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  • 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.

  • Dave K. 6:00 pm on 2018/01/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , maroon 5, , , vinyl, whitney houston   

    The Best New Vinyl to Spin in January 2018 

    As 2018 spins up, we welcome a handful of great new titles to our vinyl store, ringing in the new year in grand style! We’ve got new albums from Neil Young, Fall Out Boy, and Maroon 5, along with a double-LP release from Whitney Houston, recognizing the 25th anniversary of The Bodyguard. So go ahead, treat yourself to something nice to start of the year.

    The Visitor, by Neil Young
    Canadian rock legend Neil Young has a catalogue an astonishing 39 records deep as of The Visitor, which is also his second with American rockers Promise of the New. Two of the band’s members are Willie Nelson’s sons Micah and Lukas, whose friendship with Young led to their present-day collaborations. If you’re unsure why Young is sometimes called “the godfather of grunge,” this record will set you straight; the guitars have a solid crunch, the lyrics are sharp (especially Young’s anti-Trump anthem “Already Great”), and the drums convey that gut-bucket blues feel that define his work. Conversely, “Children of Destiny” has both tender folk interludes and triumphant horns.

    Mania, by Fall Out Boy
    This album—the band’s seventh—was originally scheduled for September 2017, but was postponed. The extra time the band took with it was well spent—Mania is great, and exactly the kind of “hard restart” record that Pete Wentz hoped it would be. Unlike most bands from humble punk rock beginnings, Fall Out Boy keeps progressing their sound; “Young and Menace,” for example, incorporates elements of EDM and voice alterations, and “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” bounces headlong into pop, and “The Last Of The Real Ones” is a full-stop club hit. Singer Patrick Stump is in especially fine form too; his vocals seem to improve with every record.

    Red Pill Blues, by Maroon 5
    Named after the red pill/blue pill choice from the film The Matrix, Red Pill Blues is Maroon 5’s latest, much-anticipated album. Multi-instrumentalist Sam Farrar finally joins the band as an official member for this record, and SZA and ASAP Rocky make cameos on “What Lovers Do” and “Whiskey,” respectively. Even without additional star power, the band’s blend of soft rock, pop, and funk continues to impress. “Wait,” one of the singles, is likely the song you won’t be able to stop listening to (or replaying in your head) all year, and “Whiskey” will top everyone’s chill-out Spotify playlists (if it hasn’t already). For that full visualize-a-sunset-in-California listening experience, get it on vinyl.

    I Wish You Love: More from the Bodyguard, by Whitney Houston
    It’s been 25 years since the release of the soundtrack for the 1992 film The Bodyguard—still one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s been reissued as I Wish You Love, and at Barnes & Noble, it’s sold with an exclusive cover. The album includes all six of Houston’s contributions to The Bodyguard–“I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Run to You,” “Queen of the Night,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and of course, “I Will Always Love You,”–augmented by remixes, a capella recordings, and live performances. The live tracks taken from Houston’s Bodyguard tour are the high point, and showcase the late singer at her glorious best.

    What new records are you spinning this month?

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

  • Dave K. 4:00 pm on 2017/12/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , reputation, , , vinyl   

    Great Gifts for Vinyl Fans 

    As we roll into December and close out 2017 (can you believe it?), Barnes & Noble welcomes a bunch of awesome new records into our Vinyl Store! We’ve got new hotness from Chris Stapleton, Taylor Swift, Green Day, Sam Smith, and Beck, plus the soundtrack to the film Baby Driver. Best of all, we’re offering a great holiday deal on a Crosley turntable system so you (or the budding vinyl aficionado in your life) will have something to play all these records on. Whether you’re buying gifts for yourself or the special people in your life, we have what you need to keep spinning wax into 2018.

