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  • Dave K. 7:03 pm on 2017/05/31 Permalink
    Tags: , , , music, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This June 

    June is a big month here at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store! First of all, this year marks the 20th anniversary of Radiohead’s career-changing album OK Computer, and a special vinyl release has been prepared for the occasion. We’ve also got exclusive records from rock legend Chuck Berry (pressed on limited edition white vinyl) and gospel/pop legend Mavis Staples, plus new records from Sheryl Crow, the Chainsmokers, Halsey, and Lorde. Jump headfirst into summer with these records, and keeping checking back for more additions to the Vinyl Store!

    Melodrama, by Lorde
    Lorde joins a handful of her pop music peers in releasing a concept album, Melodrama, as her sophomore effort. The album tells the story of a house party, and is also an album about being alone and Lorde’s own post-adolescence. Her growth as an artist was expressed in Melodrama‘s lead single, the surprising piano ballad “Liability,” which replaces the drums and glowing synth of her previous album with minimal production to emphasize her shaky, but still powerful, voice. The other lead single, “Green Light,” starts out with just piano, but blossoms into perky, jangly pop that sounds a lot like Florence and the Machine.

    Memories…Do Not Open, by the Chainsmokers
    For all the press the Chainsmokers have been getting, you might be surprised to learn that Memories…Do Not Open is their first proper full-length album. You’ll also be surprised by how much of a departure it is from the EDM-pop they’ve released prior to this. A lot of the songs on Memories are smooth, mid-tempo ballads, with lyrics focused more on selfishness and regret than partying. Fortunately, the Chainsmokers adapt well to this alteration in their sound, and prove to be just as accessible in collaborations with Coldplay (“Something Just Like This”) as with their standard dance material (“Break Up Every Night”).

    Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack
    The soundtrack for the 2017 live action Beauty and the Beast film revitalizes the original 1991 score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, adding some new songs and celebrity voices. Kevin Kline’s performance on “How Does a Moment Last Forever (Music Box)” is as charming as you’d expect, as is the combination of Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Ian McKellen on “Be My Guest.” Celine Dion also contributes on “How Does a Moment Last Forever,” paying tribute to what that song did for her career. The best track on this record, though, is Ariana Grande and John Legend’s modern take on “Beauty and the Beast.”

    Be Myself, by Sheryl Crow
    If you were worried Sheryl Crow’s detour into country music was permanent, don’t worry; Be Myself is a return to her 1990s sound, with just enough Nashville soul in the mix to keep things groovy. The production is slick without sounding fake, and Crow’s lyrics are refreshingly honest and mature. The band backing her up is no joke, and may remind you of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Letter” era in how tight and polished they are. The rhythm of “Halfway There” will have you dancing before you know what hit you, and “Heartbeat Away” builds into a punchy chorus with a fun, and surprisingly sleazy, blues guitar sound.

    I’ll Take You There, by Mavis Staples
    I’ll Take You There was an all-star concert staged to honor the career of singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. As one of the original Staple Singers, Mavis was part of the most influential gospel group in American music history, and became a voice of the civil rights movement as well. Her music influenced every performer on this concert recording, including Keb’ Mo’, the recently departed Gregg Allman, Eric Church, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Joan Osborne, Widespread Panic, and Bonnie Raitt. And, of course, there’s Mavis Staples herself, who still manages to outshine them all.

    Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, by Halsey
    Halsey’s brand of catchy electropop is inspired by alternative rock (Brand New, Panic! At the Disco, Nirvana) and hip-hop (Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Slick Rick), so you’ll find elements of both in her upcoming album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. Much like her previous record, Badlands, this is a concept album, one that tells the story of two lovers in a futuristic limbo. Concept albums are usually an established artist’s excuse to experiment, but Halsey is using this one to prove she can write radio-friendly pop. Judging by the strength of the album’s two singles, “Now or Never” and “Strangers,” she definitely can.

