Friday, January 30, 2009

Karl Blau - Beneath Waves

Karl Blau – Beneath Waves

K Records, 2006

Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2007

Price: $12ish

Let it be known: I have sort of an undying love for Karl Blau. I saw him play at the K Records showcase at SXSW last year and then nervously went up to talk to him, and then subsequently saw him everywhere. It was weird, but he was really nice. I basically just gushed about how great Beneath Waves is, because really, yeah, this record is great. And I first heard it when I was starting to DJ at KJ and it was in rotation. Every week I would play “Dragon Song” and then slowly branched out to other jams, in particular “Slow Down Joe” which is just so completely amazing. But I would always listen to only those two songs, so I decided to buy it on vinyl way after the fact to listen to the thing all the way through and yeah, it’s great. Have I said that already? But then again, I’m kind of a K junkie, and I usually have a hard time not liking the stuff they put out (wait til I get to Mirah, Tender Forever, and the Blow, in which the gushing will increase). This is just a gorgeous record, full of warm sounds and, like Phil Elverum, Blau creates a sonic landscape of the Pacific Northwest. In my head when I idealize Portland this is what it sounds like. It’s quirky, but not bad quirky (like Juno or something which I see as a sort of quirksploitation). It’s whimsical and wonderful. I thought about posting up the little micro-interview I did with him, but it’s embarrassing. Or, I’m embarrassing. Can you tell I’m smitten with Karl Blau?

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Warner Brothers, 1971

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, Shotgun Room, 2008

Price: $2

One day when I was a kid, my dad stopped listening to Oldies 95 and started exclusively listening to 99.7 KY and 101.1 the Fox. This is the second chapter in my musical history, as it opened my eyes to a world of sick riffs and hard rock. I remember stealing money from my dad to go buy a new Led Zeppelin best of CD and I remember listening to “Stairway to Heaven” exclusively (as “Stairway to Heaven” had become my new favorite song (usurping Dion’s “Runaround Sue”) and I would patiently wait for them to play it at night on the radio, holed up in my room). I started taking guitar lessons and one of the first songs my instructor Lonnie taught me was “Iron Man.” I’m not, nor have I ever been, a metal guy, but I’m glad that it exists and I’m glad Black Sabbath pretty much opened the eyes of future metal dudes across the world. “War Pigs” stands as one of the greatest opening tracks of all time, like a thesis statement for a new movement. The grungy guitars, Bill Ward’s drums, and Ozzy babbling some crazy shit into the microphone. It just rules. “Rules.” I don’t know, that’s the only word I can use to describe it. Anyway, listening to this now is bringing back the old memories and reminding me how much I fucking love a SICK ASS GUITAR SOLO now and then, and how I will always throw up the horns whenever someone breaks one out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Black Flag - Loose Nut

Black Flag – Loose Nut

SST, 1985

Acquired: Half Price Books Olathe, Used, 2003

Price: $14

I really don’t like this record very much, but I really do love the line-up of Henry Rollins, Greg Ginn, Kira Roessler and the great Bill Stevenson (of Descendents and being an all around go-to drummer fame) on drums. And it features backing vocals from Milo Aukerman and Dez Cadena, and I think that rules. That and “Loose Nut,” sonically is the closest Black Flag gets to the Damaged days, which despite the fact I don’t like it nearly as much as I do The First Four Years, I understand why it’s a landmark punk record and I do like it a lot. Lyrically, I can’t stand listening to this song. “Loose nut in my head/ a bolt of lightning between my legs.” Ung. Maybe it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just really fucking weird. Actually yeah, now that I’m listening to this I don’t know why I thought I hated it. I say this because for some reason it was in this stack of records that I feel are unfit for my collection, so they are sequestered in the top shelf in my closet. Like, the little chiming guitar bits (and the solo) on “Bastard in Love” are pretty awesome, even though the song is a little clumsy. It’s like a drunk guy stumbling, you keep waiting for him to fall but somehow he manages to get home. I guess my main problem is that the songs are all too long. Nervous Breakdown blasts out four songs in just over five minutes and the tracks here range from 3 and a half to 4 and a half minutes long and they get a little tedious. You know, I don’t even care, because the songs are really good. When I put this on I was like “I’m going to sell this, I don’t want it” but now I want to have it! It’s surprisingly better than I remembered.

