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  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2019/04/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , music, , spring fever,   

    15 New Vinyl Releases to Spin This Spring 

    After what felt like an endless winter, spring is finally here! At last, we can put our coats and hoodies away, open our windows, and get some sun on our skin. And since your windows are open, why not put a new record from the Vinyl Store on your turntable and crank up the volume? We’ve got a lot of spring arrivals this year, including new albums from Sara Bareilles, Khalid, the National, and Vampire Weekend, along with new film and Broadway soundtracks and a best of R.E.M. collection. Read on for more, and keep checking in with the Vinyl Store to see what we’re adding to our collection.

    Free Spirit, by Khalid
    Khalid makes quintessential spring music; sunny, chill, and full of good vibes. Free Spirit is his follow-up to debut album American Teen and 2018 EP Sunplay, and his baritenor voice remains just as impressive. His brand of R&B is refreshing, veering neither into celebrity swagger or rainy day melancholia. Even songs that aren’t explicitly positive—“Talk” being a great example—carry an earnest optimism. “Better” and the album’s title track “Free Spirit” are two of the best songs here, and the whole album is perfect for welcoming warm weather.

    Amidst the Chaos, by Sara Bareilles
    When Sara Bareilles isn’t contributing music to Broadway, she’s making great albums of her own. Her latest effort, Amidst the Chaos, is inspired by the 2016 presidential election and cultural developments that followed. “Armor” is a response to #metoo and the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, and “A Safe Place to Land” is about family separations along the U.S.-Mexico border, and features a duet with John Legend. It’s not all sad, though; “No Such Thing” and “If I Can’t Have You” were both written for Barack Obama.

    Dumbo 2019 Soundtrack
    The remake of classic Disney film Dumbo means a redo of the soundtrack as well. That work was trusted to legendary film composer Danny Elfman, whose goal was to give the film a very distinct musical identity. In some cases—as with the film’s main theme—this means simpler compositions than one might expect from Elfman, driven by his belief that Dumbo is a simple story. Elfman’s intuition results in a dynamic soundtrack that is in turns playful and sinister; the differences between the playful woodwinds and timpani in “Meet the Family” and the tense strings in “Holt in Action” are startling.

    Begin Again, by Norah Jones
    Begin Again is album number seven for the multi-talented Norah Jones, and it might be the most fun one yet. Jones told Rolling Stone that her intentions for this album were “quick and fun and easy and low-pressure,” so she kept her songwriting process spontaneous and didn’t spend more than three days on any of the seven tracks here, including recording time. Consequently, these songs are looser than her previous albums, and frankly it’s something she should do often. The title track is ultra-catchy and driven by a simple piano melody, and the guitar in “A Song With No Name” is downright relaxing, despite its somewhat chilling lyrics.

    Stages Live (CD/DVD), by Josh Groban
    Originally recorded for PBS in late 2015, Stages Live features Josh Groban doing what he does best: singing hits from the Broadway stage. Josh’s voice is in particularly good form on “Bring Him Home,” “Over the Rainbow,” and our personal favorite, “Pure Imagination.” While this album is missing a couple of songs from the studio album Stages, it does come with a DVD of the entire live performance, featuring duets with Kelly Clarkson (“All I Ask of You,”) and Audra McDonald (“If I Loved You”). Through it all, Groban’s unparalleled diction and range allow him to connect emotionally with every song.

    In Time: The Best of R.E.M., by R.E.M.
    Originally released in 2003, this collection starts with R.E.M.’s 1988 album Green and ends at their 2001 album Reveal. Alongside obvious favorites like “Losing My Religion,” “Everybody Hurts,” “Stand,” and “Man on the Moon” are less-appreciated songs like “All the Right Friends” (from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack) and “E-Bow the Letter.” In Time offers a solid overview of R.E.M.’s impressive legacy as a band and demonstrates why they were one of alt rock’s breakthrough bands. Their sound, built on jangly guitars and Michael Stipe’s folk-music voice, holds up beautifully.