    Crosley T150
    Before you go spoiling your friends and family (and yourself) with so many great records, you’ll want to make sure everyone involved can actually listen to them. That’s where the Crosley T150 comes in. Sold exclusively through Barnes & Noble, the T150 is a complete turntable system that comes with 30-watt stereo speakers. If you’ve already got speakers you like (most vinyl junkies do), don’t worry; the Crosley’s RCA inputs are compatible with most audio systems. And should you feel the need to go digital, the Crosley has a Bluetooth receiver built right in. Whether you’re trying to get someone else started on vinyl or upgrading your own system, you can’t go wrong with the Crosley T150.

    reputation, by Taylor Swift
    Fans of Taylor Swift’s 1989 are going to love reputation, since it picks up where that album left off musically. Not only that, it’s an evolution of Swift’s synthpop sound—rather than drawing from 1980s aesthetics a second time, these songs are more brash and modern, and could even be called industrial pop. Just as Swift’s image became more sophisticated, songs like “Call It What You Want,” “Look What You Made Me Do,” and “Delicate” are more ambitious in both lyrical content and composition. Swift also collaborates with Future and Ed Sheeran on “End Game,” and proves to be a much better rapper than anyone, including her fans, would expect. We’ve got it on December 8, a full week before anyone else, so lock in those preorders now.

    From a Room Volume 2, by Chris Stapleton
    The second part of Chris Stapleton’s new record, From a Room Volume 2 comes out a few months after Volume 1. If you have any country music fans on your holiday gift lists this year, this album is perfect. Stapleton’s approach to country music is tuneful and unpretentious, with great vocal harmonies and folk-inspired arrangements that aren’t crowded with pop embellishments. His cover of Kevin Welch’s “Millionaire” is a standout example of Stapleton’s talents (it was one of the lead singles for a reason), as is “Scarecrow in the Garden.” And just in case you’re curious about the album’s name, Stapleton is honoring Nashville’s RCA Studio A, where it was recorded.

    God’s Favorite Band, by Green Day
    This greatest-hits album, named in reference to a joke Stephen Colbert made when the band performed on his show, shows that Green Day is as irreverent as ever. The tracklist draws from all of Green Day’s studio albums as of press time, with the exception of their debut album 39/Smooth and their ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! records from 2012. As one might expect, Dookie and American Idiot provide the most songs, all of which are great selections. While there’s only one song here from Insomniac, it’s the most memorable from that album (“Brain Stew”), and Nimrod is well-represented by “Hitchin’ a Ride” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” As a bonus, previously unreleased song “Back in the USA” is included here too.

    The Thrill of It All, by Sam Smith
    Sam Smith, who found fame in 2014 with his hit single “Stay With Me,” spent most of 2016 working on new material, and released his second album, The Thrill of It All, in November. Sam worked with classical crossover group Clean Bandit and Timbaland for this record, with the latter producing Smith’s second single, “Pray,” inspired by the singer’s experience with the War Child charity. “Pray” is an awesome song, by the way, with plenty of gospel heft stabilizing Smith’s voice. The album’s other single, “Too Good at Goodbyes,” will make you miss your ex-, even if you don’t have one.

    Baby Driver OST
    Very few films are as soundtrack-dependent as 2017’s Baby Driver; much of the character action is specifically choreographed along with the music. So it’s no surprise that the official Baby Driver soundtrack is so well curated. It’s a mix of guaranteed crowd-pleasers—the Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat,” Queen’s “Brighton Rock,” the Beach Boys’ “Let’s Go Away for a While”—and some deeper cuts, like Dave Brubeck’s “Unsquare Dance.” Not only is this soundtrack a good starting education in the arcs of American pop music (covering soul, jazz, and rock), there’s some hidden wit in the individual song placement. T. Rex’s “Debora” is followed by Beck’s “Debra,” for example.

