Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 - Vinyl - (My) Year In Review


As this year draws to a close, and in light of lack of regular updates, I submit for your approval, my version of the vinyl truth.  It certainly differs greatly from the actual truth, but in my head, it makes a lot of sense.
As seen above I picked some vinyl this year of either great significance to me, or great importance.  All of which I own, and for whatever reason can't get enough of.  Obviously, this isn't representative of everything that I've bought or featured here.  There's been some awesome music out this year.  Unfortunately, there wasn't enough to combat the ever-present bullshit pop music littering the airwaves, but for what was released it sure was quality.  Put it this way, if an album was released 7 months ago and you're still listening to it, because you choose to and not because it's the only choice you have, it's something special.  Even better, if I go back to some of the vintage albums that I featured here that have stood the test of time, and put any one of them up against Meghan Trainor.  

I'll skip the whole talking about the same vinyl that I have already.  You can go back and read those.  Instead, I'll summarize the year that was superlative style with the data that matters, and perhaps a look into the future.

Best (New) Album I Purchased This Year:

Tame Impala - Currents

This album was simply the best in class.  It had elements of damn near everything I love in music.  For an admitted psychedelic group, they somehow managed to cover many genre's of music.  From trippy instrumentals to some raw in your face "Fuck the popular culture" lyrics, they hit every well-produced point of what an album should be.  If my pick here was TV On The Radio's Seeds, this year it just had to be Tame Impala.

Unexpectedly Good Great Vinyl

Johnny Marr - I Feel You

Sure it's a cover of the old Depeche Mode song, and lord knows that I hate samplers and unoriginal music.  I also hate buying vinyl singles because I feel that you never get your money's worth.  I'll also admit that I almost fucked up by even thinking of passing this up back in April.  This is the first record that I ever had to buy twice because I literally wore it out!  I played it to death on a crappy record player long enough to destroy it.  I couldn't live without hearing Johnny's work on the hook of this DM classic.  This single solidifies Johnny Marr, so far as I'm concerned, as the best alternative guitarist in music today.

Favourite Blog Post This Year:

Selling over 22 million albums worldwide, it's ranked at #69 on the list of highest selling albums of all time.  The post took me the better part of 6 months to write and it ushered in version 2.0 of this blog.  Thank you all for your support.  This album is like a quotable movie, it's got music that you can apply instances of your daily life too.   It's another gem that you just need to own on any medium, including 8-Track if you can find it because, funk.

Most Expensive (Officially Declared) Vinyl Investment 2015:

Dresden Dolls - The Virginia Monologues

The picture doesn't do this album justice.  I'm still trying to come up with a way to show this off.  At $45 this past RSD, I really didn't care about the price.  I knew that I had to have it, not only because of the aesthetics but because I fucking love this band.  I only wish I respected them more than I listened to them back in High School.  I say "officially declared" because I have stuff that I picked up in what I'm affectionately calling my "Silent Period" of blog inactivity that you haven't seen yet.  (Garbage 20th Anniversary anyone)

Cheapest Most Valued Album Purchased 2015:

 Depeche Mode - Delta Machine 

I haven't even put this one up yet because I have a well thought out, finely structured plan around posting in the upcoming year ahead and this is a rather big part of it.  Scored at the infamous Urban Outfitters at $10, I managed to get Depeche Mode's best bounce back album period.  Much more on this later, but, if you're willing to look past a minor imperfection that isn't even on the record, sometimes it's worth getting that uncut diamond in the rough.  Also, don't buy vinyl at Urban Outfitters.  I'm sure that every time you do, a bunny hits its head.

Favorite Record Store 2015:

Redscroll Records Wallingford CT

During my transient period earlier this fall, I spent a lot of time in Connecticut.  While there, I had the luxury of being able to visit Redscroll records weekly for 2 months.  Their selection of used vinyl is ever changing and quite deep.  You'll more than likely come out of there discovering something that you want and need as opposed to walking in there with the intention of buying something specific. As a shop manager for a brick and mortar shop, and a firm supporter of all things small market, I cannot recommend buying vinyl from an actual record store with real knowledgable cool as fuck people.  When in Connecticut, please visit Redscroll Records.  I assure you, you won't be disappointed.  Redscroll Records 24 N. Colony Rd. Wallingford CT, 06492

Favorite Place To Buy Awesome New Vinyl 2015 or Any Year:

Newbury Comics

I've gotten some of my most favorite and prized pieces of vinyl from Newbury Comics.  My favorite store along with its group of people are up in the Natick mall, the best selection of vinyl is over on Newbury Street, and some of the most amazing releases are found online at their website.  Follow them on Twitter for some of the most amazing exclusives and damn decent sales.  Frankly, they're about as close to a regional version of Tower Records that you're going to find.  Somehow they manage to stay local while being national.  Even if it's only in the northeast.

Most Disappointing Album Featured 2015:

The Dead Weather - Dodge And Burn

I tried really hard.  I just couldn't.  Like a basic chick, I literally couldn't even.  Sure there were 2 or 3 songs I was really into, and after listening to the album multiple times on a few really long commutes to work, (Seriously for a while I had a 2+ hour commute to and from work every day for 2 months.), I just couldn't rank it as a must own.  It's not even really a for fans only album.  It's more like, buy it if it's on sale somewhere because you really like modern alternative music.  Jack White really succeeded in making the Kills suck.  That's a pretty shitty thing to say, but, I love Jack White, and I love the Kills.  I can't love what they do for each other.  Given how awesome the Dead Weather's previous  albums have been, I'm hoping that this was a giant fluke.

