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  • Climbing! Climbing! Quick View

    $29.99
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    Climbing!

    Mastered Impeccably from the Original Windfall Records Tapes by Joe Reagoso at Friday Music Studios with Kevin Gray and Pressed at R.T.I., This 1970 Masterpiece is Seeing its First Time Audiophile Vinyl Mastering as well as Seeing the Vinyl Format in Almost Four Decades!


    Includes the Original LP Cover Gatefold Cover Graphics, Including the Stunning Artwork and Photography not Seen in Years and the Unique Windfall LP Label Artwork Which was also a Part of the Whole Package.


    Climbing! also referred to by fans as Mountain Climbing! was released in 1970, went gold immediately and began a very successful partnership albeit brief for this arena packing quartet. Consisting of guitar shredder/vocalist extraordinaire Leslie West, the late great Felix Pappalardi on bass, keys and vocals, the explosive Corky Laing on drums and the masterful Steve Knight on organ/piano, Mountain was the band of choice for many hard rock fans throughout the seventies.


    Gaining mass momentum from their appearance at Woodstock in 1969, the band got in the studio and cut this masterwork with mega producer and Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi (Cream, Hot Tuna, Jack Bruce), churning out soon to be smash hits that would be forever played on classic rock stations globally. Since Cream was no longer an entity, the great Felix Pappalardi's affiliation with this groundbreaking trio surely paid off with his studio skills, production techniques and knowledge of working with sounds and elements that surely changed the way a lot of us listen to albums these days.


    Tracks like Jack Bruce and Pete Brown's Theme For An Imaginary Western and For Yasgur's Farm would show not only the studio wizardry of the great Felix Pappalardi but also his unique vocal prowess and artillery like bass playing, which today is emulated by many, and made this album the masterpiece it is.


    More burners like Leslie West's delivery on Never In My Life and Sittin' On A Rainbow showcase the brilliance of the man, the guitar and the voice which is equally important whenever discussing the talents of this superstar blues rock master. Corky Laing and Steve Knight propel the band into realms not heard in years with their never tiring percussive drum and keyboard interplay. Just check out the hard work driving sounds of Silver Paper and Boys In The Band.


    Even an acoustic side of Mountain enhances the masterwork with a pair of exceptional tunes To My Friend and The Laird, highlighting the acoustic and folk roots of both Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi.

    1. Mississippi Queen
    2. Theme For An Imaginary Western
    3. Never In My Life
    4. Silver Paper
    5. For Yasgur's Farm
    6. To My Friend
    7. The Laird
    8. Sittin' On A Rainbow
    9. Boys In The Band
    Mountain
    $29.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP Buy Now
  • Nantucket Sleighride Nantucket Sleighride Quick View

    $29.99
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    Nantucket Sleighride


    First Time Friday Music 180 Gram Vinyl + Gatefold Cover Presentation


    Mastered Impeccably By Joe Reagoso


    Pressed At R.T.I. On Super Limited Edition Clear Vinyl!


    Includes 12 By 24 Lyric/ Photo Insert


    After an blistering performance at Woodstock in 1969 and a great chart run with Mississippi Queen & their first album Climbing!, Mountain roared back a year later with their stellar masterwork Nantucket Sleighride.


    Featuring the legendary Leslie West (guitars/vocals), the late Felix Pappalardi (bass/vocals), Corky Laing on drums and the late Steve Knight on keys, Mountain were one of the biggest super groups of the seventies as the 9 stellar tracks on this Lp will attest.


    In addition to the brilliant title track, the Lp opens with one of their biggest hits Don't Look Around, along with the hard rockin' You Can't Get Away. Other fan favorites include The Animal Trainer and The Toad, as well as the album closer The Great Train Robbery.


    Friday Music is no stranger to the magic of Mountain, therefore we are truly honored to release their incredible Nantucket Sleighride for the first time on 180 Gram Audiophile CLEAR Vinyl. Impeccably mastered by Joe Reagoso (Mountain/Deep Purple) and pressed at RTI, this limited edition release will also be featured in the original gatefold Lp art, along with a lyric/ photograph 12 by 24 insert which will truly enhance your listening pleasure.

