It’s School of Rock 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
Producer Adrian Younge and former A Tribe Called Quest turntablist Ali Shaheed Muhammad kicked off their ambitious Jazz is Dead series back in March, 2020, with an eight-track collection that showcases one track from each of their collaborators in the series. Now they’ve come full circle with Jazz is Dead 009: Instrumentals.
As the title indicates, Jazz is Dead 009, or JID009, collects the best instrumental tracks from across the series. While there aren’t any new songs in this set, a few performances have vocals removed, providing a new experience. This includes Roy Ayers’ “Hey Lover” and “Nao Saia da Praca” with Marcos Valle, which also appeared in their original vocal form on the inaugural Jazz is Dead release.
At 19 tracks and more than an hour, Jazz is Dead 009 is also the longest release. While the collaborators around Younge and Muhammad shift from song to song, the sound is remarkably consistent, making for an enjoyable, surprisingly cohesive listen.
Most of the tracks hover between the three- and four-minute mark, which means the songs lack the extended improvisation found in most jazz performances. Although the cuts are succinct, there is still plenty of great interplay and conversation between the musicians.
An enterprising MC could build a heck of a mixtape out of the instrumental cuts assembled on JID009. The rest of us, can just relax and get lost in the endless grooves and rhythms.- Joel Francis
Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad- Jazz Is Dead 001
Angel Olsen – Aisles
Hot off the heels of her new box set: Song Of The Lark and Other Far Memories, never one to rest on her laurels, Angel Olsen has just released a new EP of five cover songs entitled Aisles.
BadBadNotGood- Talk Memory
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billy Cobham- Spectrum
Billy Strings- Renewal
Blue Stingrays- Surf-N-Burn
Bob Dylan- Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985) (2LP)
Buena Vista Social Club- Buena Vista Social Club
Guitar player and musicologist Ry Cooder’s unassuming trip to Cuba to capture songs by aging musicians known only on their native island exploded into an international phenomenon upon its release in 1997. Buena Vista Social Club, both the name of the album, the name of a long-defunct music hall in Cuba and the name given to the collective of musicians who perform on the album, has sold more than 12 million copies and spawned not one, but two documentary films.
The album’s charm lies in songs that sound exotic, yet accessible, delivered with an infectious joy that is conducive to both dancing or engaging background music. The malleability of the 14 songs on the original album meant it was both the outlier in the music collections of most of the people who bought it, yet right at home with what they already owned.
For its 25th anniversary, Buena Vista Social Club is not only easily available on vinyl for the first time in nearly a decade, but augmented with five outtakes from the original sessions. For longtime fans of the original album, this provides the perfect way to revisit these classic performances. New fans will find them just as engaging, once again giving new life to once-forgotten gems. -Joel Francis
Bummer- Dead Horse
Candi Staton- Unstoppable
Charley Crockett- Music City Usa
Duke Pearson- Merry Ole Soul
Jazz pianist Duke Pearson was a restless soul during his five-year, nine-album stint on Blue Note Records in the late 1960s. He shifted between small groups and big bands, and sonically moved from post-bop to Latin-tinged recordings to smooth R&B-inflected pop jazz. In the middle of it all, Pearson dropped a Christmas album that showcases his strengths as a performer and bandleader.
Released in 1969, Merry Ole Soul finds Pearson working with mostly in a trio setting, with Bob Cranshaw on bass and Mickey Roker on drums (Airto Moreira adds percussion to three tracks). While the song selection is fairly traditional, the arrangements are often inventive.
“Sleigh Ride” opens with Pearson at the piano before switching to the more delicate celeste partway through. “Little Drummer Boy” put Roker front and center with an almost military style of playing that relegates the rump-a-pum-pums to the periphery. On side two, Pearson unearths the “Wassail Song” and closes the affair with a hymn-like solo reading of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Although the holiday season is still some time off, it’s never to early to grab this and tuck it away until the yuletide festivities again. Pearson and his trio’s relaxed performances of these standards make this the perfect soundtrack for a busy brunch or a quiet moment lounging by the tree. -Joel Francis
Echo & the Bunnymen- Siberia
Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits
Flying Lotus- Yasuke
Fred Eaglesmith- Standard
Garbage- Version 2.0
Hank Jones- Sarala
Kevin Morby- Kevin Morby ‘A Night At The Little Los Angeles (Sundowner 4-Track Demos)
Kishi Bashi- Sonderlust
Lee Fields & Expressions- It Rains Love
Lou Reed- New York
Minus the Bear- Infinity Overhead
My Chemical Romance- Black Parade
N.W.A.- Straight Outta Compton
Neil Young- Carnegie Hall 1970
Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears
P.O.D. ( Payable on Death )- Satellite
Pink- All I Know So Far: Setlist
Primus- Miscellaneous Debris
Queens of the Stone Age- Rated R
Listening to “Rated R” is definitely an experience. Queens of the Stone Age released their debut self-titled album in 1998, bringing a new sound to rock. If what they wanted was to make a name for themselves, they definitely achieved that goal pretty quickly. They identify with heavy, fuzzy bass, funky melodies, and clashing drums with their debut, while their second album differing in sound, adds wonderful new elements to their discography.
