A sporadically-updated music collection blog. Send questions to twitter or email me.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Frightened Rabbit 7" box set

So, it's the end of December already. Christmas has come and gone and Santa, the lovely man that he is, got me some new vinyl. Wasn't that nice of him?

So, as the title suggests, the vinyl in question is a Frightened Rabbit singles box, comprising all of the singles released from their latest album The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (an excellent album indeed). Fortuitously, it was only one post ago that I tried to explain my love for this band, so I don't need to go into that again. Go back to that post if you want to learn why Frabbit are amazing. Let's go straight into vinyl.

So this is the front of the box. I really, really like it. It's fairly retro-looking and understated. The green of the card reminds me of those card folders every English teacher had with marking inside. I hope you know the ones I mean and I don't just sound mad. There are, as it says in the bottom left corner, 4 singles in this box. Let's go through them in release order (kind of), because chronological ordering makes me happy.

So, number one. This is Swim Until You Can't See Land, a lovely jangly summer song. The artwork's really nice, as well. The double-barred cross features in all of the artwork from the album. It's a nice point of continuity, and makes for a good logo. The kind of thing I'd get tattooed on me if I was less of a huge pansy.

Black vinyl again, as with every single in this box. However, I'm going to do a picture for each single so you can see the continuity of the font used on every single both front and back, and the similarity of the labels. I like that the art keeps to an overall theme. It's all similar without being samey, which I think is commendable. The B-side to this single is Fun Stuff, a song I really really like. It's a lot more melancholy than the A-side, kind of like a bridge between the sadness of The Midnight Organ Fight (the previous album) and the more upbeat tone of The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. Fun Stuff is good stuff.

Single two, Nothing Like You. More lovely artwork, and another lovely artwork. It's among the most positive of Frabbit's songs and probably one of my favourites. There's also, slightly tangentially, a good story involving the video that accompanies the song. So the label, Fat Cat, decide the band should have a flashy modern video to try and get it played on music channels. The result was this. It's fairly dull, as I'm sure you'll agree. The band, instead of just accepting it, rejected the video and decided to make their own instead. Recruiting some of their own fans to help out, they made this. It's incredible, I can't watch it and not smile. There's a chance it's my favourite video ever. You should definitely watch it.

Annnnnd here's some more black vinyl for you. As you can see, they used the same font on the back of the cover as they did with the Swim vinyl, and the labels are visually similar. The B-side here is a song called Learned Your Name, which is an unusual one. It's just shy of 3 minutes, and it's very sparse. It never really builds up and then sort of... ends. I'm really unsure if I like it or not. And that's about all I can say.

Single 3, The Loneliness And The Scream. Awesome, awesome song. It's got some a great "whoah-oh" part in it, which is clearly what all good songs need. The artwork's really nice as well. It'd be my favourite of the box if it wasn't for the fourth single, which you will see soon.

More black vinyl, more of that same lovely font. The B-side here is a cover of Don't Go Breaking My Heart (a song by Elton John and Kiki Dee) done with the lead singer of The Hold Steady. I've not managed to listen to it yet, but it's got potential. Craig Finn (the man from The Hold Steady) has a really distinctive voice, and I'm looking forward to hearing him and Scott together on one song.

And here is single four, Living in Colour. Another great song, the kind of song you instinctively tap your foot to. Now, I said I'd do them in chronological order. Technically, this was released as a digital single before The Loneliness And The Scream was, but this is the first physical edition of it and it is only available in this box. The reason for this is that every cover has been hand-drawn by Scott, the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit. COOL! I'm pretty sure the design is the same on every one, but it's still pretty ace. I like the actual design, done in crayon on thick card.

The B-side to the vinyl is a remix of the song, which I haven't heard yet and, frankly, nor am I that bothered about hearing. Remixes don't do an awful lot for me so I'll probably only listen to it once or twice. The back of the cover is plain, apart from a stamp in the corner that just reads "495". This is the number of the vinyl (and thus the set), which is out of 500. Seemingly the orders have been sent out at random through the numbers, considering this was a fairly quickly placed order and the set is still in stock on the Fat Cat website. It's a good number, I like numbers that end in a 5 or 0.

I love this box. It looks awesome, the songs are great and it's been put together well. Good work, Fat Cat and lovely Scottish Frabbit.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Frightened Rabbit - It's Christmas So We'll Stop

Well, it's Christmas Eve already so I felt it was only fitting to do a post about one of my favourite Christmas songs, that I happen to own on vinyl.

Frightened Rabbit are a band I adore. They're Scottish (yes), beardy (yes) and fill their songs with the kind of emotion you'd normally only hear if you were a psychiatrist (DING DING DING). That they aren't absolutely huge is astounding really. I'm fairly confident they will be soon, they write lovely jangly indie music with catchy choruses and Scott's heart flooding out of the lyrics. If they get a bit of widespread advertisement, their next album, their 4th, could generate the same rapid success as the 4th album of another notable Scottish band...

