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

Monday, 5 November 2012

Biffy Clyro - Infinity Land repress

Well. This was kind of inevitable, wasn't it? When the pre-orders were put up for it on Banquet, I was a bit low on money and couldn't really justify spending a lot on a record. The release date came and went, and I still didn't feel flush enough to buy it. I kept checking Banquet's stock in the hope that somehow I'd be able to convince myself to get it but it never happened, and then that stock reduced to zero. This bummed me out so much that I promptly bought it upon spotting it in a record shop for, as it turned out, roughly the same price I would have paid from Banquet. It all works out in the end (apart from for my wallet, which is crying).

8 years after release, this artwork still makes zero sense to me. The gasmask head man is clearly some kind of Mickey Mouse parody, everything else is a complete mystery. Still cool though. Here's one of my few minor quibbles with this repressing: this sleeve lacks the delightful ridged texture of the insert of the original CD version (no idea if this texture was present on the first pressing or not) which is a shame because I loved that ridged paper. Ah well. Should mention this came in a plastic sleeve like the other two, which is a plus.

Old pictures of Biffy are the best pictures of Biffy, let's be honest. Fringes all over the place. It's fairly sparse inside this gatefold but I suppose that provides a nice counterpoint to the relative chaos of the outside of the sleeve.

That chaos? Oh yeah. It's here. The font of Infinity Land is pretty weird, to the point of being almost illegible, so good luck trying to read the song titles without clicking through to the large version of the image. They're all great though, you can trust me on that one.

The inner sleeves are among the best I've seen. The subtle dark grey artwork on the sleeves provide a nice backdrop to the lyrics to the whole album, written I believe in Simon's handwriting (which is also slightly difficult to read). Absolutely gorgeous.

And look at this. Just look at it. The marbling on this is a bit more obvious than on the previous two, and I love the shade of blue-grey that they chose. I don't think I need to say anything more here, so I'm not going to.

This is my favourite album of all time. No doubt about it. I've written about why I love it previously, so to save time I'll just put that link here if you are interested. It's a hugely important album to me and I still listen to it very regularly. In fact, in September I was lucky enough to see the band live yet again and was treated to the unexpected delight that was Strung To Your Ribcage (track 2 from this album) while stood next to the person I've needed to see it with for several years. Single-handedly one of the best moments of my life thus far, and something that I couldn't write this post without mentioning due to how incredibly happy it makes me. Something else I need to mention is the B-sides from the album which are included on this release. The 6 are all at least decent songs, but the champion among them is Bonanzoid Deathgrip. A perfect slice of ridiculous old Biffy, it's a screaming whirlwind that ricochets around your ears. That it never made it onto an album (and thus will probably not get played live until the band hopefully do a B-sides and rarities tour in the distant future) is a shame, but it really wouldn't fit on this album. Absolutely brilliant though.

This post also marks the last of the Beggars represses, and I have to say I'm slightly sad about that. They've done a really good job of these and I've enjoyed returning to semi-regularly buying Biffy vinyl. It's a pity Puzzle is unlikely to ever get a vinyl pressing, because I'm sure that would be a beautiful thing indeed. Roll on February and the (already pre-ordered) Opposites boxset.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister

It's time for a bit of a catch-up, I think. Now my degree is over and life is still lacking purpose, I have no excuse for not getting this up to date, really. Belle and Sebastian are a band I got into due to the influence of Rob (and the power of being Scottish). This, the band's second album, is the one I have listened to most, and as such made for an excellent choice of Christmas present last year. Thanks, cousin Andy.

The band seem to like having album covers that consist predominantly of one colour. I am a big fan of this. It gives a nice sense of continuity between the albums and I'm pretty sure if you got them all side-by-side it'd look glorious. Really enjoy the variety of shades of red here, too. Mmmm.

Inside the gatefold, we've got a big picture of I have no idea who. The band? Could be, then again it could not. There's also a slightly lengthy story written across the top, which may or may not be talking about them. The thing with Belle & Seb is they seem to be rather enigmatic, and it's not impossible that both of these things are totally unrelated to them just to confuse people. You can make your mind up (or, hopefully, someone can come along and correct me).

