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

    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: , , , music,   

    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. 2:00 pm on 2018/04/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , music, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This April 

    This month, the Barnes & Noble Vinyl Store adds a ton of great soundtracks, including The Greatest Showman, Lady Bird (a B&N exclusive on cherry red vinyl), and Love, Simon. We’ve also got new records from long-time favorites including Jack White, and new records from all-time greats, like the final live collaboration between jazz legends Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

    The Greatest Showman Original Soundtrack
    You’d expect the soundtrack to a musical about P.T. Barnum to contain some bombast, but The Greatest Showman exceeds even our grandest assumptions. A heady energy is sustained throughout by the impressive cast of singers, including Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron (stellar in “The Other Side”) and fellow cast members Michelle Williams (don’t miss “Tightrope”) and Zendaya (wonderful in “Rewrite the Stars”). The standout track, naturally, is the award-nominated “This Is Me;” singer Keala Settle’s heartfelt, bombastic performance will blow up your speakers.

    Both Sides of the Sky, by Jimi Hendrix
    Most of the track list of this new Hendrix retrospective has never been released, making it a unique piece of the legend’s lore. Produced by Janie Hendrix and Eddie Kramer, this record features a Stephen Stills cameo on “Woodstock,” and Johnny Winters shows up in “Things I Used to Do.” Both tracks are great, but Jimi didn’t need special guests to help him rock out; “Mannish Boy” opens the record with undeniable groove and power, and “Lover Man” is driven by one of Jimi’s best licks, with a surprisingly heavy bridge that beat Black Sabbath to the punch.

    Ultimate Dirty Dancing
    Ultimate Dirty Dancing is a remastered version of the classic 1987 film’s soundtrack, with the tracklist arranged in the order of each song’s appearance. The soundtrack is as much a piece of American pop culture as the movie, featuring a mix of classic 1960s pop like the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Surfaris’ “Wipeout,” and the Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night,” as well as more contemporary tracks. The most famous, of course, is “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” but Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes” was also a big hit. Patrick Swayze even got a song in, performing the quintessentially ’80s ballad “She’s Like the Wind.”

    The Last Jedi Original Soundtrack
    John Williams returns to the composer’s chair for The Last Jedi (because really, who else could have done it?), with predictably fantastic results. Over the course of twenty tracks, Williams controls mood and tension with ease, with clever allusions to both The Force Awakens and Terry Gilliam’s 1985 dystopian film Brazil (referenced in “Canto Bight”). Williams also builds musical identities for interactions between Rey and Luke Skywalker, as well as the Resistance’s escape from the First Order, meaning there are still plenty of surprises to be found in The Last Jedi‘s score. This record is a must-own for soundtrack collectors and Star Wars fans alike.

    I’ll Be Your Girl, by the Decemberists (B&N Exclusive on purple vinyl)
    I’ll Be Your Girl is the Decemberists’ first album in three years, and like a lot of recent pop records, it’s in part a reaction to the 2016 presidential election. Vocalist Colin Meloy describes the album’s mindset as “finding the balance between real rage and humor,” and more generally as a celebration of absurdity. In keeping with that, some of the songs on this record have a synthpop feel that echoes New Order or Depeche Mode, a style at which Meloy and company excel. Lead single “Severed” is a ready-made example; the interplay between the synth melody and Meloy’s voice is pitch perfect.

    Lady Bird Soundtrack (Barnes & Noble Exclusive on cherry red opaque vinyl)
    Film soundtracks (as opposed to scores) have the potential to be more eclectic and interesting than conventional compilation albums, because while each song was chosen for a specific purpose, that purpose isn’t always clear to the listener without the accompanying visuals. Such is the case with Lady Bird; the soundtrack is a delightful romp through several divergent pop genres: Alanis Morrisette (“One Hand In My Pocket”), Reel Big Fish (“Snoop Dog, Baby”), Bone Thugz-N-Harmony (“The Crossroads”), and Dave Matthews Band (“Crash Into Me”) all make appearances, as does Ani DiFranco (“Little Plastic Castle”) and even the Adolf Fredrik Girls Choir (“Panis Angelicus”).

    Love, Simon Original Soundtrack
    The first major studio film centered on gay teenage romance, Love, Simon has the same heart and vulnerability as John Hughes’ teen romcoms of the 1980s, a trait also shared by this film’s soundtrack. Featuring tracks from Bleachers, Troya Sivan, the 1975, and two classics by Whitney Houston and the Jackson 5, the songs reflect the film’s timelessness. Bleachers actually contributes four songs, one of which is the lead single, and their late-’80s/early ’90s pop style is best and most obviously expressed in “Alfie’s Song (Not So Typical Love Song).” Troya Sivan’s quieter, folksier “Strawberries & Cigarettes” is another standout.