    Father of the Bride, by Vampire Weekend
    Singer and lead guitarist Ezra Koenig said he was aiming for a springtime vibe with this album, and he wasn’t kidding. “Harmony Hall” has a real Grateful Dead-Meets-Paul Simon feel to it, and fans of Cornershop will love “Unbearably White,” whose title might be a cheeky reference to the most common criticism of the band. But “Sunflower” is the clear standout, opening with a guitar riff that will get stuck in your head for weeks, and featuring a bubbly tempo that compliments the equally bubbly lyrics. Play this one with the windows open.

    We Get By, by Mavis Staples
    Mavis Staples has been performing rhythm and blues, with a heavy emphasis on blues, since the late 1960s, so it comes as no surprise that she’s really good at it. Her upcoming album We Get By was produced by Ben Harper (who also wrote the songs), and will hit shelves around her 80th birthday. For someone who jokes about being over the hill, Staples sings with more gusto and conviction than most younger blues singers, and keeps the music stripped down to the essentials. “Change,” the album’s lead single, is both powerful and simple, with a roadhouse guitar lick and catchy backup singers underscoring Staples’ own smooth, gutsy vocals.

    12 Little Spells, by Esperanza Spalding
    Jazz savant and Harvard professor Esperanza Spalding’s newest album furthers her reputation as a furnace of ambition; each song is meant to correspond with a part of the human body, and they all have their own videos. But don’t worry, this record more than holds up on its own. Jazz is often used as background music these days, but Spalding’s freewheeling, intellectually stimulating compositions require the listener’s full attention. To borrow a phrase from Paste Magazine, this is not “dinner jazz.” What it is, however, is really good, especially the tracks “Thang,” “Until the Next Full,” and “The Longing Deep Down.”

    Aladdin Soundtrack
    Disney’s remake of its 1994 classic Aladdin doesn’t just have an updated soundtrack, it has two completely new songs. Alan Menken and the songwriting duo Pasek & Paul (of La La Land fame) wrote a new duet for Aladdin and Jasmine, and a solo for Jasmine titled “Speechless.” They’ve also updated “Arabian Nights” and “Friend Like Me,” which has been altered to suit Will Smith’s comedic style. They’ve certainly got big shoes to fill—the original soundtrack is beloved for good reason—but the new voices of Aladdin and Jasmine (Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott, respectively) are incredible, and Smith is as effortlessly charming as ever.

    I Am Easy To Find, by the National
    I Am Easy to Find is the National’s eighth studio album, and their most ambitious in two ways, Not only is it their longest effort to date, it’s a companion piece to a short film that will be released alongside the record. It’s also another impressive take on college rock by a band that has basically mastered it; the somber lyrics and interesting composition make these songs more fun and spring-appropriate than one might expect. They’ve also picked some mega-talented female guest vocalists, including longtime David Bowie collaborator Gail Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan, who supplies Blue Diamond’s voice on Steven Universe.

    Living Mirage, by The Head and The Heart
    Seattle-based folk band The Head and The Heart are set to release Living Mirage this May, and without cofounder Josiah Johnson. In his absence, the band has spiced up their tried-and-true folk sensibility with flourishes of pop; the album’s lead single, “Missed Connection,” adds piano and even synth to the mix. If this song reminds you of the Killers, or even Toto, you aren’t the only one. The album’s title track, on the other hand, holds tighter to the band’s traditional folk sound, albeit with peppier and more prominent drums. The band has said that this album is about change and rebirth, making it perfect for spring.

    California Son, by Morrissey
    Morrissey takes on hits and obscurities from the 1960s and ’70s on his upcoming covers album California Son. His version of Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” has already been praised by Orbison’s son, which makes sense given Morrissey’s vocal style and rockabilly roots. Other tracks on this unique album include Bob Dylan’s “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” protest singer Phil Ochs’ “Days of Decisions,” and in a real treat for rock music obsessives, Jobriath’s “Morning Starship.” It’s not just Morrissey on this record, either; guest vocalists include Petra Haden, Sameer Gadhia, and Billie Joe Armstrong, among others.

