Sword, Black Angels Make Me Feel Evil

September 17th, 2010

Which is good.  At times.  Sometimes you gotta throw out what MAD MEN tell you to feel and feel something else.  Music pulls you out of the morass and keeps you clean. There’s just too much out there to knock you apart and keep you isolated.  In all this world, with all this technology we are solo, alone, one, unique, un-salvageable.  We careen around all this space/time and hope for any meaningful connection, and when it swings close enough for the pull of gravity to make it meet we’re out the back and gone.  Swinging wide and missing by forever.

Records, music.  They are the grounding weight and the connection.  The true word passed down through archaic mechanical/chemical heat, pressure, time and temperature.  All the ingredients that this very world is fashioned from, and us wee humans as well.

Art & Death. What A Dance

August 26th, 2010

This place is just plain weird.  Truly.  I get the vinyl resurgence stories crawling all over the interwebs and such.  Hell, I’m contributing in my limited way.  But now we’ve got artshows and shit.  This image is striking and amusing.  Two things I like in my art.

Nasher-therecord-590-580x463

Beyond art, we’ve got death.  The great beyond.  Wouldn’t you know it, some joker has devised a way to keep your spirit alive in the groove of a record.  It certainly isn’t boring.

Out And Back via the Delta

August 19th, 2010

I jumped to the West Coast over the last weekend to touch base with the family and hit a couple record stores.  Really it was about spending time with my family but I got to a couple shops as well.  Caedmon Records put out an entire series of poets reading their own works along with Children’s Records, Foreign Language Records, and kick ass Theatre recordings.  Shakespeare plays with Richard Burton, Paul Scofield and John Gielgud to name a few.  I found a record of Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Awesome.  I also have a copy of the first record Caedmon recorded: Dylan Thomas reading “A Child’s Christmas In Wales.”  Stupendous.

I hit Music Millennium while in Portland, OR and had to leave with some records and Army Of Shadows. Records, old shit, movies about the French Resistance during WW II.  My life is living in the past.

The Fire In The Arcade

August 3rd, 2010

Oh, it looks good.

Arcade Fire-Suburbs

It SOUNDS good too.  Check it here.  I bet it even tastes good.

RCA Victor Orthophonic!

July 23rd, 2010

A buddy found a 1958 RCA Victor Orthophonic in his relatives’ attic.  He sent it out and had a little work done.  He just got it back, all 33 lbs, and was spinning records today.  Some great shots of a “portable” rig that sounds just about perfect.  A little electricity and the party gets started.

Villagers, It’s All Happening

July 21st, 2010

Villagers isn’t a village, or even a group of people.  It’s Conor O’Brien.  I just watched his Tiny Desk Concert courtesy of NPR.  Seems NPR is onto something as the debut release, “Becoming A Jackal,” has been nominated for the Mercury Prize.  Oh boy, an award show!  Way better than our set up here in the states.  Amazing that good records win prizes across the pond.  Here we award the BMOC and the Head Cheerleader.  Awesome.

This Is What LP’s Are For

July 12th, 2010

Really.  What better represents the use of a record when not being spun?  Unless you’re trying to sort something from something else that doesn’t do so well once rolled in paper?

Diamond Dave Signs the Big Black

I realize that when it comes to media, both new and old, there are arguments for and against.  This is an example of one of the things that compels me to buy records.  It’s a canvas, thee canvas and inside its framework lies every truth and every lie.  The explanation of the universe.  Behold, the magic.

Hey, It’s Creative!

June 7th, 2010

Just tripped across this bitchin’ stop motion ad for the recently rejoiced Record Store Day 2010.  Enjoy.

Record Store Day Ad from Heather Norvall on Vimeo.

Cash Sez Ef U

May 21st, 2010

Man, I love this shot.  This is rock n roll.

Cash

Still Hungover From RSD 2010

April 27th, 2010

I’ve identified a problem.  I have a vinyl problem.  It’s a small problem, but a problem nonetheless.  I received a package yesterday resulting from my desperate situation on RSD.  I couldn’t locate The Hold Steady, The Beastie Boys or Beach House in my local environs of NYC.  All the shops I visited had either never received any copies or were already out of stock.  So I dialed up my friends at Music Millennium in Portland, OR and Terry HOOKED me up.  I cracked the plastic on The Hold Steady yesterday and spun the platter.  Clear vinyl.  Nice.  It deserves another spin today.

So why, if I was in NYC, was I calling a store three hours behind me?  Because the hordes of vinyl fanatics hadn’t yet cracked the doors at what SPIN magazine has ranked as the #9 record store in the country.  I was playing the time zones in order to score the fix.  Interestingly enough, the image I just loaded above of Heaven Is Whenever is from Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey.  Next time I need to look closer to home, I think.  And how did Vintage Vinyl not even make the SPIN list?  15 is too short a list.  We’ve got enough quality shops to expand to a top 50, easy.  Get to work SPIN.

Record Store Day, 2010

April 16th, 2010

The day is upon us.  There are any number of special releases to lay your hands and ears upon.  Go here to check it all.  I’m hitting shops in Manhattan, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.  Here’s one I don’t have to hunt down, but I believe you should.

Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches doing, and I mean DOING, Dark Side Of The Moon.  It’s glorious.

Hey, have fun out there.

I’ve Got 5 Minutes To Go

March 4th, 2010

Every day has its’ commitments, but Thursday starts early and goes long.  So, before I jump into it, a word about being human.

Records match the organic thump-thump of the heart.  They run along the analogue waves of the brain.  We are not robots, we are human.  Some tasties:

What’s The Persona?

February 19th, 2010

Who the hell am I?  I go about my day, doing my day stuff and every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of myself and I’m not sure I recognize who I see.  I mean, I recognize myself, but I’m not so sure the picture matches the guts.  And outside the world continues to churn.  Time, age, shape, name, lineage, bloodline, history.  Quick story:

When I was in the 11th grade I was driving my dad from Portland, OR to Eugene, OR.  He didn’t have a place to live at the time and Eugene seemed just as good as any other berg to find a little rest and peace.  I don’t think he was thinking about rest and peace when we made eye contact in the rear view mirror as I drove away, but that’s what I thought he was thinking, at the time.  It was a couple years after that when I saw him next.  He looked good, had a job, a license to drive and all seemed well.  That was the last time I’d see him in life or death.