    Chuck, by Chuck Berry
    The late Chuck Berry’s final album, Chuck, could have been written at the height of his popularity in the 1950s, when he practically fell to Earth from outer space with a style all his own. Berry’s approach to songwriting, his riffs, and even his voice hadn’t changed much since that era. This is a good thing, because while most of his peers were putting out albums full of covers, Chuck is full of new songs, like “Big Boys,” “Wonderful Woman,” and “Lady B. Goode,” which references his biggest hit. And while Chuck was never known as a great bandleader, his band on this album—which included his children, Chuck, Jr., and Ingrid Berry—was top notch.

    OK Computer (20th Anniversary), by Radiohead
    Before OK Computer, which came out two decades ago, Radiohead was one of many seemingly interchangeable post-grunge bands with introspective lyrics and sluggish guitars. OK Computer changed all that, setting a new, more experimental and atmospheric path for the band’s career and influencing more artists than their previous record, The Bends, ever could have. Songs like “Paranoid Android” and “Karma Police” were not only longer than traditional rock singles, they had weird, abstract lyrics and layered production that few of the band’s fans (or anyone else) saw coming. As both a pop music artifact and a predictor of 21st-century indie music trends, this album lives up to the hype.

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

     
  • Dave K. 5:00 pm on 2017/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: glam rock, music, ,   

    5 Glam Rock Records For Vinyl Fans 

    Summer’s around the corner and our music tastes are getting brighter, sunnier, and louder—and few things fit those descriptors better than glam rock! Beneath all the glitter, animal print, and makeup, glam is a fun, infectious mix of rockabilly, bubblegum pop, campy art rock, and punk. Whether you’re looking for rebellion or just an excuse to be flamboyant, glam rock is perfect, and these five records will get you started.

    Too Much Too Soon, by the New York Dolls
    The New York Dolls are arguably the poster children for glam, and their first album is hailed as both a glam rock classic and as a seedling of punk rock. However, their second album, Too Much Too Soon, saw the band improve on production and recording quality from their previous, self-titled album. Too Much Too Soon is not only a raw, lean album, it’s in many ways their best. “Babylon” and “Puss ‘N Boots” have that big, obvious rock ‘n’ roll swagger that even the Rolling Stones would envy, and guitarist Johnny Thunders performs lead vocals on “Chatterbox,” signaling his later solo career. Their cover of the Cadets’ “Stranded in the Jungle” is really fun, too.

    When Slade Rocked the World, by Slade
    A favorite of British rockers and Dr. Who fans alike, Slade was a legitimate phenomenon in the UK, selling more singles than any other British group in the 1970s. They were also the first British band to have three singles start at number one. This box set includes four of the band’s best records (Slade Alive!, Slayed?, Old New Borrowed And Blue, and Slade In Flame) and sheds some light (especially for American fans who may have never heard of them) on why they were so popular. Not only was their music unpretentious and punchy, with great riffs and Noddy Holder’s double-barrel vocals, but the band didn’t take themselves too seriously, either. This one’s a must-own.

    Roxy Music, by Roxy Music
    Specializing in the artier side of glam, Roxy Music’s self-titled debut finally brought the sexy and nerdy sides of rock music, and specifically glam rock, together. The band made their eclectic tastes known immediately with this album, from the piano intro and wild saxophone bleats in “Re-Make/Re-mode” to the moonlike synth effects in “Ladytron.” Every song is laced with musical inside jokes and self-effacing lyrics, making the band’s music as stylish as their dandy aesthetics. If nothing else, Roxy Music reminds us we don’t have to be lunkheads in tight pants to enjoy rock ‘n’ roll. There’s room for intellectuals to have a good time with it, too.

    Strung Up, by Sweet
    Sweet, best known for the song “Ballroom Blitz,” is a band that gets underestimated a lot. Their early chart success is credited almost entirely to their songwriters, and their decline is blamed on the band simply not having the goods. The live recordings on Strung Up should put the latter notion to rest for good; however fast Sweet’s fall from grace may have been, they were a killer live act. The guitar has plenty of guts and the rhythm section is probably the meatiest you’ll hear in glam rock, especially on tracks like “Done Me Wrong All Right.” And as good as that is, “Burning/Someone Else Will” is even better, performed with a growling, undeniable sexual charm.

