Showing posts with label record. Show all posts
Showing posts with label record. Show all posts

Monday, December 15, 2014

Skylar Gudasz - Car Song 7inch

Skylar Gudasz's 7inch single for her original track "Car Song," backed with a dynamic performance of Big Star's "Dream Lover" is definitely our favorite 7inch of 2014.  I'll never forget being in School Kids Records in Raleigh NC with my friend Eric Swedlund, oo'ing and ah'ing over the simplistic beauty of the cover artwork.  He grabbed a copy of the record just because of its excellent documentation of great North Carolina musicianship; as a reminder of his visit to our wonderfully talented state.

Rich, deep red ink - one color - laid upon a stark white cardboard jacket; proper with spine and all.  Impressive for a 7inch, especially in that it includes an insert for liner notes.  This release was quite possibly an expensive project for Daniel 13 Records to manufacture, but well worth the scratch, considering the heavy hitters Gudasz invites to join her on these tracks: Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey, and Josh Moore, just to name a few.

William Schaff's iconic monotone illustration of two cockatiel parakeets calls to you immediately.  If you buy this 7inch in a record store, be sure to wash your hands when you get home; I promise you everyone that walked by Gudasz's record picked it up to admire Schaff's work a bit closer - it is stunning.  The delicate, yet deliberately unadulterated cover art truly compliments Gudasz's own musical delivery to perfection.

And as much as I am a sucker for colored vinyl and I did anticipate pulling out a beautiful opaque red vinyl for this release, I was so happy to see that Skylar Gudasz and Daniel 13 Records held their restraint and pressed these tracks on black wax; staying true to the refined packaging.  With credits printed on the side-a label, and our parakeets reappearing on side-b, the design overall simply could not be more sublime.

Skylar Gudasz's "Car Song" 7inch is a must have for any vinyl collector. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Glass Hits - Better Never Than Late

Okay, there are a few ways I can go with this one; immediately noting the fact that I honestly did not think I was going to like this record, at least within the first few seconds.  But that's the humorist version of this post; perhaps the more interesting one to begin with. Ultimately, and to be clear, I applaud this album, especially after taking in side-b and having the intensely arresting track "Crawl" blast out my speakers. 

To set the stage: it's early Sunday morning, and I don't often stay up late.  However, last night was an exception to the rule, putting me in a position of only having a few hours of sleep; I'm by default an early riser, regardless of how raging the party was.  I am stumbling about the house, my cat is clawing at my feet, demanding a bit of 'kitty-time,' and I have yet to determine if I am even awake.  She always likes to play fetch at the brink of dawn with her fake mouse toys;  a game we call "mouse" (that she responds to).  As I often like / try to do during my hours of solitude, I reach for the 'review pile' of vinyl and look to take in some new tunes to discuss with all of you.  Chuck Coffey from Snappy Little Numbers has had a very impressive 7inch catalog to date with his record label, and I have been meaning to dive into a few of his full length 12inch albums that he has released; what better time than today.

Glass Hits' Better Never Than Late ends up being my selection.  As I hold the traditional black vinyl record in hand, I prepare the turntable for a 12inch LP.  What happens next, meaning what comes out of my speakers, is very likely not what Glass Hits or Snappy Little Numbers had intended for us to hear... but it is an experience that I strongly recommend you allow yourself!   Crude, deathly, conquering, massively impressive - Better Never Than Late played at 33-1/3 rpms is its own dark creation, perhaps a subconscious expression for Glass Hits, but certainly not what they set forth to capture in the studio (yet one completely worth exploring - just not first thing on a Sunday morning).

I was shaking my head (now awake), thinking, "Oh no. I really like Chuck, and his label, and what he's doing. I was really hoping to share some more good news about one of his records, but man... what am I going to do with this?"  As my blurry eyes began to gain focus,  I thankfully caught wind of the "45 RPM" noted on the rotating center label.  At this exact moment, our cat, Kickflip, furiously ripped through our living room, as if she was frustratingly calling me an idiot for not having noticed the rotational directions given for this record; funny how cats are often more aware of our own human reality than we are.

"You're the Icing on a Cake That Never Should've Been Made in the First Place" takes off accurately, opening Better Never Than Late, and now I understand where we should have been: this is a quintessential punk rock record.  I don't often listen to (or like for that matter) punk rock music (perhaps I should clarify: newer modern day punk rock,  or what a lot of people call punk rock).  For me, punk rock is Dischord Records, Alternative Tentacles,  and SST Records (circa 80's and 90's).  Being that punk rock is more of a state of mind, less of a music genre, punk rock is going to be different for everyone,  and that is okay / that's the beauty of it.  So on this crisp, early Fall Sunday morning, Glass Hits are my punk rock.

One of my favorite harder / heavier albums is The Crownhate Ruin's Until the Eagle Grins (Dischord Records 1996).  It has always been an album I use to measure other like minded records against.  I'll never forgot buying it; I was a fan of Dischord Records at the time, in general, but did not really buy a lot of their stuff.  The cover art is solely what attracted me to even pick up The Crownhate Ruin.   It's a beautiful weathered navy blue rough cardboard jacket, delicately screen printed with silver ink.  The liner notes are elegantly similar, only with a blood red canvas.  I bought the album on the spot without ever listening to it.  The design always reminded me of the romantic nature of The Rachael's undeniably unparalleled release, "Music for Egon Schiele;" both albums of which inspired me to create this blog.

I immediately fell in love with The Crownhate Ruin. It did not matter how much indie pop or shoegaze I was getting into at the time (it's was the 90's); the energy, the passion, the perfection - it was all too gripping, never to let go (and still hasn't).  Now, for the second time in life, I am getting that same feeling again about an expression I often don't understand.  Better Never Than Late is a punk rock album that too will stand the test of time; it defies all trends - an honest manifesto.  Sonically, it is an absolute A++; flawless and precise. 

The liner notes and center labels are my favorite part of the overall packaging.  The refined clarity equals the voice of Glass Hits.  And I appreciate their common sense to include lyrics. I've always felt that if a band has so much emotionally drive behind their message, let's here it (read it) then.  Thanks, Glass Hits. 

