Each week we’ll be taking a look into our top ten favourite records, either released or reissued on vinyl. Since the turn of the new century, vinyl has made a significant comeback to compensate for the lack of physical copies of music. As digital formats and online streaming sites have become the ‘normal’ way of listening to music, on the go and at home, tape cassettes and CDs have gone out of fashion but one format remains the tangible option we all turn to.
The resurgence of vinyl has confirmed the want, more so than the need, for people to hold onto something more tangible, typically in addition to their digital listening experience. Most record labels, indie, major and everything in between, when releasing and distributing new releases, will press and print vinyl as well as release it online.
Listening to vinyl is arguably the best way to listen to music; while some may disagree in favour of the pinpoint accuracy of digital formats, analogue is still superior to digital despite the conveniences that modern technology provides. Analogue does not limit audio bandwidth; once digital audio is recorded, the bandwidth is set in place. On the other analogue audio will not lose its quality when moving from one high resolution to the next. It’s no wonder vinyl has made a serious come back.
When new artists and bands release music, it is almost expected for them to release it on vinyl in addition to digital format. Each week we will be delving into the best new releases on vinyl that you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.
This week in particular, there have been some great reissues of old records on vinyl, including, Black Sabbath’s 1972 Vol. 4, Carole King’s Tapestry, Celine Dion’s Encore Un Soir, Roots and There’s No Place Like America by Curtis Mayfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Pendulum, Holy Diver Live by Dio, and Phil Collins’ debut, Face Value. In addition, there have been great vinyl debuts – nothing short of ambitious – suggesting that new and fresh music is still alive and well.
The 10 best vinyl releases/reissues of the week
Dead Moon – Strange Pray Tell
Starting with a reissue, this 1992 punk revival album, Strange Pray Tell is the perfect fusion of post-punk with original 1977 punk aesthetics. From Portland, Oregon, although they were an American band that developed a strong following in Europe, thanks to their visceral sound.
Fronted by singer/songwriter Fred Cole, they had a strong underground following on the west coast. Dead Moon broke up in 2006, and they never achieved commercial success until fellow west coast grunge-turned-arena rockers Pearl Jam, kept Dead Moon’s legacy alive by doing a live version of their song, ‘It’s O.K’, into which they would transition from their song, ‘Daughter’.
Goat Girl – On All Fours
A personal favourite, this album was released online via Rough Trade Records on January 29th. It was released on vinyl on February 12th and is the perfect addition to your collection. Goat Girl is truly exceptional and stands out among the oversaturation of sameness. If there is a comeback of vintage ’60s aesthetic via ’90s alternative songwriting, then Goat Girl must surely be in the lead.
The singer of the group, Clottie Cream, sounds vaguely familiar to Justine Frischmann of Elastica, and the rest of the band exhibits other similarities; hailing from London, it is no surprise that Goat Girl could very well be – intentionally – the rightful heirs to ’90s britpop. Definitely worth a listen.
Fawning – Illusions of Control
Illusions of Control came out on vinyl on February 11th and deserves a place in your collection. This is a dream-pop, ethereal explosion. Possessing elements of the best of The Cure, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and other essential shoegaze and ambient acts, Fawning’s reverb-drenched sound is to die for – or maybe just to fall asleep to, or go for a drive to.
Sprinkled all over with luscious sounds and gigantic cinematic sonics, the album is underpinned by complex structures and orchestration, and led by Beatles-Esque melodies. The record was released through NeverNotGoth and definitely worth listening to. ‘All I Have’ is a personal favourite.
The Pretty Reckless – Death by Rock and Roll
Bringing back old school heavy rock, The Pretty Reckless sound like they’re on a mission from hell to convert you to screaming fangirls and boys, reminiscent of a concert seen in the ’60s. Bringing back that musical virtuosity that post-punk and indie musicians seem to lack sometimes, they are all very accomplished players helping The Pretty Reckless deliver songs that make you want to headbang with some credibility.
Led by Taylor Momsen, a former actress who appeared in the show Gossip Girl, commented about her transition from acting to rocking out, “music is where I can be me.” She continues to say about her previous successful career, “acting is easy. I’ve been doing it for so long and I totally love it. But you’re playing a character instead of yourself. Music is more personal because you’re writing it and you’re involved in every step of it.” She’s a convincing musician and one hell of a rock singer who deserves to be taken seriously.
Django Django – Glowing in the Dark
“Our name has absolutely nothing to do with Django Reinhardt,” the band wrote on social media. The London based art-rock band, formed in 2009, possesses an interesting blend of different genres and off-shoots of rock music. With a hint of Talking Heads and Devo, they are certainly the next in kin to carry this tradition of artistic sensibilities within the music medium.