    1. Don't Look Around
    2. Taunta (Sammy's Tune)
    3. Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)
    4. You Can't Get Away
    5. Tired Angels (To J.M.H.)
    6. The Animal Trainer And The Toad
    7. My Lady
    8. Travellin' In The Dark
    9. The Great Train Robbery
    Mountain
    $29.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP Buy Now
  • Still Climbing Still Climbing Quick View

    $18.99
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    Still Climbing

    Leslie West is set to releases his album Still Climbing in 2013 via Provogue Records / Mascot Label Group.


    Originality, excitement, honesty and survival are all part of what makes a legend, and those qualities ripple through every song on the album. It's a testimonial to the strength and durability of West's artistry. Born October 22, 1945, as he approaches his 68th birthday, West has packed some of the most soulful and searing vocal performances of his half-century career into these 11 tracks. His guitar has never sounded more massive or riff-orientated.


    What's different on Still Climbing is that I wanted my guitars to sound as big as I look. So I used four of my Dean Signature model guitars with my Mountain of Tone humbucking pickups. I plugged them into my Blackstar amps - no pedals - and turned them up loud and raw, and what you hear is exactly what I did in the studio. These Blackstar amps deliver everything I need without 'confidence' pedals. I played one of the early tracks we recorded for Slash, and he said, 'That is as heavy as it gets.'


    Still Climbing is co-produced by West and Mike Metal Goldberg, who engineered all of the sessions. Songs like Dyin' Since The Day I Was Born, Hatfield or McCoy, and Busted, Disgusted or Dead establish a new litmus test for heavy.


    The latter features West and Johnny Winter on duelling slide guitars. West also gave up smoking cigarettes and pot after a bout with bladder cancer, so it's no wonder many of Still Climbing's numbers explore the theme of survival and, ultimately, triumph. To that end, West avows, Not only am I lucky to be here, but because I stopped smoking my voice is now stronger than it's ever been - as strong as my guitar playing.


    His inclusion of Feeling Good, a song by British actor-musician Anthony Newley that was made famous by Steve Winwood's group Traffic, is a testimonial to all of that. Its lyrics celebrate a new dawn for me as West and his long-time buddy Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) trade vocal lines.


    West has always been an outstanding vocalist, earning comparisons to soul legends like Otis Redding since his 1969 debut Mountain, which gave his historic band its name. On Still Climbing West revisits the catalogue of another classic soul man, Percy Sledge, with the enduring When a Man Loves a Woman. He's joined by now 32 year-old soul man Jonny Lang, who he met 15 years ago when Lang was a rising guitar prodigy. West says they cut the tune side-by-side in the studio, their soaring guitars and voices twining to bring fresh blood and a blues-soaked arrangement to the song.


    When a Man Loves a Woman, Never Let Me Go and Fade Into You explore a romantic theme. In 2009 West married his wife Jenni, who co-wrote many of Still Climbing's songs with the guitar giant.


    Balls, guts, heart - more words that are part of West's legend and describe the roaring crescendos and deep emotional roots of Still Climbing - and West himself. You know, when it comes to talent, we don't all move at the same rate of speed, West muses. Some people start at the top of their game and after 10 or 20 years you wonder what the hell happened to them. I like to joke that the older I get the better I used to be, but after giving up drugs and smoking, my voice can hit notes that I never could reach before. I'm thankful for that.

    1. Dyin' Since The Day I Was Born (With special guest Mark Tremonti)
    2. Busted, Disgusted or Dead (With special guest Johnny Winter)
    3. Fade Into You
    4. Not Over You At All
    5. Tales Of Woe
    6. Feeling Good (with special guest Dee Snider)
    7. Hatfield or McCoy
    8. When A Man Loves A Woman (With special guest Jonny Lang)
    9. Long Red
    10. Don't Ever Let Me Go (With special guest Dylan Rose)
    11. Rev Jones Time (Somewhere Over The Rainbow)
    Leslie West
    $18.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • The Best Of Mountain The Best Of Mountain Quick View

    $29.99
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    The Best Of Mountain


    The Mountain 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl Series Continues On Friday Music!


