Thursday, February 2, 2012

Darcy Does Dan

Hello Vinyl Friends!

Sort of got...interrupted there for a bit with some things and what have you. Suffice it to say, I now live in my Dad's girlfriend's basement and I miss my cats. My records are here as well. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

My day so far:

Heart: Hey dude, let's go to the record store!

Brain: Sounds awesome, I'll talk to legs.

Legs: And we're off!

Wallet: FUCK

Yup, bought a bunch of records. One of which, a cover album, I will review today.

The Darcys - Aja

This album is a cover of the entirety of Steely Dan's Aja, done by the Darcys. I heard about it on The Current, completely forgot about it, then came across it in the bins. Cover albums to me are like this:


Porn is two (or more (or even less)) people acting like they are having sex. I mean they still have sex, but there is a performance element involved. Much as a cover is a band acting like they are playing music. Basically what I am saying is that when you listen to a cover, it's like your ears are watching other ears have sex.

This album was released by Arts & Crafts out of Toronto, Canada. The jacket is glossy and heavyweight. The front features an imposing concrete skyscraper, gray scale. It looks like some heavily fortified WW2 structure. I bet there are Nazis inside.

Sorry about the shitty pic here friends, I am temporarily without camera. The vinyl itself is heavyweight translucent and red. Pretty tasty shade if I may say.

Musically, the album is like a Yo La Tengo meets Radiohead does Steely Dan. Far less jazzy, far more dense and distorted. I fucking love it. I'll refrain from going too far in depth here as it is a cover album of another album that I own and would prefer to critique the lyrics and composition there. The stand out tracks for me on this version are Aja and Home at Last.

I am pleasantly surprised with this purchase and would definitely recommend it to fans of the Dan. The price was right and I have listened to it a number of times today already. Shit is cash. Time to rummage through the rest of the shit I bought and do some motherfucking taxes.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I fucking did it guys. Finally, something I've wanted forever. Something seemingly unattainable and transcendent. I got the first.

Danava - Hemisphere of Shadows

Kemado is a great label that currently is host to a lot of great throw back rock. The Sword comes to mind immediately, but their label mates Danava deserve some of that credit as well. This album dropped earlier this month with a limited pressing of 1,000.

The front of the jacket show a somewhat disturbing piece of art. A skeletal figure clutches at the ankle of a human escaping through a crack. The colors are muddy and the lines are ill-defined. Definitely fits the feel and style of the album.

The back of the jacket shows a picture of the band, you could easily mix them up for an eighties thrash band or seventies heavy metal group. It also displays the track listing. The shrink wrap had a sticker which I have preserved. The vinyl itself is heavy weight with standard labels. The album also comes with a digital download. But what is that in the bottom right hand corner? Let's zoom in and see.

That's right motherfuckers! First! Fucking eat it! No one else is as cool as me now. First! Fucking First First First! That's right.

OK sorry.

Musically this album has a definite retro feel. The recording sounds analog, there are noticeable imperfections throughout. The vocals come through pretty well, though they sound kind of buried. All in all, this is a really good piece. The synthesizer parts are excellent and really break up the riffage.

I would recommend this album without hesitation to anyone with an interest in heavy metal. The price is really good even though the pressing is limited, so grab it up now if it tickles your fancy. I'll still have number 1 though, so fucking deal with it. First!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Kinds of Needles

Heroin, man.

Heroin is a fucked up drug. I've had my share of fun, but the idea of cooking up some chemicals and injecting them into my veins... NOPE NOPE NOPE. I refuse to touch the stuff, I'll stick with less destructive substances. That being said, there seems to be a correlation between heroin abuse and excellent music. The Mars Volta, Janis Joplin, Tommy Bolin have all fallen victim to the chase of the dragon. The band I will review today had their career cut short by the drug, but thankfully all seem to have recovered from the grips of addiction.

Television - Marquee Moon

This is a Four Men With Beards reissue. I fucking love their reissues; heavyweight vinyl, glossy jackets, and custom sleeves. They have been excellent without exception. This pressing was issued in 2003, correlating with a somewhat renewed interest in the band from the American audience. Television never really garnered a large fan base in the states, but were very popular in Europe. I find this hard to believe, their catalog, though small, is really good.

The front of the jacket features a photograph of the band. They are the definition of heroin sheik; skinny, pale, and exhibiting a certain hollowness in their stares. This is a faithful reproduction of the original cover art.

