Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vinyl Vednesday 3/3/10

[Vinyl Vednesday is a weekly feature about three favorite vinyl finds. It’s not meant to be a dick-measuring contest, but it kinda is. Please note my sweet VHS collection pictured above includes both Digimon and Hal Hartley films. E-mail with your own big finds!]

Records: The Arcade Fire’s Funeral (2004) on black, The English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It (1980) on black, and Graham Parker’s Squeezing Out Sparks (1979) on black.

Place of Purchase: Funeral and Stop It both came from Siren Records. Sparks was part of a box of old vinyls Uncle Mike gave me shortly after I acquired my first record player in high school. He basically tripled my collection at the time in one take.

Thoughts: I have this habit of doubling up on albums I really, really like, such as Arcade Fire’s full-length debut. When Funeral blew up my first semester of college, I was caught in the blast. I was a pop-punk ‘n’ emo kid; my understanding of indie music was shaky at the time, but frontman Win Butler’s songs about love and loss – in case anybody forgot, the title is meant to be literal, as the band lost several family members during recording – hit pretty hard. My grandmother had passed away less than a year ago at that point, and I was still carrying a lot of anger and sadness from that. Funeral helped, though. Nowadays, I just get caught up in the energy of tunes like “Neighborhood #2 (Laika)” and “Rebellion (Lies)” without any emotional baggage. I rarely agree with blog buzz bands; this one’s a huge exception.

My love of The English Beat can be attributed to another ska band, The Specials. It was because of them that I started checking out 2 Tone. I’d always known of the Beat, but it wasn’t until after The Specials that I actually listened to them. Not knowing where to start, I went with I Just Can’t Stop It because A) it was cheap and B) I liked the cover. The music was a little more R&B-tinged than the punky Specials, but I dug that soulful touch. That’s part of why the band’s cover of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “Tears of a Clown” works – as different as it is, it still shows an understanding of the original, something future ska cover bands neglected.

My uncle was once a New Waver. It’s kind of a catch-all phrase –really he enjoyed post-punk a la Talking Heads and power-pop maestros like Elvis Costello. He delivered on to my youthful ears some fine classics, like this one from Graham Parker. Parker specialized in nervous pub rock in the vein of Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, and Joe Jackson, although I don’t see his name come up as much. Admittedly, I wouldn’t put him on the same level as those guys (or, uh, Costello), but tunes like “Discovering Japan” and “Nobody Hurts You” are essential listening nonetheless. Parker’s songs are fast and infectious; sometimes I don’t understand why anyone would deviate from that formula.

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