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

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sky Larkin - Motto

Sometimes it can feel like an eternity passes between a band's albums, even if it's not that long. Case in point, Sky Larkin's last album Kaleide was released in 2010 (when it became the 6th post ever on this blog, complete with awful photographs and fairly rubbish writing) and it's taken until last month for a new one to surface. That's a rather long time when you're slowly falling in love with a band.

More lovely artwork from a band who pretty much excel at it. I'm a big fan of the red band along the top, just keeping the words away from the picture.

As with Kaleide, it's a gatefold with what I assume are the panels of the CD booklet printed on the inside, with lyrics and everything. I appreciate this, it's a pretty good use of the space really.

Oh man, clear vinyl is so nice. I was already planning on buying this on vinyl then I heard it was clear and basically threw my debit card at Wichita's website. Lovely. Nice red dust sleeve to match the hints of red elsewhere too. You know I'm always happy with a free CD, that it matches the record labels is just an extra dose of nice.

Sky Larkin as a band, I think, are at their best when writing songs for you to stomp your feet to. In that regard, this album is an absolute success. The title track, Loom and, in particular, Newsworthy are perfect examples of this. Since Kaleide, the band have upped their number to four (despite losing Douglas Adams in the process) and sound that little bit bigger as a result. Everything that I loved about Kaleide and The Golden Spike is still here, quite frankly it's just a pleasure to have them back. I'm not huge on Overgrown, but every other track is A-OK with me. Give it a couple of months, I'll doubtless be completely obsessed with this.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Deafheaven - Sunbather

I try to be responsible in who I buy my records from, in the main. Labels, bands and independent shops need support to keep them going, and generally I'm happy to help. That said, this is a record I bought from Amazon. I feel a little guilty about that, but it was a fiver cheaper than anywhere else with free shipping, and I'm kind of cheap sometimes. This record habit's an expensive business. On the plus side, Amazon do seem to have sorted out their packaging for records and then some - none of the horror stories from the past here, this turned up untouched by the journey. Does that make it okay? Eh, probably.

Great cover. Sunbather, indeed. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that this cover was used in Apple's latest big unveiling of a marginally better phone, as can be seen here. This is almost definitely only because it is pink, for reasons which we shall come to later. What I really like about this is the die-cut A, which gives a glimpse of the folded poster inside. Very nice.

Indeed, this poster. A shiny, ribbon-y explosion in front of a pink lady, which makes absolutely no sense to me. Also the lyrics for the album which, again, we'll come to later.

Oh yes. Pink and (translucent) yellow to tie in with the artwork. I should probably point out that the inside of the sleeve is bright yellow The die-cut A from the front is replaced with a die-cut V in the back. This kind of thing, I like. Pressing info nerds among you - this is from the second pressing, out of 4500 and described as "baby pink and piss yellow". I think that's about right. Not too fussed about trying to hunt down the first pressing, though anyone who wants to see some lovely coloured records would do well going to read this post on They Still Press Vinyl covering the entire first pressing.

So from artwork alone, you might try to guess the genre of this album. You'd be wrong. That this beautiful haze of pink and yellow contains what can be best be described as a blend of post-rock, shoegaze and black metal is equal parts preposterous and brilliant - and musically not hugely Apple-advert friendly, hence the cover's use almost certainly being down to its colour. That Deafheaven even choose to mix those genres is a little ridiculous but it works perfectly. Rather than the usual spacey atmosphere of post-rock, the addition of fuzzy shoegaze distortion, furious drumming and guttural screams add an air of malice and give this album a really distinctive sound. Remember that lyrics sheet from earlier in this post? Without it there is no way of recognising any of the lyrics at all, so pained are George Clarke's vocals. 3 of the album's 7 tracks effectively serve as interludes - the Explosions In The Sky-esque Irresistable being the pick of the trio - between some fairly lengthy tracks. My favourites are probably the opener Dream House and the title track Sunbather, both of which just feel absolutely huge. I realise this isn't going to be for everyone - the mention of black metal alone will be enough to put some people off - but really, it's something special. While TWIABP is still my top album of the year, at the moment this is good enough to come in at number two.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Whenever, If Ever

I've been waiting to do this post for a good while now. Getting a pre-order shipped from America to the UK that gets delayed due to pressing plant issues can leave you with quite a wait for a record (shout-out to The Speed Of Sound In Seawater's debut album, currently undergoing the same problems), but it's here now so I can swiftly forget about that.

