Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy available on Bandcamp 10/2 to support Voting Rights Lab

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Today, we are proud to announce the second edition of Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy, a compilation made up entirely of previously unreleased recordings from some of the most important names in music today. The collection will be available for only 24 hours, exclusively via Bandcamp, starting at 12:01am this Friday, October 2 as part of their Bandcamp Fridays initiative.

100% of the net proceeds from the album’s sales will go to Voting Rights Lab, a nonpartisan organization that brings state advocacy, policy, and legislative expertise to the fight for voting rights. Voting Rights Lab works in partnership with organizations across the country to secure, protect, and defend the voting rights of all Americans.

The second edition of the compilation follows the original version released last month in support of Fair Fight and Color of Change. After raising over a quarter of a million dollars for those initiatives, the compilation’s organizers—author Dave Eggers, along with artist managers Jordan Kurland and Darius Zelkha (Brilliant Corners Artist Management), Christian Stavros (Little Operation Management), and Barsuk Records label head Josh Rosenfeld—were inspired to to create another. When they reached out to artists to participate, the response, and support, was overwhelming; as such, the resulting collection is, once again, an eclectic group of incredible musicians from many genres coming together to support a common cause at a time when voter advocacy is needed most.

GMTATCOAD Volume Two, like its predecessor, features never-before-heard new songs, covers, remixes, live versions, and unreleased demos. Pearl Jam, who recently launched their “PJ Votes 2020” initiative to increase voter turnout, contributed a brand new studio recording to the collection. The comp also features David Byrne’s demo for the Joan of Arc: Into The Musical musical; an unearthed recording from the late John Prine; a Postal Service live recording from their lauded 2013 reunion tour; Mark Ronson and Isley Juber’s Bond Theme submission; and more. Like Volume One, the compilation also features incredible covers, with both Yola and Feist taking on Nina Simone songs; Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering Atlas Sound; Phoenix covering Whitney; and more.

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Graded on a Curve:
T. Rex,
Electric Warrior

Celebrating Marc Bolan during his birthday week.Ed.

Never got into T. Rex as a kid. I lived too deep in the sticks, and the only kid I know who owned a T. Rex record refused to tear off the cellophane shrink wrap and play the damn thing because that’s the way he was with all his stuff; he was saving it for posterity, or for somewhere down the line when it would fetch a pretty penny for being in mint condition. He’s probably a millionaire now. I thought he was a complete imbecile.

And the songs I heard after that struck me as a bit fey and simplistic; Marc Bolan truly was a dandy in the underworld, and I failed to get the whole “T. Rextasy” thing that swept England in the wake of 1971’s Electric Warrior.

Before that Bolan was an unreconstructed hippie, in a duo with the wonderfully named Steve Peregrin Took. Their acoustic-guitar-based material had a raga-like feel and ran towards lyrics about paisley unicorns leaping through peace symbols in the tie-dyed sky. But the two band mates had a falling out, and Bolan caught the glam wave, with a funky and more pop-oriented electrical guitar style and a flashier sartorial style. Indeed, he is credited with founding glam, after he appeared on Top of the Pops with a spots of glitter beneath his eyes. Superstardom followed, as little girls swooned and little boys prayed nightly for a pair of platform glitter boots to appear magically in the morning by their bed. Hit followed hit in a manner not seen since the Beatles, and it mattered not a nonce that Bolan and Took’s old hippie audience cried, “Sell out!”

Electric Warrior is generally credited as being the high-water mark of T. Rex’s career, although 1972 follow-up The Slider also wins big props from fans and critics. Electric Warrior was, as its title indicates, Bolan’s move towards an electric rock sound, with irresistible hooks and an almost child-like approach to melody. The journey begins with the shuffle funk of “Mambo Sun,” which highlights Bolan’s almost whispered vocal delivery and playful lyrics, and it’s good, infectious fun. Bolan stuck to the basics, with relatively simple grooves that might run the entire song, and it’s an exhilarating formula. Call it white glam funk.

