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Japanese Breakfast New Vinyl Thursday

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

Adrian Younge- The American Negro

Ally Venable- Heart Of Fire

Art Blakey- The Witch Doctor

Bad Brains- Into the Future

Beatles- Let it Be

BINKER AND MOSES- Escape The Flames

Blackberry Smoke- You Hear Georgia

Bob Dylan- World Gone Wrong

Bruno Mars- 24K Magic

Can- Live In Stuttgart 1975

Circles Around the Sun- Circles Around The Sun

Curtis Amy and Dupree Bolton – Katanga

Czarface & MF DOOM- Super What

Weekly Review:

Hip hop collective Czarface’s second collaboration with MF Doom was ready to drop last spring, when the pandemic put everything on hold. Before the album was released, Doom died on Halloween, adding extra importance and significance to the album.

Sonically, Doom and Czarface are good company. From the comic book inspired artwork, super villain themes and a production aesthetic that leans heavily on the Saturday morning cartoon experience. The wide-ranging lyrics reference everything from comic book characters (of course) to Radiohead and Quinten Tarantino films.

While Doom gets co-starring status on the cover, this is mainly a Czarface show. The duo of Wu-Tang member Inspecta Deck and Esoteric handle the majority of the rhymes, although D.M.C. and Del the Funky Homosapien also stop by. (Del’s feature on “Jason and the Czargonauts” is one of the album’s best moments.) While Doom consistently appears, he often feels like a frequent guest than full-blown collaborator.

Super What is a fun, half-hour romp from two kindred spirits, that unfortunately got elevated with Doom’s passing. The album is enjoyable for what it is, but those looking for greater significance will be disappointed.- Joel Francis

Czarface is an American hip hop supergroup formed in 2013 by underground hip hop duo 7L & Esoteric and Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck. MF DOOMis an iconic MC with a cult level status that was rocketed into hyperspace with the unexpected news of his death on New Years Eve of 2020, even though it was said he actually died two months earlier of a still unannounced cause.
Super What? is the second collaboration of these two and the first of sure to be many more to come posthumous releases for MF DOOM. What is beginning to sound like a broken record in itself: The album was finished in the Summer of 2020 but the release was delayed due to COVID.
There’s a vibe to this record that’s equal parts Wu-Tang Clan and early De La Soul. All the trademark old school TV and audio comic book exclamations are intact (The cover art by Lamour Supreme is based on the cover of issue 216 of the 1964 Marvel Comics series Daredevil.) but there might be just as many present day pop culture references.
For me the album really kicks into gear at about track four with DOOM Unto Others with a menacing Juno Synth sample, DOOM rolls out a verbal salad, heavy on the croutons. The track is then hijacked by faux commercial for a Czarface action figure. This immediately flows into perhaps the most solid collab on the album Jason & The Czargonauts featuring Del the Funky Homosapian.
DOOM rolls out the next track, Break In the Action, like a cool breeze with a flow not dissimilar to the late Notorious BIG. Perhaps the genius of the kind of free association style of rapping is more on display here. The references seem to jump decades, even within the same breath, from early hip hop pioneers Cold Crush Brothers, to bad guy Karate Kid Dojo the Cobra Kai’s to Game of Thrones.  And here’s where we really get to enjoy, beyond the skills, the depth of palette these veteran rappers have to draw upon.
After the goofy self promotional commercial, A Name To the Face, the track This Is Cannon Now, offers a phone booth full of fun video game and comic book references.
The album closes with the slightly awkward, if not endearing, finger wagging: Young World, where these wise old MC’s bestow their knowledge to this generation of shorties, though not totally void of good advice like, “Real kings don’t need material things. They need the simple joys life brings.”
Another high point on So What? is the rock solid production by The Czar-Keys (7L & Todd Spadafore). There is a nice ratio of wacky 8bit samples, warm baselines, and creepy synth pads. There’s nothing especially ground breaking going on here but sometimes it’s just fun to listen to people who know what they’re doing and do it well. – Major Matt

Deftones- Ohms

Donald Fagen- The Nightfly

Dr. Dre- Chronic

Durand Jones & The Indications- American Love Call

The Doors- The Doors

The Doors- Waiting For The Sun

Etta James- At Last

Fountains of Wayne- Welcome Interstate Managers

Weekly Review:

The NYC-based power-pop quartet’s third album is best known for the Top 40 hit “Stacy’s Mom,” but the entire album is a sunny blast of guitar-based rock that will tattoo a smile on your face.