So, the line was wiped away, the chain broken.  I no longer found myself tied to my own history as even my dad’s parents were already gone.  So, I’ll call the rest of this, “the drift.”  I too easily let the past go, forget details I should remember and lose my eye for the future.  My own image wavers, simmers, changes between solid and gas.  When I feel most unhinged it’s love of family and records that pulls me back in line.  The doubt remains, it’s never that easy to regain my footing.  The records that have helped recently, you ask?

Record Store Day Doth Approach

February 9th, 2010

Record Store Day comes but once a year, and this year it lands April 17, 2010.  Here are three reasons why you should shop at an Indie Record Shop:

1) It’s one of the few remaining wild places in America.  Seriously.  W I L D.  If you doubt this comment, check this.  I know, you’ve seen this clip a million times but it’s still true.  There are crazed, talented knuckleheads out there all across America just dying to expose you to their playlists.

2) It’s the only place where you can find a new record, a used record, a white label promo, a bootleg, a regular promo, the same copy of the record that you sold 10 years ago (even has your initials), and even that strange digital format called a CD, of the same release.

3) It’s fuckin’ cool.

4 Records, $26 Bucks

January 25th, 2010

Sunday it started to rain, but it was a soft, easy mist.  Driving with The Avett Brothers along for the ride, the road down to Bruised Apple Books and Music was pretty much clear.  This is a relaxed, community bookstore that happens to have a decent used LP section as well as other music related stuff.  You know, CD’s, books, t-shirts, DVD’s as well as two boxes of the good stuff behind the counter.  One box is Jazz and one box is “popular,” which includes everything from a couple 70’s bootlegs to mono Rolling Stones records.  I didn’t find anything in the boxes, but I did pick up four records: Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits on Reprise, Bob Marley’s Kaya, The Beatles Blue set on Capitol (which doesn’t match my Beatles Red on Apple, but what the hell) and Aretha Franklin’s Live in Paris.  A great way to spend a couple of hours.

Just Like The First Time

January 9th, 2010

Uncle Tupelo Uncle Tupelo should be considered the epicenter of all those genres that eventually coalesced into Alt-Country, or whatever you want to call it.  They were the still that brought the blend to it’s peak and maybe it’s been Mad Dog’d ever since.  Anodyne is on LP, finally.  Hard to believe it was never on wax before, but that’s the truth.  Hear it like it should have been heard.  Beautiful 180 Gram Vinyl and pressed with loving care by RTI.  Truly revealing after almost 20 years.

TV On The Radio + Ramble

January 6th, 2010

I’m listening to this LP, well, 2LP really.

TVOTR Return To Cookie Mountain

And it makes me think that I’m missing out on everything.  Not literally, but spinning this I realize that there is always going to be more music than I can ever listen to, find, enjoy, embrace, sing along to (something I shouldn’t do as I’m not capable of singing).  It also makes evident that there are books and movies and art and theatre and any number of other things that I WILL NEVER EXPERIENCE.  There’s too much.  There’s no time.  I’m, well, screwed.  Every secret has been revealed, yet those same secrets are dropped into the strangest little places that they’re able to hide in unopened books and unlistened to records and unseen artistic events.  The weight, some days, is unbearable.

2009 Vinyl Top 10 Or There’bouts

January 5th, 2010

I’ve randomized the outcome, but all of these meant something significant to me this last year.  And 2009 was a bitch.  We all know the outside influences that confound and befuddle us, but I did a good deal of fighting with my own head to boot.  Still working to re-boot the braindrive.  Anyway, the music saved me.  Kept me clean.  Pulled calm from the miasma.  All vinyl, some with bonus CD or download, and worth every penny.  Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Better Know A Record Store, Part 3

December 23rd, 2009

I hopped on the subway last week and ventured out to Greenpoint to visit this shop.  Great vibe and selection and a cool neighborhood (I didn’t KNOW this.  Had to have someone tip me to it).  The official word is that a couple industrious Dutchmen settled the land back in the 17th century.  Turned it into a commercial and industrial hub after the farmland was overtaken.  Now, it’s the northernmost neighborhood in Brooklyn.  These cats talk on it a bit.  Permanent Records has a sweet combination of new, used, turntables, 7″ singles, stuff you need to keep your records clean and organized as well as the needed highly sought after collectibles.  But don’t take my word for it, listen to Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugerman as they talk it up with Time Out NY.

Under Great White Northern Lights

December 11th, 2009

Those cats at Third Man Records in Nashville know how to make you hate yourself in these uncertain economic times.  What’s my point…  Right.  I can’t afford this box set, but I want it.  Do I go without food, records, heating oil, skip the rent, walk everywhere to save on gas, wait on that surgery I need, trade down to a lower grade inebriant?  PBR instead of Stella or Peroni?  Hershey’s instead of La Maison?  Old Dutch instead of Cohiba?  I’m torn and my dark half is fighting with my light half and the light is losing ground.  Here’s the poster:

White Stripes Poster

And here’s the link to peep the pretty box set.

Daptone Gifties

December 10th, 2009

Head on over to the Daptone Store. Spend $30 and get a FREE Christmas 7″ by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings-her debut Christmas song.  The B-Side is a Christmas track from Binky Griptite.  Yes, Santa is coming to town.  Here’s the label:

Sharon Jones Xmas 45

I Sometimes Do Business The Old Fashioned Way

December 9th, 2009

So, I was on the phone with the great folks over at Shake It in Cincinnati, OH last week and I bought the new Tom Waits LP packages, Glitter and Doom Live and Orphans.  I also picked up the first two volumes in the Dangerous Highway: A Tribute To The Songs Of Eddie Hinton: two 7″ singles, one by Greg Dulli and one by Drive-By Truckers.  Get them here.  Don’t be fooled by the “sold out,” you’ll just need to buy each one separately.

Now, I know I’m lucky because I can call up some stores all over the states and buy records or whatever and they’ll mail ‘em to me and I’ll send a check back.  I sometimes give the ol’ credit card digits as well but they’ll work with me either way.  Try that somewhere other than a kick ass Indie record shop.  I dare you.