    The Legendary Greatest Hits ..First Time On Audiophile Vinyl!


    Mastered Impeccably By Joe Reagoso At Friday Music Studios.


    Manufactured By R.T.I.


    In 1973, the good folks at Windfall and Columbia Records compiled
    an amazing overview of Mountain's most memorable and fan driven
    favorites simply titled The Best Of Mountain. This collection featured the
    brilliant lead vocals and dangerous guitar work of Leslie West, the sorely
    missed bass guitar, lead vocals and production of Felix Pappalardi (Cream),
    the driving keyboards of Steve Knight and the heavy metal drums of Corky
    Laing.


    This mammoth collection had something for every one of its devoted
    fans as it culled tracks not only from the band's output on Windfall like their
    earth shattering smashes Mississippi Queen and Nantucket Sleighride, but
    it also included the rare LP edit version of Roll Over Beethoven. Therefore,
    a good majority of the hits and definitive Mountain tracks are included on
    this career overview of songs which will forever stand the test of heavy metal
    time.


    Their most familiar songs from Climbing!, Flowers Of Evil and
    Nantucket Sleighride are featured with hard rockers like Never In My Life,
    Don't Look Around and Crossroader. Plus even more Mountain classics are
    included like Tanuta, The Animal Trainer And The Toad and The Boys In The
    Band.


    The hard rocking progressive sound of Mountain is also highlighted
    with massive hits like their definitive interpretation of Jack Bruce & Pete
    Brown's Theme For An Imaginary Western and their stellar tribute to the
    Woodstock nation with the legendary For Yasgur's Farm.


    The music of Mountain has made them one of the most loved bands
    of all time. Even to this day, their concerts are important events worldwide,
    their albums and songs are of legendary proportion, and the undying energy
    between each of its individual members is second to no one.


    Friday Music is honored once again to announce another installment
    to our beloved Mountain/Friday Music 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl Series
    with the first time HQ vinyl release of The Best Of Mountain. This audiophile
    event is mastered impeccably by Joe Reagoso and features all of the original
    Windfall Records versions of their finest recordings ever.


    For this special 40th Anniversary limited edition release, we are also
    including for the first time in four decades, the original alternate front cover
    LP gatefold artwork not seen in years, which will truly enhance your hours
    of listening enjoyment. And as always, we include a protective vinyl sleeve
    for the fine album cover and poly-lined sleeve for the audiophile vinyl disc to
    help keep your musical investment in mint shape.


    The Best Of Mountain ..Relive your favorite hard rock moments
    once again with Leslie, Felix, Corky and Steve . now an audiophile vinyl
    reality .from your friends at Friday Music.

    1. Never in My Life
    2. Taunta (Sammy's Tune)
    3. Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)
    4. Roll Over Beethoven
    5. For Yasgur's Farm
    6. The Animal Trainer and the Toad
    7. Mississippi Queen
    8. King's Chorale
    9. Boys in the Band
    10. Don't Look Around
    11. Theme for an Imaginary Western
    12. Crossroader
    Mountain
    $29.99
    180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP Buy Now
  • So Much Forever So Much Forever Quick View

    $18.99
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    So Much Forever

    After More Heart Than Brains was released in 2009, Greetings From Tuskan (Joëlle Lê) and Buck 65 (Rich Terfry) directly started working on a follow up record. This turned out to be a high mountain to climb and it wasn't until September 2013 that everything starting to come together. A half-decade removed from the ethereal hopeless romanticism of 2009 Bike For Three! have returned with their sophomore LP on Fake Four, Inc.


    The album begins with the sound of a solitary heart beating underscored by Joëlle's eerie, soothing atmospherics. From there the urgency of "Full Moon" kicks in and Rich is at the podium, unraveling his innermost thoughts through tightly knit stanzas and abstracted fragments.


    Joëlle's aural shapes and colours have found a focus that push Rich's words and performance to new places. Both artists feeding off each others darkest states and lingering demons. Joëlle imagined a mesmerizing foundation for Rich's poetry and associate thoughts. The result is the music of a shared lucid dream and a conversation held in several different languages.


