A new year means new music and new music is always something worth looking forward to. Getting back in the swing of things this week, I got to check out a lot of albums, plus I got to listen to some of the vinyl I picked up overseas during the holidays. For the most part, this week's list is a return to the classics. I've been in a big nostalgia period lately and my music selections prove that. Hope some of them are new to you however. Enjoy.
Hawkwind - Space Ritual Vol. 1: I bought this on CD when I was 15 and it has never fallen from my favorite albums list. While in Switzerland, I found a copy of it on re-released colored vinyl and picked it up. This is probably the best live album ever in my opinion. The band is in top form, ripping through their early heavy psych catalog with abandoned. "Orgone Accumilator" "Down Through the Night," and "Lord of Light" are incredible. Note that the CD includes Vol. 2 and has more tracks.
Soft Machine - Noisette: Released in 2000, this is a live recording from 1970 which shows the band transitioning from their early psychedelic sound into more experimental prog. It can be a bit aimless at times, but it's still a good listen. Certainly doesn't replace the first three studio albums, but makes a nice companion.
The Black Keys - El Camino: Had I gotten this a month ago, there is a good chance it would have found a place on my best of year list. It's another stellar modern blues album from the Akron boys, but there is a further exploration into a Led Zeppelin sound that really makes it yet another step up from their previous. With every album, I feel this band gets better and better. One day soon, I expect they'll make a masterpiece and I can't wait to hear it.
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo: The Philly native, and member of The War on Drugs, released his first full length album in almost two years last March. Though I'd been a fan of previous albums and the single from this one, "Jesus Fever," I hadn't checked out the entire record until this week. It's another one that would have made it into my top 25 or 30 of the year. He reminds me of J Mascis a bit, only with a more strung-out vibe.
The Byrds - Turn! Turn! Turn!: Released in 1965, this is the L.A. folk band's second album and includes many of their hits, which also happen to be Dylan covers. Though the band wouldn't hit their peak until their next album (1966's Fifth Dimension) this is album really demonstrates that the potential for greatness had already been set in motion. There's always been something attractive about the sunny California take on the folk movement that I really enjoy. Few did it better than The Byrds.
John Lennon - Walls and Bridges: Released in 1974, this is John's last solo album in the string of albums from his post-Beatles career. Already you can hear the softer side showing through that would later be defined by Double Fantasy. However, this is by far the better album. Though there are few songs on here that are widely known, there are several that probably should be, "Steel and Glass" being on the top of that list. This was the last Lennon album that I had yet to acquire and it was nice to hear something 'new' by him again.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Ferris Wheel on Fire: This bootleg is a collection acoustic studio tracks of unreleased material. Many of the songs have appeared in other places before, but this is a great set. Included are some rare songs like "Home," "Oh, Sister" and the title track. It's a fabulous album and worth having even if you know the material.
Otis Redding - Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul: A fantastic record of Otis signing many covers of classics like "My Girl," "Satisfaction," and "Respect." I'm a huge sucker for covers, especially when done this well. He has one of those voices that makes every song he sings unforgettable. Kind of a must-have record for anyone that likes classic soul music.