Finally, There's a lot to look forward to in 2016.  David Bowie should see a follow-up to 2013's awesome yet highly underrated The Next Day.  Tricky's new album, Skilled Mechanics sounds really different.  Really throwback to his Wild Bunch days.  Soul Asylum, Gorillaz, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, The XX, and the Last Shadow Puppets.  There's Record Store Day 2016 Saturday, April 16th.  While the outlook isn't as promising this time this year as it was this time last year, it looks to be another quality release year for music in general.  Vinyl especially.  Fun fact, vinyl record sales have outsold digital streaming by 2:1.  So for anyone saying that vinyl is silly, or a dead technology, it's bigger than Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Google Play Music, or any of those other so-called popular streams all the cool kids are listening to.  Numbers don't lie folks.  Vinyl ain't slowing down anytime soon.

As for the blog, Since I've moved back to the area, and have begun the arduous task of settling down.  I miss not having all access to a real record player to the point where I was spoiled for 2 months.  I now have a new turntable, albeit (begrudgingly) on loan, that's in dire need of a receiver.  I refuse to spin on my old reliable portable turntable in protest of the brand.  To that end, expect that when I do get that spinning hotness hooked up, you'll see all the stuff that I've been picking up over the past 3 months all over the great northeast. Also, I now have a new proofreader/editor hopefully you see that this blog now has 90% fewer errors in grammar and spelling!  Unfortunately, she's European so you'll have to deal with favorite being spelled with a "u".   I hope you had a great year in music, and that you learned a few things here.  Like the music, I won't stop.  See you in 2016 with some of the best stuff vinyl has to offer.  (Maybe I'll get another post out after Christmas.)  Happy holidays wherever you are.

Huey Lewis And The News - We're Not Here For A Long Time (We're Here For A Good Time)

Friday, December 4, 2015

RIP Scott (Richard Klein) Weiland 1967-2015

The 90's will go down in history as another transition in music.  There were 3 main genre's that rulled the decade.  Rap & Hip-Hop, European Electronica Invasion, and Grunge. From all of those there were sub genre's that grew more popular in their circles, and by all rights helped shape and separate the good from the bad.  While much of the music was forgettable, a lot of it was necessary.  If it wasn't for Grunge and Electronica, we would never have had Nine Inch Nails.  If it wasn't for the rise of east coast/west coast rap we would never have known Biggie and Pac.  In a time known for Generation X and their coming of age angst, we would never have had Nirvana.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that were the bands that just didn't give a fuck.  The Sublimes, the Pharcyde's, the Soundgarden's, and notably, The Stone Temple Pilots.

Plush (Core) - 1992

Releasing 4 albums in total beginning with 1992's Core, STP was one of the quickest rising alternative acts of their era.  They played in the same park with all of those aforementioned groups.  In some circles to this day, many may even consider their music classic.  As a matter of fact, their psychedelic sound and grunge era popularity may have cemented them as one of the only groups ever to have singles released and upon those releases, their music is was considered classic rock.

Sour Girl (No. 4) - 1999 

True to form in the music world, genius is often cut short by a wide range of factors.  Death, among the biggest and worst.  STP lead singer Scott Weiland who was plagued with, and subsequently plagued his band(s) with his demons at the hands of sever drug abuse was no different.  Sadly, December 3, 2015 Scott Weiland passed away in his sleep leaving behind a legacy of  great music, and even more pain.

Fall To Pieces - Velvet Revolver - (Contraband) - 2004

I guess that's how it goes.  From Hendrix to Winehouse to John Melvoin to Dee Dee Ramone to Rick James.  Brilliant artists who couldn't live without dying too soon because of their addictions.  As unfortunate as it is, at least their music lives on.

Creep (Core) 1992

If you can find it, and I know you can catch the re-release like now at Newbury Comics, grab a piece of history before vinyl flippers jack up the price for STP's first album, Core.  It's fucking incredible, and necessary for anyone who experienced that era first hand.  RIP Scott Weiland.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Honest/ly: Steely Dan - Black Friday - 1975

Sure, the song is technically about the financial Black Friday of  September 24th 1869.  You know the one, where 2 ass-hat gold prospectors decided to corner the market's gold supply after the civil war.  They bought and subsequently raised the value of gold about 30% above it's normal values simply by hoarding it.  So, then President Grant said, fine.  I'll just release the governments supply of gold to normalize the market, thus devaluing it completely and of course, cause economics, the market crashed.  Fast forward 106 years later, Steely Dan wrote a song about it!  It was the lead single on their 4th album, Katy Lied, an album which despite having only 2 official singles on an album of 10 songs, went gold.  Like a lot of their albums.  More on them later but, Katy Lied is 1 of 2 Steely Dan albums I don't own.  I'll do a proper post on them later.  Think of it as my own little countdown to ecstasy...