    The listener is left to connect the dots on cryptic tracks like "You Can Be Everything" and "The Muse Inside Me", as Buck's frantic internal dialogue refracts off of Joëlle's arpeggiating synths, rich, multi-hued textures and subtle backing vocals.


    So Much Forever retains its thematic continuity through Rich's candid writing and Joëlle's kaleidoscopic collages whilst allowing the protagonist to explore a wide range of deliveries. On "Conflation", Buck is a beat poet lost in time, placing his anguish in a larger context and wrapping up the record with the thesis statement "My love will level this city."


    So Much Forever can be seen as the logical next step in their story, another page in their shared diary that sees Joëlle taking up more vocal duties and Rich exploring new corners of his imagination.


    Oh yes, they still haven't met. More close than ever.

    1. Intro
    2. Full Moon
    3. Agony
    4. Heart As Hell
    5. Successful With Heavy Losses
    6. Wolf Sister
    7. Ethereal Love
    8. The Last Romance
    9. Sublimation
    10. You Can Be Everything
    11. The Muse Inside Me
    12. Stay Close Until We Reach The End
    13. The Dream
    14. Conflation
    15. Outro
    Bike For Three!
    $18.99
    Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
  • Fly Fly Quick View

    $27.99
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    Fly

    What you hear on Fly is Yoko Ono's disarming combination of opacity and visceral, personal transparency in full bloom. It's one of the most unbridled, most captivating soul albums ever made. And that's right where she wants you: vulnerable, wide open to any-and-everything, ready to have your world tipped onto its head. She's a master of spinning your head around.

    First, you get the Bar Band from Hell of "Midsummer New York" to kick things off. It's about the last thing you'd expect from Ono coming off Plastic Ono Band. But here you are, listening to Ono channeling Elvis. Why am I all of a sudden bopping along to it? At 16-minute-plus, the tranced-out,motorik-inspired boogie "Mind Train" is rough-and-ready for your next basement get down.Movement and perspiration required. Then, we have the absolutely gutting blues of "Don't Worry,Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand in The Snow)." Full of ache and raw emotion, the song is a love note, a plea for forgiveness, to her estranged daughter Kyoko shot across the universe on a flaming arrow. Ono follows this stampede of emotion with the self-referential torch song "Mrs.Lennon," a wounded song that gets right into the Universal Loneliness. And so here you are. You're devastated. You're exhausted. You're exhilarated. And you're only 1/4 of the way up the mountain that is Fly. Dig deep, traveler, it's worth the climb.

    LP 1
    1. Midsummer New York
    2. Mind Train
    3. Mind Holes
    4. Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow)
    5. Mrs. Lennon
    6. Hirake
    7. Toilet Piece / Unknown
    8. O'Wind (Body Is The Scar Of Your Mind)


    LP 2
    1. Airmale
    2. Don't Count The Waves
    3. You
    4. Fly
    5. Telephone Piece
    6. Between The Takes
    7. Will You Touch Me
    8. The Path
    9. Head Play (Medley: You/Airmale/Fly)

    Yoko Ono
    $27.99
    Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
  • Shadowed By Vultures Shadowed By Vultures Quick View

    $16.99
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    Shadowed By Vultures

    Polar have been teasing us for 'Shadowed By Vultures' since the release of 'Glass Cutter' in October and 'Mountain Throne' earlier this week and it still isn't enough. This early on it is clear that 'Shadowed By Vultures' is one of the best things to come from 2014 already, Polar are always reliable for epic pit inducing, crowd chanting tracks but this full length has taken it to the next level. Polar have matured and developed bringing depth, musicianship and ingenuity to create a inspirational and remarkable album that will form an iconic place in their discography.


    'Shadowed By Vultures' opens with 'First Breath' which immerses the listener in, calling them out with a dominating and prevalent riff heaving them to the forefront of the album. In 52 seconds we have already had all our attention drawn out by a tyrannical Polar calling card that preludes what is unleashed throughout the entire album. And they continue to dominate our ears with 'Blood Lines' pulling Woodford's vocals forward in an anthemic chorus, his vocals are one of Polar's unique points that through every rasp, growl and shout there is nothing but clarity, you can hear every word and shout it back.