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Graded on a Curve:
Mickey & Sylvia,
“Love is Strange” b/w “I’m Going Home”

The great Mickey “Guitar” Baker has left this mortal coil. Those who don’t know the name have almost certainly heard him sing and play on Mickey & Sylvia’s 1956 hit “Love is Strange,” and amongst numerous other accomplishments, that song endures as the breakthrough for which he is best known. It’s a glorious combination of sophistication and sexiness, and spinning it with the volume up loud is a fine memorial to a crucial and undersung figure in the formulation of rock ‘n’ roll.

To a large extent, the lasting appeal of the 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll explosion is defined in contemporary terms by a widely celebrated handful of originators and the subsequent explosion of wildcats who reacted to the sound of sweetly broken ground with worthwhile recordings of their own. One thread finds a bunch of unkempt, well-intentioned hicks succumbing to the potency of uncut rhythm and blues and combining it with the essence of their own tradition to fuse a new music that conquered the world.

Another storyline finds scores of African-American musicians perfecting the everlasting beauty of R&B to big sales figures but little cultural fanfare; that is until a burgeoning and restless youth culture discovered it, adapted it, and in some cases diluted it for a wider marketplace, with a few savvy black musicians making the shrewd adjustments necessary to become stars themselves.

The reality of both narratives, one the tale of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, the other the story of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Little Richard, is indeed the bulk of the original rock ‘n’ roll impulse. But it’s not the entirety of the situation, and considering it the whole of the thing is how an enormously important figure like Bill Haley gets unfairly saddled with the reputation of being perhaps rock music’s biggest square.

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Spencer Cullum,
The TVD First Date

“My introduction to vinyl came, like most, from my parents.”

“They bought me both Sgt. Pepper’s and the “White Album” on CD as a birthday gift, but when I realized that they had their own copies on vinyl, I gravitated to those instead. They came with the cardboard cutouts and all the extra trimmings and that felt a lot more magical to me than a tiny CD!

Growing up in Romford Essex, the music scene consisted of mostly dance nightclubs and techno music, but I managed to find a local record store called BeatRoot records (RIP) which opened my mind and gave me an insatiable thirst for vinyl at the age of 13. They also showed me that my birthplace did consist of great music legends such as Procol Harum, Graham Bond, and Billy Bragg (technically from Barking, Essex, but close enough).

This was the ‘other music’ record store of Essex, with more of a car boot sale vibe, that consisted of older fellas reminiscing about Steve Marriott’s pub years and a collage under the glass counter—consisting mostly of ’60s mod pop stars. My best mate David Woolf (who still has BeatRoot records taking up most of his house to this day) worked there for a time and the day they put a local newspaper clipping of me on the collage was a big moment.

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TVD Radar: Billie Holiday, Billie: The Original Soundtrack
in stores 11/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Verve/UMe will release the official companion soundtrack for the anticipated documentary, Billie, about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday on November 13. Billie: The Original Soundtrack, which will be available on CD, LP, and digitally for streaming and download, collects some of Holiday’s most popular songs featured throughout the transfixing film including “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “Strange Fruit,” along with instrumental cues. 

Playing out like a film noir, Billie, directed by James Erskine, explores the story of the world’s greatest jazz singer, whose life was mired in controversy, through a wealth of never-before-heard tapes recorded in the 1970s by the journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl. Over eight years, Kuehl tracked down and recorded over 200 hours of interviews with extraordinary and brilliant characters that populated the iconic and controversial singer’s short, tumultuous life. But after Kuehl’s unexpected death, her tapes were never heard. Until now.

Using state-of-the-art techniques to bring her performances to life in color for the first time together with home movie footage, specially shot material, archive and still images, “Billie” plays out as a film noir and captures the complexity of a legend through the eyes of a woman whose obsession would lead to her own mysterious death. An Altitude and MPC presentation of a New Black Films and Reliance Entertainment Productions Documentary in association with Concord, BBC Music, Belga Films and Polygram Entertainment, Billie will be released in theaters November 13.

