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Featured Albums and Team Reviews

Souvlaki_(album)_cover

Slowdive – Souvlaki (1994)

By Olive Welsh

As bleak and depressing as it is cinematic and exalting, Souvlaki truly is the shoegaze holy grail. On their sophomore album, the pioneering post-rock group Slowdive beckons us into its droney daydream landscape — will we find our way back?

Lead vocalist and guitarist Neil Halstead’s vocal melodies are at once monotonous yet tender— they echo and swirl around murmuring and dreamlike guitar layers provided by himself and guitarist Rachel Goswell. The album opens with the lethargic treatise “Alison”, and later meanders between the bleak and the heroic, culminating in an amorphous drone that lures us into a nostalgic trance.

The single off this record, “Alison”, is a downtempo yet forcefully resonant track — imagine the soundtrack of trekking through a searing desert plain towards an unending horizon, or spending a bleary-eyed grey day shuffling aimlessly through the park. Halstead and Goswell’s dual hazy guitar leads play out the epic rolling chorus melody of the track — single notes shrouded in reverb, piercing and whining against ephemeral, harmonizing vocals.

In standout tracks “Machine Gun” and “When the Sun Hits” whining, distant guitar leads intertwine with shuffling industrial percussion that mix electronic and analog drums into a hazy, metallic atmosphere. “Machine Gun” features elongated, piercing synths that resurface for a bright moment, then recede back into the ambient smoke of the track. Goswell provides angelic and ethereal vocals that soar above the mess, providing clarity and direction in the muddy vacuum.

Youthful angst certainly fuels this album… yet the band’s method of expression ends up exchanging intensity and aggression of emotionality for numbness and gloom. Dim, grungy and at times unhinged, the album ends up feeling more mature, measured and reflective than some of its more unhinged shoegaze contemporaries (Loveless — my bloody valentine, Psychocandy – The Jesus and Mary Chain).

There’s really no question — there’s a lot of pain behind Souvlaki… but the source is intentionally muddy and cloaked. It’s up to the listener to leaf through the forlorn layers of this album—or maybe the layers within oneself— to unearth its well-kept secret. 

If you enjoy the music of Mazzy Star, the xx, or Beach House, you’ll enjoy this album.

Past Featured Vinyl:

Tune-Yards

Sketchy

review by Steph Traylor
 
Released in March, 2021, this album is rockin us at the shop!!  It’s playful, experimental and somehow sounds like it was born in the 70’s or 80’s with its lively horns, afro-beat influences and soulful vocals.
 
Other associated bands: Dirty Projectors, Naytronix, Beep and Sister Suvi
 
Why we chose it:  We like the subtle thoughtfulness of this album.  While you’re bopping around to its playful beats, you can’t help but reflect on lyrics that touch on privilege, race and climate change.  It’s also just badass and FUN.
 
Pair it with a shaken iced raspberry mocha for a mind explosion
 
 

Nina Simone

Her Ultimate Collection

review by Steph Traylor
 
Released in 2020, this compilation has it all, encompassing over 3 decades of recordings and over 40 original albums. Something about warm summer days and Nina just go together like…well, like summer and soul.   The “High Priestess of Soul” however is more than just a jazz musician from the 60’s.  She was a powerful civil rights activist, celebrating black history, culture, music and fashion.  We’re proud to have her on our shelves!
 
Why we chose it: This album is grounding and uplifting at the same time and stretches across generations, appealing to those young kids of the millenium and bringing the older folks back to simpler times.
 
Pair it with: Iced Spicy Chai Tea Latte.  Without a doubt, heaven on earth.

Tribe Called Quest

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

review by Courtney McGrath
 
Tribe’s debut album, released in 1990, is arguably one of their most popular.  It is one of my favorite albums from this genre of music because of how easy it is to listen to, and how you can lose yourself in it.  The jazz/funk instrumentals with the chilled vocals, when paired with a lack of obscenities (somewhat- it’s still 90’s hip hop) make for a fantastic listening experience.
 
Why we chose it: epic, timeless and one our most played in house records.
 
Pair it with: A dry cappuccino, dusted with cocoa powder.  A classic deserves a classic.

