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.
Label: Now-Again Records (Mt. Washington)
Title: Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads And Dirges, 1968 - 1974
Format: 2xLP (+ bonus 45), gatefold jacket
Wow. Now-Again owner (and Stones Throw general manager) Eothen "Egon" Alapatt has outdone himself with this, a pan-global sampling of some of the rarest, most collector-sought psychedelia culled from music's funkiest seven years. Each of the 15 songs spread across these four sides is a bona fide show-stopper, from the wailing gospel soul of Cleveland's Sensational Saints to the graceful psych of South Korea's Shin Jung Hyun And The Men, over to the kaleidoscopic Iranian sounds of Kourosh Yadhmaei and on to the strange Thai pop of T.Zchiew And The Johnny. Egon himself is a dogged vinyl fiend, and with Forge Your Own Chains he does the unthinkable (and yet oh-so appreciated), unlocking these long-crated gems for the rest of us to enjoy. Accompanied by a heartfelt and thoroughly worthwhile set of liner notes, this is an essential purchase, on wax, CD or (gasp) MP3. Full tracklisting, song snippets and more info here.
Purchase now via the Stones Throw web store.
Artist: Inca Ore
Label: Not Not Fun (Eagle Rock)
Title: Silver Sea Surfer School
Format: LP, "clear ocean-water" vinyl, 40 pressed (500 in all variants)
Again, Not Not Fun might nail it better than we can when it comes to the latest from Inca Ore, a.k.a. Oakland's Eva Saelens, who offers "another psychic harvest unto the world... a new nine-song pipeline ride that floats through a whole new web of voice orbs and tape hiss and keyboard balladry." Truth be told, Silver Sea Surfer School can be a tough listen. Second song "Boogie Wiggles" sounds nothing like its name would imply. In fact, a more apt title might be "Field Recordings From The Last Ghost Left On Earth After The Occasion Of The Rapture." But strange wailing and atmospheric clatter does give way to some rewarding moments, like the intimate Appalachian blues of "Ruff Ridin," or the bingo hall-big lo-fi resonance of Saelens' organ on "Happy Birthday."
Purchase now via the Not Not Fun web store.
Artist: Fool's Gold
Label: IAMSOUND (Fairfax District)
Title: Fool's Gold
Format: LP (+ download code)
"Ethiopian pop and Eritrean pop? I don't know why I love it so much... but I just do," Fool's Gold frontman Luke Top recently told the Weekly's Drew Tewksbury. "Why do I feel this shit, why do I have to do this shit?" It's a question he may never be able to answer, but one that needn't be asked in the first place. Fool's Gold are incredibly good at what they do, which is create strikingly authentic, wildly virtuosic African music with tinges of Krautrock and vocals sung in Hebrew. First single "Surprise Hotel" may go down as the surprise hit of 2009 -- a rare song that commands respect as much as it does our feet to the dance floor -- and from a group with direct ties to also-hyped locals like Foreign Born and Edward Sharpe. Just your friendly neighborhood supergroup, hand-pumping the warm heart of Africa.
Purchase now via the IAMSOUND web store.
Label: Poo-Bah Records (Pasadena)
Title: Man Vs. Machine
Format: 10-inch EP (fifth in series), 500 pressed
After solid but long-lost entries from Dublabrats and Low Enders like Ras G and Kutmah, Poo-Bah Records once again picks up its 10-inch series with the debut EP from Flying Lotus collaborator Samiyam. Consider Sam Baker, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the THC to FlyLo's DMT - a lower key beat music maven with a penchant for 8-bit Nintendo beats, crackly bass and porno moans, all of which are in full effect on the B-side's aptly titled lead-off, "Porno Slap." Man Vs. Machine is a mellow document but a worthy chapter nonetheless in L.A.'s current electronic scene, where history is officially in-the-making. Extra geek points for the inner groove etching, featuring a dagger in flight, en route to the head of a cigar-smoking goon.
Purchase now via the Poo Bah Records web store.
Vacation Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: September 26 - October 9
01. Boris - Japanese Heavy Rock Hits V.1 7-inch (Southern Lord)
02. Skeletonwitch - Breathing The Fire (Prosthetic)
03. OM - God Is Good (Drag City)
04. Harvey Milk - Live At Supersonic 2008 (Capsule)
05. Girls - Album (True Panther Sounds)
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08. Municipal Waste - Massive Aggressive (Earache)
09. Eagle Twin - Unkindness Of Crows (Southern Lord)
10. Girls - "Lust For Life" 7-inch (True Panther Sounds)
Vacation Vinyl is located at 4679 Hollywood Blvd., 90027 (323.666.2111).