Volcano Choir, Repave
Yeah I sprang for the overpriced blue-vinyl Newbury-Comics exclusive; you wanna fight about it? This album owns like you wouldn’t believe (seriously, it may be my favorite Justin Vernon album full-stop, and I fucking LOVED both the second Bon Iver album and the Gayngs record), and if you have an opportunity to pick up the alpha version of a record that good, you seize it.
Pinkcourtesyphone, Foley Folly Folio
Q: What’s the quickest way to make thirty bucks disappear? A: Tell me that a record is “Highly recommended to fans of William Basinski and the Caretaker” like Boomkat did with this one. Quite accurately, as it turned out; that’s EXACTLY the right frame of reference for this album. I just worry that someday the music industry will be able to microtarget this weakness and use it to make me buy, like, Creed albums or something.
Sly and the Family Stone, There’s A Riot Goin’ On
When I first saw this copy I thought it was put out by MoFi and nearly lost my composure in the middle of Amoeba. Alas, it turned out to be Sundazed instead, although the record still sounds fine (well, it always sounded a little fucked-up anyway, but you can still pick out all kinds of details like all the different rhythm tracks in “Just Like A Baby” and so on). And it’s There’s A Riot, for God’s sakes; you’re simply not allowed to claim to like music and not have this album go unaccounted for in your collection in some form.
Vinyl Upkeep Doodad, Gizmo, & Gewgaw Revue
I like to describe my apartment to people as “a record collection surrounded by the immediate aftereffects of a cat-5 hurricane”; cleaning is for suckers, but when it comes to my records, I look after them with the meticulous fervor of a Westminster Kennel entrant’s owner. Here are a few of the doodads I have amassed to help keep my shit in good condition:
TOP: Milty Zerostat. You point this thing at your record when it’s on the turntable (making sure not to point it at your needle) and squeeze the trigger in order to zap all the static off your record. I repeat: protecting your records means zapping them with a futuristic space ray-gun. And people wonder why I love records so much.
MIDDLE LEFT: AcousTech Big Brush: A good brush is the cornerstone of any serious record collector’s toolkit, and this is hands down the best brush I’ve ever used; it’s easy to hold and works wonders at wiping all the crud off your records.
MIDDLE: Onzow Zerodust: Okay, so here’s how this works: Remember those gummy hands you used to get for 25 cents at the grocery store? (Yes, I am old.) This is basically a fancy version of that technology, except it’s engineered not to leave a residue, which is key since you use this thing by lowering your stylus into this thing, leaving it stuck there for a few seconds, then lifting it back out to discover that all the shit accrued by dragging through the grooves is gone. It costs enough that you’ll have second thoughts - until you use it one time, at which point you will sit back and marvel at how you’d managed to survive without one for so long. A+++ gear. (Make sure to spring for a legit one, though - don’t cheap out and grab a knockoff on eBay since those CAN leave a residue on your stylus, gumming up the whole works.)
MIDDLE RIGHT: Pro-Ject Record Puck: My entire setup is basically Pro-Ject - I have an Xpression III, the acrylic platter, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the Speedbox (seriously, if you own a Pro-Ject table the Speedbox is THE gift you need to get for yourself) - so I mostly went with this as my record clamp due to brand loyalty; also it looks sick in that box, which is always nice. Overall, though, it’s not really all that necessary; it’s useful for super-warped stuff, but I rarely find myself breaking it out.
BOTTOM: Acoustech Stylus Force Gage: There are people on this planet who can effortlessly calibrate tonearms blindfolded while being harangued by Gilbert Gottfried; I am not one one of those people. So instead I have to buy gadgets like this which I have probably used for less than one minute total; it is, however, TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY worth it, because it makes tonearm setup an absolute and unmitigated snap. I can’t imagine life without one of these things.
Not pictured: VPI record cleaner (too much of a PITA to take down from the shelf & snap pictures) & Vibrapod cones & feet (too much of a PITA to move my turntable around just to show these off, but they TOTALLY work)
Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92
SAW 85-92 has been out of print for approximately ever; I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy from the recent reissue on Apollo and IT IS GOOD. IT SOUNDS GOOD. IF I WERE GOING TO SUM UP WHAT THIS ALBUM SOUNDS LIKE IN ONE WORD, THAT WORD WOULD BE “GOOD.”
Sadly it seems to have sold out pretty quickly, but at the very least it’s a little cheaper on the aftermarket now; if you see it and you have even a passing interest in Richard D. James’ steez, you should buy it IMO.
Honey Ltd., The Complete LHI Recordings
My Light in the Attic subscription is one of my favorite things I’ve bought for myself this year; so far I’ve received super-deluxe versions of PiL’s debut album (owns), some bomb-ass limited colored vinyl versions of albums by Michael Chapman (owns) & Roky Erikson, and this magnificent comp of a girl group signed to Lee Hazlewood’s label back in the 60s. The music is an amazing slab of late-sixties psyche-pop, the packaging is stunning even by LITA’s vaunted standards, and the pressing sounds GREAT - it’s a hell of a thing for albums this good to just show up on your doorstep without any warning. (Well, sometimes they give you a little warning - for instance, at some point in the very near future THIS MAJESTIC-LOOKING THING IS GOING TO BE SENT TO ME OMG OMG OMG CAN’T WAIT) Needless to say I’ll be renewing the hell out of my subscription next year.
King Crimson, In The Wake of Poseidon
If I had a dollar for every time I ever mockingly dismissed King Crimson as a gigantic pile of wanky prog for Phish fans who want to try to make themselves sound smart, I could probably afford first pressings of their entire catalogue. And given how much I like them ever since I woke up to In The Court of the Crimson King last year, I’d make that trade in a heartbeat. I don’t like In The Wake Of Poseidon nearly as much as Court, but it’s still goddamned great.
Pure X, Crawling Up The Stairs
I absolutely loved Pleasure, Pure X’s debut on Acephale back in 2010, and their sophomore effort is as worthy a successor as I could have wanted. The vibe is pretty different, but I’m almost tempted to argue that the songs arc to a climax more effectively on this album than on the first; when, say, “Thousand Year Old Child” gets to where it’s going, you will say the words “God DAMN” out loud even if you’re the only one in the room at the time. I promise you this.
Donato Dozzy, Plays Bee Mask
In which Bee Mask - aka one of the best dudes ever to put a record out on Spectrum Spools - commissioned Donato Dozzy to remix his masterful Vaporware/Scanops EP from last year, and Dozzy comes back with two LPs worth of explorations of the source material. This is SO SO SO SO SO SO good, easily the best release from the Spools camp since the Three Legged Race album and one of their best overall. Give it a listen.