The Flaming Lips Freak Out 2010

December 8th, 2009

I could explain what this is, why this is, when this is, how this is.  But Wayne says it and shows it WAY better than I.  And if you haven’t picked up the new record, Embryonic, you should.  It may just change your life.

Happy Birthday Mr. Waits

December 7th, 2009

He says he was born on December 7th 1949, in San Diego, in a moving cab.  I don’t know for sure about the last two facts, but the first is true.  Eight years after Pearl Harbor and sixty years hence.  What a life and what a batch of records.

God Speed Tom Waits.

Mothership Delivers Again

December 4th, 2009

Some days you just need the Zeppelin.  Some days you need the overwhelming bombast to clear out the mind and soothe the nerves.  And as I’m not available for “other” forms of mood altering I guess the ROCK is next in line to do the trick.  This 4LP set is all you can get these days when it comes to Zep’s studio albums (pristine and new, I mean) so the indulgence feels appropriate.  Peep the pretty shot, all spread out and beautiful.

The Mothership

There’s plenty in the ’sphere these days about the vinyl comback, vinyl resurgence, vinyl niche, stupid vinyl, luddite control, who wants ‘em, why they want ‘em and any number of other poorly researched, poorly written and plain crap constructed logic lacking shite.

I write from a purely emotional place because that’s why I LOVE the music.  It adds meaning to my life down to the molecular level.  The El PEE reaches my organic being.  The record tells the story.  My life is richer for it and I am 100% sure that if our attention span lacking society slowed down enough to LISTEN, well, wouldn’t we be in a better place?  It’s a bit like walking into the woods and sitting down and being quiet and letting the forest come alive.  You won’t see it, hear it, feel it unless you give it time to envelope your senses.  Slow down, friend.  Breathe.  Put down all the devices, place the platter on the turntable and turn up the volume just so.

Lee Morgan – Tom Cat

December 1st, 2009

I didn’t know that Lee Morgan was gunned down by a jealous lover in 1972.  After all this time walkin’ the planet I think there really isn’t very much that I know about anything.  The one, sure thing I know at this moment is that this recording, long lost in the Blue Note vaults, sounds so alive on 2LP 45 RPM that I believe I’m experiencing a visitation by Lee Morgan and his horn.  Want some of the same?  Pick it up here.

Lee Morgan Tom Cat

Gone Missing…But Found

November 30th, 2009

I’ve been other lately.  Not feeling myself, even when I’m digging in crates and dusty boxes.  The season has turned toward Winter and I’m hoping it won’t be long to Spring, but I’m afraid the days already shortened of light will turn long and dark and cold.  I’ve been stuck in the past, which is perfect for records but for all the wrong reasons.  It’s not nostalgia I’m experiencing, but dread and heartbreak.  Usually Floyd’s “The Final Cut” pulls me clear of the mental debris but even the morose Roger Waters and crew have failed me this trip.  Noting which records get you through the weeds is an important past time and I think I should spend more time on the endeavor.

Been dreading even writing anything here.  The days fall away pulled by gravity, and once they’re gone it just becomes another loss, another lost opportunity.  The higher the pile of depleted days the more it takes to type the words and “catch” up.  The true 22.  So, let’s get back to the program.  I’ve been listening to quite a few things I picked up on my last visit to Atlanta and Criminal Records.  Some are older records and some are just out, but all help to put the air back in the lungs. (And all are real live records that I picked up at the record store with the exception of the Lemon Sun.  That one’s a CD.  That one I got from the drummer.)

WFMU Record Fair

October 30th, 2009

I think I’m still in recovery.  The event was fantastic, as usual, and full of friends I know and friends I didn’t know I had.  Nice photos for proof it existed are here.  My buddy took the shots and he’s also responsible for some of the good stuff you see in the bins these days.  Keep a look out for stuff like this:

Plenty more where that came from.  Come back for seconds.

Where The Hell Have I Been?

October 6th, 2009

That’s a good question.  I just finished reading the book, watching the movie and am currently, at this moment, listening to the album.

I have no excuse for being truant.  But I’ve been floating lately.  Having trouble focusing.  Realizing entire days have slid through the hour glass without taking note of their passing.  And for the only strange reason I can muster all this cultural entertainment explains away everything.  Informs everything.  Brings order and proper discourse to my waking hours.  Good God, I’ve lost the plot again…what was I saying?

Test Pressings

September 15th, 2009

It’s wild that these mostly white, generic sleeve, blank label packages contain the first notes.  Removing the jacket and tipping the LP so the light catches the selection number in the inside dead wax and noting the side and whether you’re looking at the first cut or a subsequent cut.  Looking it over you notice the blank canvas.  You drop the needle and start to paint.  This white, nondescript set becomes all notes, and colors, and beats, and rhythms.

After the approval (or rejection) they find the section of the collection where test pressings go to wait for the present to become the past.  They gather together there, the precursor of what becomes the record in a fan’s hands.  The white section, full of mysteries and lost recordings where, on occasion, miracles occur.

The Features

September 14th, 2009

I know I’m late to this party, but sometimes you show up on time and sometimes you’re fashionably late.  Dig it, bitches?

Muse is Bad Ass

September 11th, 2009

I haven’t been able to listen to the new MUSE on LP as it doesn’t quite exist yet, but listening to the CD I’m actually overcome by visions of grandeur and daydreams of world domination.  The Resistance promises to be the modern age rock opera.  The NOW experience that truly demands full length album listening enjoyment.  Headphones might just make your eyes bleed.

And their recently released catalog (on EL PEE, no less) will get you in the mood.  Beaut.

Yim Yames

September 9th, 2009

Nice little record.  45RPM, 180 Gram with a full art euro-style inner sleeve.  It’s a snug fit, but all the better to keep the record in good shape.  There’s also a CD of the release included, always key for those folks that buy the record and want to hear it before they get to a turntable.  I jumped to the Yim Yames site and was a bit miffed that I didn’t get the t-shirt with my purchase as I bought it in a RECORD STORE instead of on the internets.  Still like the record, though.