    Final Tour: Copenhagen, March 24, 1960, by Miles Davis & John Coltrane 
    The final collaboration between jazz legends Miles Davis and John Coltrane has been pressed onto limited edition red vinyl, and it is glorious. Titled Final Tour: Copenhagen, March 24, 1960, this record captures a 1960 concert in which Davis and Coltrane—backed by pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones—held nothing back. That special, volatile mix of Davis’ skillful melodies and Coltrane’s world-burning solos was once described by critic Ira Gilter as “sheets of sound,” but it’s more than that. Perhaps more than any other two musicians, Davis and Coltrane define the spontaneity and structure of modern jazz, and this record is them at their best.

    Boarding House Reach, by Jack White 
    Jack White’s retro obsessions are well-known to fans of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, but Boarding House Reach is his most modern-sounding record yet. As expected, White is the principal musician here, handling vocals, guitars, drums, organs, and synthesizers, and he produced and co-mixed the record, too. Can’t fault the guy for a lack of ambition. His hard work pays off in a really interesting album, featuring odd vocal flourishes (“Over and Over and Over”), stormy composition, (“Connected By Love”), shades of jazz and funk (“Ice Station Zebra”), and no shortage of catchy, straightforward riffs and synth melodies (“Corporation”).

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

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: a notorious countess confesses, a rogue by any other name, , , , , , , , , Joanna Wylde, , julie anne long, , , , , music, , one good earl deserves a lover, original sinners series, , reaper's legacy, , , slightly wicked, , , , trouble at the wedding, unclaimed, when he was wicked   

    A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation 

    It’s been over a week, we’ve listened to it over a thousand times…and now the moment has come: we’re pairing up romance novels with Taylor Swift’s newest album, reputation!

    “…Ready For It?”

    I immediately thought of Claire and Jamie for this song, so Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is my pick! It’s fast-paced, like their adventures, but also sensual and sexy, like their relationship. “Younger than my exes but he acts like such a man” make sense since Jamie is younger than Frank (and Claire herself) in the series. And of course all the references to islands reminded me of the current Season Three (no spoilers, if you haven’t seen it!)

    “End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran and Future)”

    “Ahh, and I heard about you…you like the bad ones too.” This song is all about a couple whose reputation precedes them, making them probably the least likely to work. “And I bury hatchets but I keep maps of where I put ‘em” made me think of Devon Ravenel of Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas: he’s a rake who lives up to his name. But then he inherits an earldom and must step up to the plate and assume responsibiity for his status—and the honor of the late earl’s three sisters. “You’ve been calling my bluff on all my usual tricks” is what happens when he meets Kathleen, who knows better than to ever fall in love with a man like Devon…except, as the song implies, they both wind up wanting to be one another’s end game.

    “I Did Something Bad”

    Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is about a handsome Bachelor known for having unimpeachable character…who finds himself entangled with a secret courtesan, not the high-bred lady he assumed her to be. “I never trust a playboy, but they love me…” totally embodies Jessica’s character: she’s a woman who knows what she wants, and is willing to do “something bad” in order to get it…like team up with the bachelor’s enemies to take him down in exchange for money. But of course, doing bad things makes you feel oh so good, and Jessica and Mark are no exception to the rule.

    “Don’t Blame Me”

    The moody, rumbling, erotic nature of this song brought one threesome to mind: Nora, Soren, and Kingsley from Tiffany Reisz’ Original Sinners series. “For you, I would cross the line/I would waste my time/I would lose my mind/They say, “She’s gone too far this time…” are definitely words worthy of Nora, preeminent Dominatrix and submissive only to Soren, a Priest she credits with saving her life. And of course, there’s Kingsley, the owner of the BDSM club, Dominant in every way…except when it comes to Soren. “If you walk away/I’d beg you on my knees to stay…” The pulse-pounding romance between these three people over the course of the series is the perfect accompaniment to Taylor’s pining words.

    “Delicate”

    Two people with broken pasts—and reputations that have never been worse, as this song croons—meet and marry for convenience in A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. It’s just business between them: Bourne runs a casino after being stripped of all societal influence a decade ago, and Penelope is just trying to secure her future after a string of failed relationships. But eventually their boundaries start to slip. “Is it cool that I said all that?/’Cause I know that it’s delicate…” That’s contemporary speak for the passion that ignites between this regency couple when they least expect it.

    “Look What You Made Me Do”

    A revenge song needs a worthy book—and I can’t lie, this one made me think about one particular villainess in the 50 Shades Series…Christian Grey’s ex-girlfriend, Leila. “I don’t like your kingdom keys/they once belonged to me…” those words might as well have come out of her mouth in Fifty Shades Darker. We all know that Taylor likes to parody the “man-eater” persona the media has developed for her, but in this case, Leila’s instability was totally real. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”, indeed.