More on that much later.  Let's talk about the matter at hand.  I'm still in the process of setting up the rig here in the new place.  As I said in the last post however, I haven't stopped collecting new stuff to spin when that day comes.  To that end, Record Store Day meets Black Friday for some pretty big exclusive releases.  It's the last time for exclusivity till the major Record Store day this April.  If you live close to an awesome store, hopefully one of the few that I've even highlighted here, please do your self a favor and get into a local record shop for some of this.  Check out all of the releases here, then please check out some local stores.

Personally, I'm shouting out that dope as all fuck Beck single from earlier this year.  I've also got to get my hands on the Garbage 20th anniversary album, and while we're in the 90's, Trent Reznor is releasing Halo I-IV, oh and for good measure The Pharcyde has the single they're known for due out.  So when I'm not catering to the masses tomorrow, I'll be sure to hit up a record store or two, cause at the end of the day, it's all about the vinyl.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Still Spinning - Black Friday is Upon Us

Fear not great readers of the interwebs!  Rumors of my demise have been fairly assumed and as such are categorically wrong.

I've been on the move from one state to another.

Collecting all kinds of vinyl...

From the fairly obscure and eclectic...

To the guilty pleasures...

To the albums that defined my life...

To the must owns...

To the not so uncommon...

To the uncommonly good...

To the life defining and rare...

Once I settle in to the new place, perhaps get the new turntable up and spinning, and finally get back to enjoying what I love, I'll be back with all of these and then some.  (I've been to some awesome shops over the past 3 weeks.)  Obviously with Black Friday coming there's even more coming down the pipe.  I'll be posting the stuff I'm willing to get in line for.  In the meantime.  Shop local, shop often and by GOD shop for your vinyl!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Cyndi Lauper - So Unusual - (1983)

At some point between the mid 70's and the rise of what was then known as the WWF circa 1985, Cyndi Lauper went from fronting a group called the Blue Angel to managing in the first ever Wrestlemania, and putting out one of the 80's greatest synth-pop albums ever.  

When it comes to 80's music and it's popularity, there weren't too many musicians that couldn't pump out a song worth recording from the radio.  Ok, that's not a completely true statement, there were a bunch that you would have a difficult time trying to remember if you ever heard of them at all.  Not everyone can be as magical as Mick Smiley.  Cyndi Lauper's a curious case...  The Queens native was an accidental star.  She was discovered while singing for the outstandingly horrible group, Blue Angel as the lone star in that outfit.  Apparently her voice was the only bright spot there.  Think I'm kidding, do a Google search for them.  They were Apple Maps bad.  

Like any repressed artist should, Cyndi went for the solo career.  As such, she kinda hit it big.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The first single released from this album, came about a month before the albums drop making it a late summer banger.  Matter of fact, that one song was so popular that it charted #2 on Billboard and that single alone was certified platinum.  This album actually set off a trend when it came to that anomaly.  Obviously a musician would want to tease you with their best work on their album so that based on the strength of that song or songs, you would go out and buy the album,  It's been going on since the beginning of time.  What makes this single on this record special is that it was the first of many singles from the album, and this single alone sold better than a lot of artists full length albums! That changed how important singles were to the success an album.  It also validated some musicians right to stop creating albums and just work on singles and videos, a horrible trend that hit it's stride in the 90's and is now quite the norm today.  Hell, this single was so big that at it's time, it was the most recorded single on FM radio.  (Hoover your mouse over that last part if you have no idea what I'm talking about,)  Then there was the 2nd single...

Time After Time

Three months after So Unusual was released, Cyndi's 2nd single, Time After Time landed. That one ended up spending 20 weeks on the charts, certified gold, and set up what I'm calling the first commercial song about masturbation ever, Single #3...

She Bop

As has been the history with Cyndi, this single charted for 18 weeks, again certified gold and at this point it's July 1984.  There's still 2 singles to go, and lots of good music out there.  Elsewhere in the music world at this point, Michael Jackson's Thriller was still in full swing having been released earlier in 1983, So Unusual was released up against The Police with Synchronicity.  Right when  She Bop was nearing it's run of air play, Prince popped up with an album I'm sure you may have heard of, Purple Rain.  So what does Cyndi do?  Releases single #4.

The single, All Through The Night, really slowed things down on the album.  Over time it became a standard for easy listening music or adult contemporary.  The coolest part about this song is while it didn't resonate quite the same way the previous 3 singles did, it showed her range as an artist.  Cyndi was able to go from power punk borderline riot grrl, to having a super soft persona.  It's kinda scary particularly considering the make up of the song.  Part of the reason that this song didn't become larger has everything to do with Prince and damn near every song from Purple Rain.  As a musician, you literally had to pay to get your music on the radio, and if you didn't hear Prince at least 4-6 times an hour, something was wrong with you.  That said, here we are over a year since So Unusual was released, and she's about to drop the 5th single.

Money Changes Everything came out in December of 1984.  

Money Changes Everything

That single, a cover of a 1978 song by the group, The Brains, was the downside of the album.  Money Changes Everything, while a great commentary on relationships and how money has a funny way of fucking them up, didn't do too much better than 27 on a lot of charts.  Curiously enough though, it was the 2nd in a series of easy listening songs that we would hear from this album.  Thinking that since there were only 10 songs on the album, why not make 1 more single or two?  