The back of the jacket features a design reminiscent of a spiral staircase. The track listing is displayed as well as the credits. The 4 Men With Beards logo also has a place in the lower right hand corner.

The interior of the gatefold really exemplifies what is great about 4 Men With Beards. The band's back story as well as some additional photography are present here. I consider this pressing to be superior in almost every way to the original. The sleeve is custom and displays the lyrics. The vinyl itself is 180 g with custom labels.

I purchased this record used and though the jacket had seen its fair share of use, the vinyl is pretty minty. Excepting some dust, I see no imperfections and I expect that it will sound excellent. Let us give it a spin.

The first half of this album really gives a good taste of what Television is all about. The guitar work is really, really interesting. Though credited as lead and rhythm, it is more a collaboration than a lead and follow. They interlock in curios and interesting ways, it is captivating. The feel of this album makes you want to jump up and down. The vocals are snide in that punk way without being overly nasal. You can still sing along without curling up one side of your mouth in a sneer. Side 1 concludes with Marquee Moon, the title track. It is an excellent track that really focuses on the interplay between the two guitarists.

Side 2 begins with Elevation. This track has a really great percussion track; loosely clenched high hat simmers and drives the movement of the music. Lyrically, this track focuses on the effects of television on the brain. All in all, side 2 seems a little darker than the first side. Thematically and musically, it has a tendency to set you on edge. The last track, Torn Curtain, is evocative of an old western soundtrack. The guitar melody is front and center, eventually decaying into cacophony. This track is really excellent.

Buy this record. If you can find the 4 Men with Beards pressing, snatch it up. I find it to be superior to the other pressing I have come across, especially the CD master. The bass lines come through much better and the muddiness present on some other versions is absent here. Unfortunately, this pressing can be hard to locate. Despair not though, there are many other well priced pressings with wider availability. If you have not listened to this record, do yourself a favor and check it out.

One more thing, I have been busy as fuck lately. That is more of an excuse though. My free time is getting sucked up by Magic the Gathering. The new set is fucking awesome and I can't get enough. I will endeavor to do a review at least every other day between now and when the release events finish. Shortly thereafter, deer opener kicks in. I'm gonna get me a buck this year and feast on its flesh. I'll post photos here if I do.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Right to the Minute

Alright, 'bout an hour before work here. I can bang this one out quick. I dropped a link on r/vinyl, my store has a sale this weekend. If you're in the Minneapolis metro area you should check it out. So, gots to get to work early, review time begins NOW!

Heidecker & Wood - Starting From Nowhere

Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric released this album on the Little Record Company label earlier this year. Pairing with the Tim and Eric composer, Davin Wood, the duo released an excellent tribute album to 70's soft rock.

The front of the jacket features a collage of oil paintings (actually I think it is a painting of a collage of paintings) of Davin and Tim's faces. There is a green oil brushstroke just above the band's name, I always thought it was an okra, should've looked closer.

The back of the jacket displays the track listing. The vinyl itself is standard weight with custom labels. It comes with a download card printed on xerox paper. The shrink wrap also had a sticker which I have preserved.

Musically, this album is liking listening to the shittiest 70's soft rock you can imagine, except it actually sounds good. The lyrics have a very "real" quality to them. Though they often are silly, they are always heartfelt. This is a great album to throw on with good friends and get drunk, singing your heart out. I've listened to it dozens of times, I fucking love it. Does humor belong in music? I think so.

For fans of Tim & Eric who also like 70's soft rock and own a turntable, this is a must buy. Granted, that is a fairly small target demographic, humorous in its own right. The album is well priced, under twenty dollars and comes with a digital download. Give it a listen on Grooveshark or some more nefarious means of previewing before purchasing though.

Time to sell shit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bright Lights

Hey Friends, Guess what?

You get to read another story!

That's right, just what you've been waiting for. The opportunity to read a random internet denizen's poorly constructed, entirely unrevised short work of fiction. Today, I will review Black Mountain's In the Future. I'll do the regular run down of the technical aspects and a paragraph or two or critique. Then it's time for some verbal dickery. So, if you're not interested, just skip the last half of the review.

Black Mountain - In the Future

Black Mountain doesn't get the respect they deserve. Hailing from Vancouver, the have consistently put out really good albums since 2005. Their sophomore release In the Future came out in 2008 and was definitely one of my favorite albums of that year. I will review it today. Right now. Just after this.

The album is pressed on two LPs and comes in a gatefold heavyweight jacket. This release also comes with a digital download. The front of the jackets features a geometric shape cutaway from a strange alien landscape. The colors are red washed, it seems to be a Martian landscape. The artwork is framed in black.

