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

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mastodon - Blood Mountain

It's not very often that I post metal albums on here and, to be honest, that's because I don't buy a lot of metal on vinyl. After spending a lot of my teen years listening to nothing but metal, I kinda drifted away from it a lot in recent years and these days it's rare that a metal album gets me overly excited (one notable exception being the phenomenal Longhena by Gridlink, but trying to get that on vinyl without spending a fairly large amount of money has proven difficult). This, though, comes from that golden age where I had rather long hair and wore almost only black and sweatbands. Man it was fun.

So, Blood Mountain by Mastodon. This is an expanded version of the CD album art, which is always nice, and it's absolutely magnificent. The "reduced" version of the artwork was my computer wallpaper for what must have been several years, I just really love the style of it and this version is even better. It's no exaggeration to say this is one of my favourite album covers of all time.

A lovely double-sided insert which matches the theme of the rest of the artwork. The side with thanks is relatively unimportant (though nice artwork) but yessss we have the lyrics and they are absolutely insane, in the best possible way. "Shake the hand of lightning", "evading sharks of the sky" - it's a sea of weirdness. I definitely benefit from having them written down rather than making my own interpretations.

Plain black vinyl. I didn't know what colour this was going to be when I ordered it, but it was so cheap that I didn't mind. There are some goregous colourways of this record, which would be lovely to own but I'm pretty content here. Apologies that you can see me in the reflection of the record as well, some poor photo skills from me here.

If I were pressed to make a list of my favourite albums of all time, this would most probably be in the top ten. I realise that for a lot of people Leviathan is the best Mastodon album, but for me they stepped it up another level by following that album with this one. It's less thrash-y and more proggy, which is pretty much the opposite of what I'd normally want but it just works. The tone of the album is absolutely spot on, and in terms of musicianship it's so so impressive. Even the pacing of the album is perfect - the whole thing feeling like a journey, with swells at the right times and a gradual slowing down as the album heads towards its close. With regards to my favourite track, it's rather difficult to pick one out in particular. The Wolf Is Loose is an excellent opener, a quintessentially Brann Dailor drum intro giving way to screaming guitars and the sprinting rhythm that begins the journey of the album. Capillarian Crest throws time signatures all over the place but still fits together cohesively. The song that sticks with me the most, though, is the utterly ludicrous Bladecatcher. It defies description - alternating between rapid-fire head-down riffing and sugary sweet melody, the only vocals being jumbled noise and whistling. It sounds silly and it is, but it's also absolutely great. So is this album. I love it with all of my heart.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Möngöl Hörde - Möngöl Hörde

Side-projects are generally known for being a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, and so a degree of caution is probably advisable when a new one is announced. This was kinda different though - Frank Turner and Ben Dawson, half of Million Dead, getting back together to form "a hardcore band"? Yeah, I have no shame in saying I got pretty excited about this. Then it came out in late May, and it has taken until now for me to write about it. Yeah, my bad.

I appreciate this artwork being solely black and white but honestly, this isn't really the style of artwork I enjoy. No mind.

For the first time in a long time - an insert with no lyrics! What a shame. What we get instead is a very happy-looking Frank and some thankyous, which kind of makes up for it? Except that it totally doesn't.

No complaints here though, a lovely white record to match the rest of the artwork. It looks slightly creamy here, but in real life it's a little whiter. I really like that picture on the back of the sleeve as well - my guess is that it's from when the band played Reading and Leeds two years ago, but I don't know any more than that.

This album was inevitably always going to be compared to Million Dead. Put Frank Turner back into a "heavy" band and that would always happen - adding in Ben Dawson only exacerbates that. What I'll say straight off the bat, then, is that this is not particularly like Million Dead. It's loud and it's aggressive and there are quite overt political references, but that's about all the similarities there are. Möngöl Hörde are a little heavier than Million Dead were, and a little more direct. What they also are, however, is a lot sillier - a look at those umlauts and the tracklist should make that clear. This album manages to be gloriously noisy and shouty, but also has a song about an uprising of tapeworms. It's actually about tapeworms, I don't think this is another Achilles Lung (which wasn't really about smoking) but instead seems to be a slightly ridiculous story about a tapeworm starting in Natalie Portman's insides. Like hell would Million Dead have ever done that.