Plain black record. Red might have been nice to match the cover, but the lovely red shade of the labels will have to do for me. I also really enjoy the little fox on A-side label, he looks to be frolicking joyfully. The B-side label has some thanks on, beginning with the amusing line "Sarah Martin is our new member for this record. See if you can guess what she did". The back of the sleeve also has the lyrics to the entire album, which gets a big plus from me.

This album is beautifully twee. Guitars jangle, lyrics float around gently and I generally end up feeling like I should be wearing a cardigan to listen to it. It has a slight air of melancholy and yet always brings a smile to my face, most notably on its title track. It has a chorus built to live inside your head for weeks and is promptly followed by my other favourite track on the album, Mayfly. Mayfly has a stylophone solo and that is pretty much all you need to know about it. Amazing. This album is, without doubt, an all-time classic.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Saint Coltrane/Weird Wives - Split 7"

This post is pretty cool. So the other week, shortly after my Bear vs Shark post, I received an email from someone asking me if I'd be willing to do a write-up of his new band's 7". That I subsequently realised the person in question was a member of one of my favourite post-rock bands only made me more excited to get a free record to write about. So huge thanks to James of Fat Cat Records/O Rosa Records/Yndi Halda/Saint Coltrane for sending this to me. The split is still available from Enjoyment Records, who I must admit I hadn't heard of before but seem to have some pretty good releases (including Lions' EP, which is pretty good and free here) so they might end up being the source for some future posts.

With this being a split EP, we're treated to two covers. Saint Coltrane's side is full of crazy eyes, and is pretty creepy. A lot of stubble and facial hair here, too. I only feel slightly emasculated by comparison

Weird Wives' side is slightly less creepy but still features some intimidating facial hair. Bottom-right, I'm looking at you enviously. Also LOOK HOW PRETTY THE 7" IS. There are two coloured versions of this single, the other one is a nice red with a yellow swirl but I'm so glad James sent me this one. I love when the colour of a record matches its sleeve, and this pairs up with both sides of the sleeve. Absolutely top notch. Each colour is limited to 250, for those fact fans among you.

Before James emailed me I'd never heard anything by either of these bands, so this was an interesting listen for me. The single (plus its digital bonus tracks) are streaming on Soundcloud so go here for a listen. That page also saves me the effort of awkward music description by referring to both bands as "sleaze punk" so that's quite convenient. While the bands are musically similar, this release crosses the Atlantic by providing us with a band from the UK (Saint Coltrane) and a band from the US (Weird Wives). I enjoy that a lot, if only because their lack of geographical proximity means their pairing for this release was probably quite well thought out. Saint Coltrane's Iron Dracula is caustic and full of aggression, but is actually quite catchy. It's not the kind of thing I'd normally go for, yet I enjoyed it a lot. Weird Wives' Gila, on the other hand, is much more moody and atmospheric. Unfortunately, it didn't quite click for me but it's not bad by any means. The digital tracks that round this release out consist of a delightfully distorted Saint Coltrane cover of Debaser by Pixies and an even more sinister instrumental Weird Wives track called Nasty Tricks (which I think I actually prefer to Gila). All in all, this is a pretty nice single. I probably wouldn't have listened to it of my own accord, but I'm glad I have and I'll definitely be on the lookout for any future Saint Coltrane releases. I might even give Weird Wives another go. Thanks again, James!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tall Ships - Everything Touching

As I mentioned in my post about Hit The Floor, Tall Ships' debut album came out on the 8th of this month. I received my pre-order the following Friday and now here it is for you. I bought it from the band's store for a quite nice £12, and there appear to be black copies of the record currently still available direct from them.

I'm a really big fan of the cover. It's pretty simple and yet looks really good. Top drawer.

Inside the sleeve there's a compactly-folded insert. Based on the size, I'd guess it's the same insert as the CD version of the album. One side of it's some more nice artwork, the other side features all of the lyrics for the album (which, if you click through to the large version of the image, you should be able to read. I'm nice like that). I like this insert.

Yassssssssss. I said there were black copies of the record still available from the band but I swooped early and managed to get a white version limited to 100. It's a lovely ever-so-slightly creamy white, which compliments the pastel-shaded art of the inner sleeve and record labels. You can also just about see in the photo that there's a little black streak in my copy, which I find quite pleasant.

Now I need to speak of the music. This is going to be slightly difficult for me so I'm going to offer a short version and a long version.