    First single 'Glass Cutter' premiered on Radio 1 in October and still stands out as one of the most influential tracks from 'Shadowed By Vultures'. The track ignites crowds and echoes out venues with 'I am the water that fills your lungs' and spurs images of people climbing over each other in frantic Polar induced fits. However, 'Before The Storm' then brings the full length to a hauntingly unexpected halt, the female vocals juxtaposing Woodford's rawr into an eloquent and fragile track that delves deeper into anything we could have expected. A longing, fervent track that commands notice among the destructive album as we go into the second single 'Mountain Throne'.


    Within days of the video being posted fans have begged for the lyrics so they can sing them back. As guitars rise up and haul us through every breaking breath of the track you can see why 'Mountain Throne' has swept up fans all over the internet sitting behind their screens desperate to shout 'We are, we are condemned to be criminals!'. And Polar do not cease there as they rip into the neck breaking 'Vipers' which finds itself as another example of Polar's outstanding song writing before title track 'Shadowed By Vultures' that never relents. The track falls on intricate, resilient and winding riffs that form around unrelenting percussion. As instruments rile up in pauses into incessant uproars before piano keys fall in and we seamlessly find ourselves in 'Paradise' . The articulate and delicate track forms the most beautiful breather in such a hefty album allowing a moment of recollection before 'Create'.


    If you didn't know 'Create' from their previous EP 'Inspire Create Destroy' then you don't know what Polar excellence you have been missing. Although they have clearly developed from their previous work 'Create' still commands every second of savage attention it deserves. If Polar don't have you chanting 'Inspire! Create! Destroy!' by the end of their set, you are definitely in the wrong place, or they have already broken you. As the album closes on 'Our Legacy' Polar unleash a rasping raw space before strings wind us into a frenzy that leaves us desperate to play the album again. Twangs and stomps winding down a diverse and prodigious album that will be splitting our headphones for years to come.


    - Amber Carnegie (Hit The Floor)

    1. First Breath
    2. Blood Lines
    3. Glass Cutter
    4. Black Days
    5. Before the Storm (Featuring Ellie Price)
    6. Mountain Throne
    7. Vipers
    8. Shadowed By Vultures
    9. Paradise
    10. Create
    11. Our Legacy
    Polar
    $16.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Freedom & Surrender Freedom & Surrender Quick View

    $24.99
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    Freedom & Surrender

    Freedom and Surrender

    The circuitous dance between the beginning and the end.


    Something amazing and terrifying happened to me as I entered into my 30s. I realized that I had run far off the course of my scripted plans, my projections for who I'd be, what I'd be doing, and how it would feel at this point. Then, the realization the mapped trail couldn't be recovered. A hound without a hunt, I was captured by unfamiliar woods far from earshot of the original game and players. Untethered by marriage with a scrap pile of maternal designs that never took root, I found myself forced, thank goodness, to let go.


    The pageantry of over-identifying with past experiences and old ideals had ended. In review, I found that life's unfolding had exceeded my most elaborate visions while other hopes had slipped into ruin in the clasp of my determined hands. Meanwhile, a new meekness and curiosity made all of my experiences sacred and overwhelming, something akin to a reverent depression. Desire was quieted in my heart, and I was uneasy in the cool of my newness, wondering what I really wanted to do next.


    When the label suggested that I consider working with Larry Klein, my entire focus shifted with a warm shrug, Why not? He's produced some of my favorite records. Within a few conversations I had found plenty of reasons to trust the voice on the other end of the line. I knew that I was respected for my potential and achievements, and he wasn't new to dealing with strong women. Another shrug, Why not? I had plenty to sing about now, a heart cracked open by disappointment, a will broken by the truth. I was ready for a new project, the kind of baby that I knew how to make.


    It was suggested to me initially that I make a record of covers. It was the very moment my hard head became bent on writing my way out of my valley, no matter how hard or long I'd have to work for it. I'd count my steps and tell stories until I met the ridge line without borrowing anyone else's view. This was not my hour to cover, but to uncover, and hopefully, the reveal would be worth something. I trembled in the wait for my own revelation.