The slightly out-of-focus man on this cover makes me feel a little like I've got cataracts, but I still like it a lot.

Slightly blurry inner sleeve as well. Mostly included to show you there are about a million people in this band, and one of them is called "Shitty Greg". This is something I am okay with.

Gorgeous record. Really, really nice. I like that the greens of the labels match the greens of the cover, and the record itself isn't a million miles off. As you can (possibly) tell, the inner sleeve has lyrics printed on the other side and that's a big plus for me (especially when they're great). In terms of pressing info, I believe this is the first pressing "clear with green smoke" out of 1000. Yeah, it's not particularly "smoky" but I still think it's lovely. Unfortunately I've seen the other colours from this pressing and, well, let's just say I'll be keeping an eye on ebay. Oh dear.

So let's talk about the album a little bit, because there's quite an interesting story around it. The album, as seems to happen too regularly these days, was leaked around a month before its release date. When this happens with bigger labels it sort of sucks but they can deal with it. When it happens to what is a big release for a small label like Topshelf, well then it's much more of an issue for them. To their credit though, Topshelf responded to this admirably. Rather than watching the album circle the internet for a month helplessly, they brought the digital release forward. It was made available to purchase on Bandcamp with an instant download, streamable on a whole number of places and anyone who had pre-ordered it was sent their download. This is the reason why I listened to the album, and the reason why I pre-ordered direct from Topshelf (also because the pre-order bundle included a lovely t-shirt). It was a proactive response from the label, and they get a lot of credit from me for reacting so well.

Of course, I wouldn't have bought it if it wasn't pretty good. It's more than that. It's amazing. This is my album of the year so far by quite a distance. It sets its stall out early doors, the intro track of blank #9 making way for the driving emotion of Heartbeat In The Brain. It took a long time for me to realise that emo isn't a bad thing (blame it on the metal of my youth), and this is Emo with a capital E. While that is an absolutely Okay Thing, TWIABP add little hints of post-rock and create a different beast. These are super-sized emotions, carried off into space by atmospheric guitars. Yet there is still pace to the album, the post-rock elements never feel forced or overpowering. The stand-out track from the album for most people will probably be closing track Getting Sodas, a huge track that culminates in the repeated lyrics of:

The world is a beautiful place, but we have to make it that way
Whenever you find home we'll make it more than just a shelter
And if everyone belongs there, it will hold us all together
And if you're afraid to die then so am I.

Which, let's not lie, is pretty spectacular. My favourite track though, comes 3 tracks earlier in the form of Ultimate Steve. Perhaps a spiritual sequel to an earlier EP track entitled Mega Steve, the track builds carefully and rhythmically then pauses momentarily and absolutely falls apart at the seams. The guitars crash around your head and the vocals come screaming in, I get goosebumps every time I hear it culminating in the collective shout of:

The world will destroy me
Our voices will flood rivers and valleys
The world will destroy me
I am the mountains crumbling.

It will take a lot for this to be topped as my album of the year. Even if you only have the slightest of interests in emo, you should listen to this.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Frightened Rabbit - Sing The Greys

I actually managed to forget I hadn't posted about this yet. It was, unsurprisingly, an instant buy from Avalanche as soon as I knew it existed. I can't even remember how much it was. Oops. This is the first time the first Frabbit album has been pressed on vinyl, which now means I have a complete collection of Frabbit albums on vinyl. This is something I am very happy about. Not entirely sure why it's been pressed in all honesty, but I'm okay with that.

This is probably one of my favourite album covers. Ever. It's so beautifully simple, and it feels perfect for the album it contains. Even better as a 12 inch square.

This inner sleeve prompted an audible gasp from me as I first pulled it out. Beautiful. There's a t-shirt with this design on it, I feel that may be a purchase in the near future.

One day Frabbit will release some coloured vinyl and I will be overjoyed. I mean come on guys, Sing The Greys on grey vinyl would've been just too perfect. Alas, it wasn't to be. Plain black this time, but with a lovely multicolour label to reduce the disappointment. It goes without saying that this label matches the design of the CD version of this album because Frabbit understand the importance of consistency. Love them.