Glowing in the Dark was released on the 12th through Because Music. Their fourth album was produced by Dave Maclean, and is definitely a return to earlier sounds found in new wave bands of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Charlotte Gainsbourg, accomplished actress and daughter of French Chanson singer, Serge Gainsbourg, is featured on the track, ‘Waking Up’.
You will not be disappointed to keep this one on your shelf, primed and ready for that perfect Django Django moment.
EABS (Electro-Acoustic Beat Sessions) – Discipline of Sun Ra
One of the most interesting groups working today is perenially on innovative music’s cutting edge. They are truly undefinable; blending jazz fusion, electronic music, funk, and classic Jazz (most notably inspired by Miles Davis). Marek Pędziwiatr, keyboardist, vocalist and the band’s founder, once stated in an interview: “We’re the new generation, we grew up listening to hip hop; we got to know jazz later on.”
All their instruments are acoustic, maintaining a real organic element to their group. Despite their incredible blend of genres — this is not even the most unique part of their band — Spisek Jednego of the band uses a record player to make music. He commented on this: “the record player’s special quality is that by touching it you can make different interesting sounds, not only by playing the original track, but also by modifying these sounds. The only disadvantage is that a record player is not an acoustic instrument. I depend on electricity. I can’t stand on the street and play.”
God is an Astronaut – Ghost Tapes #10
Beautifully walking a line between metal, industrial, electronic and post-rock, God is an Astronaut’s Ghost Tapes #10 is fascinating. The music is meditative, rocking, loud, soft, thrilling, and pensive. On the record, they explore space within music which triggers the imagination.
What is even more fascinating, is their capability to keep the listener locked in, all the while, being strictly an instrumental band. They hail from County Wicklow in Ireland, and continue to sell out shows in NYC and Los Angeles.
This is a seminal moment for the group and an essential pick-up.
Guy Blakeslee – Postcards from the Edge
Critically acclaimed musician, Guy Blakeslee, has released albums under his own name and under the moniker, Entrance, since 2003. When Blakeslee started working on this album, he had undergone a transformative experience, and due to a near-fatal accident, had to move back to the east coast from LA.
“Then I went on crazy adventures from that point on until I eventually ended up back in Los Angeles and started trying to record it and turn all those experiences into something.” He attempted to channel the time the singer was in Paris, and Donald Trump had just been elected president, to make matters worse, Leonard Cohen had passed.
All these bizarre and somewhat tragic events happened and Blakeslee wanted to capture these moments on record. “A lot of these things were happening when I was beginning to write the songs. It was a significant moment in this transformation of looking at the world through different eyes and standing in the cemetery, surrounded by a remembrance of people that were gone and feeling that America might also be gone.” Blakeslee captures this sentimental feeling of loss dynamically in his record.
His Name is Alive – Hope is a Candle
An experimental band originally from Livonia, Michigan, Hope is a Candle, released through Disciples, is minimal and ambient yet permeated with a peculiar off-kilter dance beat. One can imagine it being the soundtrack to an art-house film set deep in the woods in Scandinavia. It is mystical, atmospheric, and seemingly teeming with tape delay and is terse in its delivery.
The album definitely stands alone in its artistic qualities; it is hard to compare it to anything else and could do well for ambient listening or to listen to when alone in a dark, cool room. Either way, it is definitely worth a listen on vinyl – it is beautiful in its mystery.
Black Sabbath – Vol. 4
Bookended by another reissue, this sold gold rocker was originally released in 1972. This was the first album that guitar player Tony Iommi would undertake production duties; Rodger Bain produced the previous albums. Ozzy Ozbourne commented on this, “Previously we had Rodger Bain as a producer – and, although he’s very good, he didn’t really feel what the band was doing. It was a matter of communication. This time, we did it with Patrick, our manager, and I think we’re all very happy, It was great to work in an American studio.”
The album’s reissue features newly remastered songs plus 20 previously unreleased studio and live recordings. Allegedly, the recording process was sporadically disrupted by increasing drug use problems; the band would have speaker boxes full of cocaine delivered to the studio. Bill Ward, the band’s drummer, feared he would be fired because of his feelings regarding the track and his initial difficulty playing it. Ward said, “I hated the song, there were some patterns that were just horrible. I nailed it in the end, but the reaction I got was the cold shoulder from everybody. It was like ‘Well, just go home, you’re not being of any use right now.’ I felt like I’d blown it, I was about to get fired.”
The working title of the album was Snowblind, which would be deemed by the record company, too obvious of a reference to cocaine, that they would be forced not to. Ozzy Osbourne still refers to this record as such, however. “Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums – although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.”