Vinyl + Cocktails Top 10 Albums of 2013
See our 2012 list HERE
Bekah Wagner, the wispy, heart-aching voice behind Roo & The Howl, has released the first music video for "To The River." The video captures in image the quiet, often lonely inner struggle that her music and lyrics exude so well. Shot in and around Sante Fe, NM, the landscape is the perfect backdrop to a song that points to walking through the deserts of life, wrestling with paradox, doubt and meaning. With a planned debut album dropping early in 2014, we'll be keeping our eye on this Colorado songstress.
I already have the Daft Punk LP on vinyl... but this box set looks pretty awesome. I wish they would have released the Horizon single as a vinyl 7"... but, it's pretty clear I should stop holding my breath for that.
Do I need the Daft Punk 'Random Access Memories' box set to feel fulfilled in my life?... No I do not.
Will my life be fulfilled if someone buys me the Daft Punk "Random Access Memories' box set? Probably.
Because you should hear it if you haven't already, below is a link to the Horizon single.
For "Pearl Jam Week" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, our friend Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes turned up with another one of our favorite artists, Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear fame), for a welcome cover of Peal Jam's "Corduroy." Although I'm not a huge fan of the cover, it was nice to see Robin performing and giving us hope for another album in 2014.
As a side note...
I think that when Robin Pecknold looked like the picture to the left, you'd be hard pressed to find anybody who thought he was younger than mid-30s...
... but then he turned up on LNJF probably shocking many long time Fleet Foxes fans with the cleaned up look.
Robin Pecknold is 27 years old.
After a devastatingly good 2011 album, Kaputt, Vancouver-based Destroyer (Daniel Bejar) has followed it up with an EP, 5 Spanish Songs (avail Nov 26), one of which is the Stones-esque rocker, "El Rito". The song is awash with positive vibes and a guitar lick that will remain in your head for days. Pre-order the vinyl here.
In my quest for experiencing music in as many mediums as possible, as well as learning about the artists and bands I like and appreciate the most, I have watched a countless number of music documentaries; some better than others. Some were about tortured artists, bands thriving in their prime, and some were about concerts and legendary tours. Either way, below is a list of my 10 favorite music documentaries that I come back to again and again for either the music, or the story of my favorite artists.
If you're really counting, there are more than 10 here... but again, these are just my personal favorites that I think any music lover would love to see. Enjoy.
This is probably my favorite story-telling style documentary about an artist. Daniel Johnston's story is incredible, and this documentary is so well done it's easy to watch again and again. If you haven't seen it or don't know his story, you might be surprised just how many of the artists you listen to today can relate back to Daniel Johnston or at least wish they could write songs like he can. It's so good I've seen it drive people to tears in spots. It's definitely worth it to see at least once.
Shot from a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland, this Red Hot Chili Peppers set is my go to concert dvd if I'm ever hosting a party and I just want to hear a steady lineup of great music. As a bonus to the sound quality and the setlist from this concert in 2003, this was shot absolutely brilliantly. Put it on at a party, people love it... keeps the energy up, and people can mingle comfortably or watch when they need a distraction.
LCD Soundsystem was an incredible group led by James Murphy. Their final concert at Madison Square Garden was filmed for the purpose of this documentary telling the story about the band and explaining what it was like to put on their final show in a controlled way when they were seemingly still at the peak of their career.
As a bonus, if you buy the deluxe edition, it comes with the entire three and a half hour concert in full. If you even remotely enjoy LCD Soundsystem, you will watch this documentary and the accompanying concert DVD again and again.
This documentary catches Radiohead after the release of 'OK Computer' and highlights the still early years of what the band has become today. I think Thom Yorke has criticized it some in these more recent years as it paints a picture of Yorke himself as a pretty tortured artist. Regardless of the undertones, it's a great documentary for any Radiohead fan and it has some great concert highlights and rare moments of the band and Thom Yorke performing songs that weren't released for years after this was made.
Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys are huge today. This concert DVD catches them before they blew up completely and, in my opinion, showcases the talent that made them as big as they are today. Just the two of them, playing their asses off in Portland Oregon, as straightforward as they've ever been, before they were household favorites in the music scene. A great concert to watch repeatedly.
