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.

Last week, we checked out freaky entries from Lambo and The Marshmallow Ghosts (among others). This week, in honor of Silversun Pickups' homecoming last night and Dangerbird Records co-owner Jeff Castelaz's cross-country cycling expedition, we're focusing exclusively on key releases from the Silver Lake label.

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Artist: Silversun Pickups

Title: Swoon Deluxe Package

Label: Dangerbird (Silver Lake)

Format: 180 gram 2LP (+ download), gatefold jacket, 12 x 12 lyric/photo booklet, T-shirt, lithograph of cover art, buttons, stickers, 3000 made

It's no surprise that Silversun Pickups has earned both the gravitas and fan base necessary to release something like this. Since its earliest days, the band was regarded as a leading light of the Silver Lake scene. Even on 2005's Pikul EP, SSPU's grungy pop music hinted at the existence of something grandly epic and, perhaps more importantly, it was actually sexy, a quality oft-overlooked in indie rock. “Understated yet filled with tension,” to borrow the words of another, has become the band's MO over the years, and SSPU pushes that dynamic far as it can go on the excellent Swoon. Big arrangements flesh out these songs, but Brian Aubert's hissed vocals keep things low to the ground and, overall, consistently tasteful. Similarly, this deluxe package has all the bells and whistles, but was designed with an eye toward the archival rather than a quick cash-in.

Silversun Pickups – “Catch & Release” (MP3)

Purchase now via the Dangerbird web store.

Credit: Chris Martins

Credit: Chris Martins

Artist: Eulogies

Title: Tempted To Do Nothing

Label: Dangerbird (Silver Lake)

Format: vinyldisc (vinyl-backed CD), 2000 pressed

The medium may not actually be the message here but it's hard to ignore: Roughly five inches of vinyl neatly spread across the topside of a compact disc. 2008's Tempted To Do Nothing EP comprises four songs, with the best one isolated on the wax side. “Two Can Play” is a classy duet between Eulogies' Peter Walker, co-owner of Dangerbird, and Silversun Pickups bassist Nikki Monniger. The slight, sensitive song makes its home in a breezy sort of Greenwich Village balladry that's almost complimented by the scratchy realities of attaching vinyl to plastic (whaddya expect?). The CD itself contains three more shining examples of etherial indie pop with “Bad Connection” nodding to Elvis Costello, “Is There Anyone Here?” adding some slack and shimmer to the equation, and the titular song offering a slow anthem to apathy.

Eulogies – “Two Can Play” (MP3)

Purchase now via the Dangerbird web store.

Credit: Chris Martins

Credit: Chris Martins

Artist: Darker My Love

Title: singles and B-sides from the album 2

Label: Dangerbird (Silver Lake)

Format: four 7-inch singles with interlocking cover art, 500 pressed (set)

Darker My Love singer Tim Presley is a gifted visual artist to boot, and his band makes the most of that with this hard-to-find set of 7-inch singles. Here, the cover art of the psych-rock quintet's second album, 2, is given new life as a four-part puzzle (albeit one that's fairly easy to solve). Meanwhile, the eight songs contained therein serve not only to compile a handful of tracks theretofore left on the cutting room floor, but to demonstrate the local band's impressive range as well. Lead-off “Two Ways Out,” with its Beach Boys-like harmonies, showcases a lighter side of Darker My Love, while its B-side “Talking Words” switches the focus to blazing guitars and blown-out keys. “Blue Day” is a flange-sporting wah-wah fest, while “Fresh Cream” is a breezy BRMC-styled rocker. “Northern Soul” is slow and groovy; “Pharaoh Sanders Tomb” is QOTSA-cool. “Pale Sun” is kaleidoscopic; “Sleep Within You” is mellow. Four of anything is usually well beyond the recommended dosage, but these discs make the argument for an exception.

Darker My Love – “Two Ways Out) (MP3)

Out of print. Check with your local vinyl dealer.

Credit: Chris Martins

Credit: Chris Martins

Artist: Sea Wolf / Eulogies

Title: “You're A Wolf” b/w “If I Knew You”

Label: Dangerbird (Silver Lake)

Format: split 7-inch, 500 pressed

On Sea Wolf's breakout hit, “You're A Wolf,” the band cut its brighter pop inclinations with a darkly ominous mood. Elliott Smith-like melodic downturns intertwined with stormy strings and an ever-present, upbeat acoustic strum, while the lyrics spoke of a lovelorn spirit-quest that involved gypsy consultations. This disparate set of elements danced together to make “You're A Wolf” one of the coolest songs of 2007, and the best single out of L.A. that year. All of which makes this split 7-inch an essential introduction to the then fledgling band of Alex Church, formerly of Irving. On the flip is “If I Knew You,” a dulcet and mournful early Eulogies tune that picks up the hidden drear of the A-side and turns it into a series of small downer explosions separated by heavy air. Both bands released sophomore full-lengths this year — new chapters in a shared evolution.

Sea Wolf – “You're A Wolf” (MP3)

Out of print. Check with your local vinyl dealer.


Origami Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: October 17 – 30

01. The Antlers – Hospice (Frenchkiss)

02. Atlas Sound – Logos (Kranky)

03. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE (Asthmatic Kitty)

04. Girls – Album (Matador)

05. Built to Spill – There Is No Enemy (Warner)

06. El Perro Del Mar – Love is Not Pop (The Control Group)

07. Kurt Vile – Childish Prodigy (Matador)

08. Fool's Gold – Fool's Gold (IAMSOUND)*

09. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below (Community/Fairfax)*

10. No Age – Losing Feeling 12-inch EP (Sub Pop)*

[*previously featured in INCHES]

Origami Vinyl is located at 1816 W. Sunset Blvd., 90026 (213.413.3030).

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