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  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2018/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , hot wax, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May 

    All those April showers are flooding Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store with must-listen May records, including new albums from Beach House, Arctic Monkeys, Courtney Barnett, and Ray LaMontagne, a B&N exclusive collector’s edition of Leon Bridges Good Thing, and Kendrick Lamar’s curated Black Panther soundtrack. Welcome the incoming warmth and sunshine by adding some new vinyl to your collection!

    Good Thing, by Leon Bridges
    Leon Bridges’ vintage R&B sound and look are a welcome addition to 2018’s pop music landscape, and Good Thing proves that, as much as Bridges has studied the past, he’s not merely a retro act. His voice is impeccably smooth, carrying emotion without sounding corny or forced. And he doesn’t just sing ballads, either. “Bad Bad News” is a playful, uptempo track that contrasts nicely with slow jams like “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand” and “Beyond.” In fact, the central pleasure of this album is how it blends classic R&B with slicker, 1990s R&B and modern production, resulting in an album both purists and casual listeners will enjoy.

    Black Panther: The Album [Music from and Inspired By]
    When the news broke that Kendrick Lamar (who has since won a Pulitzer) was curating the soundtrack for groundbreaking superhero film Black Panther, expectations were high. To say that Lamar delivered would be an understatement—the album he put together is as unique and exceptional as the movie itself, bringing another facet of black representation to the superhero film genre. Lamar’s taste is impeccable; along with his own contributions, he brought in 2 Chainz, the Weeknd, SZA, Future, and Schoolboy Q to collaborate with him, and that’s not even the full list of artists on this record. Add this to your collection, pronto.

    7, by Beach House
    Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House treats us all to another slab of mesmerizing, gently psychedelic indie rock with 7, having freshened up their production and songwriting methods. The two spent more time in the studio for this album, and didn’t limit their songs to what they could necessarily replicate onstage, so their sound is thicker here than in previous outings. But don’t worry, the hallucinatory vibes we’ve come to love from them is still present; “Lemon Glow” and “Dive” should settle any worries that Beach House is changing too much. Rather, as “Dark Spring” proves, they’re simply improving.

    Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, by Arctic Monkeys
    Arctic Monkeys might be bonafide rock stars, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forsaken their indie rock spirit of audacity. Their upcoming record, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, will not be preceded by any singles beyond a brief YouTube teaser of its contents. What we know so far is that it’s set to be a piano-centric, science fiction concept album—the album’s name references the site of the 1969 moon landing—and that it’s inspired by a wide-ranging selection of music. Frontman Alex Turner has cited Nina Simone, the Three Degrees, Serge Gainsbourg, Dion, and Leonard Cohen as influences on this record. In other words, we can’t wait to listen to this one.

    Tell Me How You Really Feel, by Courtney Barnett
    Courtney Barnett’s third studio album continues the grungy, low-key psychedelic sound of her previous two albums, with occasional pop flourishes and special guest appearances by both Kim and Kelly Deal. Barnett’s songwriting and vocals are catchy in a relaxed, easygoing kind of way, best exemplified on this album by “Need a Little Time” and “City Looks Pretty.” When the energy does lift, as it does in “Nameless, Faceless,” it catches the listener by surprise. Still, it’s a mistake to write off Barnett’s as slacker music—her lyrics (and many of her song titles) betray a sly wit that gets sharper and more fun to listen to with each record.

    Part of the Light, by Ray LaMontagne
    Ray LaMontagne’s upcoming seventh album was not just written by him, but produced by him as well. Giving someone complete creative control over an album can go one of two very different ways, but LaMontagne is disciplined enough in his vision (and reclusive enough to avoid promotional distractions) that this record will be a joy. The lead single, “Such A Simple Thing,” is a great piece of folk music, simple and earnestly performed with a Stephen Stills/Neil Young vibe to it. He’s also been performing “To the Sea,” which has an irresistible, choppy guitar melody, at live shows, leaving fans eager to hear how it will sound recorded in studio.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2018/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , hot wax, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May 

    All those April showers are flooding Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store with must-listen May records, including new albums from Beach House, Arctic Monkeys, Courtney Barnett, and Ray LaMontagne, a B&N exclusive collector’s edition of Leon Bridges Good Thing, and Kendrick Lamar’s curated Black Panther soundtrack. Welcome the incoming warmth and sunshine by adding some new vinyl to your collection!

