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RECORD STORE DAY: BLACK FRIDAY 2017 TOP TEN: PART 1

November 23, 2017 Leave a comment

by Mat Weir

 

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              10. GAME OF THRONES SOUNDTRACK — PICTURE DISC

         Okay, I’m kicking this off with a gimmicky picture disc. But for all you purists, cynics and elitists out there: GET OVER IT. After a decade of RSD releases, you need to accept the fact that gimmicks are part of the fun. So don’t be a wretched ol’ White Walker. Why not buy one of the best soundtracks from one of television’s hottest shows, and have some rad art in the process?

 

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    1. DEATH FROM ABOVE — FREEZE ME/KEEP IT REAL DUMB 7”

    Death From Above (re: Death From Above 1979) has earned themselves a bit of a cult following over the years. In 2002, Canadian duo–Sebastian Granger and Jesse F. Keeler–released their debut release, Heads Up, to minor success. Two years later they began recording their debut album, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, and released it with major, underground success. Their minimalist sound is thick as gravy and boiling hot with blues riffs covered in post-rock music. But in 2006 they disbanded, leaving fans to cling to their record. In 2011 they reunited but it wouldn’t be until this year that they would drop a second album, Outrage! Is Now. This 7” is the single and B-side to that album.

     

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    1. HIGH TIMES : SMOKE SIGNAL SONGS FROM THE MOTHER PLANT

    Every stoner has their 420 playlist. Music sites and apps like Spotify, Pandora and iTunes have made it easy to throw hundreds of fire tracks into a playlist that will keep you lit all night. But for those of us who like to spin wax, making a playlist ends up with a stack of records and constant flipping or changing, totally harshing the vibe. Thankfully, this Black Friday, High Times Magazine has released a comp of sweet, stoney tracks to keep the party going and the smoke floating featuring Damian Marley, Action Bronson and more.

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  1.       7. JOHN LEE HOOKER — BLACK NIGHT IS FALLING
  2. I love me some John Lee Hooker. He was one of the first blues musicians my dad got me into and one that remains near and dear to my heart. This is a killer live recording from the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club (Montreal) in 1977 when Hooker was still cookin’. Featuring staples like “Boom Boom” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” this is the perfect LP for Hooker fans to spin AND for noobs to check out to get a taste of the blues master.

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    1. REVEREND PEYTON’S BIG DAMN BAND — 16 TONS 7”

    For almost two decades Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has breathed new life into American blues, country and bluegrass. With a voice as thick as mountain mist, the Reverend, his wife–”Washboard” Breezy and drummer, Max Senteney, bask themselves in the rays of all blues genres and cultivate original tunes chock full of wholesome goodness. This Black Friday, don’t miss out on their cover of Tennessee Ernest Ford’s classic, “16 Tons,” for a rootsy sound about Capitalism’s exploitation of the working class. What’s more American than that?

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Fresh Stuff from Big Boi

July 24, 2017 Leave a comment

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One-half of the legendary hip-hop duo OutKast, Big Boi is back with a new album titled Boomiverse.

While his counterpart Andre 3000 is often credited with being one of the best of all time, Big Boi is still, as XXL reports, “flying the Atlanta lyricist flag in an era of mumble rap repetition.”

The instinctive balance he applies to his music straddles the fine line between cunning wordsmith and strategic songwriter, both of which have appeared while alone and as part of that iconic pair. It’s a skill that is incredibly unique to Big and since OutKast’s musical disbandment; it has been taken horrendously for granted. But Mr. Patton is now on his third solo album (four if you count the Phantogram collaborative album, Big Grams) and realistically has nothing left to prove to anyone yet on Boomiverse he sounds as hungry as he did back in the day when he was rocking shoulder-length braids and all-white velour tracksuits.

Although this album is considered a solo album, Big brings along a slew of different friends and flavors with him in attempts to create his own booming universe. In many instances, it sounds like you are listening to a playlist of Big’s favorite music, just with his own verses spread throughout.

 

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Beach House B-Sides and Rarities

July 24, 2017 Leave a comment

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After releasing six albums, dream-pop duo Beach House recently dropped a collection titled B-Sides and Rarities.

Comprising Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, Beach House has never been a typical pop band with singles, so a b-sides collection is a bit unexpected. But, as the band explains on the Sub Pop website, the goal with this project was to put all the non-album tracks, of which there are quite a few, into one place.

When we announced that we were releasing a B-sides and rarities album, someone on Twitter asked, “B-sides record? Why would Beach House put out a B-sides record? Their A-sides are like B-sides.” This random person has a point. Our goal has never been to make music that is explicitly commercial. Over the years, as we have worked on our 6 LPs, it wasn’t the “best” or most catchy songs that made the records, just the ones that fit together to make a cohesive work. Accordingly, our B-sides are not songs that we didn’t like as much, just ones that didn’t have a place on the records we were making.

The idea for a B-sides record came when we realized just how many non-album songs had been made over the years, and how hard it was to find and hear many of them. This compilation contains every song we have ever made that does not exist on one of our records. There are 14 songs in total.

As NPR reports, “B-Sides And Rarities is upfront about being an exercise for enthusiasts, completists and other loving obsessives. But more casual fans shouldn’t shrug it off, either. Beach House has mounted a marvelous career on its ability to set a gloomy electro-pop mood without losing touch with its brighter side — and that gift stays on full display throughout this shaggily appealing assortment of orphaned gems.”

A Joyful Celebration of Mavis Staples

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

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To celebrate Mavis Staples’ 75 birthday, a who’s who of musicians gathered to sing and honor the legendary artist. The result is I’ll Take You There: an All-Star Concert Celebration, now available on cd and dvd.