Cyndi went on to release 2 more singles into 1985.  Neither of them with the same degree of popularity of anything she had released prior.  That's not a problem seeing as though her next album, True Colors in 1986 will do just fine.  So unusual won her quite a few awards through it popular life span.  She won a Grammy for Best New Artist, and a MTV award for Best Female Video for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Cyndi is an outstanding activist as well.  Her work for and with the LGBT movement has kept her in the public eye through today.  If you're lucky enough to see her live these days, you'll see that she can still sing and her live shows are something to witness.  While she isn't as "punk" as she used to be, she can still power with the best of them.

I picked this original pressing up over at Replay Records in Hamden CT.  I highly recommend that if you're ever in the area that you check this place out.  He's got a great collection of R&B, well curated used Rock, and some of the most obscure soundtracks that you'll see in a used record store.

Next week, I may be in a period of transition, but I think I'll be dropping the needle on something really different.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Honest/ly!? Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane - 2002

WAY back in the fairly early oughts...

There once was an indie group from LA
That had lots of insight for their day
Known once as Kara's Flowers
And now as something louder
It's any wonder they're still relevant today

And I stand by that...  However, before I spout off about how much I dislike Maroon 5 these days, I have to go back to when they were great.  I can promise you that for those that haven't heard the early workings of Maroon 5, this would sound like a completely different group.  I'll save the rest of anything I would have said about them or this album when I pick it for a spinning post in the future.  To that end, indeed I'm picking this album soon after it's official proper vinyl release next month.  Check it out and pre-order it on Amazon, and for the official announcement head over to Modern Vinyl

Harder To Breathe

Harder To Breathe was the first single from this album.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon (2015)

I think I may have mentioned it once before, but I plan on revisiting a few super old posts from over a year ago when I was just making posts that consisted of a sentence or two and ending with a remark as to why you should own something on vinyl.  Fast forward to now where I have the same thing with videos and sound clips and about 10 paragraphs ending quite the same way.  (Perhaps I should consider a format change soon?)  Regardless, one of those old posts was Lana Del Rey's  (LDR) Ultraviolence from last year.  The reason that I need to revisit that post and others is, that I have a lot more to say about it that I just couldn't condense into a few sentences.  That said, here we are a year later with another album from LDR, that for different reasons is just as good as, if not better than Ultraviolence.  

At some point LDR figured that she was done with making new music and we almost never saw Ultraviolence.  At the time, given the experimental psychedelic indie rock I'm sure a lot of people felt the same way.  It would have been a career highlight that's for sure.  How was anyone to know that just a few months after the release of Ultraviolence that she would begin work on her 4th studio album, today's pick, Honeymoon.  I made mention of how good this album might be when the video for Honeymoon was released.  


So here's where things get awesome.  This woman is downright sultry.  She may have the oldest soul of any 30 year old around.  There's a haunting mystique behind everything she does.  Whether it's a short film not to dissimilar from above or her music.  It's almost like she sings as if she were an art noir piece.  Kind of like music you would see in a fine art museum as it were.  There aren't too many mainstream artists in the world that can make even the most downright bizarre lyrics sound like a story you want to hear.  I'll even go a step farther, she has always had a way of making the most vulgar lyrics sound NPR ready, turns out they're good too.

High By The Beach

High By The Beach was the first official video/single released in August from this album, and it's easy to figure why.  It's got a very generic beat, and "fuck the norm" lyrics, that combined made for a very marketable single.  It was also about as close anything from Ultraviolence, her biggest selling album,  as you're going to hear.  

Music To Watch Boys To

The 2nd single, Music To Watch Boys To, sounds like something that that a self aware teenager would write about in her journal.  Somehow, you might feel a little dirty listening in on it.  Nothing wrong with that ,as a matter of fact, I'm going to be bold and suggest that LDR has succeeded in making pop music for adults.  How awesome would it be if there were a mainstream movement in where more artists did just that.  Drown out the repetitive candy pop that lever so popular now?  Sure it exists in spades, bot not everyone is fortunate enough to live in a major city where live music venues cater to that regularly.  You shouldn't have to live in LA, NY, Seattle or Boston to hear great music.  (Clearly a lot of you don't cause you're listening to it here, shout out to the fans in Russia!)

This album released in September, debuted at #2 on the charts.  Once again, LDR partnered with Urban Outfitters for a "limited" edition vinyl version of this album which looks great, and sounds really good for colored vinyl.  Both records are candy red translucent and it includes a 16 page picture book inside of that huge gate fold.  It felt great to open, but I didn't get it from Urban Outfitters.  A reader of this blog sent it to me, and for that I thank you kind stranger.  (Hey, my Discogs want list is right up top, just sayin...)    I will never advocate Urban Outfitters as a destination for your vinyl needs, however, I'm not going to stop you either.  Vinyl is vinyl, and I say if you can stomach Urban Outfitters Hipster chic, go for it.  You can alternatively find the regular release of this album, but it's a bit more difficult as it wasn't given a proper North American release, any standard vinyl release will be an import for now. 

Next week, it's all about the throw back, classic 80's cheese. {Giggles}

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mindless Self Promotion: There Is An Update Coming!

