Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

Though I actually listened to a wealth of new music this week, I wanted to get back to reviewing some of the vinyl that I picked up on my epic shopping trip along the West Coast. I also like to give most albums some time to settle in before reviewing them and many of the new records I heard this week deserve a few more listens before I spew my opinions on here. Most of the albums on this week's list, though new on vinyl, are records I've been familiar with for some time, either with the actual album or at the very least the material. Some of my favorite bands of all time are also represented. Enjoy.

Make Up - Untouchable Sound: Still the strangest live performance I've ever seen was when these guys opened for Sonic Youth at NYU back in 1995. It would be another four years or so before I'd really discover the brilliance of this band and their hyper blend of punk, soul, and garage rock. Released in 2006, this live album is billed as the great 'lost' album which features songs that never made it onto an LP before the band split. Most of those songs however did make it onto the fantastic 1999 compilation I Want Some. Having heard other live albums from them, I can easily say this one tops the others. Partially because of the set list, partially because of the recording quality, but mostly just because they sound great on this night.

Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith: I always find it strange when an artist's self-titled album isn't their debut. This 1995 album is singer songwriter's second, following Roman Candle released the year before. I've always thought it shows a significant step forward and really let's us see the development of the song writing skill that would go on to make him one of the icons of my generation. Some of my favorite tracks of his can be found on this album. "Needle in the Hay," "Southern Belle," and "Clementine," just to name a few. I found this for under $10 in perfect condition, and it's an original pressing as this isn't one of his to be re-released. A treasure to say the least.

Stardeath and White Dwarfs - The Birth: I'd been looking for this 2009 psychedelic indie rock album on vinyl for several months when I finally found it in Portland. This Oklahoma band is probably best known for re-recording Dark Side of the Moon with The Flaming Lips (The singer is the nephew of Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne). I've had this album digitally for a few years and still listen to it quite frequently. I just knew it would sound amazing on vinyl with it's Floyd spaciness meets pop hooks, and I was right. A stunning album in so many ways. To this day, still their only full length release.

Beefeater - House Burning Down: A few weeks back, I mentioned that I bought this along with the band's other EP. It still amazes me that anyone sold it, but they did. This is the D.C. post punk band's 1987 EP and final release. It strikes a different tone than the first EP, seemingly more relaxed, yet somehow more desperate at the same time. You can hear singer Thomas Squip unraveling a bit on this record and anyone can tell the band wouldn't last much longer, but that's what gives the record so much power.

Warsaw - Another Ideal for Killing: Released in 2011, this vinyl bootleg captures an early concert of the band that would later be known as Joy Division. I've always found the Warsaw period to be the band's most dynamic, as they literally were inventing the post-punk genre even as punk was booming. "Shadowplay," "Ice Age," "Walked in Line" and "Interzone" rank among my favorite Joy Division songs and the Warsaw versions even more so. The sound is much rougher and completely stripped raw on these recordings and it suits them nicely. So glad I found this.

The Bevis Frond - London Stone: Nick Saloman began recording as The Bevis Frond back in the mid-80s and is still making amazing indie rock today as evidenced by last year's album The Leaving of London. Much of the band's early work is on a hard to find basis and in fact, I'd never even seen this 1992 album for sale even on CD. So when I saw it in a record store in Seattle, there was no question that I was going to buy it. This album represents the beginning of the band's best work and was definitely a missing piece in my collection.

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