Short version: it's good. Parts of it are incredible. It is completely worth listening to.

Long version: it's good, but I wish it was different. Specifically, I wish Ode To Ancestors and Books were different. Both have been re-recorded and, while the new versions sound more in keeping with the rest of the album, I can't help but feel that something has been lost. The somewhat cheesy synths of both have been removed and I miss them greatly. Books in particular seems to lack its previous urgency, feeling even longer due to Send News serving as an extended intro to the song. The original version of Ode is probably my favourite Tall Ships song, so I was never going to be able to cope with it being changed very well. This is a personal problem for me though, there's nothing objectively wrong with either song and I'm sure you'll enjoy both if you've never heard the original versions. My disappointment with these changes is tempered slightly by the fact that the two songs are followed by arguably the best tracks on the album. Ode To Ancestors is followed by the appropriately-titled and lyrically delightful Gallop, while Books is followed by the slow-building might of Murmurations. For all the negativity of this paragraph, I do really like this album. I've listened to it an awful lot recently and seeing the band live on Sunday, a lot of the songs come across really well live. For a debut album, this is pretty impressive.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cutting Pink With Knives - Populuxxe

I'm all about the represses at the moment, it seems. Following from Biffy and Bear vs Shark, this time we're moving slightly later in the alphabet to Cutting Pink With Knives (henceforth CPWK 'cause I'm lazy, okay?) and their second album Populuxxe. This repressing is a celebration of the album's 5th anniversary released on their bassist's wonderful label Holy Roar, and comes with THREE BONUS TRACKS because everyone loves a good bonus track. I got it from the Holy Roar store where it's available for a reasonable £12 or £20 with a rad t-shirt (which was totally what I went for). It's probably also worth mentioning that the CD version of this album is an insanely cheap £1.

The whole thing comes in a nice plastic sleeve, which I'm always a fan of. The cover, in case you can't read it, says POPULUXXE. I think it's meant to look like folded paper (the booklet in the CD release offered a guide in making an origami bird of some kind, and various pictures featured them).

Instead of being glued, the outer sleeve is just a single, large, folded piece of paper. Not sure if I like that or not. On the inside of the front cover there is part of the origami guide from the CD release (one of the steps in making a bird base, origami fact fans) and on the inside of the back there are (utterly nonsensical) lyrics and the obligatory thankyous. There is an excellent line towards the end which you can just about make out in the full-size version of this image, that reads "Rhythm 16, Aylburton and Caroline are bonus tracks, cannot remember the lyrics, sorry." which amuses me greatly.

Everything about this release is monochrome, so it should come as no great surprise that it's plain black vinyl here. Even the Pink Mist logo is toned down on the back cover. The B-side label here is the origami bird I've mentioned so many times in this post, and have subsequently tried to make (unfortunately I get lost about halfway through the instructions. Oh) so that's quite nice.

So, see how just above these words that picture lists 19 tracks? Their total length? Under half an hour. Yep. CPWK can, according to last.fm, be described as cybergrind. I'm not sure if that term fully does the band justice, so I'll have to try to explain this cacophony in my own words. This album combines machine-gun drumming, shrieks, synths, and the occasional breakdown, yet has songs that will stick in your head for weeks. It's relentless, absolutely flying through songs (the longest track being 2:19 in length) and reaching its end before you've had chance to take a breath. What lasts, though, is the overwhelming sense of fun. I first listened to this album after seeing the band (I now see, somewhat lazily) compared to Genghis Tron. Sure there are some musical similarities but while GT are at times dark and menacing, CPWK offer nothing but absolute glee. This album is definitely not for everyone, and it is most certainly an acquired taste. To me though, that taste is nothing but sweet and this album is a 30-minute mood-lifter. That it was the band's last is a shame, but what a way to go.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital EP

It's been a good while since I had the joys of doing a Frabbit post but finally, there's a new release to talk about. The State Hospital EP is their second EP since The Winter Of Mixed Drinks album (you can find a post about the first EP here), and serves as somewhat of an appetiser for their 4th album due early next year (I believe). I pre-ordered this from the band's store (unfortunately missing out on the print that Piccadilly Records offered with their pre-order a few weeks later) and it actually arrived on Friday, 3 days before its release. Excellent.

