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Stores Tue Apr 15 2014
By Transmission Staff
Our beloved vinyl holiday, Record Store Day, is this Saturday, and while we might not all be at stores waiting in line come midnight, the yearly celebration of all things vinyl has its own perks. Every year, there's a plethora of special Record Store Day releases. From new artists and old, either re-releases, or special compilations or tracks — there's something for everyone, of course only if your local record store gets in the release that you want. And that's the rub, since while all stores might like to get each of these releases, even if they request them, they're not sure what they're going to get till the box arrives (sometime later this week). But what follows is what the Transmission staff is keeping its fingers crossed for this year.
Our Record Store Day Wish List:
The Julie Ruin 7"
You probably recognize Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill or Le Tigre or from being the coolest person ever. After an extended hiatus from music due to the singer's struggle with Lyme disease, Kathleen returned along with new band The Julie Ruin in 2013 with a new album, Run Fast. The album is less politcally charged and more personal than what we've heard from Hanna in the past, revealing a more vulnerable side to the artist. On Record Store Day The Julie Ruin will release a 7" of two previously unreleased songs, "Brightside" and "In The Picture", with a limited pressing of 2000.
Brian Jonestown Massacre/Magic Castles 12"
Early-aught psych rock fans rejoice for there is an RSD special release for you! The brilliant but beleaguered Brian Jonestown Massacre has teamed up with Minneapolis' Magic Castles for a 12" Split Single. On the A-side are the BJM tracks: one exclusive-to-RSD track, "Lions Ride Free' and also the track "Goodbye (Butterfly)" from Brian Jonestown Massacre's forthcoming album Revelation. The B-side belongs to Magic Castles and their two songs, "Rebecca's World" and "Trembling Hands." As a despondent BJM superfan, this release renews me. There's only so many time's a girl can watch Dig! And if Anton's personal YouTube page has any predictive powers, the release won't disappoint. Check out this (Preview) leak of "Goodbye (Butterfly)". 340 likes and only 3 dislikes? Someone check and see if that ratio sets a new record. I digress... the point is: People don't really love Brian Jonestown Massacre, they worship them. I suspect this release will have BJM fans crawling out of their caves in droves in order to get their hands on the precious offerings from Anton's mind.
Lydia Loveless 7" (unofficial RSD release from Bloodshot Records)
Bloodshot's resident adorable country crooner, Lydia Loveless, is putting out a stellar 7" for RSD, covering an unlikely source — Kesha (née Ke$ha). Loveless is putting an alt-country spin on the clubtastic singer/spectacle's song, "Blind" (thankfully, sans autotune). I think the Loveless version is far far stronger as a country tune, and definitely speaks more to the driving around town in the summer, searching for something to sing to on the radio vibe that the lyrics lend themselves to.
Ex-Cult's self-titled album is a noisy melange of psychedelic punk rock that calls to mind some Wire or, more recently, Ty Segall. The RSD 7" release for "Ties You Up" b/w "New Virtues" is the first single from their forthcoming Midnight Passenger LP, and it's right in line with the brazen and scuzzy sound that they've spewed for years.
V/A: ZTT: ReOrganization of Pop 10 x 7" Box Set
Zang Tuum Tumb, a line from Marinetti's Futurist sound-poem, was chosen by The Art of Noise, an avant-garde dance music group who plucked their name from Luigi Russolo's Futurist manifesto, to be the name of their record label. From their early singles ("Beat Box," "Close (To the Edit)"), Art of Noise put themselves on their own pedestal, deifying themselves as rigorous exploiters of new technology while keeping the beat tough. ZTT issued singles that looked like Futurist pamphlets, peppered with stark photography and strange declarations. This box of ten 7" singles shows just how wide the ZTT net was cast in these days: artists include the Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 808 State, The Buggles, Propaganda, and Shane McGowan (with Sinead O'Connor). Subtitled "The ReOrganization of Pop," this box is an all-in-one manifesto calling for new directions in music by people willing to push the machines beyond failure, beyond exhaustion, and into greatness. A melding of '80s dance culture and treacherous technology.
Chuck Inglish - 7" series
The Cool Kids have grown up. You know what, though? I Wouldn't have it any other way. There was once a scrawny dude named Mikey Rocks who rapped about his BMX and his misadventures upon it. His has evolved into the musician extraordinaire named Sir Michael Rocks who now raps passionately about haute cuisine and his clothing deal with Neiman Marcus. After almost a decade in the game, things have changed for The Cool Kids. Sir Michael's partner, Chuck Inglish, may not have changed his name to something fantastically regal, but he has found himself as one of the most in demand producers and as well as a highly respected lyricist. It seems fitting that Inglish's debut solo album, Convertables is a love letter to the music he grew up listening to on his Walkman. Singles like "Legs" come alive with with Chromeo doing their very best Rick James impression. Meanwhile, on "Gametime," Inglish and Action Bronson trade rhymes over a beat that sounds like something from the Wu-Tang Forever era of the East Coast in the '90s. Chance the Rapper makes an appearance on the album closer, "Glam," to bring a touch of Herbie Hancock inspired jazz, funk, and soul to the project. Throughout it all, Inglish raps with his trademark cleverness and poignant charm.