Black Flag - The First Four Years

Black Flag – The First Four Years

SST, 1983

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008

Price: $8

Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown EP is one of the most important records in my life, and I bought The First Four Years compilation, which features all the early Black Flag EPs pre-Henry Rollins. It’s ironic because I got into Black Flag by listening to tons of Henry Rollins spoken word CDs in late junior high-early high school and I never really liked the stuff he did with the band as much as the early stuff, in particular the stuff with Keith Morris (who, I might note, I saw sing “Nervous Breakdown” with Fucked Up at SXSW last year and FREAKED THE FUCK OUT). However, for Black Flag, unlike most bands, the vocalist didn’t really matter. It was a revolving door until Rollins came along and the music was just about playing as fast and loud as possible. I fucking love this record. When I was 16 I had Nervous Breakdown on cassette and would listen to it on the drive to work at AMC everyday and, if it hadn’t finished by the time I got there I’d sit in the car and turn the volume up as loud as possible, readying myself for the night of shit. I pretty much accuse that EP for getting me into punk rock. So having this is important, and when I saw it I grabbed it on impulse. I listened to that cassette SO MANY TIMES, and the best thing was, it was the same on both sides so when one ended it would flip over and start again. Non-stop. I learned that the Jealous Again EP is just as good as Nervous Breakdown (ok, maybe not as good, but really close) and I started jamming to that a lot. “No Values” is one of the greatest punk rock songs of all time. It’s like Ron Reyes is trying to spit on you through the speakers, a colossal fuck you to everyone and everything, it’s amazing. After that you get the classic “Six Pack” and a couple of songs that eventually ended up on Damaged. This (along with the Descendents Milo Goes to College) is the record I would give to anyone who wanted to know what punk rock was. I want No Age’s Weirdo Rippers to sound this good 25 years from now. Also, unlike the Beach Boys fucking awful cover of "Louie Louie," Black Flag actually improve upon the song. Seriously, fucking rules.

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha

Fat Possum, 2007

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007

Price: $11

One morning I woke up and found out that my friend Cecile Hernandez had been killed in a car crash the night before. And then I had to go do a radio show and I hadn’t stopped crying by the time I got there and I just grabbed this because this album makes me feel better every time I’m having a bad day. I didn’t play “Fiery Crash,” although that’s the first thing I thought of when I grabbed the CD. It was a fucked up day. I played “Heretics” but I forgot the chorus goes “thank god it’s fatal, thank god it’s fatal” and then started bawling. I’d forgotten that part. The rest of the show was sad songs. Anyway, this record reminds me and will always remind me of 2007. It sounds like 2007, and in a good way. Something rooted in the not too distant past. It’s my favorite Andrew Bird record and I’m sad his new one, Noble Beast, isn’t laced with the perfect pop hooks that are on this one. The first few tracks on Side B after “Darkmatter” (which is another little jam) are tracks I usually skip, but Side A is flawless (even though I always think he’s singing “Whale fight, whaaaale fight” on the monster jam “Plasticities”). Five great songs, ending with the epic “Armchairs,” which I would probably include on a Top Songs of the Decade list. That part where it all builds and builds and he sings “you didn’t write, you didn’t call/ it didn’t cross your mind at all” destroys me.