    16 and Savaged, by Silverhead
    Silverhead doesn’t get much press these days, and when they do, it’s usually to point out that singer Michael Des Barres also played the Murdoc character on MacGuyver. However, they were a really solid glam band who released two albums, 16 and Savaged being their second. What makes this album so great is guitarist Robbie Blunt, who would go on to work with Robert Plant. Blunt’s riffs are the centerpiece of the band’s lean, tight approach to glam, and they compliment Des Barres’ sleazy-Rod-Stewart voice perfectly. The two best tracks on this record are the opener, “Hello New York,” and the explosive “Bright Light,” which builds into a chaotic rager that sounds almost Zeppelin-esque.

    The post 5 Glam Rock Records For Vinyl Fans appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Dave K. 7:40 pm on 2017/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , music, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May 

    May is a big month here at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store, with new albums from Diana Krall, the Afghan Whigs, Zac Brown Band, Sheryl Crow, and the Chainsmokers, plus the solo debut of One Direction’s Harry Styles. We’ve also got a special vinyl edition of the Bob’s Burgers Music Album, plus a vinyl pressing of George Michael’s underrated second album and more.

    Turn Up the Quiet, by Diana Krall
    For this collection of timeless standards from the Great American Songbook, Diana Krall recorded with three different groups: a traditional jazz trio, a traditional jazz quintet, and a quintet with a fiddle player. The musicians’ familiarity with Krall and each other is immediately apparent, giving this album an intimacy that’s perfect for vinyl. As for the songs, Krall reminds us why her place in the modern jazz singer pantheon is secure with sultry vocal performances. In particular, her version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” is worth the price of the record by itself, and “Blue Skies” has a smoky bassline and minimalist guitar work that blends perfectly with the piano.

    In Spades, by The Afghan Whigs
    In Spades is the much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Do to the Beast, and the Whigs’ first album since guitarist Dave Rosser was diagnosed with cancer. The band calls this album “spooky,” saying it explores the concept of memory, with the same melancholy, introspective tone as much of their previous work. The album’s two lead singles, “Demon in Profile” and “Arabian Heights,” are great, with “Demon” starting off as a moody piano/vocals duet before surging into the Whig’s trademark soulful rock. “Heights,” meanwhile, has great rising and falling composition guided by drummer Patrick Keeler’s complex percussion.

    The Bob’s Burgers Music Album
    Fans of Bob’s Burgers rejoice! The songs you love from the Fox animated series are finally getting a proper vinyl release, and it is glorious. Just about every quirky tunes from the show is included here, from Linda Belcher’s spontaneous (and often strange) songs to family musical numbers and montage songs. Highlights are the Tori Amos parody “Oil Spill,” Gene Belcher’s “The Snake Song,” the Winnie the Pooh-esque “Butts, Butts, Butts,” and our absolute favorite, “Lifting Up the Skirt of the Night.” Not only is the vinyl pressing of this record a Barnes & Noble exclusive, it comes with an autographed poster as well.

    Welcome Home, by Zac Brown Band
    Welcome Home gets its name from the band’s ambitions with this album. Known for their wide range of influences, many expected the Zac Brown Band to stick with the direction of their previous album, Jekyll & Hyde. However, they wanted to return to their folk/country roots, and even the strictest country purists will be pleased with the results. The first single, “My Old Man,” is a perfect example of what to expect here. Simple but effective guitar melodies drive a soft, sentimental song about fatherhood. “Real Thing” takes a similar approach to describing how it feels to hear one’s favorite song for the first time, and does an admirable job of it.

