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Skid Row New Vinyl Thursday

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

311- Mardi Gras 2020

Aesop Rock- Appleseed

Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Billy Harper- Antibes 75

Bob Dylan- Rough And Rowdy Ways

Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 2 (1968-1974)

Cavetown- Cavetown

Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer

Chvrches- Screen Violence

Weekly Review:

In the late winter of 2019, just before the world shut down, Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches collaborated with American producer Marshmello on the stand-alone hit “Here With Me.” Sadly, Marshmello followed this song with a pairing with Chris Brown, the rapper convicted of assaulting Rhianna. This led to Chvrches tweeting their disapproval and, in turn, haters feasting on Chvrches on social media.

These events seem to have shaped the intent behind Screen Violence, Chvrches’ fourth album. With vocalist Lauren Mayberry leading the way, the band sounds confident and ready to take on all challengers. 

On lead single “He Said She Said,” vocalist Mayberry decries the numerous double standards women are expected to balance in society against a shimmering bank of synths. “Look good but don’t be obsessed,” Mayberry notes before confessing “I feel like I’m losing my mind.” on a chorus seemingly built for summer festival stages.

Other songs deal with the feelings of sadness and loss that have accompanied the ever-continuing pandemic. “I don’t want to say that I’m afraid to die / I’m no good at goodbyes,” Mayberry sings on “Asking for a Friend.” Robert Smith of the Cure lends lead vocals to what sounds like an homage to his band on “How Not to Drown.” Smith’s voice dances with Mayberry as the pair darkly intone “watch as the pull me down” on the chorus.

While the themes on Screen Violence are dark, the album is never gloomy. The song “Final Girl” examines the fate of the last girl standing at the end of a horror film, while intrinsically understanding that the underlying theme of any decent horror film is survival. This will to carry on and move forward propels Screen Violence to new heights (and repeated listens). -Joel Francis

Clairo – Sling
Weekly Review:
A lot of ones and zeros have been converted into text over the skyrocketing popularity of singer songwriter Claire Elizabeth Cottrill known professionally as Clairo. Her modest homemade YouTube video for the catchy lofi song Pretty Girl has accumulated over seventy five million plays to date.
Clairo debut album, Immunity, expanded upon the simple 80’s inspired synth and drum beats of her early works and with the help of producer Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend, advanced her career beyond the “one hit wonder” status some had initially portrayed her as.
At first listen Clairo’s second album, Sling, might not appear to be the kind record a young budding indie music superstar would make if they were trying to broaden their career. Even though her choice to work with A-list producer Jack Antinoff might indicate other wise, the result is a beautiful work of tasteful depth and personal evolution that puts her into the range of such impactful songwriters/ performers as Joni Mitchell, Elliot Smith and Juliana Hatfield.
Almost everything about this record feels understated. The drums, sparsely arranged, are close miced and dry. Guitars are often acoustic. Piano and bass are soft hovering tones that move the songs forward like clouds on a summers eve.
The vocals are consistently double tracked and nuzzled  securely into the mix making it slightly difficult to catch every word on just a single listen. I’m going to assume that considering that anticipation behind this record that these choices were intentional.
Lyrically speaking there is very little rhyming and minimal repetition. The songs often read like poetry and the way she breaks a line is often very idiosyncratic. It’s all part of the recipe that makes this record special.
Perhaps the most charming aspect of Sling is that it was in large part inspired by Clario’s decision to adopt a shelter dog during the pandemic. The experience was nothing short of transformational:  “Joanie, my dog, opened up my world in ways I didn’t think were capable. By caring for her, it forced me to face my own thoughts about parenthood and what it would mean to me.”
Sling may not have exploded out of the gate like some other big releases this year but I’ve got a feeling it’s primed to be classic. Despite the folky, easy flowing quality, there are a number of elements, both thematically and stylistically, that make this a difficult record. I look forward to letting it sink in over time!
– Major Matt

Crow- The Crow (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Weekly Review:

Music plays an outsized role in The Crow, a dark movie made even darker by the accidental death of its star Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) near the end of filming. First-time film director NAME, a veteran music video director, links music and visuals so closely throughout the movie that even now, nearly 30 years later, it is impossible for me to hear certain songs without conjuring a moment from the movie in my head.