Across 16 songs (and just under an hour), Fountains of Wayne display big fuzzy guitars, even bigger choruses, great lyrical couplets – “I saw you talkin’/to Christopher Walken” in “Hackensack” is my favorite – a sprinkling of New Wave keyboards and sweet vocal harmonies. The result is an album that will make any fan of Weezer’s blue album turn green with envy, with a little Ben Folds to temper the party.

Scratch just below the surface and there are rainclouds hidden behind the sun’s glare. Opening track “Mexican Wine” details self-medication through alcoholism. “Hey Julie” is story of depressed white-collar worker relies on his wife to get through. The main character in “Hackensack” daydreams about the potentially glamorous lives of former classmates while stuck in his hometown. 

The melodies are so infectious and the songs are so catchy these moments can often fly past undetected, but show an underappreciated nuance to Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger’s songwriting.

Schlesinger’s death from Covid-19 last year means there won’t be any more moments like this flowing from his pen, but the vinyl debut of Welcome Interstate Managers is the perfect excuse to celebrate the songwriter at his effervescent best.- Joel Francis

Frank Black – Frank Black Francis

Frank Black – Honeycomb

Frank Black – Fast Man Raider Man

Weekly Review:

Just because Frank Black reformed the Pixies, didn’t mean his solo work was taking a backseat. While indie rock fans were rapturously celebrating being able to see their favorite band perform, Black dropped three albums in as many years under his own name.

The first of these releases, 2004’s Frank Black Francis, made sense in light of the Pixies reunion. The first half of this set are 15 solo demos recorded the night before the Pixies recorded the Purple Tape (half of which became Come On Pilgrim). It’s a bit jarring to hear Black perform these songs alone, calling out where other instruments would figure in. His demented cackle in “Build High” becomes even more disarming as that song runs right into “Nimrod’s Son,” an even more demented tale. The second half of Frank Black Francis finds Black reworking a baker’s dozen Pixies tunes with Two Pale Boys. Many of the songs bare only slight resemblance to the beloved Pixies arrangements, but it is interesting to hear these well-known songs with fresh ears, cast in a different light.

In 2005, Black threw everyone hoping for a Pixies reunion album for a loop when he dropped Honeycomb, an album recorded in Nashville with some of the best session musicians from yesteryear. If few were expecting Black to record with Booker T. and the MGs guitarist Steve Cropper and Neil Young sideman Spooner Oldham, even fewer were anticipating covers of “The Dark End of the Street” and “Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day.” Surprisingly, Honeycomb works because while Black’s songs are certainly unconventional, they are constructed well. Black plays to these strengths – particularly with his singing – throughout the album.

Only 11 months later, Black dropped Fast Man Raider Man. In many ways, the 95-minute album feels like a sequel to Honeycomb. Black recorded part of the album in Nashville again, but casts an even wider net this time, enlisting Al Kooper, Buddy Miller, The Band’s drummer Levon Helm, Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke and many others. The result is sonically diverse as well, ranging from the jazzy “If Your Poison Gets You” and Irish drinking song “Dirty Old Town” to the garage rock of “Where the Wind is Going” and “The End of Summer,” which resembles an extremely polished Tom Waits number.

Pixies fans will enjoy different versions of their favorite songs on Frank Black Francis, while those who appreciate Black the songwriter will find much to love across Honeycomb and Fast Man Raider Man. – Joel Francis

Frank Zappa – Zappa (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Clear Vinyl)

The Fall- Live At St. Helens Technical College 1981

Gary Louris- Jump For Joy

GZA- Liquid Swords

Gary Numan- Intruder

Guns N Roses- Appetite For Destruction

Japanese Breakfast- Jubilee

Jason Isbell, Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood- Live at the Shoals Theatre

Jess & the Ancient Ones- Vertigo

Jesse Dayton- Mixtape Volume 1

Jimi Hendrix- Electric Ladyland

John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – Leftover Feelings

Weekly Review:

John Hiatt probably isn’t your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriter – that’s likely another John, Prine – but Hiatt is presumably high on their list. Across the decades, Hiatt’s songs have been covered by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Nick Lowe, Roseanne Cash and countless others. 

With a couple dozen albums in his catalog, Hiatt reaches for something new on Leftover Feelings, partnering with the Jerry Douglas Band. With a career reaching back nearly as far as Hiatt’s, Douglas’ list of collaborators is just as impressive. Hiatt’s always been more of a rock and blues guy, but Douglas’ bluegrass playing fits Hiatt’s rootsy aesthetic perfectly.

Leftover Feelings opens with the 21st century cousin of the rockabilly classic “Brand New Cadillac.” Hiatt’s long black electric Cadillac has AI and only needs two stops to traverse the continent – one for groceries and one for a charge. Douglas’ dobro and his band keeps the pace choogling despite the lack of percussion. On “Little Goodnight,” one of the few songs with electric guitar, Christian Sedelmyer delivers one of the record’s best solos on his violin.

