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

Friday, 29 July 2011

Biffy Clyro - Saturday Superhouse

In terms of Biffy Clyro as a band, I think Saturday Superhouse can be considered a fairly pivotal single. The first physical single from their then-upcoming album Puzzle (the album that would give the band their first taste of mainstream success), the band's first top 20 single (peaking at 13) and to date their 4th-highest charting single (behind Mountains, That Golden Rule and, sadly, Many Of Horror). It was also the first release by the band to feature the artwork of the much-revered Storm Thorgerson and the first time the band released two vinyl versions of a single. So, as you can see, a lot of firsts for the band. This single was also, as it happens, the source of a couple of firsts for me. It was the first Biffy Clyro song I actively listened to and, if my memory serves me right, the first records I ever bought (which may or may not have been with the Dananananaykroyd single I posted about the other day, I forget). Indeed, the only reason I collect vinyl is because I craved more Biffy B-sides. Yep, fanboy-tastic. These records, therefore, mean quite a lot to me and I felt it'd be doing them a disservice if I didn't do that small explanation. But you're here for pictures, right?

There are two versions of this single. They each have marginally different artwork, neither of which I understand but both of which look awesome. Each one also comes with a poster of its cover, posters I will obviously never put up due to my completionist nature requiring that they are never damaged. Still pretty though.

So the record arbitrarily deemed "1 of 2" is orange, and "2 of 2" is (a poorly photographed) purple. Amazing colours that my camera has failed to capture adequately, and both come in gatefold packaging that emphasises a part of the cover of that version, and I like it.

These records are also both numbered, but it seems somewhat pointless to me since the numbers are so high. Even if we assume that the numbers are out of a total for the two colours, that implies each colour is "limited" to 3000. Not really worth it, is it?

So, the music. Saturday Superhouse is, as I implied before, a brilliant song. A summery, fairly poppy Biffy song with a huge chorus that begs to be shouted along to. The B-sides, Miracle of Survival and I'm Behind You are fairly competent (at least as far as Biffy B-sides go). I'm Behind You is a fairly jaunty acoustic number, while Miracle of Survival is a more traditional stop-start Biffy song, somewhat reminiscent of Wave Upon Wave Upon Wave from the band's previous album. It's worth mentioning, however, that both are totally overshadowed by the B-side on the CD. Scared Of Lots Of Everything (what a title!) is a moderately heavy song, featuring guest vocals by Matt Caughtran from The Bronx. I'd be willing to say it's one of my favourite Biffy B-sides, which is high praise indeed. Go listen to it.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Biffy Clyro - Only One Word Comes To Mind

Oh yes. It's time. Given the wealth of free time I have this summer, I'm going to make a start on the fairly large amount of Biffy records I have to write up. I did a quick mental check and I think there's about 11 posts to do because a lot are parts 1 and 2 of the same single. I'm also going to do them in release order, because that makes sense and I have no idea in what order I acquired them.

The "oldest" piece of Biffy vinyl I own is, sadly, a single from their 3rd album (and my favourite album of all-time) Infinity Land. I'd love to have some stuff from Blackened Sky or The Vertigo of Bliss but paying >£15 for a 7" single isn't quite possible in my budget at the moment. One day though, hopefully. However, this post isn't about that so let's leave that behind. This is probably one of my favourite records. It was a gift to me from the incredible Andy for Christmas 2009. Andy's my long-term Biffy partner, I've seen the band 4 times with him and now him not being there at a Biffy gig feels wrong. He knows the love I have for Only One Word Comes To Mind and sent me this. Love him.

And this is it. I love the cover. It's by Chris Fleming, who did most of the artwork from Biffy singles of this era. This cover itself is most similar to the My Recovery Injection cover, as both depict damaged people (although the MRI cover is a bit more stylized). As I've stated before, I'm a big fan of continuity and every piece Fleming did for the Infinity Land era has a distinct "feel" to it (something that has been continued since, as we will see soon).

Black vinyl, although this is somewhat of a rarity when it comes to my Biffy collection (seriously, if you like coloured vinyl as much as I do then you're in for a treat). It's nice though. The fairly plain red labels on the black vinyl look nice. In terms of songs, the A-side is obviously Only One Word Comes To Mind. It's a quiet, beautiful song with one of the greatest cymbal hit sounds I've ever heard. It's one of my favourite songs from my favourite album, which should tell you all you need to know. The B-side is Tradition Feed, the "hidden track" on Infinity Land. It's a poem read by Simon Neil about his late mother over some tuneless noise. I like it. I like this. I like you.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dananananaykroyd - Black Wax

It's now the summer, and there's almost no band better for the summertime than Dananananaykroyd. The band are apparently named after a combination of Dan Aykroyd's name and the old Batman theme tune, and describe themselves as "fight pop". That should be enough to get a smile on your face already. The band's music is a mixture of aggressive guitars, yelping and pop hooks. Their debut album, Hey Everyone, is absolutely rammed full of brilliant songs and the A-side to this single is one of them. I bought this a good few years ago, back when I first started collecting vinyl. I think it was from recordstore.co.uk and I think it cost about £3.

It also came signed! Rad. This was also from before Laura (bassist) left the band, which is kinda cool. I really like the artwork. It makes absolutely zero sense but the colours are nice.