A documentary about both the writing of Wilco's landmark album 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' but also about how they got cut from their label while creating it and the struggles to get the album released to the masses.
If you are looking for Wilco's other tour documentary, Ashes of American Flag's is also really well done.
As if Jeff Tweedy isn't busy enough touring and writing music for his band, the previously mentioned Wilco, he occasionally ventures off for a solo tour of acoustic versions of some of the best music he's written throughout his storied career. This concert dvd catches Jeff Tweedy at various stops on a tour of the Pacific Northwest in 2006 and is great for any fan of acoustic singer-songwriter music at it's best--stripped down and beautiful performed.
A great concert of the Beastie Boys performing in Madison Square Garden. Uniquely shot from multiple handheld camcorders by fans with different perspectives in the audience, this is, unfortunately, the closest many of us will get to seeing the Beastie Boys perform live.
A mix of live concert footage as well as tour footage of one of their final tours throughout North America, this is a documentary that any White Stripes fan will love.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, featuring guest appearances from many of your favorite artists from the '60s and '70s (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, etc), this concert dvd covers all the hits from 'The Band' in a way that I'll never be so fortunate to experience live.
I'm going to talk about iTunes Radio for a bit because I haven't found a lot of articles that seem like the people writing them are actually using it.
I have been.
As it turns out, I've got an excessive amount of time on my hands since the iOS 7 update and I was looking forward to the task of calibrating a couple stations with the new service right away.
First off, I haven't heard or seen a single ad yet. I expected to bump right into them, and was even modestly curious about what kind of ads they would be because it's Apple. So far, after about 6 hours of use and growing as I write this, I haven't heard one. You would think this is the point where I reveal that I am an iTunes Match user and thus I am not subject to the ads. But... I'm not. So I don't really get it. I'm not complaining. I need those ads like I need another hole in my head (I don't), but I'm just modestly surprised I haven't heard one yet. And I'm wondering if it's just me. I suspect I'm not alone. That or some poor user out there is doubling down on ads for me.
As a side note, the only reason I'm not an iTunes Match subscriber is because of the 25,000 song limit. I am hoping it just goes away, and after getting a grasp of the royalty structure, I thought that it would. SUPPOSEDLY, if you're an iTunes Match member and you have a song in your catalog that comes up on iTunes Radio, then Apple doesn't have to pay the royalty for it because it's a song you already own, they're just playing it for you. So, it seems to me that they are losing money (or paying more money, depending on how you look at it) since they have this arbitrary 25,000 song limit that keeps me from paying for the service and saving them money. I know there are workarounds for the song limit, but I'm not interested in a workaround, I just want the limit increased.
Again, that was a side note... a virtual jab at Apple since not enough people can possibly be arguing that point for me. Back to iTunes Radio...
I'll be honest, iTunes Radio has got room for improvement. I don't use pandora and haven't for years. I just don't care for it, but I'm holding out hope that iTunes Radio will be something I come back to often. So far, it needs work.
First off, I built my first Yo La Tengo radio station excited to just dive in and see what it would come up with. It flopped. It started off with a more popular track (if they have any) and then proceeded to play me a ton of Built to Spill and Pavement. It had played a few songs that I thought were okay, and one I liked/recognized. Whatever that song was, I selected "play more like this" and I kid you not, it played me three Rogue Wave songs in a row (not a fan). I was confused, I quickly reached my six-skips-per-hour limit, and was just stuck listening to Rogue Wave, Built to Spill, and Pavement... I did so as long as I could and when I couldn't take it anymore, I deleted the station and started over. My assumption, I suppose, was that there was a problem with my use of the service and not the service itself.
So, I started over. This time I decided I was going to build a super-station of sorts, by just picking a bunch of artists off my shelf that I love and building them all into one station and seeing what iTunes Radio could come up with. I will say that it was better than my original Yo La Tengo station, but after just a few times selecting "play more like this" I can tell that the algorithm (or whatever) that the app uses relies WAY too heavily on those inputs... and doesn't take me as seriously as they should when I select "never play this song."