    Good Thing, by Leon Bridges
    Leon Bridges’ vintage R&B sound and look are a welcome addition to 2018’s pop music landscape, and Good Thing proves that, as much as Bridges has studied the past, he’s not merely a retro act. His voice is impeccably smooth, carrying emotion without sounding corny or forced. And he doesn’t just sing ballads, either. “Bad Bad News” is a playful, uptempo track that contrasts nicely with slow jams like “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand” and “Beyond.” In fact, the central pleasure of this album is how it blends classic R&B with slicker, 1990s R&B and modern production, resulting in an album both purists and casual listeners will enjoy.

    Black Panther: The Album [Music from and Inspired By]
    When the news broke that Kendrick Lamar (who has since won a Pulitzer) was curating the soundtrack for groundbreaking superhero film Black Panther, expectations were high. To say that Lamar delivered would be an understatement—the album he put together is as unique and exceptional as the movie itself, bringing another facet of black representation to the superhero film genre. Lamar’s taste is impeccable; along with his own contributions, he brought in 2 Chainz, the Weeknd, SZA, Future, and Schoolboy Q to collaborate with him, and that’s not even the full list of artists on this record. Add this to your collection, pronto.

    7, by Beach House
    Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House treats us all to another slab of mesmerizing, gently psychedelic indie rock with 7, having freshened up their production and songwriting methods. The two spent more time in the studio for this album, and didn’t limit their songs to what they could necessarily replicate onstage, so their sound is thicker here than in previous outings. But don’t worry, the hallucinatory vibes we’ve come to love from them is still present; “Lemon Glow” and “Dive” should settle any worries that Beach House is changing too much. Rather, as “Dark Spring” proves, they’re simply improving.

    Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, by Arctic Monkeys
    Arctic Monkeys might be bonafide rock stars, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forsaken their indie rock spirit of audacity. Their upcoming record, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, will not be preceded by any singles beyond a brief YouTube teaser of its contents. What we know so far is that it’s set to be a piano-centric, science fiction concept album—the album’s name references the site of the 1969 moon landing—and that it’s inspired by a wide-ranging selection of music. Frontman Alex Turner has cited Nina Simone, the Three Degrees, Serge Gainsbourg, Dion, and Leonard Cohen as influences on this record. In other words, we can’t wait to listen to this one.

    Tell Me How You Really Feel, by Courtney Barnett
    Courtney Barnett’s third studio album continues the grungy, low-key psychedelic sound of her previous two albums, with occasional pop flourishes and special guest appearances by both Kim and Kelly Deal. Barnett’s songwriting and vocals are catchy in a relaxed, easygoing kind of way, best exemplified on this album by “Need a Little Time” and “City Looks Pretty.” When the energy does lift, as it does in “Nameless, Faceless,” it catches the listener by surprise. Still, it’s a mistake to write off Barnett’s as slacker music—her lyrics (and many of her song titles) betray a sly wit that gets sharper and more fun to listen to with each record.

    Part of the Light, by Ray LaMontagne
    Ray LaMontagne’s upcoming seventh album was not just written by him, but produced by him as well. Giving someone complete creative control over an album can go one of two very different ways, but LaMontagne is disciplined enough in his vision (and reclusive enough to avoid promotional distractions) that this record will be a joy. The lead single, “Such A Simple Thing,” is a great piece of folk music, simple and earnestly performed with a Stephen Stills/Neil Young vibe to it. He’s also been performing “To the Sea,” which has an irresistible, choppy guitar melody, at live shows, leaving fans eager to hear how it will sound recorded in studio.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 7:30 pm on 2018/02/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , hot wax,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin in February 2018 

    The year is off to a great start for vinyl fans. February comes in strong with a brand new record from Justin Timberlake, the original soundtrack to the Justice League, the special collector’s edition of Kendrick Lamar’s Damn, a new Bob Dylan hits compilation, and a compilation of Nina Simone’s early years sold exclusively through our Vinyl Store. Check ’em out, and keep your eye out every month for more great records and exclusives.

    Man of the Woods, by Justin Timberlake
    Timberlake has described Man of the Woods as a “Southern American [and] modern” album influenced by the outdoors and his own Tennessee upbringing. Performances with Chris Stapleton, who cameos on this record, hinted at the direction this album would take, and Timberlake is definitely onto something here. There’s still a dominant hip-hop influence on this record, as evidenced by “Supplies,” but the Neptunes’ production choices mesh well with the acoustic guitars and clap percussion of “Say Something.” Alicia Keys also guests on this album, appearing on the track “Morning Light.”

