Category Archives: Vinyl records

GARRETT PIERCE –Dusk LP

Album: Dusk LP

Artist: Garrett Pierce

Label: Crossbill

Release Date: April 14, 2017

www.crossbillrecords.com

The Upshot: A contemplative, at times remarkably downcast, record, but one which brings with it a recurring whiff of redemption—like a cinematic travelogue.

BY FRED MILLS

There’s an aesthetic intensity, leavened by a delicacy of purpose, at play on Sonoma, Calif., singer-songwriter Garrett Pierce’s fourth full-length, the product of his bearing down for an extended period of time last year in his newly-constructed home studio—and as a result, being able to emerge with a precise musical statement not always available to artists forced to watch, budget-consciously, the clock. Pierce, who freely admits to being primarily inspired by literary figures (he singles out Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Brautigan—the latter, full disclosure, among yours truly’s personal heroes), is also willing to express admiration for progenitors and peers such as Elliot Smith, Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, Will Oldham, and Jeff Buckley.

The latter, in fact, comes to mind more than once while listening to the masterful Dusk, not necessarily as sonically similar; Buckley was given to multi-octave swoops, while Pierce is far less operatic, though still able to command the wings of Pegasus when the material calls upon him to soar. Instead, there’s a daredevil quality that emerges in places, such as during “Enough,” a haunting, almost hymnal elegy for lap steel (courtesy Pierce’s collaborator Timothy James Wright) and drone that allows Pierce to explore, with uncommon sensitivity, the metaphysics of enforced homelessness and eventual farewell to a friend.

Elsewhere on Dusk we encounter gentle, lilting Americana (the banjo-powered “Distant Thought,” which would not be out of place in an Avett Brothers set); a dark, minor-chord waltz (mini-drama “Get Me Out Of This Place,” as much a plea for forgiveness as for freedom, the song’s institutionalized protagonist explaining, “All your psychologists can’t clean this up/ This mess has been made by Jesus’ son/ Holy in camouflage—you know we are one”); and the strummy, part-forward looking, part-regretful closing track “This Town of Mine,” a kind of farewell song (“If this be a mistake, well I sure enjoyed the ride”) that manages to leave its creator and his future open-ended.

It’s a contemplative, at times remarkably downcast, record, but one which brings with it a recurring whiff of redemption—like a cinematic travelogue, no fixed ending, but full of potential. As is Pierce’s future.

DOWNLOAD: “This Town Of Mine,” “Distant Thought,” “Enough”

 

HEATHER WOODS BRODERICK & BENJAMIN SWETT – Home Winds (Book + 7” 45)

Title: Home Winds

Author: Heather Woods Broderick & Benjamin Swett

Publisher: Planthouse

Publication Date: April 28, 2017

www.planthouse.net

The Upshot: An environmental elegy, and an extended meditation session—relaxing and soothing to the soul, but with its own elements of intense focus, and revelation. 

BY FRED MILLS

While it’s a given that more than a few culture vultures have hopped onto the #vinylresurgence bandwagon (Taylor Swift, anyone?), eschewing relevance for trendiness, and the accompanying misguided “cool” factor, some entries have come along that not only defy that assumption, they transcend it so beautifully that you almost assume they were beamed down from another dimension or era.

Such is the case with the printed/recorded artifact at hand. Home Winds is, on the one hand, a 7” vinyl single by songwriter Heather Woods Broderick, offering up a haunting environmental elegy, a shimmery, pulsing song for the trees. “Do I truly recall your face from when it was young,” sings Broderick, in a hushed, partly quivering voice, recalling at times Sandy Denny, adding gospel touches on the chorus, and musing upon a permanent image of a tree, as if it were a beloved family member, possibly no longer with us. “Or from a photo I’ve seen, on the wall on which it was hung,” she adds, acknowledging that memories are tricky, and how they can somehow be replaced, due to the passing of time, by a photograph that survives and reinforces itself via repeated viewings. (The B-side, “Shoreline,” is similarly low-key, its lilt no less engaging and ethereal.)