You probably already realise that I love this album, but let's talk about it anyway. I find myself getting annoyed by the lack of appreciation this album seems to get, people only seem to go backwards as far as The Midnight Organ Fight and then stop. Maybe they get distracted by how utterly incredible TMOF is (as I've explained before), but it's really worth diving further backwards. Sing The Greys serves as more than just to show someone "how the band began", it easily stands up against the rest of the band's output. The lyrics on this album are, as with every Frabbit album, absolutely sublime. The whole thing begins with the line "what's the blues when you've got the greys" which is a pretty good indicator of what is to come. I'm not going to talk you through every song, because Scott Hutchison himself has already done that and mine would be far less informative. All I can tell you is that I love it, I really do. The highlight for me is the shuffling melody of Behave! and its talk of not knowing how to act around someone. That being said, it only rises marginally above the title track, Go-Go Girls, Snake and Be Less Rude in terms of enjoyment. And then we've covered almost half of the album.

To leave you with, here is the altered version of the Fat Cat logo that appears on this record (and, I have since noticed, the CD version too). Man, I adore this band.

Purity Ring - Shrines

Continuing from the previous post, here's another part of that Norman order. This was something I'd been meaning to get for a long while, the reduced price just made it an unavoidable purchase.

Weird cover. Why is that girl covering the lamb with her hair? Why has Rayman lost his arms to this picture? Not a clue.

It's a gatefold, so there's more of the same drawings inside. I don't really have anything more to contribute about them because I do not understand.

I've slightly sped through the artwork that I don't understand to get to something I do understand - and that is how gorgeous this record is. My word. The dark black of the outer sleeve is contrasted nicely by the lime green inner, and the pale record itself. The lyrics being printed on the inner sleeve is, as always, a bonus for me. Also appreciated is the free CD copy of the album, thanks 4AD.

I really, really like this album. It's a throbbing, moody electronic beast coated with sweet-sounding female vocals that belie their lyrical content (sample: "cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you"). Writing about this feels a bit like when I tried (and failed) to write about Donuts - this isn't within the range of things I usually write about but I absolutely love it anyway. It's got an unmistakeable groove about it, which my body doesn't fully know how to respond to. I lack the capacity to dance, so I just nod my head in quiet appreciation but that doesn't feel like enough. Need to sort this out, evidently. My favourite track on the album is Fineshrine, which is most responsible for these feelings. The chorus is just too catchy and I can't deal with its rhythm. This probably ranks as one of my top albums of last year, and it's good to finally own it especially when it looks so nice.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Collections Of Colonies Of Bees - GIVING

Right, quick jump backwards here. This is another record I picked up when I got Donuts from Norman, and was also fairly cheap in the sale so it's all good.

That weird deer/man thing (at least, those are the things I think are being combined here) is actually made of porcelain. Some actually made that. Moreover, someone owns that. I think I'm kinda jealous, it's quite cool. The contrast of the white sculpture on the black background is PRETTY NICE and I'm a big fan of the pink strip.

As a nice extra touch, the sleeve has the song names printed on the inside. Also, it's bright pink. It's okay, that.

Bloody hell that's nice, isn't it? I love records that match the colour of their artwork, and this is superb. The swirl is really lovely, and black and pink is a nice colour pairing. There's also a single-sided insert with the record that has some thanks and stuff, nothing excessive there.

This release, I suppose, is a long EP. The four tracks clock in just short of 30 minutes, a relatively short burst of jerky instrumental tracks. COCOB are a lot of fun, but counter that slightly by being annoyingly difficult to categorise. Little hints of math-rock mix with lashings of post-rock, and yet neither term feels appropriate. They lack the grandiosity of post-rock, and are missing the reckless pace of math-rock. Instead they straddle this middle ground beautifully, producing an EP that is very listenable and very catchy. The first track, Lawn, is probably my favourite and is pretty representative of the EP. I should probably try and buy an album now but crikey, there is no way it will look as nice as this. Great work.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Gnarwolves - Funemployed

Technology is ridiculous, isn't it? I pre-ordered this 7" from my phone sat on a train heading back to Stoke, frankly, because I could. I hadn't listened to Gnarwolves a lot but I know there's a lot of hype around them and it's a joint release between BSM and Tangled Talk, which makes it listenable at the very least.

The cover feels so very FUN PUNK to me. There's a skateboard and a boombox and a slingshot??? I don't understand. It's not really my kind of art style but it definitely has a strong identity so that's a plus for it. (note: I realise how utterly ridiculous this whole paragraph sounds but this isn't the usual kind of thing I write about so forgive me)

This I can get behind though, partially translucent tri-colour with a pizzagram on the label? Yes yes yes yes, excellent work. Nice inner sleeve for a 7", printed lyrics are always a plus as well. For you fans of pressing info, this is from the first pressing with this colourway being limited to 300. There was also a purple, green and blue splatter on white limited to 200. That sold out in about a day, so there was a second pressing limited to 500... which also sold out. Impressive. I'm not bothered enough to try to collect all the colours, pretty happy with this by itself to be honest.

