Record Time: New & Notable Vinyl Releases (December 2021)

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Wolftooth: Blood & Iron (Napalm)

Like much of the current school of heavy rockers, Indiana quartet Wolftooth aren’t looking to mess with a winning formula. The sound of their three albums to date is meat and potatoes metal—no new ground broken and no real need to push the envelope. They stick to what works: gooey guitar riffs inspired by Sabbath and Uriah Heep, wall-rattling drum work and lyrics that speak of all manner of fantastical adventures, demonic possessions and other tales drawn from centuries old literature. Much like the album art, it’s like staring into a Frank Frazetta poster and imagining all kinds of bloody conflict and magickal intrusions that led to this moment. That’s why it’s a little disappointing to hear how stunted the music sounds on vinyl. There’s a thick layer of gauze covering over the band’s open wound assault that is only corrected by an overuse of the volume knob—which results in drawing out the more digital details of the recording process.


The Dave Clark Five: Glad All Over (BMG)

There’s neither an anniversary nor any other kind of milestone to tie to this re-release of the Dave Clark Five’s debut U.S. full-length. There doesn’t really need to be. This Tottenham quintet was one of the other British Invasion acts to truly challenge the Beatles’ ubiquity on the American charts in the ’60s with hits like this album’s title track and “Because.” It helped that they pretty much saturated the market. This record was the first of four the group would release in 1964—all of them landing in or near the Top 10. It also didn’t hurt that the DC5 were the perfect blend of nasty and sweet, as born out on this fine reissue. The sentiments in their original songs had a romantic bent, be it the joyful glow of “All of the Time” or the baleful “Bits & Pieces.” But the band’s overdriven attack (everything from Clark’s drums to Denis Payton’s saxophone to Mike Smith’s vocals are coated in a thin layer of distortion) goes for the throat, fangs and claws exposed. Remastered for vinyl using the original session tapes, the music burns hotter than ever.


John Denicola: She Said (Omad)

John Denicola’s place in the pop history books is set. He co-wrote “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” two massive singles from the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing, and he was an early mentor to the band that became Maroon 5. Not content to rest on his laurels and a steady stream of royalty checks, Denicola has taken a late career detour into becoming a solo recording artist, releasing his second album She Said recently. Nothing about this collection comes as expected. The title track is a wowing bit of chillwave worthy of Washed Out. His take on Bonnie Dobson’s post-apocalyptic classic “Morning Dew” is an explosion of psychedelic colors and Blake Fleming’s prog drumming. “Breathe Deep” could be a Toro Y Moi deep track. And his version of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” is faithfully rendered in a magic hour glow. I’m doubtful this will make more than a small ripple in the pond of popular music but I’m ever so chuffed that Denicola continues to put himself and his music out there.


Sam Barron: A Prayer For A Field Mouse (Mother West)

The constituent elements of Sam Barron’s work—unhurried country-folk-pop played with little flair; beige, featureless singing—are the sort that tend to quickly turn me off of an artist and an album. Yet, there’s something ineffable quality to this LP that kept me locked in to both sides. Maybe it’s the complete lack of pretension within each song. Barron and his crew perform everything with lived in skill and zero ego. It’s working class music that goes down nicely in the background while happy hour drinks are served or dinner is being whipped up in the home kitchen. It’s the midrange whiskey that won’t send you reeling but will help get your buzz on all the same.


William Hooker: Big Moon (ORG Music)

Percussionist/poet William Hooker has maintained one of the most curious and fertile creative minds in jazz music since emerging from within the New York underground community in the late ’70s. He continues to cultivate artistic relationships with musicians outside the typical fold (members of Sonic Youth, electronic producer DJ Olive) and support new talent like the players that join him on Big Moon. Joining him on this interplanetary journey is a wide-ranging ensemble that includes younger artists like saxophonist Sarah Manning, pianist Mara Rosenbloom and synth whiz Theo Woodward along with more seasoned musicians like bassist Jai-Rohm Parker Wells and flutist Charles Compo. Together, the group stirs up a vast cloud of moondust on the free flowing blast of “Ring-Pass-Not” and “Seven Rays” while honing their collective presence to a sharp direct point on the drowsy, bluesy closer “Synthesis of Understanding.”


Eva Gardner: Darkmatter (self-released)

Eva Gardner cut her musical teeth in the sprawl of L.A., following her parents’ lead (they owned the storied Hollywood club the Cat & Fiddle) into a career that includes stints in the Mars Volta and backing up Cher and P!nk as their touring bassist. Gardner’s collective resume goes a long way toward preparing you for what she has recorded on her latest release Darkmatter. These six songs have the punch of radio pop, the glitz of classic glam and a seamy underbelly worthy of a Sunset Strip bar crawl. Floating through it all like a warm breeze or a shot cutting through the clouds are Gardner’s delicate voice and melodic bass work. They add a lift and a bounce to this material as well as the right shot of addictive sweetness.