Spotlight on Omnivore Recordings, Part 1

We love Omnivore Recordings! The indie label has been around about a dozen years now, digging up and reissuing tasty and obscure releases that have long been unavailable. Sometimes they release brand new music too, making everything available in vinyl, CD and digital formats. As Part 1 of our spotlight reveals, Omnivore releases music from lots of different genres. Dig in!

Urge Overkill - Oui

This is one of those Omnivore releases that is not a reissue, but it's been a while for Urge Overkill; this is there first release in more than 10-years. At first thought it might seem like an odd choice for the duo's Nash Kato and King Roeser to kick off the new album with a cover of Wham!'s "Freedom!" but the jaunty George Michael-penned pop tune turns out to be a good gateway to the other 11 songs on Oui, all of which are self-penned. Cuts like "Follow My Shadow" and the hook-laden "Necessary Evil" tap into the vibe that was so influential on the early grunge bands. "Forgiven" has a pace that's ideal for rocking down the highway and a chorus that's perfect for belting out while the music booms out the car's open windows. "I Can't Stay Glad@U," a love song with hints of the '60s is perhaps the album's best-written cut. The effort ends with "Snow," a dark taste of a failing relationship.

Trini Lopez - The Rare Reprise Singles

If you were around in 1965 you couldn't escape the Trini Lopez smash hit "Lemon Tree;" the catchy song was all over the radio and television and it was so much fun to sing or sing along with that everyone did. "Lemon Tree" is not on this compilation; as the album title indicates these 24 songs are rarities drawn primarily from the B-sides of Trini's vast catalog of singles released on the Reprise label. You would have to be a Lopez super fan to already be familiar with this material but here's a chance for the average fan to dig deeper into the performer's oeuvre. Fans will delight in Lopez's surf-rocking cover of the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim chestnut "A-Me-Ri-Ca," the swinging Burt Bacharach/Hal David "Made in Paris" from the film of the same name, Randy Newman's amusing let's-get-hitched "Love Story" with lyrics like "We'll have a kid, or maybe we'll rent one." Among the songs are several written by Trini himself. Lopez, a native Texan, died last year of COVID-19 related causes.

The Bootheels - 1988: The Original Demos

Here's one for Dylan completists, Jakob Dylan that is. These cuts with the Bootheels feature Dylan on guitar along with guitarist Tobi Miller, bass man and singer Luther Russell and drummer Aaron A. Brooks. Dylan was soon to depart the band and start the Wallflowers, taking Miller with him. The sound ranges from punk ("See it In Your Eyes") to Crazy Horse-ish rockers ("The Deal," "Interstate 68 Blues") to '60s-leaning pop rock ("Glad it All Worked Out"). But mostly this is punk music and Russell's gravelly vocals suit the material just fine, and although the set is billed as demo recordings the songs for the most part sound fully-formed.

Night Crickets - A Free Society

Night Crickets are David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets fame, Victor DeLorenzo of the Violent Femmes along with Darwin Meiners and here the threesome have created an awesome, newly-recorded album. The dark psychedelia of "Black Leather on the Inside" kicks off the album; "Amanda's Mantra" is similarly trippy and with a cutting sax break from Jesse Catalino Montigo, "A Free Society" is hooky with its repetition of the title words that float on an endearingly wonky melody and an insistent beat. "Little Did I" is a funky, voodoo-ish chant, "The Unreliable Narrator" is a barbed but very cool putdown of fake news types and "Down Below" is in its own way Bowie-esque. After a dozen mind-blowing songs this impressive set ends with "I Want My Night Crickets!" which will certainly be the mantra of many listeners.

Hasaan Ibn Ali - Retrospect in Retirement of Delay: The Solo Recordings

Pianist Ibn Ali was an influence on the likes of John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner, pretty impressive credentials, but his career really took off when the 1965 album The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan was released. As the title of this 2-CD compilation of previously-unreleased material indicates though, everything here is solo piano. The late jazz man tackles some standards here, like the bouncy Rodgers/Hart cut "Falling in Love with Love," Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," Thelonious Monk's "Off Minor" and a couple of Irving Berlin numbers, "They Say It's Wonderful" and "How Deep is the Ocean." But fans may be most intoxicated with Ibn Ali's self-penned cuts, like "Arabic Song," a piano-less cut where Hasaan scats, a two-parter called "True Train," the sublime "Untitled Ballad" and the spoken word piece "Extemporaneous Prose-Poem."

Buck Owens & Susan Raye - Together Again

Both Owens and Raye were very prolific in the half decade from 1970 to 1975; each artist put out a dozen solo albums during that time and they made five albums together. So it was not difficult to find 22 songs for this compilation. The set begins with Raye singing "Foolin' Around" before moving into the duet "High as the Mountains" and additional Raye cuts in "Nobody's Fool But Yours" and a take on Buck's "Love's Gonna Live Here" Of course the pair duet on "Together Again" and the cozy feelings continue as the pair team up for "We're Gonna Get Together" and Freddie Hart's bluesy "Togetherness." This is pure, old school country performed by one of the best duos of the era. Omnivore intends to rerelease many of Raye's solo albums as the year goes on.

Mighty Fine: An Austin City Limits Tribute to Walter Hyatt

The late Walter Hyatt was a member of Uncle Walt's Band, a trio rounded out by David Ball and Champ Hood. This tribute features a coterie of country and alt-country stars honoring Hyatt by performing songs he wrote or co-wrote. The program is actually in two parts, the first being the show that was broadcast on Austin City Limits and including cuts by Willis Alan Ramsey ("As the Crow Flies") Jimmie Dale Gilmore ("Georgia Rose") Allison Moorer ("Tell Me Baby") Junior Brown ("Diggeroo") and Lyle Lovett ("I'll Come Knockin'"). The second portion of the program features songs from the ACL show that were not included in the broadcast and feature Lovett, Ball and Hood. As a special treat there are also four previously-unreleased Hyatt cuts appended.

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