideas. The idea is connected to the idea that young boys are more validated for their ideas than young girls. Dacus describes the “boy genius” trope as “boys and men we know who’ve been told that they are geniuses since they could hear, basically… If one person was having a thought—‘I don’t know if this is good, it’s probably terrible’—it was like, ‘No! Be the boy genius! Your every thought is worthwhile, just spit it out.’”
The result is a mesmerizing and well balanced six track ep of songs about stretched out hearts and twisted dreams of love and relationships… amongst other things.
The EP was recorded in 2018 over the course of five days at Sound City. Since then, each member have released critically acclaimed solo albums, where they all reunited to perform backing tracks for each other’s: “Graceland Too” and “I Know the End” from Bridgers’ Grammy-nominated Punisher, Baker’s Little Oblivions single “Favor,” and “Please Stay” and “Going Going Gone” on Dacus’s Home Video.
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these songwriters this is a great opportunity to get a little tasting each of them in one place.
– Major Matt

Chris Stapleton- From A Room: Volume 2

Chrissie Hynde- Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Weekly Review:

Chrissie Hynde is so accomplished as the songwriter and frontwoman of the Pretenders, it is easy to forget what a skillful interpreter she is. The Pretenders’ first single was a cover of the Kinks “Stop Your Sobbin’” and songs by Jimi Hendrix, the Persuaders and Bob Dylan have popped up across the band’s expansive catalog.

Now Hynde has devoted an entire album to Dylan covers, a frequent artistic decision that goes back almost as far as the 80-year-old Dylan’s nearly 60-year career. Yet Hynde inhabits these songs well, steering clear of obvious selections and building understated arrangements that cast new shadows on the material.

Standing in the Doorway is built around acoustic guitars, organs and pianos with quiet tambourines or drums in the background. Hynde’s voice is in top form, full of expression that is even more powerful because of the perfectly timed pauses and hesitations. The pulls Hynde’s voice – and Dylan’s lyrics – intimately close.

There aren’t any soft spots in this nine-track, 45-minute journey, but a few performances shine brighter than the others. Hynde – and fellow Pretender James Walbourne – peel back the slick production from “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight” and create a desperate, homespun plea. “Blind Willie McTell” stays close to the original arrangement, but rapidly strummed mandolins add a feeling of noir to the song. All told, Standing in the Doorway will appeal to fans of Dylan, the Pretenders and strong singer/songwriter performances.- Joel Francis

Chvrches- Screen Violence

Creative Arts Ensemble- One Step Out

Crow- The Crow (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Dazed and Confused- Dazed And Confused (Music From The Motion Picture)

Dee Snider- Leave A Scar

Eastern Rebellion- Eastern Rebellion

Emma-Jean Thackray- Yellow

Eugene McDaniels- Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse

GA-20- Does Hound Dog Taylor

Garbage- No Gods No Masters

Gorillaz- Song Machine, Season One

Grant Green- Idle Moments

Weekly Review:

Six months before the release of Idle Moments, jazz guitarist Grant Green was christened His Majesty King Funk by Verve Records. Perhaps seeking a counter-narrative, Blue Note Records reached into their vault and belatedly released these 1963 sessions.

There’s not a whiff of funk to be found on Idle Moments, but that doesn’t mean this relaxed offering lacks vigor. The opening title track is 15 minutes of superb soloing. Green misunderstood a studio cue and soloed for 64 bars instead of the planned 32. Pianist Duke Pearson, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson and vibes player Bobby Hutcherson followed right along, creating one of the all-time great jazz performances.

The rest of the album isn’t quite as spectacular, but still very, very good. Pearson’s “Nomad” and Green’s “Jean de Fluer” are upbeat performances that wrap nicely around “Django,” a cool number popularized by the Modern Jazz Quartet. 

Whether you are just starting a jazz library or continually adding new titles to an existing collection, Idle Moments is a key part of any collection.- Joel Francis