My judgement of the cover, as it happens, was pretty accurate. This is definitely a fun punk 7", the four songs clocking in at a swift 10 minutes. They're brash, loud and pretty enjoyable. I don't think it's going to change my life or anything, but it's good. My favourite song is probably the first track, Melody Has Big Plans, mostly because of the excellent breakdown in the middle and the near-"bleh" towards the end. Yep, not much more to say here. I'll probably try and get their next release whenever it comes, so expect to see them crop up again in future (maybe I'll have more words to say about them then)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Axes self-titled

I've got a few things to catch up with, but I'm gonna skip forwards a bit and do a couple of new items that I got in the past few weeks mainly because they're pretty rad and I want an excuse to post about some coloured records. Right? Right.

A couple of months ago, you may remember I was sent a single for free (still not over how cool that was), and in that post I said I thought the label that released it might be a source for future posts. Lo and behold, here we are and I've thrown money at Enjoyment Records for a couple of things. Here is the first, co-released with my beloved Big Scary Monsters handling the CD version and Enjoyment doing the vinyl.

This is the debut mini-album from Axes. The band logo is quite nice, and I like that they chose to make the cover both colourful and geometrically pleasing. It's almost as if they wanted to make me happy. You might notice my sleeve got a bit bent in the post which is annoying, but the record itself is fine so no biggie.

Suuuuper-nice splatter on this fella. It's meant to be blue, yellow and purple splatter but the yellow seems to have gotten a bit lost - you can see little hints of it, but the photo doesn't quite capture that. Still gorgeous though.

Time for a bit of music chat then. Axes can be described, I suppose, as instrumental math-rock. Now of course, hearing that phrase means (for me at least) Hella immediately spring to mind. Hella wouldn't be the right comparison for Axes though, they're musically closer to the likes of Talons and Adebisi Shank. So, in short, somewhat less abrasive. It is a little jerky though, don't worry about that. It's actually really good, for a first... mini-album I suppose. Seven tracks isn't an EP, it isn't an album. It's sort of half way between the two. Arguably, it's the perfect length for this. Enough time for a lot of ideas to be thrown into the mix, not so long that it gets stale. I listened to it a few times through on a sunny bus journey to and from a camping shop (festivals - needs must) and it suited the weather pretty perfectly. My favourite track is probably the wonderfully titled Middle East 17, only slightly more for the lovely groove it finds than the thought of Brian Harvey. I'll hopefully be seeing them at 2000 Trees this weekend, which should be great fun especially as the forecast is what can only be described as "hellishly sunny". This release is available for whatever price you choose to pay from the Enjoyment Records bandcamp, so it's worth giving a try.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Record Store Day: Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight/Quietly Now!

Once I heard there was going to be a repressing of The Midnight Organ Fight, I knew I'd end up getting it. I mean come on, it's TMOF. Since I got the original pressing super-cheap (see that post here), of course it had to be an RSD release and thus slightly more expensive than I'd like. It's a bit different to the first pressing though, so the extra cost is a little easier to stomach.

No changes to the cover, and I still love it. So happy it's not a glossy sleeve as well, I don't think one would suit this.

Right, so here's the major difference. This time we've also got a pressing of Quietly Now! which is a live acoustic version of TMOF (minus Bright Pink Bookmark and Extrasupervery, due to the two tracks working as interludes on the album) unseen on vinyl before now. These are the inner sleeves to the two records. The font for Quietly Now! is brilliant, but I'm not sure about the TMOF sleeve. It's nicely drawn and stuff but just a little too creepy for me.

Yep, so there's a disc for each, both on nice heavyweight vinyl. The labels for TMOF are the same as in the first pressing (which were the same as the CD print), and the Quietly Now! labels are the same as the design on its CD. I love this band and their commitment to consistency.

The same back cover design as the first pressing and CD, of course. Also in this package was an art print which matches the inner sleeve for TMOF. Not sure if I'll be putting that on my wall. You'll notice the print is numbered 140/250, this is one of four prints each limited to 250 associated with the release. So a total pressing of 1000, for the UK and Europe. Unfortunately I actually prefer every one of the other prints to this one, I just happened to get the terrifying one. There was a download code in here as well, so good work Fat Cat.

