This Month's Vinyl Picks: July 2021
The keenly-awaited new album from Billie Eilish, an anniversary remix from Muse and a new collaboration from Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth are among the best new vinyl releases coming your way in July...
Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever
Two years on from the release of her excellent, multi-Grammy-winning debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, all eyes are on Billie Eilish as she prepares to deliver its hotly-anticipated follow-up later this month.
Set to arrives in our stores on July 30, her new album Happier Than Ever includes 16 new tracks, including recent singles ‘Lost Cause’ and ‘Your Power’, and in addition to the standard black vinyl edition there’s also a limited edition pressed onto opaque light blue vinyl that includes a free poster and is exclusively available at hmv.
Various Artists - The Sound of Music OST
A musical that enjoys an almost cult-like following more than half a century after it first appeared on cinema screens, The Sound of Music was by no means an instant or universal hit with critics – the famously outspoken New York film critic Pauline Kael once memorably described the film as a “sugar-coated lie” that "turned the audience into emotional and aesthetic imbeciles". Ouch.
Not that it mattered much. Adjusted for inflation, the film remains one of the biggest-grossing of all time even today and its soundtrack, written by Broadway composer Irvin Kostal and the famed duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein – has remained equally popular. The soundtrack returns to vinyl this month in the form of a new limited edition pressing on ‘golden sun’ vinyl that’s available exclusively at hmv.
Various Artists - Dark Nights: Death Metal
One of the more unusual – but intriguing – vinyl releases coming in July is a new soundtrack / compilation curated by the Tyler Bates and the folks behind DC’s comic series Dark Nights: Death Metal (created by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo).
Featuring various compositions and collaborations between Bates and the likes of Maria Brink, Gil Sharrone and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, the album also features tracks contributed by Mastodon, Idles, Denzel Curry and Manchester Orchestra, among various others. Dark Nights: Death Metal arrives on July 16 and in addition to an eye-catching blue vinyl option there’s also a hmv exclusive limited edition pressed on dark red vinyl.
Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth – Utopian Ashes
Taking on a little extracurricular work between albums with Primal Scream, frontman Bobby Gillespie has teamed up with Jehnny Beth, best known to many as the frontwoman for Savages, for a new album of melancholy, soul-infused songs tracing the breakdown of a relationship across its nine lushly-orchestrated tracks.
Set to arrive on all formats on July 2, their new collaboration album Utopian Ashes is also available on limited edition red vinyl exclusively at hmv.
Muse - Origin of Symmetry: XX Anniversary Remixx
The second album from English rock trio Muse took the theatrical sound of their debut album Showbiz to new heights in a way that would set the template for their trademark bombastic sound for years to come, scoring hits with sings such as ‘Plug In Baby’ and a barnstorming cover of Nina Simone hit ‘Feeling Good’.
20 years on from its original release, the album is not only getting a new anniversary reissue but also a completely new remix from Rich Costey, whose impressive list of credits as a mix engineer includes Rage Against the Machine’s Renegades and The Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Comatorium. The newly-remixed version of Origin of Symmetry arrives in stores on double black vinyl.
Prince – Welcome 2 America
Sony Music CMG
One the newest extractions from Prince’s fabled and famously vast archive of unreleased material, Welcome 2 America is one of several ‘lost’ Prince albums that was originally recorded and scheduled for release in 2010 – a tour was even announced – before being mysteriously abandoned by the artist himself and consigned to the vault.
The first full, previously-unreleased album to be released following his untimely death in 2016, Welcome 2 America arrives on July 30 in a variety of formats, including standard black vinyl, limited edition clear vinyl, and a deluxe 2LP, CD and Blu-ray box set.
UFO - Force It
OK, first of all let’s have a little chat about that cover artwork shall we? Provocative enough that, even in 1975, UFO’s fourth album almost got itself banned from sale in the UK (and was considerably toned down for the US release), but not all is quite as it first appears on the cover of Force It. Designed by Hipgnosis - the team behind Pink Floyd’s iconic Dark Side of the Moon cover, among many others – the long-haired figure on the left was subsequently revealed to be Throbbing Gristle’s Cosey Fanni Tutti, pressing herself against their bandleader (and her then-boyfriend), Genesis P-Orridge, while the bathroom imagery and title were intended as a play on the word ‘faucet’. Make of all that what you will.
Produced by Ten Years After bassist Leon Lyons, the album is often considered one of their best and finds the band occupying a strange space somewhere between post-Zeppelin hard rock, proto-heavy metal, frenetic pub rock and, at times, full-on prog indulgence. Their first LP to chart in the US, Force It returns to vinyl – in uncensored form – on July 30 and comes pressed on either standard black or limited edition clear vinyl.
Enigma - MCMXC a.D.
Virgin EMI Records
One of those albums that seems to come out of absolutely nowhere and enjoys phenomenal success, Enigma’s debut LP arrived in 1990 and was the brainchild of Romanian-German producer Michael Cretu. The idea was simple: combine haunting Gregorian chants with a new age aesthetic and the kind of laid-back drum rhythms you’d find on a Soul II Soul record. The result was unique, and insanely popular, selling over 12 million copies worldwide.
Cretu returned to repeat the feat three years with its follow-up The Cross of Changes, which followed a similar formula while switching out the Gregorian chanting for that of an indigenous Austronesian tribe from Taiwan, again to enormous global success. They’ve faded from view since, but 30 years on from its original release their debut album returns to vinyl on July 23 as part of a reissue program that will also see The Cross of Changes re-released the same day.