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In Rotation: Music We’re Listening to This Week

9 albums that were spinning on our turntables this week. Discover new music, timeless classics and obscure titles while getting to know us.

Eric Pye Hi-Fi Stereo System playing Paul Chambers Quartet

Listening to music is what got us all here in the first place and the best part of our week is when we share music during our Sunday staff meetings. If you thought we spend all night talking about loudspeakers, soundbars, and phono cartridges – you would be wrong. 15 minutes. Tops. Our diverse backgrounds have forged a lot of opinions about music and which albums and artists we need to be listening to. Sharing is caring. Sometimes. At the end of day, part of our job is to turn readers on to new music that we’re listening to. Our plan is to introduce music that we really like to a wider audience. Some will be brand new releases, and others will be timeless classics or obscure titles that you’ve probably never heard of.

One thing for sure — we listen to both kinds of music at Country and Western.

Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks

Bob Dylan Blood On The Tracks Album playing on the hi-fi
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks (MoFi 1 x 33.3 rpm and One Step 2 x 45 rpm) 

I’ve been searching for one or the other of these releases for ages, and kicking myself for the last year that I did not pick up the single record version when I saw it for sale a year ago at a little over $100 CAD. These kinda fell in my lap as a friend was helping sell off some records belonging to a recently deceased local collector. Both are incredible reissues, with very quiet backgrounds, phenomenal definition and dynamics, and of course the music is off the charts good. Don’t have a regular pressing to compare to, but these are possibly two of the best sounding records I’ve heard. Wish my turntable had a repeat function. – Eric Pye / Buy at Amazon

Paul Chambers – Bass On Top

Paul Chambers Quartet Bass On Top Album playing on the hi-fi
Paul Chambers – Bass On Top (Blue Note Records, Tone Poet Series, 33 rpm)

Released just this week, this is Paul Chambers, bassist extraordinaire and member of Miles Davis’ first great quintet, leading a 1957 session with Kenny Burrell (guitar), Hank Jones (piano) and Art Taylor (drums). Great session that just hums along at a laid-back, mid-tempo pace. Love these small-group sessions where 3 or 4 players get to jam, lay it out on some beautiful solos, and have some nice musical conversation. Chambers both plucks and bows his bass on different tracks, and I love the contrast of slap when he plucks and string texture when he bows. Rudy Van Gelder presides as engineer, and the sonics on the Kevin Gray remaster are sublime. – Eric Pye / Buy at Amazon

Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern

Arlo McKinley Die Midwestern Album
Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern (Oh Boy Records, 33 rpm)

I heard about this album/artist this week after seeing a few people post on Instagram. McKinley was the last artist signed to John Prine’s Oh Boy Records label before he passed. McKinley plays a brand of country that is steeped in soul, gospel, and even punk influences. He is a fantastic songwriter with deep sincerity in his lyrics. He reminds me a lot of Margo Price – someone who has given years of their life trying to make it in the music business, and created an honest, heartfelt debut record in the process. – Lauren Halliday / Buy at Amazon

Nina Simone – At Town Hall

Nina Simone at Town Hall Album
Nina Simone – At Town Hall (4 Men with Beards, A4MB-1291, 33 rpm)

One of my favorite record stores in San Antonio has been doing flash sales on IG and posted this one from Nina last week. I had to grab and give it a listen. As just her third release recorded at the young age of 27, this performance offers one of the earliest glimpses of her genius. The September 1959 concert was her New York debut, but you’d never guess it from what you hear. The beautiful timbre and masterful control of her voice are on full display, and supplemented by her graceful piano playing. It’s a gem. – Lauren Halliday / Buy at Amazon

Howard Jones – The 12” Album 

Howard Jones The 12" Album
Howard Jones – The 12” Album

This gem from 1984 is a mini “Best of” album which all Howard Jones fans should have. It’s extremely well produced and includes the previously unreleased “Always Asking Questions” and extended remixes of “What is Love,” and “Like to get to Know you Well.”  If you can find it, grab it. – Jeremy Sikora / Buy at Amazon

They Might Be Giants – Flood

They Might Be Giants Flood on cassette
They Might Be Giants – Flood (on cassette)

This album is an end-to-end blast to listen to. You’ll be happily singing along in no time. Released in 1990, it brings me right back to high school. It stands the test of time as well; my daughter has commandeered my old Sony Mega Bass Walkman and is currently rocking out to “Flood.” They have reissued this on vinyl, and it is readily available on CD and cassette. – Jeremy Sikora / Buy at Amazon

Donald Byrd – Byrd in Flight

Donal Byrd - Byrd in Flight Album
Donald Byrd – Byrd in Flight (Blue Note Record, Tone Poet Series, ST-84048)

Blue Note had a record-breaking year in 2020, and they started 2021 off with this excellent release featuring Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley (tenor sax), Duke Pearson (piano), Jackie McLean (alto sax), and Lex Humphries (drums). Byrd’s trumpet playing has always resonated very hard with me and “Cristo Redentor” from A New Perspective swirls around inside my head at the most inopportune times. Byrd in Flight demonstrates a maturation on his part; both in terms of his tone and songwriting. His improvisation is first rate and the album is beautifully recorded which only makes the music that much more impactful. – Ian White / Buy at Amazon

Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Black Pumas Album
Black Pumas – Black Pumas (ATO Records, AATO 1816)

There is so much soul and Barry White on this fantastic debut and Grammy-nominated album that I’m not sure which track I like best yet. The Motown vibe runs strong on this one; even though their music is a mixture of so many different styles. This has become late-night material with the lady of the house, or with a glass of Genrothes on the desk while I bang out some dialogue for a graphic novel I’m working on. Adrian Quesada and Eric Burton have stumbled onto something very special here. – Ian White / Buy at Amazon

Roxy Music – Country Life

Roxy Music Country Life Album
Roxy Music – Country Life (Capitol, ACAP 43649, 33 rpm, 180 gram)

Two albums removed from the departure of Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry crafted this slightly schizophrenic mixture of styles – that amazingly works the more times you listen to it. Ferry crosses back and forth between art-rock and more traditional pop/rock and you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get from one track to the next. “All I want Is You,” and “Out of the Blue” are sleek classics that flow into the other and just propel the rest of the album forward until the rather surprising “A Really Good Time” slows things down but does something really interesting; it sets the stage for Avalon which would be released 8 years later. – Ian White / Buy at Amazon

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