Vinyl Picks

The Branchettes - "Stayed Prayed Up"

On Sunday morning of this year's Telluride Film Festival, some of us were lucky enough to go to church and hear the story of North Carolina gospel-singer Mother Lena Mae Perry. The film Stay Prayed Up follows Mother Perry as she records this live album with Telluride-favorite Phil Cook (who has played in town both solo and with Hiss Golden Messenger). Mother Perry's mission of spreading gospel music through the South is inspiring, and her powerful voice and deep faith make you feel the Spirit through to your bones.

In the film, you catch glimpses of her effect on those around her—especially as you see how much she inspires Phil to make music he believes in. As you listen to this record, it's no surprise that the band is solid. But what really stands out is the tasteful piano from Wilbur Tharpe (RIP). On both sides, Wilbur's soulful licks create a call and response with the singers. But these aren't any low-down and dirty blues licks—Wilbur's piano is sharp, clean, dressed-up and ready for Sunday morning.


Fueled by alcohol, speed, a little reefer, and a love of 18-Wheelers, Commander Cody was notorious for tearing up the West Coast in the 1970s with his brand of boogie-woogie-rockabilly-western swing. Here's the band on one of those nights ("gots to be one of those nights!"). Denver, 1973, featuring the Master of the Telecaster himself, Bill Kirchen. Sadly, Commander Cody passed away a few months ago, but his boogie-woogie lives on. RIP George Frayne.


If you've seen MMJ live, you've witnessed one of the best rock bands of our generation. There's no shortage of fuzzed-out pointy guitars, band dynamics, unkempt hair, and unforgettable melodies you'll be humming for the next 6 months. Their latest self-titled release is their first record in six years, picking up where 2015's The Waterfall left off. One could argue that MMJ isn't one of the best modern rock bands, but they'd be wrong and we wouldn't listen to that nonsense.

PEARL JAM /No Code [Gatefold LP Jacket, Reissue]

Fresh off the heels of Vitalogy, a lengthy and difficult "Boycott Ticketmaster" tour, and the loss of Kurt Cobain, 1995 found Pearl Jam exhausted, unwilling thrust into the spotlight, and needing to take a step back from all the chaos. What resulted is a record often compared to Led Zeppelin's III, as acoustic guitars, slower tempos, and incredible album packaging on No Code take center stage. Overtime, songs like "Hail, Hail", "Smile", "Lukin", and "Present Tense" became concert staples.



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