    I scurried around the country (Nashville, New York and LA) to have collaborative conversations with old and new friends. I remembered how to just sit with people and talk, even though I was on a schedule and budget. We all spoke like we were on Grandma's porch, but the work got done. To my delighted surprise, much of this record was written with Larry himself.


    My average day of preproduction with him looked like: A sunrise run and swim at Santa Monica pier, showing up to his studio sandy, salty, and red faced, talking through beautiful rambles with him and David Batteau while high on espresso. Then we'd get snagged by a soulful riff from Larry's acoustic bass guitar as he noodled along (seemingly) aimlessly. Often a story would present a hook and we'd return the next day with responses. This felt like an old and dignified pace of work, but also kind of risky. However, I looked up after a few months of these weeklong neighborly sits and real songs were following us, a train getting longer, each car intact and connected as we rolled on.


    In the evenings I listened to demos of the budding songs on my phone as the sun set over the Pacific. I could see them, unmade movies. The tide of communion would pull back and the shining pieces left could be made into anything. This is when I knew that I had, in these mosaic sessions, stumbled upon a new page of my life.


    I remembered the feeling of being found. One of the most moving songs from it's inception was, Somewhere Down the Mystic. Playing on the simple wonders of my rustic Appalachian life, we imagined a love lost to death and the feeling of it's lasting warmth, a nod to love's reach across life's threshold.


    Months later, on February 20th, I had a near death experience, sliding across 300 yards of ice coated mountain curve. I softened my body and rested my hands in my lap. The heavy car floated silently towards a 75 foot ravine that ended with a wide band of frozen creek. Ok was the only thing I could get out in a sigh. I was stopped by a young bellwood tree that grew out of the bank like a hook. I slowed my breathing and meditated in suspension. About 20 minutes later, a young neighbor pulled the door open, reaching in with a strong arm to guide my climb out. Now when I sing the chorus, I see the gracious hole and the sweet sapling that grows over it. It threw me back, a fish returned to the river with a cut lip.


    The pink bells of the tree can be seen on my homepage, and I want to keep such simple things close from now on. Why not? They were strong enough to save me. In surrender I experience freedom. The gift of an end is a beginning. I greet the sun with the only reason I've ever needed, why not?

    -Lizz Wright

    1. Freedom
    2. The Game
    3. The New Game
    4. Lean In
    5. Right Where You Are
    6. River Man
    7. Somewhere Down The Mystic
    8. Real Life Painting
    9. To Love Somebody
    10. Here And Now
    11. You
    12. Blessed The Brave
    13. Surrender
    Lizz Wright
    $24.99
    Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
  • Babel Babel Quick View

    $16.99
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    Babel


    Babel follows the 2009 release of Mumford & Sons' debut album, Sigh No More. It is produced by Markus Dravs.


    Fantastic 4 Star review from American Songwriter!



    There are some guitar sounds so indelibly stuck into our collective pop-consciousness that even those who can't tell a minor from a major chord can identify the band or player from just a few riffs -a dreamy John Lennon lick, the cosmic climb of Joe Perry, Slash's slash, Nirvana's fuzzy-barre rips, the post-punk fury of Sonic Youth. Now, the chugging, kinetic strum of Mumford & Sons is slowly creeping onto this revered list - not born out of extreme skill or virtuosity but by sheer branding, note for note. And it's how the band's second album, Babel, opens on the title track: with that same very strum, born somewhere between English mountain folk and an old time Appalachia. You can nearly hear the sweat flying off Marcus Mumford, his Martin instrument hiked high on his chest, every time he and banjo player Winston Marshall attack their strings.

    So it's no coincidence, it seems, that the band's highly anticipated sophomore record begins exactly where we might expect, and the rest of LP that follows proves that this isn't an attempt to smash any expectations with a sudden progression of their style. For those devotees looking for the Mumfords to evolve drastically, well, you're out of luck. But who would that audience be, anyway? The band is no doubt polarizing: old time and bluegrass faithfuls wouldn't be caught dead with a copy of Sigh No More, and their most ardent followers are more likely to have an iPod stocked with Coldplay and John Mayer than Bill Monroe or Doc Watson. Even pop addicts can't deny the catchy craft of "Little Lion Man" or "The Cave." No one is looking for their Kid A. Thus Babel's not a new sentence in the book of Mumford & Sons - it's what happens after an ellipses. And in many ways, that suits them just fine. It will most definitely suit their fans.