Yep, it's actually really red.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...  I know.  I'm super late and I'm super sorry, but it's been a busy week.  I'm going to do my best pump out this pick for Saturday 10/17 as soon as I can.  Just know that part of the reason I haven't had time to do a proper post this week is because I've been sourcing new vinyl!  I spent a good chunk of today in Hamden CT at Replay Records.  If you get the chance, I highly recommend that you stop in here and sort through the used collection.  Tons of blues, rock, soul and R&B.  All of it's in fantastic condition and you'll definitely find something you never knew you needed.  

Tomorrow, Saturday, I'm actually going back to Replay, and of course I'm also hitting up Red Scroll Records in Wallingford.  I highly recommend them as well for a lot of reasons but their extensive and ever changing used offerings and the single best underground selection of music I've ever seen outside of Detroit or Seattle is more than worth the trip up there.  

For updates to this site don't forget to follow the twitter account, @WMVCulture 

There is no newsletter, so don't bother signing up for it at the bottom of the page here.  I'm far too lazy to edit the code to get rid of it, and even lazier to write a newsletter...  Which when you think about it seems a bit silly given that any updates or "news" that I would have would be covered here anyway. 

Thank you kind stranger for sending me an original 1984 copy of The Cars Heart Beat City.  Crazy, I never expected someone to go through my Discogs wishlist and send me anything, but it's there and they did it.  Many internet blessings to you.  Awesome record, and I'll definitely pick it some day. 

Keep spinning.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Black Angels - Directions To See A Ghost (2008)

Way back in the days before this blog was a blog, I posted an awesome find from The Black Angels.  See it here.  It's from when I was restricted to 1 or 2 sentence vinyl picks and "Vinyl Fridays" was little more than an Instagram/Facebook post once a week or so.

The 2nd album from the Austin "Tripster Rock" psychedelic group, The Black Angels, is nothing short of musical acid for the modern day.  For over 70 minutes, and 3 pieces of vinyl, you really trip the hell out to what has the be the perfect blend of Velvet Underground meets The Doors meets filthiest blues sound you can find.  Now, this isn't music you get high to, this is music you enjoy to feel high with.

You have to work up to the title track that is just so deep, at some point it feeds itself and only till the song needs to end, does it end.  Make sense?  Check it out, but listen to it with headphones for the full immersion effect.

Science Killer

Yeah but dat bassline tho..
As a group the Black Angels were born of their influence from The Velvet Underground.  They got their name from The Velvet Underground song, Black Angel Death Song from their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967.  The Black Angels were largely an underground act till 2006 when they released their first album, Passover.  Passover is actually better than Science Killer, and as such a bit more difficult to find, as such if I stumble onto it in my travels and crate digging, you best believe I'll go out of my way to pick and post it immediately.  When I say largely underground, I mean psychedelic rock as a whole is still a sub genre of music that will never achieve main stream popularity.  Possibly not even the levels it saw in the last 60's through the 70's.  Psych rock more or less morphed into alternative and variants thereof.  Case in point, the most popular psych rock groups active now are probably The Flaming Lipps and Tame Impala.  15 years ago, it would have been The Stone Temple Pilots, and 40 years ago it was The Who, Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, The Doors, and so on...

The other single from this album, the lead single, was the one that hooked you and sold you on the fact that their last album wasn't a fluke.  You On The Run was an exercise  in mindful sound.

You On The Run

The lyrics that the group weaved together tell some of the most tortured stories that you'll ever hear set to a trip out album.  They're literally haunting.  Some may even consider them a variant of dark wave.  Listen to the story that is Never/Ever.


Yeah but dat intro tho...

For the over 8 minutes of epic mind-fuck of a song, you hear the story of a kid in WWII.  Who does that!?  I knew I was hooked on this group when heard their first single from their first album, Passover way back in 2006.  It wasn't really till about a year or 2 later when they licensed tracks from that album out to movies and commercials that people took them seriously.  You've probably heard that single, Young Man Dead in a few places.  They got really popular in 2008 when that single was bundled with a few popular video games and again in 2010 when Fable 3 was released as the soundtrack to the teaser trailer.  The incredible thing about these guys, they've managed to never sell out and remain underground while making money doing what they're best at.  You'll hear their music all over the place if you know what you're listening for, but you'll always end up music searching them to find out, "Who did this dope track?"

Another question real quick...  How on earth did this album not win any awards?  Where's the category for best indie/underground artist?  We need to start a movement here....  Just sayin'.

When you think about it, aren't those the best, real indie bands?  The ones that are so awesome to you that you know them better than anybody else.  You won't hear it on the radio, and you'll probably never seek them out on iTunes or Google Play, but you'll definitely see a show if they're in town because they're playing at your favorite small venue.

This album, Directions To See a Ghost was out in 2008 in a multi part release.  It was kind of awesome the way they did it too.  If you were silly enough to buy the album digitally, you could go into some record stores and exchange the code for an actual hard copy of it.  One of the benefits afforded to indie artists is their ability to do cool stuff for their fans.  Having been to quite a few Black Angels live shows, I can tell you first hand you're not leaving without your monies worth.  I snagged this 3LP behemoth of an album from Red Scroll Records in Wallingford CT on a whim.  It was a tough decision between this and something equally as spectacular that I'll own someday but that's the thrill of the hunt now isn't it?  Sometimes you have to catch and release till the time is right. 