Let's stop with the comparisons though - this is a great album on its own merit. The highlight for me is the almost-drunken swinging of the chorus to Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen, a song that barely manages to contain its own seething anger beneath a tremendous riff and some reliably frantic drumming. Equally though, the aforementioned Tapeworm Uprising, Weak Handshake and Stillborn Unicorn deserve mentions as some of the best tracks in a quite consistently good album. Will this be the only album they make as a band? Possibly, but I certainly hope not.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Martha - Courting Strong

August in Edinburgh always ends up being a horrendously busy month. Not that I particularly enjoy the festival (population of the city increasingly rapidly with people who don't know where they're going? No thanks), but lots of things just seem to end up happening. As a result I've been relatively quiet and have ended up waaaay behind in terms of records. My bad. Let's start with something from the North East of England, picked up from Cargo Records.

This is a pretty great cover, isn't it? It feels so delightfully 90s, when cars actually looked like how I'd draw them. Check out those trainers as well, jealous.

Printed inner sleeves with lyrics, tick. Commitment to not eating meat, tick. Commitment to Irn Bru, huge tick. I like these people.

Some plain black vinyl, but with good bold labels. I'm a big fan of the font used throughout the release, and the general black and white aesthetic.

Martha, then, are a kind of power-pop band, They play catchy, cheery, slightly yelp music with strong accents and lyrics about the North East and I absolutely love it. The songs are really infectious and it's the kind of thing that makes me want to very politely flail around the place. The highlight of the album for me is the glorious Bubble In My Bloodstream - listen to it more than a few times and you won't be able to read the phrase without singing it at the same time. More, please.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Donovan Wolfington - Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark

As should surprise absolutely no-one, I ended up buying yet more TWIABP vinyl from the Topshelf UK store. While I was at it, I picked up a couple of seven inches. I'll hold off on the TWIABP record for a little bit (due to the minor onslaught of late) so here's one of those records instead. I picked this up because it was pretty cheap and Topshelf had been talking about how good it was, so I took a punt.

I dunno about you, but I would not be fond of scary stories told in the dark at a graveyard. That sounds hella creepy. Not entirely sure what's going on with the tombstone in the middle, but I appreciate the visibility of the phrase "At Rest". I like the muted colours here, they're quite pleasant.

The sleeve is a single piece of card, with lyrics inside. Bit of a shame there's no more photography here, but I'm always a fan of lyrics.

Now that is one pleasant-looking record. Most of the colourways are at least a little green-y, which goes quite nicely with the cover. This, the half-white half-green, is limited to 100 and I am very fond of it.

So like I said, I bought this pretty much on a whim. It may come as a surprise, then, that I've listened to this pretty much daily for the past week or so. Possibly one of the best EPs so far this year, it's angsty yet remarkably catchy. The whole thing clocks in at a little over 10 minutes, the highlight of which is the sub-2 minute punky blast of Quitting. It's well-suited for the summer and has proven to be the perfect thing to listen to in the morning to get me ready for the day ahead. Proof that sometimes purchases made on a whim can turn out pretty great.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Joie De Vivre - The North End

Same band, same scenario. As happened with We're All Better Than This, I bought a Joie De Vivre album digitally and still ended up buying the vinyl. There's just something about this band. This one I got from Count Your Lucky Stars at the same time as I did Snowing, and it was ruddy cheap. Thanks again, CYLS.

A minor case of deja vu. Another Joie De Vivre album with not a lot going on, one dominant colour and a nice slight fuzz on the image. Not sure on the lettering style for the band name, but that white band at the bottom is delightful.

Double-sided insert, as before. While WABTT's art was all about ducks, this album is all about dogs. Possibly even just one dog, as they all look quite similar. The other side, as usual, is lyrics - but there's a twist here. The tracks aren't listen in album order, there doesn't seem to actually be any order to the tracks. Very strange.