I've spoken about this album before, and I still can't properly explain to you how much I love it. Top 3 albums ever, lyrically brilliant, musically delightful. You know the deal by now. Listen to it if you haven't already, I implore you. What I can talk about, however, is how it sounds live. The short answer to that is "rougher". For all of its fragility, TMOF is quite a warm-sounding record and there's a nice level of polish on it which helps to make it so very listenable. In a live setting though, everything becomes a little more raw, Scott's voice in particular sounding that extra bit more emotional. It's the little differences that make it a subtly different listen to the studio version of the album and a worthwhile release on the whole. That there's now a vinyl pressing of it pleases me a lot, although I probably would've bought a repressing of TMOF even if it hadn't been included. This is a pretty nice package put together by Fat Cat though, and for people who didn't already own TMOF on vinyl it would make a great purchase. For me though, it's just another step towards being a total Frabbit completionist. Watch this space.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Record Store Day: Manchester Orchestra with Frightened Rabbit and Grouplove - split 12"

This was one I was looking forward to. A combination of two bands I love (and, for some reason, Grouplove)? Sign me up. I still managed to completely forget about it, like the well-organised human I am, and only remembered when I was looking for the Norland Wind 7" (sold out EVERYWHERE and on ebay for stupid money before the end of the day, thanks a lot Record Store Day) and the chap in Music Mania in Stoke said this was all the Frightened Rabbit they had in. I was pretty grateful.

The first side is a collaboration between Manchester Orchestra and Frightened Rabbit. I'm just going to hold back on the excitement that sentence gives me until a bit later in this post. The artwork though? The artwork is cool. 12 pairs of devil and weird elephant man for 12 inches of vinyl? I hope so. Not sure if I can deal with the slight slantiness of the red squares though. Hum.

The second side is a collaboration between Manchester Orchestra and Grouplove. I've never really listened to Grouplove before, so this excited me much less. The old man head reminds me a bit of the cover of Everything's Getting Older, but with much more teeth. Not sure why the song name is written upside-down with regards to the head, but whatever. Plain black vinyl, lovely labels, all's good. Oh, and I didn't include it but there was a download code included. No complaints there.

A 12" record with only two tracks on it always feels a bit of a waste to me, but it is what it is. Make It To Me is the collaboration with Grouplove and it's not bad. The synth-y elements that definitely come from the Grouplove side are a little irritating for me and I'm not a big fan of the non-Andy Hull vocals but it's kind of catchy I suppose. Architect, the collaboration with Frightened Rabbit, is much better. Scott and Andy's vocals compliment eachother really well and the song ends up sounding quite Frabbit-y, although it should be said that is about the level that MO's lighter output lies at. It's two of my favourite vocalists on the same song, I was destined to love it. This release is apparently "limited to 2300" (according to Discogs) which doesn't sound massively "limited" to me. Ah well.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Record Store Day: Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat/The Twilight Sad - Covers 7"

Hi sorry my bad. I've been delaying stuff again, haven't I? There's no real excuse other than slight laziness, so I'm gonna try and catch up on a few things this week. Record Store Day was over 2 months ago now, so let's start with that.

I have what can be described at best as mixed emotions about Record Store Day. Some of the releases are really good and it's nice to see independent record shops doing a lot of trade, but it doesn't seem to encourage people to keep returning to the same shops and the prices tend to be inflated for no real reason. Moreover, it misses out on a huge part of what makes independent record shops great - RSD seems to many to become a bit of an exercise in getting into a shop, checking what you are looking for of the day's releases and getting out. You might as well be going to a chain to get your music like that, really. This single is sort of a case in point for me. I didn't buy it on Record Store Day itself, I got it a couple of days later from Avalanche (having been in Stoke on RSD itself - more on that in a later post) after work. I went in, had a bit of a wander round, picked up a few bits and stopped to talk to Kev about releases while I paid for my stuff. He told me about how RSD had been, and how this was probably his favourite release of all those the shop had stocked and we chatted about The Twilight Sad. That, for me, is why independent record shops are great. Not because they happen to have limited releases one day a year, but because they are staffed by people who are well-informed and care about what they are selling. RSD will have to make some big changes if it's ever going to capture that.

Right, that's my mini-rant over, let's move on to the single.