The Crow soundtrack is appropriately ominous, gathering 14 tracks peeled from the alternative underbelly. The Cure open the proceedings with “Burn,” as the kaleidoscopic guitars and synthesizers plunge us into the world of The Crow. Nine Inch Nails’ haunting cover of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls” and the Machines of Loving Grace track inhabit a similar space.

Elsewhere on the album, Helmet and Pantera bring their trademark heavy intensity, while Rage Against the Machine play against type with the nuanced, textured “Darkness.” Henry Rollins foreshadows his spoken word career on a cover of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider” and Jesus and Mary Chain deliver another solid slab of shoegaze with “Snakedriver.” 

The Crow’s big hit was “Big Easy,” a cut that also appeared on the Stone Temple Pilots’ second album, Purple. It was impossible to spin the radio dial in the mid -90s and not encounter this laid-back, slide guitar jam that somehow blossomed into a huge chorus.

More than 25 years later, The Crow soundtrack holds up surprisingly well. It will continue to delight anyone who wore out (or scratched up) their CD back in the day or newer fans who want to know what the dark side of the grunge era was all about.- Joel Francis

DaBaby- Blame It On Baby

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

Weekly Review:

Richard Linklater’s 1993 comedy film about the last day of school in the mid -70s is appropriately paired with a soundtrack designed to be a jam all summer long.

The music works so well on-screen, you get the feeling the characters are experiencing the songs with you. The soundtrack is just as expertly paced, slowing down at just the right times only to jam the foot back on the accelerator again.

After rocketing out of the gate with Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” the set stacks hits on hits on hits with prime cuts from Foghat, Alice Cooper, Black Oak Arkansas and ZZ Top before finally slowing down for a moment with “Love Hurts” by Nazareth. Other standout tracks include “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways, which is smartly paired with Sweet’s slamming “Fox on the Run.” Tapping the brakes once again for “Low Rider” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s forever melancholy “Tuesday’s Gone,” the set closes with Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” and oft-played hits from Kiss and Black Sabbath.

And sure, you can hear most of these songs on classic rock radio, but they’d be larded up with obnoxious commercials, overenthusiastic DJs and a bunch of tired songs you never want to hear again. So do yourself a favor, save time and grab this awesome collection – and its reissued companion, Even More Dazed and Confused.- Joel Francis

Deep Purple- Whoosh!

Deftones- Diamond Eyes

Drive-By Truckers- The Dirty South

Fela Kuti- I.T.T.

Fela Kuti- Music Of Many Colours

Fela Kuti- Open & Close

Frank Derrick Total Experience- You Betcha!

GA-20- Does Hound Dog Taylor

Weekly Review:

When Bruce Iglauer first heard Chicago bluesman Hound Dog Taylor, he couldn’t believe the veteran Chicago bluesman didn’t have a record deal. NAME borrowed some money and started Alligator Records so Taylor would finally have some records on the market.

Nearly 50 years later, Iglauer heard a kindred spirit to Taylor in the Boston-based blues group GA-20. Both Taylor and GA-20 are practitioners of raw, gutbucket blues. Like Taylor’s HouseRockers, GA-20 are a trio that operate without a bass player. A pairing that seemed natural on paper works even better on record, as Try It … You Might Like It! A Tribute to Hound Dog Taylor.

Across these 10 tracks and 40 minutes, GA-20 deliver some of Taylor’s best-known songs, including his signature number “Give me Back My Wig,” the chestnut “It Hurts Me Too” and lesser-known gems such as “Phillips Goes Bananas” and “Let’s Get Funky.”

The only downside to Try It is that it’s over too soon. At that point, the only thing to do is to put on a Hound Dog Taylor album and keep the party going.- Joel Francis