I am just so happy my turntable plays at both 33-1/3 and 45 rpm speeds.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Deathfix (self-titled)

As the needle drops into and finds the grooves of the wax, a fuzzy guitar lead opens Deathfix's first track, "Better Than Bad," and takes off, followed by the beat as the first rift completes.  Immediately, you are digging through your record collection, somewhere between the "B" or "C" section, hunting down a copy of either Big Star's (the original) or Cheap Trick's (a cover; theme song for That 70's Show) version of "In the Street."  (Damn it!  I don't have either one; that would have been an excellent song to follow Deathfix in a DJ set.)

Their self-titled album continues on a stupendous rock 'n' roll journey, sticking to their guns of excellence,  but not particularly with one pattern.  Deathfix's free will keeps it alive for the duration of a very respectful seven song album.   Yes, kids of the digital age, a proper album, such as this, should only be seven to eight solid tracks that actually say something; cut the crap and save the others for b-sides to your 7inches.

Handsomely designed, the jacket boasts with a silky gloss finish that is either telling me to caress this shit out of it (perhaps due to the erotic heart for an "a" and "x" used to dot the "i" in the hot Deathfix logo - yes, this is a Dischord Records release, people - on the front cover), or it is begging me to lick-lick-lick it, from top to bottom, side to side, edge to edge (all the heck over), 'cause it's like freaking candy.  Candy, I tell you; candy.  (Pause; I'm hungry now, and I think I need to take a cold shower.)

I'll tell you, glossy finishes can either make or break a cover (for me).  When they are done right, as Deathfix and Dischord did with this release, damn... it can bring a man to tears.  But don't get all glossy-happy on us now, record label people; make sure you've got a good photograph and/or design that calls for it.  Christopher Green really did a bang-up job with such a simple photograph of what looks to be either the band's practice space, recording studio, or the scene from a DIY show (taken by lead singer and guitarist, Brendan Canty, I am guessing), and utilizing the dreamy Deathfix logo, designed by Linas Garsys.  I love how the photograph/design fades to black as it wraps around the spine onto the back panel, giving just a subtle hint of your proximity to the Red Light District.

The sleek black theme is extended inside to the inner sleeve.  Silhouettes of Deathfix on one side, and well placed credits and lyrics on the other; this is the kind of (anthem) music you would want to sing along to, so study up, boys. The only thing I can't quite figure out is why did the vinyl record come in its own white paper sleeve, while the liner notes are printed on a proper cardboard inner sleeve; meaning you could put the record inside the sleeve that the liner notes were printed on, and save yourself from including the white paper sleeve.  The only thing I can guess would be perhaps they wanted to give the buyer the option; maybe some vinyl purists feel the cardboard inner sleeve could be damaging to the record itself, and they prefer to use the white paper sleeves.  Possibly there was an added cost from the manufacturer due to liner notes arriving after the vinyl was pressed and put into paper sleeves.  I don't know, but I swear this is becoming a (welcomed?) trend.

With a traditional silver faced center label on black vinyl, something I would have thought was a standard for all Dischord releases (but it's not; I just got up and checked a bunch of other Dischord records I have), Deathfix's self-titled release is a great, inviting rock 'n' roll momemto for all ages.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kid Icarus + Cold Coffee Split 12inch

I don't believe I own many split 12inch releases.  I mean, I have a few, but they are pretty rare.  I think we can all agree, the split 7inch is more of the norm when it  comes to shared releases.  However, the split 12inch really gives you more bang for your buck.  I've always been very fond of a good solid EP release.  EPs have a short runtime by nature, and often force an artist to cut out the fat (all of the fat) from what would have made a mediocre full length (LP) album.  The fact that the manufacturing costs of an EP are relatively equal to that of a LP, which translates to the retail price being not much less, keeps EPs from being produced as often as they probably should.   A split 12inch record allows two artists the same opportunity to shine within the limitations of an EP, and provides the buyer with double the fun at what most likely is a more than fair price.

Summersteps Records delivers a solid indie-cred split 12inch with Kid Icarus and Cold Coffee.  The music between the two bands does compliment each other; perhaps the common thread, Nathaniel Kane, who plays "phantom keys" for Kid Icarus and is the singer, guitarist, and keyboardist for Cold Coffee (I'm guessing this is his main gig), lends to those comparable tones.  Not to mentiom, Nathaniel Kane engineered and produced the Kid Icarus tracks, while he mixed Cold Coffee's.  I simply love the fact that his name is spelled "Nathaniel" everywhere except as a band member for Kid Icarus, where he is referred to as "Nate."

The digitized hounds tooth -slash-  checkerboard monotone (white) cover art is what first caught my attention (as it should).  Wait, that's a lie; it was actually my curiosity of the color of the jacket.  I think it is black.  I'm pretty sure it is black.  But as strange as it may sound, every time I hold the jacket, it appears to be the deepest of dark, navy blues.  Oceanianic; from the most distant abyss.   A blue so blue; virgin to sunlight. I've compared it numerous times to other records with black jackets, and I tell you what... this blue jacket is definitely black, yet still so blue.  (I actually think it is the amount of white ink from the hounds tooth pattern that hosts the humorous trickery to the eye.)

That all being said, what also makes me confirm this record's blackness is the fact that there is no printing on the spine.  I know I've mentioned before how blank solid black record jackets can be purchased, and prove to be an economically choice canvas for young bands doing whatever it takes to get their music out on vinyl.  These blank jackets are often used by bands to silkscreen their artwork on by hand, rather than mass production, giving them a more custom aesthetic, and saving a few bucks in the process.  A well noted result of handprinted jackets is a spine without anything on it, simply because it is so hard to print on the spine once the jacket has been assembled.  The split 12inch for Kid Icarus and Cold Coffee might not have printing on the spine, however the craftsmanship on the front and back is flawless enough to make me question even my own inner Sherlock Holmes.