Big Dipper - Heavens

Big Dipper – Heavens

Homestead Records, 1987

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008

Price: $6

Though situated in Boston, this is Bill Goffrier’s band after the Embarassment. As far as I know, I should really have more 80s and 90s local music knowledge, that sounds like a good thing to do. But my first Big Dipper memory is when my Western Civ II professor Robert Vodika (he will come up again once we get to N) played a Big Dipper song before class once (he would do this, and then he quit doing it which sucked because he always played awesome shit that had to do with whatever we were studying that week). And then Merge put out a box set sort of compilation thing and then I found this record and really liked the cover and listening to it, yeah, this is just really perfect late-80s college rock. This makes me wish I’d been in college when college rock was at its finest. When guitar songs were still A-OK and super cool. This feels like one of those lost records that a small group of people LOVED in 1987 and then kind of faded into obscurity to be dug up 20 years later by some excited kid. The last two tracks on Side A, “Humason” and “Lunar Module” rule pretty hard and the first track on Side B, “All Going Out Together” is another jam. I feel like there’s some band these guys sound like but I can’t quite recall it. It’s just good!

Big Black - Songs About Fucking

Big Black – Songs About Fucking

Touch and Go, 1987

Acquired: End of an Ear, Austin, Used, 2008

Price: $10

How do you even classify this record? I do know that it has one of the greatest album covers of all time and that when I saw it at End of an Ear in Austin (never mind Waterloo, if you want vinyl End of an Ear is where to go. Funny aside, when Nick and I were checking out we were talking about how the store was similar to “our record store in Lawrence,” in reference to Love Garden, and the guy thought that we owned the store and gave me a tote bag. It’s an awesome tote bag). Anyway, the cover rules, the album title rules, and the music…well, the music rules. Is this post-hardcore or noisy indie-rock? I haven’t listened to this record in a long time, but am clearly remembering that “Precious Thing” was my jam and it still is. And then it’s followed by “Columbian Necktie,” another fucking monster jam which appeals to me because, as you may know, a Columbian Necktie is when you slit someone’s throat and pull their tongue out so it hangs like a necktie. Listening to this I’m realizing that I really need to return to it more often whenever I feel like beating my head against a wall or something. It reminds me of the sludgy punk stuff Black Flag did from about My War on which I was super into for like, a couple of weeks in high school. But then, this is better than that (except maybe My War, that record is the jam). I like that under “Moods” on All Music, you have “Unsettling,” “Cold,” “Suffocating,” “Fierce,” and “Uncompromising” as the first five. All of those make complete sense. Oh, and someone from Property Management just came over to fix the drain in our bathtub and he gave me a really weird look when he heard this record. That was kind of awesome. Now it's playing as he's fixing the tub, and I don't know why this makes sense. Big Black: Music to Fix Bathtubs To.

Chuck Berry - Johnny B. Goode

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode

Pickwick/Mercury, 1972

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008

Price: $4

So, this record is completely awesome all around, if only because it doesn’t have the terrible novelty track “My Ding-a-Ling” which plagues many a great Chuck Berry compilation record. I was raised on Oldies 95 in Kansas City, so when I first saw Back to the Future I immediately tracked down a cassette tape copy of the soundtrack because it had Johnny B. Goode on it. While playing it on a boombox in my room, I cite rocking out to Johnny B. Goode as the first time I ever air guitared and pretended that I was in a band. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time, so good. Since then, I’ve written two papers for two separate classes about the bewildering nature of rock and roll and how it seems strange when African Americans want to rock out these days, and Chuck Berry has also played a crucial role in these papers. But mostly because I think that scene at the end of Back to the Future is perplexing (“Your cousin. Marvin Berry”), and also because it gave me an excuse to listen to a lot of Chuck Berry. Anyway, this record rules. The cover features Berry in a weird 3D-ish image and the font they use on the cover is totally awesome. Sure, it’s a pretty weak compilation thrown at the public by a label to make some money, but man, all of the songs are so good and it was four bucks and I can listen to Johnny B. Goode anytime I want, so I’m fine with that!

