It’s Durand Jones New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
2Pac- Until the End of Time
The fourth posthumous album from rapper Tupac Shakur is a bloated mess that adds very little to the departed’s legacy.
Until the End of Time has many problems, but the biggest one might be that the 29 tracks and two-hour playtime seems to run until the end of time. Any good moments here – and there are a few – are almost forgotten by the conclusion.
Another issue is the production. Too many tracks are just too busy, with layers of loops and beats stacked on top of guest vocalists and big choruses. The result often leaves Tupac feeling like a guest on his own track. This might be the result of not having enough material from which to craft an entire performance, but it ends up feeling hollow regardless.
When Until the End of Time does get it right, it still manages to muddle the result. The title track features a fantastic, urgent performance married to a hook taken from Mister Mister’s “Broken Wings.” It’s one of the few moments where all the elements come together and create something worthy. And yet, in keeping with the project’s bigger-is-better mantra, the song also appears in a remix as the final track.
Until the End of Time would have been solid as a better-produced single album and outstanding as an EP, but as it stands, only the most dedicated will be driven to devote the time to separate the wheat from the chaff. -Joel Francis
Alexis Marshall- House Of Lull . House Of When
Alice Coltrane- Kirtan: Turiya Sings
Antonio L. Newton- Novaphonia
Arrested Development- 3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days
Bad Brains-I And I Survive
Big Boy Pete- The Cosmic Genius of Big Boy Pete
Bikini Kill- Revolution Girl Style Now
Billie Eilish- Happier Than Ever
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Black Francis- Bluefinger
Black Sabbath- Black Sabbath
Black Sabbath- Master of Reality
Bob Dylan- Blood On The Tracks
Bob Marley- Best of Bob Marley
Branford Marsalis- The Secret Between The Shadow And The Soul
Bryan Ferry- Boys And Girls
Charlie Parker- Bird Of Paradise: Best Of The Dial Masters
Cinderella- Night Songs
Dave Pike Set- Noisy Silence – Gentle Noise
Descendents- 9th & Walnut
Dexter Gordon- Go
Sax man Dexter Gordon recorded two albums in as many days with the same ensemble of musicians. Although they were released a couple years apart, both releases remain high water marks in his considerable catalog.
Released just three months after its recording, Go! was the first album to come out (and the better of the two). The five-track album opens with “Cheese Cake,” an upbeat tune with a melody just as delectable as its title. Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” has been done a million times, but drummer Billy Higgins’ infectious rhythm right out of the gate makes this performance impossible to skip. The way pianist Sonny Clark (in one of his last sessions) frames Gordon’s playing on the ballad “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry” builds off the way pianist McCoy Tyner supported John Coltrane on their Atlantic albums together the previous two years.
In 2019, Go! was recognized by the Library of Congress as an essential American album. They weren’t wrong. Go! is heady enough to be stimulating to hardcore jazz fans, with the accessibility to be appreciated by anyone.- Joel Francis
Dexter Gordon- Swiss Nights 2
Durand Jones & The Indications- Private Space
Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits
Foo Fighters- Foo Fighters
Funkadelic- Shake the Gate – Version Excursion
Glass Animals- Zaba
Greg Foat- Symphonie Pacique
Greta Van Fleet- Anthem Of The Peaceful Army
Harold Land- Eastward Ho
Harold Land- The Fox
Harold Melvin & Blue Notes- The Best Of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
Holly Golightly- Do The Get Along
Holly Golightly- God Don’t Like It
Holly Golightly- Truly She Is None Other
Jim Lauderdale- Hope
John Coltrane- Coltrane Jazz
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach
Laraaji- Ambien 3: Day of Radiance
Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound
Texas-born soul singer Leon Bridges debuted six years ago with an album that sounded like the uncanny reincarnation of Sam Cooke. Desperate to avoid being typecast, Bridges has steered clear of replicating that sound ever since. But try as he might, Bridges’ third album sparkles with the same timeless spirit that made him a star initially.
This isn’t to say that Gold-Diggers Sound – named after the Los Angeles hotel Bridges called home while writing and recording the album – sounds like Coming Home. The jazzy opening track “Born Again” sounds like it was pulled from one of pianist Robert Glasper’s Black Radio albums (and with good reason, as Glasper guests on the track). Later, Terrace Martin, who has worked with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Herbie Hancock, provides the bedrock for “Sweeter.” Martin’s minimalist production gives Bridges’ examination of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s in the era Black Lives Matter even more heft.