    Be Myself, by Sheryl Crow
    If you were worried Sheryl Crow’s detour into country music was permanent, don’t be; Be Myself is a return to her 1990s sound, with just enough Nashville soul in the mix to keep things groovy. The production is slick without sounding fake, and Crow’s lyrics are refreshingly honest and mature. The band backing her up is no joke, and may remind you of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Letter” era in how tight and polished they are. The rhythm of “Halfway There” will have you dancing before you know what hit you, and “Heartbeat Away” builds into a punchy chorus with a fun, and surprisingly sleazy, blues guitar sound.

    Listen Without Prejudice, by George Michael
    The late George Michael’s second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice, is most often remembered as the basis for Michael suing his record label for lack of support. That’s a shame, because Michael wanted to show fans he was capable of writing more than pop dance music, and this record proved him right. There’s still some prototypical dance pop present here—“Freedom” and “Soul Free” are bangers even today—but the lead single, “Praying for Time,” is slower, acoustic-tinged, and honestly really good. The same can be said of “Waiting for That Day,” in which the acoustic guitar is even more prominent and the lyrics pay tribute to the Rolling Stones.

    Memories…Do Not Open, by the Chainsmokers
    For all the press the Chainsmokers have been getting, you may be surprised to learn that Memories…Do Not Open is their first proper full-length album. You may also be surprised by how much of a departure it is from the EDM-pop they’ve released prior to this. A lot of the songs on Memories are smooth, mid-tempo ballads, with lyrics focused more on selfishness and regret than partying. Fortunately, the Chainsmokers adapt well to this alteration in their sound, and prove to be just as accessible in collaboration with Coldplay (“Something Just Like This”) as with their standard dance material (“Break Up Every Night”).

    Harry Styles, by Harry Styles
    One Direction’s Harry Styles is striking out on his own, following confirmation in February that he’d left the band to pursue a solo career. His self-titled debut indicates he made the right move. Not only can Styles carry an album by himself, he has sharp pop songwriting instincts, and this album ranges from 1970s-style ballads to indie rock, with some spacey pop flourishes to keep things interesting. The album’s piano-driven lead single, “Sign of the Times,” signals both the album’s and Styles’ ambition, taking on the viewpoint of a mother dying in childbirth telling her child to “go forth and conquer” in her final moments.

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

     
  • Dave K. 7:40 pm on 2017/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , music, ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This May 

    May is a big month here at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store, with new albums from Diana Krall, the Afghan Whigs, Zac Brown Band, Sheryl Crow, and the Chainsmokers, plus the solo debut of One Direction’s Harry Styles. We’ve also got a special vinyl edition of the Bob’s Burgers Music Album, plus a vinyl pressing of George Michael’s underrated second album and more.

    Turn Up the Quiet, by Diana Krall
    For this collection of timeless standards from the Great American Songbook, Diana Krall recorded with three different groups: a traditional jazz trio, a traditional jazz quintet, and a quintet with a fiddle player. The musicians’ familiarity with Krall and each other is immediately apparent, giving this album an intimacy that’s perfect for vinyl. As for the songs, Krall reminds us why her place in the modern jazz singer pantheon is secure with sultry vocal performances. In particular, her version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” is worth the price of the record by itself, and “Blue Skies” has a smoky bassline and minimalist guitar work that blends perfectly with the piano.

    In Spades, by The Afghan Whigs
    In Spades is the much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Do to the Beast, and the Whigs’ first album since guitarist Dave Rosser was diagnosed with cancer. The band calls this album “spooky,” saying it explores the concept of memory, with the same melancholy, introspective tone as much of their previous work. The album’s two lead singles, “Demon in Profile” and “Arabian Heights,” are great, with “Demon” starting off as a moody piano/vocals duet before surging into the Whig’s trademark soulful rock. “Heights,” meanwhile, has great rising and falling composition guided by drummer Patrick Keeler’s complex percussion.