Belle and Sebastian - I'm Waking Up to Us

Belle and Sebastian – I’m Waking Up to Us

Matador/Jeepster, 2001

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006

Price: $6

One of my favorite singles ever. On my first ever radio show three years ago this was one of the last songs I played. It’s in a comic somewhere, where Barrett (who had a giant beard then and I didn’t know at the time) came in and it’s playing in the background and I look really excited because I played the song kind of at random and really, really loved it immediately. It’s still probably my favorite B&S song. “I think I’m waking up to us/We’re a disaster,” that line is my favorite example of Stuart Murdoch’s gift for writing sick vocal lines paired with really great, sad, wonderful, ironic lyrics. It’s one of the best break-up songs ever, covering the gamut of emotions one feels upon such an event. This single also has “Marx & Engels” on it, another B&S tune that’s high on my list of favorites (but I’m really a sucker for songs about meeting girls in Laundromats, but I think that’s some sort of inherent male fantasy). “I Love My Car” is a song I identify with because I really do love my car and I will probably cry when it dies. Also, the front and back covers have cute girls holding cute dogs! What’s not to love!

Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister

Belle and Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister

Jeepster, 1996

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006

Price: $18

I’m only assuming this is an original and not a reissue given the price and the little Jeepster insert but really, it doesn’t matter. While I admire those who go to great lengths and pay exorbitant prices for original pressings, I really just want to own music that I love in some tangible format. I guess CDs are tangible, but I can’t see the point. It’s a piece of plastic that I can easily reproduce for ten cents. Ha, now that I think about this, I actually have this on CD too (purchased at the Antique Mall for five bucks) but having it on vinyl, with one of my favorite album covers ever is wonderful. Come to think of it, I have this album in t-shirt form too. Anyway, this is the best Belle and Sebastian record and one of my favorite albums. It’s one of those albums you get when your punk phase is winding down and you realize that there is more music in the underground that has more than three chords per songs. While Belle and Sebastian were notably dubbed “Sad Bastard Music” by Jack Black in High Fidelity, that only made me want to hear them more because I was a sad bastard at the time I first heard this in 2004 and I NEEDED this record. I think it’s their most cohesive album, building on the really perfect base they created on Tigermilk and going all the way. It fell off on the next couple of records and I really don’t think they’ve made a real Album (capital A, natch) since. Not to say Dear Catastrophe Waitress and The Life Pursuit aren’t great, but I approach those on a song by song basis. This is a lush landscape of songs compared to a series of portraits (Waitress) or a triptych (The Life Pursuit). And while I was a sad bastard when I first got into this record, I then and still do like Side B more because it’s more upbeat. Well, maybe not more upbeat, but it starts out more upbeat with back to back jams “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying” and “If You’re Feeling Sinister,” which might be my two favorite B&S songs. Like, when the horns come in on “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying,” seriously, one of my favorite parts of any song ever. That and the strumming pattern on the guitar, kill me. So good. Actually, Side A has more upbeat songs, and yeah, those are my favorites. “Me and the Major,” “Like Dylan in the Movies” (but I’m a sucker for any songs that reference other musicians made a play on this song in a Kite Tails song), and “Seeing Other People.” Although I do love the slow jams…and now I’m realizing why I love this record. I love every song except “Mayfly,” which I just really really like. Actually, that's a lie. I'm listening to that song now and the vocal line, the little organ flourishes and the buildup before the chorus and the weird sax solo! Yeah, all the songs on this record are great. And every time I hear “Judy and the Dream of Horses” it always reminds me of my friend Judy and it makes me miss her (however, I also think of her every time I hear the song “Judy is a Dickslap,” but in a funny way). Also, the picture inside the gatefold has the band's interpretation of "The Last Supper," which adds evidence to Chris Clark's claim that Stuart Murdoch is a raging Christian.