So this release is a rather lovely split, in which Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat and The Twilight Sad each cover a song by the other. The artwork may look familiar to those of you who read my post about The Twilight Sad's album Forget The Night Ahead posted a good two years ago, as the art for both was done by the same person. This chap, known as dlt also did the artwork for the past two Frabbit albums (and associated singles) and basically about half of the Scottish bands that I love. Amazing. This cover is very distinctly "The Twilight Sad", and I'm totally down with black on grey. I also really like the fonts on this sleeve. In all it looks very nice.

The other side has another Twilight Sad-y drawing, and you'll spot I have number 284 of 500, for all you pressing info fans. Plain black record with what appears to be a hand-stamped label (on the other side, the label is blank), keeping the look very minimal.

So we've got two covers to discuss. First, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat covering Alphabet, from the latest Twilight Sad album (an album I, shamefully, am yet to properly listen to). I'm not sure if I've spoken before about how much I love the work of Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat combined, so to keep it short I'll just say that they make utterly incredible music. The Twilight Sad chose to cover (If You) Keep Me In Your Heart from Everything's Getting Older, the album which (deservedly) won the first Scottish Album of the Year Award. The covers show an interesting swap of elements from each act - The Twilight Sad's synths are replaced with Bill Wells' pianos (and vice versa), and James Graham's pained and urgent vocal delivery trades places with the laid-back drawl of Aidan Moffat. This makes each cover sound distinctly like its coverer (is that even a word?), and makes the release a really interesting listen. It's really worth a try, especially for fans of those involved, and now that it's on Spotify you don't really have any excuse not to.

Monday, 29 April 2013

J Dilla - Donuts

It's been a long while since I bought anything from Norman Records, so of course I had to break that dry spell with a rather large order. This record was actually the reason why I'd gone onto the site in the first place, looking for a copy of this very album. Having found a few other things to get, I delayed placing the order for a while and in the meantime they decided it was time for a sale. Success!

Yep. Donuts. And that's a big donut. There are two different covers to this album, the more common one is of J Dilla's face (aka this) and although that cover is lovely, I think I prefer this one. It's probably worth mentioning that the idea of a 24 hour donut shop has me salivating, too.

Double-LP, oh yes. I really like the miniature version of the other cover, although the picture on the bottom is a bit dull. Not much more to comment on here, really.

There is a lot to say about the album though, but it's difficult for me to put it into context. This is an instrumental hip-hop album which obviously means it's way out of my usual field of expertise (and I apologise for this in advance). Dilla made a few albums himself and also was a rather prolific producer, but this was the last album he made before his death at the tragically young age of 32 from lupus. It was released a mere 3 days before his death, created while his body was slowly shutting down and he was confined to a wheelchair. Regardless of your thoughts on the music, that's a pretty incredible set of circumstances for an album to be made in. As for my thoughts on the music, they need no context - it's amazing. It's soulful, it's joyous, it's introspective, it's beautiful. No song on the album lasts longer than 3 minutes, each one a densely packed chunk of layered samples. It's tough to have a favourite track because individual tracks merge into eachother and before you know it about 4 have passed and it's still tremendously enjoyable. My favourite run of tracks, then, is from Time: The Donut Of The Heart to Lightworks but asking someone else could result in a completely different set of tracks. Listen to this album, please. It takes under 45 minutes and there's a good chance you'll find at least something you enjoy.

The name of the game is lightworks.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Million Dead - I Am The Party

Oh wow. When I started this blog way back in December 2010 (it's been a little while, hasn't it?) I decided to name it using a mangled version of the first Million Dead album's title, largely because I thought it sounded good (I still think it does) and it's one of two brilliant albums the band made in their too-short existence. You may have noticed, however, that I've never posted about them before. That's because I never owned any Million Dead vinyl until now. My good friend, tall man and general hardcore enthusiast Gibson decided to get me one of their singles as a belated housewarming gift/premature birthday present/general nice gesture. What a guy. Maybe one day he'll finally do the guest post for this blog he's been promising for about 2 years now. Maybe. (just to note, I should probably point out that Million Dead was the band Frank Turner was in before he went acoustic. You should already know this)

So, as we can see, he chose I Am The Party. Pretty sure this man on the cover is drinking some kind of can, and there appears to be someone taking a photo of him with a camera complete with massive lens. He is the party, indeed. Also, I love the Million Dead font. It's really distinctive and pleases me.

