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: The Widow Babies
Label: olFactory Records (Downtown)
Title: Jet Packs
Format: LP (+ download card), clear vinyl, screen-printed B-side, 500 pressed
These local youngsters may worship at the throne of The Minutemen (their concept-heavy debut EP features song titles like “Mike Watt Created The Universe With A Bass Solo”), but it might be easier to imagine The Widow Babies as Abe Vigoda fronted by the helium-voiced Daniel Smith, or Les Savvy Fav with Marnie Stern at the helm. Music and lyrics both are bright and sharp – involving playful storytelling over quick-paced African-tinged surf punk – allowing the band's first full-length, Jet Pack, to move lithely through its 12 songs (the thirteenth track is an über-cute “thank you” to various folks in the scene, including The Smell/olFactory Records head Jim Smith). Yet promising as this album is, nothing beats the record itself – a clear plate whose blank B-side is screen-printed with a large tribal rattlesnake chasing a female Zulu warrior (who sorta runs, flip-book-style, while the vinyl is spinning).
Purchase now via the olFactory web store.
Label: E Works (Hollywood)
Title: The MySpace Transmissions
Format: 12-inch EP (free download with or without purchase), c. 3000 pressed
Over the past two years, Mark Oliver Everett – known to friends and enemies alike as E (and occasionally, MC Honky) – has seemed in a rush to document his existence to this point. First there was his memoir, Things The Grandchildren Should Know, then Geffen gave the EELS songbook the “best of” treatment, coupling Meet The EELS with a DVD full of videos and even offering a 50-track B-sides set. Perhaps then, EELS's recently released Hombre Lobo LP represents a reset. E's recent solo set for MySpace pulls largely from that album, and dwells in a well-aged, bluesy piano-man kind of vibe, making for a Sunday afternoon set of easy downer music. “Tremendous Dynamite” is the lone barnburner nestled among melancholy acoustic numbers, a warm reprise of 1996's “My Beloved Monster,” and a scruff-voiced cover of Bob Dylan's “Girl From North County.” The vinyl features an exclusive version of Lobo's “The Longing.”
Purchase now via the EELS web store.
Artist: Eternal Tapestry
Label: Not Not Fun (Eagle Rock)
Title: The Invisible Landscape
Format: LP, multiple colors of vinyl, 500 pressed
There's chugging psych-rock, and then there's chugging psych rock. Portland's Eternal Tapestry writes hugely grooving, massively hallucinatory guitar-guitar-drum jams that only expand (yet further!) with every listen. Once again, Eagle Rock's Not Not Fun Records says it better than we ever could sober: “[The Invisible Landscape is] packed deep with six kraut-punk psych-shredders, huffing fumes from the twin guitar hero dogfighting of Dewey Mahood and Nick Bindeman while drum demon Jed Bindeman does barrel rolls and nosedives into the eye of the storm… A fiery high point for a fiery high band.” Damo Suzuki would dig it; Dungen would probably blush upon listening. The vinyl itself is comes in an array of colors (the one pictured above is a silty purple) chosen at random by the pressing plant.
Purchase now via Insound (NNF web store currently sold out).
Artist: Night Horse / Sea Of Air
Label: Tee Pee Records (Brooklyn)
Title: “Come Down Halo” / “Holy Roller”
Format: split 7-inch, translucent marbled green vinyl, 500 pressed
“Night Horse do what they do best,” quoth a recent press release, “bringing full throated, dual guitar driven jams to induce your 'bangover'!” We're assuming that's a clinical term for what happens the morning after one spends a bit too much time throwing up the devil's horns and slamming forehead to air. Cheesy as the wording may be, the sentiment is spot-on. Night Horse, a band whose origins are in the famously safe Thousand Oaks, has earned its stripes hewing dangerously heavy rock and roll from the purest of influences: the Allman Brothers, Sir Lord Baltimore, and Alice Cooper to name the most evident. This 7-inch slab of swirly, see-through green includes the hard-rocking “Come Down Halo” (another name for the bangover?), not to mention the organ-exploiting rager “Holy Roller” from locals Sea Of Air. This is the third and final entry in Tee Pee's Night Horse split 7-inch series (photographed in its entirety, crouching in the pines, above).
Purchase now via the Tee Pee web store.
Vacation Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: August 29 through September 11
01. Eagle Twin – Unkindness Of Crows LP (Southern Lord)
02. Cold Cave – Cremations LP (Hospital)
03. Pumice / Grouper – split tour 7-inch (Soft Abuse)
04. 9dw / Boris – Golden Dance Classics 12-inch (Catune)
05. Grizzly Bear – “While You Wait For The Others” 7-inch (Warp)
06. Kurt Vile – Constant Hitmaker LP (Woodsist)
07. Mutating Meltdown – “Fantasy” 7-inch (M'Lady's)
08. Gun Outfit – “On The Beach” 7-inch (PPM)
09. Adam Payne – Maybelline Weeks E.P. 7-inch (Malt Duck)
10. Sunn O))) & Boris – Altar LP (Southern Lord)
Vacation Vinyl is located at 4679 Hollywood Blvd., 90027 (323.666.2111).