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From Badfinger to Joe Strummer: The best vinyl released this week

@DrewAlanWardle1

With the advent of online streaming sites taking over as the predominant way of listening to music; the need for physical copies containing your favourite albums have become less and less relevant, at least in any logical sense. Although, in the same way that people pessimistically assumed that physical copies of books would become obsolete as e-books dominated the market; the sheer desire for something physical still remains noteworthy and relevant enough. 

While many of us are typically on the go, our smartphones have become the ideal listening device, replacing walkmans, mp3 players and iPods; since the early 2000s, it has become resolutely clear that while at home, people still want something physical to grasp. This is why the vinyl record has made a significant comeback since then.

Obtaining a copy of your favourite vinyl record is viscerally pleasing through a multitude of sensors, not to mention, there is the artwork visibly displayed on the square cardboard, which will eventually become a historical artefact. Indeed, it can very well be a collector’s item.

This week’s vinyl releases and reissues features a healthy amount of new and fresh artistic statements. In addition, there are a few great new releases from some of the old masters, such as Badfinger and the punk prophet, Joe Strummer.

We delved into a full list of our favourite vinyl releases of this week that you should get a hold of.

Best vinyl released this week

The Bitter Truth – Evanescence

Evanescence’s fifth album is their first full LP of new original material in 10 years since their 2011 self-titled effort. The Bitter Truth was in the works since July 2018 but was delayed because of the global pandemic, now finding a home on our shelves.

The record explores themes of loss; it seems that The Bitter Truth is a breakup album. The album possesses all the usual qualities one might expect to hear from Evanescence: dark, gothic, metal, beautiful piano ballads embodying catchy melodies informed by classical training.

This one is definitely a return to form for Evanescence; its vinyl representation deserves to be in your hands.

Kids – Noga Erez

Noga Erez is an Israeli singer-songwriter who found some degree of success when Apple used her song, ‘Dance While You Shoot’, in an advertising campaign for its music streaming services. Her newest record, Kids, released this week, is a political one. 

It examines our world that is constantly permeated with politics and violence. “I’m not backing off from the politics of Off The Radar. KIDS is political because nowadays, everything is political – even deciding not to get involved. KIDS is reflective of the time in which it was made,” Erez suggested.

She is sure to catch fire soon and become a force to be reckoned with.

Promises – Floating Points

Floating Points is a multi-instrumentalist and producer, Sam Shephard, who worked with saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders — an 80-year-old jazz player. The result is a beautifully composed celestial soundscape, with the saxophone on the forefront, guiding free-form/improvised compositions. 

Serving as a bedrock that anchors the saxophone, are electronic pianos and ambient sounds. For a lot of the record, Promises inhabits a very quiet space and serves as a nice meditative soundtrack for any weekend reflections. 

Assembly – Joe Strummer 

George Harrison’s label, Dark Horse Records released a new box set of rarities from the late Clash frontman, Joe Strummer, this week. Strummer’s widow, Lucinda Tait said of the two late brilliant musicians, “Sadly, they never did meet, or not that I know.”

The reason why George Harrison’s label released a collection of some of Strummer’s rare recordings is a mystery.

Lucinda added, “it’s sad because as I’ve gotten to know the Harrison family and learn more about George, they would’ve got on so well. They’re cut from the same cloth, those two.” Assembly is a two-LP set, exploring a lot of the music Strummer made after The Clash. Definitely worth getting.

Deacon – Serpentwithfeet

Deacon is Brooklyn based experimental jazz and avant-garde musician, Serpentwithfeet’s second full-length album. It is an exploration of Black gay love and acceptance of one’s self.

Serpentwithfeet is a significant artist working in the industry at the moment; he challenges boundaries as well as societal norms, as he raises the bar for cultural standards.

His last projects explored more jazz-based musical expressions, instead, Deacon is more modern-day R&B based in hip hop. It wouldn’t be so farfetched to claim that this one is more accessible to a larger audience—a great piece of vinyl.

Who By Fire – First Aid Kit

This record presents the Soderberg sisters – Klara and Johanna – who comprise First Aid Kit, performing a live tribute to the late Canadian troubadour, Leonard Cohen.

It’s poignant moment that captures the splendour of a First Aid Kit show. The performance happened back in 2017, at Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theatre. 

The concert was performed like a service one might find at a church. It has been described as “something out of the ordinary,” something that might ironically be all too familiar during these uncertain times. Definitely worth listening to.

Sketchy – Tune-Yards

Their first record in two years, Sketchy is a cacophony of a mish-mash of sounds — the idea was to create the sensation of being squeezed into a tight spot and pushed to the brink of exploding as one is highly-pressurised. A feeling that is comparable to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

The creative force behind Tune-Yards, Merill Garbus, described their single for the record, ‘Nowhere, Man’, along the lines of this very feeling:  “The song and the video for ‘nowhere, man’ were created under conditions of feeling squeezed and pushed to the brink — relatively, of course. I wanted to ask, “How loudly do I have to shout and sing before I’m heard?” And the video asks, too, “What am I not hearing?” We hope the music brings energy and a strong wind of encouragement to those who are shouting and singing loudly for justice right now.”

No Matter What: Revisiting The Hits – Badfinger

This new release from the other masters belonging to Apple Records, Joey Molland’s Badfinger, collects their hits performed by various special guests. This list includes Todd Rundgren, Matthew Sweet, Rick Wakeman, The Legendary Pink Dots, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Rick Springfield — the list goes on.

This vinyl collection includes a lot of the great classic Badfinger numbers: ‘No Matter What’, ‘Come and Get It’, ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Without You’. The tracklisting for the album is incredible, it reminds us that Badfinger are somewhat of an underrated and overlooked band from that British invasion period, as they were often overshadowed by fellow label-mates, The Beatles.

Green to Gold – The Antlers

Green to Gold is the New York indie rockers’ first record in seven years. The album is meditative, solemn and introspective.

The album was released in tandem with a short film that coincides with the album. Interwoven into the film are a few music videos, as they are “multiple, non-linear time slices of their life together over its rich and dynamic course.” 

The film explores the lives of contemporary dancers, Bobbi-Jean Smith and Or Schraiber, and the setting is at a farmhouse in rural upstate New York. Peter Silberman’s voice is wavering and soft as if floating amidst a place of tranquillity.

OH NO – Xiu Xiu

OH NO contains a collaborative element, featuring guest performers such as Sharon Van Etten, Owen Pallett, Twin Shadow, Liz Harris, and a few more. According to the mastermind behind Xiu Xiu, Jamie Stewart, OH NO is a second chance in trusting humanity.

His various collaborations on the project reflected the “ratio of beautiful humans to shitty humans is more like 60/40,” whereas not so long before, he thought it was ‘1/99.’ You can definitely hear this sense of optimism in the record; it is a good piece of vinyl.

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