Though it looks like it could be white here, this is definitely the "milky clear" it was described as in the CYLS store. I'd probably go with "translucent white", but it's lovely regardless. Nice paper aeroplane motif, too. For you numbers nerds, this is from the second pressing and is limited to 350.

This is Joie De Vivre's first full-length album, following on from the extended EP Summer Months (more on that soon), and I have to say it took a while for this to click with me. It's a little slower than WABTT and maybe a little sadder too. The first few times I listened to it, nothing really stuck. I thought it was okay but little more and really it was only how much I enjoyed WABTT that kept me coming back for more Joie De Vivre. All of a sudden, everything fell into place. It's impossible to pinpoint exactly what it was - perhaps the impressively sad trumpets that signal the start of Salt, the immediacy of the chorus to Upper Deck San Diego or the dripping sadness of the title track - but I went from apathy to adoration in the space of about a day. I now rank this right up there with WABTT in terms of my favourite emo albums, and tend to listen to the two consecutively when I can (which more often than not involves being sat in bed with a cup of tea). The digital version is super-cheap because CYLS like that kind of thing. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Monday, 9 June 2014

your neighbour the liar - It seems we're made to suffer; it is our lot in life

It's strange the way things end up going sometimes. In the middle of my tremendous emo binge, I managed to stumble across a pleasant Scottish band but couldn't seem to find any of their records locally. Instead, I had to order one from Ireland. To get shipped to Scotland. Something in this equation doesn't quite make sense. Never mind, it was quite cheap so I'm not too bothered.

As someone who spends a rather worrying amount of time on Google Maps (through my job), a cover featuring maps was always bound to appeal to me. Being the tremendous nerd that I am, I had to work out where this was - a swift googling later and I have deduced that this is Dundee! Not entirely sure why they chose Dundee, but there you go. Also note the little sticker - "twinkly autumn-time emo". Very fitting.

Nice little insert with lyrics and more maps! Yay maps. Note also - the title of this 7" isn't actually the title of either song - it comes from the chorus of Window. I think I quite like this.

More plain black vinyl? Yeah, I know. Don't worry, we'll be back in colour soon. I like the use of white (well, brown) space on the back cover an awful lot - and the labels are pleasantly sparse too. Pressing info fans - this is limited to 350.

As explained so perfectly on that little sticker on the outer sleeve, YNTL are a lovely, twinkly, autumnal emo band. Between the two tracks here we've got a nice level of variety - Year is quite laid-back and pensive, the sound of a calm (but very grey) autumn day, if you will. Window, though, is much more like a sudden shower of heavy rain. There's an absolutely glorious guitar melody over a backdrop of just-right distortion and reassuringly Scottish vocals. It's pretty great, I have to say. The tracks themselves are pretty good value at free here, so go ahead if you're feeling twinkly.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Tellison & Tubelord - split 7"

It's now been almost 18 months since Tubelord split up, and I'm definitely still not over it. One of my coping mechanisms has been to slowly try to acquire every piece of vinyl they release. There are a few bits that will be tough to get, but I managed to get this from Banquet with little fuss. Moreover, it's a split release with Tellison, who I adore but have never written about here. Bonus!

This artwork is incredible and despite having had the release digitally for a few years now, I never fully realised until I had the 7" in my hands. For one, the various elements of the artwork are clearly handmade, which is a nice touch. Then there's the fact that nearly everything about it is a reference to a line from one of the two songs. It's a tremendous effort, all told. Apart from the obvious wasp and pencils to reference the two song titles, there are references to at least all of the following lyrics:

  • "I hate the river"
  • "My imagination was the first apple tree"
  • "You wore a sign around your neck and it read not for sale today"
  • "We're bigger than Memphis"
That level of attention to detail is something I can completely get behind.

Plain black vinyl this time, limited to 500 copies apparently. The back cover not only has track info, but dates from when the two bands toured together way back in 2008. I wish I'd gone to that Birmingham Academy gig. Oh well.