    Colors, by Beck
    Beck’s music is so timeless that it’s easy to forget how long he’s been around—Colors is his 13th studio album. Thanks to his touring schedule, it took four years to write and record Colors, and he and producer Greg Kurstin play most of the instruments. How Beck sustained that level of energy for so long is anyone’s guess, but this record is the most fun music he’s released in years. The central melody of “Wow” is a potent earworm, and “Dear Life” is as bouncy as the hipster lounge funk that made him famous in the first place. Similarly, “Up All Night” was made for the dance floor, and is a sign that Beck is still having fun with his music.

    The post Great Gifts for Vinyl Fans appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Ross Johnson 7:00 pm on 2017/10/31 Permalink
    Tags: , vinyl, vinyl weekend 2017   

    Celebrate Vinyl Weekend 2017 at Barnes & Noble 

    LPs are back in a big way, and not just for hipsters. The harsh truth is, digital formats have yet to fully replicate the warm, natural sound of vinyl, which means there are truly great albums you simply haven’t heard unless you’ve put needle to record. B&N is celebrating the new age of vinyl the weekend of November 17-19 with 10 percent off offers, special in-store events, and select titles at 30 percent off. (There’s even a big discount on the B&N Exclusive Crosley Turntable bundle if you need something to get you started.)  Here are some of the albums we’ll be spinning on Vinyl Weekend.

    Charlotte’s Web
    The 1973 film version of Charlotte’s Web is almost as beloved as E.B. White’s book, losing none of the novel’s poignance, and adding in musical numbers by some of the biggest voice talents on the scene in the ‘70s. The late, great Debbie Reynolds heads up a cast that includes Paul Lynde, Agnes Moorehead, and Henry Gibson as Wilbur, the pig whose life is spared with the help of a particularly literate spider. That’s some talent right there. This B&N-exclusive edition features a pink LP with black webbing.

    The Thrill of It All, by Sam Smith
    Though it might be hard to believe, The Thrill of It All is only Smith’s second studio album, after 2014’s In the Lonely Hour. The singles we’ve heard so far suggest the singer has only gotten better, as his soothing and soulful voice soars over songs about lost love and relationships gone sour. Vinyl excels at capturing the nuances of this already legendary voice.

    Serenity [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack], by David Newman
    Making a perfect companion to vinyl edition of the Firefly TV soundtrack, this vinyl edition of David Newman’s film score for Serenity is a Barnes & Noble exclusive. Newman brings old west-style to a science fiction playground, peppering the score with western themes, but doesn’t skimp on the big action beats, nor on powerful emotion. Haunting themes for River Tam and for Serenity herself are among the highlights.

    Charlie Brown Christmas
    Given his pedigree in the hip west coast scene, San Francisco jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi must have seemed an odd choice to compose music for the ’60s-era Peanuts TV specials. Yet more than 50 years later, it’s impossible to think about Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, and the gang without hearing Guaraldi’s signature piano compositions. In addition to those iconic Peanuts tracks, this album includes a variety of Christmas standards, all given the cool, jazzy treatment. It’s a great album for Charlie Brown fans, and anyone looking to put a different spin on their holiday favorites. The B&N exclusive edition features a picture disc.

    Colors, by Beck
    The multi-talented Beck has dabbled in a variety of genres and styles, but his most recent work has been a little on the melancholy side. He puts that aside on the latest release, an album full of up-tempo, energetic tracks. We’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that we need a little fun in our music right about now; thankfully, one of our most reliable musicians listened. The B&N exclusive edition features a unique album cover and white vinyl.

    Game of Thrones: Season 7 [Original TV Soundtrack], by Ramin Djawadi
    From the very beginning, Ramin Djawadi’s scores for Game of Thrones have been an essential part of each season of the series—so much so that entire concerts have been held just to showcase them. Who can’t hum that opening theme? Season seven is no different, and as the stakes have increased in the narrative, so has the drama in the music. This album begins by chronicling a dramatic journey to Dragonstone, and concludes with the ominous declaration that “Winter is Here.” Barnes & Noble’s exclusive edition features records swirling with fiery dragon’s breath orange hues.

    The post Celebrate Vinyl Weekend 2017 at Barnes & Noble appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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