The album reaches its emotional apex with the breakup lament “I’m in Asheville,” a song that would work well with Allison Krauss, another of Douglas’ frequent partners, and “Light of the Burning Sun,” an honest telling of Hiatt’s brother’s suicide. While Leftover Feelings never regain the quicker tempos found before, but it remains delightful and rewarding throughout.- Joel Francis

Kate Bush- Hounds of Love

Kevin Morby- Sundowner

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Live In San Francisco ’16

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Murder Of The Universe

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach

The Knife- Silent Shout

Korea Town Acid- Metamorphosis

Liz Phair- Soberish

Lou Barlow- Reason to Live

Weekly Review:

While J. Mascis has always hidden his emotions behind his guitar in Dinosaur Jr., bassist Lou Barlow has been the one to treat his songs like therapy sessions. After Barlow was booted from Dino in the early ‘90s, he pioneered the lo-fi movement with groups Sebadoah and Folk Implosion. Reason to Live, Barlow’s first solo album in six years, finds him in a better space, both emotionally and aesthetically.

Barlow plays almost all the instruments on Reason to Live and recorded the album at home, but the sound quality is much improved from his early days. There’s no hiss or sounds of tape slipping. Barlow is in a better place emotionally, as well. As the title indicates, Barlow is satisfied in his life as a father of three. (He even reconciled with Mascis several years ago and is a key player in Dinosaur Jr.’s incredible second act.)

While Barlow is more content and well-adjusted, he remains an honest lyricist. On standout track “Love Intervene,” he muses “Tide after tide, change is the meaning of life/ It turns any wall into sand.” Two tracks later he offers a counter perspective on “I Don’t Like Changes.”

Reason to Live originated as an 18-month project through the Artist Enabler Club, where fans paid a quarterly fee for digital content from Barlow’s vault and limited-edition pressings of new material. These songs are too good to remain the sole province of hardcore fans and thankfully may now be enjoyed by everyone.- Joel Francis

Lou Barlow is perhaps best known as the bass player and founding member of the legendary indie rock band Dinosaur Jr. or for the trioSebadoh, a group formed in 1886 with Eric Gaffney and multi-instrumentalist Jason Loewenstein.
My introduction to Barlow’s work were the final two tracks on Dinosaur Jr’s, second album Your living All Over Me.  Both haunting, home recorded, acoustic songs were a stark contrast to the ear bleeding, full on, electric guitar driven anthems that had proceeded them.
Starting in the late 80’s, along with artists like Daniel Johnston and Guided By Voices, early Sebadoh albums would help to define a genre of DIY, lofi, bedroom recording for a generation.
Barlow would go on to produce a number of solo albums as well as records with Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh  including the breakthrough song, Natural One, featured in the soundtrack of the indie cult film Kids with his side project The Folk Implosion.
Recorded mostly in his home studio in Massachusetts during the pandemic, on his latest album, Reason To Live, Barlow seems to have reconnected to his home-fi recording roots.
There is a theme of letting go running throughout the songs on this record. The opening lines of the title track Barlow resignedly whispers, “They pay to take control. So let take control.  You and I have rocks to roll.”
I confess to being a closet fan of Barlow’s Instagram account, from which he regularly streams solo concerts and videos from his home. Not surprisingly, the live streams often reveal Barlow to be a somewhat anxious fellow but the occasional guest appearance/ interruption by his wife or young daughter makes for a simply delightful reason to waste a little time on the internet.
Whether it’s age, the pandemic, or family life Barlow’s perspective as well as his voice seem to have expand to encompass a broader view of the world. The riches of Reason To Live continue to grow for me upon each listen.
This is by far some of Barlow’s best work thematically and sonically to date and I think could propel him into the realm of one of our better living songwriters. – Major Matt

Menahan Street Band- The Exciting Sounds Of Menahan Street Band

Merry Clayton- Beautiful Scars

Metallica- Ride The Lightning

Michael Jackson- Off The Wall

My Bloody Valentine- M B V

The Meters- Struttin’

Muddy Waters- Muddy Waters At Newport 1960

Mick Fleetwood and Friends – Celebrate the Music of Peter Green and the Early Years of Fleetwood Mac

Night Beats- Outlaw R&b

Pink Floyd- The Wall

PJ Harvey- The Peel Sessions 1991-2004

Weekly Review:

Cult British songwriter and guitarist PJ Harvey’s collection of sessions recorded for the legendary BBC DJ John Peel are the closest thing to a live album in her catalog. The dozen songs in this anthology trace her from her time as an emerging artist in late 1991, to a final session recorded six weeks after Peel’s death.