Staples, who is now 77, has made a massive impact on gospel, soul, rock and roots music. The album reflects her multi-faceted abilities, as well as her inimitable, indomitable spirit. As American Songwriter reports:

“The show, recorded at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater Nov. 19, 2014…came on the heels of two successful Jeff Tweedy produced albums. Not surprisingly, Tweedy appears to perform the title track of 2010’s You Are Not Alone. It’s one of 21 songs on the double CD (the DVD adds two more) in a concert that reflects all the exuberance, positivity and vibrancy you’d expect from Staples who has exuded those tendencies over the course of her 65 and counting year career (she started singing professionally with her Staple Singers family in 1950, when she was just 11).

Although not a songwriter herself, Staples is a master interpreter, owning much of the material she sings. That makes this a set of covers of covers. They run the gamut from fairly recent material like Emmylou Harris’ sparkling take on the Nick Lowe penned “Far Celestial Shore” to Staples Singers’ era classics such as a rousing “Freedom Highway” from Michael McDonald, Widespread Panic’s animated version of Pops Staples’ “Hope in a Hopeless World” and a closing, all-in “The Weight,” first sung by the Staples in 1968 and famously revived in The Last Waltz, which connect on every level.”

Tracklist:

Disc 1
1. Joan Osborne – You’re Driving Me
2. Keb’ Mo’ – Heavy Makes You Happy
3. Otis Clay – I Ain’t Raisin’ No Sand
4. Buddy Miller – Woke Up This Morning
5. Patty Griffin – Waiting For My Child To Come Home
6. Emmylou Harris – Far Celestial Shore
7. Michael McDonald – Freedom Highway
8. Glen Hansard – People Get Ready
9. Mavis & Aaron Neville – Respect Yourself
10. Widespread Panic – Hope In A Hopeless World
11. Ryan Bingham – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
12. Grace Potter – Grandma’s Hands
13. Eric Church – Eyes On The Prize

Disc 2
1. Taj Mahal – Wade In The Water
2. Gregg Allman – Have A Little Faith
3. Mavis & Bonnie Raitt – Turn Me Around
4. Gregg Allman, Taj Mahal, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, & Mavis Staples – Will The Circle Be Unbroken
5. Mavis, Win Butler & Régine Chassagne – Slippery People
6. Mavis & Jeff Tweedy – You Are Not Alone
7. Mavis Staples – I’ll Take You There
8. Mavis & everybody: Encore: The Weight

Dan Auerbach Takes a Turn

July 13, 2017 Leave a comment

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If you thought Black Keys guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach was a one-trick pony limited to blues-inspired rock, you’re in for a surprise.

Auerbach recently dropped his second solo album, dubbed Waiting on a Song, and it not what longtime listeners expected. It’s a catchy, Nashville-inspired, country-soul throwback that showcases several dimensions of Auerbach’s musical skillset.

As Rolling Stone reports:

“[Auerbach has] taken the right tack, tapping great talent to grow his retro style without just playing dress-up, creating a Seventies country-soul-rock palette part Lee Hazelwood, part Jim Ford, plus spare parts. The title track is a zen-like meditation on craft co-written with master John Prine; “Cherry Bomb” boasts Duane Eddy’s signature twang; “Undertow” conjures the Spinners with Philly soul strings and a “Games People Play” quote, while “Stand By My Girl” mirrors the piano riff off Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.” It’s a “Nashville Sound” the town could use more of.”

Fresh Stuff from Fleet Foxes

July 10, 2017 Leave a comment

 

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After four years, the band Fleet Foxes is back with Crack-Up, a lush album full of harmonies, rich orchestration and…lots of literary and historical references—perhaps to frontman Robin Pecknold’s stint at Columbia University.

The album is a welcome listen for fans and a much-needed release after a stretch that has seen significant changes for the band members. As the Guardian reports:

“The album was recorded after a four-year hiatus, during which Pecknold studied at Columbia University and Fleet Foxes’ former drummer Josh Tillman unexpectedly became one of alt-rock’s most intriguing stars. Understandably, some critics have been keen to contrast Crack-Up with Pure Comedy, Tillmans’ latest album as Father John Misty, but it seems to bear more comparison to Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, another wilfully abstruse record made by an American alt-rocker who is disproportionately unsettled by a modicum of fame. On Crack-Up’s predecessor, Helplessness Blues, Pecknold spent a lot of time fantasising about jacking it all in to live on a deserted island, or to run an orchard. Now, he seems to have decided he can continue – but only if the music he makes takes a determined left turn.”

 

Fresh Stuff from Jason Isbell

July 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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Americana favorite Jason Isbell and his band, the 400 Unit, recently dropped a new album.

Titled The Nashville Sound, the record sees Isbell doing what he does best: crafting honest tunes about what he sees, feels and experiences. As the album’s producer Dave Cobb told Rolling Stone, “He takes these seemingly normal things and turns them into beautiful songs about life and relationships and family.”

The standout track is “If We Were Vampires,” an exploration of love, death and loss. But the album as a whole is a testament to Isbell’s evolution as a songwriter and his changing perspective.

“Right when I started touring, there was this wariness I had of the world outside of my small town,” he told Rolling Stone. “But I’m not that person anymore, and I was never completely that person. The guy I’m talking about…has grown up in a naturally sheltered existence, then he gets out and sees the rest of the world and doesn’t understand it. It’s like the bridge is burning as he crosses it. He realizes there’s no way to go back, and I think that’s scary for a lot of people.”

Tracklist:

1. Last of My Kind
2. Cumberland Gap
3. Tupelo”
4. “White Man’s World
5. If We Were Vampires
6. Anxiety
7. Molotov
8. Chaos and Clothes
9. Hope the High Road
10. Something to Love

 

 

Categories: Fresh Stuff