Nonetheless, the stamp-like typography on the center labels delivers my second clue with trying to solve this home-ec-mystery.  The name of each band is the only text printed on the label of each respective side of the vinyl record.  On Cold Coffee's side, there is what appears to be an ink splotch that would likely have been caused by some leaking ink or mishandling by its home based creator.  You see, if a band or label is going through the trouble to handprint jackets to save money, it would make sense that they order their vinyl records with basic white labels (no manufactured printing), or have the blank labels sent to them prior to being glued to the records, so that they could also handprint the center labels as well.  Genius!  And my gut is telling me that this is the case with Kid Icarus and Cold Coffee.

The obscurity of all this makes the Kid Icarus and Cold Coffee split 12inch a go-to record for when I'm wanting to intrigue friends within my abode. The youthful position of the music keeps me going back for more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gospel Claws + Roar Split 7inch

Gospel Claws' track is called "I Want It All." Roar's track is called "Dream."  If you read my previous post about the split 7inch from Beached Out and The Reference Desk, you will understand why I would say Gospel Claws and Roar are lucky I like the artwork for both sides of their split release.  But it is not for me to pass along judgment or opinion, it is simply a truthful statement about my own personal attractiveness as to why I would (or possibly not) pick up their 7inch from a stack of hundreds of others.  Again, read the other post (my intro will make sense).

The theme is dogs.  The sub theme is duets (or pairs); perhaps a nod to the pairing of bands for this record.  Gospel Claws are more regal (like a beagle?) in their approach with the artwork on their side.  A dated photograph of two Dobermanns.  Roar's black and white hand drawn Siamese-Twin guard dog may have been taken from a 5th grader's Trapper Keeper or brown bag book cover; aside additional customized graffiti that included words like "Gotcha!" and "Awesome," and images of lightning bolts and that funky diamond-like "S" that was never really an icon for anything, but more of a mathematical puzzle of varying lengths.  I like it.

Regardless of whether I first encountered Gospel Claws' Pinchers, or the vicious two-headed Roar, I know I would have been drawn in enough to crack open the envelope and see the stunning baby blue opaque vinyl within.  With the respectfully simple white label (black text), complimented by the jukebox-ready center hole, the vinyl itself is truly the physical gem of this release.  I would have bought this record simply for the wax alone, even if it was only packaged with a white sleeve and no artwork.

Fans of indie pop bands like Black Kids, The Shins, and Built To Spill will enjoy this split release of reverberation from President Gator Records; second for their catalog.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beached Out / The Reference Desk - You're Getting Close Split 7inch

I am first trying to figure out why this split 7inch between bands Beached Out and The Reference Desk has a title.  Unusual, but intriguing. It's the first thing I noticed.  I may be wrong, but I believe I heard Beached Out use the words "you're getting close" in their track "Tiny War."  Perhaps it's a theme.  The Reference Desk's track "When You Drown" seems that it should (?) or could include the phrase.

Their traditionally punk 7inch v-fold jacket was the second thing to catch my attention.  The unmistakeable waxy film from a black and white photocopy machine is always so pleasing to the touch.  It's the sort of thing I will buy a record for.  It shares the level of commitment a band has toward getting their record out: at all costs.  And in most cases, possibly a direction to keep costs down; but in the end, a demonstration of pure character.  Beached Out and The Reference Desk used a standard pastel yellow photocopier paper, 11"x17" in size for print, and then cut-to-bleed to keep it cool; purposely designed with images that run well.  (I think I have an Ariel Pink 7inch of the same mind set.) Simple, classic sans-serif fonts; clean layout, with just the facts required.  They get a 10/10 for design.

I'm dying to find out if the vinyl itself was pressed with Rainbo Records in Canoga Park, California (bands: feel free to email directly to let me know).  I've always been a fan of their product, and this 7inch is in line with Rainbo's standards.  The opaque lemon chiffon yellow vinyl is naturally heavy in weight, and holds well.  Centered with a red / black contrasting label, the 7inch immediately becomes a through-back to the Chapel Hill NC college music scene, circa 1990.

The final note-worthy feature (perhaps a lesson for others, so take note): the respect Beached Out and The Reference Desk give to each other and their single release.  Perhaps this is their point of having a title.  While I do understand when two bands release a "split" release why they often think to give each other their own side of the packaging, making it appears as if there is a unique cover for each band, I don't think those bands understand that if I am digging for vinyl, there is now less of a chance that I am going to buy their record if I am only exposed to one of the two bands. 

With a normal record (not a split), there is a pure 50/50 chance that you (the customer) might be interested in picking it up when stumbling across the record for the first time.  If you don't know the band or the release, fate is now left in the hands of the design - the art work, and whether or not it compels you to pull the record out of the stack.

When you have a split release, you are either doubling yours odds to attract a new listener, or you are actually cutting them in half.  If you promote both bands on the cover and make it look like a shared release, like Beached Out and The Reference Desk did, the customer may be interested in either band, and in a sense... doubling the chances of the customer picking up the record.  However, if only Beached Out were on the cover, and I happen to not know the band or like the design they gave their side, I am not going to pick it up. And if I would have actually known or was interested in The Reference Desk, whom would have been on the other side that I never saw as I was flipping through hundreds of vinyl, then both bands would have missed out on me buying their record; cutting the odds in half and making it harder to sell their split release.

That all being said, I am happy to see Beached Out and The Reference Desk did not make this mistake.  In fact, I know for sure that their 7inch would have been an immediate grab amongst many others if I just so happened to stumble upon it on Digging Day.  And, (I am happy to report) after a first listen at home, I would not have been disappointed.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Young Evils - Foreign Spells 12inch EP

I've been dying to write a review for this 12inch EP titled Foreign Spells from The Young Evils ever since I've been dancing in front of my speakers (a la Einstein A Go-Go style; kicking the foot back and all) at full volume over one year ago when it first graced my turntable.  This quartet from Seattle, WA simply nailed it with their four song EP, brought to you by Fin Records.  Their sharp-shooting approach with such a stellar release reminds me of the EPs Ride used to put out between their full lengths; packing a punch and never tiring.