The back of the jacket features the same geometric shape holding up the track listing.

The interior of the gatefold displays a surreal piece of nature. Inverted deer graze and water before a man in a peacock blouse. The disembodied head of a young child watches over the scene. This shit is trippy and awesome.

The vinyl itself is standard weight with custom labels. The album also comes with an insert. One side is black, the opposite displays more of the strange Martian landscape as well as the lyrics.

The music itself is fucking awesome. A definite retro feel ties together a sprawling psychedelic odyssey. Fuzzed out guitars are chopped up with beautiful vocal interludes. The whole album really jams, and though it does drag (notably during Bright Lights) it stands on its own as a really good composition. There are a few tracks for everyone here, a crowd-pleaser. I have spun this album multiple, multiple times and still find something new each time. I would not hesitate to (and have often) recommend this album to almost anyone. I would force fans of any variety of stoner- to purchase it.

At under $15 brand new, this is a really good buy.

Now for some word phrases from my brain. Hold on to your ass enclosures.

Bright Lights


He would later describe them as having oozed. As they crested the hill, the lights had a weight. The clung to brown grass as they approached. Surrounding, suffocating their autumnal, brittle stalks. His feet were as immobile as the grass, the pancoloric wash enveloped him.

There was darkness then. More than darkness though, nothingness. He did not exist in any rational sense of the word. Incapable of thought or observation, this realm held to perceivable qualities. With no reference the delineation of events was impossible, so he drifted there. Out of time.

All at once, the boundless became bounded. The empty expanse of nothing collapsed into itself, through itself. It burst out the other side into the endless possibility of existence. Dendrite and axons coalesced into nuerons, capillaries connected to arteries, ligament found bone. He was once again whole. A dusty red landscape expanded before him, peppered with deep blue lakes. It seemed lifeless initially but his eyes began to pick out faint stirrings in the distance.

Timidly, he tested his newly born legs. The ground felt dry and shifted easily beneath his soft leather moccasins. His thigh muscles felt unnaturally powerful, like he might accidentally jump off the face of this alien landscape. Squatting low, he reached his infant arm from inside his smooth silken blouse. The red dirt was pebbly, it seemed to suck the water out of his fingers as it ran through his grip. He brushed his long auburn hair from his face and surveyed the passage to the nearest cerulean lake. Not far off in the distance, he saw it rimmed with white sharp looking trees.

He hesitantly took a step, leaning forward. The weightlessness was disconcerting at first, but soon he loped toward his destination. Desolate though the landscape was, it had its own sense of beauty. Rock formations funneled him toward the lake, the seeming remnants of an ancient river. As he approached the edge of the water he began to realize that it was populated with a strange creature. Familiar though, but the colors were all wrong. He would later swear they were whitetail deer, Blacktails was the name he would give them as their colors were inverted. They grazed on stubbly grasses and watered eagerly on the vibrant blue water. He leaned down and scooped a handful of the too blue water, smelling it. Sweet and floral, it triggered a thirst previously unknown. Tipping his handful of water back into his throat, he gagged. The water was undrinkable, a chemical slurry.

He looked up at the creatures around him. He noticed then, floating in the distance, a porcelain child like face. It gazed down at him, he became the focus of its attention. Seemingly in concert with the face, the Blacktail turned their head in his direction. They grunted and huffed, stamping the ground as they began to approach him. They were on him then, and their hooves were sharp. His flesh was exculpated from his bones as the foul creatures teeth found his marrow. A scream tried to escape his lips but the creatures pounded him relentlessly. His vision faded to a yellow white as he felt his consciousness evaporate.


"Fucking wake up Dave. Why the fuck are you lying next to the latrine? Phish just fucking rocked an amazing jam and where the fuck were you?"

Dave groggily rolled over, brushing the specks of urinal cake from his beard. He glimpsed a few deer in the tree stand near the latrine, bounding off now that their salt lick was awake.

"Fuck man," Dave said. "I think I was just on fucking Mars or some shit. These whitetails man, but wait though. They were like opposite colored man. Like fucking Blacktails or some shit. They ate my brains dude."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sun Casts No Shadow

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a fucking work horse. The man never stops, more than twenty releases in the past five years. Hell, he put out eight albums in 2010. The flip side of this is that a lot of the catalog is...dense. Hard to listen to and noisy, much of Omar's solo catalog is not for everyone. Today however, I will review what I consider to be his most approachable solo effort, Solar Gambling.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Solar Gambling

There are two vinyl pressings of this album, both limited to 750. The copy I have is the clear yellow, the other is clear blue. Omar worked with Ximena Sarinana Rivera for this album. She does the vocals and wrote the lyrics for a large portion of the album. She has an excellent voice, an interesting mind, and on top of that she ain't too bad to look at either. This album also comes with a digital download card.

