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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.