Guns N Roses- Appetite For Destruction

Guy Clark- Somedays The Song Writes You

Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power

Imagine Dragons- Night Visions

James McMurty – The Horses and the Hounds
The Horses and the Hounds is not James McMurtry’s first rodeo. In fact if albums were rodeos this would his tenth, but it’s his first in six years.
Time has not appeared to have smoothed the edges of McMurty’s unique character sketches about everyday, hard living folks. Musically speaking, this album quite often rocks. But JM’s somber, poker-faced deliver cuts through like a lone semi truck on a long desert highway.
Nowhere is the rocking’ more apparent than on the title track where he brilliantly utilizes the two animals most dear to any true redneck’s heart, horses and hounds, to symbolize the Yin and Yang of family and culture. This is not to day JM is of the reddened neck persuasion. Let’s just say he is well versed in the vernacular:
“Sister says to come on back for Christmas
Mama’s wondering why I never come around
Lord I’ve been running for so long
I just can’t find a way back home
So I’ll turn to face the horses and the hounds”
Much like some of the most celebrated songwriters of the past fifty years a la Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Springsteen, and John Prine, JM has a unique ability to assign a literary and almost mythic quality to struggles of what might otherwise be labeled as common or working class folks.
Even though, as a songwriter his tools are forged amongst the deep backroads of Red State mentality, he subversively applies them to broaden perspectives amongst both allies and adversaries.
Song after song JM manages to land upon the penultimate goal of American Folk music… a common core amongst individuals. This is brilliantly expressed in the first song on Horses and Hounds, Canola Fields:
“We all filtered away with the days gettin’ shorter
Seekin’ our place in the greater scheme
Kids and careers and a vague sense of order
Bustin’ apart at the seams”
This is not Teenie Bopper Music. These songs are for people who have lived and loved and lost, and are cautiously looking forward to the next chapters of their lives.
Track two, “If It Don’t Bleed,” is chock full of lines that cut straight to the truth of life:
“I learned to answer my calls and open my mail
I paid my taxes and I stayed out of jail
You stay in the game when you’re too broke to fail
That’s a fact”
Operation Never Mind addresses the short term memory of most Americans when it comes to the military and our countries involvement in foreign operations:
“We got an operation going on
It don’t have to trouble you and me
A KBR man cooks a T-bone
A soldier’s choking down an MRE
We just go on about our business
Drop the kids off at the mall
Play the Black Ops on the laptop
Don’t make too big a fuss about it all”
What I love about McMurty’a song writing is that he’s not afraid to tackle the hard issues while at the same time not above a little self facing humor. In Ft Walton Wake Up Call he wraps an entire song around the unfortunate habit of always losing his glasses:
“Georgia license Code B Restriction
Can’t drive ‘less I got my specs on
Double negative’s proper diction
In this North Florida redneck lexicon
Ain’t nothing but Fox News fiction on
Nobody’s showing the game I’m betting on
And how’re they gonna build a wall with no Mexicans anyway?”
If you’re a fan of Americana or folk music and the art of great songwriting this record is for you!
-Major Matt

J. Cole- The Off-Season

Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced

John Coltrane- Another Side Of John Coltrane

Weekly Review:

Jazz legend John Coltrane was many things during his too-brief career, but timid was never one of them. Although Coltrane’s name may have appeared in small print on the cover (or relegated to the back cover), his playing was always powerful and recognizable.

The two-LP set Another Side of John Coltrane gathers some of the saxophonist’s best work as a sideman to other artists. The collection opens with “Tenor Madness,” 12 minutes of Trane and Sonny Rollins’ sparring saxophone. Hearing two masters of their instrument playing off (and around and through) each other is a delight.

Next up are three cuts with the Miles Davis Quintet. This material is rightly revered for many reasons beyond Trane’s presence, and should be familiar to many casual jazz fans. The same goes for the four songs with Thelonious Monk. Trane’s time in Monk’s band played a key part in his career, as he kicked his drug addiction and further developed his voice. Monk and Trane only had one recording session together. These tracks are worth seeking out on their own.

The remaining four cuts hold great interest, if only because they aren’t found as readily. The two songs with Red Garland’s Quartet find Trane playing with pianist Garland – also a member of Davis’ famed quintet in the 1950s – and Donald Byrd. Tracks with drummer Art Taylor and pianist Tad Dameron complete the anthology.

Although I would have swapped a couple of the Davis and Monk tunes for less familiar performances with Paul Chambers, Johnny Hodges, Pepper Adams or Kenny Burrell, what is here is undeniable. Another Side is a great spot to catch the Trane.- Joel Francis