"Darker Blue Bayou" takes off with a great clap-beat, supported by an assured groove.  Troy Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer play back and forth with vocal leads.  The rhythm drives deep into the bayou down I-10, never looking back.

I remember hearing "Dead Animals" for the first time; the second track to side-a.  Mackenzie plus a muted power-pop guitar begin the song.  Truthfully, my first impression was, "Oh no, it was too good to be true.  They over delivered on the first song, and now it's downhill from here."  But to my great and welcomed surprise, just about sixteen seconds into the track, The Young Evils brought me back to my imaginary dance floor, head swinging back and forth (wishing I had hair), and singing along to the lyrics (yes, upon first listen).  Turning the volume up louder and louder, rift by rift, I simply could not get enough of The Young Evils' persistence; and we were only two-tracks into this inaugural listening.

Take a breathe, walk over to the turntable, and flip this beautiful wax to continue an amazing indie pop discovery.  "The Devil's Barricade" finds Troy, with his hushed Jesus & Mary Chain -like vocals, taking the first step with another boy/girl tag-team approach to the vocals; I think this what I am beginning to like more and more about The Young Evils (it's keeps things interesting, and moving along).  There is a familiarity with their music, much like The Rosebuds, leading you to believe you already know what's coming, yet creating a yearning for more.

Just as I am beginning to adore The Young Evils grittier comparison to UK indie poppers, The School, "Touch Tone Lovers" takes a sharp right hand turn onto 'Bad Ass Lane.'  Do yourself a favor and go turn up the volume even louder than you had it before for this one; the drums feel so good, especially when The Young Evils drop out the bass for that break, leaving the guitars dangling out the window.  Mackenzie's voice slides into a more chill, shoegaze-like vocal style, while the music, traditional to Rock n' Roll in many senses, really stands out on its own; presenting you with the truest of sounds for The Young Evils (and I love it).  

Fin Records does not cut back in any way for this four song release.  True to their form, the clear vinyl is simply immaculate.  Inner sleeve embossed with their logo, pristine polypropylene bag to protect the artifact, Fin Records shows respect in many ways other won't.  The two-toned packaging lends a hint to the modern day doo-wop inside.  I just wish I could have told you all about this sooner.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Puddle - Secret Holiday / Victory Blues

When I decided to start this project, reviewing vinyl records and their packaging, I knew it would be limiting due to the cost of mailing physical materials, so I am always very thankful when someone chooses to send something over my way for me to write these words within this here website for you all to read my thoughts about their release.  That being said, and having been a distant fan of New Zealand's own Fishrider Riders, I was pleasantly taken aback when their package arrived at our doorstep.

Now, I say "distant fan" not only as a pun due to the mileage between us, but because I truthfully did not own any of their records (until now), but have always had great respect for Fishrider Records and their contributions to the indie pop world.  The Puddle, a band also from New Zealand, apparently have no shortage of prestige themselves.

This particular record Fishrider Records released for The Puddle is not a proper album, rather a double EP: Secret Holiday and Victory Blues.  I almost wish The Puddle gave unique cover artwork for each EP, using each side of the jacket to represent the cover individually.  Fishrider Records delivers a traditional 12inch LP package, with titles and featured artwork on the front, while credits are on the back.  The insert providing additional photographs and lyrics for each song is a comfortably odd 3:4 landscape cut.  I can't help by wonder if its size was driven by economics; printing two insert sheets on one tabloid size sheet of paper and cutting in half (two for one printing).  I love it when positive design characteristics are actually the result a non-creative decision; it's nature's way of keeping the world balanced.

At first glance, or should I say touch, the satin / waxy finish makes you wonder what they are doing down their in New Zealand.  In this post-high-gloss era of printing on the reverse side of the cardstock, satin presents an entirely welcomed veneer. The polypropylene (rather than the standard polyethylene) outter sleeve adds to this mystique.  I'm always (at first glance) impressed by these crystal clear skins, but in the end, prefer the traditional (milkier / heavier) polyethylene protective layers; I find the polypropylene bags can easily tear.

Being a fan of The Puddle's music, and as mentioned before, I do desire something more with the artwork; not just craving some identity for each EP, but some explanation for how the black and white photograph of girls laying on the ground being governed by two goats ties into holidays and the blues.  I don't often require this connection between cover art, album titles, or the music, but for some reason, The Puddle's cover is so strikingly offbeat, yet seemingly with purpose, there has got to be something I am missing.  As I dance around my living room listening to The Puddle, studying their imagery with great effort, I struggle with no relevance, even within the photograph itself and it's featured characters.

Speaking of dancing, have you ever seen Tim Gane from Stereolab dance along as he is playing his guitar during their live shows?  This is me while listening to The Puddle's track "The Vitalist."  I could dance to this song for hours; singing along with George Henderson's perfectly-placed "ba-dah-bahs" and Gavin Shaw's playfully-plucked lead via acoustic guitar (at least I think that is who is doing it and how the lead was constructed).  For me, "The Vitalist" is definitely the stand-out track, and will certainly be played at the discotheque on our next DJ night.

I'm a sucker for the 007-like / spy movie hook with "Decline to Fall."  The lead here, played by a necessary synthesizer, adds to the 1970's aesthetic, while Alan Starrett's viola shares a uniqueness, reminding you that this ain't American.  I also appreciate the Farfisa on "Hydrogen 6," Shaw's glockenspiel on The Puddle's instrumental closer, "Walrus Arabia," and the sadness of "Tender Validation," with a deep cutting Will Sargeant inspired guitar lick.

