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

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

This past week, my beloved Frightened Rabbit commemorated the 5 year anniversary of the first pressing of their debut album Sing The Greys by playing it live in full with their original line-up. This is super-awesome, but it took place in Edinburgh at VERY SHORT NOTICE so I couldn't go. Gutted. As my own form of tribute to this wonderful anniversary, I've decided it's time to do a slightly overdue post about their latest album The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. This, the band's third studio album, was released in March of last year and was definitely in my top 5 albums of 2010. At the time, I bought it on CD (as the only places I could find it for on vinyl wanted £15+) but the wonderful Rise came through for me again by having it on vinyl for the crazily cheap price of £7. Since I own both physical formats of the album, I've included the CD in the pictures for comparison. Let's begin.

I love this cover. Absolutely love it. The design's really clean, and the font is superb. They used the same font on (almost all of) the singles from the album too (see a post about them here) and, as you should know by know, I'm a huge sucker for continuity. The CD, as you can see, is just like its tiny little brother. Aww.

As is the case with most releases these days, it's a gatefold affair. No lyric booklet, which is a shame, but they're printed nicely on one of the interior panels. The CD is similarly fold-out, and shares a lot of the artwork of the vinyl release. Again, joyful continuity makes me happy.

Black vinyl again from Frabbit, and another download code from Fat Cat (as more labels should start to do in all of their releases). I really love that the vinyl labels are the same as the CD design, especially as it's a really nice design. Now, the music. I've expressed my love for Frabbit several times before on this blog alone, including several of the songs on this album in the post I linked to earlier. This is just an all-round excellent album. Much more triumphant than the two that came before it but still with the thoughtful, emotional core that defines the band and the sound that is very much their own. I'd tell you more about the record but a few months ago I found a track by track summary of the album with the band's lead singer Scott, which does it far better than I ever could. Go here and enjoy.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Frightened Rabbit/The Twilight Sad - Demos split cassette

About a month ago, the music-collectors' paradise (or hell, depending on your monetary situation at the time) that is Record Store Day occurred. For those of you who don't know, RSD is a day every year in which a whole load of record labels do limited releases that only get stocked in independent stores. This year's list was predictably big, but there wasn't a lot that excited me personally. There were two Mastodon releases (a split with ZZ Top and an extortionately priced vinyl issue of their recent live album) and a Deftones covers album, but they didn't really pique my interest enough to hunt them down and spend a not-too-small amount of money on them. No, there was only one release that I really wanted, and this is it. A split cassette tape of demos from personal favourites (if you've read much of this blog, you'll realise they come up every few posts) Frightened Rabbit and fellow Scotsmen The Twilight Sad. As it turned out, I was visiting some friends on RSD and didn't really want to drag them into town early-morning just so we could queue outside a little record store, so I asked my good friend John if he could try and pick this up for me. He did, and then decided it would be a birthday present for me. So no money spent. Ace.

I know this is (predominantly) a vinyl blog and this is a cassette, but it's awesome so I don't have any qualms over posting about it. The cover is just a piece of parcel paper with a lovely design printed on it. I really like it, the style fits well with the lo-fi nature of the recordings.

Hey, at least it's not black! I don't really find this cassette as aesthetically pleasing as I would a lovely piece of vinyl, but I really like that the side names and catalogue code have been hand-written. As per usual, Fat Cat continue to be awesome and include download codes. I've edited mine out again, just because. So, the songs. The Frightened Rabbit side consists of some very early recordings of some very good songs, and I enjoy it a lot. Everything sounds scratchy and unrefined, but it's fascinating. The recording of Snake is a particular favourite, due in no small part to it being one of my favourite Frabbit songs. The other side of the cassette features a few of The Twilight Sad's demos and, amazingly, a cover of Be Less Rude by Frightened Rabbit. The recording quality on this side is even more unrefined (the tracklist itself describes the songs as "recorded with 1 really shitty mic") but still very enjoyable. The Frightened Rabbit cover is, predictably, my favourite song though. It's not massively different to the original, it's mostly that hearing James singing in place of Scott feels odd but works. Scott's voice is so key to Frabbit's sound that this minor change makes the song feel massively different. It's worth a listen, so here's a youtube link.

Now, let's talk pressing numbers (because I'm a nerd for numbers). The Fat Cat website itself says there is a UK version limited to 400 (which I can safely presume mine is one of) but also that there is a US version limited to 777? I can't seem to find any information on this anywhere else though, so if anyone knows about it I'd appreciate your knowledge.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Tubelord - Our First American Friends & For The Grandparents

The vinyl's coming thick and fast now. In the past 3 days I've received 3 albums in the post, and I've still got a backlog of a few things (including something very special). I'm going to try and work my way through them over the coming few weeks in between revision sessions, so expect a fair few posts.