    Always Ascending, by Franz Ferdinand
    Gritty pop rockers Franz Ferdinand return with their first new album in more than four years, and the first to feature new member Julian Corrie. The music scene has changed while the group was off collaborating with Sparks (on FFS), and the band has too—lead single and title track “Always Ascending” is a etherial slow burn that seems to channel the spirit of the late David Bowie—right before it kicks in with the beats you’ve come to expect from this energetic quintet. “Feel the Love Go” sees the group delving into electropop in the vein of LCD Soundsystem, and the combination more than works. Fans who have been waiting years for this record won’t be disappointed.

    Little Dark Age, by MGMT
    There has also been a long gap between records from MGMT, and this followup to their 2013 self-titled album finds the group sounding older and wiser, with beats a little less pounding, but no less funky—at least on lead single “Little Dark Age,” with brooding guitars that recall the gothic pop of the Cure. But don’t worry too much that the band has completely transformed: second single “When You Die” presents them at their psychedelic best, with a throwback ’60s feel and darkly ironic lyrics (“We’ll all be laughing with you when you die”). “Hand It Over,” meanwhile, is a slower jam. We’re excited to see this band continue to stretch itself on this album, their fourth.

    Justice League OST
    Comic book and vinyl collectors alike will love the Flash edition of the Justice League original soundtrack, sold exclusively through Barnes & Noble. Scored by Danny Elfman, is easily the best soundtrack in the DC cinematic universe thus far, and one of the best things about a divisive film. Elfman uses elements of the 1989 Batman theme as well as John Williams’ 1978 Superman theme in several parts of the Justice League score, and incorporates versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” and the Beatles’ “Come Together” by Sigrid and Junkie XL (the film’s original composer) respectively. The White Stripes contribute “Icky Thump” as well.

    Mood Indigo, by Nina Simone (B&N Exclusive)
    Mood Indigo is a retrospective of Simone’s time with Bethlehem Records, the jazz label that released her first album in 1958. At the time of these recordings, Simone was an aspiring concert pianist in her mid-20s, recording songs written by Duke Ellington (“Mood Indigo”), Count Basie (“Good Bait”), and Rodgers and Hammerstein (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”). But even then, the Nina Simone who would become an unstoppable soul powerhouse was present, and her tastes for classical music are evident in her playing. These songs are important not just because they, and Simone, are great; they’re important because you can hear her future in her past. Her incredible voice sounds even smoother on vinyl.

    Damn (Collectors Edition), by Kendrick Lamar
    One of rap and pop music’s more cerebral figures, Kendrick Lamar intended his groundbreaking 2017 album Damn to be a concept album. Little did we know that the tracklist works just as well, if not better, in reverse. For the collectors edition of Damn, Lamar reverses the tracklist and puts a brand new cover on the album, which is an absolute vinyl must-own. Lamar’s lyrics carry impressive weight and depth for someone so young; “Duckworth,” for example, is about the unexpected consequences Lamar’s music has had on other people in his life, and “Humble” has a trap/grime beat that perfectly suits the song’s authoritative, controversial tone.

    Greatest Hits, by Bob Dylan
    Greatest Hits is ideal for collectors who want a proper introduction to Dylan’s body of work, but aren’t sure where to start. This compilation album’s tracklist gathers together the best of his most popular songs—“Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and so on—along with some songs that aren’t as well known by title, like “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “Just Like a Street.” The idea is to get people hooked on the more famous songs while suggesting that the deeper cuts (and the albums they’re on) are also worth exploring. Getting into Dylan’s music has never been easier.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin in February 2018 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 7:00 pm on 2017/09/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , hot wax, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This September 

    September is turning into one of our best months for vinyl yet! We’ve got one of the best Jimi Hendrix retrospectives coming in this month, along with new Foo Fighters and Van Morrison albums, plus records from Jack Johnson, the National, Steve Martin, Beyoncé, and Gregg Allman’s final album, plus the soundtrack to box office smash Wonder Woman. Be sure to check them out, and keep your eye on Barnes and Noble’s Vinyl Store for more great records every month.