Ah, A Fine Visit

September 8th, 2009

So, I found myself in Nashville, Tennessee last week and while I was there I stopped by Grimey’s.  Here’s a shot, taken by John Brassil, of The Black Keys rockin’ the inside OUT.

black-keys-at-grimeysOne of the many things I love about this shop, and all quality record stores, is the fact that you can ask for any number of records that you know nothing about and the folks that bang the cash register can hook you up with wondrous things that open your mind and make your ass boogie.  Case in point.  I pick up a couple items I was looking for and ask Doyle for some records I SHOULD be listening to.  He hits me with The City Champs-The Safecracker, The Features-Some Kind Of Salvation and Cortney Tidwell-Boys.  I’m a happy boy.

It’s An Oasis of Oasis

August 28th, 2009

No photos please.  Bugger off you rotten scoundrels.  Piss off, I say.  Just the basics here.  The complete catalog pressed in a limited quantity heavy weight edition.  Sounds good, looks good, feels good.  Check ‘em all out here.

You may like the band, you may not.  But the covers are some of the best covers in rock-roll and you can’t experience them adequately by viewing them as CD or thumbnail images.  In fact, my posting them here makes me look like a conflicted idiot because this presentation is weak and stunted compared to the real thing.  Good Lord, buy the records.

Wilco and their Summerteeth

August 26th, 2009

Great googily moogily.  This 2LP set is fantastically delicious.  Paper-wrapped gatefold jacket with two lovingly produced and pressed 180 Gram Vinyl El Pees.  And it comes with a copy of the record on the CD format for instant enjoyment while driving around in your automobile.

And really, how can a CD compete?  Let alone a dig-i-tal down-load?

When The Soul Fills The Grooves

August 21st, 2009

eli-reedA friend of mine turned me onto this record and I have to say that I’m smitten.  Love the sound, the production, the quality of the pressing, the weight of the jacket.  The screams, the sighs, the soul-shaking.  I know there’s plenty out there to satisfy the rafter rattling sounds of low-fi hi-expectations soul music.  Daptone does it on a regular basis.  So does Numero.  I actually like buying their records.  Feel it’s a great investment for my spirit.  They’ve never left me light in the pocket without leaving me heavy in the mortal coil.  This music and these records are as close as I’ll get to holy communion so what’s the harm in shouting it to those rattling rafters?

Harold and Maude

August 19th, 2009

harold-and-maudeLight In The Attic and Vinyl Films put this out early in ‘08.  The limited edition of 2,500 went fast and now it’s one of those records that you just can’t find, and that doesn’t stop you from wanting it desperately.  Watching the movie over the weekend I’m reminded of all the reasons why this movie and soundtrack are so interlocked.  Watching the movie also makes me want to take up playing the banjo.

Darrell “Shifty” Powers R.I.P.

August 17th, 2009

shifty-powersShifty passed away June 17, 2009.  He was one of the original Toccoa men and featured heavily in the HBO mini-series “Band Of Brothers.”  Hearing about this over the weekend from an email chain many degrees removed I felt like I’d lost a relative.  Not the kind of relative that you stayed with during Summer vacations when you’re a kid, but a relative through a branch of your family that you hadn’t heard from in years.  A relative that informed your family history, that made it legitimate.

I’m not related to Shifty, but I’m glad I knew of him.  Rest In Peace.

the Mountain Goats

August 13th, 2009

the-mountain-goatsThe perfect sound of melancholy.  I know this record has been out there for a bit, but I go back to it often.  The album cover, the lyrics, the emotive resonance kills.  This record, in particular, echoes that directive about writing what you know and if this is what Mr. Darnielle knows than he deserves a place in the palace for spilling his guts.  And kudos to 4AD for pressing these fine, sad songs into sweet, sweet vinyl.  After all, nothing hides the bitter taste of life like a square foot of physical, musical sweetness.

Vinyl Record Day

August 12th, 2009

vinyl-record-dayToday is the day in 1877 that Edison invented the phonograph.  And what’s a phonograph without a record?  Not much.  As it’s always been, the music flows in the direction of technology and the first major step was the long playing record.  The EL PEE.  Wax.  The Groove.  Dynaflex.  Unbreakable.  Hi-Fidelity, Full=Spectrum.  Living Sound.  ffrr.  Mono.  Stereo.

Take a break today and remember the fully engaged quality of listening to a record.  You need be present.  You need to listen.  And for those with completely manual turntables you need to lift the needle at the end of each side.  Sweet.  For more info and to support Vinyl Record Day, head on over here and get involved.

The Low Anthem

August 11th, 2009

the-low-anthemLast night I sat on my neighbor’s porch and watched the tempest roll across Storm King Mountain and down the Hudson River.  The lightning and thunder were a testament to our insignificance.  The white flashing was brighter than the noon day sun, even as it was as brief as an eye blink.  And the thunder actually rolled over the mountains rumbling down the channel.  What it must have been like to experience before the knowledge of what it was.  Of course there were gods in the sky and water and trees and mountains.

This record is like that.  Music from the distant past brought through time to the present without regret, nostalgia or too much conscious thought.  It’s from the time before understanding when rhythm and melody and soaring voices made sense of the unknown and brought comfort to the night.

Vinyl. Revival. Repeat As Necessary.

August 10th, 2009

Blogs, alt-weeklies, local papers, innumerable websites, RSS feeds, national press.  And now, finally, national broadcast news.  I think the story is old but I realize that most of us don’t pay attention to much of anything.  We’re involved and dedicated followers of ourselves.  So seeing a two minute piece on vinyl via NBC News seemed like an attempt to get more folks focused on the story.  The format is strong.  The format continues to grow.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

There are three substantial obstacles to achieving long term success.  One, we need more new titles (new artists as well as key catalog) in print.  Lovingly produced.  We’ll fail at this is we make crappy records.  We need the best titles manufactured to the highest quality.  Two, we need more production capacity close to home.  The handful of pressing plants in the US cannot expand to match demand.  They can get better at making records, but they have limited ability to put additional presses on line.  Three, we need more store fronts committed to the format.  And when I say “store fronts” I mean local, independent shops with taste, character and a connection to their local communities.  Buying and selling music is best handled by a local, trusted voice.