Beirut - Gulag Orkestar

Beirut – Gulag Orkestar

Ba Da Bing!, 2006

Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2006

Price: $14

Oh man I love this record. I bought it because a) I’d listened to my downloaded version of it so many times that it warranted my purchase of the record on vinyl (note: if I listen to a record more than seven times that probably means that I really like it and make an effort to buy a copy of it) and b) I really love owning records with beautiful album covers, and this is one of my favorites in recent memory. A photograph culled from a library in Leipzig of two women sitting on a car. Beautiful and mysterious and classic. It fits the record, which is beautiful and mysterious and classic. It’s like a dream of Eastern Europe through the eyes of a fascinated kid from New Mexico with Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeremy Barnes drumming and maybe influencing Zach Condon’s horn arrangements, which I believe I defined as “Neutral Milky” in my KJ review. “Postcards from Italy” would probably be in my Top 25 Favorite songs of all time (I know it’s a new one, but shit, it’s a perfect song) and is easily one of the Top 10 songs of the decade. It never gets old for me, other than in the sense that it’s like an old friend. Listening to this is making me wish I picked up a copy of the Lon Gisland EP when there were still copies at Love Garden. It cost as much as this record and had half the songs, but it would have been worth it for “Elephant Gun” alone, which is a very close second in the canon of Condon’s monster jams. But seriously, “Postcards from Italy” is playing right now and I’m still going to say that it is a perfect song. Like, that ukulele breakdown followed by that horn line, goddamnit. Goddamnit Zach Condon! HOW DID YOU WRITE THIS SONG! It seems so simple but the arrangement is so tediously put together that it seems impossible to imagine you making this song! That’s the beauty of it, I cannot understand how it exists and while I want to know how some people can be so talented, I’ll settle for just getting to listen to this perfect song over and over and over again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beatnik Filmstars - Astronaut House

Beatnik Filmstars – Astronaut House

La Di Da, 1994

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008

Price: $7

I can’t remember how I heard about Beatnik Filmstars. I think when I was really starting to embrace my inner pop kid I got some list of like, every indie pop band ever and I really liked the band name. So I picked this record up and it is not indie pop. It is, however, really good mid-90s indie rock. Like a darker, less nuanced Sebadoh. It’s just loud and brash and pretty cool. It gets a little tedious at times but then everything will amp up and the singer will start screaming something and it will be really awesome. The more down-tempo, reserved “Protein +” is a pretty excellent track that I want to play on Alternative Flashback. I’m noticing that the back half of this record, once they calm down a bit (limiting the noisy guitars to segments of songs) the record gets a lot better. Their website refers to them as “The British Guided by Voices” which makes absolutely no sense because they sound nothing like GBV. Maybe on older records…or newer records, given that this is only their second record. It shows promise though, and having listened to this I think I might attack the six-disc Beatnik Filmstars boxset I downloaded last month. The sleeve is also numbered 200/500, and I’m reading that following this record they moved onto Slumberland, then Scratch, then Merge. Three freaking amazing labels, sooo, yeah, must track down later recordings!

The Beatles - Abbey Road

The Beatles – Abbey Road

Apple, 1969

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, Shotgun Room, 2007

Price: $2

I’m listening to this now and I just realized that I’ve never listened to this record. Of course I love the singles like “Come Together” and “Here Comes the Sun,” but yeah, this is all new to me. It sounds like an end of the road record (which makes sense given that it was the last record they recorded, though Let it Be was released last). They seem to have chilled out and laid off the drugs a bit since Sgt. Pepper and here the harmonies just swirl around pretty little guitar lines (I’m thinking “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” right now) and it’s just a wonderful record full of ideas. The second half is really kind of awesome, as it kind of breaks down into a bunch of little song fragments in an almost Guided by Voices-ish way.*

*Note: This is the first of what will probably be many references to Guided by Voices. You should know right now, I have no shame about my unabashed adoration of GBV and if you ever want to talk about them at length, I'm your man. That is, if you are an obsessive geek with no life, I'm you man.