    Marcus Mumford has always been a bit of a melancholy fellow, and even a marriage to pixie-haired starlet Carey Mulligan, sold-out shows and Grammy nominations haven't shaken the teary introspection from this set of songs. Obviously, Babel deals in a lot of religious imagery and lyrics - with all the success and opportunities to indulge, it seems the boys have taken a moment to ask a few questions of their maker. "This cup of yours tastes holy/but a brush with the devil can clear your mind," Mumford sings on the second track "Whispers in the Dark." It's an anthem call with a firm statement: "I'm a cad but I'm not a I'm not a fraud / I set out to serve the lord." Maybe the trials and tribulations of being simultaneously loved and harangued have worn on the Mumford's, but at least they can prove to themselves, their audience or even their lord that this stuff comes from the heart.


    The album's single, "I Will Wait," is an easy crowd-pleaser moment with an arena-ready hushed chorus, set to those furious strings. The lyric and melody could easily be a Fray song if you removed the plucking banjo -and that's the amazing thing about Mumford & Sons. Purists aside, there's no one else that can get an audience from ages eight to eighty screaming along to a bunch of acoustic instruments or urge a kid to choose guitar lessons over computer games. Every time they perform - live or on Babel - they do it with sheer fervor, as if it's both their first and last time.


    While the band is mostly known for their "Americana" sound, they also pull references from their side of the pond: from both classic British countryside folk and Celtic punk bands like The Pogues. Those influences run a little more clear on Babel - "Ghosts That We Knew" and "Reminder" are both soft, melancholy stunners born out of grassy hills and cockney-tinged tales told in wood-paneled bars. And "Broken Crown" is the boys at their angriest yet: "I'll never be your chosen one," Mumford sings lightly before launching into an all-out war over minstrel plucks. It's a force of a song, and not your firmest pick nor hard-earned callous could weather that storm.


    Babel has some other unexpected moments, too, like on "Hopeless Wanderer," which begins with keys instead of strum, and "Lover of the Light" is a sunnier moment, perhaps a nod to the singer's recent vows ("to have and to hold," Mumford howls on the track). And the album's closer, "Not Without Haste," is a beautiful lullaby meant more for singing a restless man to sleep than a still-innocent child.


    There's also a continuation of the Mumford's love of literary references, with the boys even copping recently to ripping a line from Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall - this is the band, after all, that was able to loop Macbeth's fateful cry of "stars, hide your fires" into their rollicking song "Roll Away Your Stone." So while the album title, Babel, is most likely a biblical reference, it's hard not to think of Jorge Louis Borges' short story, The Library of Babel. In it Borges imagines a universe composed of an endless library that contains every book in every possible permutation, and, therefore, nothing at all. This excess causes great despair for people of the library as they try to search for meaning in all of it. They fret. They come up empty.


    Babel may not hold all the answers, and it may not be some exotic transformation of their original formula - it's a safe bet to say that nothing from the Mumford & Sons may ever be. In The Library of Babel, the final realization that everything repeats itself is the universe's saving grace. And in Babel, you could say the same. Though there may not be endless possibilities, there's comfort - elegance, even - in that familiar, now nearly iconic rip of those strings, strummed in the way only those boys from West London can strum. It's not perfect, but it's perfectly Mumford & Sons.


    1. Babel
    2. Whispers In The Dark
    3. I Will Wait
    4. Holland Road
    5. Ghosts That We Knew
    6. Lover Of The Light
    7. Lovers' Eyes
    8. Reminder
    9. Hopeless Wanderer
    10. Broken Crown
    11. Below My Feet
    12. Not With Haste
    Mumford And Sons
    $16.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
  • Lift A Sail Lift A Sail Quick View

    $19.99
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    Lift A Sail

    After more than a decade, the men behind Yellowcard are reinventing themselves. In "Illuminate," Ryan Key sings: "We hope to run from what's been done/Look for a future no one else has sung." This is a message that the band clearly took to heart. Lift A Sail is Yellowcard's biggest album yet, a sweeping and illustrious rock album no one could have foreseen. And it's safe to say that this one is a game changer.