Scharpling & Wurster - Rock, Rot, and Rule
Tom Scharpling's recently concluded radio program, "The Best Show on WFMU," is likely to be remembered as one of the last great bastions of radio comedy before the podcast era, a final point in a line that traces back to the Firesign Theater, Bob and Ray, and the man-on-the-street pranks of Coyle & Sharpe. From 2000 to 2013, Scharpling helmed the three-hour program with a mix of music and calls from "listeners," a collection of strange, damaged, self-regarding lunatics (many played by Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster) who start their conversations in a pretty sane direction (comment on the last song, clarification of an upcoming event listing) before going off onto planet 9 (1-inch tall person who's also a racist; new member of teen punk band Live Skull who turned the group into a jazz fusion unit). For all the absurd premises and insane wordplay, "The Best Show" worked for the same reason the original Gong Show work: its emcee. Tom Scharpling is one of the funniest straight men of all time; his slow burn smolders like the ass-end of a campfire, and his incredulous replies to the mounting insanity are often funnier than the mounting insanity itself.
"Rock, Rot, and Rule" welcomes author Ronald Thomas Clontole, the author of the titular book, who tells Tom he's written "The Ultimate Argument Settler" book, putting all rock bands and singers into one of the three categories. This time, it's not beleaguered Tom or clueless "Ronald" who draws the laughs; it's the callers, taking this "critic" at face value (The Beatles "Rock," not "Rule," because, according to the author, "They had a lot of bad songs."), a never-ending barrage of willing outrage and Comic Book Guy-level sarcasm. ("You have dug up the Jacqueline Susanne of Rock Criticism" sniffs one caller.) Originally released as a CD on Scharpling and Wurster's Stereolaffs label, RSD brings this classic piece of music anti-snobbery back to the masses as a sharp-looking piece of vinyl.
Sun Ra - Outer Spaceways Incorporated
Fans of jazz/avant-garde musician Sun Ra and his orchestra (or Arcestra, if you will, which was founded in Chicago) will want to keep an eye out for this RSD re-release 12″ on "psychedelic color" vinyl. This somewhat radical and at times "challenging" album has been remastered and is being re-released for the first time in over 30 years, which means you don't have to keep searching for one in dusty crates that hasn't been scratched by too many seeds and stems. If you snag one, you might just want to set aside the rest of the weekend to digest it.
Dunedin Double - V/A repress
When it was originally released in 1982, the Dunedin Double compilation announced the small coastal city of Dunedin, New Zealand as a haven for left-field indie pop, and it remains one of the most landmark early releases in the revered Flying Nun catalogue. Featuring three songs each from The Chills (album cover, above), Sneaky Feelings, The Stones, and the Verlaines, the Dunedin Double 2x7" package has become a sought-after relic of the original DIY era, and its off-kilter jangle remains influential to countless bands today. Thanks to Captured Tracks, you won't have to shell out $100+ for an original anymore to hear "Pink Frost" on wax.
Half Japanese: "Vol. 1" 3LP Box
Arguably the crown jewel of last year's RSD treasures was the massive LP box reissue of ½ Japanese's "½ Gentlemen/Not Beasts". Surely one of the most luxuriously packaged debut albums of all time, "1/2 Gentlemen" was a 3LP box set on the brilliant but ill-fated Armageddon Records label in 1980. "1/2 Gentlemen" steamrolled punk orthodoxy with its dozens of short, discordant tracks, recorded in brothers Jad and David Fair's bedroom in their parents house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, songs that included paens to pretty girls both famous ("Patti Smith," "Jodie Foster") and local ("My Girlfriend Lives Like A Beatnik"), baring their love of all kinds of music with covers ranging from Springsteen to Dylan to the Velvet Underground to James Brown to the Temptations.
This year's ½ Japanese offering is another box set, the first in a series of four (!) dedicated to putting the group's criminally out of print discography back into circulation on vinyl. This first box is arguably the most crucial, containing the "Loud," "Our Solar System," and "Sing No Evil" LPs, any of which would be an ideal introduction to the group's lo-fi, exuberant, soulful, and heartsick early works. Having all three at once is sweeter than a date with Rachel Lang, and missing it would be "The Worst I'd Ever Do."