Another lovely cover from Frabbit. The knife pictured here actually had the EP title engraved onto it, and looks really effective. Also nice is the implement on the right hand side, a triple-barred version of the double-barred cross used in a lot of the artwork relating to TWOMD that the band had made specially for this artwork. What such an implement could be used for, however, is totally beyond me.

Black vinyl should come as no surprise. I long for the day that they do a coloured pressing, but I can stay happy as long as they keep releasing vinyl. The back cover is lovely. It looks as though the "FR EP II" has been embossed onto the drawer containing the spoon, and the piece of paper with all of the information is really nicely laid out. The record itself comes in a nice black inner sleeve, and features wonderful labels that reference the cover art (as seems to be done with all Frabbit vinyl releases, much to my delight). Also, there's a download code - hooray! I had some issues with my download, but Warner's customer services sorted it out very quickly for which I am hugely grateful.

Now since this EP only has 5 tracks on it, I feel it's only right to go through each in turn. We begin with the title track (and the only song from this EP that will be on the band's next album), State Hospital. It begins with an introduction reminiscent of The Wrestle from TWOMD, but builds to a lyrically delightful chorus and eventually a repeated cry of "all is not lost" which is just great. Boxing Night follows on, featuring one absolutely outstanding line (listen to it, you'll know it when you hear it) and quite a catchy little guitar melody. I can see myself growing to love this one a lot. After that, it's some quiet-loud dynamics for Home From War and the decidedly quiet Off. The former is great, the latter puts me off slightly with its backing vocals but is not bad by any means. The final track on the EP is Wedding Gloves. Clearly, the band enjoyed having Tracyanne Campbell and Archie Fisher guesting on the last EP as this time they've roped in none other than Aidan Moffat to sing on this track. Scott's vocals sound slightly feminine next to Moffat's low drawl, and the call-and-response style of the track early on is brilliant. Of course, I was always going to love this song - the combination of two vocalists I greatly enjoy could never not appeal to me. As usual with any Frabbit release, Scott has written his own track-by-track which you can find here, which is a far more informative piece on this EP than anything I might write. For what it's worth though, I quite like this EP. It's definitely got me excited for the band's next album, and I'm sure I'll end up hooked on this between now and when it is finally released. It had better not take too long.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tall Ships - Hit The Floor

That BSM competition I mentioned in the previous post? Let's talk about that now. Banquet Records had an excellent advent calendar for Christmas last year, where each day there was some kind of free thing up for grabs and a whole load of competitions. One day was BSM's day, in which there was a free sampler and a competition to win a bunch of CDs and records. Miraculously, I won it and thus a month or so down the line received a huge parcel containing a lot of CDs (including Algiers' incredible EP, which you should all go and listen to), that Bear vs. Shark record and this single. Rather fittingly for this blog, the competition question related to The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid Thorax by Meet Me In St. Louis, aka the first track on the first record I ever posted about on here. I like that. This, then, is Tall Ships' Hit The Floor single. It's their first 7", following on from the two EPs before this.

It's a very plain cover, but an effective one. The front and back are both screen-printed (by Harriet Bridgwater, who I believe has done all of the Tall Ships artwork), and look lovely as a result. I really like the band's logo, and it works well on a plain sleeve.

Again, the back cover is very understated. Nicely done. Plain black vinyl with wedding photos used for the A and B-side labels, which are great. Number 170 out of 300 here, as you can see. I wasn't aware this release was that limited, so that's cool.

The single also came with a screen-printed insert. The patterned side deserves to be framed, frankly, and I might just do that when I get the chance. On its reverse are the lyrics to Hit The Floor, which are always a good thing to have, and some info about the recording of the songs.

It's a shame I've not posted about Tall Ships before because they really are a fantastic band. Their long-overdue debut album is out 3 weeks today (expect to see it on here shortly after, I've pre-ordered it already) and if it matches up to their previous recordings then it'll be incredible. These two songs, however, won't be present on that release. I really hope that doesn't mean Hit The Floor gets "lost", as it were, and disappears from their live set (looking at you, Hope For An Angel) because it really doesn't deserve to. It's a brash song with an excellent breakdown in the middle and sounds incredible live. On the other side we have Safe As Houses, a much calmer song that is pretty much the polar opposite of Hit The Floor. Honestly, I think it's one of their weakest songs but saying that it's still a reasonably enjoyable listen. I can see Tall Ships becoming huge once that album is released, so you should definitely give them a go while they're still touring small venues. Rad band.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bear vs. Shark - Right Now, You're In The Best Of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know In A Hurry

