NEW RELEASES 11/25: GILLIAN WELCH, JACK LEE, & two great compilations from SOUL JAZZ RECORDS & GILLES PETERSON! New METALLICA & TRIBE CALLED QUEST are in-stock!

We’re taking a break from the Black Friday chaos to spotlight this weeks small-but-fierce list of new releases. Not only is Gillian Welch giving us an inside look at her debut album, Jack Lee takes us down memory lane, Soul Jazz Records dives into the Big Easy funk and Gilles Peterson drops some Havana knowledge! Read on…

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Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1: Official Revival Bootleg (CD)
Gillian Welch’s 1996 debut, Revival, is one of the era’s most influential albums, its retro stylings and bleak evocations of the dust bowl era marking the transition from alt-country to Americana. Welch’s revivalism was no Carter Family copyism; here was a startlingly good songwriter who could put you in the place of a barroom girl or mountain moonshiner with a few piercing images. David Rawlings’s impeccable picking and harmonies sealed the deal. This 20th-anniversary set fills a bootlegger’s jug with 21 outtakes and demos of Orphan Girl, Annabelle and the rest. The pick of its eight previously unreleased songs are the caustic I Don’t Want to Go Downtown and the homely Wichita, but every drop is delicious.

JACK LEE, Bigger Than Life (CD/LP)
Legendary singer/songwriter Jack Lee has been on the radar of rock fans since the late ’70s, when he formed the iconic power pop band The NERVES, alongside Paul Collins and Peter Case. His songs have been covered by a multitude of artists like Blondie, Suzy Quatro, Cat Power, and Paul Young, but fans have found his solo work very hard to come by prior to this release. Bigger Than Life is a double album filled with 23 memorable songs, all reissued for the first time since the 1980s, and showcasing the incredible songwriting craft of this reclusive pop genius.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura Anthology (3xCD/3xLP)
In 2008, DJ and globetrotter Gilles Peterson was approached by the melomaniac at the helm of Havana Cultura – an initiative to showcase and support Cuban creativity by Cuban rum maker Havana Club –, inviting him to Cuba to check out Havana’s underground music scene with a view to making an album. While some might associate Cuba simply with salsa or Buena Vista Social Club, there was a new generation of artists teeming with new sounds, waiting for an opportunity to reveal their talent to the world. The release of this triple vinyl set with a selection of twenty-three emblematic tracks celebrates eight years of musical research and experimentation featuring Cuba’s musical avant-garde under the curation of Gilles Peterson with the backing of the Havana Cultura project.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, Soul Jazz Records Presents New Orleans Funk Vol. 4 (CD/LP)
Volume four of this crate-digging excursion into the Crescent City vaults delves deep into the roots and history of the voodoo world of New Orleans funk and as ever features a stellar selection of killer rare funk and soul! The album is jam-packed with serious break-heavy funk tunes from classic New Orleans artists s.a. Eddie Bo, Betty Harris, Dave Bartholomew, Johnny Adams and Eldridge Holmes (with the ever-present Allen Toussaint and The Meters as always behind the scenes).

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COMING SOON:

JOHN LEGEND, Darkness & Light (12/2)

ROLLING STONES, Blue & Lonesome (12/2)

 

And don’t forget these STILL-NEW platters that matter!

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service (CD/2xLP out 12/23)
One of the most timeless rap groups ever has returned with a record that doesn’t sound like 1996, but doesn’t sound like 2016 either. It’s imbued with the same feeling of “Push It Along” that they’ve had from the beginning. The biggest complaint is the one thing they couldn’t control: The entire thing feels like it needs a whole lot more of Phife Dawg’s scrappy humor, personality and playful back-and-forth. His absence is not only lamented and honored, it’s also felt. A record rooted in anxiety and mourning, We Got It From Here remains musically as dark and electrically relaxed as 1996’s Beats, Rhymes and Lifeand 1998’s The Love Movement. With help from visionary producer J Dilla, those critically mixed, commercially sturdy records were moody, muted, experimental, deeply funky and remarkably prescient, but ultimately unable to wrangle the proper amount of attention in the shiny-suit era. We Got It From Here checks in with similarly off-kilter but undeniably grooving beats. Tribe utilize the Dilla innovation of letting samples clash at odd angles; they let a copy of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” skip endlessly until the real John pops in for a guest spot, and the drum beat to “Lost Somebody,” one of the album’s Phife tributes, doubles up and separates from itself like a Steve Reich phasing experiment before abruptly slamming into total silence. In a contemporary move, Tribe abandon the Nineties hip-hop format and allow for modern musical and melodic sprawl, like a guitar solo from Jack White, a psychedelic keyboard detour or a spiraling verse from Anderson Paak.

