The past week has been the week of digesting the wealth of vinyl that came my way on Christmas Day, much of which I've already shared with all of you here. I've also been keeping my Best of 2015 playlist on while driving, which has left little time to discover new sounds for the Roundup. However, there have been a few vinyl records that I'm hearing for the first time, enough to make a proper Roundup for the start of 2016. Sadly, there are no releases yet for the current year to share, though that will change next week as Mr. David Bowie has released a promising sounding disc. In the meantime, here are some albums for you all to digest. Enjoy.
Alberta Cross - Alberta Cross: The Brooklyn based London indie band's third album was one of those that I listened to in a frenzy toward the end of last year with hopes that it would be one that was sorely missing from my Best of List. Having been a big fan of their previous work, this was one of the albums I was eagerly anticipating last Fall. It's slightly more low key than their other albums, taking a more folkish turn. And while this didn't end up making my final list, it's still quite good. "Easy Street," "Isolation," "Water Mountain," "Heavy Words," and "Shadow of Mine" are personal favorites.
Johnny Cash - American Recordings I-VI: Ever since Christmas, my Missus and I have been making our way through the vinyl box set that she received. We had many of the songs digitally for years, but never listened to the entire albums. Having gone through it, I'm prepared to say that this is the single most ambitious project in modern music, and possibly the best anthology of popular music ever recorded. To have one gifted artist interpret the entire scope of popular music, you really get a sense of the wealth of sounds we've been blessed with in our current age. Thank you for that, Man in Black.
Death & Vanilla - California Owls: This EP, released last year in conjunction with the Swedish neo-psychedelic band's wonderful LP, To Where the Wild Things Are, is a similar dose of dream pop noise with minimal vocals. The four songs create a beautiful, yet softly eerie atmosphere on this moody record. Not quite as unforgettable as the album, but certainly a fantastic companion piece. This was one of the bands that were pretty prominent while writing this year, and if and when my next book is published, they will most likely get a shout out in the credits.
Placebo - MTV Unplugged: Back in the day, the MTV Unplugged program was a real benchmark show, and deserves credit for the rise of acoustic music over the past two decades. It was a place for rock bands to showcase another side of their talent and pay homage to the music that influenced them. Over the past decade, the productions have fallen away, with just a handful in the last several years. The only one done last year was this, a session with one my favorite bands of the late '90s and 00's. Spanning their entire career, this is one of those must-have additions to the band's catalog, with completely transforming versions of most of their best songs. (Oddly missing is "Pure Morning", possibly their biggest hit and the song that launched their career).
The Legendary Pink Dots / Ketvector - The Shock Exchange: This split 12" was released for Record Store Day last year, with Side A featuring three songs by The Legendary Pink Dots. The songs are of their signature brand futuristic, dystopian psychedelic soundscapes. Side B contains four songs from the electro ambient Ketvector. They have a similar feel, if a little less chaotic, but it was the flip side, and my love of all things LPD that brought me to this record. Worth a listen on Bandcamp or online, and worth a purchase if your a fan like me.
Elvis - Pure Gold: This past week, the King had yet another posthumous birthday, and I figured it was as good a time as any to give this recently acquired record a proper spin. Released two years before his death, this compilation covers 12 years of music, from 1960-1972. Despite his appearance and lifestyle choices, the King always sounded great. This is a dynamite collection, with the real standout for me being his version "Fever."