    Opener "Convocation" prepares listeners for the journey they are about to embark on - its openness is as beautiful and bright as it is tender and stirring, and it is a sign of what's to follow in the next twelve tracks. Not because of the tone or the lightness, but because of how big the track truly is. And while many fans are sure to draw comparisons between this and its Lights and Sounds counterpart, it is worth nothing that "Three Flights Up" closes in upon its piano centric melodies, whereas the layers of elegant strings in "Convocation" continue to swell until its conclusion.


    "Transmission Home" picks up where "Convocation" leaves off: with hollow, booming drums before diving into a crunchy guitar melody. The verses are grounded and clear-cut, contrasting with the spacious choruses that have Key pleading into the void: "I will send a transmission home/To say that I've been out here too long alone/And I wanna come down now." The bridge brings him back down with its sweet piano melody and soothing violins, while the synths sparkling just beneath the surface lend an ethereal awareness.
    Those synths play larger roles in later tracks, a truly new and unexpected look for Yellowcard. "Make Me So" makes use of electronic drums and bubbling, futuristic melodies to underscore the verses, building up one of the album's fastest tracks and leading into an explosive chorus. Meanwhile in "MSK," the track's synth-driven tunes coalesce with Sean Mackin's enlightened violins in what becomes a mash up of all that Yellowcard has been and all that the band has yet to become.


    Throughout Lift A Sail, listeners will hear Key push his vocals further than he has in the past. He plays around with falsetto and short riffs on songs like "Transmission Home" and "Illuminate," and as longtime fans listen through the album, there is sure to be one common thought: "I didn't know he could do that!" Surprising as it is, Key sounds stronger and more confident as a result and that's what is sure to resonate most.


    Noticeably missing through most of the album are the violins that have so long been a commanding force in Yellowcard's music. Their appearances in Lift A Sail are often subtler, just a gentle ringing in songs like "Madrid" and "Lift A Sail." But those moments when the strings take center stage are all the more touching for their rarity: a soaring solo in "Fragile and Dear," a "Believe"-esque melody in "MSK." Mackin's skills have by no means been put on a backburner for this album; rather, they have been refined and focused so they are at their most effective.


    Ryan Mendez has also continued to hone his talents, and produces some of his most impressive work since first joining Yellowcard over nine years ago. "One Bedroom," which starts with electronic drums and a soft acoustic melody, opens up in the bridge and sets Mendez up for a towering and defiant solo that rings out as the track gradually fades away.


    "The Deepest Well," featuring Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, is home to some of the heaviest tones found on Lift A Sail. The guitars cascade beneath the bold and rebellious verses ("And I will not be fooled again/I took my means and found my end/And all the days from then till now/Were steps I climbed to show you how"), and lead the charge into the final rounds of the chorus.


    Though much is different on Lift A Sail, it is the personal and honest reflection within the songs that makes this a true Yellowcard album. From meeting his wife ("Madrid") to the aftermath of an accident that left her paralyzed ("One Bedroom"), to the loss of his grandparents ("My Mountain"), Key pours himself into every line. And when all is said and done, his promise: "I've left myself in every song in every note/And if you need me I will never be too far," holds true for fans and family alike.


    Lift A Sail isn't the Yellowcard album we were all expecting - I'm not even sure the band knew what would come from this one. But now that it's been laid out, you can be damn sure it's the Yellowcard album we all needed.


    - Becky Kovach (Property Of Zach)

    1. Convocation
    2. Transmission Home
    3. Crash The Gates
    4. Make Me So
    5. One Bedroom
    6. Fragile and Dear
    7. Illuminate
    8. Madrid
    9. The Deepest Well
    10. Lift A Sail
    11. Msk
    12. My Mountain
    13. California
    Yellowcard
    $19.99
    Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
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