    “So It Goes…”

    This is one of the quieter songs on the album, but with lyrics like “You know I’m not a bad girl/but I do bad things with you” and “I’m so chill, you make me jealous” the book to match needed to have the right balance of sweetness with an undercurrent of passion. Sarah MacLean’s One Good Earl Deserves a Lover totally fits! Pippa is a good girl from a good family who wants nothing more than a quiet life…and the freedom to pursue science. But before she settles down in that life, she wants one little taste of true passion. So she goes to Cross, a notorious gaming hall owner, and proposes an arrangement between them—all in the name of science. But of course, Pippa can’t stay “chill” when it comes to Cross for long.

    “Gorgeous”

    This upbeat song is definitely worthy of a happily ever after! Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked follows the track of the song: a man and woman meet, and sparks fly…the problem—well, in the song it’s that she’s got “a boyfriend, he’s older than us…” but in this book, it’s a betrothal! And to make things worse, the guy she’s marrying is the cousin of the one she falls for. “You’ve ruined my life, by not being mine…” That’s exactly how Michael Stirling feels when she marries the guy anyway. But trust me, there’s a happily ever after waiting for this gorgeous couple.

    “Getaway Car”

    One of my favorite songs on the album spins a story about doomed lovers caught in the aftermath of their betrayal. “Nothing good starts in a getaway car”, the song begins…and the statement rings true in Reaper’s Legacy by Joanna Wylde, except for one thing: you can swap out “car” for “motorcycle”. A love triangle winds its way through the story of Sophie, Zach, and Ruger: Sophie and Zach slept together, resulting in their baby, Noah…but Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving his brother Ruger to pick up the pieces. But living—and loving—a man in a motorcycle club can be dangerous, and even when he tries to provide security for Sophie and her son, the past always finds a way of catching up with a speeding bike. After all, remember what Taylor says: “Us traitors never win…”

    “King of My Heart”

    This song makes specific reference to the “American” identity of the heroine (and of course, there’s been rampant speculation on the British identity behind most of Taylor’s new songs) so for this one I chose Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke, a story about an American falling for a Brit! Annabel does not want true love (just like the heroine of the song, who knows she is “better off being alone,”) but still, she agrees to marry a high-born man with a British title as a way to protect her new, “Southern” estate. The problem? Christian, the Duke of Scarborough, does NOT approve of Annabel’s choice. “Change my priorities/the taste of your lips is my idea of luxury…” And that’s exactly what Christian decides to do: make Annabel fall for him, instead, and become King of Her Heart.

    “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”

    Mary Balogh’s Slightly Wicked is about the ramifications of one reckless, erotic night that you think no one else will ever find out about. When Judith meets Rannulf after an accident with her stagecoach, she indulges in a passion she knows she will soon have to bury. (“First sight, yeah, we love without reason…”) But when he shows up at her aunt’s house, intending to court her cousin, Judith knows her secret will not be kept in the dark for long, especially when she can’t stop her feelings from pouring out. As this song says, “I knew there was no one in the world who could stop us/I had a bad feeling”, and soon enough, Judith and Rannulf are dancing with their hands tied, too.

    “Dress”

    One of the sexiest songs on the album deserves a romance to match. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long made me think of some of the song’s steamiest lyrics, starting with “All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation/My hands are shaking from holding back from you (ah, ah, ah).” Evie is an ambitious actress, and has charmed all of London…until her scandalous marriage goes down in flames. (Sound at all like a familiar narrative?) She escapes the tidal wave of gossip only to find herself tempted once more…by Vicar Adam Sylvaine, a man sworn to piety and prayer. “Even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me…” Soon enough, they can’t stop their passion from overflowing, and the costumes come off to reveal their true hearts to one another.

    “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

    You can finish the title of this romance novel with the title of Taylor’s diss track: If You Deceive…this is why we can’t have nice things! Two people caught at the center of a family feud (aka, a “narrative” they’d like to be excluded from, perhaps?) in the third novel in Kresley Cole’s MacCarrick Brothers series find themselves irrevocably drawn to one another despite the pain and anguish that their families have wrought. “But then you stabbed me in the back while shaking my hand…” What starts as a quest for revenge soon becomes a mission to keep the one thing they both hold dear in this Highland romance.

    “Call It What You Want”

    The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks is a sweet romance with just a tad of high-stakes drama: Bex Porter has a real-life fairytale in the form of Nick, the heir to the throne of England. But just like Taylor Swift, loving a famous person comes with consequences. “All the drama queens takin’ swings/All the jokers dressing up as kings…” is right: between the paparazzi, backstabbers, and family baggage, it’s going to take everything she has to keep their relationship together.

    “New Year’s Day”

    This poignant, piano-based closer is heartfelt and raw with emotion, all about what happens when the glitz and glamour fades and the reality of life sets in….and who will be by your side when it does. “I want your midnights/but I’ll be picking up bottles with you on New Year’s Day…” It’s not a New Year’s story, but that sentiment really reminded me of The Notebook: a love story all about choosing the harder road, but the one that’s ultimately true to who you are.

    What do you think of our pairings?

    The post A Romance Novel for Every Song on Taylor Swift’s reputation appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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

    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.

     
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