For once, black vinyl that I don't object to (it is called Black Wax after all)! Black Wax itself is a great song, with one of the catchiest choruses on the entire album (which is saying something). The video for the song is a bit odd. It's a performance video, but with.. extras. I don't properly understand it, but listen to the song anyway. The B-side is a song called No Wage, which I still haven't listened to. Maybe I will tonight. Maybe.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs (Newspaper Edition)

I feel this post is about two months too late to be relevant, but ah well. Unless you've been living in an internet-free zone, you'll be aware of Radiohead's latest album The King Of Limbs and the special "newspaper edition" of it that was released. I, being a sucker for special editions, went ahead and bought it. It came a good while ago now, opened as soon as it came, and since then I've been looking forward to writing about it. Why? Well, there's a fair amount of stuff to write about. Yay.

Right. The entire thing comes in this "oxo-biodegradable" plastic bag, which looks pretty cool but I ripped it open to get to everything inside (stupid me didn't use scissors) which spoils the effect a little bit. I'm not sure I like everything being held together with a fairly thin piece of plastic instead of a cardboard box/sleeve but I think the idea is that it's "degradable" (although the reverse of this says that it should last longer than me if I take care of it).

Having gotten inside the plastic sleeve, this is what we find. From left to right we have a CD of the album in a cardboard sleeve (which is fairly boring, and as such this is the only image of it in this post), the first cardboard sleeve containing the two records (the reverse of which I forgot to take a picture of. It's the same as the plastic sleeve but without "The King Of Limbs" on), the "625 tiny pieces of artwork" and the newspaper itself. Let's go through these things from right to left because why not.

The newspaper itself is a slightly odd affair. It's massive in length and contains a lot of weird artwork, as seen above. I haven't had a proper look through it yet, for reasons unknown to me, but I imagine it's all a lot like this. Pretty though.

This is the "625 tiny pieces of artwork" and, although it's cool, I expected something somewhat different from the description. In my head, it was going to be a whole bunch of tiny pieces of paper with different things on them, probably kept together in a small bag of some kind. Instead, it's just one large piece of card (or thick paper, whichever) with tiny tear-off squares arranged into a nice pattern. The bear head in the centre is, of course, distinctly "Radiohead" but I was expecting somewhat more from this. A shame.

Inside the first cardboard sleeve for the records, there is another sleeve for each one. I suppose it's necessary, since the bag itself would offer no protection and one sleeve might not be enough, but it's good to see they went the whole hog and gave firm sleeves with predictably strange artwork. This side, which I have mentally deemed the "front" of each, has some creatures with strange limbs (geddit?)...

...and the other has awesome trees (if you weren't aware, the album is named after an old oak tree in Wiltshire). I really like that these sleeves aren't plain, and the trees look really good. Good effort, chaps.

Annnnnd we have more clear vinyl! This is only my second (and, I suppose, third) piece of clear vinyl (after the Forward Russia single) and possibly some of the most well-done clear records I've ever seen. When you hold them up they look almost as though they're made of glass. They're only 10" records, but the overall package is the height of a 12" sleeve and not as wide, so it shouldn't be odd to store in a record box (when I finally get one).

Here, we're at the point where I should talk about the music itself. Perhaps this is an advantage of posting about the album a good while after it's come out, as the general opinion of this album seems to have been deteriorating since the initial good reviews. I still really, really like the album. It's a lot more like Thom Yorke's solo album than it is to past Radiohead albums, but I can only see that in a positive light. Thom's solo work is amazing, so this album is right up my street. Morning Mr Magpie, Codex and Separator are all quality tracks, and listening to this album now after not having done so for a good while, I'm finding myself still enjoying it a lot. The "two albums" prophecy never came true, which does make this seem somewhat on the short side at only 8 tracks (and somewhat on the expensive side for this newspaper edition of the album) but, frankly, it's Radiohead. If there was ever a band to deliberately not do what was expected of them, then this is that band. This album was only announced 5 days before the digital version meant to be released, and even then it was released a day early because they could. I really like this album, and I quite like the overall package. It may have been a touch expensive but I can deal with that.

Guest Post: Dan

Well. The past month or so has been filled with exams and life generally moving incredibly quickly, so this has been neglected somewhat. I apologise, dear reader, for the abscence but now that the summer has come, I'm free as a bird to write things up (I plan to finally tackle the rather large amount of Biffy Clyro things I own sometime soon) and generally do little for two months. Being a student is beautiful sometimes.

Now, as you may have guessed form the title, this is a slightly different post to usual. For the past few months I've been harassing some of my vinyl-buying friends to contribute to this blog with posts about their favourite records that they own. Why? Well, I think it'll be interesting to see why people value certain records over others, and it'd be a nice change from my own posts. That, and chances are we'll see some vinyl I'll probably never buy. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

So our inaugural guest post comes from Dan (twitter here, tumblr here). As I know Dan has a fairly impressive record collection (including a lot of Foo Fighters), I was interested as to what he'd come up with. Here is what he chose:

My favourite records.
I'm nominating two records for this, one for the sleeve, and another for the record itself.
Firstly, the sleeve.  This is the debut album from Leeds band, The Music.  The artwork they had for the first album and the singles from it was fantastic.  It was simple, instantly recognisable as them, and highly visible on the shelves.  As a bonus, it's also one of the best British albums of the last 30 years.  I had this signed outside the Astoria in London (RIP) in February 2004, and they were always up for a chat with fans. 
Finally, the vinyl itself.  This is side C of "Scabdates", a live album from The Mars Volta.In keeping with tradition, GSL's special vinyl version features two full-colour picture discs and this is my favourite of them.  A goblet containing a human with an oversized, exposed brain with flies hovering around it, set against an incendiary background.  I was never much of a fan of the album but the artwork, as usual with The Mars Volta, is fantastic.  

Thanks Dan!