Listening To Dylan, Thinking About Waits

August 7th, 2009

Dylan in mono as issued by Sundazed.  Cool 2-eye Columbia label.  Damn, this sounds too good for words.  The Plaza has a farmer’s market this morning and Conklin Orchards does these sweet mini-pies.  Peach is on tap this AM.  Mighty tasty.

Not meaning to name-check two of my favorite web destinations, but The Eyeball Kid had a great link this AM to a Tom Waits flickr page.  Don’t delay-check it here.

Late To The Fleet Foxes Party

August 6th, 2009

fleet-foxesYes, I admit it.  The first time I heard this record I thought, “Why, this outfit is just tweaking the MJJ sound and not enough to make me think it’s something new, something beyond.”  Now, after numerous listens and advice from trusted sources I’m a believer.  Sometimes it takes a whispered word calling you out for being an ass to make you wake up, open up the ears and partake.

I also LOVE the fact that they put a Bruegel The Elder painting on the cover of their record.  Spend some time looking at the detail.  This is some kind of crazy vision and not for the faint of heart.

Stardeath And White Dwarfs

August 5th, 2009

stardeathReally, I rolled through the Doors self titled into Stardeath and I can’t help but realize the connection.  Strains of psychedelic rock with solid song writing and sweet hooks.  Separated by 42 years, but connected by all the grand traditions.  Neither recording produced for mass consumption, the Doors showing what could be the path for “art rock.”  The fancy way of saying they had something to say.  Certainly not the first to do so, but the first to connect to a larger audience without sacrificing their integrity.

Stardeath And White Dwarfs, connected to The Flaming Lips through some sort of blood relation as well as musical mission.  Get in the studio, fiddle with the knobs and make layers of noise, trip, harmony, cacophony, jazz, psyche and ominous foreboding.  Yep, the logical conclusion to the conversation started by Morrison and Co.

Some video goodness:

Punk Rock Warlord

August 4th, 2009

“Yeah, I wouldn’t steal money off a friend, but I’d steal his girlfriend.”  Joe Strummer

Spinning Sandinista! this AM.  You know it, you’ve lived with it now almost thirty years.  Man, we made better records back then.  Three LP’s full of all sorts of shenanigans-as it should be.

sandinista

What made me throw the record on this morning is my recollection of The Future Is Unwritten.  The quote above is taken from that.  My favorite bit in the movie is his ongoing monologue/dialogue over all sorts of footage and photographs of the band.  He’s in the pantheon for me, along with Bukowski and Johnny Cash.  Miss him, and glad to have the music.

Where The Hell Did July Go?

August 3rd, 2009

It’s August.  We’re getting to the hard, hot part of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I’ll be honest when I say I’m already tired of it all.  I mentioned to a friend that I felt as if I had moss for hair and webbed appendages.  Too much.

Nothing clears the moisture in the air like a nice, clean, black vinyl record.  This morning I’m spinning the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand.  They could have done a better job on the jacket, giving it the full old-school paper wrapped treatment, but the songs, my God, the songs.  If you’re going to put your money where the music is I guess I can’t really complain.  T Bone Burnett produced, this is one of the great recordings of the new century’s oughts.  I can’t believe this record is already two years old.  It sounds like it’s been unearthed from forever ago and will still echo through space once we ditch this planet and move on.

Friends & Relatives

July 24th, 2009

I just recently had a gaggle of friends in for a few days.  A visit.  Great to catch up.  Fun to see them, but lordy I’m bushed.  It takes a ton of energy to run around and show the sights.  Plus you have to lead the team.  At all times you must exude the utmost confidence that you know where you’re going and the operating hours of all important tourist destinations.  I’m glad they have these things they call smart phones.

I often ponder the state of things and wonder how we get along in the present with so much reliance on technology.  I think that’s one of the reasons why I love analog as much as I do, because while I download music and listen on the fly I also sit down and let the music flow from the groove, up and out the tonearm, get amplified, rush out the speakers and bombard my eardrums (which, by the way, are analog as well).  The act of listening should be exalted.  The act of watching, of reading.  We pay so little attention to the NOW, and I believe this is how we easily allow the newest gadget to pull us in a direction we never intended to travel.  Sometimes that direction is wondrous and strange and worth the distance traveled.  Sometimes it just turns us all in to a bunch of dolts.  Me included.  I surmise this is just about the absolute beautiful astounding mess this life is we’re living.  And that having friends in for a visit ain’t so bad.  It’s good to have friends, and smart phones.

Ya Gotta Read Sometime

July 15th, 2009

I can’t listen to music every moment of every day, but I do fill the elusive hours with plenty of records.  When the reading happens it ranges wide between World War II history and Bukowski, music and memoir.  I think that covers just about everything.  A few of my favorite things:

Now, That’s What I Call Love

July 13th, 2009

I know, I’ve written about them already.  I don’t mean to be such a whore for ‘em, but they’ve got something going on that I like.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

The Dead Weather – Treat Me Like Your Mother

The debut hits the stores tomorrow.  Don’t delay.

Wilco-Wilco (the post)

June 30th, 2009

Today seems like an appropriate day to mention that the newest Wilco long player is in the stores.  Get caught up on all things Wilco here.  They even have themselves an iPhone App and it’s pretty fancy.  Streams music from every release and keeps you up to date on shows and such.

But the real beauty is the record.  Here are a couple shots.

wilco-spinning1

wilco-jacketThe greatest fear I have about a new record is that it won’t live up to what I desire.  The anticipation builds and you split the plastic and open the record and…disappointment.  I’m very happy to say that isn’t the case here.  By the way, the camel’s name is Alfred (the fan).  Happy listening, this one will grow into you.

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King…of Pop

June 26th, 2009

I have to admit that I have a love/hate with the so previously deceased King of Pop.  You gotta respect the fact that this cat had a bizarre life and was still able to make some of the most popular music of the current age.  He was so good he even had jaded audiences of award shows up out of their seats clapping and screaming.

But really, it all comes down to the moon walk.  Three seconds on the Motown 25 show in 1983 and he owns the move (it starts at 3:44 of the clip).