There is a looseness within The Puddle that excudes confidence and wisdom.  George Henderson's vocal tone is familiar and comforting; I'm guessing Sondre Lerche was influenced by him.  The eclectic instrumentation of The Puddle's lounge-pop compels you to move to section "B" of your record collection, reaching for anything Belle & Sebastian to follow.  Of the two EPs, Secret Holiday makes sense on Side-A; for me, it's the hit single.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Naïm Amor - Dansons

Naïm Amor is simply one of the most under appreciated artists, as well as guitarists, of our time. He is possibly the most stylish Frenchman living in the desert of Arizona playing live performances on any given night in a number of various dining establishments with an equally talented posse. I've been a fan of his music for years, and appreciated all of his recordings, but it wasn't until his release of 'Dansons' with Vacilando '68 Recordings that Amor marked his place in history. 'Dansons' is a timeless treasure.

Vacilando '68 Recordings really put their best foot forward with this release. With a stunning botanical cover image, and complimentary / properly delivered handwritten fonts (I really hate when people use a computer for this; thank you Naïm) that resemble the pistil of the lily-like flowers, you can anticipate the romantic qualities Amor naturally exudes, and appreciate his sensitive transmission.

The vinyl itself is a silky, buttermilk cream complexion that is quite possibly more smooth that Naïm Amor's own blend of traditional classic jazz with the most underground of indie rock; breaking and blending sonic barriers between genres decades apart. Naïm Amor is the J Mascis version of Joao Gilberto, whom inspired Martin Denny, only he's of this generation.

Thøger Lund and Mr. Howe Gelb himself from Giant Sand, as well as John Convertino of Calexico, are featured players on Naïm Amor's 'Dansons' album. Jim Waters at Waterworks, known for his work with Sonic Youth on their 'Goo' masterpiece, recorded and mixed the pièce de résistance of Amor's career.

Choice cuts are the tropically inspired "The Day After," which will have you reaching for a pitcher of Mai Tai and your Ray-Bans, "On Se Tient" and "The Other Step," appropriate for any Sunday breakfast at Tiffany's, and certainly "Sparkling Guitar," Amor's English journey into the Space Age Bachelor Pad realm.

Order Naïm Amor's 'Dansons' direct from Vacilando '68 Recordings today!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Kingsbury Manx - Bronze Age

If someone were to ask me if I liked high-gloss coating for record jackets, I immediately would say "No." But every time I hold one in my hands with that übershiny finish, like Papa M's "Live From A Shark Cage," I'm always in aw over how radiant they are. Odessa Records really delivers a spectacular packaging for The Kingsbury Manx's sixth full-length release, with the high-gloss and all (and there is a lot of 'all').

The imagery used for The Kingsbury Manx's album 'Bronze Age,' from the cover to the back to the inside liner notes, is paintings from M. Scott Myers (a former band member). Most of the paintings are of landscapes resembling the tundra, including some with bodies of neighboring waters. The piece on the back cover showcases the nautical theme, while there is one painting inside the gatefold that is quite opposite of its arctic counterparts. This odd print reminds me of walking through the backwoods of Florida, following a wandering man-made path elevated above the marsh, protecting its guests from the local reptiles below.

While I am utterly attracted to the artwork from Myers that The Kingsbury Manx selected for this record, I haven't been able to tie the album's title, 'Bronze Age,' to Myers' paintings or any other elements of the packaging; only a lyric in the song, "Glass Eye." None the less, Myers' work makes for stunning album artwork and lives quite nicely in this 12inch x 12inch format protected by the under utilized shellac-like coating.

I'm often intrigued when a record company choses to use a gatefold jacket when there is only one vinyl record inside. Gatefolds are mostly used for albums that contain two vinyl records, placing one on each side of the folded jacket. When a gatefold is employed to carry just one vinyl record, I can't help but feel its for the admiration of the artwork; basically declaring, "This artwork is so amazing, every piece must be displayed on the outer jacket!" Odessa Records could have used a printed inner sleeve, rather than a plain white paper sleeve, to protect the vinyl record itself. This would have given them an alternative place to put the text and paintings that are on the inside of the gatefold (I'd be curious to know what the cost difference of this would be). However, the gatefold is much more impressive and engages you (the listener) as the needle dances across the record and you unveil the centerfold and mystique of the album.

Another well noted feature of The Kingsbury Manx's packaging for 'Bronze Age' is the spine of the jacket; its 1/4" thick, and again, that's for only one vinyl record. I love when attention is given to the spine of a vinyl jacket; most artists don't. As much as I'm not a fan of The Magnetic Fields, as I sit here in our Danish lounge chair a mere twenty feet away from our own record collection, my wife's Magnetic Fields albums, in their standard (thin) jackets, take the cake with having well designed, noticeable spines that stand out from the crowd. I have yet to file this Kingsbury Manx record, but I am sure once I do, it is going to boast loud and proud due to the grand size alone.

Without a doubt, I was looking forward to taking in this album. Obviously, Odessa Records had me at the artwork and packing, but I had also heard quite a bit about The Kingsbury Manx over the past decade, and yet to acquire any of their recordings. This collection of songs provides a lil' something for all types of indie pop fanatics. 'Folk Pop' seems to be the preferred term used to describe The Kingsbury Manx overall. Personally, I would suggest that if Belle & Sebastian grew up exploring the Appalachian Trail, their sound would be The Kingsbury Manx. I could easily see these kids from North Carolina on a bill with The Ladybug Transistor, The American Analog Set, or even Bonnie Prince Billy.

Some of my favorite tracks from this album are "Future Hunter" (I'm a sucker for synths; bought my very first one on Raleigh NC back in 1996), "Handspring" (you can't go wrong with trumpets; such an enjoyable, tastefully added touch), and "Custer's Last" (again with the synths, but this time with a captivating beat that gets you out of your seat singing along to the gods above during for their epic Pink Floyd-esque finale). Multiple listens may be required to fully understand where The Kingsbury Manx are going, but they are okay with that, and besides... M. Scott Myers and Odessa Records provide some gorgeous artwork to study during the ride.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Schooner || Wesley Wolfe - Split 12inch

EP (extended play) releases are a great way for a band to really showcase the best of the best. Traditionally, EPs can vary from four to about seven songs; typically just shy of what would be considered an album / LP (long play). So when you get two bands that join together to create one EP release, it's almost guaranteed they are going to cut the crap and deliver nothing short of a solid record; at least that's the case with North Carolina's Schooner and Wesley Wolfe.

