Showing posts with label new granada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new granada. Show all posts

Monday, September 1, 2014

MRENC - All Around Surround

If you did not grow up in Florida, or perhaps have not familiarized yourself with Florida's geographical (nautical) surroundings, you might not know which side of MRENC's (pronounced "Mister E - N - C") album All Around Surround to play first, which I like.  It puts the sequencing in the listener's hands.  Side-A is the "Atlantic Side," while Side-B is the "Gulf Side."  The title All Around Surround is a lyric from the closing track "Cover Me."

The vinyl release comes with a CD, not a MP3 download.  I remember my first experience with this; getting a CD with a vinyl I purchased.  It was the summer of 2000 in Cambridge, MA (I had just returned from an amazing honeymoon with my wife), and Shellac had just released 1000 Hurts.  Inside they included a CD copy of their album.  It was brilliant, and before MP3 downloads.  Nowadays,  when an artist like MRENC puts their CD inside the vinyl, it demonstrates their position on this whole digital movement; basically saying they ain't planning no games when it comes to their music.  Giving you the CD is giving you the music itself (like the vinyl), not a cheap-ass digital photocopy.  I've got all respect for bands like MRENC for including CDs with their wax.  Plus, the CD jacket plays the role of the liner notes for the vinyl; a practical solution.

Added props go out to MRENC for their packaging.  Those of you following this here little blog site are probably catching on to the fact that 1) I love black and white artwork, and 2) I love it when bands cheat the system and design an exquisite package on a dime.  To the naked eye, one would not know that the latter was the case with MRENC.  However, those in the industry may recall that jacket manufacturers offer solid black finished jackets at a discounted price.  If a band or label is capable of designing simplistic, yet pro, artwork / imagery that can be hand silkscreened upon these ready-to-go jackets, without looking like it was hand silkscreened,  or (possibly / debatably) worse feeling like it was hand silkscreened,  then they just might be able to pull off an economicly sound design like MRENC was able to do with All Around Surround.   Job well done Mr. Eric N. Collins (MRENC).

Hand numbered on the "Atlantic Side" center label in a silver ink.  Housed in a polypropylene bag.  Released by one of the hardest working indie labels this side of the Mississippi, New Granada Records. A lot of thought went into this vinyl record, and it shows. 

MRENC remind me of The Walkmen, somewhere between the vocal and drums and guitar work, but not all at once.  There is an aggressive punch at times like Les Savy Fav, and sexy (yup, that's a first), seductive lure that brings me back to why I liked that band Plexi (just saw their album somewhere on vinyl;  should have picked it up);  I think that is the Florida 90's goth vibe I'm picking up (and loving; love me some old school Florida goth).

Fuck it.  This is a damn good album.  Buy it.  There were only 300 made.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sunbears! - You Will Live Forever

January 1, 2013: While most everyone in America is watching college football, or like the rest of the world, either dealing with a hangover, making New Year's resolutions (possibly because of that hangover), or packing up their holiday decorations, I'm left stumped that more people did not list Sunbears!' album 'You Will Live Forever' on the 'End of Year' posts we've all been reading for the past few weeks. Okay, okay, technically, 'You Will Live Forever' was a 2011 release, via New Granada Records (Tampa FL), digitally and on CD. Synconation Records (Jacksonville FL) did not actually have their sophomore release, the vinyl edition of Sunbears' simply stunning third album, 'You Will Live Forever,' until 2012. Point is, regardless of its proper release date, this album deserves being mentioned again and again, so here we are making sure you haven't forgotten those lil' Bears down in Florida.

As much as it is this site's intention to highlight and give praise to records that go above and beyond with their packaging designs, truthfully my favorite records are always the ones that do not require this added value. Above that, bands that express a confidence with their records by excluding their name and title from the cover art have a special place in my heart for their bravery. It's not to say that records with this lack of information are going to be amazing by default, but when a record is as phenomenal as Sunbears!' 'You Will Live Forever,' they don't need an introduction, and I love that Sunbears! knew this from the conception of this project. Furthermore, there are no liner notes included either, which is perfect; no distractions or explanations / not necessary.

Jonathan Berlin's (vocals, keys, bass, guitar, programming) wife, Maria, is the artist behind the bionic cover art. Like a good pair of weathered jeans, Sunbears! have provided a worn-in look to their packaging, anticipating that 'you will live forever' and provide a lil' wear-n-tear yourself. The iconic simplicity is a perfect compliment to the honest affirmations Sunbears! make with this album, demonstrated with the title of their second track, "Give Love A Try."

Berlin is a preacher, and Jared Chase's (drums) beat is the pulpit from which 'The Word of The Bears!' can be witnessed. It's Chase's sparse and often well-thought-out absence of drums that demonstrates his profound talent, making him a necessary pairing to Berlin's musical sermons. This vigorously dynamic duo provides us with precise instructions on how to make this a better world. Berlin's voice is addictive; full of life, compassion, wisdom. For every angelic falsetto high providing hope, there is a solid gut-wrenching blow of truth to follow that is reminiscent of your father teaching you right from wrong.

While the title track "You Will Live Forever" is an ambient foreword, and the imperative track "Give Love A Try" is in fact the opening 'song' (verse-chorus-verse, etc.), "Together Forever" (track-4) is really where I begin to believe. I'm not sure if its Chase's Ringo-like kick-snare foundation, or Berlin's "Hotel California"-like (kickass) guitar solo, but there is an undeniable presumption that takes over and drives right through the next three tracks, shutting out life around you.

Sunbears! leave you 'strung out, on your own,' 'dying alone, without yourself' by the time you get to the end of side-a. Literally speaking, that may sound horrible and not the "better place" promised before, but is a momentous murk preceding the devine conclusion of "Dying Alone, Without Yourself"... what I declare as one of the most emotionally captivating musical arrangements ever conducted.

Side-b continues to explore epic pop achievements back-to-back with "They Think They're Soooo Philosophical," "It's Hard! Be Content Where You Are!," and "The Uncertainty Paradigm." Then, once again, Sunbears! manifest your journey through song titles and your 'stumbling into twilight' as the mission of their third album becomes evident: 'we're alive,' 'live, don't stop trying.'

Sunbears! are a family affair, and 'You Will Live Forever' is the blueprint. It is a magnificently put together album, sonically, physically, and spiritually, and will leave you compelled to understand their word. Expect to see this record on 'Best Albums of the Last Decade (2011-2020)' posts in 2021.