    40, by Stray Cats
    Rockabilly revivalists the Stray Cats haven’t released a new album in over two decades, but after a handful of shows celebrating the band’s 40th anniversary, they jumped back in the studio and recorded twelve new songs, all originals. The album’s first single, “Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me),” is as playful and bouncy as their classic material, complete with a full-blast Setzer guitar solo to remind us how good rockabilly can be. Even more impressive is the band’s chemistry; after all those years apart, they sound like they never stopped touring together. When you listen to this record, so will your neighbors.

    Come From Away Soundtrack
    Newfoundland isn’t often the setting of musicals, but Come From Away isn’t most musicals. It tells the strange and compelling story of what happened when 9/11 led to the forced landing of thirty-eight international aircraft in Gander, a small town whose population was doubled by the sudden influx of displaced passengers. The soundtrack is more infectious and fun than the subject matter would suggest; the Irish flourishes in “Blankets and Bedding” are a welcome surprise, and “Me and the Sky” will make any listener consider becoming a pilot. “Something’s Missing” is the soundtrack’s tearjerker, in which the passengers and airline staff confront the aftermath of 9/11.

    The post 15 New Vinyl Releases to Spin This Spring appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Brian Boone 2:00 pm on 2019/02/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , imaginary music, , juliet naked, music, , , , show crash, the crying of lot 49, the ground beneath her feet,   

    Fictional Musicians From Novels That We Wish Were Real 

    You can’t read music. Okay, maybe you can read music, in the sense that you can look at sheet music or a score and your use your brain to translate that into what the song would sound like if played on instruments. But you can’t read music—as in, you can’t write about a band and fully express to the reader exactly what that band’s sound is like. It’s like that famous quote, attributed to everyone from Steve Martin to Elvis Costello—writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

    But still, dozens of novelists have peppered their prose with rock bands and singers, musicians who figure prominently in the plot and whose music is described either in passing or in great detail. These musicians are fictional, and so is their music, so it’s up to the theater (or radio) of the mind to imagine what those bands happen to sound like. Some seem so fantastic (or compelling in some way) that we wish they’d jump off the page and rock us until our heads explode.

    The Paranoids, from The Crying of Lot 49
    Like most Thomas Pynchon novels, The Crying of Lot 49 is often baffling and inscrutable, but not so much the parts that are explicitly about rock music. Those bits are among the most wacky things Pynchon ever did, approaching Weird Al levels of straightforward, easy-to-digest parody. Central to this is the Paranoids, a band matched only by Oasis in its Beatles-ness. Like the Fab Four, they get heavy into drugs and play songs everybody digs. (Unlike the Beatles, they’re American…but speak in English accents anyway.) However, it’s another band in the novel, Sick Dick and the Volkswagens, responsible for the greatest unheard Beatles rip-off of all time: “I Want to Kiss Your Feet,” an obvious send-up of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

    Tucker Crowe, from Juliet, Naked
    Nick Hornby writes about music so well, particularly in High Fidelity, and Juliet, Naked, which is really a novel about the pathological ownership fans take over the art they love. The impact of the story would actually be diminished if we could hear the songs recorded by reclusive, brilliant singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe, either his classic album, Juliet, or the sparse demos, Juliet, Naked. The novel tells the tale of Duncan, a Crowe superfan who gets awfully miffed when the object of his obsession strikes up a friendship with Annie, his girlfriend…who wrote the only online review of Juliet, Naked that isn’t full of fawning praise. Is Tucker Crowe as good as Duncan thinks? Or is he as adequate as Annie claims?