Let's get it on record now that North Carolina has been and always will be the home to the best American Indie Rock. From the days of Superchunk, Seam and Polvo, to Mercury Birds and The Raymond Brake, to today's Rosebuds and The Love Language; North Carolina continues to define Indie Rock, and Schooner and Wesley Wolfe are a shining example that others will only try to replicate.

Schooner opens the 12inch clear vinyl lathe with the haunting "oo's" of "Terrorized Mind." Reid Johnson's reflective vocal delivery and story-telling guitar rhythm pause life for a moment until his fuzzy lead takes over as the whiskey settles in. Maria Albani bears the voice for their second track, "Locked In," which is actually a Wesley Wolfe cover. Backed by a much more bouncy indie pop beat and a whammied-out guitar rift, Wesley has Maria wishing good things for an ex-lover as she locks away her (his) memories. There is an irresistible lo-fi nature to Schooner's recordings that's without purpose, yet produces their tracks to perfection.

As soon as the ambience settles, Wesley Wolfe comes busting through the door with his overdriven, piercing guitar and breathy, bass heavy beat for "Crying Laughing." This track made me a die hard Wolfe-Head within seconds and had me searching for my ol' Edsel and Polara 7inches to drop on the table after I've exhausted playing these four gems. Mr. Wolfe's cover of Schooner's "Indian Sunburn" is simply incredible. I could easily see indie-rockers taking a break from posting on Facebook via their iPhones about Wesley Wolfe 'killing it' at the club while he was playing this tune and actually dancing to the music for a rare moment in time.

Lathe cut records are different than pressed vinyl records; you can learn more about them directly from Tangible Formats. This particular record is noticeably extraordinary, not only because of the clear vinyl used, but the fact that Schooner and Wesley Wolfe employed Steve Oliva at Kitchen Island Show Print in Durham NC to print via silk screen in reverse the cover art image directly on side-b of the record so it shows through correctly when playing the four songs on side-a; a brilliant design feature that will have your mouth mocking a Venus flytrap.

Co-released by PotLuck Foundation and Tangible Formats, they show great respect for this lathe cut record by including a 'rice-paper' inner sleeve (my favorite) for housing. From what I can tell, this release has since sold out, but if you ever run across a copy at a garage sale or your local worm and bait shop, grab it. Otherwise, keep an eye out for other releases by Schooner and Wesley Wolfe, and remember... if iTunes gives a genre of "Indie Rock" to something that ain't from North Carolina, its probably post-Steve Jobs (RIP, sir).

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Zookeepers - True To These Times / Signals - ...And Those Times, Too

This split 12inch release between The Zookeepers and Signals, brought to us by Cellar Hits Records, exemplifies what I love about indie rock music: youthful, fearless, boisterous, divergent. I had high hopes from the minute I held this minimally designed record, and The Zookeepers and Signals certainly delivered.

The record jacket itself is a standard plain white cardboard sleeve, similar to one you might buy for that naked John Coltrane 12inch you found at the thrift store last Sunday. There is no actual printing on the white jacket, but a 6" paper square with the cover art has been glued onto the cardboard in the top right corner. There is nothing on the backside, and there is no spine with title information either to help you find this gem once you've filed it in between your Neil Young and ZS, or Tracy Shedd and Silk Flowers records; depending on which side you chose to file by.

Inside the jacket you will find a standard 8.5"x11" sheet of 20lb. white paper with liner notes and lyrics for each band, printed in black photocopier ink. Additionally, there is photocopied sheet music with what appears to be hand-drawn Sharpie-marker artwork, and photocopied receipt-tickets with the message "We designed this for you. All the mistakes were on purpose." repeated. There is a math worksheet, seven pages torn out from a book, information about a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that took place in California in 1994, a random piece of foil, a Pocket Monsters game card, and my favorite... photocopied miniature US currency totaling $22.00. The actual vinyl record appears to be the randomly selected mixed colored vinyl that manufacturing plants often offer at a discounted rate, cheaper than even your standard black vinyl.

Somehow between the medley of propaganda and lack of commonly expected features most consumers and collectors would be seduced by, I could sense The Zookeepers and Signals put a lot of heart behind this release. It's so obvious when someone puts a lot of money behind a record, by gusto is only visible when you close your eyes and open your mind.

This record, and the fact that it was pressed on vinyl (the fact that someone chose to invest the money that it takes to press it on vinyl), demonstrates one of the many shining examples as to why music should truly only exist on vinyl: vinyl records separate the men from the boys. Bands that are serious about their music want it on vinyl, understand what vinyl represents, and will do whatever it takes to make their music available on vinyl, even if that means releasing it with a generic white sleeve and glueing a 6" square on one side to provide you with some satisfaction of having artwork to find the record in your collection. Bands that only release their music via digital outlets, and even worse: online for free, simply have no balls. Bands that work with CDs might at least have a left nut, since a CD is a physical medium and the audio quality does somewhat resemble the actual sounds from the instruments. But when a band releases their music on a vinyl record, and its obvious that it was a financial struggle just to get the music on wax, on top of having to be creative to keep you visually entertained with packaging, it speaks highly about their character, dedication to their craft, and pursuit of artistic expression.

It's like a kid with a lemonade stand who is competing against the aggressively marketed Coca-Cola brand that is hyped through illustrious, trendy adverts. The average Joe would rather purchase an accessibly fashionable beverage at one of many places immediately nearby than drive 25-mph through some adolescent-infested neighborhood where baseballs, bicycles, and bb-guns are threatening their newly purchase used IROC-Z to support that 9-year old kid that picked lemons in the blazing sun the day before from his side-yard and made fresh lemonade with his 98-year old Great-Grandmother to sell today from a table made of a cardboard box. Those kids peddling their homemade lemonade never let me down when the needle hit their records, and neither has The Zookeepers, Signals or Cellar Hits Records with this release.