GA-20 is the name given to a vintage electric guitar amplifier made by Gibson, known for its deep rich sound and dark overtones. It was a preferred amp amongst many legendary blues and early rock and roll axemen.
GA-20 is also the name of an American blues band from Boston, Mass. including both Pat Faherty and Matthew Stubbs on electric guitar.  The are known for using all vintage gear to help recreate a particle brand of Chicago style electric blues.
GA-20 has teamed up with various musicians for recordings in the past including Charlie Musslewhite and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi’s Allstars). But in their latest album, “GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It!“ they are a lean, mean, bassless trio with Tim Carman on drums.
Hound Dog Taylor was a blues guitar player born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1915 but moved to Chicago in 1942 where he cut his teeth in the small clubs in black neighborhoods at the open-air Maxwell Street Market area in the late 1950’s.
A few things make Taylor significant in Chicago blues history. Aside from being born with the condition known as polydactylism, which resulted in him having six fingers on both hands (He removed the one in his right hand himself one night while drunk with a razor blade) he played a cheap Japanese, Teisco guitar that was heavily distorted. The result was a sharp slicing tone that would influence countless blues and rock guitar players to come.
Taylor’s album, Hounddog Taylor and the House Rockers, is also know for being the first release on the legendary Chicago blues label Alligator Records.
On “Try It… You Might Like It” GA-20 do a great job of capturing that raw, juke-joint vibe.  From start to finish this is down home, foot stompin’ blues with just the right anoint of slide and groove to keep the toes tappin’ and drinks flowing.
Standout tracks are Taylor’s first breakout single “Give Me My Wig Back” as well as a sold rendition of the  classic blues standard It Hurts Me Too made most famous by Elmore James.
In the tradition of skinny white dudes reviving the often forgotten and under- credited music of legendary blues masters, GA-20 does a fine job of staying true and giving credit where credit is due!
– Major Matt

Garbage- Garbage

Garbage- No Gods No Masters

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

Weekly Review:

Released just under a week ago, Halsey is already breaking charts with her new album, “If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power.” Being her senior album, she definitely shows a lot of change with this piece. Something I admire about this album is how almost every song loops back to the idea of having solitary power. Knowing Halsey’s past, fans know she’s been beaten down and used music as a mode of expressing those feelings, rather with this album she uses the songs to take power back. 

Right off the bat with the first track, “Tradition,” she talks about a girl being broken down, sold and used, with the excuse “boys will be boys.” Immediately we can assume she’s been in similar (maybe not as extreme as being sold) conditions and is a good entry point for the album as she gives us a glimpse of what could’ve caused this rise of power/backlash. 

Track #3 and 4 start to pick up the pace of the album, as the story goes on and builds so do the instrumentals. In “Lilith,” she says, “I’m disgustin’ I’ve been corrupted,” the song builds off the idea that she is self-destructive but now it’s too late, she is how she is now. “I can’t fall in love cuz’ I’m focused,” time after time she runs into the same mistakes, so now she’s putting her energy elsewhere. She’s basically running circles around the title of the album, if she can’t have love she wants power. This idea leads perfectly into track #5, “Girl is a Gun,” where she says, “I feel lighter in the waistline with no hands around me, no spit in my teeth.” From track to track she’s building this idea that she’s done with love/giving people her time and she’s now only worried about herself. 

My favorite song would have to be, “You asked for this,” because it evokes emotion and brings an entirely different sound to the album. This track could almost classify as shoegaze/alt rock, as it uses clashing drums, a resonant guitar line, and heavier bass. I like that she threw this track in the mix, in the middle of the album too, to kind of switch things up and convey something similar in a different way. The message of this track resonates with me. She talks about being in pain so often that it becomes normal, as she chases her dreams but didn’t know the pain it would come with. “My tears fall flawlessly,” she says, referring to crying so many times she’s got it down to a science. 

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this album. I wasn’t a huge fan of Halsey until now. I think she does a good job at getting across her message in beautifully poetic ways, along with including various instrument variants to evoke a plethora of emotions. I’d highly recommend this album to anyone seeking personal growth/self love, I personally felt empowered listening to this. -Nova Stebbin

Hollywood Undead- Swan Songs

Horace Silver- Song For My Father

The Big Iron – We Will Fall

Jimmy Eat World- Clarity

John Coltrane- Blue Train

Kat Von D- Love Made Me Do It

Kenny Garrett- Sounds From The Ancestors

Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly

Weekly Review:

Kendrick Lamar has his way of packing the punch with every release. To Pimp A Butterfly released in 2015, dropping with it chaos, irony, theatrical, and mournful components all at once. This album is by far one of my favorite pieces of work in hip hop/rap because he includes new, intricate elements to rap, and incorporates real, raw stories.

Throughout the album, he mentions “lucy” quite a few times, referring to the devil. He talks about the struggles of trying to succeed in a greed ridden world consumed by power. Coming from the perspective of an African American, he passionately talks about not only the hardships of trying to make it, but in an atmosphere that his community is looked down upon. Stereotypes and lack of trust are just a couple of things he has to face as an artist, “Straight from the bottom, this the belly of the beast, From a peasant to a prince to a motherf*ckin’ king,” he raps in track #3. The way he incorporates two different aspects of struggle in such a poetic way is awe-inspiring. 