The concept of the guest artist on a record is not a new one. But perhaps no other musical genre integrates this practice so essentially as Jazz.
Anyone who follows the genre or any particular Jazz artist will soon noticed, depending on the time period, an ever evolving list of couplings with other groups or solo artists in countless combinations in either featured or supporting roles. It’s just one of the many unique and fascinating aspects of this truly American music that we don’t always focus on.
In any conversation about Modern Jazz, it doesn’t take long before the name John Coltrane comes up. The first Jazz album I ever bought was John Coltrane’s second solo album: Blue Train, released in 1958. It was for a report in Jr Hight School. I feel like I got lucky. For the next ten years he would release a steady stream of albums that would change the sound of all jazz there after… all music for that matter.
But before that (and a little during) he was a sideman. And that’s what this new double album by Craft records entitled “another side of John Coltrane” focuses on. Centered around 1956-57, the record features some of Trane’s most notable collaborations including works with Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk.
This double album really holds together nicely and includes some legendary  tracks including Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz quartet’s version of ‘Round Midnight, four tracks with Thelonious Monk including the somber Monks Mood as well as a track by the Red Garland Quintet ft. Trane & Donald Bird entitled Birk’s Works.
But the real cheery on top, for me, is the the nine minute version of Someday My Prince Will Come with MilesDavis.
It’s kind of hard to believe that after all these years we are still finding new ways to appreciate this Jazz icon but this album does it w/ liner notes by award winning music historian Doug Ramsey and mastering by Paul Blakemore of CMG Mastering.
– Major Matt

John Coltrane- My Favorite Things

John Prine- Diamonds In The Rough

John Prine- Sweet Revenge

Judas Priest- British Steel

Juice Wrld- Legends Never Die

Kendrick Lamar- Damn.

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly

Kenny Burrell- Midnight Blue

Weekly Review:

Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell’s 1963 album Midnight Blue is one of those albums that has influenced many artists, yet is rarely discussed. Steve Ray Vaughan covered the album’s opening track, “Chitlins con Carne” and Elvis Costello borrowed the cover design for his album Almost Blue. The song “Wavy Gravy” provided the nickname for the counterculture activist who handled security at Woodstock.

Midnight Blue is one of several albums released in 1963 bearing Burrell’s name. Midnight Blue stands out because the focus never strays from Burrell’s fluid, seductive playing. Stanley Turrentine’s saxophone bobs and weaves throughout the album, reinforcing or providing counterpoints to Burrell’s playing, but the emphasis always stays on the guitar.

This is one of the ultimate late-night jazz albums, perfect for playing with at the end of the day with a cold beverage and a place to relax with eyes closed. – Joel Francis

Lloyd McNeill- Soul Jazz Records Presents Lloyd Mcneill: Elegia

Lorde – Solar Power

Weekly Review:

Lorde was discovered at age 12, starting writing songs at 18 and just 17 years old when “Royals” blew up around the world and turned the New Zealand native into a pop star. Now 24, Lorde has spent nearly half of her life in the unforgiving spotlight of show biz. The harsh experiences in the limelight inform Lorde’s third album, Solar Power, and shine through in lyrics such as “Teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash” (on lead track, “The Path”).

Solar Power intentionally lacks any of the fireworks that defined “Royals” and Lorde’s previous two albums. Big hooks are replaced by delicate acoustic guitars. Producer Jack Antonoff, who worked on Melodrama, Lorde’s 2017 second release, returns, but too often Solar Power feels like something from Antonoff’s other productions, like a Lana Del Rey song or something from Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore albums. “Stoned at the Nail Salon” is the most obvious offender. In both title, arrangement and melody, the song slip unnoticed into Del Rey’s “NFR!”

Despite sounding overly familiar, Lorde manages to deliver something that goes beyond the tired burden-of-fame cliches and is relatable. How relatable depends on where the listener falls regarding such as “Couldn’t wait to turn 15/Then you blink and it’s been 10 years/growing up a little at a time, then all at once.” Anyone who groans and starts muttering “just you wait, kid,” should stay clear. Everyone nodding vigorously in agreement has found a new spiritual home.- Joel Francis

Lucy Dacus- Home Video

Metallica- 5.98 Ep – Garage – Garage Days Re-revisited

My Chemical Romance- Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge

Nate Morgan- Journey Into Nigritia

Nirvana- Bleach

Olivia Rodrigo- Sour

OutKast- Aquemini

Ozzy Osbourne- Blizzard Of Ozz

Porcupine Tree- Recordings

Prince- Purple Rain

Prince- Welcome 2 America

Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against The Machine XX [20th Anniversary]

Rickey Kelly- Limited Stops Only

Rodrigo Amarante- Drama

Shannon and the Clams- Year Of The Spider

Weekly Review:

The Oakland-based, retro-garage quartet Shannon and the Clams are in a dark place on their sixth album, Year of the Spider, but you’d hardly know it from the first several listens. 