Bridges is a journeyman singer, swiping bits of D’Angelo, Marvin Gaye, Prince and Smokey Robinson along the way. The only time Gold-Diggers looks forward musically is on the haunting, synth-based album closer, “Blue Mesas.” Is this a peek at the next chapter in Bridges’ journey? Time will tell. Until then, it is fun to ride along, exploring recontextualized, familiar terrain.- Joel Francis
Being released for only about a week now, “Gold-Diggers Sound,” is already charting billboards and heightening Bridges’ career. Leon only started releasing music in 2015 but caught wind fast with his first studio album, “Coming Home,” getting airplay, attention from several artists, and labels. He signed with Columbia Records in 2014.
He brings in a lot of different aspects of various genres in his music such as: modern R&B, pop, hip-hop, indie, funk, and soul. He somehow combines all of these elements together so effortlessly, making for a very unique and catchy album.
Track #3, Steam is quite interesting because it hones in on more of an uplifting, indie sound but experiments with R&B, and funk leaning into the chorus. I like the incorporation of multiple genres in one song, it reminds me of Jimi Hendrix with the guitar flangs, but simultaneously like Daniel Caesar with his melodies and rhythm. In my opinion this is one of the catchier songs on the album because of the tempo, detailed layering, and lyrics.
Another track I found alluring was Don’t Worry (Ft. Ink). This song is bass heavy but with layered complimenting guitar, light piano lines, and backing harmonies, it makes for more of a groovy, indie/R&B vibe rather than funk or hip hop. The featured artist, Ink, is (to me) what gives it more of an R&B sound. She comes in with softer airy vocals before her verse, adding to Bridges’ soft melodies, but coming around to her verse, she adds rhythmic grit and soul.
Overall, I think Leon Bridges did a phenomenal job with the construction of this album. Not only is there a lot of variation, but the way he uses those variants truly reeled me in. I don’t typically like modern soul or hip hop, but after listening to this, that might’ve changed. I’d recommend this album to anyone who likes Daniel Caesar, Black Pumas, and Durand Jones & The Indications. -Nova Stebbin
Leonard Cohen- Songs from a Room
Little Richards- Bama Lama Bama Loo
Los Lobos- Native Sons
Lucy Dacus- Home Video
Marvin Gaye- What’s Going on
Method Man- Method Man Presents Street Life
Michael Jackson- Thriller
Miles Davis- Bopping The Blues
Miley Cyrus- Plastic Hearts
Modest Mouse- Strangers to Ourselves
Motley Crue- Saints of Los Angeles
Mr Airplane Man- Jacaranda Blue
Mudhoney- Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
These days, Mudhoney is a mostly forgotten footnote in grunge history, known only to the biggest ‘90s rock fans. It’s a shame, because this Seattle quartet helped develop the sound that would be known as grunge in the late ‘80s.
By 1991 and their second album, Mudhoney had mostly abandoned the heavy guitar sounds that marked their landmark debut EP, 1988’s Superfuzz Bigmuff. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge opens with some church organ on “Generation Genocide” and some huge drums and electric guitars that foretell the second coming of Deep Purple. While some acoustic guitars pop up frequently across the album, no one will confuse this with an Unplugged project.
High points include lead single “Let It Slide” and the follow-up “Into the Drink.” Adorned with an acoustic rhythm guitar and harmonica, the song “Move On” hints at the slacker rock Pavement would perfect with their debut album the next year. The closest the band gets to their signature superfuzz sound is on side one closer “Broken Hands.” Regardless of the arrangement or instrumentation, Fudge is undeniably a grunge album, tied to the epic era in which it was born.
The new 30th anniversary edition of Fudge matches the original albums 14 songs with 15 bonus tracks on a second LP. These outtakes, alternate takes and demos provide a look at what went into making the album.- Joel Francis
Nada Surf- High/ Low
The first album from New York City-based alternative rock quartet Nada Surf arrived almost exactly two years after Weezer’s self-titled debut (a.k.a. the Blue Album). The timing did them few favors. Both albums were produced by Cars mastermind Rick Ocasek and filled with power pop gems so fun and infectious, you never seemed to mind how easily they got lodged in your head.
To top it off, the breakthrough singles for both bands bore a striking similarity: spoken verses which examine high school social cliques that burst into a loud chorus.
Which is to say, if you enjoy the Blue Album, you’ll probably dig High/Low as well. But the Surfers have a few other tricks up their sleeves here, too. In addition to the Top 10 hit “Popular,” the album offers several more songs in a similar vein: “Psychic Caramel” (which has a bit of Sonic Youth in it), “Sleep,” Stalemate” and the show-biz send-up “Hollywood.”
High/Low is Nada Surf’s only major-label release to date, but the band has remained busy. Their latest album is last year’s well-reviewed Never Not Together. High/Low is a summertime jam that will have everyone dancing at the backyard BBQ party, be it in 1996 or 2021.- Joel Francis
Nathaniel Rateliff- Red Rocks 2020
Nick Drake- Pink Moon
Old Crow Medicine Show- Carry Me Back
Paul McCartney- McCartney Imagined III
Last year’s lockdown provided an opportunity for the Beatle legend to write, perform and produce an album by himself. Now, Paul McCartney has opened up the process to others with a companion release, III Imagined.