The artwork on the front jacket reminds me of Lateralus. A cutaway of a human head stares into the eyes of a serpent. The colors are vibrant and psychedelic, the face is tessellated to comprise the background taking on the appearance of a peacock's tail.

The back of the jacket features the artwork from the front, but zoomed in on the throat of the figure. It is done in the some pointillist style, almost staticy. It lists the tracks and credits Omar as producer.

The custom sleeve is an almost candid photo of Omar and Ximena. Don't know about you guys, but she is really fucking cute. Omar stares off into the distance with that trademark superior smirk. A slew of keyboards litter the background.

The vinyl itself is clear yellow with custom labels. It fits the title of the album very well.

I have listened to this album numerous times, yet I see no obvious signs of wear on the vinyl. I have yet to encounter any sound issues on the previous listens, so I will be sure to note any problems.

The first half of the album starts out disjointed and frantic. Jazzy percussion simmers beneath Omar's signature guitar work; soaring and sonically interesting. Ximena's vocals fit very well, she almost sounds like Cedric. The lyrics are all in Spanish (or Portuguese). The time signature is hard to pin down, there is a lot of compositional depth in this album. The second track conveys a mood of loneliness, it sounds as if the music emanates from a deep well. Something is lost and can not be found. I pretend that I can speak Spanish, but a lot of the lyrics elude me. The keys on this track are hauntingly beautiful, they pair with Ximena's vocals excellently. The album continues to progress as an arc through the first half. The last track, Poincare, is my favorite cut from this album. It begins by reprising the first track, Locomocion Capilar. Everything begins to be washed out by a grating sound that sounds like a cold wind blowing. We are left with a solitary set of keys tapping out a chorded melody. Ximena's vocals drift in and steal the focus. They are fucking beautiful. They truly find something buried deep within and lull you into a trance. Echoing in and out of focus and bleeding into a hummed revisitation of the vocal melody.

Side B begins with an undertone of synth as Omar finds the outer limits of the electric guitar. It shifts into a really good groove that makes up the majority of Los Tentaculos De La Libelula. Ximena's vocals emote from her depth of being, I want to hear more of her. The sonic range is filled completely with noise, everything is almost distorted. "Soy mi razon" (I am my reason). The lyrics on this album, from what I can tell, are fucking visceral. The tracks on this album blend into one another with almost no break, definitely composed as an album and then broken into "songs." The last track, "Vasco Da Gama," has a different feel than the rest of the album yet you can still tell from where it came. It is melancholy, driven by Ximena's soulful and shimmering vocals. It imparts the feeling of going through a long period of strife and coming out the other side changed, yet still whole. At times it flirts with changing into a major key, but never quite makes it. It really ties the album up nicely and leaves it feeling complete.

I think that introduced correctly, any fan of music should be able to appreciate Omar's work. This album would be an excellent jumping off point. It is accessible and plays with the listener's emotions, very enjoyable. If you are a Mars Volta fan and don't won this record, get on the ball. The pricing seems to fluctuate between $20 and $50, so be careful when purchasing. There is a current listing on Discogs for $20, grab that shit up.

Welp, I had better get to work. Storewide Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale goes on this weekend at my store. I'll post the relevant details here for anyone interested.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Pleather

So I've been...preoccupied. A little sick and completely addicted to the new Magic the Gathering set Innistrad I've let the reviews fall by the wayside for the past couple days. To be honest, keeping up with seven a week is a struggle. With that in mind, I'm cutting back to five a week. I think that is fair. Two days off seems good to me.

I'm finding that I still purchase vinyl faster than I can review it. This week I grabbed a few items: Givers - In Light, Mastodon - Crack the Skye (green vinyl version), and the new Primus record, Green Naugahyde, which I will review today. When I saw the title for this album, I was like What the Fuck? Turns out Naugahyde is actually a form of imitation leather made out of vinyl. TIL...

Primus - Green Naugahyde

This pressing is sweet, but...