    All the Light Above It Too, by Jack Johnson
    Jack Johnson’s newest album pairs his mellow, soft rock style with sharp, often political lyrics inspired by surfing, camping, and the documentary Smog of the Sea. The album’s lead single, “My Mind Is For Sale,” was specifically inspired by (and is overtly critical of) Donald Trump’s public statements concerning pollution and global warming, and “Fragments” is about ocean pollution and environmental responsibility. Johnson promotes stewardship of the environment in both his creative and personal lives, but this album never gets preachy, and Johnson never drops his laid-back vocal style. In fact, he sounds downright relaxed on “Sunsets For Somebody Else.”

    Concrete and Gold, by Foo Fighters
    Foo Fighters are officially nine studio albums deep with the release of Concrete and Gold, the band’s first album since their hiatus following Dave Grohl’s 2015 leg injury. Originally planning to take a year off from music to heal his leg, Grohl started writing songs for this album after six months of physical therapy, eventually collaborating with pop producer Greg Kurstin. Because of this, and their decision to record at EastWest Studios, this album has a lot of pop music cameos; Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman, Inara George, the Kills’ Alison Mosshart, and Paul McCartney (who drums on one track) all appear on this fantastic return to form by the Foo Fighters.

    Wonder Woman Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    Wonder Woman wasn’t just a commercial and critical success, it shattered records for films directed by women and renewed fans’ enthusiasm for the DC cinematic universe. Obviously, a film this impressive needs a soundtrack to match, and Wonder Woman has got the goods. Composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams—who also worked on several projects for Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions—the soundtrack keeps to the moody, melodic, and broad gestures of other recent DC films (especially Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), but doesn’t rest on those laurels. The proud, majestic “No Man’s Land” and “Hell Hath No Fury” are already fan favorites, as is Sia and Labyrinth’s “To Be Human.”

    Roll with the Punches, by Van Morrison
    Van Morrison’s newest album, which features retired professional wrestler Billy Two Rivers on the cover, is largely a collection of the singer-songwriter’s favorite soul and blues classics. Morrison curated the tracklist down to songs he enjoys performing live, and the effort shows: there’s an undeniable passion in particular in his version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me” and Bo Diddley’s “I Can Tell” and “Ride on Josephine.” He does a great job with Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Automobile Blues,” too, showing particular skill with that era of blues. In addition to these standards, the album features five new original compositions.

    Sleep Well Beast, by the National
    This album is the National’s seventh studio effort, and they’re slowly introducing electronic elements to their rootsy, Americana-tinged indie pop sound. If you’re worried those changes might make their music colder and more obtuse, don’t be; there’s still plenty of emotion and clever songwriting on this album. “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” chosen as the album’s lead single, is a tense, piano-driven song with a surprisingly gnarly guitar solo, while “Carin at the Liquor Store” is influenced by Leonard Cohen in the best possible way. The same can be said for “Guilty Party,” which will very likely be the post-breakup anthem of 2017.

    The Long-Awaited Album, by Steve Martin
    Legendary comedian/actor/playwright Steve Martin has many interests, and playing the banjo is one of them. Martin has released a few bluegrass music albums over the years, but he’s never sounded better than on this record, where he’s backed by the Steep Canyon Rangers. As one would expect, Martin is a clever, tongue-in-cheek lyricist—“Caroline” is all the proof you need of that—but he’s a very talented banjo picker as well, and the Rangers provide vocal harmonies and lush instrumentation that complement, rather than crowd, his abilities. The curiously titled “Office Supplies” is another standout track that shows off how well Martin and the Rangers work together.

    Southern Blood, by Gregg Allman
    Sadly, Gregg Allman’s eighth studio album was his last one, as the legendary country rocker passed away from liver cancer in May 2017. The album became a very personal one for Allman, and is a collection of songs written by his friends, who includes Bob Dylan’s “Going Going Gone” and the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River,” as well as blues standards like Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” and Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” which features a cameo by Browne himself. Allman’s trademark honey-sweet guitar tone and homespun vocals lend an unexpected optimism to this album. Rather than sing about death, Allman is, in his own way, explaining his life as it reaches the end.

    Lemonade, by Beyoncé
    Lemonade took the pop world, and specifically the internet, by storm when it was released in April 2016. It has the rare distinction of being both a concept album and a visual album, given that it was accompanied by an hour-long film on HBO. Unsurprisingly, it’s up for Album of the Year, based on both the strength of singles like “Freedom,” “All Night,” and the Grammy-nominated “Formation,” and because of its obvious ambition. With Lemonade, Beyoncé showed the world she’s more than just a mega-successful pop culture star who makes radio-friendly R&B music. She’s also making deeper, more genuine art.

    Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix
    There are a lot of Jimi Hendrix compilations out there, which is to be expected for one of the most influential guitarists of all time. What makes Experience Hendrix unique is that it looks beyond 1968, including unfinished tracks that reveal the R&B/soul-oriented direction Hendrix was going in before his death. But don’t worry, it also has more popular, and still timeless, songs like “Foxy Lady,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “Hey Joe,” and his unkempt rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Really though, the Cry of Love-era tracks are the standouts here, and not just because they’re more obscure; they prove Hendrix was A talented and creatively limber musician who was just getting started.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin This September appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2017/08/01 Permalink
    Tags: hot wax, , ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This August 

    The end of summer is on the horizon (boo!), but there’s no end to Barnes and Noble’s Vinyl Store selection! We’ve got a whole bunch of exclusives coming in this August, including the soundtracks for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Power Rangers, plus a selection of songs from Disney’s Descendants series. Also not to miss: the rerelease of Suicidal Tendencies’ excellent self-titled debut and one of Elvis Presley’s most underrated albums, Elvis is Back! Keep checking in for more record recommendations, our Vinyl Store never closes.

     Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (Exclusive version)
    Much like the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, the second has a fun, nostalgic soundtrack covering a wide expanse of pop music. Most of it is upbeat, like Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” and Sweet’s “Fox On the Run,” but not all of it is rock ‘n’ roll. Sam Cooke makes an appearance with “Bring It On Home to Me,” and Parliament’s “Flash Light” adds some much-appreciated funk to the proceedings. Fleetwood Mac, George Harrison, and obscure pop-country band Silver are included here, too, but this soundtrack’s real gem is “Guardians Hero,” sung by none other than David Hasselhoff.

    Power Rangers (Exclusive version)
    If you’re one of those people who needs music to wake up in the morning, you should consider the Power Rangers original soundtrack. The 26-track score was composed by Brian Tyler, who also composed the scores for Iron Man 3 and five Fast and the Furious movies, as well as ESPN’s NFL theme song. Needless to say, Tyler knows his way around action sequences, so there’s a ton of energy and tension in the Power Rangers soundtrack. Even quieter tracks don’t lose intensity or momentum, as exemplified by one of the score’s overall highlights, “It’s Morphing Time.” And if what gets you going is dramatic build, “The Final Stand” has that for days.

    Suicidal Tendencies, by Suicidal Tendencies
    A lot of words get used to describe legendary L.A. punk/thrash band Suicidal Tendencies, and “fun” isn’t usually one of them. But make no mistake, their self-titled debut—released in 1983—is really, really fun. Written before the band started taking themselves and their gang image too seriously, this record is full of hilarious and astute social commentary. “Institutionalized” has become a classic American anthem for the misunderstood, while “Subliminal” is weird and funny and one of the best parts of Grand Theft Auto V‘s soundtrack. The same can be said of the delightfully deranged “I Saw Your Mommy,” which shows off the band’s impressive speed.

    Best of the Descendants (B&N exclusive)
    This unique record, sold exclusively through Barnes & Noble, will appeal to pop fans and Disneyphiles alike. The Descendants musical franchise (which includes a TV series and a few movies) follows the teenage children of Maleficent, Snow White’s Queen Grimhilde, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil. “Rotten to the Core” mixes EDM and dubstep, and “If Only” is a strong electropop ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on Top 40 radio. “Set It Off” has the most energy, mixing EDM with Broadway-style ensemble singing, something only Disney could pull off.

    Elvis is Back, by Elvis Presley
    This album was a special one for Elvis, as it was the first he recorded after serving two years in the Army. Although it didn’t get much love from critics when it was released in 1960, time has been kind to it. For one thing, Elvis received vocal training in the Army and added a full octave to his already impressive vocal range, giving extra heft to his performances of “Make Me Know It” and “Thrill of Your Love.” In fact, “Reconsider Baby” and “Like a Baby” are among the best blues vocals he ever recorded. This is the record that really kicked off the King’s transition from rockabilly teen idol to bonafide adult pop star.

    The post The Best New Vinyl to Spin This August appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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