Welcome to the official new vinyl column of New Noise Magazine. Due to the overwhelming response to my recent feature on Record Store Day 2013, I got inspired to take my love of the black-plastic stuff to a new level and do this on a regular basis. For those of us who want more than soulless software files comprising our music collections, these are extraordinary times.
Labels big and small are now releasing vinyl along with their digital goods, giving listeners a real choice. It’s like we’ve gone back to a bygone era, and a far superior one at that. With vinyl, you get the warm tones, the higher frequencies and killer, full-sized artwork that you can actually hold.
Here you’ll find a slew of recent releases that span the genres, plus a few other essentials for your vinyl collection.
Living In Darkness
The classic 1981 debut from the SoCal surf punks gets a high-grade reissue, courtesy of the vinyl experts at Drastic Plastic. This one comes in opaque blue vinyl and showcases iconic numbers such as “Too Young To Die” and “Bloodstains”—the latter bearing an eerily similar riff to The Offspring’s “Come Out and Play,” released several years later. (Drastic Plastic)
Alice In Chains
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
This new album has all of the requisite Alice In Chains trademarks: grinding, dissonant riffs, budding grooves and the moody, downbeat vocals of Layne Staley…oh wait, no, he’s gone (RIP). If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Staley—wherever he is—must be brimming with pride, as replacement singer William DuVall is a dead ringer, note for note. In spite of the Staley-isms, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is packed with epic, melodic hard rock numbers like “Hollow” and “Pretty Done” that sound like pretty typical AIC stuff, which I guess we’ve come to accept, even without Staley. This release includes two ultra-heavy, 3D picture discs housed inside of a translucent sleeve, and a price tag as big as the title suggests. (EMI)
Hope In Hell
It’s hard not to like Anvil. The hapless duo may be terminally comical and musically obtuse, but one thing’s for sure, its got no shortage of spirit. Hope In Hell is the latest in a line of comeback albums since the documentary, The Story of Anvil came out a few years back. In true Anvil fashion, the album is full of traditional heavy metal and speed demons as in the title track and the insanely catchy “Eat Your Words.” This LP comes in a thick gatefold cover. (The End)
The Next Day
For his 30th studio album, Bowie reunites with the producer of his glory days, Tony Visconti to create The Next Day. Bowie fans will undoubtedly cringe at the cover that does a post-modern send-up of his classic Heroes LP from 1977. As that send-up might suggest, this new offering pilfers bits from various eras of his storied career. There’s the rock (the title track), the twisted funk (“Dirty Boys”), the pop (“Valentine’s Day”), the psychedelic (“I’d Rather Be High”) and so on. In all, The Next Day is a well-rounded homage to Bowie’s career, without really doing anything new. This vinyl edition contains bonus tracks and a CD version. (Columbia)
Give ‘Em Enough Rope
Give ‘Em Enough Rope is perhaps The Clash’s most underappreciated album. And it’s not hard to see why. Sandwiched between the groundbreaking gusto of its debut and the all-time genre-bending classic London Calling, this dependable punk record is merely a solid offering, one that begins to stretch the boundaries without going too far. Numbers like “Safe European Home” and ” Last Gang in Town” do get a little adventurous and begin to sow the seeds for what’s to come. This stellar reissue comes in plush 180-gram vinyl. (Drastic Plastic)
Check out the svelte reissue of the band’s 10″ mini album Black Market Clash, also reissued in thick, high-quality wax via Drastic Plastic.
Depeche Mode is one of those bands that every few years, surprises all by releasing something that’s actually kind of fresh. Delta Machine sees the troubled trio doing it here with a set of slow, blues-infused burners like the opener “Welcome to My World” and the sublime gothic ballad, “Heaven.” For those looking for the bouncy synth-pop of yore, you won’t find much of that here. The band’s gadgetry is set to bump-and-grind mode, which suits Delta Machine quite well. (Columbia)
New Boots and Panties!!