She’s joined, visually, by photographer Benjamin Swett, who set out to document Gladstone, New Jersey’s Home Winds Farm, a parcel that has been protected via the New Jersey Farmland Protection Program, for its owners, who also operate Planthouse Gallery. Swett’s mandate here is to create permanent portraits of the many trees—many of them huge or otherwise so broad and expansive that they can dominate an entire two-page spread in a book such as this—dotting the farm. Pink-blossomed spring arbors alternate with snow-spackled wintry residents, as well as the sturdy green boys of summer, and the yellow, orange, and crimson citizens of autumn. The result is a permanent record of nature as it cycles through its annual beauty.

Contributing to the project is journalist Elleree Erdos, who provides historical context as well as an insightful analysis of the nuances that Swett’s images bring to the fore. Ultimately, Home Winds is like an extended meditation session—relaxing and soothing to the soul, but with its own elements of intense focus and revelation.

That the participants opted to present the music not on CD or a mere link to a digital file, but a 45rpm record housed in a lovely full-color, thick cardboard picture sleeve—yes, adorned with Swett’s trees—additionally speaks to the care taken in the presentation of Home Winds. It’s a subtle, personal touch that counts for a lot in certain quarters (such as mine).

Additional note: Go to Planthouse.net to view a video for Home Winds, created by Jeffrey Rowles. Below, watch the promo video for the book/45, followed by a live clip of Broderick from late last year. The exhibition dates at Planthouse Gallery will be April 28 through June 20, with the reception being held on April 28 from 6PM to 8PM.

Incoming Vinyl: 2LP Colored Wax Version of Nick Cave’s “Murder Ballads”

Don’t forget that Lovely Creatures box set, either…

By Blurt Staff

With Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds fans in full salivation mode over the Lovely Creatures box set finally arriving on May 5 after a 2 1/2 year delay — full title: Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 1984-2014; it comes in multiple iterations, from a 2CD version to a super deluxe edition including DVD and 250-page hardback book, not to mention a 3LP vinyl edition (below) — it seems like now’s a perfectly appropriate time to unleash more Cave-related collectibles and maximize the, er, commercial potential.

To wit: As pictured at the top of the page, a gorgeous, multi-color vinyl limited edition 1996 classic Murder Ballads, which contains some of the Bad Seeds’ most popular songs (“Stagger Lee” in particular) and also featured guests PJ Harvey and Kylie Minogue appearing on it. It’s shipping this weekend via Newbury Comics (which specializes in these limited edition reissues), so you can look for it at your favorite independent record retailer or order it direct.

Carrie Brownstein Shows Love for Vinyl & Indie Record Stores

“Treasure chest” of records.

By Fred Mills

If you’re like most of us, this past Saturday you were either in line or crowding the bins at your favorite local independent record store—April 22 being Record Store Day, natch. So you might have missed the NPR segment that day featuring Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney, Portlandia and NPR itself (for awhile she was a music and pop culture commentator), in which she outlined her history with and enduring love for record stores.

Brownstein singled out Seattle’s old Rubato Records shop as being hugely influential to her evolution as a music lover and, eventually, player, noting, I”n the center of the store [were] two rows of vinyl, and that became this light in the middle of the room that I gravitated towards. I just remember that feeling when you first put your fingertips on the top of the vinyl.

“I just spent about two hours literally looking at every single record they had in that store. I felt like I had discovered a treasure chest, and I dove in.”

Treasure chest, indeed. Familiar feeling, that—being a record lover and collector cuts across gender, ethnicity, age, even religious affiliation. And Brownstein, of course, would go on to become one of the most respected musicians (not to mention comedic actress) in the U.S. Maybe those bins of records she discovered all those years ago were the springboard.

Listen to the entire interview segment at the NPR website. Below, appropriately enough, watch the all-time classic Sleater-Kinney video for 2006 track “Modern Girl.”

Incoming Vinyl: Limited Reissue of Michael Cerveris’ 2004 “dog eared”

400 copies only, 2LP set, 180-gram wax – make your plans accordingly. Below, listen to a key track from the album.

By Blurt Staff

In 2004, singer Michael Cerveris, former frontman of British band Retriever as well as American outfit Lame, released his solo debut dog eared. It went on to become a cult favorite, notching critical kudos everywhere, such as at Magnet magazine, which lauded the “Anglophile balladry and fuzzbox raunch recalling Big Star and Guided By Voices in equal measure…call it sloppy art for sloppy hearts, it’s damned swell.”