    VTO, from The Ground Beneath Her Feet
    It’s unfortunate that Salman Rushdie is most widely known for The Satanic Verses, a novel that led to a fatwa on his head, because he’s one of our most gifted, idiosyncratic, and varied, contemporary writers. His writing is so surreal at times that it becomes insightfully real, exemplified by The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It’s the story of a rock band, but not a real rock band, and one that also inserts a great deal of fevered mythology (it’s based on the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice). Indian group VTO is the Beatles of this alternate universe of Rushdie’s creation, the most famous and most successful band in the world, probably because their frontman is the unbelievably powerful Ormus, whose style combines nods to real-life stars like John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and Freddie Mercury.

    Vitaly Chernobyl and the Meltdowns, from Snow Crash
    In his 1992 cyberpunk classic, author Neal Stephenson envisions a world where society, governments, and currencies have collapsed and corporations have taken control in the subsequent power vacuum. The declining importance of borders creates a pleasing blurring of musical forms, such as the “Ukrainian nuclear fuzz-grunge” perpetuated by a spiky-haired L.A. punk who calls himself Vitaly Chernobyl. That would suggest that songs like “My Heart is a Smoking Hole in the Ground” might sound like a chaotic combination of Nirvana, Daft Punk, and John Coltrane.

    Löded Diper, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
    A recurring presence in Jeff Kinney’s monstrously popular Diary of Wimpy Kid series, Löded Diper is the garage band fronted by Rodrick Hefley, odious, obnoxious older brother of wimpy diarist Greg. Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been going since the 2000s, long after the kind of aggro, head-banging, Quiet Riot-esque hard rock that is the provenance of Löded Diper fell out of favor, but it serves to show just how off-putting Rodrick can be. What’s more “big brothery” than a big brother’s terrible, guitar-ruining heavy metal band waking up the neighbors? Besides, Löded Diper know what it takes to rock: merciless noise, black T-shirts, scowls, a van, and, of course umlauts.


    What fictional band do you wish were real?

    The post Fictional Musicians From Novels That We Wish Were Real appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Dave K. 8:00 pm on 2018/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: , , music, ,   

    10 Albums to Pick Up During Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Weekend 

    Vinyl Weekend is coming to Barnes & Noble! November 16–18, there will be tons of deals on vinyl and vinyl accessories at many Barnes & Noble locations (check with your local store), as well as dozens of new, exclusive albums for sale in store and online. Below is just a sampling of what we’ll have in the Vinyl Store, including albums from Cher, Josh Groban, Elle King, and Mumford & Sons, as well as classic film soundtracks. So mark it on your calendar and get your holiday shopping done early at Barnes & Noble!

    Bridges, by Josh Groban              
    Groban wrote Bridges right after spending a year on Broadway, as Pierre in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Groban was clearly energized by his time onstage, and it helped to inspire a lovely, uplifting record. Along with songs like “Symphony,” “River,” and “Won’t Look Back,” Groban duets with Sarah McLachlan on “Run” and Andrea Bocelli on “We Will Meet Once Again.” He also delivers marvelous performances of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “S’il suffisait d’aimer,” a song originally written for Celine Dion.

    Love, by Michael Bublé
    Love, romantic and otherwise, is the cornerstone of the holiday season, and Bublé has devoted an entire album to songs about it. On this album, a perfect gift pick this holiday season, his song selections include Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” and two songs from the 1937 musical Babes in Arms: “My Funny Valentine” and “Where or When.”Bublé has two writing credits of his own on this album: “Forever Now,” and “Love You Anymore,” a song he cowrote with singer and YouTube star Charlie Puth.

    Dancing Queen, by Cher
    Following her appearance in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cher has recorded an album of ABBA covers. Not only did Dancing Queen provide her highest debut sales week in the U.S., it also debuted at number one on the US Top Album Sales chart, a career first for the artist. What surprised us about this album is how long it took to happen; Cher and ABBA were made for each other, and Cher’s husky contralto voice breathes new life into songs like “SOS,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” “Fernando,” and of course the title track. Definitely pick this one up for the holidays—it’s perfect for parties.

