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

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..