This morning I went to the post office to collect some undelivered post, and inside the parcel was this plethora of Tubelord-related goodies. Now, there's a handful of non-vinyl things here but I feel they all tie in together nicely and I want to write about them, so I will.

Let's start with the vinyl though. This is cover of the band's debut (and thus far only) album Our First American Friends. I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, there seems to be shiny paper spread like lava onto a hill. It's nice, although the colours are a little muted. personally, I'd prefer them to be a bit brighter but this is pretty good as it is.

This is a nice touch. The dust sleeve is made of card and has more lovely artwork on it. This appears to be some kind of bear in a cave on the mountain from the cover. Okay then.

Yessss, we've got some coloured vinyl again! A lovely, lovely white. I really like the look of this, it's just such a big contrast to the regular black. Behind it is the other side of the inner sleeve, and to the left of that is the back of the outer sleeve. I like both, they look nice. Not a lot more to say.

As I don't have my USB turntable at uni, I slightly presumptively sent the band an email asking if they'd include a burnt CD of the tracks. Thus, they did. What a lovely group. it's about here where I should probably describe the album a bit. Tubelord are a kind of like the halfway point of Dananananaykroyd (who I love) and Los Campesinos (who I don't). If you don't know what any of that meant, they're yelpy with loud guitars but also lots of melody. They're brilliant, as is this album. there are so many out-and-out awesome songs, but my personal favourites are probably Night Of The Pencils and Synthesize. I'd describe them but you can stream the entire album on the band's Bandcamp page, which you definitely should do if you are even faintly interested in what I just said. Let's not forget though, there were some more things in this parcel:

So this is the "summer package" the band did last year. It's an acoustic version of the entire OFAF album on CD and a tote bag. I like both, a lot. Not fussed if the tote bag doesn't suit me, it's comfortable and awesome. I like the mountain.

So this is the CD. The artwork folds out into a mini-poster, which is odd but nice. In terms of the music, I really like it. It's interesting to hear what are at times fairly loud songs reimagined acoustically. Sure, there's a couple of bits that don't quite work but there's a lot that does. I may even prefer the acoustic version of Stacey's Left Arm to the full one. This is also streaming on the band's Bandcamp page linked earlier, so you can listen to it there and stuff. What also makes me happy is the centre strip of each of these CDs is numbered out of 300. Mine is number 50. I like that as a number. It's fairly low AND even AND divisible by 10. Lovely.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Twilight Sad - Forget The Night Ahead

As writing my maths essay is getting painfully boring (and the amount of vinyl I'm yet to post here is increasing rapidly), I decided it was time to make a new post. And where better to start than with my latest purchase? This album is the latest from another wonderful band of Scotsmen, The Twilight Sad, and was released way back in 2009. I picked it up because it was a mere £10 in Rise on campus, and I had birthday money that obviously needed replacing with some big pieces of plastic.

Annnnd this is the cover. I don't quite understand it, and it's pretty creepy but the colour scheme is nice and it's eye-catching if nothing more.

Yep, it's a gatefold vinyl. This picture's pretty dreadful, but whatever. I really like the way the space has been used here. All the lyrics, some pretty weird pictures to match the cover and the predictable "thanks" lists set off to one said. It looks really good.

And here's our back cover and vinyl. Notice, it's a double-LP. I didn't realise this until I got home, at which point the £10 I paid for it seemed like even more of a bargain. Again, the colour scheme from the cover and interior is extended onto the back and even onto the labels themselves. The continuity here makes the whole thing feel like a more well-rounded "package", and I like that a lot. The dust-sleeves are good quality too, always a bonus.

Also worth noting is that Fat Cat, wonderful record label that they are, included a download code for the entire album written in a humourous style which definitely raised a smile. I've edited out the last few letters of the download code, so don't go trying to use it!

As for the music itself? I find it pretty difficult to describe TTS properly. The term bandied about most around them seems to be "shoegaze", so make of that what you will. It's effectively waves of noise with some lovely Scottish vocals over the top. After a couple of listens, I quite like the album although I think it'll take a few more listens before I can make a proper judgement. If you're interested, they have an 8-track acoustic EP for free on their blog in exchange for signing up to their mailing list. Give them a go.

In terms of pressing info, I can't find any numbers. Apparently there's a US version and a UK version though. I presume mine is the UK version, but I'll check when I'm at home.