I've been doing a lot vinyl shopping the last few weeks. I discovered a great store in Albany NY that was well stocked with '60s and '70s vinyl in great condition for reasonable prices. I also did a little shopping at the local shop and picked up some nice things. Some of those are reflected here, while others will show up in the next few weeks. I was writing most of the week again and found some old music very inspirational. However, I did make time for some new releases as well. All in all, a pretty interesting list. Hope you enjoy.
Bonnie Prince Billy - Wolfroy Goes to Town: Released this past week, the new album from Americana pioneer Will Oldhman is actually his first full-length solo album in two years after doing a bunch of collaboration projects. This album is more low-key than some of his more iconic releases, but I've been enjoying it very much. It's very much music for sitting on your porch, but that's okay, it just so happens that kind of music also makes for good writing music. Standout tracks include the single "Quail & Dumplings," "Cows," and "Black Captain."
The Besnard Lakes - You Lived in the City: Last year's full length from this Montreal neo-psychedelic band was one that really grew on me with each listen, so I was pretty excited when this EP was released last month. The last album had bits of Pink Floyd soaring soundscapes, this one is quite different. It's more of a psychedelic folk album consisting of four songs all over six minutes in length. There's nothing revolutionary that stands out, but it's extremely solid. It reminds a little of The Skygreen Leopards.
The Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead: This is one my favorite albums by the Dead and I finally found a first pressing copy for a great price. Released in 1970, the band had really perfected their country rock sound on this record. This is one of those rare records where everything just clicks and every song sounds so effortlessly good. "Dire Wolf," "Cumberland Blues," and "New Speedway Boogie," are simply perfect.
The Decemberists - A Practical Handbook: This is a concert video released in 2007, but I'm only reviewing the audio track. I have all of the band's albums, so I know all the songs intimately. It's a great collection that represents their catalog up to that point. I can't argue with the song selection. Though I must say that really none of these version surpass the album versions and some are just downright lackluster. Instead, I would highly recommend 2008's Colin Meloy Sings Live!, a solo concert by the lead singer which is fantastic.
Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band - Relax Your Mind: I got this record for Christmas and was appalled to discover this week that I hadn't yet reviewed it. Released in 1966, this is the band's third album. Last year I fell in love with their second album Jug Band Music which came out the year before. This album isn't quite as perfect as that one, but it's pretty close. The band plays an old timey folk revival sound, but also very influenced with the emerging counter culture. The closest comparison would be Country Joe, but decidedly more east coast. Definitely a band worth exploring if you don't know them.
Family - Music in a Doll's House: I've been listening to this album all year and was thrilled to find a copy of it on vinyl last weekend. I reviewed it back in February, here's what I had to say then and it still holds true. This progressive folk album from 1968 had been on my wishlist for quite some time. This is a fantastic album, one of the gems of the genre. Using blues, rock, and folk elements, it creates an album that reminds me a little of Jethro Tull's Stand Up, but at the same time is remarkably different. It's quickly becoming a favorite discovery of the year.
George Benson - The Other Side of Abbey Road: I came across this jazz soul interpretation of the Beatles from 1970 and was intrigued by the cover and the concept. For $5, and in perfect condition, I couldn't resist giving it a try and I'm glad I did. It's a wonderfully smooth album. There's some great musicians on this record and the arrangements are amazing.
The Dandy Warhols - ...The Dandy Warhols Come Down: This in album that I dug up off the shelves, one I've had for well over a decade. After listening to their recent session on Daytrotter, I had a craving to pull out this classic. Released in 1997, this is easily the Portland band's most solid album. Every song on here is perfect indie pop. "Boys Better", "Hard on for Jesus," and of course "Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" are brilliant. It was definitely worthy of rediscovering.