In the unpredictable wake of music's digital rebirth, vinyl has experienced a modest boom in popularity, seen by many (with delicious irony) as a replacement for the awkward middleman that is the compact disc. INCHES seeks not only to review the output of L.A.'s healthy vinyl community (artists and labels, indie or otherwise), but to pay dap to those who continue to tend the flame, believing that good music deserves much more than a handful of ones and zeros.
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Artist: Wet Hair
Label: Not Not Fun
Title: Glass Fountain
Format: LP (+ poster), lavender marble vinyl, 400 pressed
It makes sense that Iowa City duo Wet Hair would find its way to Not Not Fun Records. The Eagle Rock label likes it soulful and sludgy, and Glass Fountain is as prone to hazy, clanging organ-fueled grind as it is ambient expeditions into spacey tape edits. Most often, Shawn Reed's muffled Ian Curtis croon is buttressed by old drum machine loops and a Silver Apples-like appreciation for the weirder intersections of analog electronics and the human voice. And most often, that's a winning mix. Wet Hair's eccentricities thankfully extend to designing album art as well (the group's long mastered the cassette form), and here, those messy collagist tendencies culminate in luxe swirling lavender.
Purchase now via the Not Not Fun webstore.
Label: True Panther Sounds
Format: 12-inch EP, clear vinyl, interactive jacket art, 500 pressed
Los Feliz's Glasser, a.k.a. Cameron Mesirow, has a way with flare. It's not just dazzle she's after. Rather, what flourish Mesirow attains -- whether in the electronics that dot her dreamy loop-based folk, or the kaleidoscopic projections that color her live set - she arrives at organically. The Apply EP, released in May (miraculously still available), is no exception. Designed by New York's Tauba Auerbach, the hand-assembled jacket features three layers of silk-screened psychedelia, the sleeve itself spackled with shards of red, while two spinnable transparencies sport blue and yellow designs. The endless iterations of cover colors are well-complimented by clear wax, which of course contains Glasser's exceptional first three songs (not to mention remixes by Lucky Dragons, Tanlines and John Talabot). Download the titular track, then watch the assembly line in action.
Purchase now via the True Panther webstore.
Artist: The Mars Volta
Label: Rodriguez-Lopez Productions
Format: 2xLP, white vinyl, gatefold w/ lacquer hit, 5000 pressed
The idea of The Mars Volta paring anything down might seem laughable to those who thought they'd given up on the experimental prog powerhouse, but Octahedron offers reason to think again. Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez slimmed their numbers to a svelte six (these things are relative) before crafting a batch of songs that still manage to surprise without overdoing the intricacies. Lucky then that they didn't have the same ideas about album packaging. This juggernaut of a release comes in its own custom plastic sleeve, printed with the requisite details so that the artwork can stay clean. Its innards include a gorgeous gatefold and two white slabs of vinyl housed in near- frameable sleeves (the first 500 sold included a slipmat too). Naturally, Omar's Rodriguez-Lopez Productions, a Sargent House affiliate, was behind this one.
Purchase now via The Mars Volta's Hello Merch page or at a local independent this weekend as part of Record Store Day's "Vinyl Saturdays" promotion (call first).
Artist: Kissing Cousins
Label: Velvet Blue Music
Title: Pillar Of Salt
Format: LP (+ download card), 180 gram white vinyl, 300 pressed
The snake on the cover points to a past that's about as far from Silver Lake as one can get: Kissing Cousins singer Heather B. Heywood grew up the daughter to an Alabaman Pentecostal preacher before she moved to L.A., and it's her history with religion that most informs her band's LP debut. The music too sounds of another place and time -- Richard Swift, who produced Pillar Of Salt, has described the band as "the Shangri-Las-meets-Black Sabbath," and he's not too far off. Reverbed tambourine, lilting flute, heavy guitar and vocal harmony are the bones to which all else is tacked, and there's something about all that fuzz and spirit that plays best on the turntable.
[Listen, then click here to experience some truly odd synchronicity.]
Purchase now via Velvet Blue's web store.
Vacation Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: August 15 - 28
01. John Vanderslice - Romanian Names LP (Dead Oceans)
02. Adam Payne - Maybelline Weeks E.P. 7-inch (Malt Duck)
03. The Mountain Goats & John Vanderslice - Moon Colony Bloodbath 12-inch
04. Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem LP (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
05. Expo '70 - Psychosis LP (Peasant Magic)
06. Steven R. Smith - Cities LP (Immune Recordings)
07. Girls - Hellhole Ratrace 10-inch (Fantasy Trashcan/Turnstile)
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08. Gun Outfit - On The Beach 7-inch (PPM)
09. Cave In - Planets Of Old 12-inch (Hydra Head)
10. OM - Pilgrimage (Southern Lord)
Vacation Vinyl is located at 4679 Hollywood Blvd., 90027 (323.666.2111).