The contributor list shows off McCartney’s considerable rolodex flex: Beck, St. Vincent, Damon Albarn, Phoebe Bridgers, Josh Homme, Anderson .Paak, Radiohead drummer Ed O’Brien, Khruangbin and Blood Orange each get a track to play with.
The result is pleasant, if inessential. Only a couple of the new performances add anything to what McCartney already delivered, and the remixes don’t add much more perspective. Beck makes “Find My Way” sound like an outtake from Colors, while Bridgers turns “Seize the Day” into a moody performance that captures the exuberance of Wings on the chorus. Homme’s “Lavotory Lil,” twists the album’s weakest song into something caught between a desert rock jam and pub singalong.
On the remix side, the results are just as uneven. St. Vincent slows down “Women and Wives,” making it feel like Portishead, while O’Brien, as EOB, speeds up “Slidin,’” turning it into a Foo Fighters song. The best interpretations come at the end, where .Paak flips “When Winter Comes” into a ‘70s soul jam and 3D RDN marries the primitive synthesizer programming from McCartney II’s “Temporary Secretary” to McCartney III’s “Deep Deep Feeling.”- Joel Francis
Some would say Paul McCartney is old news; some in the younger generation may not have even known who he was- until ‘Four Five Seconds’ with Rihanna and Kanye West dropped in 2018. As a staple musician in the music industry for decades, he never fails to amaze long time fans, while also reeling in newer, younger listeners with each new release. “McCartney III Imagined” was the perfect drop to say to people everywhere, “Hey I’m still here!”
Paul typically remains in the realm of rock/experimental rock, but with this album he experiments further by letting his featuring artists take reign over their tracks, of course with the incorporation of his own sound. This cacophony album plays with bedroom pop, indie, synth-pop, and of course the staple rock concept with track #9 featuring McCartney’s long time friend Josh Homme.
I admire his drive, as it’s blatant he’s striving for not necessarily a new sound, rather a unique variant to his pre-existing classics. I think a lot of long time fans of his music might’ve been taken off guard, disliking the album due to its seemingly strong strive to be mainstream and stay in the loop, but personally I think he did quite the opposite, almost in a mocking sense. He definitely strayed from his older music, but by collaborating with mainstream artists while keeping the traits he’s known best for- guitar and experimentation- he only gives himself more credit as a well-rounded, experienced artist. He’s one of the only artists that I know of that’s been around for decades but has consistently stayed in the flow without conforming, per say. -Nova Stebbin
PJ Harvey, John Parish- A Woman A Man Walked By
Just a year and a half after working on the haunting Victorian album White Chalk, PJ Harvey and John Parish reappeared with the duo’s second co-billed collaboration, A Woman A Man Walked By. The two albums couldn’t be more different. While White Chalk was stark and piano-based, A Woman A Man is full of guitars, jangly and angular.
Parish wrote all of the songs and performed most of the music, freeing Harvey to concentrate fully on her vocals. You can hear her pushing her singing to new places in the whoops and wails on the freaky folk of “Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen” and the high falsetto of “Leaving California.”
While Parish is an apt musician and collaborator, he isn’t on Harvey’s level as a songwriter. This makes the album feel like Harvey is trying out different characters and personas on each track, without a unifying feel. It’s certainly intriguing to watch Harvey explore new areas, but the albums where she is able to inhabit and sustain one spirit throughout, which is to say her solo albums, are more interesting and rewarding.- Joel Francis
Philip Glass- Akhnaten
Prince- Welcome 2 America
Pulp- Different Class
Queen- Greatest Hits I
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss- Raising Sand
Rodney Crowell- Triage
Sparks- No 1 In Heaven: 40th Anniversary Edition
Sparks- Terminal Jive
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble- The Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble
Stone Temple Pilots- Core
Taylor Swift- Folklore
The Bleachers- Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night
The Clash- London Calling
The Gun Club- Fire of Love
The Specials- Ghost Town
The Weeknd- Starboy
Thee Headcoatees- Bozstik Haze
Thee Headcoatees- Have Love Will Travel
Thee Headcoatees- Sisters of Suave
Thelonious Monk- London Collection, Vol. 2
Tyler, The Creator- Igor
Varukers- Vintage Varukers
Velvett Fogg- Velvett Fogg
Whiskey Myers- Firewater
Yazz Ahmed- La Saboteuse
Yazz Ahmed- Polyhymnia
Yola- Stand For Myself
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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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