As produced and mixed by veteran studio whiz Adam Lasus, the album featured the performing talents of Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, Ken Stringfellow, Steve Shelley, Norman Blake (one of the album’s best tracks was Teenage Fanclub’s “Can’t Feel My Soul”), Laura Cantrell, Anders Parker and others, so it was also a bit of an indie rock super session. Cerveris certainly has amassed a following on both sides of the Atlantic over the years, for in addition to the aforementioned bands he was touring guitarist/vocalist for Bob Mould on the 1998 Dog and Pony Show tour, starred in Sweeney Todd on Broadway as well as the title role in Tommy during the late ‘90s, and starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on London’s West End, in New York Off Broadway, and in Los Angeles. He also won a Tony Award in 2016 for Fun Home and in 2004 for Assassins on Broadway at Studio 54.

Still, in certain quarters it’s that 2004 album that continues to quicken heart rates—you can check it out at Spotify and find out exactly why. It is truly a lost gem that has lost none of its pop lustre in the decade-plus since it was originally released.

Long out of print physically, it’s now being resurrected for the first time as a limited edition, 2 LP set, pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Just 400 copies have been pressed up by the Azucar label, a boutique, vinyl-only label dedicated to releasing limited edition pressings of classic albums from the past 30 years. dog eared was remastered for vinyl and comes in gatefold packaging with printed inner sleeves and a poster containing lyrics and unseen photos from the recording sessions. You may recall Azucar’s vinyl handiwork last year on Ken Stringfellow’s 2001 album Touched, an impressive title on all counts. Expect no less with the Cerveris project.

 

 

Blurt/Schoolkids Contest! Win Rare Vinyl for Record Store Day 10th!

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Tom Petty and Built to Spill test pressings… colored vinyl Flaming Lips… rare John Coltrane… and more. This is your brain on vinyl. Any questions? Happy birthday to Record Store Day.

By Uncle Blurt

We love vinyl here, deep at the BLURT underground ICBM bunker. In fact, the only folks we know that love vinyl even more than us would be the rabid collectors at our sister business, Schoolkids Records (the independent record store chain has locations in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). Needless to say, then, this is the time of year when things start getting a bit nutty, vinyl-wise: Record Store Day looms this week (April 22), and the three stores will be opening early as usual. The Raleigh store will also be hosting in-store performances as usual, starting at 1PM. (Didja know they sell beer?) Meanwhile, the Durham location also has four acts, starting at 2PM. Check out the lineups, below.

Skids rsd

Skids 2

 

Making this RSD particularly noteworthy is the fact that 2017 marks the event’s 10th anniversary. If you are the one person in the country who doesn’t know about RSD, you can read a story we ran a few years ago in which the founders of RSD reflected on its origins and trajectory. And to see what titles are being offered this year, click on the above RSD link.

So to mark the anniversary, Blurt, Schoolkids and Warner Bros. records have teamed up to offer some free limited edition swag. You can see the list below. All you have to do to enter into the contest in order to have a chance to win one of the records is send us your name, email and—most important of all—your snail mail. (Include the latter even if you live within driving distance of one of the three stores.) Put in the subject line Blurt RSD Contest. We will notify the winners this Friday (April 21), so you should send in your entry no later than Thursday.

Here’s the email address to send your entries:

skidsdurham@gmail.com

RSD

Good luck, fellow vinyl geeks! And a big BLURT thank-you to the folks at Warners for making this happen—and to the Record Store Day crew as well. The aforementioned swag:

Built to Spill Untethered Moon (Warner Bros. test pressing)

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Electric Wurms (aka Flaming Lips & Linear Downfall) Musik (WB purple vinyl test pressing)

Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood Live From Madison Square Garden (WB test press)

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Iron & Wine Morning Becomes Eclectic (WB test press)

John Coltrane The Roulette Sides (Roulette Record Store Day LP)

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Live Anthology (WB test press)

>PLUS a special Record Store Day ten-year anniversary record tote bag (courtesy WEA)

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SCHIZOPHONICS – Ooga Booga 10” EP

Album: Ooga Booga 10"

Artist: Schizophonics

Label: Pig Baby

Release Date: March 24, 2017

www.pigbabyrecords.com

Schiz 1

The Upshot: With a sound hearkening back to the MC5’s Motor City ramalama, the San Diego trio unapologetically kicks out da… you know.