The Beatles - Hey Jude

The Beatles – Hey Jude

Apple, 1968

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2007

Price: $4

I picked this up just because I love “Hey Jude” so much and wouldn’t you know, it’s sort of a greatest hits/past masters record too! “Lady Madonna” is on this, one of my favorites, in addition to “I Should Have Known Better,” “Paperback Writer,” and “Revolution.” Strangely, the track listing on the back is completely wrong, and I don’t know why that is. But yeah, owning this record is me owning “Hey Jude,” which as clich├ęd as this sentiment is, I think, one of the greatest songs ever written. Top 5. As I wrote in the Sgt. Pepper write up, I’m not a Beatles nut but they are unfuckwithable. Most of the time, anyone who says they hate the Beatles is like any film major who says they hate Citizen Kane: Someone trying way too hard to be an iconoclast.

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Capitol, 1967

Acquired: Love Garden, Used, Shotgun Room, 2005

Price: $2

I really wonder how this record was received in 1967 because it is just so, so bizarre. It’s the Beatles under the influence of pot, acid, pills, and Ravi Shankar. Seriously, even today this shit is bizarre. At the same time, it’s one of those masterpiece pop records and has a lot of my favorite Beatles songs on it. But the transitions! From the sitared-out “Within You Without You” to the goofy “When I’m Sixty-Four” (but still great little pop tune, that vocal line! And the irony! Heather Mills divorced Paul McCartney when he was 64!) to one of my favorite Beatles tunes, the ode to a meter maid, “Lovely Rita.” Whenever I listen to this record it just sounds like a big “fuck you.” Not to the fans or anything, but to just old music in general. Like sharks, they must constantly move to stay alive and, while the constant sound changing might have failed in the hands of a lesser band, the Beatles are the greatest band of all time for a reason. Because they never really fucked up and all of their albums are pretty awesome. From the mop top pop songs to the tripped out stuff like this to all that weird shit on the White Album. No matter how bizarre it is, it’s still rooted in those amazing pop hooks and vocal lines and of course, studio innovation. I’m not a Beatles nut like a lot of people, but I will not deny the fact that they are the acme of everything a band can be. And how after all the druggy, trippy jams they still churn out “A Day in the Life” at the very end, one of my favorite songs of all time, THE song that got me into the Beatles when I was in high school.

Beat Happening - You Turn Me On

Beat Happening – You Turn Me On

K Records, 1992

Acquired: Reckless Records, Chicago, Used, 2007

Price: $8

This was a nice find! I got really excited, and that was before I was even a huge Beat Happening fan. I just really loved the title track and the photo on the back. I really want the Kite Tails to do a promo photograph like that, where I’d be Calvin, standing with my back to the camera holding my wrist, Jen would be Heather, and Danny would be Bret.

It would be so great. I’ve actually been listening to this record a lot lately. I sort of fell head over heels in love for “Tiger Trap” after watching the Shield Around the K documentary where Rose Melberg tells the story about how Calvin thought Tiger Trap had broken up and pilfered the name from the flotsam of the supposedly fallen band. But he was wrong! But it’s a great song, and I always think it goes by way too fast and have to start it over…and the song is SEVEN MINUTES LONG. It’s that good. I started out only listening to my faves: “Tiger Trap,” “Teenage Caveman,” “Sleepy Head,” and “You Turn Me On” but as I’ve been listening to it I’ve been giving extra attention to the ones I skipped. “Noise” is an awesome little song that Heather sings and would go on any Beat Happening mix CD I made for my car. She also sings the nearly ten-minute “Godsend” which also feels a lot shorter than it actually is. When I listen to this record, I really want the Kite Tails to go in this direction. Longer songs mixed with shorter pop ditties, pushing at the borders of what twee pop is and re-defining it while not losing any of the original charm. And the Am-D-G-Em chord progression of “Teenage Caveman” is my most recent default chord progression every time I sit down and try to write a song. And “Sleepy Head,” oh my god. Yeah, this is one of my favorite records. I might even say it’s my favorite Beat Happening record, usurping the longstanding Jamboree! And I want to write a song like “Godsend.” So good. GODDAMNIT THIS RECORD IS SO GOOD.