I don't think I really need to talk about how much I love Night Of The Pencils any more than I previously have done. I spoke fairly recently about it, the short version of which is "it's one of my favourite songs ever". I hope that will suffice. What I'll do instead is spend a little while talking about how great Tellison are. Musically this split makes a lot of sense, as the band are not a million miles from Tubelord in terms of sound. A little less yelpy, a little more traditionally "indie", Tellison excel in writing gloriously catchy poppy indie. Wasp's Nest is a prime example of this - a "ba da ba ba-da" refrain, a danceable chorus and some memorable (but slightly nonsensical) lyrics. It's surprising that this never made it onto an album proper, but fortunately it still seems to find its way into the band's setlists. This I am very happy with.

Good split all told, and another one knocked off the list of Tubelord to find.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Nai Harvest - Hold Open My Head

Pre-orders are fun, aren't they? Even better when they turn up earlier than expected. The latest Nai Harvest 7" arrived a month or two ago, and I was delighted to find it on the doormat. Then I managed to avoid posting about it for an age, and here we are. Oops.

I appreciate the slightly childish charm of the cover, though it's doubtless not for everyone. Is that a big apple on the right hand side? Better not get sued, boys.

Fully-printed insert, yes please. Lyrics, as always, are a plus though printing in a thin yellow on red is mildly headache-inducing.

A nice creamy blue and yellow mix, I will take that. It offers quite a contrast to the large swathes of red elsewhere. This colourway is limited to 400 out of a total first pressing of 1000, for you numbers nerds.

There's a second reason why I've taken so long to write about this, beyond my usual laziness when it comes to writing posts. In some ways, I was uncertain about whether I should write about this at all because, well... I don't like it. For all my usual relentless positivity, here is something I wanted to like but I can't connect with it. It's not even really the songs that are the problem - it's the way it sounds. The deliciously crunchy guitars of Whatever have been smoothed out and, for me at least, it hugely dulls their sound. Where Whatever was brash and almost sneering, this feels a little lethargic. This is most frustrating me at about 1:30 in I Don't Even Know where a slow-paced intro gives way to an enticing drum fill and I'm waiting for the guitars to bite and they just.. don't. They come in, sure, but it feels underwhelming. Sorry guys, this one isn't for me.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Kid Canaveral - Who Would Want To Be Loved?

Going to gigs alone is a fairly regular occurrence for me, and I'm okay with that. Having a phone with the internet makes it a far less lonely experience than it could be, and I worry far less about getting excessively emotional when there's no-one I know nearby who might find it weird. That being said, when Kid Canaveral announced a Valentine's Day gig with Randolph's Leap I realised that would be a step too far. Of all the gigs to be a (non-deliberately) creepy-looking lonely guy at, that would be the most uncomfortable. That they then announced that ticket-holders would get a free 7" made me extra-sad to be missing it. Fortunately, a few of the records ended up on the Lost Map webstore, so I snagged one to soften the blow.

No artwork, but it's only shaped like a heart! Amazing. My first non-record shaped record and it's a bloomin' heart! I'm delighted by this.

Two songs here, then. The A-side is, appropriately enough given the shape, a song called Who Would Want To Be Loved? and comes from the latest Kid Canaveral album (coming to a blog near you when I decide to stop listening to emo constantly). It's a nice piece of breezy, Scottish, mildly twee guitar-pop that I fully expect to come into its own when Summer finally rolls around. The B-side is what I was mainly interested in, though. It's a cover of I Can't Dance To This Music Any More by fellow Scottish twee-poppers Randolph's Leap (another band soon to arrive here once my emo kick is over), and is pretty interesting. While the original is Adam Ross at his introverted melancholy best, the cover has a much fuller sound and at times sounds almost triumphant. Does it improve the song? I don't think so, but I will always commend them for being willing to take a risk. Also, did I mention it's shaped like a heart? A heart!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Snowing - I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted

The flood of emo records continues. This time I decided to get a bunch of records from Count Your Lucky Stars, a lovely label from the US who managed to get records sent to me within a week of my order being placed. Best. Three records in total, here's the first.

An absolutely sublime cover. It's like a flannel-y reproduction of the Lion King, which I'm sure we'd all agree would be a better film. I would definitely like to stroke that cat.

Double-sided insert? Check. Another cat photo? Check. Incredible lyrics? Big check. The layout of the lyrics sheet is so nice as well, the spacing is very pleasant. Good addition.

