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    Vinyl Releases of the Week: March 2nd, 2011

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    First off, let me just congratulate Trent Reznor for his Oscar win on Sunday! Making his film score debut with The Social Network, the Nine Inch Nails frontman is the second rock bandleader in history to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score (the first being Talking Heads' David Byrne, who won for 1987's The Last Emperor). And now back to this week's vinyl releases, some of which are arguably just as career affirming.

    PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Vagrant)
    Recorded in a 19th century church in Dorset, England, PJ Harvey's eighth studio album turns its gaze outward to war and the history of conflict, from Gallipoli to Iraq. Folksier in sound and composed around saxophone and autoharp, this revelatory album is one of Harvey's most lyrically hard-hitting yet sonically pleasing works to date.

    Lucinda Williams - Blessed (Lost Highway)
    On her tenth studio album, the alt-country singer-songwriter reveals her artistic maturity. Elvis Costello plays guitar on "Seeing Black," a song that probes the topic of suicide in reference to the late Vic Chesnutt.

    Lykke Li - Wounded Rhythms (Atlantic/LL Recordings)
    Sweden's Lykke Li reveals the subject matter of her reverb-drenched sophomore album with track titles like "Love out of Lust," "Sadness Is a Blessing," and "Unrequited Love." She also combines Spector-esque production, tribal drums, dark synths, organ, and her unique vocals to a powerful, clamoring pop effect.

    Sonic Youth - Simon Werner a Disparu (SYR)
    The ninth official release on Sonic Youth's edgier, non-commercial label Sonic Youth Recordings (SYR 9) features extended and reorganized versions of the music clips the band composed for the French teen psycho-drama Simon Werner a Disparu. And they are surprisingly piano-oriented!

    Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen (Hi-Speed Soul)
    Released the same year as Nirvana's In Utero, Smashing Pumpkin's Siamese Dream, and Pearl Jam's Vs., it's no wonder Afghan Whigs' 1993 soul-inflected landmark album Gentlemen never broke into the mainstream. Fortunately, it's getting its proper due with this 180-gram vinyl reissue.

    Devotchka - 100 Lovers (ANTI-)
    From the band that brought us the soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine comes an album just as cinematic and vast in its sonic landscapes and incorporation of flamenco and Eastern European gypsy music. Features guest percussionist Mauro Refosco (Atoms for Peace) and members of Calexico.

    The Black Keys - The Big Come Up (Alive Records)
    The head-turning 2002 debut album from this Akron, Ohio blues-rock duo, reissued on 180-gram vinyl.

    This Mortal Coil - It'll End in Tears (Original Recordings Group)
    The first time this 1984 Goth dream-pop landmark release from the 4AD super-group sees a release on vinyl in the US. 180-gram pressing available on black vinyl and limited-edition white vinyl.

    Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Bad Reputation, Live and Dangerous, Black Rose, Chinatown, Renegade, and Thunder and Lightning (Back on Black)
    Eight classic Thin Lizzy albums have been remastered direct from the original tapes, pressed on 180-gram vinyl, and packaged in deluxe gatefold sleeves. According to Back on Black, the first 1000 copies of each title will come in assorted colored vinyl.

    Metallica - Garage Inc. (Warner Bros.)
    Vinyl reissue of Metallica's 1998 covers compilation, which features covers of Motörhead, Queen, Black Sabbath, Misfits, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, and Nick Cave, among other influential artists. The vinyl was half-speed mastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman Mastering, and is available as a 33 1/3 rpm three-disc gatefold package and as a 45 rpm six-disc 180-gram deluxe box set.

    Mike Watt - Hyphenated-Man (Original Recordings Group)
    The Minutemen's bassist and leader Mike Watt has described his new opera/album as "a mirror busted up in 30 pieces... You know, punk-rock guy confronting himself." On the surface, though, these 30 songs are detailed descriptions of the many little creatures in the paintings of Dutch Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch.

    Faust/Band of Pain - John Cage - Radio Music (1956) (Dirter)
    Limited 10-inch of German krautrockers Faust (Jean-Hervé Péron and Zappi Diermaier) with Steve Pittis presenting four solo versions of John Cage's 1956 composition "Radio Music."

    Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Polyvinyl)
    Deluxe gatefold reissue of the Athens, Georgia band's 2007 masterpiece. Comes as a 180-gram double LP with four bonus tracks and a poster.

    The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)
    The Brighton-based group returns with a rambunctious new album that its songwriter Ian Parton describes as "schizo music" and critics are describing as flawless. Rolling Blackouts blends Sonic Youth fuzz with catchy pop, cinematic ballads, and hip-hop with strings, and features guest vocals from Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, rapper Dominique Young Unique, Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki, Lispector, and the London African Gospel Choir.

    Slim Cessna's Auto Club - Unentitled (Alternative Tentacles)
    Alt-country/Gothabilly band fronted by the charismatic Slim Cessna and Jay Munly returns with more "creepy-assed Americana."

    Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High EP (Sub Pop)
    This EP of three originals and a Smiths cover was produced by the L.A. fuzz-pop band's own singer-songwriter Dee Dee along with the Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner and the songwriter behind the classics "My Boyfriend's Back" and "I Want Candy," Richard Gottehrer.

    Eisley - The Valley (Equal Vision)
    The third album from this young, indie-pop family band works through heartbreak and betrayal with layers of piano, strings, and angelic vocal harmonies.

    The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing (Saddle Creek)
    The highly anticipated sophomore album from the Toronto-based power-folk band explores themes of small towns, Canada, and heartbreak, serving as a companion to RAA's acclaimed debut, Hometowns.

    Portugal. The Man - Censored Colors, The Satanic Satanist, and American Ghetto (Equal Vision)
    For those of you having trouble finding any of this Portland-via-Wasila, Alaska psych-pop/prog-rock group's last three albums on vinyl, Equal Vision has answered your pleas with this triple repress.

    Papercuts - Fading Parade (Sub Pop)
    Papercuts' debut album for Sub Pop and fourth overall, Fading Parade is dream-pop psychedelia at its finest.

    Alexander - Alexander (Vagrant)
    The solo debut from Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros' frontman, Alex Ebert.

    Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi (Domino)
    The self-titled debut from London's Anna Calvi, whom Brian Eno has called "the biggest thing since Patti Smith" and whom Nick Cave personally requested to open Grinderman's European tour last fall. Produced by longtime PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, it is a dark and seductive pop album with a surreal, David Lynchian sense of drama.

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