Next week, probably Thursday again, something new that I took a leap of faith on.  Matter of fact, I haven't even listened to it yet.  Cant wait to hear what she's done this time, but even if it's half as good as her last one, I love it already.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Dead Weather - Dodge And Burn (2015)

Dat turntable tho!

Readers, music fans, rock and blues fans alike, we need to talk.  Since this corner of the web started as a semi weekly Instagram 2 sentence post of my favorite music on vinyl, I made sure to only pick things that you needed to hear and own only on vinyl.  At some point that shifted.  It slowly became all things that you need to hear on an actual record.  Then it went a step farther, it became anything that you needed to own on vinyl and appreciate in music and pop culture with all of my opinion that you can handle.  Then there's today.  For the first time ever, I'm about to pick a piece of vinyl that I'm going to be critical of, not too critical of course because I would never spend money and invest time in something that I don't care about and didn't like.  I will however take the time and have made an investment in something that is important for the rock and blues fans, fans of music and you readers alike.

RE: Jack White, we need to talk.  Not a lot of people will deny the genius that is, Jack White.  Gifted guitarist, accomplished lyricist, grunge/garage/punk/blues rocker.  You name it, Jack can influence it.  Jack's influence on other artists is something of note.  The combination of Jack and Meg White gave us 14 years of some of the filthiest garage rock since the 70's and basically signed off on the alternative rock era that was the 90's.  Later working with members of what will become The Dead Weather, and Ohio garage group The Greenhorners, we were gifted The Raconteurs. The Go and The Uphosterers really aren't worth talking about as the former was a pet project to keep him busy between Elephant and Get Behind Me Satan.  The latter was a horrible attempt to become an all male version of a core grunge version of The White Stripes.  All that aside, Jack struck gold with The Dead Weather.  

The Dead Weather comprised of members from The Kills, Queens of The Stone Age, and The Raconteurs, have now put out 3 albums.  Each one slightly less like themselves than the one that preceded it, but all of them uniquely spectacular in it's own way.  I'm getting way ahead of myself.  For some more random facts and history, I direct you to a previous post featuring The Dead Weather here.  It was their 2nd album, which by all rights wasn't too bad.

This past Friday, Jack White and The Dead Weather, (Let's face it, that's clearly what's happening here.), released the groups 3rd studio album Dodge and Burn.  From the album cover, you kind of get a sense of what's about to go down here.  But this began long before that.  If you recall a Sirious/ly post not too long ago either, this also happened.  The 3rd and final single released before the albums' launch gave us all hope and a reason for waiting 5 long years for a follow up to Sea of Cowards.

I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)

Awesome right!?  Strong way to lead off the record too.  Hold on a sec.  That was the 3rd single released in advance of this album.  Why is that the only one you heard?  Ok, in fairness it was released about month before the album, so there's a lot to be said for promotion, and well if you've been paying attention here, it's not like it was a secret or anything.  The first single was out back in January of last year, Well, here's where things start go slightly wrong.  Kudos for Jack White planting the seed and all teasing new material from a great group, minus points for basically forgetting about it to promote your solo project only to pick it up later like a true side project and less of a priority.  In doing that, suddenly The Dead Weather became a red-headed step child group so to speak. Now this was either brilliant or troublesome.  Brilliant in the respect that you tease an album over a year in advance and lead up to the killer track just before the drop, which is precisely what I went with, or completely troublesome in that you tease an album well over a year before it's release and try to save face with a killer track in I Feel Love.  I'll let the reviewers and forum trolls debate that one.  I'm going with the former given that this group has been consistently good

So then, what's the problem, really?  Well, in a nutshell after listening to this album multiple times since it's release last Friday, I've come to the conclusion that it's simply a case of Jack White being somewhat of an ego maniac.  Jack White is not a drummer.  For a second though, let's pretend that he is.  Unless the genre of music is Drum & Bass, the drum shouldn't be the center of the musical arrangement.  Jack's mediocre at best drumming skill is all over this mother-fucker, and frankly it's not all bad, if this album was released at the height of the alternative music boom almost 20 years ago.  Anybody that want's to hear Jack White's skill should not hear him as a drummer.  Listen to him as a guitarist.  Trust me.  The fact that he not only over played with the same style through the record, he insisted on dropping vocals in tandem often ranging from rap to his quirky falsetto flutter thing that's actually quite good, on his solo records.

That's the issue, this isn't a solo record.  What's worse is, Jack White at some point forgot that.  He was either too busy making The Kills sound like The White Stripes, or forming Jack White and The Dead Weather.  If you listen to this album with any kind of expectations, don't listen to it thinking that you're going to get anything more than deep driving riffs and sound blues checking from the ever literally smokey Alison Mosshart.  As you heard above, there's about 2 songs on the album that drive as hard as that one.  Let Me Through, and Mile Markers stand out.  Then there's my personal favorite that I have listened to in an unhealthy dose, Cop and Go.

And then there's Alison Mosshart.  Since The Kills she's been the punk hottie with a voice that could have piloted the Riot Grrl movement.  She uses her core punk style to deliver some very in your face vocals.  Listening to her on any track you really get a feeling that she's about one of the angriest vocalists in the game.  Having seen The Dead Weather live, and being the fan of The Kills that I am, I know that to not be true.  Crazy as it sounds, she's just that gifted and underrated as a vocalist. It's not till the last track on this album however that you realize that.