The Clams happily display their musical roots and influences, giving Year of the Spider a familiar feel, but it never feels like a gimmick. Opening song “Do I Wanna Stay” sounds like a low-budget Lee Hazlewood number. “Midnight Line” is the kind of track Jack White would proudly issue on Third Man Records. (Like its predecessor, Year of the Spider was produced by Black Key – and erstwhile White rival – Dan Auerbach.) Several songs are seeped in the girl group sound of the Shangri-Las and Ronettes.

Dig a little deeper and the pain starts to surface. Singer Shannon Shaw unburdens herself from the pain of the last year across these 13 songs and 40 minutes. From her father’s battle with cancer, fires raging across California and a peeping Tom/stalker problem to the stress of the pandemic and just life decisions we all face, such as whether to move somewhere new and embrace change or stick with the familiar, Shaw doesn’t shy from getting personal.

While the upbeat arrangements keep the material from getting too weighty, Shaw sprinkles shafts of light throughout as well. The chorus on “Flowers Will Return” offers this hopeful vision: “Leaves die in their turn/ As each love ends we learn/ That flowers will return.”- Joel Francis

Skeletal Remains- Condemned To Misery

Snoop Dogg- The Last Meal

Sparks- Annette (Selections From the Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The Anniversary- Designing A Nervous Breakdown

The Anniversary- Your Majesty

The Beach Boys- Feel Flows The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971 [2 LP]

The Beatles- Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Bleachers- Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night

The Ramones- Road To Ruin

The Traveling Wilburys- The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1

Weekly Review:

When you’ve survived Beatlemania and been anointed spokesperson of a generation, however begrudgingly, there really isn’t anything left to prove. Perhaps this is why the supergroup that started as a backyard strum session for a b-side lead to an album that somehow, despite boasting both George Harrison and Bob Dylan, is even greater than it seems on paper. 

The Traveling Wilburys’ charm comes from an infectious atmosphere of fun. There is no whiff of ego across these 10 tracks and 36 minutes. The trio joining Harrison and Dylan aren’t ringers. Contemporary Roy Orbison is one of the greatest vocalists of his generation and disciples Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne owe a great deal of their individual success to how well they’ve been able to mine the Beatles sound and Dylan’s sensibilities.

Volume One is bookended by two great singles, “Handle With Care” and “Last Night,” which still get airplay more than 30 years later. Both upbeat songs characterize the carefree, all-for-one nature of the recordings, with all the members contributing vocals. Between these numbers are a pair of solid Dylan songs – especially the Bruce Springsteen send-up “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” and the wonderful Orbison showcase “Not Alone Anymore.” Lynne and Petty contribute to several of the songs and play vital supporting roles.

One of the many wonderful delights from the first Wilburys album is that the party doesn’t end with the conclusion of side two. What blossomed out of Harrison and Lynne working together on Harrison’s Cloud 9 album continued onto Petty and Lynne’s collaboration on Full Moon Fever and Orbison’s final album Mystery Girl. (Orbison’s single “You Got It” could have been on this Wilburys album.) Even Dylan perked up, releasing his best album of the decade, Oh Mercy, in the wake of the Wilburys. Grab Volume One today and take a ride to the end of the line, then keep going.- Joel Francis

Vince Guaraldi- A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Wu-Tang Clan- Enter the Wu-Tang Clan

Xxxtentacion- ?

Weekly Review:

Alongside many young artists in the industry, Xxxtentacion, or Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy, lost his life, leaving a legacy behind him. With over 1.6 billion streams, his song, “SAD!,” off his junior album left a huge impression on not only his fans, but aspiring artists in the genre of rap and singer song-writer. His career started off kind of wobbly with his debut song, “Look At Me!,” because this gave him a reputation that didn’t feed too well into his later music, or what he wanted as an artist, really. 

Right off the bat, this album explains exactly what you’re about to listen to. Jahseh explains the purpose behind this project and it’s actually very insightful before listening. This leads to track #2, “ALONE, PART 3,” which is a slower, more emotional song. This song along with a couple others like, “NUMB,” “Pain = BESTFRIEND,” and “before I close my eyes,” bring balance to the rest of the album. These are slower, acoustic, very emotional, and most definitely fit into the singer/songwriter category, unlike the other tracks. 

Overall I’d say this album definitely isn’t for everyone, it even took some time to grow on me. It’s still a good album, but I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. I think it tells a good story in different, unique ways which is admirable, but in my opinion there’s a lack of flow/messy placement. Again though, still a decent album, I’d give it a 7/10. -Nova Stebbin

 

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