We’re seeing all the tributes and kind words and sad MJ fans from around the globe.  It is sad, but I was way more tore up about Johnny Cash passing in 2003.  The Man in Black said more in “Hurt” than most musicians say in a lifetime, and he recognized his own debt, mistakes, redemption, freedom.  MJ never faced his demons, but he certainly danced.

Better Know A Record Store, Part 2

June 23rd, 2009

There’s plenty to do and see in the nation’s capitol.  Lots of history and majesty and monuments and statuary.  Much to remember and much to forget.  Crooked Beat has been around 11 years (and counting) and they do it the old fashioned way.  Keep it focused, sell what you like and keep the people happy.

They may not have a super fancy flash based web site, but they do have dust in their bins and rock band flyers on their counter.  And Yelp likes them too.

So Hot It’s A Mule

June 22nd, 2009

I knew this vinyl thing was cool, but I had no idea it was so cool that drug cartels were resorting to using records to mule their wares over international borders.  Check this.  I can just imagine the conversation this cat had with his, what, superior?  What do you even call your boss in a drug cartel?  Honcho?  Dude?  Guy with the gun?  Anyway, he’s getting ready to don the frock and jet to Rome and he sees a little story on the comeback of the venerable LP format and the idea floats to the surface.  Vacuum pack the loot into thick 180 gram slabs of…slabs.  Genius.  His problem is that everyone knows priests don’t spin records on Technics 1200’s.  They only use old-school portable 45 RPM units.  He should have done some more research.

The Void Long Player

June 19th, 2009

It’s not often that you see something that demands your full attention.  Something so cool or interesting that you need to stop thinking about whatever it is that you’re thinking about and ponder this new “thing.”  Well, here it is.

rhea-jeong-void-lp-playerIf you jump here, you can see the whole set up and story.  Wild and utterly cool.

1/2 The Year, 1/2 My Life

June 17th, 2009

Time is a bitch.  It erodes your well being by its very existence.  I look up and see half the year almost through the neck of the hour glass and I reflect on my own path through the glass orbs.  Listening to Dylan and the Band this AM.  It’s from the time before time when the days were long and the sun set slowly, languidly, warmly.  Maybe it’s the fact that it came out “officially” almost a full ten years after it was recorded that makes it seem out of time.  It was better known as “The Great White Wonder,” a bootleg of epic proportions.  In fact, often considered the first bootleg.

Sure, I can see them cutting the lacquers, running the grain alcohol through the still and down to the presses.  “Nope, we don’t need no picture sleeve, we don’t need no name on the jacket and we don’t want nothin’ on the labels.  Let the music do the talkin’.”  Records packed in gin soaked boxes being shuffled down dark alleys.  Cool.

June Gloom

June 9th, 2009

That’s what these nutty folks here in San Diego call the month of June because the skies are overcast.  It’s sunny, but filtered.  It’s not cold and it’s not hot.  It’s not too big and it’s not too small.  The things one can find to bitch about-amazing.

Got to spin some records on a Continuum Caliburn Reference Turntable last night.  OH MY GOD.  And if there’s a God, he’s using this to spin his records.  He’s quieted the multitude of angels and he’s made sure the dog is sleeping by the fire.  The drinks are perfectly chilled and he’s turned on this beautiful engineering marvel.  I feel rather lucky to have been within breathing distance.  Solid.

Here’s…Jack!

June 4th, 2009

That Jack White is a busy cat.  He’s making records with an endless parade of creative folks, he’s producing and recording a whole other group of artistic over achievers, he’s opened his own record shop, Third Man Records, and on top of all that he remains a true analog individual.  And he’s purty.

the-dead-weather

And I gotta say, this Allison lady is a vortex of pure paradigm.  I’m scared, I’m repelled, I’m intrigued.  This is worth the listen.  Go here and dial it up.

The Million Album March

June 3rd, 2009

We’ve jumped through 5 months of the ‘09 and sold more than a million LP’s.  That’s a full two months quicker than in ‘08.  The fad has become a trend.  The trend will become a segment.  The segment will become a niche and the niche will set you free.

A niche, by definition, is “a recess in a wall especially for a staute” and it’s important to have room in your niche so you can stack your records and set up your stereo.  Rocking the party in your niche is most certainly the way to the top.

Jay Bennett R.I.P.

May 26th, 2009

I had the pleasure to work with Jay during his time at Rykodisc.  He was a passionate, creative force.  He was so proud of the studio he built in Champaign, IL and I’m happy he had time to live with it, use it and express himself twisting knobs and running patch cords and pulling music out of the ether.

God speed Jay Bennett.

Humbug, Balderdash, Quackery

May 22nd, 2009

I’ve been trying to organize my messy existence and while turning over rocks and cleaning out closets a came upon the fantastic little tome, On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt.  This itty bitty book was all the rage in 2005 and it’s certainly worth reviewing.

It helps to keep an eye on the deception as the deception is everywhere.

It’s The Slowing Down

May 19th, 2009

We move too fast.  We adopt and accept before we know the real impact.  We ride the wave with blinded eyes and wonder why we wipe out.  I’m just not sure if it’s human nature or American nature.  What’s new, what’s next, what’s now???

I’m a guilty participant.  I’m so busy watching for what comes next that I neglect the present.  I hope a brush with death isn’t the only way for me to make more time for the now.  A brief list of things that, of late, have helped me slow d o w n . . .

I’m listening to more records.  I’m feeding peanuts to wild squirrels, Louie V in particular.  He’s now taking it right out of my hand.  He’s not a city squirrel, he’s a country squirrel.  I’m finding my own room, my private space.  I’m watching for American Bald Eagles along the Hudson.  I’m getting up early because it’s less crowded in the morning.  I’m eating a sack lunch.  I’m really trying to figure it out.  I’m really trying to be analog.