After that minor diversion, my love affair with Big Scary Monsters is going to continue. This is an album I bought from BSM well over a year ago that I've been meaning to post about for a long time, but just haven't got round to doing. I bought the album based solely on the strength of a free download posted on the BSM site, with some minor persuasion from Kev. I ended up getting a second copy of the album after winning a BSM competition (more on that soon) so I suppose I'm kind of hoarding it. Oops. It's sold out in the BSM store now, but there may be a few copies left with Banquet if you're interested. It's actually a repress of the album (possibly the first UK pressing?), which was first released on vinyl by Friction Records in the US way back in 2003 (1000 first press, 500 second press in a variety of colours).

Excellent cover. I'm not entirely sure who the two boys on the cover are, but they look cool. The cover is also different to the covers of both the CD version of the album and the Friction Records vinyl version, which is a nice touch.

Such a lovely colour choice. I really like records with a colour "haze", and of course red and black is a good colour combo. There are also some more really nice little touches. The penguin on the back is a drawing by Marc Paffi (the BvS lead singer) that I believe was used in the artwork for the CD version, as was the art used for the record labels here. Lovely.

As I said, two different copies of the record. The one that I bought is number 9, the one I won is 210. They're printed as being out of 250, but there are actually 254 copies in existence. Bit of needless trivia for you, there.

Okay so MUSIC CHAT. This is the first of the two albums Bear vs. Shark released before they sadly broke up, and what a loss they are. The band specialise in gloriously unhinged post-hardcore (in the vein of Meet Me In St. Louis, to offer a direct comparison to previous posts), the most striking factor of which is Marc Paffi's spectacular vocals. Ranging from the gentle croon of Second to the explosive yelps of Ma Jolie, it's his voice that drives what is an excellent album. It's a very well-paced album at that, with a few slower and more subdued songs (such as the aforementioned Second) offering a welcome respite from the sheer energy of the rest. Now if only BSM could do a repressing of the band's second album...

p.s. I have avoided saying the album's name for the entire of this post because LOOK AT IT. I think I did pretty well.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

50 not out

I was going to put up a new post today, but as I went to do so I realised I'd made 49 posts in the history of this blog, and so whatever came up next would be the 50th since its beginnings way back in December 09. I think that's pretty good for something I decided to do basically for my own amusement, so forgive me while I reflect a little.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Biffy Clyro - The Vertigo Of Bliss repress

A couple of months later and we're back again. The Biffy represses have continued and this time we have the band's second album, The Vertigo Of Bliss. Another record for which the first pressing fetches a rather high price on ebay, another instant-buy for me. I got this from Banquet Records again, and I have absolutely no complaints with their service. Packing was top-notch as always.

Right. So we have Milo Manara's somewhat controversial cover. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of it. It's well drawn and that but I dunno, I just don't like it that much. Glad that Beggars didn't wuss out and censor the nipple though (there was a bit of a palava when it was covered up as the artwork was being shown on big screens on their last tour). It also came in a nice thick plastic sleeve, just like Blackened Sky.

The inside of the gatefold is, again, the same as the two sides of the inner sleeve of the first pressing. Lovely touch. Old photos of Biffy always amuse me loads as well, look at James all ridiculous on the far left. Aw. The other side contains various lyrics, I think one from each song on the album. It includes some of my absolute favourite Biffy lines ("kill your bizarre mindset fuckhead", "infinity lies, save yourself" and "you can't help being warm" are all great), so that's awesome.

Pretty plain back cover, really. Still, as you can see we've again got the album plus B-sides spread over 4 sides. I'm happy about that.

Oh yes. Orange. The shade roughly matches the colour of the band's name on the cover of the album and it's lovely. The colour is, as with the Blackened Sky repress, also slightly marbled. Yet again, it was pretty hard to take a picture of it, but in holding it up to the light I think you can sort of get an idea of what it's like:

Cool, huh?