Don't get me wrong, I like Ducktails... that's why I selected "Play more like this" when I first heard them come up. The "problem" is that I've given it a dozen other inputs since then but I've heard almost the entire album "Arcade Dynamics," which is rather obscure compared to the other bands listed like Yo La Tengo, Arctic Monkey's, and Animal Collective. I actually heard one Animal Collective song come up... but I'm telling you I put probably 30 different bands in the station criteria and I can't figure out why Matt Pond PA and Rogue Wave seem to be playing over and over. It's like iTunes is trying to insist that I love them. I'm ready to delete the station. The Ducktails thing is perplexing, I like that I can make this station play it so frequently... but if I wanted to listen to it that thoroughly I would just go play that album from my library. I guess I was expecting to hear a Real Estate track before more Ducktails... but, I'm not really complaining about it playing music I like too much.
I don't have to delete the station, as it turns out, because I can go into the station criteria and delete previous inputs. I've dug through there and found what I think is the culprit song triggering all the bogus content (note: don't select "play more like this" unless you really mean it). I'm at my song skip limit still but I'm excited to see what comes up next. Maybe some Deerhunter? Hell, I'd even take another round of Ducktails tracks... So what's the next track going to be? ohhhh... Small Black - Limits of Desire. I do like this track, and I sense this is a good segue to the next thing I like about the service.
The two things that seem distinctly valuable to me are, first, the ability to set a station to play you "hits" from the artists the station is based around, or set the station to "discovery" which would, in theory, play you songs like that Small Black track after everything else I've mentioned up to this point. There is also a variety setting between the two which, I imagine, tries to balance between Hits and Discovery. The other invaluable setting, is the on/off button next to "allow explicit tracks." A surely functional toggle, indeed.
Okay, my station seems to be in full stride now. I think the immediate takeaway is that it takes the direct inputs about individual tracks VERY seriously... whereas it maybe takes the station criteria as suggestion. I do like that I can maintain both a "play more like this" and a "never play this" section... and that I can add artists, songs, and genre's to those lists. Now, I just hope they work.
I'm easily up to 8 hours of listening at this point. Still haven't heard an ad. Finally heard a Deerhunter track, now Phoenix. I get it that I probably have more specific taste than a typical user, but I'd like to think that I can train this service to play things I will like, consistently. Really feel like I won when it just played Washed Out - It All Feels Right from their new album Paracosm.
I guess I started out pretty disappointed and after giving it a little work, I seemed to be pretty set with my first station. So I guess I'll leave it at that. Now, time to try my luck with a rap/hip-hop station.
Oh yeah...and this happened.
Did you know that Grizzly Bear is releasing a 'Shields: B-Sides' on vinyl? It's true - out 12 November on Warp Records. From Warp's website:
Following a standout 12 months of widespread critical acclaim, their biggest headline shows to date, and key international festival slots, Grizzly Bear’s latest LP ‘Shields’ (iTunes US Album Of The Year) will be reissued on CD and Download, with a selection of b-sides, demos and remixes originally recorded during the 'Shields' sessions.
For collectors, the additional songs will also be available separately on 180gm Vinyl as 'Shields: B-Sides' (with the remixes on a download card) and as a download bundle.
"Why is 'Watch the Throne' so expensive on vinyl?" is a real thing I had to google recently.
With recent releases from both Jay Z and Kanye West this summer, but only limited hope that either one would see the light of day on vinyl, I had to make a decision. I think 'Yeezus' is incredible and Magna Carta Holy Grail is unquestionably great, but both albums have been out for months now and there is still no clear indication that I'll ever own those albums in the physical format. I know Third Man Records is supposedly going to release MCHG on vinyl... but I've yet to see it, so I'm not holding my breath. As much as I like the two new albums though, I asked myself why I don't own 'Watch the Throne' when I know it's one of my favorite albums to listen to from either artist. I'm racking my brain about why they'd release such big albums this year without a pressing on vinyl, when their combined album, which I probably love more than any of their other individual work, exists on vinyl and I don't own it.
Then I remembered, oh yeah, it's really expensive.
After temporary consideration of my priorities in life, weighing the decision of what one of my favorite albums might be worth, and seeing that maybe I caught an opportunity to buy the album new and on sale, I went for it and now I own 'Watch the Throne' on vinyl. I think I bought my copy for $92 from Amazon.