The Beach Boys - Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 1

The Beach Boys – Best of the Beach Boys Vol. 1


Acquired: Love Garden, Used, Shotgun Room, 2008

Price: $1

I picked this up on a random binge in the Shotgun Room when I was trying to fill in the gaps that I SHOULD have had filled by my parents record collection, but they just have a bunch of crap. So I went in and found the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, etc. But man, there are so many cool things about this beat up old record. For instance, I didn’t know that Chuck Berry wrote Surfin U.S.A.! How cool is that? And, at the top of the spine it reads: File Under: The Beach Boys – Teen. Granted, it’s old and it skips but I’m glad I have these songs on vinyl. “Catch A Wave,” “Surfer Girl,” “Little Honda,” “In My Room,” seriously way cool. I still think Yo La Tengo’s version of “Little Honda” is way better though. Now, if only I could find an old copy of Pet Sounds. That, and a copy of Love’s Forever Changes (original pressing or second or third pressing) are two that I desperately want and search for at every record store. They are records that I would pay exorbitant prices for. Ok, maybe not exorbitant, but like, $50 bucks, which is exorbitant for me. Anyway, this is a nice little Best Of, even though Side B isn’t nearly as good as Side A. Although the cover of “Louie, Louie” is pretty hilarious, given that the guy mimicking the guitar line, going “Duh duh duh DUH DUH DUH DUH DUH duh duh” sounds like he is mimicking a person of mental handicap. And thus, I find this song incredibly insensitive. That and it’s just generally a shitty cover (except for the guitar solo in the middle, that kind of rules). That and it closes with “Wendy” and I think the line “Wendy, Wendy What Went Wrong” is easily some of the best alliteration in song history.

Aztec Camera - High Land, Hard Rain

Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain

Sire/Rough Trade, 1983

Acquired: Half Price Books (Kansas City), Used, 2008

Price: $5ish

I bought this record because a.) I bought a CD copy of Aztec Camera’s Stray at the LPL book sale and thought it was amazing and b.) I heard that High Land, Hard Rain was their best record and that the single “Oblivious” was their most famous song. It’s funny, on the LP up at KJHK the handwritten review reads “DO NOT PLAY “OBLIVIOUS” UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE” because yeah, it’s pretty much a mid-80s Alternative/New Wave jam. This is a fucking great guitar pop record, full of awesome little guitar breakdowns, sweeping vocal lines, and songs that I want to play on my radio show. Track 2, “The Boy Wonders” struck me immediately and so did Track 3, “Walk Out to Winter,” and every track after that. It’s like classic 60s pop with more drum machines (or drums that sound like drum machines). Although, I can’t help but feel that a lot of these sound like Christmas songs. Not that they’re about Christmas at all, but like, I could imagine a song like “Pillar to Post” being about trying to win someone back at Christmas time. It has that “All I Want For Christmas Is You” feel. Not that that’s a bad song! It’s one of my favorites! I will say though, there’s some of the “Bad 80s” on this record, most notably on “Back on Board” which sounds thin and cheesy. It also has those sort of awful gospel backup singers like the ones Bob Dylan used on all of his records about Jesus. However, this is quickly made up for by the absolutely perfect, short, acoustic ditty “Down the Dip” that closes the record, which reminds me of “Unlisted Track” on Jawbreaker’s Dear You. Also, this record has ten songs, five on each side, which I believe is the perfect amount of songs for an LP.


Antony and the Johnsons - I Am a Bird Now

Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now

Secretly Canadian, 2005

Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2006

Price: $14ish

I bought this record when I thought I was dying in Early 2006. This lasted a month before I went to the doctor and they told me I was fine and it went away. But during that time I was so afraid and I listened to this record and it made me feel OK. Even though I think it’s a terribly sad record, mostly because Antony’s voice just has that sadness built into it, I still find it to be an incredibly hopeful album. I recently listened to and reviewed his new record, The Crying Light, and I think it’s a perfect continuation and extrapolation on I Am a Bird Now. I still think I like this record more though, but mostly because it has more history. I forgot that “Fistful of Love” was his song and how good it is because Devendra Banhart covered it and I listened to that version more. God, what a jam. “Hope There’s Someone” is one of the few songs that has ever made me cry, too. I Am a Bird Now is a modern classic, and I can’t wait to see how it sounds ten years from now. I wonder how I will react to it, pulling it out of its sleeve and putting it on the turntable. And of course, this is another record I bought where the cover played a factor in my purchase. Seriously, so beautiful and perfect and sad.

