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    Vinyl Releases of the Week: March 9th, 2011

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    I've got to say, I was really taken by the new releases from R.E.M., Kurt Vile, and Wye Oak this week, but there isn't an album on this list that doesn't warrant repeated listens or deserve to be heard on vinyl.

    R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now (Warner Brothers)
    R.E.M.'s 15th studio album is being called the band's most rewarding record in 15 years. Produced by the Grammy Award-winning Jacknife Lee, it's an inspired, vital, and expansive work that features an incredible group of guests including Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder, and Peaches.

    Tito Puente and His Orchestra - Vaya Puente (Fania Records)
    This 1962 Tito Puente album is bursting with Latin dances and Afro-Cuban rhythms. It includes Puente classics like the mambo "Mambo Gil," the bolero "Solange," the montuno "Yimbaraco," and the bembe "Agua-Nile."  It even introduces a new dance in the "Sambaroco," or sambo-mambo.

    Lupe Fiasco - Lasers (Atlantic)
    The long-awaited, label-drama delayed, and fan-petitioned third album from the Chicago rapper is full of controversy... and Modest Mouse. Yep, single "The Show Goes On" features a sped-up sample of "Float On." Lasers also features production by the Neptunes and Soundtrakk, among others, and guest spots from artists including Trey Songz, John Legend, Skylar Gray, and Sway.

    Exene Cervenka - The Excitement of Maybe (Bloodshot)
    The co-founder of legendary L.A. punk-rock band X, Knitters member, poet, and mixed-media visual artist Exene Cervenka returns with her fifth solo album. Like Cervenka's famed artwork, this country-folk recording is a collage of matters of the heart, boiled down to their essence just like her poetry.

    Buffalo Tom - Skins (Scrawny)
    The eighth studio album from '90s grunge-pop vets Buffalo Tom, Skins follows the band's 2007 comeback, Three Easy Pieces, with maturity and fresh energy. It also features fellow Boston icon Tanya Donnelly (The Breeders, Throwing Muses) on album standout "Don't Forget Me."

    Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
    The Philadelphia singer-songwriter who has earned comparisons to Seger, Springsteen, and Petty returns with his fourth studio album. Full of intricate guitar picking, warm textures, dark fog, and just the right amount of rock swagger, it is evocative psych-folk with extraordinary depth and transfixing melodic complexity.

    Cut Copy - Zonoscope (Modular)
    The latest release from Melbourne's electro-pop band Cut Copy is now available as a double LP! Mixed by Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley), it flirts with disco but also flexes the band's rhythmic muscles and works some ambient jangle rock into the '80s synths and pulsing beats. It also works in the hook from Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" on "Take Me On," which in turn takes on fellow Aussies Men at Work in its songwriting style.

    Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding (Dangerbird)
    The debut album from Liam Gallagher's new band, which features his former Oasis cohorts Andy Bell, Gem Archer, and Chris Sharrock. So, basically Oasis without Noel - or the pressure of his obsessive, control-freak approach. As a result, Different Gear, Still Speeding is a freewheeling, even bouncy, album that carries the torch for no-frills '60s rock and roll with some tender acoustic moments thrown in. Double LP pressed on heavyweight vinyl.

    Wye Oak - Civilian (Merge Records)
    The third album from the Baltimore dream-pop duo begins as lush, electronic-colored folk and unfolds into a mesmerizing sonic landscape marked by shoegaze guitars, blistering melodic noise, gothic Americana rhythms, and somber, hymn-like songs about aloneness and loneliness.

    Parts and Labor - Constant Future (Jagjaguwar)
    The fifth proper album from the Brooklyn noise-pop trio Parts & Labor nods to heroes like Sonic Youth and Wire while melding art-punk effects with guitar fuzz and anthemic pop hooks. Produced by "maximalist engineer" Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Mogwai).

    Grails - Deep Politics (Temporary Residence, Ltd.)
    Influenced by '70s Italian and occult film scores, this is 21st century library music densely woven with layers of Moogs, mellotrons, and strings. The first 500 orders will receive opaque yellow and dark brown vinyl.

    Young Widows - "Future Heart"/"Rose Window" 7-inch (Temporary Residence, Ltd.)
    Temporary Residence is giving fans a sneak peak into the Louisville, Kentucky post-punk band's darker and moodier forthcoming album, In and out of Lightness and Youth (slated for an April 2011 release), with this limited edition 7-inch. Includes the album's single "Future Heart" and non-album b-side "Rose Window."

    Starfucker - Reptilians (Polyvinyl)
    The Portland, Oregon quartet's sophomore album is an end of the world-inspired, psych-pop dance party featuring the addition of "human drum machine" Keil Corcoran and producer Jacob Portrait (The Dandy Warhols). Available on 180-gram clear or black vinyl.

    Rival Schools - Pedals (Photo Finish/Atlantic)
    The influential New York post-hardcore pioneers return after nearly a decade with their second album.

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