Alvarius B/Sir Richard Bishop - If You Don't Like It...DON'T! 12"
The Sun City Girls were less a band than a collection of super heroes working in tandem, three prodigiously-talented musicians, provocateurs, and thinkers who seemed to have no bound to their imagination or the ability to carry it all through. Albums could bounce between freeform noise, beautiful Hindi filmsong renditions, unnerving radio theater, drum solos, guitar solos, group chants, Balinese gamelan, unreconstituted smut, and everything else imaginable. When Charles Gocher (drums, vocals, more) died of cancer in 2007, brothers Alan and Richard Bishop toured as The Brothers Unconnected, saluting their fallen brother with heartfelt renditions of Sun City Girls classics like "Space Prophet Dogon" and "Aristocrats of Impertinence." Fans loved it (and let's face it, needed it), but it was clear that the brothers had to continue on their own paths for a while.
This 12" pairs the brothers' approaches to guitars on each side of this EP. Alan's long-running Alvarius B. project has progressed from harsh, exciting 6-string blurts (the self-titled debut) to soundtrack-informed song cycles of considerable sophistication ("Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset," "Baroque Primitiva"). Sir Richard Bishop, the guitar whiz of the group, unwinds his mystical, pan-cultural guitar pieces like he's been living on a mountain for the past three decades. They contain much wisdom and beauty. At last: the Brothers, connected.
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys - Transcriptions
Lovers of country crooners Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys will want to snag this release if they can. Featuring 10 tracks that were previously only available to record stations in the '40s, these songs are choice examples of the band's notable Texas swing style. Featuring favorites like "I'm an Old Cowhand", "Long Eared Mule", "Don't Fence Me In", and "Moonlight on the Ganges," this will be one release you'll want to add to your pile, pardner.
V/A - Non Violent Femmes 12"
If you take re-issued soundtracks out of the mix, compilations tend to get lost in the shuffle on Record Store Day, with few exceptions. This year, famed Brooklyn indie label Kanine Records put together a compilation worth your attention. Non Violent Femmes features 11 tracks of some prominent female-fronted bands including Joanna Gruesome, TEEN, Speedy Ortiz and Eternal Summers. Ten of the 11 tracks are exclusive to this release, and the collection will be available on 12" pink vinyl, limited to 1,000 copies.
Lake Street Dive 7"
Lake Street Dive is a band I have become an invested fan of over the past few years. They've only released two full length albums, one of which, Bad Portraits, was rolled out to the public extremely recently. Their lead singer, the dynamic Rachael Price, packs a powerhouse voice reminiscent of the strength of soul greats, with the sensibility and flair of her jazzy predecessors. Fun Machine, the group's 2012 EP, featured covers of prominent ballads of days past, including Jackon 5's "I Want You Back" and "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates. They managed to put a funky spin on these classic numbers and craft them into something all their own. The soul backdrop that they create is a blend of many different styles, and they manage to keep the group's personality steadfast and strong. I look forward to hearing the unreleased tracks on this rare release, as they promote tracks that were not included on their first full-length album and whimsical EP.
Wedding Dress (Unoffcial RSD release)
Wedding Dress is a side project of Maps & Atlases' guitarist Erin Elders and also includes members from locals Joan of Arc and Gypsyblood. Throw those bands together in your head, think of their calmer aspects and you can kind of hear Wedding Dress already. Their "Loom" 7" may not be sanctioned by the Record Store Day high court, but it shouldn't be too hard to find at the right Chicago record shops on Saturday.
The Everly Brothers - Roots
Much of the Everlys late-Sixties/early-Seventies output has remained, like the Beach Boys' records of the same era, relatively obscure thanks to limited pressings and lack of interest (and sales) from their aging teen audiences. But the cult surrounding these records have only grown with time, and with Phil Everly's passing last year, many of the more overlooked selections within the duo's catalogue are being re-examined. Roots remains one of my favorites from the group, second only to their classic early material or their Carnaby Street forays with the Hollies in 1966's Two Yanks in England, and features a mix of classic country standards ("Shady Grove") and hits by their contemporaries ("Mama Tried"), all interspersed with montages from the Everly family's radio show in the '50s.
Pissed Jeans - The Very Best of SubPop 12"
Like much humor, it's funny first, tragic later. Seeing someone piss his jeans would be hilarious. At first. But imagining how they'd feel an hour later (or how you'd feel in their shoes...or their jeans!), it gets darker and sadder. Such is the legacy of Pissed Jeans, four good-time goombahs from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Pissed Jeans rock hard and bellow loud, but with a deep vein of humor, whether decrying social acceptance ("I could put on a tight black shirt! But I don't bother! I don't bother!" screams Matt Korvette on "False Jesii Part 2") or bemoaning aches and pains from the workday ("Request for Masseuse" is more real-world litany than rock n roll fantasy). The grandiosely titled "Best of Sub Pop" 12" gathers material from several BBC sessions, newly-heard versions of songs from the most recent records, 2013's "Honeys" and 2009's "King of Jeans."