    Delta, by Mumford & Sons              
    Marcus Mumford’s always been ambitious, but he had big plans for what he wanted Delta to accomplish. Recorded as a freewheeling, collaborative effort with as many as one hundred other musicians (not all of whom appear on the record), Delta draws on the core band’s shared exhaustion with touring and aims to be more introspective and reflective, but also has more musical elements (namely electronica and rap) than previous Mumford albums. There’s a lot going on with this record, and it’s a balancing act that the group handles with aplomb. Their lead single from this record, “Guiding Light,” is proof of that.

    Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert           
    Earlier this year NBC produced a live telecast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, and now the Vinyl Store has that cast’s complete performance. While the musical is a classic, many haven’t heard much of it beyond hit song “Superstar,” and may be surprised by how funky these songs really are. “Heaven on Their Minds” has an explosive power, and that goes double for “Damned for All Time/Blood Money.” On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, the show’s most tender ballad, “I Don’t Know to Love Him,” is sung beautifully by Sara Bareilles.

    Carousel Original Soundtrack             
    Once hailed by Time Magazine as the best musical of the 20th century, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is indeed a classic, and we’re proud to offer it on vinyl. Even if you’re not a musical theater fanatic, you’re probably familiar with “If I Loved You,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” but the whole soundtrack is well worth your time. Hammerstein himself said that Carousel was the best show he ever wrote, and it’s easy to see why. The lush orchestration and clever lyrics throughout Carousel are timeless.

    Shake the Spirit, by Elle King                               
    Elle King’s second album is more musically curious than her debut, which makes sense; once she established it, it was only natural before an artist as talented as King would step outside her comfort zone . With her loud, soulful voice as a unifying element, King blends a soulful hard rock sound with 1960s spy movie balladry and old-school girl group swagger, and it all works. “Shame” and “Naturally Pretty Girls” occupy the rougher end of the spectrum, and “Good Thing Gone” calms things down a bit with a slower tempo and more vocal harmonies. Regardless of style, King never loses the smoky allure that makes her music so satisfying to listen to.

    Harry Potter Original Soundtracks by John Williams: The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban   
    The first three films in the Harry Potter film franchise—The Sorcerer’s Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban—were scored by acclaimed film composer John Williams, and now the original soundtracks of all three are on sale in our Vinyl Store! Williams’ work is already known for its versatility, and these soundtracks gave him (and the London Symphony Orchestra) a lot of room to swing between whimsy, discovery, gloom, and tension. And, as expected, his character pieces are immediately recognizable.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Original Soundtrack 
    While John Williams composed the first three Harry Potter film soundtracks, schedule conflicts prevented him from continuing the work. The reins for the fourth film in the Harry Potter series were passed to Scottish composer Patrick Doyle, a regular collaborator with Kenneth Branagh who proved himself very capable of stepping into Williams’ shoes. He and the London Symphony Orchestra contributed new major themes to the franchise, including the chilling, intense “Voldemort” and the surprisingly moving “Death of Cedric,” which has become an emotional touchstone for Potterheads.

    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Original Soundtrack 
    The Harry Potter film series switched directors again for the fifth installment, as composer Nicholas Hooper stepped in, recording this soundtrack at the legendary Abbey Road Studio in London. Hooper’s contributions to the Harry Potter soundscape include specific themes representing Dolores Umbridge and the possession of Harry’s mind by Lord Voldemort, as well as the use of a Japanese Taiko drum to liven up the percussion. Hooper’s decision to emulate John Williams’ work as little as possible makes this film score a unique, and excellent, part of the Potterverse, and one well worth picking up on vinyl.

    The post 10 Albums to Pick Up During Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Weekend appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 3:30 pm on 2018/11/12 Permalink
    Tags: behind the music, , gift guides 2018, justin timberlake, music, , roger daltrey   

    6 Musical Memoirs for Fans of All Stripes 

    There are no fans like music fans, and this fall, several gorgeous new books have arrived in which some of the most iconic musical legends of our time (and all time) tell their own stories. From a classic crooner to stars of hip hop and beyond, there are gifts to be had for music fans of all stripes.

    Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Justin Timberlake
    JT is practically pop royalty at this point, with legions of fans who grew up with the idol. In his first book, he’s assembled anecdotes and candid observations about his life and work, and paired them with hundreds of photographs from his own personal archives, spanning the years from his very early days to the present, onstage and off. The Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition includes an additional 16 pages of photographs.

    Beastie Boys Book, by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz
    Mike D and ADROCK are joined by Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and many more friends and fans to tell the story of a deeply unlikely hip hop superstars. Over the course of three decades, the band members evolved from teenage punks to world class rappers under the tutelage of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, producing the first #1 hip hop record before evolving their style and breaking genre rules in later years. This isn’t just a band biography, though: alongside photos and illustrations, it also includes recipes, a graphic novel, maps, playlists, and much more.  It’s as wildly eclectic as the band itself, and the perfect gift for fans.

    Tony Bennett Onstage and in the Studio, by Tony Bennett, Dick Golden, Danny Bennett, and Michael Bublé
    The greatest of all time? Maybe. With a career spanning almost seven decades, Bennett somehow seems to keep getting cooler. He celebrates the entirety of his life in music in this lavish book, going into detail about his influences and experiences from his own point of view, as well as through the eyes of celebrated friends and colleagues. More than 140 images illustrate the book, including memorabilia, personal notes, album covers and artwork, and photographs of Tony at work. It’s the ultimate gift for a Bennett fan. (And who isn’t one?)

    My Love Story, by Tina Turner
    Suffering a health crisis after her 2013 wedding, Turner found herself with the time and inclination to reflect on her life so far. And it’s been some life: from a Tennessee childhood, to tours of St. Louis nightclubs as she got her feet wet as a performer, to her experiences during the turbulent ’60s, years during which she found mainstream success—and also found herself in a famously abusive relationship. Of course, that was only the beginning. Here, the rock icon tells, in her own words, the fascinating story of the tragedies and triumphs of her life and music career.

    Just Kids Illustrated Edition (Signed Book), by Patti Smith
    A chance encounter in 1967 set poet and singer Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe on a path that made them legends. At a critical time and place, the two developed their individual styles of art from the legendary, infamous Chelsea Hotel. This new edition of her already classic memoir includes new images from iconic photographer’s collection alongside a new introduction from Smith herself. Signed copies make for the ultimate gift.

    Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite: My Story, by Roger Daltrey
    Roger Daltrey’s memoir is everything a Who fan could hope for. It’s the life story of Daltrey, sure, and it’s full of music, and mayhem, and more than a few trashed hotel rooms. As the founder and lead singer of one of the bands that defined rock ‘n’ roll in the ’60s, his stories are, like the era, nothing if not over the top. Fortunately, Daltrey is also a wry, witty, and patient observer of his own life and orbit, and as he takes us from an impoverished childhood during the Blitz to the Who’s inception and beyond, the singer proves as great at storytelling as he was at living through great stories.

    What’s on the gift list for your favorite music fan?

    The post 6 Musical Memoirs for Fans of All Stripes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Dave K. 2:00 pm on 2018/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , easy listening, music,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This September 

    Summer’s winding to a close and the weather is (eventually) cooling down, but our vinyl selection is just heating up! A lot of collector’s edition vinyl is hitting the Vinyl Store’s shelves in September, including exclusive colored vinyl pressings of new albums by Paul Simon and Paul McCartney and a special pressing of Joan Baez’s 1960 debut. In addition, we have new records coming in from Carrie Underwood, Willie Nelson, and much more! Keep checking back every month to see what’s new at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store.

    Cry Pretty, by Carrie Underwood 
    Cry Pretty is Carrie Underwood’s sixth album, but it’s very much an album of firsts: it’s her first album with Capitol Records Nashville, and her first time coproducing an album. Her performance of the album’s title track at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards received much critical praise and topped the Digital Songs chart the week it was released, another first for Underwood. So yeah, she’s gotta be feeling pretty good about this record’s potential, and we don’t blame her. “Cry Pretty” is a soulful, dynamic song about not being able to hide one’s emotions forever, and it sets the stage for what’s sure to be Carrie’s best record yet.