I can't properly describe The Vertigo Of Bliss as an album to you. I just can't. It's the most experimental of the Biffy albums, constantly feeling as though it's on the verge of a total breakdown. It starts with Bodies In Flight crashing into your ears, finishes with the chaotic noise of Now The Action Is On Fire! (complete with maybe the best angry string section ever recorded) and has a million different tempos in between. If I go into any more detail, this post will go on forever so just hear this: I fucking love this album. The B-sides are also excellent. The side featuring them is bookended by my personal two favourites, the first being ...And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious and the last being I Hope You're Done. Both outstanding loud Biffy songs.

I'm pretty stoked with the way these Beggars represses are going. There seems to be a lot of effort getting put into them, and I think they're probably worthwhile purchases even for those who own the originals. Good work, chaps.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Sky Larkin - Still Windmills

In doing this blog, I've realised just how many records I've received as gifts from people. This one was bought for me as a gift by Alex last summer, although he didn't know at the time that I already had a copy from when it was super-cheap somewhere or other. Still a lovely thought and this one is signed, unlike my other copy, which makes it a little more special. I probably owe him something in return, and should work out what to do with my other copy. If anyone is interested in it, let me know.

Right. A cover! It's pretty snazzy, although the pedant in me wants to point out that they are weathervanes not windmills. I could definitely get behind a cover with loads of windmills on it. This one will do, though. There's the three scrawlings on it, including from Doug who recently left the band. Guess that makes it a little more special.

This is possibly the nicest-coloured record I own. It's an absolutely gorgeous deep red, and it's slightly see-through (as you can see in this picture). Lovely plain labels too, with the letters in various shades of red. Absolutely top notch.

Somehow I managed to not mention Still Windmills way back when I wrote about Kaleide (which you can find here). It's the first track on the album, and sets the tone for the album very well. It's loud and catchy and great fun. The B-side, We'll Be Detectives, is a bit of an odd one though. There's a lot of piano on it and Katie's vocals seem to have been recorded strangely or have some kind of effect on them. The song's pretty atmospheric I suppose, but I just can't get into it. No bother, when it's this pretty it's not too big of an issue.

N.B. in finding We'll Be Detectives to listen to on Spotify, I found that the top search result for Sky Larkin is a remix Katie did for the Bloc Party Intimacy remix album and this makes me massively sad. I'd argue both Sky Larkin albums are better than Intimacy (an album I really disliked, for the record), let alone remixes of it. Shame on you, Spotify users.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Meet Me In St Louis/Secondsmile Split 7"

The final item from my BSM sale order is a rather special one. A split 7" from two bands I love and only got into after they'd split up. Way back in 2007, BSM released this split between Meet Me In St Louis and Secondsmile. A mere 5 years on, I'm now the proud owner of it.

The record itself is inside a sweet shop bag with a badge pinned to the outside of it. It's pretty cool, and something I've not seen anywhere else before. There's apparently a blue and white version too, which I'd like to see.

The actual 7" is pretty plain, but I can forgive it in light of the sweet shop bag (and the sweet BSM logo stamped onto the back of it).

Right, the songs. On one side we have I've Got Knives In My Eyes, I'm Going Home Sick by Meet Me In St. Louis. Long-time readers of this blog may recall that the first record I ever posted about was MMISL's only album, and this song is indeed taken from that album, and it's a pretty typical MMISL song. It's stop-start, it's quiet-loud, and there's some lovely angular guitar alongside great lyrics from Toby. All of these things are good qualities to have. On the flipside, we have Aspen Fears by Secondsmile. Sonically, Secondsmile aren't a million miles away from MMISL but they're a fair amount less aggressive. This is one of my favourite Secondsmile songs. So all in all, a great single. Sweet!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Tubelord - I Am Azerrad

The second item from that BSM sale order is a single from my beloved Tubelord. This was actually released a good while before I got into the band, so it was pretty awesome to pick up a copy without breaking the bank.

Every one of the 500 copies of this single was spray-painted by hand, and apparently there are some larger pictures formed when you put some of them together (EDIT: found them. I am the bottom-left corner of the D in this. Amazing. There's also an Azerrad one here). I just have the one, but it looks pretty nice by itself. The sleeve is also a very thick card, which is always good.