With their sophomore album, “Rated R,” they gave themselves more room to expand musically. Rather than sticking with clashing drums and loud/distorted guitar for every track, they add in new elements like synths, keys, and a tambourine. As if singer Josh Homme’s voice didn’t already stand out in style and talent, they add a plethora of interesting harmonies to not only make his voice pop, but to contrast with the instrumentals beautifully.
Instrumentally, I love what they did with this album. Going from their debut album to this one, gives listeners an entirely different listening experience. With variation in instruments, to different themes, to the way all of the sounds are mended and constructed, it’s a perfect blend of noise. It’s definitely not like normal rock or grunge, they kind of fall somewhere in between those and post rock, which I like (not knowing what to expect). It’s interesting to see how artists vary in sound from album to album.
One of my favorite tracks off this record is, “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret.” The way the instruments build off of each other in the verse makes for a curious and catchy tone. The chorus explodes into, “Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone,” the main theme of the song. I like the way they executed this idea: distrust, security in another, etc.
Lyrically throughout the album, I also think they did a great job getting across their message in each track. Overall, I’d recommend this album to anyone that likes: Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. I personally like their debut album slightly more, but I do admire their eagerness to switch things up and experiment. -Nova Stebbin.
Sam Cooke- The Best Of
Taylor Swift- Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
The Church- Starfish (Expanded Edition)
The Freedom Affair – Freedom is Love
The debut album from Kansas City’s own The Freedom Affair will help soothe the ache created by the passing of Sharon Jones. The Freedom Affair frequently embody both the spirit and sound of Jones and her Dap-Kings.
The sextet uses the word freedom in both the band name and album title and the concept weaves through the album as well. As album closer “Love Liberates” builds to a climax, a gospel choir sings the album title over and over.
One cut earlier, the song “One Nation” features the chorus “We`ll never be one nation if we can`t have a conversation/can`t be the land of the free if you won`t hear me.” It’s a simple and heartfelt plea that will unfortunately be swept downstream by the crocodile tears over Dr. Suess, Muppets and a cartoon skunk.
Even the song titles reinforce the notion of freedom and love: “Move On,” “Rise Up,” “Give a Little Love.”
While the second half of the album is packed with flower power, the front is loaded with songs about resilience, romance, heartache and empowerment. At times the sound recalls Martha and the Vandellas or the sweet soul of the Stylistics. Ultimately, Freedom is Love is the type of feel-good album that will sound even better wafting from open windows and convertibles. -Joel Francis
The HU- The Gereg
The Notorious B.I.G.- Ready To Die
Tom Tom Club- Downtown Rockers
Forty years ago, indie rock power couple and rhythm section supreme Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth used some downtime from their main gig in the Talking Heads to create some fun, dancehall grooves as Tom Tom Club. The group’s first album spawned two major hits and the Tom Tom Club quickly took on a life of its own.
Tom Tom Club hasn’t been as active since the ‘80s. Franz and Weymouth have put out just one Tom Tom Club release each decade in the ‘90s and ‘00s. The most recent is 2012’s Downtown Rockers EP, which is finally reissued on pink vinyl.
Downtown Rockers only boasts five tracks, but all are very strong. The lead, title track features the Club’s signature upbeat vocals from Weymouth and Victoria as Franz recites a list of influential underground bands (including the Talking Heads). “Won’t Give You Up” features a slow, funk guitar line and Weymouth’s vocals about a longtime love. The first side concludes with “You Make Me Rock and Roll,” which continues the funky, slinky vibe of “Won’t Give You Up.”
Side B opens with the catchy “Kissin’ Antonio,” the EP’s strongest track. The contrast of a funky clavinet against slick synthesizers and a B3 organ creates a sumptuous environment perfect for dancing. “Sweets to the Sweet” has solid production, but inane lyrics drag the track down.
Downtown Rockers isn’t an essential release, but the scarcity of recent(-ish) Tom Tom Club material will be a welcome addition to any ‘80s underground pop collection. -Joel Francis
Trees Speak- Posthuman
Van Halen- Diver Down
Van Halen- Fair Warning
Various Artists- I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico
Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas
Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas 2
Various Artists- School of Rock
White Zombie- La Sexorcisto: Devil Music
Yes- Union 30 Live
Yola- Stand For Myself
Yola- Walk Through Fire
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Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max
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