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Graded on a Curve:
Helen Reddy,
Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits (And More)

Remembering Helen Reddy, from our archives.Ed.

Friends, Romans, Vinyl District readers; I come to praise Helen Reddy, not to bury her in the insulting verbiage many use to unfairly deride her formidable talents. Many have nothing but snide things to say about her, but I do not count myself amongst them; her multitude of AM radio hits—they didn’t call Reddy the “Queen of ‘70s Pop” for nothing—brought me too much happiness in my youth, from the altogether uncanny “Angie Baby” to her landmark feminist anthem “I Am Woman.”

Australia’s Helen Maxine Lamond Reddy has been unfairly consigned to the easy-listening dustbin of history. There’s no denying Reddy generally stuck to the middle of the road. But to steal a phrase from Dylan Thomas, she sang in her chains like the sea. And a careful look at her discography reveals she brought a host of weirdly subversive bunch of songs to the party while she was at it. Lucky for us, they’re all to be found on 1990’s Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits (And More).

Why buy this comp and not another? I’m glad you asked. First, it includes the funky electric piano-dominated version of “Angie Baby” I grew up listening to on the radio, and not the alternative version to be found on her other best of packages. Second, it includes the dance-floor friendly “I Can’t Hear You No More,” which you won’t find on most of her greatest hits albums. And the same goes for “Happy Girls,” her moving lament to “the lonely girls of the world.”

“Happy Girls” joins a triumvirate of empathetic portraits of woman who are, depending on your point of view, either mad or society’s outcasts. The countrified and gospel-inflected “Delta Dawn” tells the story of a Brownsville woman who wanders the streets wearing “a faded rose from days gone by” looking for a “mysterious brown-haired man” who is going to take her to his “mansion in the sky.” The touched protagonist of the funky and horn-fueled “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” also wanders the town, talking to herself and telling everybody who approaches her to, well, leave her alone.

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Needle Drop: XIMXIA, “Pretend”

Versatile Los Angeles singer/songwriter XIMXIA is gearing up to release her debut EP, leading off with a dynamic new single that is already drawing comparisons to Portishead and Ellie Goulding.

Turning moody orchestrations into sweeping, widescreen digital productions seems to come naturally to the songstress who delays the song’s sugary Top 40 hook for a good minute before allowing its fangs to sink in. Clearly she is not interested in immediate clickbait, prefering to reward the listener for hanging through the dark curvature of the verse.

The resulting track is refreshingly bold and a wonderful introduction to an artist intent on pushing the boundaries, navigating the modern pop groove of Halsey and Robyn while leaning into the alternative nuance of Son Lux.

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Graded on a Curve:
Four from El Paraiso Records

Operated by Jonas Munk & Jakob Skøtt, El Paraiso is a Danish label that began back in 2011 as an outlet for the psych-stoner-space rock sounds of Causa Sui, but has since expanded beyond that objective, all while maintaining a focused stylistic vision, expansive yet often heavy, that is well-encapsulated by their most recent releases, The Discipline of Ascent by the Martin Rude & Jakob Skøtt Duo, San Diego Sessions by the Ellis/Munk Ensemble, Aak’Ab by Justin Pinkerton, and Feat. The Legendary Emil Nikolaisen by Fra Det Onde. The first three are out now and the last is available October 2, but please don’t delay in purchasing, as they are all limited on vinyl and are sure to sell out their first pressing.

While none of these new offerings from El Paraiso are accurately categorized as stoner rock in nature, all four can be correctly tagged as creatively searching, if not necessarily psychedelic in comportment. Due to Skøtt and Munk being members of Causa Sui, one might expect the records they play on here to be nearer in sound to that of El Paraiso’s flagship band, but The Discipline of Ascent throws that supposition right out the window.

For the album, Skøtt plays drums, keyboards and contributes effects, while Martin Rude (who teamed with Skøtt in an earlier El Paraiso duo outfit, Sun River, cutting one album back in 2012) handles double bass and guitar, both acoustic and baritone. Given the number of individuals and the amount of instrumentation, it would be fair to assume some overdubbing took place, but the results flow like a live session; Skøtt seems to be doing double duty on the drums and effects, while Rude alternates between bass and guitar.