Ian Dury is one of the unsung heroes of early punk rock. With his UK band The Blockheads, he was one of the first on the scene, cranking out quirky, intelligent songs with a seamy, poetic bent, like the anti-hit, “Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll.” New Boots and Panties!! was his first album and in similar fashion to The Clash’s London Calling, it straddles several genres: punk, pub rock, disco and soul. While it lacks the majesty and greatness of said Clash album—as most all albums do—it does have a few choice numbers: “Blockheads,” “Sweet Gene Vincent” and ” Plaistow Patricia.” (Drastic Plastic)
Troops of Tomorrow
The beauty of The Exploited is that they truly don’t give a shite about anything, even today, some 30 years after the fact. Troops of Tomorrow (1982) was released during the band’s prime era, and was influential for its raucous mix of punk and metal that helped lay the foundation for both hardcore and thrash (Slayer would even cover some of these numbers). What makes this stuff special is its big, dumb approach—numbers such as “War,” and “Sid Vicious Was Innocent” are anything but subtle, but that’s the magic of it. While it may lack the air of sophistication that art school punks of the day prided themselves on, it more than makes up for it in its power and attitude. This reissue does it due justice in concrete gray vinyl. (Drastic Plastic)
Originally released in 2001, Hymns was Godflesh’s attempt at moving away from nu-metal. Although the band had already been around since the ’80s and were seen as industrial pioneers, their slow, chugging riffs and disjointed vocals were now achingly similar in style to the much-maligned nu-metal sounds of the day. While Hymns is far heavier than say Crazy Town or Creed, you can see some connection, especially in the detuned riffs. Standouts include “Defeated” and ” Voidhead.” (The End Records)
The Las Vegas Story
One of the unsung underground bands of the 1980s, Gun Club made its name playing bluesy, swampy, lo-fi punk. Led by the enigmatic Jeffery Lee Pierce (RIP), the band also once featured future Sisters of Mercy vixen Patricia Morrison. The Las Vegas Story was the band’s third album, which saw a deviation from the original punk formula, into a slicker, alternative rock sound. While purists may have cringed, it’s an accomplished piece of work, showcased by numbers such as “The Master Plan” and “Walkin’ with the Beast.” (Drastic Plastic)
4 Into Unknown
This latest release from Detroit’s favorite deviants balances its Stooges affinities with varied doses of glam, garage and psych. The result is a lo-fi assault on the senses—fuzzy, melodic and trippy at once, with a knack for memorable hooks as in the killer “Outlaw Lone Wolf” and the Velvet Underground-esque closer “Into Unknown.” (Goner)
In an era dominated by fake-angst and grunge wannabe’s, the Brit Pop scene of the mid ’90s was a refreshing look back at guitar-based rock, with an emphasis on solid songwriting. In reality, it had to be, since its forbearers included such heavies as The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones.
One of the most undervalued bands of the era—at least in these parts—was the UK’s Kula Shaker. Led by Crispian Mills—son of child actress Hayley Mills—the band borrowed heavily from ’60s psychedelia and the swirling organ grooves of early Deep Purple, while adding Eastern accents to the mix, for a completely different spin on the genre.
Now, reissued for the first time on vinyl, the band’s first two albums “K” and Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts have been in unleashed in thick and heavy 180-gram vinyl with plush, high-quality sleeves. Of the two, K is the superior offering, with grooving, outta-sight guitar drivers like “Hey Dude” and “Knight on the Town,” plus the hypnotic UK hit, “Tattva.” K also includes a bonus, 7-inch single of the band’s excellent Deep Purple cover, “Hush,” suitably pressed in lush purple wax. (Music On Vinyl)
You’ve gotta hand it to Dave Mustaine. In spite of all his personal demons, he’s generally pretty consistent when it comes to Megadeth releases. You always get technical riffs, screaming leads, angry lyrical passages and at least one attempt to score a hit. The latter aspect usually ends up being a futile proposition, but you can’t blame him for trying, especially given the fact that he’s never quite gotten over having been sacked by Metallica.
As expected, Super Collider stays the course, but there’s a definite emphasis on the “hits,” as in the blatant cock-rock-esque “Forget To Remember,” with its painful refrain and sappy background vocals. Then there’s the modern-sounding “The Beginner of Sorrow,” which sounds very much like contemporary hard rock. Some may cry “sell-out,” while others may view it as a progression. Either way, we’ve seen Dave do this before, so it’s nothing really new. What is new, is a cover of Thin Lizzy’s classic “Cold Sweat.” Disappointingly, it stays true to the original note for note, without doing anything fresh. Ah well, the vinyl edition of Super Collider is still a nice piece, and comes in a glossy gatefold sleeve. (Universal)
Mott The Hoople
Live In Sweden 1971
Before David Bowie got ahold of Mott The Hoople and made them glam rock stars with his timeless anthem “All The Young Dudes,” the band was a fairly standard bluesy rock band. And, even though Ian Hunter was/is an inspiring lyricist and Mick Ralphs a solid axe-master, I can pretty much do without much of their early stuff, prior to Bowie’s intervention. This live set epitomizes that period. And while the material lacks the punch and pomp of the later stuff, there’s an undercurrent of hunger and drive that’s omnipresent throughout the album’s weathered grooves. (MVD)
Primal Scream was one of the ’90s “it” bands. Critics tended to like ’em for their avant-garde leanings and penchant for reinvention, while rock fans appreciated their ability to kick out the jams when needed. The band’s 1991 genre-bending release Screamadelica still stands as one of the decade’s best releases. The album pilfered bits from the then-popular acid-house dance scene, classic rock, psychedelia, pop, punk and gospel, creating something completely fresh in the process.