That back cover looks so brilliantly "hardcore vinyl release" that I can't quite get over it. So very plain-looking. It's got all the lyrics to I Am The Party on it, which I think stand as a fairly strong argument against the whole "we aren't a political band" line Frank was peddling at the time. You also (especially if you click through to the larger version of the image) may spot that the label says "LIMITED WRONG FUCKING BSIDE EDITION", and will probably then also realise that the record doesn't have a session version of It's A Shit Business on it (and also that I have number 35 of 750). A quick browse of the excellent milliondead.org revealed to me that there was a mistake at the pressing plant, and as such every copy actually has the CD B-side Mute Group on it. Good to see they had at least a bit of a sense of humour about the error.

Look right, Million Dead were great. Frank's solo stuff is good and all but Million Dead were special. I Am The Party is the epitome of that, and we'll overlook Mute Group being a bit weird for that reason. I Am The Party is loud and insistent and furious, and I love it. The opening riff alone makes me want to flail wildly, so consider that a warning if you're ever in my presence when it's on. Unfortunately, MD are unlikely to ever get back together. Boo-urns. Someone form a cover band with me, it'd be dreadful and magnificent.

So, to conclude: thanks Gibson, miss you Million Dead.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lanterns On The Lake - Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

Let's keep this going, shall we? Slightly more recently (the start of this month, to be precise), I celebrated payday with a visit to Avalanche, of course. I'd spotted this in the record section a week earlier, and had made a mental note to pick it up when I could. Fortunately, no-one got in there before me and here we are.

Ooh yes. This will do. A nice minimalist cover, and the gold lettering is a really good choice. It's almost like a hardback book cover, isn't it?

Fairly minimal back cover to match, and there is a RAD SHIP on this side too. Excellent. Part of me thought this release was on white vinyl, but apparently I was mistaken. The labels are pretty nice though, so that makes up for the lack of colour a bit. Also I am always appreciative of a free CD of an album, so that definitely puts Bella Union in my good books.

Lanterns are a delightfully sleepy band. They mix borderline-post rock with slightly breath-y vocals to make songs that I think are best appreciated on a rainy Sunday with a mug of tea. A pity today's quite dry then. This is their first full-length album, released in 2011 (way to keep up to date, Adam), and it's pretty good. In parts it drags ever-so-slightly, but that feeling tends not to last too long. The highlight of the album for me is probably the delicate Ships In The Rain, a mournful little song with the nicest lyrics. I think the band have the potential to be really good, and I'm interested to see what their next release is like. It must be coming soon, surely?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse

...whoopsy. That week stretched to over a month and now this post is way overdue. My bad. To make up for it, there's a lot of pictures here (and quite a few words too). This is another purchase from Avalanche, which meant I walked over and picked it up on the day of release. The snow that accompanied my walk home was pretty appropriate.

Another great cover. The triple-barred cross appears again and a slightly different worn label with the band's name on it. Consistency, nice placement etc etc. All the things I've come to expect from a Frabbit cover.

It's a gatefold LP again, opening it and looking at it sideways we get this lovely scene. Pretty sure those are the same metronomes from the cover of The Woodpile (which is rad), and I love those pennants. Can someone more artsy than me make one for my wall? Thanks in advance.

I feel like I'm just going to end up repeating myself all over again if I start talking about the back cover. It's nice, that is about all I need to say. What I like a lot, that was slightly less expected, is the dust sleeve having the lyrics to the whole album printed on it. Excellent.

Another black record (one day they'll do a colour pressing and I will buy every single copy), more lovely labels. There was also a download code that came with it, which is ace but for once I didn't actually need it (since I bought the album on CD as well).

Album chat time now. Is it really necessary for me to tell you how much I love it? Yes? Well then. Of course I love it. It is, after all, a Frabbit album. There's everything I love about the band in this album, and yet it feels distinct from each of the three that preceded it. Musically it is most similar to The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, but in parts it definitely feels... louder. Perhaps this is an active reaction to the (incredibly lazy) Mumford & Sons comparisons that seem to follow the band around, I can't be sure. Holy, for example, rockets by at the kind of pace you wouldn't expect of Frabbit. Dead Now has something vaguely resembling a guitar solo in the middle of it. There are lots of little unexpected moments in the album that make it an absolute treat to listen to, and I'm sure there are more things that I'll discover in it the more I listen. At present I'd say my favourite tracks are probably the previously mentioned Holy, State Hospital and The Woodpile plus Oil Slick, the delightful closer to the LP (and standard CD) version of the album. It comes across to me as a song about Scott's inability to write pleasant songs, which is an absolutely glorious reason to write a song. Note I said the closer to the LP, the deluxe version of the CD has three bonus tracks that are absolutely brilliant and it's a real shame they aren't on the LP. Ah well.