METALLICA
, Hardwired: To Self-Destruct (2xCD/3xCD/2xLP)

It’s been eight years since Metallica’s last studio album. But that’s small change next to their long haul to this two-disc resurrection: via the jagged apocalypse of 1988’s …And Justice for All and the focused brawn of 1991’s Metallica. The mostly epic-length tracks – almost entirely written by drummer Lars Ulrich and singer-guitarist James Hetfield – are melodically assured furies of serial riffing and tempo shocks. “Hardwired,” “Atlas, Rise!” and “Now That We’re Dead” are relentless whirls of tribal chug and hyper-thrash, braking hard at the title chorus lines. One striking passage: bassist Robert Trujillo’s foreboding glide in front of “ManUNkind.” Guitarist Kirk Hammett’s torrid wah-wah solos affirm his standing as heavy metal’s most tuneful arsonist. And after working out his interior rage earlier in this century, Hetfield is on vintage lyric ground in the wastelands here: the false-idol worship in “Halo on Fire” and “Moth Into Flame”; the cycles of arrogance and inhumanity that breed payback in “Here Comes Revenge.” In the blitzkrieg “Spit Out the Bone,” Hetfield imagines an earth cleansed of man by the technology we crave. If you listen on your phone, be very afraid.

KEITH JARRETT, A Multitude Of Angels (4xCD)
In the last solo concert tour of the first half of Keith Jarrett’s career, the preeminent pianist of our time had, himself, recorded the performances across four Italian locations, on his digital audio tape machine. These would be the final public performances Jarrett would give for a number of years as he worked through chronic fatigue syndrome. On a concert timeline, A Multitude of Angels follows the 1995 performances captured on La Scala (ECM, 1997) but with an unexplained twenty-year delay in release. Jarrett has organized the tracks in a logical and attention-holding manner. “Ferrara, Part I” is introspective to the point that one can almost hear Jarrett’s trepidation entangling with his determination; the latter winning out in the end as he exuberantly frees himself. There are also the two closing staples of Jarrett’s early solo concerts, “Danny Boy” and “Over The Rainbow” both treated in a more unequivocal manner in comparison to the otherwise improvisational arc of the collection. Though Jarrett acknowledges the physical challenges he faced in these performances, there is no evidence of any such limitations in listening to A Multitude of Angels.  This collection would be a necessity if only because it will be the last of its kind from that era but moreover, it is as cathartic a collection for listeners as it apparently has been for Jarrett.

GAVIN BRYARS, The Fifth Century (CD)
A deep yet unsentimental emotional resonance and a patient, contemplative view of time whether relating to harmonic rhythm or human experience are complementary characteristics that run through Bryars’ instrumental, vocal and theatrical catalog like a red thread, the composer inspired by disparate spirits from Wagner and Satie to Cage and Silvestrov. The first full ECM album from Bryars in decades is The Fifth Century, which includes the seven-part title work: a slowly evolving yet immediately involving setting of words by 17th-century English mystic Thomas Traherne, performed by the mixed choir of The Crossing with saxophone quartet PRISM. The album also features Two Love Songs, luminous a cappella settings of Petrarch for the women of The Crossing. The music within words, the humanity in breath, the sense of eternity within a moment or of a moment in eternity all are at play in Bryars latest music.

HARVEY MANDEL, Snake Pit (CD/LP)
A pioneer of modern electric blues from Chicago, legendary guitar virtuoso Harvey Mandel aka The Snake (attributed to his cracked leather jacket and snake-like guitar licks) developed and mastered sustained and controlled feedback, displaying both extroversion and musical virtuosity. Mandel was a member of Canned Heat and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, has played on significant sessions with the Rolling Stones, Love, The Ventures and Charlie Musselwhite, and has been releasing fine solo records ever since his 1968 debut, Cristo Redentor, which includes an extra-terrestrial version of “Wade in the Water,” still a classic to this day. And now the innovative and influential blues-rock guitarist is back in 2016 with the new solo effort Snake Pit, recorded at Fantasy Studios with musicians who have played with Ryley Walker and Sun Kil Moon. The consummate 8-track set features the aptly named “JackHammer” and “Ode To B.B.”

RORY BLOCK, Keepin Outta Trouble: Tribute To Bukka White (CD)
Tribute To Bukka White is the sixth album in Rory’s  “Mentor Series” saluting the blues masters who’ve had a profound impact on her music. This time she pays tribute to Bukka White, one of the most influential country blues artists in history, bringing the soul and meaning of White’s songs to life as if heard for the first time since they were written and performed by the man, himself.

NATHANIEL RATELIFF, A Little Something More (CD/LP)
Like another shot of whiskey during last call, an order of extra-large fries or the final drag of a post-sex cigarette, we’ll never get enough of the good stuff. To that end, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have supplied another ear-pleasing dose of their agreeable soul sounds with “A Little Something More From,” due out Nov. 18 via Stax Records. To clarify, this EP is a quick collection of B-sides and alternative versions, plus one live recording from The Stax Museum of American Soul Music (which gives some insight as to why The Night Sweats are such a beloved live act at the moment). And while the record exemplifies just how good Rateliff is at being a gruff soul man, it understandable why these songs didn’t make it onto his self-titled debut. Each of the eight tracks (minus that rousing live cut of “Wasting Time”) sound more like homages to his biggest influences, the type of tunes a songwriter might pen when playing around with a new genre.

PINK MARTINI, Je Dis Qui (CD/LP)
Pink Martini is just showing off. To take in Je Dis Oui! is to experience a globetrotting victory lap across no fewer than eight different languages — English, French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish and, in a cover of Miriam Makeba’s glorious “Pata Pata,” Xhosa — all tackled with cosmopolitan sophistication and the playfulness of pop. Everything the 15-piece Portland band touches has an air of precision, but these surprising songs don’t feel sterile or studio-bound, either.