El Paraiso’s description of the album explains it as an homage to Miles and Coltrane, and especially their drummers Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, and Elvin Jones, though bass titan Mingus is also mentioned, which is fitting, as the sheer heaviness of Rude’s playing in the second track “A New Arrival” reminded me of Mingus’ wild string pulling on Money Jungle. Elsewhere, I thought of Richard Davis, Reggie Workman, and Cecil McBee, and that’s sweet. The infrequent sound of vibraphone had me thinking of Bobby Hutcherson, but in the context of Bitches Brew.

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TVD Radar: Orchestra Baobab, Specialist In All Styles on vinyl for the first time, in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary, acclaimed Senegalese group Orchestra Baobab is reissuing their 2002 comeback album Specialist In All Styles via World Circuit Records. Out today, the record is now available on vinyl for the first time ever. The reissue follows the sudden passing of one of the band’s leaders and co-founders, Balla Sidibé, in early August at the age of 78.

Specialist was the first album by the full group since 1982’s legendary Pirates Choice, a holy grail for African music fans. Recorded at London’s Livingston Studios in just ten days and produced by World Circuit’s Nick Gold with Youssou N’Dour, Specialist In All Styles is a definitive illustration of Baobab’s Afro-Latin magic, introducing new material and reinventing some of the old tunes that made them famous.

The record features Baobab’s sublime rhythm section and two of the most distinctive sounds in African music: Barthélemy Attisso’s extraordinary guitar and Issa Cissokho’s atmospheric sax. The band’s five unique lead singers, each with their own contrasting but complementary styles, are joined on the song “Hommage à Tonton Ferrer” by special guests Buena Vista Social Club star Ibrahim Ferrer and Youssou N’Dour.

Adored both at home in Senegal and across the world, Baobab occupy a special place in the history of African music. Their epic story begins in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the 1960s and extends across the world and into the 21st century, featuring a brilliant assembly of diverse musical personalities and encompassing a unique blend of Afro-Latin styles, international pop, West African griot music, and an after-dark West African nightclub ambience of lilting, mellifluous rhythms.

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Graded on a Curve:
Jerry Lee Lewis,
Southern Roots: Back Home to Memphis

Celebrating “The Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis on his 85th birthday.Ed.

For Jerry Lee Lewis, 1973 was the worst of years and the best of years too; despite a brief turn in prison, the death of a son, a divorce (his fourth), and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, the Killer still turned out two seminal LPs with The Session… Recorded in London with Great Artists and Southern Roots: Back Home to Memphis.

The latter LP is nothing short of a miracle; Jerry Lee somehow managed knock off ten galvanizing performances even though he was, by all accounts, out of control even by his own berserk standards. When he wasn’t abusing legendary producer Huey “The Crazy Cajun” Meaux, the heavily medicated Lewis was threatening to kill a photographer and generally being a dyspeptic old cuss. “Do you wanna try one?” asks Meaux doing the proceedings. “If you got enough fuckin’ sense to cut it,” replies the orneriest cage-rattler to ever hail from the friendly state of Louisiana.

Let’s make one thing clear from the start; neither LP comes close to recapturing the anarchic feel and demented energy of Lewis’ early recordings, or the deranged ferocity (subtlety? toss it out the goddamn window!) of his hair-raising live performance with the Nashville Teens at Hamburg, Germany’s Star Club in 1964. His vocals are lazier, and his piano playing less a frenzied hammering at the gates of Hell, the place he’s always figured will be his final destination. It may have been the pills, but the old piano burner almost sounds relaxed at times.