The back of the sleeve is pretty plain, but there's some good stuff inside. Plain black vinyl this time, but also a CD with both tracks plus a demo of Synthesize (a great song, as I've mentioned before). As any regular readers will know from my past bleatings on this topic, I love when there's a free download or CD included with a release and it's excellent that Tubelord did this. Moreover there's yet another track (a demo version of Stacey's Left Arm) on the digital version of the single, which is available for the cheap price of absolutely free. Fancy. As for the songs on the record itself? The A-side is I Am Azerrad, a fairly typical slice of shouty Tubelord joy. The B-side is Dun Dun Dun Scissors, Rocks and Tonne which begins in a similar style but grows and develops into something quite different, with probably one of my favourite "quiet" bits in a Tubelord song. Both tracks are pretty wonderful, which makes for quite a nice single really.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Tellison - Collarbone

Tellison are swiftly becoming one of my favourite bands. A couple of months back, Big Scary Monsters had a big sale and this was one of the items that was beautifully cheap. I couldn't resist, so I picked this up (alongside a couple of other singles I'll try and put up in the next few days) for only a couple of pounds.

I really like the cover. The combination of the almost digital-looking heart with the very organic butterfly makes for a nice contrast. Not a clue what it's about, mind.

Plain black vinyl, but I absolutely love the labels on it. Lovely font and colouring for the A and B sides. There are just two songs on the 7" itself, but there's also a download link for both of these songs alongside two remixes. Unfortunately, the link was no longer functional by the time I bought the single. No biggie, I don't really care for remixes. Having found Mountain Mode to listen to, it's not a bad song at all. This release, however, is all about the A-side. Collarbone is just a tremendous song. It's summery and euphoric and, frankly, should've been huge. Pity for them, but still plenty enjoyable for me.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Tubelord - Romance

Right. So it's been a busy few months with exams and stuff, so I've managed to get behind on this yet again. My bad. On the plus side, I've acquired a new camera in this time and as such the photos here should improve in quality noticeably. Boss.

Tubelord are, as I've said before, one of my favourite bands. This is their second album, and was released in  October of last year as I believe the first collaborative effort by the wonderful Pink Mist music collective. It was bought for me as a gift by Rob in March, for which I was hugely grateful.

Lovely artwork. I can get behind anything that is a) geometric and b) plays with perspective. You'll also notice I have two copies of this record. You'll find out why later on.

The inner sleeve (which is nicely weighty) is the same for both copies, so this picture shows you both sides of the sleeve. It's got some writing on it in a fairly unreadable font, and in silver on a silvery picture. Perhaps not the wisest of choices. All it is, though, is the tracklisting on one side and the obligatory thanks section on the other. It's functional, and looks kinda cool so that's all good with me.

And this is why we have two copies. TWO DIFFERENT COLOURS. Plain white (matching the vinyl version of Our First American Friends) and a gorgeous "blue and white haze" (as it's described on the website) which is limited to 100. Both are, as I'm sure you'll agree, beautiful and the packaging as a whole works pretty nicely, so well in Pink Mist.

In terms of sound, this album is fairly different to OFAF. While that album was chock full of angular guitars, this one is much more electronic. This might have put some people off, but I still really enjoy it. There's something about it that is unmistakably "Tubelord" and when the songs are as good as My First Castle, I don't really see how you can complain. On balance I think I prefer OFAF but I still foresee this being a pretty prominent album for me over the summer months. You can find it on Bandcamp or Spotify as usual.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Biffy Clyro - Blackened Sky repress

So my initial plan to do Biffy releases in order (and to catch up on the many non-Biffy releases I am yet to post) is going out of the window today because I received something amazing in the post this morning and my urge to write about it (on its release day, no less!) is too strong.

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Biffy Clyro album, the magnificent Blackened Sky. It also marks the beginning of a series of repressings of the first 3 Biffy albums by Beggars Banquet, the band's old label. The question that presents itself, then, is whether this is a cash-in on the band's latter-day successes. Beggars definitely have a history of doing it (see: the "Singles" CD released around the time of Puzzle's success), but I think they deserve some credit here. The first pressing of the album goes for a pretty high price on ebay these days (a lot seem to go for upwards of £40) so there's certainly the demand for a repressing and, as you'll see, they haven't half-arsed it. They are definitely trying to milk the success a bit, but there's enough to this release to make it not feel like a rip-off. It wasn't very cheap, it must be said, but frankly I was always going to get it so I suppose it could have been worse.

