Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recent Vinyl Finds

Let me use this post to talk about a few vinyl records I've found while used vinyl shopping this month. Back in 2008, I asked for a cheap USB turntable for Christmas so I could listen to records -- but I had only two records at the time, both of which were promotional items that record labels threw in for buying their CDs. Merge Records had given me a Spoon single for buying Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga at an independently-owned record store, and Matador threw in a free Pavement LP when I preordered the remaster of Brighten the Corners from them. However, since getting a turntable, the world of cheap used vinyl and reasonably-priced new vinyl has exploded into the mainstay of many an indie record store, to the extent that I've surprised myself with the things I've found in the used bins

If you've taken a listen to my radio show in April or early May, you might have heard a band called Flower. Flower were a hardcore-inspired noise-rock band out of mid '80s New York City. They started out as an arty, angular synth-punk band, creating bleak, gritty new-wave inspired music that was, in the trend of American bands of the time, much more streetwise than the sheltered British hair-and-synth bands. They put out one EP, called Crash, which we have at the radio station, in this lineup. Then they dropped the keyboards and became an equally-arty (remember, this is New York City, home of Television and No Wave), but more hardcore-inspired, quartet, combining tight '80s drumming, guitar virtuosoship, and Mission of Burma-inspired noise for their first album Concrete. Their second album, Hologram Sky, was much more melodic -- almost a pop album, if you ask me -- but it still kept the bleakness and the noise. Later on, three quarters of Flower evolved into the indie rock band Versus, whom I play on my show all the time.

I won't post any music by Flower since, although their CD compilation Concrete Sky may be one of the few CDs on the list of rare CDs that are worth several times their original purchase price (I've seen copies online exceeding 50 bucks), the music on it is widely available on the Internet if you do a Web search. What I do want to talk about is that I was actually able to find the vinyl of Concrete during an inspired search at Pittsburgh's Mind Cure Records. Mind Cure's a relatively new store in Pittsburgh that stocks only vinyl, and mostly used vinyl. Looking through their selection, they seemed to focus on punk rock, indie rock, and experimental/progressive rock (I saw a ton of '70s prog stuff a la King Crimson, and I snagged a Kurt Vile record as well).

A few posts ago, I talked about the North Carolina-by-way-of-Connecticut trio Humidifier, and stated that I had no idea how one would go about acquiring their 1988 debut Misery's Redeeming. Well, it turned out there was a cheap used copy (in decent condition as well) at Charlotte's Lunchbox Records. So obviously, I snagged it and listened to it. If you went through Nothing Changes, Misery's Redeeming is a whole different animal: it's essentially your local college band going into a nice studio for a couple of days and recording their songs with no frills. Whereas Nothing Changes is more heart-on-sleeve, sappier, and more melodic -- and has echoes of Superchunk and Spent (remember, Humidifier contains the singer of Spent and the guitarist of Superchunk) -- Misery's Redeeming has lineage of '80s UK new wave like The Vapours, American post-hardcore like The Minutemen, and folky college rock like R.E.M. It's one guitar that sounds like it's played directly through the amp, tight post-punk style drumming, and some simple open chords. I made a crappy digital transfer and will be posting it in my next post.

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