Anyway, time for the vinyl.

I like this cover an awful lot. It reminds me of Christmas jumpers, and as such it's a fairly fitting cover for a Christmas single. Like the Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin cover, it's on matte cardboard instead of glossy. Again it really suits the artwork, making it almost look like an art print.

This is the vinyl, again another plain black one (I really need to find/buy some more coloured vinyl soon don't I?) that doesn't look particularly special. However, it's only got one song on it. No B-side. Which leaves a big blank side. They wouldn't just leave it blank, would they?

No, no they would not. Because they're amazing, the B-side is etched with a lovely pattern and the phrase "Gold! Frankincense! FR!". It was really hard to photograph, so apologies for the bad quality, but it looks so amazing in real life. Frightened Rabbit, I love you so much.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Reuben - Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin

So I decided to pair up my two Reuben vinyls with consecutive posts. It saves me from having to write about how amazing they are again, so we can just go straight into talking about the single this time. Yay!

Deadly Lethal Ninja Assassin is great. It comes from the band's third album (In Nothing We Trust), and is the most catchy song on the album. It even features the excellent Frank Turner doing vocals on the chorus, alongside some guy who used to be in Hundred Reasons (a.k.a. the only person involved in the song who isn't one of my lifetime heroes). There's an equally good video for the single, which you should definitely watch. Let's take a look at the vinyl.

So this is the cover. I think we can safely agree that it's brilliant. It reminds me a lot of the film The Iron Giant, but more violent considering I don't think the giant got hit with a stick in the film. It's also worth mentioning that it's printed onto matte paper, instead of the usual glossy covers for most singles. This makes it look even nicer. Kudos to the artist, who is apparently a man called Ashley Wood.

Can you read that? Yeah, they managed to squash two tracks onto the B-side. Push and The Weight Of The World, which are both pretty solid songs. Majorly impressed with this single. Come back Reuben, we need you.

Reuben - Keep It To Yourself

Right, I want you to stop reading this right now and go listen to Reuben. I don't care if your nan's come to visit or you're watching Coronation Street, or whatever's going on. This is important. Here's a youtube link for you in case you're mad and don't have Spotify. I'll take a break from writing while you just listen to that.

Okay? Now, wasn't that fantastic. Reuben were (sob) a phenomenal British post-hardcore (ish) 3-piece, who made 3 great albums before calling it a day (technically, an "indefinite hiatus" so there's still hope). They're one of 2 now defunct bands (the other being Million Dead) who I would pay any amount of money and travel any distance to see. I know there's a lot of superlatives being thrown around here, but they truly deserve them. There's something about their debut album that makes you feel excited about music, like the first time everything clicked with your favourite band. I don't know, maybe it's just me. This vinyl is Keep It To Yourself from the band's second album, Very Fast Very Dangerous. It's a great song, full of Jamie (lead singer) Lenman's fairly typical lyrical rage. Let's take a look at it.

I like this cover. It's pretty simple, and it maintains the theme of vehicles on the album and singles' artwork (the album, for example, has a truck on its cover). Just as another note, I love the font they chose for the band name. It just looks badass.

So this is the vinyl itself. It's plain black, again. The B-side is Approaching By Stealth, which is a decent song. It reminds me a bit of Three Hail Marys from the band's third album, but it isn't quite as good. Still, it works nicely as a companion to Keep It To Yourself.  There was also a yellow vinyl version of the single with a different B-side (and I believe different artwork), but there weren't many pressed so it's a bit too hard for me to get hold of. No idea of the pressing info for this one, I'm afraid.

EDIT: just been browsing on the Reuben forums, a voice of authority seems to think this may be limited to 1000 but isn't sure. So there's a ballpark figure for you.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Marmaduke Duke - Silhouettes

Ahhhh Marmaduke Duke. How I love you so. A side-project of the wonderful Biffy Clyro (you'll be seeing a lot more of them on this blog soon) and the "I still need to properly get into them" Sucioperro. Much, much more electronic than either of those two bands, bordering on being dance music, and yet still with that tinge of Scotland that delights me so. Their first album is great, it's loud and noisy and yeah, I adore it. The second album (source of this song) is a lot more tuneful and ear-friendly, but I still love it. This is a pretty good song, but it's a bit too short for me. It ends sort of abruptly, so you can't really play it alone without something following it (if that makes sense). This vinyl is slightly weird in that the A-side is a remix of it, which is okay for a remix, and then the B-side is the original song. It feels kind of backwards to me, but whatever. Time for pictures.

I really, really like this cover. It's sufficiently mad for this band and the sky in the background has PRETTY COLOURS. The opening is on the top as well, which I like for no real reason.