BY FRED MILLS

Ooga booga, indeed. San Diego’s Schizophonics—the unholy spawn of Roky Erickson, Sky Saxon, and Rob Tyner—serve up a sonic scorched-earth policy guaranteed to singe even your nether hairs. I mean, seriously, folks, the music on this EP erupts from the grooves with such primal velocity, you can practically see a hologram of guitarist Pat Beers in full stage-leaping flight hovering over the turntable. (Check these photos at their website for confirmation.) The trio has been around since 2009, built around the nucleus of Pat and Lety Beers, plus bassist Brian Reilly, and has a couple of 7”ers to their credit, on Munster and Ugly Things, so you know that’s a TMOQ.  Ooga Booga seriously ups the ante, with nary a throwaway or B-side among the five tracks here.

From the outset they serve due notice: “Ooga Booga Boogalo” commences with a brace of klassic Kinks-style riffage and a Kick Out The Jams-esque arrangement (hence the aforementioned Rob Tyner namecheck). That’s followed by the riotous rumble of “Electric,” powered by sinewy, fuzzed out leads and Pat’s extemporaneous grunts and whoops. Flip the platter and get caught in the “Rat Trap,” another Nuggets-esque garage rockin’ gem of vintage Yardbirds aplomb. “Two Thousand Seventeen,” with its Keith Moon-worthy percussion and dark chordage, contemplates our contemporary era of reverse evolution to signpost the annum  in much the same way the Stooges marked the year of 1969.  The band wraps things up with “Venus Transit,” another slab of MC5 ramalama, all chaos and convulsion with a take-no-prisoners ethos.

Whew. Six successive spins of the rec, and I’m exhausted. Partially deaf as well. If this band tours anywhere near you, don’t miss it. But make sure you don your flame-proof pants before entering the club….

Consumer note: The EP is pressed on electric orange 10” vinyl, and each of the 1,000 copies pressed comes in a hand-numbered sleeve. It’s like getting Record Store Day early, so what are you waiting for, punters?

DOWNLOAD: Aw, c’mon, I already TOLD ya all five songs are indispensable.

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SOMERSET MEADOWS – We Will Rock 7” EP

Album: We Will Rock 7” EP

Artist: Somerset Meadows

Label: Self-released

Release Date: October 28, 2016

https://somersetmeadows.bandcamp.com

Somerset

The Upshot: The New Wave of the late ‘70s meets the alterna-nation of the early ‘90s.

BY FRED MILLS

Hey kids, nostalgic for the early/mid ‘90s? Me neither! The members of Portland’s Somerset Meadows clearly remember the era, but they’re smart enough not to emulate it despite having sonic overtones of Guided By Voices—which they preemptively state on their bio—as well as other indie/garage/lo-fi outfits such as the Grifters, Sebadoh, and the Mountain Goats. Like those avatars, SM have a knack for penning tuneful, hooky pop nuggets marked by careening guitars, riotous, Keith Moon-like drumming, and yowling vocals.

Lead track on this four-song EP (the follow-up to mini-album Time and Relative Dimensions in Sound) is “She Is Waiting,” a slice of revved-up British Invasion filtered through a Hold Steady lens, while the 1 ½-minute “Time to Shine” adds some surf-y riffage to the mix reminiscent of vintage Blondie. Hold that thought: this band wouldn’t have been out of place in new wave Manhattan, holding court in dives like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City and going for broke in front of a leather jacketed crowd night after night. All four songs here inhabit that rock ‘n’ roll fairytale universe, and luckily enough, for us the setting is 2017.

This limited-edition (250 copies), hand-numbered vinyl platter may or may not be sold out by now, but even if it is, you can preview it at the Somerset Meadows Bandcamp page and buy it digitally.

DOWNLOAD: All four tracks. C’mon, what are you waitin’ for?

Incoming: Echo & Bunnymen Live LP; Listen To It on Spotify

UK legends also have U.S. tour dates for July and August.

By Uncle Blurt

Not long ago it was announced that the label Run Out Groove was soliciting input from fans on whether or not to release a live Echo & the Bunnymen album. Looks like the fans voted in the affirmative, and It’s All Live Now will drop June 6 from ROG.