Something I really want to hone in on is the multiple references to sacrifices and “lucy,” and how that ties in to being a struggling artist in the black community. Though he doesn’t directly say “I’ve made a deal with the devil,” he makes it quite apparent by saying he made it through ways of hard work and to be assumed, selling his soul. I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to this, but it is clear Kendrick wants a spot in the light, maybe for money and power, maybe to spread his message and awareness, I’m not sure, all I know is I left listening to this album with a shifted perspective. I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve faced a struggle of some sort, but to hear in depth, raw stories about things I could never even imagine, is mind boggling and eye opening. 

The second to last track, “i,” is one of my favorites off this album.

“I done been through a whole lot

Trial, tribulation, but I know God

Satan wanna put me in a bow tie

Pray that the holy water don’t go dry…

Dreams of reality’s peace

Blow Steam in the face of the beast

The sky could fall down, the wind could cry now

The strong in me, I still smile

I love myself”

From song to song and story to story, the album builds upon itself in instrumental and poetic beauty. After a full listen, I have immense respect for not only Kendrick Lamar, but people in his shoes as well. Knowing what he had to go through/still goes through as an artist is insane to me, and the fact that he can articulate his thoughts so uniquely is alluring. Overall I’d give this album a 10/10. He uses various instrumental elements, bringing a new sound to hip hop/rap, and personal, relatable stories to bring a fresh perspective and insight to all listeners. -Nova Stebbin. 

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Murder Of The Universe

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Willoughby’s Beach

Lauryn Hill- Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Madlib- Sound Ancestors (arranged By Kieran Hebden)

Mike McCoy’s Trompe-l’oeil – Ogallala Pression

N.W.A.- Straight Outta Compton

Nas- Illmatic

O.V. Wright- A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades

Olivia Rodrigo- Sour

Weekly Review:
On paper, Olivia Rodrigo and I don’t have a lot in common.  She’s an eighteen year old Filipino American who has already landed roles in two successful Disney series.  I’m a fifty one year old white dude who grew up in Kansas. My only successful rolls appear around my midsection.
At the risk of sounding extremely creepy, on her new album, Sour, Olivia Rodrigo manages to give voice to feelings I can barely allow myself to have.
From the blues of Muddy Waters to the sonnets of Shakespeare, heartbreak has always served as an inspired muse for music and poetry and I think it’s safe to say that Sour is a deep dive into the subject. In fact, Rodrigo has even confessed to abandoning the idea of balancing out the album with some lighter love songs in order to stay true to her honest vision. The Wikipedia entry for Sour wryly claims “that love and happiness were not the emotions she felt while making the album.”
The genius of Sour becomes immediately apparent with its opening track “brutal,” an Elasticaish, hard driving, laundry list of unapologetic, teen angst. But what sets brutal apart from any other run of the mill angry youth anthem is the understated levity she expresses after each anxiety ridden rant with the winking cliche: “it’s brutal out there,”
This album is full of “acute teenage feelings” Rodrigo has claimed her intent to explore “emotions that are hard to talk about or aren’t really socially acceptable especially for girls: anger, jealousy, spite, sadness, they’re frowned-upon as bitchy and moaning and complaining or whatever. But I think they’re such valid emotions.”
In her pursuits I think she has stumbled upon something even more universal. These are  feelings that anyone who has ever been a teenager or  loved and lost can relate to.
Anyone who has ever seen a former partner with someone new, a little too soon, after a break up can relate to the visceral feelings in track two, Traitor. In the song “driver’s license,” the single that landed her deal with Geffen Records, Rodrigo goes all in on the bottomless levels of depression the mind will go after a fresh breakup:
“And all my friends are tired
Of hearing how much I miss you, but
I kinda feel sorry for them
‘Cause they’ll never know you the way that I do, yeah
Today I drove through the suburbs
And pictured I was driving home to you”
One of the interesting things about Sour, despite it’s relentless focus on the topic of lost love, is how it maintains the listener’s interest by hopping genres from indie rock, to folk, to full on teen synth pop.
The track Jealousy, Jealousy would’t be out of place on a Fiona Apple or Tori Amos record. Her ability to allow for all the extreme feelings while also being able to step back and see them for what they are is a level of wisdom that I certainly lacked at her age.
“ Co-comparison is killin’ me slowly
I think, I think too much
‘Bout kids who don’t know me
I’m so sick of myself”
A lot of people are gonna pass this one off as a teen break-up record but I invite a closer examination to whats going.  And if the subject matter doesn’t work for you, Rodrigo’s expressive vocal range is delightful to listen to in and of itself.  If this is the direction “the kids” are going these days I have hope for the future!
– Major Matt

Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon

Queen Latifah- All Hail the Queen

Rage Against the Machine- Rage Against The Machine XX

Richard Thompson- Mirror Blue

Royal Blood- Typhoons

Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming

Skid Row- Skid Row

Son Volt- Electro Melodier

Son Volt- Straightaways

Sonny Clark- My Conception

St Vincent- Daddy’s Home

Taylor Swift- Red

The Anniversary- Designing a Nervous Breakdown, Your Majesty

Weekly Review:

The Lawrence, Kan.-based indie/emo quintet The Anniversary didn’t even last a decade, but they left a huge mark on the local music scene and two amazing albums that hold up to the test of time.

After dropping some split singles, the band released its first album in January, 2000. Designing a Nervous Breakdown stood out from other similar acts – including Jimmy Eat World, Cursive and Kansas City’s own Get Up Kids – thanks to secret weapon Adrianne Verhoeven. Her keyboard playing – check out the Moog part in opening song “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and fuzzy synths on “The D in Detroit” – gave the band’s song a unique texture and feel. Verhoeven’s vocals stood out in male-dominated emo scene.

Designing a Nervous Breakdown is filled with punk energy, power pop hooks and heart-on-sleeve lyrics. The album recalls a simpler time, when the biggest worry in the nation was Y2K – both what it would bring and how to properly mark the occasion. While Designing a Nervous Breakdown recalls this time, it doesn’t feel tethered to it.

For their second album, 2002’s Your Majesty, The Anniversary dialed back on the keyboards and turned up the guitars, giving the album more of a classic rock feel. Verhoeven and guitarist Josh Berwanger’s voices blend effortlessly, creating a twin lead vocal approach reminiscent of the Beatles (liberal application of chiming guitars definitely help with the Fab Four comparisons as well).

The Anniversary were working on material for a third album when they broke up in 2004. The band reconvened for some shows in 2016. Who knows, maybe the reissues of these albums will spark some new activity. At the very least, having these beloved albums available on vinyl again will remind old fans why they loved the band so much and introduce them to a new generation of fans.- Joel Francis

The Beach Boys- Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971

Weekly Review:

Pet Sounds gets all the love and those wonderful 1960s singles get all the airplay, but Sunflower and Surf’s Up have always been hidden jewels in the Beach Boys’ post-Pet Sounds catalog. A new collection commemorating the 50th anniversary of Surf’s Up shines a new light on this underrated era.

Sunflower appeared at the end of August, 1970, and was well-reviewed, but sold poorly. Surf’s Up appeared one year later and sold better. The two albums have been conjoined since they were placed on a single two-fer CD nearly 20 years ago.

Around the time Sunflower and Surf’s Up were assigned to the same CD, Cameron Crowe used “Feel Flows,” a breezy psychedelic gem from Surf’s Up, over the closing credits of his film Almost Famous. This drove many music fans (including me) out to the shops to find this song and see if there were any other gems from this era.

Fortunately, there are, and this new double-LP set presents not only each album in its entirety, but several previously live performances and vocal tracks. The bonus tracks – placed at the end of each side, interrupting the album’s flow a bit – are interesting, but the real draw are the albums. 

Sunflower is a team effort, with Dennis and Carl Wilson getting writing credits alongside brother Brian, and Al Jardine and Mike Love contributing as well. Those signature harmonies shine on “Add Some Music to Your Day” and “Cool Cool Water,” but the album is consistently enjoyable throughout. 

Surf’s Up is more ornate and is a fantastic showcase of Brian Wilson’s unconventional genius. The second side is perfect for listening with headphones in the darkness. – Joel Francis

The Cramps- Big Beat from Badsville

The White Stripes- The White Stripes Greatest Hits

Trees Speak- Ohms

Vince Guaraldi- A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Weezer- Weezer (Blue Album)

 

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