zz top's first album

ZZ Top: ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)

Day 20 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for an unpopular album by a popular band. It’s crazy that as popular as ZZ Top, are there’s not a lot of talk about their debut, wonderfully titled ZZ Top’s First Album, as if they were certain there would be more. One listen to that singular guitar tone and I can understand why. There may not have been a huge hit on the album (their second, Rio Grande Mud, would kick off with “Francine” and “Just Got Paid”) but you can already hear that Gibbons’s tone is there, and the rough and tumble electric blues they would come to dominate for decades was fleshed out if not fully formed from a songwriting perspective from the get-go.

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radio company - vol 2

Radio Company: Vol. 2 (2021)

Day 17 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for a guilty pleasure. I get the intent, but not the connotation: if you really enjoy something, do it unreservedly. There’s no room for guilt when there’s so much darkness out there; why hide your joy with something behind inane clichés like “guilty pleasure”? But I can understand sharing something that seems out of the ordinary from what you’re typically known for liking, especially when it comes to music. So let’s talk about how much I love Vol. 2, the second record from Radio Company, which too many people might pass by thinking it simply a vanity project from television star/heartthrob/mancrush Jensen Ackles except…damn, it’s so good.

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songhoy blues - résistance

Songhoy Blues: Résistance (2017)

Day 2 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for your newest discovery, and for me that would be the driving blend of Afrobeat and rock from Mali band Songhoy Blues. I’ve been drawn to the incredible music coming out of Africa – particularly the funk and rock from the 70s – for a while now, and after hearing about the band from Henry Rollins in his latest Stay Fanatic! volume I sought out something from the band and grabbed their second album, Résistance. Afrobeat, rock, blues, some horn-driven funk all smashed together? Yes, please…

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zappa - hot rats

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats (1969)

We’re back with the #mayvinylchallenge, and Day 1 is all about introducing yourself. And while there were plenty of artists and albums that made me love music, the first artist whose music made me obsessive about it was definitely Frank Zappa. A deep dive on his music has been a long time coming, and I still plan on it (between vinyl, CDs and box sets I’m over 70 albums) but if I were to introduce myself by way of a record, there’s no better artist. And even though Hot Rats wasn’t my first exposure to Zappa (that was Apostrophe (‘)) over time it’s become one of my favorite and most listened to records, regardless of artists or genre. So let get to it.

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sweeping promises - hunger for a way out

Sweeping Promises: Hunger For A Way Out (2020)

It started, like it usually does, by listening to Rollins’s radio show. It ended, like it usually does, by checking out both a new band – Sweeping Promises – and a new label – Feel It Records – digging deep into the wealth of cool new music. Hunger For A Way Out is the two-piece band’s debut, and it checks off all my happy boxes for this kind of niche rock and roll: mono, 45 rpm, garage-y feel that evokes Joy Division and other post-punk but with a keen sense of pop that’s not overly saccharine.

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RSD 2022

Record Store Day 2022

I’m not one to usually get up and get on the line for Record Store Day; I’m more than content to head over to my local shop a few days later and pick through the remains, or order online. But the last few weeks have been a hotbed of anxiety, and I’ve been relying more and more on music in order to detach and decompress (hence the massive influx of incoming vinyl). So this morning I roused myself, showered, and with a hot cup of coffee took myself down to Needle + Groove Records to see if I could nab the few titles I was interested in.

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