CDs, digital music, and the internet made it so easy for anyone to compete with the Coca-Cola caliber of musicians; promoting what appears to be an equal product, but not. These outlets have allowed people (not necessarily musicians or even artists) to over saturated the music industry. Vinyl records hold the (financial) bar high enough to keep the riff-raff out. In the past twenty-five years of collecting vinyl records, I've found that when a band is barely paying the entry fee to having their music pressed on wax, its always worth checking out. Bands that strive for this medium, no matter what the cost or sacrifice, always have a lot more to say than those that settle for the bargain-bin way.

This is not to say that all music on vinyl, and especially all music released with low-fi packaging, is going to be ground breaking. But in the case of The Zookeepers and Signals, ...from the hair-raising scream that opens the first track, "Welcome Nancy," on The Zookeepers side, to "Mommy Issues" and "Monster Party 2," with their sickly infectious beats delivered by Jacob Cooper (AKA: Jacob Safari of Wavves, The Mae Shi, Bark Bark Bark), that concludes Signals' side, this split 12inch is full of fresh lemonade made from local, organic, sustainable, GMO free, carbon free, gluten free, grass fed (and whatever else) lemons, and I'm going back for seconds.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Friends of Cesar Romero - Red Headed Strangler 7inch

7inch records serve a purpose as a quick way for record labels and bands to get two songs out to their audience. In Jamaica, bands use this snappy (pun intended) method to get their music to DJs at the dancehalls and radio, while the wax is later recycled once the song has finished receiving airplay (so much for collecting). For these promptly produced petite platters, record labels often skip the step of custom artwork for the band and use standard issued sleeves that show off their company pride. Bands without this representation might choose to simply utilize a white paper sleeve, commonly used as the inner sleeve with a standard jacket.

I simply love it when record labels like Friends of Cesar Romero's label, Snappy Little Numbers, or Trouble In Mind, or the almighty Sub Pop Records use these company sleeves for their 7inch singles. It's almost as if they are saying, "Trust us, these songs are so freaking amazing, screw the artwork; all you need is the music!" What ends up happening is the label itself develops a style (a look), which becomes part of the visual charm for all of the bands they represent.

In the case of Snappy Little Numbers, there is an innocent throw back to their design that is reminiscent of Jukebox Diners, Greasers and Socs, and dance styles such as the stroll, the bunny hop, the boogie-woogie and the hully-gully. Somehow, this put me in the mood for some good ol' fashioned garage rock, which I was happy to hear when the needle hit the marbled grey wax. Friends of Cesar Romero could easily join the rosters of craggy combo craving cartels like Trouble In Mind, HoZac, or Burger Records. Snappy Little Numbers looks to be feeding the same frenzy of gritty adolescent pop, and Friends of Cesar Romero are welcomed to the party.

Both tracks, "Red Headed Strangler" and "Tammys of Tomorrow," are crammed with zing and zest; I can't tell the a-side from the b-side. The hooks keep you flipping the vinyl back and forth. Both tracks are exciting; they are electric. Records like this are what give b-side tracks their a-side reputation, and bands like Friends of Cesar Romero are what keep the party going all night long. Clearly focused without any compromise, Friends of Cesar Romero and Snappy Little Numbers deliver a solid, classic 7inch single worth seeking out.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cars & Trains - We Are All Fire

The third full length release from Circle Into Square label owner, Tom Filepp, 'We Are All Fire' (originally released September 18, 2012) came to my attention at the right time of year. Chocked full of chill beats and reassuring vocals, Cars & Trains' co-released album between Filepp's own label and Fake Four Inc. brings genre's of coolness together like family during the holidays; a family diverse in age, life experiences, and wisdom. Acoustic and electric guitars, bleeps and blips, percussive instruments and traditional drums, horns and synthesizers - you name it, it's here, but tastefully subtle.

The title track, "We Are All Fire," is repeated three times in three varieties: as the broken instrumental "intro," the proper song itself (final track of side-a) that sees a slight moment of hip-hop (I believe), and as the grandiose "outro." At times, songs like "Asking" and "Nations" remind me of bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel or Emperor X, as Filepp takes his comforting, Beck-like voice and strives for higher, unexplored notes (Mike Doughty comes to mind as another reference meant compliment). "Slow Song" accurately wraps up all of the efforts of this album; you'll find yourself bouncing your head to this downbeat-indie-pop-gem as if it was the latest jam by Prefuse 73.

The packaging for 'We Are All Fire' is what initially caught my eye. The fire-like illustration and overall theme are very warming like the fire that's been burning for the past week as I've been taking in this album. At first glance, I would have pegged this to be a summertime album. But after having listened to it continuously fireside, the night-loving wintertide nature of 'We Are All Fire' is more evident and welcomed.

I'll have to say, the only strike against this album is that someone had the idea of putting a sticker with the band's name and title of the album on the actual record jacket. I'm hoping this was a mistake at the manufacturing plant and it was supposed to go on the outside of the plastic wrapper instead, because otherwise it makes no sense; its simply not needed.

What I do like is that there is no digital download card inside the record; that's got balls. If you are releasing music on vinyl, you obviously understand and appreciate the many benefits and finality of vinyl. It's so easy for record labels and bands to include a digital download card, and trust me... I'd be a hypocrite to say I didn't appreciate it when they do. But recently, as a consumer of music solely on the vinyl medium, and one that does utilize the digital download cards to put the music on an iPhone for mobility, I've begun to respect those labels and artist that choose not to provide this digital fix for their listeners. Everyone knows that the music quality is diminished when it is converted to an MP3 file; this is a fact. So when a record is release on vinyl without providing a digital download card, you are forced as the listener by the label or artist to take in that album through one fashion only... the physical vinyl record that you're holding in your hands. And being that it was most likely your choice to pay money for that record, you obviously already support the analog side to the digital argument ...which is what brought me to the realization that it is a badass-ballsy move (that I like more and more) when a record label or a band such as Fake Four Inc., Circle Into Square, or Cars & Trains release their vinyl records without a digital download card. It demonstrates their own level of respect for the music and commitment to quality. Nice job guys; my hat goes off to you (again, balls).