Hnnng yes. I love the cover, it's a bit odd but very cool. Why the plastic figures are staring at the sky, I'll never know. Maybe they're listening to the start of Scary Mary. Who knows. I love the way the text sits at the bottom as well. This record also came in a thick PVC sleeve, which is always appreciated.

I think this is a pretty well-used gatefold. The two sides of this are, cleverly, the same as the two sides of the inner sleeve from the first pressing of this album. I really like the right side, where each line is a different lyric from the album.

And the back cover. 4 sides! Here, I can begin to explain why I think Beggars have done a pretty good job with this. The first record contains the whole of the album, while the second record consists of all of the B-sides from the album's singles (excluding a session version of Kill The Old) plus the two tracks from thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow (one of two EPs the band released prior to this album) that didn't make it onto Blackened Sky. I think this was a really good idea from Beggars, because it makes this release feel really well-rounded, and it's a good way for newer fans to hear everything from the Blackened Sky era in one fell swoop (and a convenient way to get hold of some of those old B-sides on vinyl, because those singles are getting expensiiiiiive). There's a slight error here, which sees "Time As An Imploding Unit" mis-typed as "Time As As Exploding Unit". It's not a big deal really, but it's an interesting tidbit.

YES. After a short period of no coloured vinyl on the blog, say hello to beautiful purple. An absolutely delightful shade, I think it compliments the artwork (and the lovely right side of the inside) nicely without being too similar to it. The purple isn't completely smooth either, there's a light marble effect which I've tried (and sort of succeeded) to capture in this next picture:

Nice, isn't it? Both records are also in black paper sleeves, which makes a pleasant change to the usual white.

Here comes the point where I'm meant to describe the album to you, but I don't know how well I can. Look, it's one of my favourite albums of all time. I'd go as far as saying it's one of the best debut albums I've ever heard. It does the whole "quiet-loud" thing pretty brilliantly, and it's got some of the best songs the band has ever written on it. There's not a song on it that I dislike, and that's saying something. I'm keeping this as brief as I can, because I know as soon as I start getting into detail I'll be writing forever. It's an album I hold dear to my heart, and it makes me happy when other people feel the same. The B-sides are also, I have to say, pretty consistently excellent. That Hope For An Angel wasn't on Blackened Sky is an absolute travesty, because it's a great song and I really feel it'd fit well on the album. My other personal favourite among the B-sides is Breatheher, a wonderful acoustic song that only gets better with every listen.

I'm really, really happy with this purchase. Beggars could have done a really simple, plain repressing of the album and still sold a fair amount, but there's clearly been a lot of thought put into this release. I'm excited to see what they do with The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land (which hopefully will be released later this year), especially if they pick some more lovely colours for the vinyl.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It

Right. So I'm a good few posts behind, but I'm going to skip a load of stuff because I actually bought a newly-released record recently and sometimes it's nice for this blog to be almost relevant. I hope that's okay with you.

So on the 20th of February, the second album by Perfume Genius was released. Put Your Back N 2 It (weird spelling necessary, apparently) is the follow-up to 2010's magnificent Learning. I was pretty late to the party as far as that album is concerned. Indeed, I listened to it for the first time in January and swiftly fell in love with it. Upon spotting that he had a new album out soon, I umm'ed and ahh'ed over pre-ordering the album on vinyl, forgot about it for a while, then eventually picked it up a few days after it came out from the HMV website with that magic discount I've spoken of before. And now, pictures.

Yeah, cover! As per usual, I have no idea what it's about. This one annoys me slightly, because the words (I believe deliberately) off-centre and it doesn't sit right with me.

The inner sleeve has a nice denim-y pattern on one side, and we've got the usual plain black vinyl. Yep.

I've done these photos slightly differently to usual, because the reverse of the aforementioned inner sleeve is great. It has the lyrics to the whole album and in the bottom-right a download code for the album (which I have blurred out, as usual). I love me a download code. The back of the outer sleeve actually looks really nice as well, very pastel-y.

As for the album, it's awesome. It's the kind of thing that needs to be listened to in headphones late at night. It's fragile and emotional, and the sort of thing you can completely lose yourself in. It might be a bit excessive for some and as such it's not going to be for everyone, but if you're interested then it's on Spotify and there's a full stream on the Guardian's website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.