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  • Dave K. 5:00 pm on 2018/06/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , vinyl   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin This June 

    June is a big month over here at Barnes & Noble’s Vinyl Store. Not only do we have new records from Father John Misty and blues legend Buddy Guy coming in, we’ve also got the first new studio albums from Panic! at the Disco and Dave Matthews Band in years. Whether you’re a new fan of these artists, or just getting started on a vinyl collection, these albums will sound great on your turntable and look good on your shelf.

    God’s Favorite Customer, by Father John Misty 
    The ever-eccentric Father John Misty’s newest album, God’s Favorite Customer, is a more personal and less conceptual album than his previous output. Misty also promises “sprightly” tempos on this record, which he produced himself and wrote during a six-week rough patch when he was living in a hotel. One can sense that heartache in songs like the ballad “Just Dumb Enough to Try,” a heartfelt and moving (if not exactly sprightly) piano-driven affair with a buzzing synth solo. “Mr. Tillman,” meanwhile, is a much cheekier song that shows off Misty’s impressive storytelling instincts as a lyricist.

    The Blues Is Alive and Well, by Buddy Guy 
    Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy’s follow-up to his 2015 album, the excellent Born to Play Guitar, will be a star-studded effort. Guy recruited singer James Bay as a guest on the track “Blue No More,” rock legends and blues aficionados Keith Richards and Jeff Beck appear on “Cognac,” and none other than Mick Jagger appears on “You Did the Crime” as a guest vocalist. Just based on all that, The Blues Is Alive and Well will be the coolest record on your shelf this year. Plus, it’s neat seeing some of the musicians directly influenced by Guy coming back to collaborate with him.

    Pray for the Wicked, by Panic! at the Disco 
    Pray for the Wicked is Panic! at the Disco’s sixth studio album, and it’s a real firecracker. Vocalist Brendon Urie is in fine form here, hitting insane high notes on “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” and the surprisingly cheerful “(F— A) Silver Lining.” Urie, who spent part of 2017 on Broadway as a lead in Kinky Boots, wrote this album as a thank you to his fans, and that revved-up energy is present in both of the aforementioned songs. The band’s lyrical content has stepped up, too. In particular, Urie’s lyrics for “Say Amen” are really clever, detailing a night of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery using mostly religious allegories.

    Come Tomorrow, by Dave Matthews Band
    Amazingly, this is the first proper studio album Dave Matthews Band has released since 2012, and it follows the somewhat controversial absence of fiddler Boyd Tinsley. If you’re one of the DMB fans who was upset about Tinsley’s hiatus from the band, don’t worry, this album more than meets the standard set by previous output. In fact, some songs exceed it. “Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin),” named after a cult film starring Robert Z’Dar, is a heaving, emotional track, whereas “Can’t Stop” has a greasy blues guitar lead. Also, one of the producers has revealed that late woodwind player LeRoi Moore was able to contribute to this record.

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

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

    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: , , , , vinyl   

    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: , , , , vinyl   

    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.

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

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin in February 2018 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
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