The packaging itself is very simplistic and well thought out, like Cars & Trains' music. The congruence between each element is spot on, not exaggerated. The translucent gold vinyl is classic and exactly what it should be. There is very little text, and no liner notes; again, a brave move that not every band has the kahonas to pull off. The album (music + artwork) speaks for itself, and I like it what its saying.

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.

Rachel's - Music for Egon Schiele

The last record we listened to for 2012...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ghosts of Sailors at Sea - Sheldon Taylor 7inch

I love how, to this day, artists and musicians from or touched by New England continue to tie in a nautical theme to their work. Ghosts of Sailors at Sea, starting with their name and moving all the way through the packaging of their "Sheldon Taylor" 7inch, do just that. The record insert includes a quote from Sheldon Taylor himself, leaving you to wonder that if Taylor was an American explorer over a century ago, then Boston's Ghosts of Sailors at Sea would be the soundtrack to his adventures being told on the silver screen in the modern age.

Personally, I love everything "maps," so they had me at pulling the purple vinyl out of the v-fold jacket and seeing the well drafted center labels of the record itself. With the exception of the font type used (I am never a fan of computerized fonts that are made to look like handwriting; robots will never replace humans), the design of this record takes me back to fellow New Englanders like Victory At Sea or The One AM Radio (but in color for the latter).

Musically: I would have to ask Andrew and Patrick from Ghosts of Sailors at Sea if either of them were kin of Sean McCarthy, singer / guitarist of Helms. Their musical structure, derived from Bostonians like Helms (post-rock / math-rock), explores the various tributaries and creeks of the Charles River their founders left pure. There is still an innocence, but Andrew and Patrick have been studying their maps and charting the course for their music to forge ahead.

"Geoffrey Pope," was my favorite of the two instrumental tracks. It's more mature and forthright, and its on side-b; inevitably going to be preferred. The more challenging guitar work on "Sheldon Taylor" (side-a) reminded me of Ed Crawford (fIREHOSE); a bit more complicated and perplexed from its cohort. I could easily see this single sitting within the catalog of Kimchee Records (Victory At Sea, Helms, 27, Tiger Saw, Chris Brokaw).

Colored vinyl is always a win for me, otherwise the packaging gets a B+ for its well placed maritime imagery. However, my favorite element was the 'Christmas Crab' found on the outside of the mailer for this co-released Gatehouse Anchor / Faded Maps Records 7inch. I may just have to employ the Christmas Crab to continue spreading Holiday Cheer (and mailing information) throughout the New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mono - For My Parents

For my first review on this site, it's only appropriate to talk about a Mono release with Temporary Residence Ltd.. I've been a fan of not only this band for many years, but this record label as well. Mono first grabbed my attention back in 2004 with their release of 'Walking cloud and deep red sky, Flag fluttered and the sun shined,' a beautiful record with a die-cut image of two girls holding what appears to be violins. I did not know anything about the band at the time, and simply purchased that record based on the respect of Temporary Residence Ltd. and the sheer beauty of the packaging (I'm a sucker for die-cut anything).

Fast forward eight years and Mono's latest release is equally as stunning, and musically as brilliant. Being that the purpose behind this website / blog is to not only review records for their music, but almost more so for their packaging... Mono's 'For My Parents' was an obvious first choice.

The use of the 'tip on' style printing immediately caught my attention. I'm near tempted to purchase any record that uses this process of printing; it truly demonstrates the dedication the record label and / or band have for the release altogether. It is financially a significant increase in price for manufacturing, so I can understand why not every vinyl record is housed in this fashion, but it is a sweet feeling to hold a tip-on jacket in your hands.

Second for me was the printing; it's almost more gorgeous that the classic black and white print we've would come to expect from Mark Kozelek / Sun Kil Moon / Red House Painters. Either the black is printed at approximately 30% ink, or they designed this package with only using a single color, close to a grey or light brown. Either way, the simplicity in the design lends to how romantic and mature this record is for Mono.

I had once tried to introduce my father to Mono, as he is a fan of orchestral, ambient music. They were playing a live concert and it was going to be my first time seeing them; I thought it would be a great father-son outing. Unfortunately, Pops couldn't make the concert, and after seeing Mono at that point (early) in their career, I began to think Pops may not have tolerated the more abrasive, explosive elements that they were becoming very well known for, especially in their live shows. 'For My Parents' feels like its the right time in Mono's career (and sound) to try again with introducing my father to their music; following suit on what the title suggests.

My favorite moments with this release come with the second vinyl record (side-c and side-d). I feel where the record begins (side-a), with the song "Legend" and moving through "Nostalgia," (side-b) is comfortable territory for Mono; where the listener is either expecting or wanting Mono to go. This is where I would take my father first so he would understand their history.

However, when "Unseen Harbor" begins with side-c, there is a memory of Spain I have not sensed before with Mono's guitar work. Our storytellers don't stray too far from the dramatic moments we love them for, but if you actually review this track on the physical vinyl itself before dropping your needle, your will notice that its not long before a new dynamic will be presented to the listener; a coming of age, one may say. It provides a perfect segue into the well-titled "A Quiet Place (Together We Go)" on side-d; an impressive finale for 'For My Parents.'

According to my research on the ol' world wide web, the white vinyl (pictured here) was limited to the first 500 copies pressed; 100 of them going to Mono to sell at their live concerts (limited to one sale per concert and only to a person that asked for the white copy) and the other 400 were for Temporary Residence Ltd. to sell by mail order.

The final straw that takes this release over the edge with amazing packaging and design is the additional insert Mono includes for you to send a personal letter to your parents. The insert even includes an area for you to attach a photograph to your letter. It is actually cut on all four corners for the photograph to be inserted into the paper; a great attention to detail, providing a thoughtful way for Mono to connect even further with their audience. Now if I could only bring myself to actually part ways with this one element of the contents from 'For My Parents' and actually use it for its intentions, making my copy of the record incomplete of its original design... I think my parents will understand.