In short, on Southern Roots The Killer proves there’s more than one way to skin a cat. He lays back in the groove and waxes sly and lewd by turns, sounding randy even at his most relaxed and pretty copacetic for a guy who has just threatened to murder another guy for having the audacity to point a camera his way. Whether he’s singing the songs of Doug Sahm or Isaac Hayes or breathing life into novelty tune about a haunted house, Jerry Lee mostly plays it cool but isn’t afraid to blow volcanic hot when the mood strikes him.

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Annie Dressner,
The TVD First Date

“I moved to England in 2011 and brought only one vinyl with me; Phoebe Snow’s Against The Grain. My mother had bought it for me a few years prior when I was still living in NYC, and I cherished it. One night, I was at a local bar in Astoria, LIC BAR, where I would perform a lot. The bar had and still has wonderful curated nights, booked by Gustavo Rodriguez. While enjoying a drink, who walked in? Phoebe Snow! I had to tell her that the only vinyl I owned at the time was hers. She was very nice, and it made the vinyl feel even more special to me.”

“My first memory of vinyl was my parents copy of John Denver’s Windsong as it leaned on the corner of our wooden side table in my living room in downtown NYC. My parents were always playing records, ranging from folk to classical, to rock to musical theatre. I actually once wrote a song called “Paper Moon” where I mention a vinyl that I “played so much that I broke it.” I’m not exactly sure what the record was called, but it definitely had the song “Pop Goes the Weasel” on it. (It only occurred to me lately that perhaps I didn’t break it, but maybe my parents couldn’t stand it anymore so that’s what they told me… hmmmm.) I used to run circles around living room and it was very fun!

My parents record player was one that flipped the record from side A to side B without our having to flip it. I was quite young, but I’m almost certain this is true, because I have a memory of watching it in awe and thinking it was cool. I also knew that I was not allowed to touch it, which I did not—but I wanted to. My brother, did however, teach me how to get an electric shock from the volume knobs of our hifi and also make our hair get staticky.

Another early memory I have of vinyl—if you can even call it that—was my Fisher Price record player. I don’t remember what songs it had, but I believe the ‘vinyl’ were primary colors. This was a great toy!

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Graded on a Curve:
Elkhorn,
The Acoustic Storm Sessions

With The Acoustic Storm Sessions, the NYC guitar duo Elkhorn release their sixth full-length, a companion record to The Storm Sessions, which came out earlier this year. As on that record, guitarist Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner are joined by Turner Williams (of Ramble Tamble and Guardian Alien) who also plays guitar. However, these two side-long tracks are, per the title, the first all acoustic Elkhorn recordings, documented a day prior to its acoustic-electric counterpart, and rising to the same heights of quality. Blending American Primitive string beauty, substantial raga motions and discerning psychedelic moves, it’s out October 2 on Centripetal Force in North America and Cardinal Fuzz in Europe.

The lowdown on this record and its predecessor relates to sessions that took place in Drew Gardner’s studio after a snowstorm put the kibosh on traveling to a Brooklyn venue for an eagerly awaited performance they were scheduled to give. But instead of moping, watching TV, endlessly phone scrolling or doing crosswords, this pair plus one got down to the business of spinning a positive out of a bum situation.

Hence, the name of the two excellent LPs, with the positivity extending to the listener rather than just being impromptu/ improvisational therapy for the participants. Of course, it helps that improv is already a significant aspect of Elkhorn’s equation, since the background scenario does read like a recipe for a time-filling basement jam, the kind that might sound wonderful when you’re listening to friends while lounging on the sofa and working on beer number six.

That sorta thing can make for a nice memory of your pals just totally killing it. If only somebody had recorded them…unless, somehow, it was recorded, and then, experiencing it all over again in the cold, bright, sober light of day, reality sets in. But hey, don’t go gettin’ sad, as it was still a fun night with friends…

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TVD Radar: The Best of Bond… James Bond 3LP set in stores 11/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On November 20, UMe will release an updated version of The Best Of Bond…James Bond, a digital, 2CD, and 3LP black vinyl compilation featuring celebrated theme songs from the longest-running film franchise.