So, can I answer my original question now? I don't know. It does have some pretty impressive packaging... I don't even know what you call the gatefold design. The vinyl is clearly heavyweight, and the pictures of Jay Z and Kanye printed onto the vinyl is pretty cool, albeit a little bit weird, but I don't know what part of that launches it into the $100+ category. It is JUST one album.
But again, when I considered the fact that I was being a tryhard (shouts, AW) about not being able to buy Yeezus or MCHG on vinyl, but I didn't own the one album from both artists that I still love more than the new stuff, I just went for it.
Now when someone asks "why is 'Watch the Throne' so expensive on vinyl" you can just say, "because some people are willing to pay for it."
There's probably a better answer.
It's here! GUYS! It's finally here! Well, the new Arcade Fire album isn't, but at least we have a glimpse now with their music video release for Reflektor.
Fall is my favorite season. There's something noble and respectfully mature about a season that marks the transition from life to death, light to dark, flip flops to chukka boots. If Spring is your sister's idiot friend partying in Cabo, Fall is a wise old college professor, pulling a pipe from his tweed jacket pocket and lamenting over the demise of classical education.
So it's no surprise that Fall is also my favorite time of year for music. Albums released in the Fall feel like they carry more weight, their creators more serious, introspective and sweeping. Of course, I know I'm overreaching, but as one looks at what's on the horizon over the next few months, the albums being dropped confirm my suspicions that Fall is indeed the best time of year for new albums.
Here are 10 albums releasing this fall that we're most excited about:
10. Arcade Fire - 'Reflektor'
Yeah...so it's been almost a month since our last pairing. It's summer and we took a break, hope you don't mind too much. Either way, we're back baby!!!
Check out the pairing for Kansas City-based Akkilles new album Something You'd Say...
"The experimental project of David Bennett, Akkilles fills a folk-gaze (possibly just made up a genre) niche that would land in my vinyl collection somewhere between Kurt Vile, Dent May and Beach House."
I listen to Animal Collective on the regular... but hearing Monkey Riches in context of this new video is almost like a new experience completely. Refreshing even. You might recall Centipede Hz was one of my favorite albums of 2012 as well as listening to the the initial livestream of the album being a major music experience from the year on my calendar. Check out the video below.
Purchase Vinyl: Amazon
If you read one piece of music journalism today, make it this one. V+C favorite, Andrew WInistorfer (see Vinyl In Alphabetical), was recently sent by Noisey to see Nelly at Wisconsin's annual Summerfest. His observations mix awkward hilarity and cultural introspection in a way that reminds me of David Foster Wallace's "Consider the Lobster" essay.Read More
**Update 7:15pm PST July 9th, 2013**
Looks like this video confirms--You can see Jay Z on hot 97 where he talks about "open letter" on vinyl via third man, immediately below.
Is Magna Carta Holy Grail an incredible album?
Should you be impressed that Jay Z sold a million copies for Samsung Galaxy users before it was even released to buy elsewhere?
- No. No you should not.
DON'T GET ME WRONG. I'm a huge fan of Jay Z and his music and talent. I just don't think Samsung buying a million copies of the album, digitally, for it's users is impressive by any means. I mean, it certainly says something of Jay Zs stature... it says something of the power and faith that a brand like Samsung is willing to put that much stock in Jay Z as a brand. But from a record sales perspective, I don't think it stands up.
I mean, did Samsung pay retail price? How much do you have to charge for an album for it to count as an album sale? Business Insider states that the numbers break down to $5 a copy... but note that Jay Z probably makes a lot more money off that deal than it would if 1 million copies were sold through other mediums like iTunes since his stake is probably much less through alternative channels. But still. If Justin Timberlake or Kanye West released their album for $5 on iTunes on their opening week, I'd like to think they'd have sold SIGNIFICANTLY more copies than they did.
Again, I just don't think you can compare these things directly.
PROBABLY the only way to impress me would have been if he'd have paired up with some vinyl press and sent me a physical copy of his album that only me and my vinyl collecting friends could enjoy for 3 days before the rest of the world gets their 1s and 0s copy on their phone. Maybe next time.
Anyway, this album is incredible, and you need to get a copy of it to make your summer complete. Listen to "Holy Grail" featuring Justin Timberlake and watch Jay Z talk about the album in a Samsung Galaxy ad, below.