Yeah more orange vinyl! I feel as though there have been quite a lot of orange on this blog recently. This colour is described as "tangerine" by the label and is from what I assume is the eighth pressing. Eight pressings! That's impressive. No idea what the rest of the pressing info is, but let's take a closer look at the record:

It's like a pulpy tangerine! Amazing. Slightly terrifying labels though, especially this close.

In the past few weeks, I've listened to this album probably once or twice every day. It's emo for sure and there's a bit of twinkle here, but Snowing are a more aggressive, cathartic band than a lot of what I've been posting recently. The lyrics, as I mentioned briefly earlier, are absolutely sublime. A lot of them are quite personal (in particular, Memo Yeah That's Fine Man) and yet it still manages to be surprisingly relatable. More than that, the album features one of my favourite song lines of all time - the Arrested Development referencing "Tobias Fünke, why am I not underwater?" that has absolutely no relevance to anything else on the album and no need to exist but is utterly perfect. The album itself is pretty close to perfect - there are a couple of tracks that I skip, but the rest are glorious. The majority of songs sit on the precipice of chaos, threatening to completely fall apart at any moment but just about keeping it together. It makes for good walking music, though having to stop myself from screaming in the faces of strangers is always tough. My favourite song? That'd probably be the slightly yelpy joy of It's Just A Party. As was the case with Joie De Vivre, this album is a mere $3.50 from the Count Your Lucky Stars bandcamp. You know you should.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Josh Is Dead

Following on from my Formlessness post, here's the second of the trio of records I got from Topshelf's Euro store. Unsurprisingly, it's more TWIABP.

I'm not sure if this man even is Josh, but I'd like to hope he's not dead. Pretty jealous of his ampersand shirt, too. Maybe I can have it if he is dead after all.

It's a single sheet sleeve with two folds. Left side of the fold lists the A-side tracks, right side lists the B-side tracks. This pleases me disproportionately.

I am a big fan of TWIABP's commitment to non-black vinyl. This is a delicious red, a touch darker than it looks in this photo. There is even a little hint of white in it, slightly obscured by the reflection in this photo (my bad) but visible a little in the bottom right corner. This I believe is from the second pressing, described helpfully as "dark red" and limited to 250. It's pretty nice, whatever it is.

This was the TWIABP release I had most difficulty getting into. It's less space-y than their usual fare, with slightly lower recording quality and it's less immediately engaging than their other releases as a result. Given time though, it grows on you. There are but three tracks on this record - Blank #9 is an instrumental interlude that has to be split over two sides due to space constraints (this seems to be a common thread in TWIABP releases) - and, really, the highlight here is "To Miss Catherine (A Birthday Gift. Sorry I can't do better, but still...)". A bit of a mouthful to say, but it's an absolute beauty of a track. It starts off a little claustrophobic, but gets a little more reassuringly twinkly as it goes on, featuring some glorious shouted backing vocals and ending with a great instrumental section. Be Neon With Me is similar in tone, though is definitely less twinkly. They're both very good songs, is what I'm trying to say. The EP only a dollar on bandcamp, where there's even a sneaky mediafire link if you're feeling too stingy for that. Be sure to give it some time to grow, though.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

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

I hate cassettes.
I hate cassettes.
I hate cassettes.
.....I bought another cassette. Not just a cassette, but a cassette of an album I already own on vinyl. Why? Well, let's have a look shall we.

The cassette itself has a nice thick card outer sleeve. IT LOOKS LIKE SPACE and I like that.

Take off that sleeve, and there's a lovely minimalist cover which, when you take it out, unfolds...

...and wow! This is why I bought it. The artwork is absolutely top-notch, and really fits the album. That it uses only two colours adds to the aesthetic, and I'll be on the look-out for more of this guy's work (his website is here, if you're also interested).

Here is the cassette itself. It looks like a cassette, albeit slightly less ugly than most. This release was limited to 150, for those pressing nerds among you, and is now sold out.