I'm mad guys. The distributor had posted up the first press of this album a couple months ago and I immediately threw one in the cart. It never showed, so I waited, and waited, and then I waited. Eventually, it became available again so I threw one in the cart and this one showed up. But it was not the original press. They did a small run of 750 in a plain white jacket with the band and album name rubber stamped onto the cover, hand numbered. It is so fucking cool and I want one.

This pressing is on two clear green vinyl with a CD of the album as well. I love when you get the CD instead of a download pass. Don't know about any one else, but the download cards are kind of janky and don't work right a lot of the time for me.

The album art features a strange piece of what I assume is American folk art. A strange ceramic and tin articulated boy rides a bike complete with what looks like a working chain. The jacket is heavyweight and feels sturdy.

The interior of the gatefold displays the figurine from the front, this time on its side atop various pieces of metal. The photographer used a really shallow depth of field giving it a surreal, larger than life feel.

OK, so fuck this blogger interface. I busted out my Google-Fu to try and figure out why some of my pictures import with the wrong orientation. I guess it has something to do with the specific model of Canon camera that I own, so there likely will never be a fix. But seriously Blogger, fucking fix it.

The vinyl itself is clear green with custom labels. It is standard weight (as clear vinyl usually is) and is really vibrant. Fucking stellar. It also comes with an insert featuring more photography of the biker boy and credits on the opposing side.

I see no obvious defects on the vinyl and Prawn's other stuff seems to be well made so I assume that there will be no physical medium issues. This is the first time I have spun this album so I will just give some general thoughts on composition and style.

My first impression is that it is very similar to Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People. The first side sort of ambles along and is frankly kind of uninteresting. Les' bass is excellent and technically proficient as usual, but it has of yet failed to grab me. Side A has three tracks, but to be honest, they all sounded kind of samey. The frist track is titled Prelude to a Crawl, which sums up the first side of disc 1, it crawls.

The second side picks up a little bit. Some funky percussion starts it off. Les' vocals are a little different than usual, he kind of grunts out a lot of the lyrics through some strange effects. Lyrically it is as obtuse as usual, I often have trouble discerning meaning from Primus lyrics. The feel of this side is similar to the first, carnival-esque. It is starting to grow on me. As far as I can tell from the understandable lyrics and the title of the album, thematically it deals with consumerism specifically of the cheap crappy plastic variety. The second track on side 2, Tragedy's A Comin,' is a little closer to the Primus I know and love; Funky, groove oriented, and strange. The composition on this album is, again, very similar to their last effort. Everything is very minimal, with occasional over the top outbursts. The third track, Eyes of the Squirrel, is groovy as fuck. Les man, Les. If there were a bass equivlent to Charlie Daniels who wrote the bass version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," Les Claypool would play the part of the devil except he would win so I guess nothing like that. But still, kind of like that. Because Les has fucking amazing skills.

Side 3 begins in an ambient fashion. Slowly building then cutting away to only Les' bass. Jilly's On Smack, the first track, has as disconcerting a feel as the titles suggests. Still though, everything is really low key and restrained. I'm having a hard time really getting into it. I want to hear them cut loose, and is has yet to occur. Everything feels and sounds a little hollow, not sure if it's the medium itself or an intentional choice. The second track, Lee Van Cleef, is more of the same. The lyrics are kind of funny, "What ever happened to Lee Van Cleef?" What did happen to Lee Van Cleef, fucked if I know. He did some spaghetti Westerns and then...Does anyone actually know? I wiki'ed him, he died bro. A while ago. Moron TV, the last track on side three, continues in the low key fashion. It's beginning to grow on me a little bit, definitely worth another listen.

Side 4 begins with Green Ranger. The same hollow, removed feeling pervades the composition. It is kind of eerie and has the effect of bringing you down. I feel like I'm coming off the tail end of a bad Mushie trip while attending a carnival freak show. The third track, Extinction Burst, mixes things up a bit. More upbeat and just more...interesting. I am actually interested in listening to it. It seems to be the focal point of the album, both lyrically and musically. Kind of a long build up, but it fits the themes and mood of the album really well. The last track really sends home the carnival feel. It is very short and a little silly.

All in all, I think this album deserves a couple listens. It kind of had the effect that certain Tom Waits albums have on me. Initial displeasure that leads to me attempting to understand why I am displeased that leads to me actually beginning to enjoy the album. As far as purchasing it goes, it is pretty well priced at $18 and comes with a copy of the CD as well. If it interests you, check it out and listen to it before taking the plunge. To be honest though, there is a listing on Amazon right now for the MFSL press of Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People for $47. I think that would be money better spent.

Altogether, I half way enjoyed this album.