Well, Central Square Records is officially a mid-teenager, turning 15 years old this past May, and what an incredible ride it has been. We are so grateful to our customers and friends who have supported us over the years, and we look forward to rocking another 15 years as your local independent record shop.
We also celebrated our 10th Record Store Day, on April 21, and it was our best one yet. Record Store Day, for those who don’t know, is a special day, usually held on the third Saturday of April, which celebrates independent record stores around the world. The main focus is on exclusive vinyl pressings, ranging from reissues of classic albums, early releases of albums yet to be released and cool specially colored or shaped vinyl catered to the day.
We had our devoted friends and fans lined up on the porch in the wee hours that morning (one guy actually spent the night on our porch), ready to check off their wish lists. It is always a great day seeing friends and customers who have supported us over the years, as well as introducing new folks to the vinyl game. Some of the most popular releases included a Grateful Dead 4 Record Box set of a live show recorded in 1969 at the Fillmore West; jazz guitarist Grant Green’s live recordings from France; Taylor Swift albums released on colored vinyl; and even a Porg-shaped picture disc from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (aka Star Wars Episode VIII). With more than 200 releases exclusive to Record Store Day, there was something for everyone. Put Record Store Day on your calendar for next year.
Aside from the special vinyl releases for Record Store Day, we are always discovering new music, artists fresh on the scene, and obscure ‘lost’ recordings that finally see the light of day. It has been a great spring and early summer, complete with new and exciting artists and album releases. Here are a few that have caught our attention recently:
“Forth Wanderers” (Self-Titled)
With their debut on Sub Pop Records, these indie rockers from New Jersey bring a fresh sound to the game, recalling a style similar to former label mates of the ’90s, Throwing Muses, with a slightly edgier approach. Vocalist Ava Trilling’s delivery is both nonchalant and powerful, gliding over the incredibly unique lines from guitarist Ben Guterl. For fans of Built to Spill, as well as sophomore rockers, Chastity Belt, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Van Morrison/Joey Defrancesco “You’re Driving Me Crazy”
Classic crooner Van Morrison teams up with master jazz organist Joey Defrancesco, offering up substantive originals as well as well-thought out covers for this latest outing. It’s a successful meeting covering old standards like “Miss Otis Regrets,” as both Morrison and Defrancesco expand on the musical motif, while playing it pretty close to the hip on B.B. King’s “Everyday I Have the Blues.” There are a few impressive originals, too, like Morrison’s own “Close Enough For Jazz,” which he pours his voice into, as Defrancesco grooves right alongside. This is a perfect album for Morrison die-hards as well as jazz-minded fans.
Las Rosas “Shadow By Your Side”
Every year we have a few albums that when played get the entire store’s attention; this is one of those albums. By the second track, “Tax Man,” and its catchy chords, you know you are in for a musical treat. Las Rosas, hailing from Austin though currently residing in Brooklyn, merge post-rock sentiments with a laid back pop approach, thanks to guitarist/vocalist Jose Boyer. By the time you get to the moody but stellar “Losing No Sleep,” toward the end of the album, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from these guys.
Ebo Taylor “Yen Ara”
This Ghanaian composer, arranger, and guitarist brings forth new material with his latest release “Yen Ara,” which finds the legendary musician in his element. Delving right into his signature energetic style, Taylor weaves between tones of jazz, highlife and afrobeat, resulting in a superb and cohesive album. Highlights include the potently rhythmic “Mind Your Own Business,” the fiery “Mumudey Mumudey,” and the uplifting “Ankona’m.” For those with a more worldly taste in music, this one will surely please.
“Black Panther” Soundtrack
This one is shaping up to be the hip-hop soundtrack of the year, thanks to production and contributions by Kendrick Lamar, who shows up in one form or another on every track. Whether joining forces with new rapstress/singer SZA on “All the Stars,” or sidling up to Schoolboy Q and 2 Chainz on “X,” the results are stunning. This album definitely brings the heat this summer.
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