Obviously, the fact that I already own this album on vinyl means I have gone over why I love it so much in rather a lot of detail once already. Since I made that post, my opinion has not changed - indeed, my prediction that it would be my favourite 2013 release turned out to be absolutely correct. It's brilliant in every way. I need to stop buying cassettes though...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Joie De Vivre - We're All Better Than This

For all of my love of physical media, I buy quite a lot of music digitally. Bandcamp is obviously my favourite, but I also have a soft spot for a website called Soundsupply. Every couple of months, they pick 10 albums and release them as a digital bundle for $15. I've bought quite a few of them in time, and each one seems to have an album or two that I enjoy. This album was included in their 9th drop, and it probably gives you a hint as to what will come when I talk about this album at the end of this post that I felt the need to buy a physical copy as well. I have a bit of a bad habit of googling album titles and the word "vinyl". Usually this ends with staring at US webstores and weeping over the cost of shipping records, but this time I ended up finding a UK label who co-released the record and still had (still have) copies of the first pressing in stock for a rather ludicrously cheap £8. Few things make me happier than that.

So very green. I didn't even realise this album had ducks on the cover until I got this in the post - the tiny itunes thumbnail wasn't detailed enough for me to notice. I like it a lot though, the almost complete lack of anything in the water apart from the ducks is pleasing to me.

Yeah so it turns out they are big on ducks. The two-sided insert has ducks on both sides. What have ducks got to do with this album? I have no idea. The lyrics are great, and having them printed is always a plus to me.

Ohhhhh boy. I have no idea why I've never owned (possibly never even seen?) a translucent light blue record before but wow. This might be the nicest-looking single colour record I own. Absolutely gorgeous. This, as I previously mentioned, is from the first pressing. It's out of 350 and is described as "electric blue" by the labels that released it. I'd dispute that description - it's more a baby blue to me - but who cares when it looks this nice.

Yeah so I had this album digitally but still felt the need to seek out a vinyl copy. As a result, it should come as no surprise that I absolutely adore this album. It's a beautiful adventure in slow-paced twinkly emo, with poignant lyrics and brassy trumpets. When an album begins with the line "we all die alone, so why care so much about living with someone else" you know what you're getting yourself in for. It's introspective and melancholy, an album mired in the uncertainty of post-youth. It has burrowed its way into my head and into my heart, where I think it will stay for a while. Picking a highlight is difficult when the entire album is top notch, though it'd probably be the magnificent That Dude Leads A Depressing Life. This album is $3.50 on the Count Your Lucky Stars bandcamp. Go buy it. Get sad with it.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Gold Panda - Quitter's Raga (repress)

Generally speaking I do pretty well when it comes to getting records in the post. I'm yet to have anything turn up damaged and most of the time stuff tends to turn up pretty promptly. Most of the time. This, however, managed to get lost somewhere between Wichita Recordings and me. Within days of sending an email to the label about this, though, I had a replacement copy. Excellent service.

More hipstery record sleeves. Gotta love nature and symmetry. I do really enjoy the shade of red used for this cover.

After such a prolonged run of colourful records, it's almost nice to have something on plain black again. Almost. No idea about pressing info for this one but, as the post title suggests, it's a repressing. I really don't mind. A bit of googling says that this is limited to 600 so there you go.

It's amazing to think that this was Gold Panda's first single. I mean really, it's difficult to think of many debut singles that have been better than this. B-side Fifth Ave is pretty good, the kind of laid-back  that makes for a perfect soundtrack to a train journey. Really, though, this is all about the A-side. The shuffling rhythm that starts the song is quickly overpowered by a glorious Eastern-inspired melody that carefully burrows its way into my head. Lasting just under two minutes, I find it near-impossible to listen to it just once. Is it the best Gold Panda song? It might just well be.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cleft - BOSH!

Right now I realise I've been having a pretty prolific month in terms of posts and there's a good reason for that - I've been buying an awful lot of records, and good ones at that. There have also been a handful of new things, and occasionally I like posting stuff up fairly quickly so to a newcomer it might seem that this blog is UP TO DATE and CUTTING EDGE (spoiler: it's anything but). With that in mind, here is only the second 2014 release of new music that I've posted so far this year.