    The Bob’s Burgers Music Album
    Fans of Bob’s Burgers rejoice! The songs you love from the Fox animated series are finally getting a proper vinyl release, and it is glorious. Just about every quirky tunes from the show is included here, from Linda Belcher’s spontaneous (and often strange) songs to family musical numbers and montage songs. Highlights are the Tori Amos parody “Oil Spill,” Gene Belcher’s “The Snake Song,” the Winnie the Pooh-esque “Butts, Butts, Butts,” and our absolute favorite, “Lifting Up the Skirt of the Night.” Not only is the vinyl pressing of this record a Barnes & Noble exclusive, it comes with an autographed poster as well.

    Welcome Home, by Zac Brown Band
    Welcome Home gets its name from the band’s ambitions with this album. Known for their wide range of influences, many expected the Zac Brown Band to stick with the direction of their previous album, Jekyll & Hyde. However, they wanted to return to their folk/country roots, and even the strictest country purists will be pleased with the results. The first single, “My Old Man,” is a perfect example of what to expect here. Simple but effective guitar melodies drive a soft, sentimental song about fatherhood. “Real Thing” takes a similar approach to describing how it feels to hear one’s favorite song for the first time, and does an admirable job of it.

    Be Myself, by Sheryl Crow
    If you were worried Sheryl Crow’s detour into country music was permanent, don’t be; Be Myself is a return to her 1990s sound, with just enough Nashville soul in the mix to keep things groovy. The production is slick without sounding fake, and Crow’s lyrics are refreshingly honest and mature. The band backing her up is no joke, and may remind you of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Letter” era in how tight and polished they are. The rhythm of “Halfway There” will have you dancing before you know what hit you, and “Heartbeat Away” builds into a punchy chorus with a fun, and surprisingly sleazy, blues guitar sound.

    Listen Without Prejudice, by George Michael
    The late George Michael’s second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice, is most often remembered as the basis for Michael suing his record label for lack of support. That’s a shame, because Michael wanted to show fans he was capable of writing more than pop dance music, and this record proved him right. There’s still some prototypical dance pop present here—“Freedom” and “Soul Free” are bangers even today—but the lead single, “Praying for Time,” is slower, acoustic-tinged, and honestly really good. The same can be said of “Waiting for That Day,” in which the acoustic guitar is even more prominent and the lyrics pay tribute to the Rolling Stones.

    Memories…Do Not Open, by the Chainsmokers
    For all the press the Chainsmokers have been getting, you may be surprised to learn that Memories…Do Not Open is their first proper full-length album. You may also be surprised by how much of a departure it is from the EDM-pop they’ve released prior to this. A lot of the songs on Memories are smooth, mid-tempo ballads, with lyrics focused more on selfishness and regret than partying. Fortunately, the Chainsmokers adapt well to this alteration in their sound, and prove to be just as accessible in collaboration with Coldplay (“Something Just Like This”) as with their standard dance material (“Break Up Every Night”).

    Harry Styles, by Harry Styles
    One Direction’s Harry Styles is striking out on his own, following confirmation in February that he’d left the band to pursue a solo career. His self-titled debut indicates he made the right move. Not only can Styles carry an album by himself, he has sharp pop songwriting instincts, and this album ranges from 1970s-style ballads to indie rock, with some spacey pop flourishes to keep things interesting. The album’s piano-driven lead single, “Sign of the Times,” signals both the album’s and Styles’ ambition, taking on the viewpoint of a mother dying in childbirth telling her child to “go forth and conquer” in her final moments.

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

     
  • Dave K. 5:33 pm on 2017/03/30 Permalink
    Tags: , , , music, , ,   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This April 

    Judging by April’s vinyl ouput, March is definitely going out like a lion this year! We’ve got some great vinyl exclusives coming to the Vinyl Store, including new albums by Bob Dylan, the Mavericks (pressed on translucent red vinyl), and Barry Manilow, as well as the soundtracks to season 1 of Westworld and the feature film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both of which are Barnes & Noble vinyl exclusives. Keep checking the Vinyl Store for more great records to add to your collection!