This is the vinyl. It's black, as those of you with functioning eyes have already noticed. I actually got this vinyl in a record shop in Leeds with my friend Steph, and I think it was about £3. It's ace.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Sky Larkin - Kaleide

Sky Larkin are a 3-piece from Leeds. I first encountered them supporting Frightened Rabbit, and after the gig finished I found myself chatting to their drummer about Deftones (there's an important message here-wearing metal t-shirts to indie gigs gets you in with the drummer). He was so nice and they were sufficiently good that I bought a t-shirt and this LP from him for £20, which is probably one of the best purchases I've made in ages. It's an absolutely fantastic album, probably one of my top albums of the year. I can't describe it any better than it is an "indie" album, there's no convenient genre for me to pigeonhole them into. Katie Harkin's (SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKS they have a lady vocalist) vocals make the band sound so very different to any other things I hear nowadays, and the rest of the band behind her sound really tight. There's a couple of missteps on the album (i.e. Anjelica Huston) but also a few utterly outstanding songs, like the rampaging Spooktacular and the heartfelt ATM (with its wonderful central lyric "There are questions written through bone as if words in sticks of rock/Like whether a selfish heart is a truthful muscle or not"). On the whole, it's a really really good album and shows a band with a lot of potential. You should really go and listen to it. I'm going to have to buy their first album soon. For now though, some pictures.

I really like this cover art. It's angular and colourful and pretty. It looks really good this big as well.

The vinyl is a gatefold affair. It came with a download code, because the people at Wichita are super-awesome. As you can see, the inside of it is as colourful as the cover. It gives me lots to look at!

This is the detailing on the dust sleeve, which is a nice thick card material. The shapes on it, if you can't tell, are 3D rectangle outlines. It was pretty hard to get a picture that showed them, but they actually look really good.

This is the left side of the inside of the gatefold. It's been printed with all of these squares, each of which represent one of the pages in the booklet that I presume came with the CD (a digital copy of this booklet came with the download as well, more badassery from Wichita). It's not quite as cool as PABH's 12" booklet, but it looks pretty good and it's a clever way of utilising the gatefold layout.

Just an apology, this picture didn't come out too well. The back cover of the vinyl looks really washed out here, the colours are a lot more like the front. As you can see, the vinyl is again just a plain black. However, it's also 180 gram vinyl (i.e. thicker and heavier than usual), which gives it a nice weighty feel. Top notch.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Pulled Apart By Horses self-titled

I'm back in Stoke-on-Trent now, meaning I have access to all of my vinyl so expect a wealth of posts in the coming few weeks.

Here's the first. It's Pulled Apart By Horses' self-titled debut album. My good friend Elliot said I should try and talk about the music a bit more, so let's give that a go. If you've never heard PABH, you're missing out. They're pretty much a straight-up ROCK act from the dull confines of Leeds who put on a fantastic live show, and have some fairly catchy songs. It's a fairly good album, but the last few songs are largely forgettable and it's not massively better than their previous work. That said, the first few tracks are absolutely golden and the re-recording of High Five Swan Dive Nose Dive made an already awesome song even better. Plus, it's an album with a song on it called Yeah Buddy. Always a winner. I strongly recommend you listen to it if you are a fan of music that makes your face happy. Now on with the vinyl. I got this on the day it came out, without really intending to. I'd gone into the music shop on campus for my obligatory "new albums Monday browse" (living 20 seconds from a music shop is way too dangerous). As I flicked lazily through the vinyl section I spotted this fella for a tenner, the same price as the CD was and cheaper than the vinyl was on the PABH website. It turned out the guy who worked there had mispriced it, but he had to charge me the stickered price of £10 even though it was meant to be £15. Stoked. Let's see some pictures.

So this is the album cover. I can't really say I'm a huge fan. I think the band name font is meant to be a parody of death metal bands having unreadable logos, which is mildly amusing. I don't "get" the artwork though. So it's a man in a skull mask holding up a skull on a hill? Whatever keeps you happy, guys.

What I do really like about this album is it came with a full 12" square booklet of mad pictures and lyrics and whatnot. It looks really good, and it's nice to leaf through. If I was the kind of person who was okay with cutting things up, there's a few that would look really good in frames. But the mere idea of cutting it apart makes me feel sad inside so I'll leave mine as it is.

The vinyl is another plain black affair, no big surprise there. Labels are fairly plain but nicely coloured, dust sleeve is a white paper one, the back cover looks kind of cool. There's not really an awful lot I can say here, I'm afraid. Sorry.