Impossible Winner

Yikes.  This song is almost haunting.  My only wish is that Alison would quit smoking.  She's about 1 album away from becoming Stevie Nicks...  I'm not joking.  In any event, there was an awesome magazine out years ago called Blender.  It was under the umbrella of the guys that print the  Adolescent porn magazine Maxim.  Blender had this feature that I loved.  It took a bunch of releases from an artist and ranked 3 of them from "must buy", to "good", to "for fans only".  I'm taking that road with the Dead Weather now, even though they only have 3 albums in the can.  Horehound, their first one is far and away one of the greatest albums ever made.  Find it and love it.  Sea of Cowards, was their 2nd and 2nd best album.  So worth a listen to multiple times on vinyl.  This album, Dodge and Burn, is for fans only.  Jack White made the Kills worse, and the Kills made the White Stripes better.  Thumbs up if you get me on that last sentence.  I hope Lazaretto wasn't the last good Jack White solo album.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Velvet Underground - White Light White Heat (1968)

And we're back!  I'm still away from my turntable, (If you could call it that.) but I have access to a dope as all hell setup for a short while and I would be remiss to not take advantage of spinning some serious shit.  

This week, I'm picking an American classic.  NYC's own, Velvet Underground with what is in my opinion the single greatest album they ever did, White Light/White Heat.  Sure, their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico was outstanding, but I'm giving the edge to their sophomore release simply because they really came into their own out of the NYC grit of the era.  Why you ask?

White Light White Heat

So hear me out first.  You'll listen to that and think, "Woah, this is kinda out there." but if you really listen to it you'll come to realize the genius that was behind the Velvet Underground.  It's in their lyrics.  When you have a poet for a songwriter you get some deeply profound lyrics.  Fiona Apple anyone?  In any event, Lou Reed was way ahead of his time with his craft and skill of writing.  He literally brought an alternative message to punk music.  The Velvet Underground practically invented nihilist punk.

Their 2nd single brought it even harder...

I Heard Her Call My Name

You see, the thing about The Velvet Underground is that they weren't conceived as a mainstream group.  They were part of NYC's gritty underground culture of the 1970's.  Remember anything you may have heard about Lower East side punks and artists?  The Velvet Underground were their voices.  Before the British Punk invasion went full tilt, NYC version or anarchy was established in SoHo.  They touched on themes semi relevant to their time.  Anything from sexual identiy, (Lady Godiva's Operation) to the downright mental, (The Gift).  The gift being an exercise in what happens when you marry a poem to experimental rock.

The Gift

This record has been released many times over the years, but nothing stands up to the original mastered one.  There's such a beautiful mess of psychedelia and instrumental wizardry going on here, you'll have to find either an original or a remastered mono release of this album to get every ounce of pain out of it.  The Velvet Underground wasn't taken too seriously when they broke onto the scene, but through the years their brilliance became the hallmark of all things American punk rock.  They stood for old school anarchy and they were a driving force behind movements of expression and rights.  Run and find this album anywhere you can get it  

Next week, something new...  Something to celebrate the dying weather outside.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sirious/ly: Chris Cornell - Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart (2015)

For those keeping track here, the "Serious/ly" feature I do on this blog is little more than me listening to satellite radio and coming across a song or artist I love.  Sometimes it's retro, sometimes it's rare, but whenever it's new it's always one to watch.  There have been many of these posts over the past year, and hopefully you've discovered something different.  

In this outing, Chris Cornell, famously of Temple Of The Dog, Soundgarden, Audioslave, and for whatever reason the Zach Brown Band, apparently has a new single out. For those that haven't been paying attention, Chris is out with a new album this Friday the 18th.  Higher Truth.  Here's a pro tip: Alternative music on vinyl ain't cheap.  You try to find a Soundgarden LP and get back to me on how much of your paycheck is left.  Preorder this because you know it's legit.  Just listen:

Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart

So, as I alluded earlier this year has been better than expected for releases.  This month alone we're seeing new music from  Lana Del Ray, The Dead Weather, and now Chris Cornell.  Next week, I'll do a catch all post summing up most of it to this point.  Also, officially I've been doing this for a year now, crazy.   I wonder where we'll go for year #2?  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sirious/ly: alt-J - Hunger Of The Pine (2014)

Since I wasn't near my turntable this week, that doesn't mean that I'm not listening to good shit.  The lead single from alt-J's 2014 album, This Is All Yours is an exercise in chill.  Not too dissimilar from Washed Out in their style, but radically different in the way that alt-J handles electronic music.  This song is just grazing the tip of a very big iceberg with these guys.  If I can ever track this down on vinyl, this will be a HUGE pick for this blog.  Until then, I'm going to keep crate digging till I get my hands on this.  (Probably have to buy it in a DJ record store) Speaking of which, I highly recommend Gramophone Records in Chicago.  Man, the amount of Beastie Boy's records I could have and by all rights should have bought the day I was there is just staggering.  