Bag o’ Records

May 15th, 2009

So, I was leaving the office last night.  Yes, I work in an office.  In New York.  It’s a terrible place full of sparse, tranquil offices and nary a word is heard in the halls of the corporate suck machine.  No one speaks to you and when they do it’s in forced, hushed tones so the assistants can’t overhear and then spread rumors about the oncoming demise.  The “boss” is a total hard ass and you never feel like a human being.  “I’m not a number, I’m a free man.” (About 1:59 into the clip)

That last bit was a load of crap.  I DO work in an office.  An office where you’re encouraged to be creative, to be vocal and to grow.  The guys in the big offices (not much bigger than a normal office, well, except for that ONE guy…) have open doors and expect to be engaged.  Strange as it may sound in the world today, I love what I do and can’t believe I get to do this stuff.  And while I may not be working with the Duke and the technology has changed it’s still all about what’s in the groove.

So, back to the point.  I was leaving the office last night with a bag of records and I noted the strange comfort the records gave me.  I felt good knowing I had some favorite platters to accompany me on the trek home. They may not make it into my Jump Kit, but last night they did the job.

Mastodon Sez Crack The Skye

May 12th, 2009

We’ve been living in a HIP-HOP world for so long I think we’ve forgotten how to rock.  There have been plenty of records that have helped our muscle memory and I think we’re starting to believe again.  Metallica delivered a nice reset record last year in “Death Magnetic” and they remain our preeminent example of the HARD ROCK, but this new Mastodon takes it to a new, better place, me thinks.

The prog-ness, the churning time changes, the utter weirdness of the man eating Yeti all add to the myth of the band.  I think that’s what I love the most-the myth.  Trying to figure out the puzzle, fit the pieces, glean the meaning.  And the 45 RPM 2LP Limited set is sure pretty.

Crack The Skye Limited LP

Vacation = Vacation

May 11th, 2009

I’ve been out.  Gone.  Incommunicado.  I covered some ground.  Drove some.  Hunkered down and sweated it out.  Hit a couple shops in Sacramento.  Russ’ new shop, R5, and the new location of Records-that previously located store that graced the cover of DJ Shadow’s first salvo of “What the fuck, but man that’s cool,” entitled “Endtroducing… .”

So, I’m back.  The new 45 RPM Slipcase Edition of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” is out and, boy is it beautiful.  Sound is sublime.  Dropping the needle so quiet you could hear the sweep of a bird’s wing.  This one is limited to 2,500 worldwide so find your copy before they’re gone.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Here ’tis.

Giant Steps Deluxe

Better Know A Record Store

April 29th, 2009

I guess it’s lame that I’m copping Steven Colbert’s schtick, but isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?  By the time I’m done with this I’m sure we’ll still be far below the number of districts in the U.S. and we’ll never be close to the number of lobbyists but we may yet exceed the number of Beatles.  I mean, even if you count Pete Best, we’re still only talking about 5 Beatles.  Okay, throw in George Martin and you’ve got 6.

The Record Exchange, affectionately called the RX by both staffers and regular customers, is a top to bottom, kick-ass record shop.  They’ve got the culture, the esprit de corps, the cajones as well as the creativity to make every visit just like the first time.  If you hit Boise, and you’ve only enough time to see the most important attractions you should do it in this order.  1) The Record Exchange, 2) The Warhawk Air Museum, 3) The World Center For Birds Of Prey and 4) The Museum of Mining And Geology.  Boise also has a thing for hot air balloons, so if you’re into that I guess you could fit that in as well.  But most certainly hit the RX, it’ll cure what ails ya.

The Print Press Is Alive With The Sound Of Vinyl

April 27th, 2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

Both the L.A. Times and the New York Post got it into their pages that vinyl was happening.  So they both wrote stories about it.  Neat.  You can check them here and here.  Now, the interesting characteristic of the L.A. Times article is that it was on the front page.  Not the front page of the Entertainment section, but the front page of the paper.  Usually these sorts of stories are reserved for filler, a la the New York Post.

The 15 Best, So Sez SPIN

April 24th, 2009

The news cycle has chewed it up, but why not keep it going?  The 15 best Independent Record Stores in the U.S.A.  Just because the SPIN blog sez it doesn’t mean it’s true, but it’s a pretty solid list.  Happy to see The Record Exchange on the list because I think they’re one of the good’uns.

What makes these stores so important and so valued is the information that can be gleaned within and nowhere else.  My yearly best of lists contain titles that I would have missed time and again regardless of the number of music mags or sites digested.  Owner/Operators have more at stake and insist on delighted, interested, passionate staff.  Am I biased, you bet.  Do you occasionally come across the dickie stereotype, but, of course.  But that’s a right of passage unto itself, you just can’t take it personally.  Suck it up.  Don’t be a baby.  Walk away with an armful of music that most-certainly-will make your very existence more rewarding.

The Final Cut

April 23rd, 2009

How to explain?  Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut is the record that saves my life on a pretty regular basis.  From the poppies on the Side 1 label to the final strains of “Not Now John” fading into the sweet, deep darkness of “Two Suns In The Sunset” this record comforts me and keeps me from the brink.

Why this is I can’t say.  Perhaps any grief I’m feeling always pales in comparison to the nightmare illuminated through the record or perhaps it’s just the music’s ability to express what words alone cannot.  To top it off, this is a great headphone record.  And headphones keep you sealed in the sound, alone in the dark, happy when you finally see the light.

The Pseudo-Business Part

April 22nd, 2009

Record Store Day.  It brought people out to honest-to-goodness record stores.  The day generated tons of press and plenty of “blogosphere-ing.”  The event helped to move money from pockets (yes, mine) to tills.  And it absolutely proved, beyond any doubt, that the vinyl format is real.

Sure, nostalgia plays a part.  But that’s why folks of every stripe buy their favorite cracker or cake.  It’s all about reliving some version of yourself that you previously liked because the person you are now, well, just ain’t who you thought you’d turn out to be.  Right?

Back to the point.  Records are a beautiful thing and RSD has again elevated the growth curve by increasing sales week over week by 82%.  The only week that saw better results was Christmas week last year.  I do believe we’re on pace to eclipse the 3 million mark in 2009-you heard it here first.  Yep, that’s a small number in the grand design, but don’t forget that when you collect enough dimes you make dollars.

My Post RSD Hangover

April 20th, 2009

So, I hit Gerosa Records on Record Store Day.  It’s a great little shop with a kick ass selection of used vinyl with all the other important pieces a record store should have as well.  Just seeing their vintage WB/Reprise promo posters is worth the visit.  A great section of 45’s as well as sealed 8-Tracks round out the “found” items you can have for a price.  I picked up a few things I’ve been looking for as well as a few things that I didn’t know I needed.  Proof’s in the pudding.

rsd-haul

No, For Reals. Record Store Day Is Rising.

