In the strange wake of music's digital rebirth, vinyl has experienced a modest boom in popularity, seen by many as a replacement for the awkward middleman that is the compact disc. INCHES reviews the output of L.A.'s healthy vinyl community (artists and labels, indie or other), believing that good music deserves much more than a handful of ones and zeros.
This week we're taking a break from our usual programming to honor the output of our West Coast brethren to the north -- all of our entries come from artists who call the San Francisco Bay Area home.
Artist: Lazer Sword
Title: "Gucci Sweatshirt"
Label: Innovative Leisure (Mt. Washington)
Format: 12-inch single, 500 pressed
The evil geniuses that comprise Lazer Sword -- San Francisco's Low Limit and New York's Lando Kal -- should be given some kind of award. Okay, so they have (last month they took home the best dance/electronic prize in SF Weekly's annual Music Awards), but "Gucci Sweatshirt" is something else -- never has something so presumably warm and fluffy been rendered in such cold, dark and spiky terms. The single -- originally recorded in 2007 but unavailable on vinyl until now -- weaves its nasty, dubby electronics through a soundscape that resembles a Nine Inch Nails instrumental mapped to a fritzy circuit board. It's then significantly reimagined by Lazer Sword itself (in a chopped-up four-on-the-floor electro remix) and Neon Black, who turns the track into an acid house playground. A new bass-damaged banger "Jet Black," wraps up the B-side, making this an essential platter for the duo's quickly growing fan base. Too bad there were only 500 made. Stream "Jet Black" after watching the Lunice pay his unique form of tribute to "Gucci Sweatshirt" (while wearing one!).
Purchase now via Turntable Lab.
Artist: Young Prisms
Title: Young Prisms
Label: Mexican Summer
Format: LP (+ download), 500 pressed
According to Mexican Summer, "Young Prisms is a San Francisco psychedelic/garage/beach-pop band, influenced by the California coast, Charlton Heston, and late night spiritual pow wows." The Heston may be hard to hear, but the rest ain't. Young Prisms is another fine entry in the surf-wose garage-punk revival Southern California (and beyond, evidently) is currently experiencing. This five-piece has roots in Detroit, which may account for the group's undeniable grit, but all else points to time spent where the ocean meets the barbecue pit. Or, as the title of the MP3 linked below implies to those who've visited the titular bod of water, where the houseboat meets the gently lapping wake of the occasional Sea-Doo rider.
Sold out via the Mexican Summer web store. Check your local record shop.
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Label: Anticon (Downtown)
Discounting a 2003 remix album, it's been nearly eight years since we've heard from Themselves, one of the Anticon collective's founding groups and the Oakland-based duo who helped usher in and inspire a whole spate of artful, genre-warping records from the likes of folks like Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, and Atmosphere. Of course, rapper Doseone and beatsmith Jel haven't been resting on their laurels -- most notably, they oversaw the creation of three fantastic albums via their prog-rap sextet Subtle, which was sadly put on hiatus earlier this year. Coming off of this, however, the pair go mean and lean with a real ear toward swagger. Dose shuffles through vocal styles with the dexterity of a Vegas blackjack dealer, on one track slowing his flow to approximate golden age Rakim, on another resurrecting the entire range of deliveries found in the Ultramagnetic MCs crew. Jel does his part too, delivering aggressive electro-tinged beats that bang as much as they intrigue. No, it's not throwback rap, but CrownsDown feels classic -- no doubt.
Purchase now via the Anticon web store.
Artist: Tempo No Tempo
Title: Waking Heat
Format: LP (+ download), clear vinyl, 500 pressed
San Francisco's Tempo No Tempo cites James Brown as an influence, but what comes through the speakers is something bound to rhythm, yet far more angular and deliciously imbalanced (not that the Godfather Of Soul was a straight arrow by any means). On the band's debut LP, following a couple of well-received EPs, Tempo No Tempo does an oddly effective job of stringing together jagged bursts of guitar, significantly tribal beats, strange Middle Eastern strumming and (occasionally) placid Jarre-styled synthesizer swells. Tyler McCauley's vocal performance isn't stunning, but the ideas are inspired and all together bring to mind those proto dance-punk records by Q And Not U, or the jaunty claustrophobia of Les Savy Fav.
Purchase now via the Tempo No Tempo web store.
Origami Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: October 31 - November 13
01. Avi Buffalo - "What's In It For?" 7-inch (Sub Pop)
02. Horse Stories - November, November (Perfect Black Swan)
04. Broadcast & The Focus Group - Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age (Warp)
05. The Growlers - The Growlers (Everloving)
06. Best Coast - "In Your Room Over the Ocean" 7-inch (Black Iris)
07. The Oh Sees / Paul Cary split 7-inch (Stankhouse)
08. Can't / Arthur Russell split 7-inch (Terrible)
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[*previously featured in INCHES]
Origami Vinyl is located at 1816 W. Sunset Blvd., 90026 (213.413.3030).