    Triplicate, by Bob Dylan
    Like Bob Dylan’s previous two albums, Triplicate is a collection of covers, specifically classic American songs that influenced him early in his career. However, Triplicate is the first triple-LP Dylan has ever released. It means a lot that a guy with Dylan’s career is still finding firsts, and you’ll hear that sense of joy and curiosity in every track on this deluxe, limited-edition LP. Each disc has its own theme—‘Til the Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls, and Comin’ Home Late—featuring covers by Jimmy Van Heusen, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Johnny Burke, Irving Berlin, and Hoagy Carmichael, among others.

    Brand New Day, by The Mavericks
    The Mavericks are well named, having avoided easy characterization throughout their entire career as a band. Ostensibly a country band, they’re are known for their Tex-Mex and Cuban influences, and with this record—the first release on their own label—they introduce 60s pop into their repertoire. Phil Spector-esque, wall-of-sound production plays a big role in Brand New Day, from the swingin’ bossa nova horns in “Easy As It Seems” to the Motown-style vocal arrangements (and background bells) of the title track. More traditional country fans will like “Rolling Along,” which is bluegrassy with a few French street music flourishes.

    Cornell 5/8/77, by the Grateful Dead
    Known for their unpredictable (and frequent) live shows, the Dead made it nearly impossible for fans to pick a favorite concert recording. For many listeners, however, the best Dead show—and live album—was this one, recorded at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1977. Recorded straight from the soundboard and later inducted into the the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, this concert is a great example of the Dead’s freewheeling, improvised, multifaceted live presence. There are too many good tracks on this multiple-LP release to list here, but “Loser,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and their version of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” are all fantastic.

    No Plan, by David Bowie
    Released on what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday, No Plan is an EP featuring the four original songs—“Lazarus,” “No Plan,” “Killing a Little Time,” and “When I Met You”—written for Bowie’s Broadway musical, Lazarus. As expected, these songs continue the avant-garde direction Bowie took in his final years, but there’s just enough Broadway accessibility for listeners who might be intimidated by late-stage Bowie weirdness. These songs, especially the first two, are given a lot of room to breathe; the pacing of the vocals allows the listener time to take them in, and the same can be said for each song’s layered composition.

    Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, by James Newton Howard
    Composer and musician James Newton Howard has not only scored dozens of great films (including The Sixth Sense, I Am Legend, The Devil’s Advocate, and Treasure Planet, among others), he has also worked with the likes of Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Elton John, and Neil Diamond. Those are the chops he brought to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and his score is an engaging blend of whimsical and epic, soaring fantasy, with fragments of the original Harry Potter theme sprinkled throughout. Since the film is set in the 1920s, there’s even a section of Gershwin-esque jazz (“Kowalski’s Rag”) that’s one of this record’s best tracks.

    Westworld: Music from the HBO Series, Season 1, by Ramin Djawadi
    Fans of the HBO series Westworld will be happy to hear that the first season’s soundtrack is just as strange and alluring on its own—perhaps moreso, even. This record contains all the songs released on the Westworld EP—including the creepy player piano covers of “Black Hole Sun” and “Paint It Black”—alongside equally haunting covers of The Cure’s “A Forest,” Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and “No Surprises.” The version of “House of the Rising Sun” that appears here is especially good, and breathes new life into what could generously be called an old standard.

    This Is My Town: Songs Of New York, by Barry Manilow
    As a native New Yorker, Barry Manilow felt it was time he put together an album praising the city that made him. That impulse bore fruit in This Is My Town: Songs of New York, with ten new Barry Manilow tracks split between original songs and standards that, in Barry’s estimation, best represent New York City. His high-energy medley of “New York City Rhythm/On Broadway” makes it clear Barry’s pipes are still in fine working order, and “Coney Island” is an optimistic nostalgia piece that clearly holds a lot of great memories for him. He even pulls out a virtual duet with the legendary (and, sadly, deceased) Mel Tormé for “The Brooklyn Bridge.”

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

     
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