 In the liner notes, Harvey confesses the oversized importance recording for Peel meant for her as an artist. You can hear that reverence in the performances, particularly in the version of “Water” delivered nearly a year before Harvey’s debut dropped. The final song, “You Come Through,” is a particularly poignant moment. Singing at a tribute to Peel, Harvey delivers the lines “Come on my friend/drink to good times/golden wishes/to your health and mine.”

While many of Harvey’s biggest songs are missing, she sweetens the pot by including a couple covers originally released as b-sides, a non-album soundtrack contribution, Japanese market bonus track and duet with John Parish. Despite the wide range of material and performance dates, The Peel Sessions winds up feeling personal and intimate in a way that a more traditional in-concert live album couldn’t. As a sampler of Harvey’s catalog and testament to her ability as a songwriter and performer, The Peel Sessions is a necessary addition to any PJ Harvey library.- Joel Francis

Precious Bryant-The Truth

Rise Against- Nowhere Generation

Rod Stewart- Rod Stewart: 1975-1978 (5LP) (Boxed Set)

Rose City Band- Rose City Band

Royal Blood- Typhoons

St. Vincent- Daddy’s Home

Weekly Review:

The best pop artists are at their core shape-shifting chameleons of their own design. the Madonna’s and the Princes’ the Bowie’s and the T. Swift’s continually plotting their new era before the demise of the last; pilfering from all tiers of culture past and present, a nod to an all-time hero there, a metaphorical high-five to a wilfully obscure reference there. All told, St Vincent had easily reached this level by the time her last album, 2017’s ‘Masseduction’ was released, a neon-coloured electronic invasion, raising an arched eyebrow to the celebrity world in which she’d not long found herself entrenched in. Should anyone have questioned if one-time indie hero Annie Clark had really crossed over into pop icon territory, her appearance at the 2019 Grammys, mirroring Dua Lipa on a performance of the latter’s ‘One Kiss’ provided one overwhelming answer: Yep!
And, like all great pop stars, ‘Daddy’s Home’ sees St Vincent transformed once again, both musically and visually. The record is a trip through the early American ‘70s, before punk had its way. It’s sonically warm, a broken in leather chair to sit deeply in. But, thanks to countless deft touches by Annie and co-conspirator Jack Antonoff, never marinates in its own nostalgia. Take ‘Somebody Like Me’, a folky number with slide guitar – just as it threatens to welcome normality, in comes a trip hop beat.  At The Holiday Party’ does similarly with funk, or there’s ‘Down and Out Downtown’, where Annie’s spoken word briefly falls into a hip hop rhythm.
The record’s also littered with pop culture references and a Bowie comparison is never more than six feet away at any given moment.  And if glistening choruses, funky breakdowns and hazy euphoria wasn’t enough, the inclusion of a trio of interludes, fading in and out as if walking past an open window,  St Vincent has delivered spectacularly. pick up yours today.- Albert Schmurr

The Sisters of Mercy- Some Girls Wander By Mistake

The Specials- Ghost Town

Taylor Swift- Evermore
Weekly Review:

Described as a sister album to Folklore, Taylor Swift’s ninth album came out only five months after her previous release. Working again with The National’s Aaron Dessner, Evermore finds Swift continuing in the same vein of chamber pop accented by fingerpicked acoustic guitars, quiet pianos and a dusting of strings.

Lyrically, Swift approaches more mature subject matter. Early songs about crushes and puppy love have given way to portraits of romantic love and marriage. The song “Marjorie” is a tribute to Swift’s grandmother, the opera singer Marjorie Finlay and even samples one of Finlay’s songs. 

Elsewhere, assisted by Haim, Swift weaves a tale of true crime on “No Body, No Crime.” On the contemplative “Coney Island,” Swift is joined by the rest of The National and duets with Dessner as a pair of long-time lovers looking back on their relationship and wondering when their paths diverged.

Fans of Folklore will definitely enjoy the second helping of Evermore. As one of the most popular musicians on the planet, Swift doesn’t need to expand her fan base, but Evermore may convince skeptics that there is more to Swift’s artistry than the naïve country-pop hits from her early albums.- Joel Francis

Too $hort- Life Is…Too $hort

Tribe Called Quest- Midnight Marauders

Tyler, The Creator- Flower Boy

Waxahatchee- Saint Cloud

Wolf Alice- Blue Weekend

Wu-Tang Clan- Enter the Wu-Tang

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Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max

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