In addition, a limited-edition gold vinyl will be available exclusively via uDiscover Music and Sound of Vinyl. The new collection will include “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish from No Time To Die, the 25th film in the series. Also now included will be Adele’s “Skyfall” from Skyfall, the highest-grossing Bond film to date, and Sam Smith’s Spectre theme, “Writing’s On the Wall,” – Oscar® winners for Best Song in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

In addition to Billie Eilish, Adele and Sam Smith, included is the signature instrumental “James Bond Theme” by The John Barry Orchestra, which remains one of the most recognizable themes from film. The collection also includes Dame Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” and “Moonraker”). With “Goldfinger,” Bassey achieved her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 8 on The Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

Bassey made her Oscars® debut at the 85th Academy Awards®, where she performed a spectacular rendition of “Goldfinger” as part of the telecast’s James Bond 50th Anniversary tribute, which was celebrated by UMe with vinyl reissues of long-out-of-print soundtracks to Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Live And Let Die.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Small Faces,
From the Beginning

Remembering original Small Faces keyboardist Jimmy Winston.
Ed.

The Small Faces stand as one of the very finest groups of the 1960s, though many know them mainly for Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, their most ambitious and final album before Steve Marriott’s departure effectively ended their diminutive phase. The scoop is that all of the Small Faces’ ‘60s records are worthy of ownership, even the mercantile odds-and-ends collection From the Beginning. That disc and its self-titled predecessor are currently available as 180gm replica LPs. Are they cut to lacquer from the original quarter-inch production masters with front-laminated sleeves? Why yes indeed.

One gauge of the true greats is that the music manages to get better, or at least maintains a high standard of quality, as the discs take their place in the racks. So it is with the Small Faces. With this said the Decca period offers distinct and enduring appeal; more so than The Who, the Small Faces circa-’65-’66 are the true ambassadors of Mod. Utterly Brit in orientation, it wasn’t until the fourth LP that the group entered the US market.

The Small Faces consisted of Steve Marriott on vocals, guitar and harmonica, Ronnie Lane on bass, Kenney Jones on drums and percussion, and initially Jimmy Winston on keyboards. Upon signing to Decca through the efforts of manager Don Arden, they released two singles in ’65. The first “What’cha Gonna Do about It” charted, hitting #14, while the second “I’ve Got Mine” didn’t. Shortly thereafter, Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan, the new keyboardist assisting 3rd 45 “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” in reaching the #3 spot. A full-length followed a few months later.

Sporting the brass to open with “Shake” in Sam Cooke’s tempo, ’66’s Small Faces starts out strong and never really falters, which is impressive for a debut comprised roughly equally, as was the norm of the time, of originals and borrowed/cover material. Neither tentative nor betraying instrumental greenness, the Small Faces were also unburdened by conflict over what they wanted to be.

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The Messenger Birds,
The TVD First Date

“There has always been something special about hearing a record on vinyl. When I was really young, my dad would blast Tower of Power and all sorts of other jazz, blues, and funk records on his turntable, but I didn’t have a true understanding or appreciation for vinyl as a medium until much later.”

“CD was king through my formative years. I used to save money so I could go to Barnes and Noble or FYE to buy CDs when I was in middle school, which was at the height of the emo wave in the early 2000s. So you can probably imagine my collection—Brand New, The Used, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria, you name it. I got really heavy into Bright Eyes around the time Wide Awake and Digital Ash came out, and it was kind of the first time I started paying any attention to lyrics. Nuance was suddenly really important in every aspect of the music I listened to, and when I got back into listening to albums on vinyl, that stuck with me.

When I finally got my own turntable, the first records I bought were Wide Awake and Cassadaga. Then it was Room on Fire (The Strokes), Nevermind and In Utero (Nirvana), and the collection kept growing, but each one felt like it hit different on vinyl, like I was hearing it again for the first time. It felt so raw and real. These records were meant to be listened to that way. And I think that’s how Chris and I both feel about Everything Has to Fall Apart Eventually, especially after hearing the test presses from Third Man. Hopefully other people will feel the same way.”
Parker Bengry (guitar/vocals)

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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