Billy Eilish

Happier Than Ever

review by: Steph Traylor

Is it real?  Or is this just a dream?  This is the feeling you get after listening to the 19 year old’s second album.  With themes of wishing for simpler times and the challenges of fame with of course a sprinkle of super fun teenage emotions (hellooo self-image), “Happier Than Ever”  has a Leslie Feist (Broken Social Scene, Feist) feel to a couple tracks, but then you randomly get a flash of Brittney.  Which to us, is a little off-putting. 

You cannot argue the pure talent behind her deep vocals, and we really do love her jazzy take on pop acoustics.  As beautiful as it is though, we’re not entirely impressed by the depth of it.  Is it honest?  Sure. You can hear her emotions without a doubt and we applaud her transparent approach to anxiety, mental health and depression.  (We really do love how she sweetly sings “I hate you”) It’s unfortunately clear, however, that she is being pulled in a couple different directions in this album.  We’re rooting for you Billie and are excited about her future, but we may not have this album on the frequently-played list.   

Why We Chose it: We are big fans for anyone who tackles mental health with transparency, especially at such a young age.  Bravo, Billie.  You’re not alone.

Pair it with: Lavender cold brew.  Not too sweet, oh-so dreamy and trendy AF

Kate Bush

Hounds of Love

review by: Steph Traylor

Let’s just be clear, Running up That Hill is one of my top ten favorite songs so please understand the bias behind this review.  But come on, you can’t possibly walk away from the raw beauty that launches you into her most “Kate-bush”-like  album…. It leaves you energized, weepy and just jaded enough to think about flipping the world upside down.  DO IT.  Kate wants you to.

Released in 1985, this was Kate Bush’s 5th album, but the level of sophistication in her writing skills has always been present.  We love her natural soprano voice, her fearless exploration of sound with funky synthesizers and the heart pounding drums of this album as it almost feels like a march forward.  The LGBTQ icon has fearlessly written about gender equality and race while at same time, creating a romantic and softness around the issues.  It makes it realistic.  Attainable and discussable.  “Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?” It’s like she’s talking directly to us.  We get it, Kate.  We matter.  You matter.  Everything matters.

After listening to this album, we feel like the world has gotten just a little smaller, knowing that we are not alone and that we can tackle even the heaviest of issues.  It’s empowering, smart and we LOVE IT.  

Fun fact:  Kate Bush was discovered by Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmore when she was just 15 years old. 

Pair it with a double shot white chocolate mocha with whip cream.  Fluffy, sweet but packs a punch. 

Kings of Leon

When You See Yourself

review by: Steph Traylor

Let’s talk about the first three tracks.  With a slightly reinventive start, you immediately start realizing that this is a more upbeat recording than their previous albums.  We’re hopeful at this point that the band has actually evolved (hopefully past their 2016 flop).  But then it does this thing where you find it has become just background music.  And we’re all a little sad about it. (hang on til the end though!  Second to last track, “Echoing” is actually super fun and the last track has a beautiful dreamy feel)

Is it lovely?  It is. It’s a thoughtful album and has its own beauty.  100,000 People (probably our favorite track on the album) reminds us of the authenticity of all types of love and we enjoy looking through that lens.  Beyond that, we found ourselves yawning throughout.   Overall, we think this album was a miss, but still find it occasionally in rotation.   We love Kings of Leon, but we just wish they could get past who they were in the early 2000’s and give us something new, a bit more mature and maybe hold on to that spark of liveliness from the first track (“When you See Yourself, Are you Far Away”)

Why we chose it:  This album perked our interest because it is the first album to be sold as an NFT (Non-fungible Token), which is basically a digital currency.  It allows artists to sell their music with the ability to unlock special packages including limited pressings, concert tickets, art and other perks. As a whole, the album is beautiful enough and we will always love Kings of Leon. It’s a great addition to the collection, but is it a must-buy?  ehhhh…

Pair it with: Red Eye (shot of espresso in black coffee).  Something that’ll wake you up around track 4 so you can make it to the end. But the end is worth it!  Trust us.

Community Mental Health Playlist:

We asked community members (and visitors!) to write down their favorite songs, tracks and albums that have helped them with their mental health in one way or another.  Was there a song that helped you get through a difficult point in your life?  Was there an artist who’s lyrics really spoke to you and helped to bring about clarity during a confusing time? For the month of October, we accrued a list of nearly 100 songs and they are now available for YOU on Spotify.

Thank you, Steamboat for showing up!  We will be doing this again!

Our collection grows every month! Come by and check out what we currently have on the shelves.

If you have any requests or suggestions, please email us or stop in!