    My Way, by Willie Nelson 
    It’s hard to imagine two people as different as Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson being friends, but they shared a mutual respect and admiration Willie expresses on My Way, his new album of Sinatra covers. As it turns out, Nelson’s freewheeling vocal delivery is a great fit for these songs, proving the pliancy of the Great American Songbook; no matter who sings them, or how, they still resonate. “Summer Wind” is particularly well-suited to Nelson’s playful singing style, and the unashamed, confident lyrics of “My Way” apply to him perhaps even more than Sinatra. Nelson also duets with Norah Jones on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” in a fantastic pairing.

    Joan Baez, by Joan Baez 
    There aren’t a lot of debut albums preserved by the Library of Congress, so that should tell you something about Joan Baez’s first record, pressed onto red vinyl as a Barnes & Noble exclusive. Released in 1960, it gave the era’s burgeoning folk revival a major shot in the arm; not only was Joan decades younger than most other female folkies at that time, she had an incredible soprano voice that, frankly, blew everyone else out of the water. The pitch and vocal clarity of “Silver Dagger” and “Little Moses” are unreal, and her take on “House of the Rising Sun” might be the best of all time.

    Chicago Plays The Stones
    Modern Chicago blues musicians take on the Rolling Stones on this unique album, which demonstrates how much the Stones’ music took from, and gave back to, the blues community. Chicago-based blues troupe The Living History Band play twelve Stones songs recomposed in classic Chicago blues fashion, meaning there’s plenty of harmonica, muddy guitars, and roadhouse bump ‘n’ grind tempos to be found here. Buddy Guy duets with Mick Jagger on “Heartbreaker,” while Keith Richards pairs up with Jimmy Burns for “Beast of Burden.” Billy Branch’s smooth, seductive cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” is this album’s highlight, and proves the true versatility of blues music.

    In the Blue Light, by Paul Simon 
    Pressed onto blue vinyl as a Barnes & Noble exclusive, In the Blue Light revisits ten of Simon’s favorite songs from his 50-year career. Not only does Simon revisit these songs, he rewrites them, freshening up the compositions and arrangements with the help of chamber ensemble yMusic, the National’s Bryce Dessner, and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, among others. With help like that, making a great album looks pretty easy, and Simon makes it seem even easier: every track on this record succeeds. Our personal favorites are his new takes on “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor,” “René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War,” and “Some Folks’ Lives Roll Easy.”

    Egypt Station, by Paul McCartney 
    Named after one of his own paintings, Egypt Station is Sir Paul’s first album of new music in five years, and is being sold on red vinyl exclusively through Barnes & Noble. Wanting to make an album with a cohesive feel, McCartney (and producers Ryan Tedder and Greg Kurstin) modeled Egypt Station after a long but pleasant train journey, with many unique stops along the way to a specific destination. There are ballads (“I Don’t Know”) and meditative acoustic numbers (“Happy With You”) alongside the kind of pop-rock McCartney is famous for (“Come on to Me,” “People Want Peace”), before ending on the adventurous, multi-movement “Despite Repeated Warnings.”

    Love is Here to Stay, by Tony Bennett & Diana Krall 
    Tony Bennett seems determined to release an album with everyone on Earth, and his latest project is a collaboration with Diana Krall; together, they sing the music of the Gershwins on Love Is Here to Stay. Pressed onto opaque red vinyl as a collector’s item sold exclusively through Barnes & Noble, this album has solo tracks from both Bennett and Krall, but the duets are where Love Is Here to Stay really shines. In particular, “S’Wonderful,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me, “My One and Only,” and “I’ve Got A Crush on You” are outstanding. “Fascinating Rhythm” is another standout, and was also the song that began Bennett’s career in the first place.

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

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