All in all, this is a decent album with weird artwork and quite a cool booklet. You should definitely listen to it if you haven't already, and if you live in Leamington I saw a copy of this on vinyl for £8 in Head. Go get.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill (12" single)

This one is a single I picked up from a music shop in town for (as you will see) £2. It's the 12" edition of the single for Harrowdown Hill from Thom Yorke's wonderful solo album The Eraser. As an album it's most like Kid A (the Radiohead album. If you don't know Thom Yorke is from Radiohead then I'm startled), which is ace because I utterly adore Kid A. The Eraser is beepy and weird and brilliant. This isn't my favourite song on the album (which would be the amazing Atoms For Peace), it's probably not even in my top 3. However, it was cheap and...

...the artwork is AWESOME! It's similar to the album art (which I plan on doing a post about soon) but with colour instead of just being black and white. It gives it a very different feel to the album, but one which I think comes over very well.

The vinyl itself is a plain black affair, which I think is a little disappointing. A purple vinyl or maybe even a marble-effect of the colours on the cover would be absolutely awesome. What's more disappointing is that there's just two songs on the 12". I'd like to have seen a couple more, but I think that might be asking a bit too much. The A-side is an extended version of Harrowdown Hill, and the B-side is something called The Drunkk Machine, which is an infuriating spelling. I haven't had a chance to listen to them yet (no record player at uni), but I'll definitely give it a spin when I get home.

In terms of pressing info, a bit of googling tells me this 12" version was limited to 3000, apparently. There also appears to be a 7" single for the same song with a different B-side, limited to 5000, but I'm not particularly bothered about getting it unless I just so happen to find it really cheap like I did this one!

Bad Books self-titled

For those of you that don't know, Bad Books is a side-project of the incredible Manchester Orchestra (if you haven't listened to them, please do so right now) and the singer-songwriter Kevin Devine. It's awesome, and definitely deserves a listen. They put the album up for pre-order, which included 3 tracks to download instantly and a full download of the album about a month before the release date. It came to about £15 including delivery, with something very cool inside that you'll see shortly. I'm not entirely sure of the numbers it was pressed in because they increased the supply several times to match demand. Anyway, here it is.

I'm a really big fan of the artwork. It's simple and understated, but still looks really good. It changed just before the pre-order and I took a while to adjust to it but now I'm very glad it did.

This is the cool thing inside. It's a double-sided poster, one side of which is a weird hedgehog thing and the other is a rectangular version of the album art signed by the band. Very awesome, I'm thinking of framing it.

So this is the vinyl itself. It's a lovely, vibrant translucent red. I really like coloured 12" records, so this sits well with me.

Having previously said I wouldn't talk about a label again, here we are with another label picture. This is really cool. I think it's the logo for the label (Favourite Gentlemen) of a man in a tuxedo and trilby. His lack of a face is slightly unnerving, but he still looks badass.

Again, this is another album I love with some great artwork and pretty vinyl. Excellent.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Meet Me In St. Louis - Variations On Swing

So, let's begin. This is the newest addition to my admittedly small collection, but there's a chance it's already one of my favourites. I first heard of MMISL when their former label (the wonderful Big Scary Monsters) put all of the MP3s for this album on their website for free for the second Meet Me In St Louis Day (24th September, for those interested). As a sucker for free albums, I downloaded it straight away and then was promptly met with itunes refusing to let me put most of the tracks into my library. A few months later, I finally got it in and swiftly fell in love. It's a fantastic album, and makes me wish so much that they hadn't split. As usual, I couldn't not own a physical version of an album that I enjoy so much. So when Denovali, who released the vinyl, reduced it to the excellent price of €6 I couldn't pass it up. It was released in January 2008 and limited to 500. Let's take a look at it.

The artwork looks utterly stunning. This picture doesn't quite do it justice, it's a lot more pinky than it looks. I could stare at it for hours.

There's a lovely two-sided insert. One side features a band picture and some obligatory thanks, the other side is a type-written lyric sheet. It's a nice inclusion.

Now, remember how I said it was limited to 500? Well, mine came with black dust sleeves and numbered 116/150. According to the Denovali release information, this is the pre-order version. I've got a pre-order version of an album that came out nearly 3 years ago. I'm not complaining.

THIS is why I got the vinyl instead of the CD (click it to see the image in a larger size, as with all of them). Wow. It's clear with a black splatter, and it looks utterly fantastic. Whoever chose these colours, well done. You chose brilliantly.

Just as a little extra point (and a level of detail I almost definitely won't go into again), the labels on this vinyl are excellent. They're designed to look like a collage of old film posters, and I really like that.

Overall, this is an excellently put together package for what is an awesome album. A big well done to everyone involved.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

An introduction.

Hi. As you almost definitely already know, I'm Adam. Recently, I've found myself really enjoying reading blogs about vinyl, so I decided to start one myself. It's mostly for my own benefit, but if you find yourself reading this I hope you enjoy it. It's unlikely that I'll update it regularly, but I'll add new things when I get them. There will be a big glut of posts over Christmas. So yeah. There we go.