April 17th, 2009

There just isn’t much to be happy about.  I mean, besides being alive, healthy, employed, loved, cherished and appreciated.  Other than that there isn’t much to look on with shine in your eyes.  What, with the economy doing what it does and the planet doing it’s best to sluff off the virus of humanity and pirates, of all things, grabbing headlines and the Pacific Salmon season being called off…AGAIN and frogs disappearing and people too.

But there are records, and record stores and a National Day of celebration.  Check a store near you and visit.  Yep.  It’s Record Store Day tomorrow so things are looking up.

It’s A Methodical Thing

April 14th, 2009

I remember pondering the cover of Kiss Alive II at great lengths.  How could there be all that blood and Gene Simmons still be alive?  Was Ace really from space? I ran around the house in Paul’s full face paint, no shirt and a broom and it wasn’t even Halloween.  I thought Peter Kriss’ singing on “Beth” was fantastic.  And I was 30 at the time.  And my wife left me.

Okay, I was in the sixth grade and I was in the full tug between heaven and hell.  Would I succumb to the devil’s music or would I ascend?  Well, that’s obvious now isn’t it.  So, getting to the methodical part.  I’d buy a record and the first thing I’d do after opening the LP was to take the record out of the jacket and look into the empty slot.  I’ve no idea what I was hoping to find.  Perhaps some special message just for me.  Maybe some cash that, via magic, had found its way into my record.  Possibly, I was expecting a portal to somewhere other than that small, small town I grew up in.  It was every record, every time and I still do it to this day.  Before I drop the needle, before I read the liner notes, before I slide the record out and examine both sides I look into the void.

Record Store Day Approaches

April 9th, 2009

I like Indie Record Stores.  I buy my records from knowledgeable, passionate, crazed proprietors and music-heads.  In fact, I’d rather phone a store and have them mail me my records than order through the internets or shop any other type of outlet.  Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy records via the tubes and such because I do, but I prefer getting my hands dirty flipping through records.  Record Store Day is a celebration of dirtying your hands.

Boxes that sell toilet paper, bikes, lighter fluid, curtain rods and underwear don’t count.  If you don’t have an Independent Record Store in your ‘hood, open it yourself.  Stock the shelves with everything you love and you’ll become a very special place.  You’ll be the center of your universe orbiting your own star creating your own life form.  And the travellers will come and visit and commune and prosper.  Because nothing beats getting your hands dirty.

Snow In April! I Quit.

April 8th, 2009

I guess my West Coast roots are showing, but April is designed to bring “showers,” right?  I look out my window and snow is falling.  Never mind that it’s the slightest, never even have a chance to stick or fall for long kind of snow, it still sucks.  I’m looking for a little SPRING.  That time of year when there’s still a bit of a chill, but if you position yourself in the sun you’re warmed like a cake.  You rise.  You feel sweet and good.

To combat the w-t-f snow I threw on the Mudcrutch record.  Hot Damn, that’s a good’un.  Beautiful jacket, thick and juicy vinyl, fantastic sound filling my head.  All the required information is here or here.  You should pick it up at your favorite independent record shop.  They’re out there, although I’m sure you’ve heard otherwise.

Listen To The French In English

April 7th, 2009

I know I’m supposed to feel better about the economy, but taxes are due and the mortgage is due and the cable bill is due and all my ridiculous spending over the last, oh, forever years, has finally come back to roll me out of bed and beat me about the head.  But I feel so much better about the economy…

Anyway, the press has been far and wide about the renaissance of vinyl and how can it not be real when a video bit out of Lyon, France hits the internets.  Catch it here.  Not really sure why this vidbit causes me to respond, but the stories continue to fall out of the oddest places.  Seems editors everywhere are thinking, “Hey, this vinyl thing is hot right now.  I need a story about how great it is, how it sounds better, how the kids are really into it.  Who wants to follow up on that?”  Oh, me.  Please.  It’s simple.  It’s emotional.  And it’s far simpler to experience an emotion while listening to an organic, analog sound wave (no scientific studies were conducted to prove this).  What are we, robots?

Innocent When You Dream

April 6th, 2009

One of those all-time greatest is Tom Waits.  His mythology is legendary, from his birth in a moving cab to his between song banter (if you’re lucky enough to see him play one of his rare live shows, you know what I mean).  Anyway, I’m finally getting around to Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader and the editor, Mac Montandon, has crafted a wily compendium of all things WAITS.  If you happen to believe Tom Waits to be one of our most important storytellers and troubadours you don’t want to miss this magical tome.  And if you don’t think Tom Waits is one our most treasured you should reassess your entire life up to this point because something went wrong for you.

What made me even mention this was a response Mr. Waits gave to a question in a Thrasher interview from 1993.  “We all have a drum in our chest from the moment we’re born.”  I read that for the first time this morning at 8:45 AM EDT and I believe it.

Are You A Cover Lover?

April 3rd, 2009

Well, if you are you should take a little jaunt over here.  There isn’t much wrong with finding those silly jewels from the old world.  I do believe there is a visual representation of every era, culture, fetish, fad, social invention, political affiliation, fashion, fable and future savvy prediction in the cover of an EL PE.  These cats do a fine job of charting the map, you just gotta follow the directions.  North is usually up.

Car Boot Sale = Beat Mining

April 2nd, 2009

Looks like we’re stuck with the same old stuff. Tag sale, stoop sale, yard sale, garage sale, estate sale. But our neighbors across the pond get to use Car Boot Sale, which is a might better I think. And while you’ve probably heard the term crate digger, perhaps beat mining is a new one to your ears.
Check it at The Vinyl Word

These Vinyl Things Are Actually Selling!

April 1st, 2009

Apologies about going all business-speak on you, but the first quarter of two thousand ought nine just finished and the black plastic sold in excess of 500,000 units. Pretty close to 600,000 truth be told. That’s up more than 60% from last year. Maybe there’s something to this whole LP thing?