Animal Collective - Feels

Animal Collective – Feels
Fat Cat, 2005
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2005
Price: $15ish

This was the first Animal Collective album I was able to get into. Halfway through opener “Did You See The Words” I knew I had to buy this on vinyl when it came out. Listening to it now I can see where Merriweather Post Pavilion came from. I didn’t really latch onto Strawberry Jam at all but Feels seems to set the groundwork for this perfect pop song that Animal Collective has clearly mastered on MPP. However, I think this record got neglected when I bought it because I hate double LPs. I know, I know, it makes for better sound, but sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I just wanna put on a record and let it play through and when you have a double LP it breaks up the flow of the album in ways that bug me (the most notable example is Sunset Rubdown’s Random Spirit Lover). But I just loved “Did You See the Words” so much and I listened to that over and over again in my bedroom back in Olathe. I remember distinctly, the turntable was on this ledge above my desk and I’d put that song on and turn the stereo all the way up. Track 1, Side B, “The Purple Bottle” is another one that I listened to a bunch of times, but I never really went to the trouble of putting disc 2 on. Actually, after hearing and falling in love with MPP this record sounds almost amateurish. Maybe not amateurish, but like a band still trying to figure out how to perfect their sound. I keep zoning out for a lot of this, maybe because I know what this leads to and how it has been perfected and I can’t remember how I listened to this record when I was 19. Animal Collective are a band that has constantly grown and changed from album to album and I cannot wait to hear the next one. Will they be able to one-up MPP? Maybe, if you can even think of it that way. Also, his record has one of my favorite album covers in my collection and was a strong influence on my purchase.

Able Tasmans - A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down

Able Tasmans – A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down
Flying Nun Records, 1987
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, Alternative Section, 2008
Price: $10

Given that it’s the first record in my collection, it was one of the first records I spotted when I decided to go through the ENTIRE alternative used vinyl section at Love Garden one day. It was a process that took me nearly a month to complete. I saw this and got giddy, because I love New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records (for my money, one of the top 5 record labels in history), I’d heard the song “What Was That Thing” on a Flying Nun compilation and I thought the album title was too perfect because really, nothing sounds better than a cuppa tea and a lie down most of the time. This record isn’t as awesome as I expected it to be (based on “What Was That Thing”), but “Sour Queen” is a late album jam that I never really noticed before. It has the typical “New Zealand Sound,” whatever that means, it sounds like something you’d hear on Flying Nun Records and I guess Chris Knox of Tall Dwarfs is somehow involved (as he is involved in everything) based on his inclusion in the massive group photo on the back of the sleeve. It’s a really nice guitar pop record.

These Are the Rules

1.) This is an excuse for me to listen to all of my records. I have a habit of buying records and then never actually listening to them because I am lazy. This needs to stop. I finally fixed the left speaker on my stereo and I want to listen to every record in my collection. Alphabetically. They are meticulously organized and I want to spend time with each and every one of them.

2.) As I am constantly finding myself in Love Garden spending money, I will immediately listen to every new record I buy and do an entry for it.

3.) After working through the LPs, I will painstakingly attempt to tackle my collection of 7"s, which must be numbering somewhere around 200 (I bought at least a hundred of them from the shotgun room for a quarter a piece).

4.) I am including biographical details, such as where I bought the record, why I bought it, etc. I am also including the price because I am curious to see how much I have spent over the past six or seven years since I started collecting/ how much money I have wasted that I could have spent on, I don't know, rent or food.

5.) There will be no real schedule because if I set one I would never, ever attempt this project. By leaving it loose it lets me work on it when I feel like it and thus, promotes productivity! Now, time to get started...