Hunger Of The Pine

Perhaps I'll have a proper update this weekend.  Till then, keep spinning.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tame Impala - Currents (2015)

Last year I picked TV On The Radio's Seeds as the best I heard all year.  It's a shame it took till October to find it, and it's kinda surprising that it beat out Lana Del Rey's Ultraviolence and Jack White's Lazaretto, both outstanding releases looking back on them now.  This year, there's been all kinds of great music released on the indie circuit.  Some you may have heard of such as Sleater Kinney, No Cities To Love, some you may not have like Lianne La Havas, Blood.  I'm calling it right now.  Tame Impala's 3rd album, Currents, released back in July may be the album this year.  Though in addition to the aforementioned 2 albums, Lana Del Rey has another due out in a few weeks, The Dead Weather is finally out with new music very soon, and I wouldn't be surprised if we hear something from Beck before years as well as something from No Doubt and PJ Harvey.  Indeed this is quietly shaping up to be an outstanding year for the indie artists.  So, what's up with Tame Impala you ask, well with lyrics like;
Finally taking flight
I know you don't think it's right
I know that you think it's fake
Maybe fake's what I like
Point is I have the right
I'm thinking in black and white
I'm thinking it's worth the fight
Soon to be out of sight
Knowing it all this time
Going with what I always longed for

 And some of the most solid psychedelic riffs, a masters level of attention to production detail made for the best 51:06 of vinyl listening goodness I've heard in months. 

They released the first single off the album in March well ahead of the finished album and it signaled a huge departure to what made the Aussie group famous.  Tame Impala had built their careers on some way out there progressive psychedelic rock music.  Their first album, was a synth heavy experimental chaotic mess of rhythms so complex you may have mistaken them for a late 60's early 70's lo-fi wall of soundscapes type of group.  Think about what Pink Floyd + Genesis / Acid would =.  A beautiful mess, that's what happened.  Listen to damn near anything from Innerspeaker (2010) to get a feeling of what I'm talking about.  For this album, their first single Let It Happen clearly set the tone for a much more mainstream feel. 

Let It Happen

The 2nd single from Currents was the one that got some actual notice particularly in Hipster indie circuits.  What got me immediately was the departure from their experimental and gravitation toward complete melodies.  The psych/rock group made a chill out song that anybody could listen to no matter what frame of mind they were in - which - when you think about it is kinda the hallmark of a great psychedelic group right?  If after hearing a song you wish it were longer because you were just getting into a groove, they've done their job.  So, released in April their 2nd single, Cause I'm a Man dropped, and this album was suddenly a much anticipated hit.  Hell, when I heard about it, it made this blog real quick.

Cause I'm a Man

Seriously, up until I bought the album, that was my favorite song.  Fortunately Tame Impala didn't suffer from what a lot of artists suffer from when they're trying to get popular too fast.  The didn't release their best songs as singles and end up selling the album's filler.  Turns out with perhaps 1 or 2 exceptions, this whole album was some of the best most technical and eclectic collections of music I've heard in a while.

In a testament to this albums brilliance, upon it's release it was Tame Impala's first #1 album in their home country, and #4 here in the U.S..  Here's the rub though, not since Jack White's Lazaretto last year has an album been released that sold more on Vinyl.  That's right, within the first 2 weeks of the release of Currents, it sold more than 14,000 copies - on vinyl alone, and that's just in North America!  For whatever reason it sold a lot more on vinyl in Australia, which substantiates the awesome limited edition available there.  It sold so well, that it's pre-orders sold out within 2 weeks of the release of their 2nd single.

Two other singles from that album were out before the July release of Currents.  Disciples and Eventually.  Both of these songs while good, don't quite capture the essence of  Tame Impala's future potential.  I'm fairly certain that these were released to give their current fans something to look forward to because of their complex psychedelic sound.  The money songs are a very over produced Past Life, and my current favorite, which I quoted above, New Person, Same Old Mistakes.  The latter of which is rapidly becoming the soundtrack of my existence these days.  Matter of fact, I challenge you to put on some headphones and listen to this track, (shitty PC and or phone speakers won't do it justice.) and not repeat it twice.

New Person, Same Old Mistakes

Damn, this song changes tempo more than an 80's opus.  The vocals, and more specifically the lyrics are just mind blowing.  When he speaks of what people may think about his music now and basically says, "fuck you, this is what I like."  It really gives you makes you glad that he along with the group can do so without alienating his core followers and selling out completely.  This whole song speaks volumes about a lot of things.  I may end up wearing this track out.  It would suck though as this is a 2 LP release.  

Unfortunately if you are lucky enough to find this album these days, it will not be cheap on vinyl.  Since it's release it's climbed to north of $30 for the domestic release.  It's even higher if you're lucky enough to snag the Australian release which was all kinds of awesome.  1 record was yellow, the other purple and it came with an .mp3 download code all on 180grm vinyl.  They're rare, but can be had for around $50-80 depending on where you find it.  But, for an interesting change, I'm going against my love for vinyl here.  Just buy the album.  Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, direct from their site, wherever.  I'm going so far as to call this one of the most important releases this year in all of music.  Sure there will be bigger more mainstream releases, but none of them will be authentic as Tame Impala.  Buy this album now and thank me later.

Next week, I'm conflicted and can't decide, but I'm seriously thinking leaning toward going back and redoing a few of my earlier picks from before I started the blog, just to give them a proper write-up, or the other insanely awesome record I lucked in to from 2000.  Either way, it'll be awesome.