More Light sees a bit of a return to some of that eclecticism, with a variety of sounds ranging from rock to jazz, pop, dance beats, psych and a few MC5-isms tossed in. It’s a fine return to form as evidenced in the spacey, Pink Floyd-ish “Tenement Kid” and the haunting “Elimination Blues,” featuring Robert Plant as guest vocalist. The packaging for More Light is extra special, with a plush glossy gatefold, inserts and thick-cut vinyl. (First International)
Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp
So, before you start giving me a hard time about including a rap group here, hear me out. In spite of its misguided anger and racist overtones, at one point, PE was one of the heaviest bands on the planet—as in the iconic Fear of a Black Planet album (1990). The multifaceted production was years ahead of its time, while the aura it conjured up was menacing and apocalyptic.
This new album is less epic and bombastic than the aforementioned classic, with a thinner foundational groove. But, it’s still got leader Chuck D ranting about politics and race, and his foil Flavor Flav doing his comical bits, so in one sense, it’s refreshing, as there’s not much else out there rap-wise like it. But on the flipside, it’s been done, and been done better—by this very same group. Either way, for PE fans, this 2-LP set is limited to just 500 copies, and should make for a decent addition to your stash. (MVD)
Also, check out the label’s release of Planet Earth, a comp that features some of the classic bits referenced above.
Spirits of the Dead
Rumours Of A Presence
Lately, it seems like everyone wants to be in a doom/stoner/psych/occult band. The travesty of it all is that very few offer anything remotely new by way of sound or overall style. Most tend to do little more than pilfer Black Sabbath, Trouble or Pentagram. Hell, even the latter two did their damnedest to emulate the Sabs. But, these days, there’s an influx of copyists by the dozen that are little more than cheap imitations. There are a few that do bring something new to the movement—Ghost, Uncle Acid, Purson, and Norway’s own Spirits of the Dead.
The latter’s new album Rumours Of A Presence is rife with lush soundscapes, melodic passages, heavy atmospherics and intricate arrangements that owe as much to psychedelic folk and prog as they do to vintage heavy rock, with traces of Pink Floyd and The Doors throughout. But in spite of the esoteric lyrics and heady approach, the band does rightfully rock, as evidenced in “Wheels of the Word” and “Song of Many Reefs.” The packaging of this LP is as wondrous as the sounds within. You have your choice of several different vinyl color variations. Plus, the sleeve comes in a matte cover with shiny, embossed emblems and notes on the front and back. Nice. (The End Records)
The Emerald City
The Tossers are Chicago’s answer to The Pogues. This is vintage punk played with a Celtic flair, including traditional Irish instruments, booze-filled lyrics and an upbeat, animated approach. Sure, it’s been done before, but there’s something about the combination of traditional punk rock and Irish folk music that’s instantly infectious. Emerald City works well within these confines, stirring up a ruckus with upbeat numbers such as “The Rover” and the title track, both of which do a fine job at infusing a little bittersweetness into the revelry. (Victory)
Live at the Gluepot 1980
Hailing from New Zealand, new wave band Toy Love was a direct spawn of one of the country’s first punk bands, The Enemy. The band’s recorded output was minimal, with just one studio album from 1980 to its name that epitomized the pop new wave sounds of the day.
Recorded during Toy Love’s final tour, Live at the Gluepot 1980 captures the band at its unhinged best, with singer Chris Knox adding the necessary punk moxy that’s missing on the studio album, in songs like “Fifteen,” “Amputee Song” and ” I Wanna Die with You.” While the recording is a little dodgy in spots, Live at the Gluepot paints a picture of what might’ve been if Toy Love had exploited its true punk rock tendencies. (Goner)
How Dare You!
Best known for iconic ’70s radio hits like “I’m Not In Love,” 10cc was one of the more innovative bands to come out of the UK pop scene of the time. With a swirling combination of art rock, prog, pop and soft rock, plus a satirical lyrical sensibility, it was a wonder that the band had any mainstream hits at all. But it did, and big ones at that. How Dare You was the band’s fourth album. And while it didn’t have the hits of prior, or later offerings, it comes packed with a few highly crafted pop songs such as the offbeat “I’m Mandy, Fly Me,” the vocal-driven “Iceberg” and the symphonic title track. This reissue comes in 180 gram vinyl with a gatefold sleeve that stays true to the original release. (Music On Vinyl)
For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers, JK.