Now, here is where the post would usually end but today we have EXTRA THINGS. Pre-ordering the album meant I got a few extra goodies, which was lovely. Here we have a mini-print of the album cover, a little badge of the cover and a bonus 7". Get in. Yet more lovely themed artwork. I really do love this band.

Yep, so the 7" features Dead Now from the album. A really enjoyable track, and I'm never going to say no to a bonus 7". Notice it's only one-sided though. What's on the B-side then?

....yes. Oh yes. More singles with etched B-sides, please (even if they're almost impossible to photograph). Love you always, Frabbit.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Frightened Rabbit - The Woodpile

How very fitting. The first single I've bought since moving to Scotland, and of course it's Frightened Rabbit. A week before the release of their 4th album Pedestrian Verse (which, of course, there will be a post about on here at some point next week), this single is the second taste of new material after the rather excellent State Hospital EP. I picked it up at Avalanche Records, which is fast becoming one of my favourite things about living in Edinburgh.

There's only a certain number of times I can talk about how lovely Frabbit's artwork is. There's clearly a lot of thought put into it every time and it's just nice. In this case I like the little monogrammed metronomes (at least I presume they're metronomes) and the slightly worn label and the reappearance of the triple-barred cross. Consistently-themed artwork is something I love, and as such I love this.

Those metronomes reappear on the record label, and there's more worn labels everywhere. Mmmm. Still no coloured vinyl, but I'm sure we can let it slide. Apparently this is a "limited" single, but I can't find any numbers anywhere so that's a piece of information we'll have to overlook for now.

I'm going to begin, in slightly unusual fashion, by talking about this single's B-side. Today's Cross is unlike any Frabbit song I've ever heard before. It's almost a ROCK SONG, which is quite weird to hear. Definitely need a few more listens to get used to that one. The Woodpile, on the other hand, is unmistakeably the work of Frightened Rabbit. It's been up on youtube since December but it's taken me until tonight to listen to it (the entire month of December was pretty much a write-off due to overwhelming sadness about Tubelord's split meaning I listened to basically nothing but them). So I heard The Woodpile for the first time a little over an hour ago, and have just finished listening to it for the 10th time. My word, it is incredible. It starts in quite a sedate manner, and then the chorus drops and everything is amazing. There's even what might loosely be described as a guitar solo. In a Frabbit song! Madness. Between this and State Hospital, things are looking really good for Pedestrian Verse. Roll on next Monday.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Colour - Anthology

Oh. So the whole "catch up on posts while I'm unemployed" was kind of ruined by getting a job, but that in itself will provide me with a whole bunch more records to inevitably forget to write about. This is one I pre-ordered a mere two days before receiving the job offer, so maybe it was a bit of a good omen. I'd been thinking of buying the CD version for a good while having spent most of my job-hunt listening to it on Spotify as motivation, so when Kev announced BSM was doing a vinyl pressing for the first time I figured I had to do it. Making sure I got the raddest version before it sold out was an exercise in shouting at my phone until paypal decided to function properly, but as you'll see later it was totally worth it.

Really plain sleeve. It reminds me a little of the Bear vs. Shark repressing actually, in terms of the colour. Just a single label to let you know what the album is. I like it.

Just to demonstrate how plain the sleeve is, this is the back. Another single black and white label, this time just for the tracklisting.

There's also a pretty snazzy folded insert. On one side we have a whole load of little pictures of the band...

...and on the other a whole bunch of info and thanks and some more photos. I do love an insert, me.

Hoooooooooly shit you know when I said I got the raddest colour? I REALLY MEANT THE RADDEST COLOUR. Red on clear, absolutely phenomenal choice. I love clear records and I love coloured records, so this is just the best of both worlds. Limited to 100 copies and absolutely beautiful. Love you forever, Kev.

As is implied by the title, "Anthology" is a collection of all of Colour's releases. I suppose it's slightly odd then that I think it flows really well as an album. There's the right amount of respite from the glorious angular poppy songs Colour specialised in. If that last bit wasn't a slight giveaway, it should come as no surprise to you that the band are musically (and it turns out personally) close to my dear - now sadly departed - Tubelord. They're slightly less yelpy but just as catchy, the highlight of this album being the joyous Unicorns and slow-building Dinosaurs. Both great song titles, too. I wish they hadn't split up, but maybe we'll see another release from Tangled Hair (the band Alan and James formed following the demise of Colour) soon. Until that happens, this can definitely keep me ticking over.