The label specializes in this type of “crowd sourcing” input to decide on titles to release; previously they released an MC5 live album, which sold out, and they currently are polling fans on whether to release the great Dream Syndicate Live at Raj’s show, Golden Smog’s Down by the Old Mainstream, and Howard Tate’s Howard Tate. (Before you ask, yes, your ol’ Uncle voted immediately for the Dream Syndicate record, although all three would be awesome to own on vinyl. Note that the DS version they are pondering is a 2LP set and not the “edited” version that came out on vinyl in Europe in ’89; it will also be on colored vinyl. Both the Smog and Tate records have seen previous vinyl appearances in the States.)

Pressed on 180-gram vinyl (just black, unfortunately) in a numbered limited edition (tip-on sleeve with cardboard stock insert; liner notes by Will Sergeant) of 2,987 copies, it comprises tracks from the April 25, 1985 show in Sweden recorded live for Swedish National Radio—material that has previously seen release on the Crystal Days 1979-1999 CD box set as well as covers of “Paint It, Black,” “Run, Run, Run” and “Friction,” B-sides on the “Bedbugs and Ballyhoo” 12” EP. In addition to those eight tracks, there’s also “Heroin” and “Do It Clean” from the well-known July ’83 Royal Albert Hall concert. Several of the included tracks were also released in 1988 in Japan as the 7-song New Live and Rare CD EP. All in all, we’re talking two Bunnymen classics plus gems by the Modern Lovers, Bob Dylan, the Doors, the Liter, the Stones, Velvet Underground, and Television.

Interestingly, Run Out Groove indicates it has already sold out of its preorder, meaning punters late to the table will have to consult their local independent record retailers… And note that it ain’t cheap, either, particularly for a one-LP set: expect to pay in the $28 to $32 range.

Even more interestingly, It’s All Live Now is already up, in its entirety, on Spotify, so listen away if you have a Spotify account.

Below, also check out a video from a 1987 Swedish show. The Bunnymen kick off a US tour in Philadelphia on July 11 that wraps a month later in Vancouver; tour dates can be viewed HERE.

 

Anthology Recs Preps ‘70s Australian Folk Rock Scene

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Rare 1970’s folk/rock/psyche jams from Australia curated by Mikey Young of Total Control and Keith Abrahamsson of label Mexican Summer. Below, check out video from Megan Sue Hicks.

By Blurt Staff

Follow The Sun compiles twenty cuts dug from dusty bins by Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) and Keith Abrahamsson (Founder / Head of A&R at Anthology Recordings and Mexican Summer) surveying the sought after sound of Australia’s lesser — and greater — known moments of ‘70s rock, folk, and their in-between offspring. Follow The Sun filters the sublime and sometimes subversive psychedelic airwaves transmitted around the world from America’s terrestrial platforms during the golden age of gentle, exploratory FM through a distinctly Australian lens. The double LP set drops May 5 via Anthology Recordings, and you can preview some of the material HERE. Below is one of the featured artists, Megan Sue Hicks.

Independent labels and recording studios proliferated across Australia during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, while major labels simultaneously scoured the furthest reaching corners of the continent to foster new approaches in making music. With both indies and majors ultimately compelled to uncover the almighty single, the fringe was frequently explored for “crossover” sounds. This engendered a creative freedom amongst artists that mirrored the open-ended mood of the times. Anything was possible.

Follow The Sun does not represent those Australian acts who produced a number one single leading to international fame and fortune. Some of the artists on the compilation never even made the local hit parade. But the fact that many of these artists didn’t enjoy chart success is secondary; these artists represent the consciousness of their time. As radio perpetrated pop fodder trodding the middle ground to ensure maximum advertising, the artists on this album chronicled the times in their own unique ways.

Follow the Sun – Dave Douglas
Riverboat – Andy Armstrong
Easy – Mata Hari
First Boy I Loved – Marian Henderson
Spirit Move Within Me – Flock
Hey, Can You Come out and Play – Megan Sue Hicks
Kill My World – Autumn
Knowing That You’re There – Australia
Am I Really Here – Moonlight
Witnessing – Gary Shearston
Wild Horse Plains – Tidewater
Whispering Pines – Shepherd
The Orange Tree – Cathie O’Sullivan
Cement River – Steve Warner
Good Morning – Paul Adolphus
Something Strange – Doug Ashdown
Country Corn – Trevor McNamara
This Must Be The End – Billy Green
Today’s The First Day Of Your Life – Catmando
Goodbye – Simon Jones (LP ONLY)