Record Time is Paste’s monthly column that takes a glimpse into the wide array of new vinyl releases that are currently flooding record stores around the world. Rather than run down every fresh bit of wax in the marketplace, we’ll home in on special editions, reissues and unusual titles that come across our desk with an interest in discussing both the music and how it is pressed and presented. We are dropping this month’s edition a little early in case you need some last minute gift ideas for this holiday season. And there’s plenty to choose from, including a boxed set of Athens post-punk, a country-pop collaboration between continents and the first vinyl pressing of a classic prog-rock live document.
Pink Floyd: Delicate Sound of Thunder (Pink Floyd)
Originally released in 1988, Delicate Sound of Thunder marked a major return for Pink Floyd. The live album, captured during a multi-night stand at Nassau Coliseum, welcomed founding keyboardist Richard Wright back into the fold, who helped blow up the material from then-current studio album Momentary Lapse of Reason to colossal dimensions. It went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Originally remixed and remastered for inclusion in 2019’s Later Years boxed set, Delicate is now sold separately, and being given the bare minimum of special treatment. The triple-LP set is packaged in a flimsy box along with a well-designed but unenlightening booklet that focuses on stills from the simultaneously released concert film. The music itself sounds much like it did at the time of its initial release, with sterile and sometimes wobbly renditions of classic Floyd cuts playing nicely with the gossamer sound of the material from Momentary that took this band as far from its psychedelic and prog roots as possible. But when Floyd hits the right coordinates—Gilmour’s guitar blitz at the end of “Comfortably Numb,” a particularly vaporous take on “Us and Them”—they sound as majestic as ever.
Gravité: Gravité (Empty Cellar)
The world isn’t hurting for more synth ensembles or ambient-inspired artists. But don’t let that dissuade you from taking a chance on the new duo Gravité. The work found on the debut album from San Francisco-based synth nerds Matthew Riley and Aaron Diko shows how deeply these two men have studied the work of forebears like Harmonia, Gary Numan and Vangelis. These eight compositions feel well-considered and worried over but still carry a sense of joy and playfulness. Not an easy combination to achieve. More than that, Gravité’s debut is just a blast to listen to. This isn’t music to zone and bliss out to. These instrumentals want your attention and easily hook it with each fluttering arpeggio and deep bass drone. They also give listeners a chance to wander down similar pathways by including an instrument list on the back of the record sleeve. Bust out your own TR-08 and Juno 60 and get to work.
Nickel Creek: Nickel Creek/This Side/Why Should the Fire Die? (Craft Recordings)
Modern bluegrass ensemble Nickel Creek had been a going concern for the better part of a decade when they recorded their 2000 self-titled album with the godmother of Americana Alison Krauss. And this young, hungry trio—Chris Thile, Sarah Watkins and her brother Sean—rose to the occasion with a hearty collection of songs that left ample room to show off their instrumental prowess and well-honed musical and vocal harmony. To honor the 20th anniversary of that release, the band has re-released it, along with the two follow-up albums that helped reach the Billboard Top 20 and netted them Grammy Awards, on vinyl. To sweeten the deal, each one was cut at 45 RPM to help amplify the music—a fair tradeoff for having to return to the turntable frequently to flip the record or swap out one record for another. The albums themselves are as great as ever, full of heart and the obvious love that these three have for one another, and chock-a-block with great songs—a balance of lovely originals with adaptations of material by Dylan, Pavement and Carrie Newcomer. The strength of this music comes through even if these colored vinyl pressings are a tad dodgy, with an audible whoosh underpinning every track on all 12 sides of the reissues.
Movie Club: Black Flamingo (self-released)
Drummer Jessamyn Violet and guitarist Vince Cuneo, the musicians that make up Movie Club, have an impressive contact list on their phones. Tucked away in the credits for their debut album are names like Rami Jaffee, keyboardist for Foo Fighters, violinist and ex-Geraldine Fibber Jessy Greene and Tim Lefebvre, bassist for Donny McCaslin’s band. For all their fine work throughout this LP, those guests don’t overshadow the fantastic sound of Cuneo and Violet locking into a groove and a melodic idea. There’s some deep chemistry happening between these two musicians as they carve a sonic space that is equal parts post-rock, psychedelia, stoner rock, and power pop. And they manage to make a solid impression without vocals or lyrics. The melodies that the pair conceive for each track, and the arrangements, linger in the brain like an acid trail or well-defined shadow. This album is inescapable.
Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder (Blue Note)
Lovers of legendary jazz label Blue Note Records have had plenty to rejoice about in 2020, as the label has been keeping record shelves stocked with quality vinyl reissues of their classic releases. And the next year is looking just as bountiful. From now until at least July of 2021, the label has 16 releases for their Classic Vinyl Series planned, including masterpieces like Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch and Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, all mastered from the original analog tapes. For December, the label is giving the world new pressings of McCoy Tyner’s Blue Note debut, and this gem from trumpeter Lee Morgan. 1964’s The Sidewinder holds a special place as it became the label’s best seller at the time, rescuing it from insolvency. And it’s not hard to guess why it achieved such success. The five songs Morgan and his ensemble, which included saxophonist Joe Henderson, drummer Billy Higgins and wildly underrated bassist Bob Cranshaw, are steeped in the sounds of R&B and early soul. The title track is all groove and hip-swinging sass, anchored by a bounding bassline, and tunes like “Boy, What A Night” and “Totem Pole” have the sleek, ineffable cool of a classic car and the energy of a boisterous nightclub.
Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams: Plastic Bouquet (New West)
Actor and singer-songwriter Marlon Williams envisioned his collaboration with Canadian folk-pop duo Kacy & Clayton as a melding of hemispheres, bringing his New Zealand-bred aesthetic to Saskatchewan for a writing and recording session. Musically, these two camps were never really that far apart, but listening to their first collaboration Plastic Bouquet still manages to feel like the building of a bridge, with the earthier sound of Williams voice dovetailing easily into Kacy Lee Anderson’s twang and her musical partner Clayton Linthicum’s fibrous, earthy guitar and keyboard work. The instruments and voices of all three rub against one another throughout, smoothing out the rough spots and scuffing up otherwise shiny tunes. In that way, this calls to mind famous male-female country duos like Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner or Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. Those comparisons feel even more appropriate when taking in these songs that manage to find fresh expressions of blushing romance (“I’m Unfamiliar”) and bitter regret, and, on the show stopping Marty Robbins-like title track, a cautionary tale of a fatal roadside accident. Let this not be the only time these three get together in a studio.