So Cleft released a debut album, and decided to make the artwork absolutely great. Look at how happy that elephant is! The prison gang-style Cleft belly tattoo only adds to it. More album covers with elephants as the focal point, please.

The artistic style of the cover continues into the gatefold. Also, there is a cup of tea and some houmous. I bloody love houmous. This is all going pretty well, isn't it?

Eeeeh, yes. Round it out with bright orange vinyl? Oh Cleft, you tick all my boxes aesthetically. The back cover is, as you may have noticed, a mirror image of the front - excluding the elephant. Very pleasant. There was a little personalised note included with the record to inform me of pressing info (#122/300, numbers nerds) and that I have "accidentally joined the secret turbo-prog society", which features activities such as "eating pitta & houmous" and "sweating profusely". This is getting creepy now, it's like they know me.

"Turbo-prog", then, is Cleft's own way of describing their music and it's pretty accurate. You can practically feel the beardiness of prog bearing down on you, except the beard is made of snakes. This album is ridiculous, in the best possible way. The two-piece make jerky instrumental songs with the kind of precision timing that belies what is probably a very close friendship. Musically it's not a million miles away from And So I Watch You From Afar, to give you an idea, but Cleft very much have a sound of their own. There's something undeniably gleeful about the music they make and I love it for that. There is but one song with vocals on this album, that being Elephant In The Bar Room. They're kind of cheesy, and the first time I listened to the track I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Over time, though, I've realised it suits the album. It may still not be my favourite song, but I understand why it sounds how it does. In truth, my favourite song is the one that precedes it - the magnificent Ghost Thighs. The entire album is pay what you want from their bandcamp, and it's definitely worth a punt. I wouldn't be surprised if it crept its way into my list of top albums of this year by the time 2015 comes around. It's just that good..

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Formlessness

I think I've made it fairly plain over the history of this blog that Big Scary Monsters is my favourite record label by some way. In terms of a consistently strong output and making nice things that I actually want to buy, Kev has got it pretty much nailed. However, as of late Topshelf Records have been quietly worming their way into my heart through a combination of some excellent releases and a strong commitment to coloured vinyl. To top it off, they also decided to open a European webstore (found here) to make getting those coloured records a whole lot easier. Needless to say, within a day of finding out it had opened, I'd already bought three records. Oops. Here's the first of a trio then.

Hmm. Not sure about this cover really. There's a bit too much going on for my liking and my brain finds it tough to work out what's happening. Is that someone kissing someone else on the cheek, or whispering sweet nothings to them? It's a nice thing to do either way, but it's a bit of a difference in gesture. There's an alternate cover to this that was used for at least a cassette version which I much prefer. Oh well, no big deal.

Right. There's a reason why I'm posting a picture of the back cover without the record. The sleeve is just one large folded piece of card, and I needed the weight of the record to hold down the fold so the inside was properly visible. The back cover is fairly plain, again a little too busy for my liking but no bother.

So here we have it. Yet another coloured record, this time the shade most frequently referred to as "coke bottle green". This is a colour I like a lot. It is, for pressing nerds, from the 6th pressing and out of an oddly specific 1032 copies. There are a full 10 different colour variants that have been released before this one. I don't think I'll be tracking any of them down any time soon, which can only be a good thing for my bank balance. The inside of the sleeve contains lyrics (always welcomed) but also the statement that:
The track "Walnut Street is Dead (Long Live Walnut Street)" was left off this record due to time constraints.
Big shame! I can totally understand it but it's a great song and a sad omission.

This was the first TWIABP EP, the first release other than a demo CD from the band. My word, what a way to start. Through the exquisite build and crash of Victim Kin Seek Suit, the stop-start impatience of Gordon Paul and the sky-gazing one-two of Walnut Street Is Dead (Long Live Walnut Street) and Eyjafjallajokull Dance (try saying that when you're drunk. Or sober) this EP brings more to the table in under 15 minutes than a lot of albums do. Did I mention that there's a free download link to it on their own bandcamp? Because there totally is. After that, there's not much more for me to say. Go. Download it. Feel your heart swell.