Saturday, 8 July 2017

Ebay's 6 signs you should keep your record collection

Ebay's advertorial in today's Guardian tries to convince record owners that they should sell their record collection. Ebay are wrong on every count.

There are, apparently, "six signs it's time to sell your vinyl collection". Each of those 6 signs is easily dismantled and reversed. So I'm going to do just that.

1. They treat the place like a hotel
No they fucking don't. They're more than "an ornament to any living room". They're a life history, they tell stories, they're the past, present and future.

Ebay thinks that record collectors have "cardboard boxes strewn everywhere". No record collector does. This is a straw man argument.

 "Sell them for yourself. For the space, for the money, for the freedom." Mate, the only time I've sold records is to buy more records.

2. The generation gap is widening
No, ebay, not all record collectors are DJs. Don't tell me to sell "rave-worthy vinyl and replacing them with something more laid-back". Even if I were the person you think I am (I'm not), I'll decide when I want to move from the main dancefloor to the chill-out room.

Spoiler alert: record collectors have music crossing several genres. We play what we want according to mood, not your rather antiquated idea of age-appropriate genres.

"They need to be with people who understand them now." Yeah, the people who bought them and still enjoy them.

3. It’s like sharing the house with a stranger
The bullshit-ometer needle is really in the red now: "Because your record collection no longer represents your taste in music – it represents your past taste in music, plus a ton of stuff that you bought for reasons that you’ve long forgotten. When these records first came into your life, it was exciting."

Sometimes I play a record I haven't played in 20 years. I might fall in love with its 9-day wonder all over again. It might lead me to something else I haven't played in too long. It'll remind me of things and it'll join the dots with something new I'm listening to.

I'm certain I own records I'll never play again. But I'm equally certain I've no idea what those records are. I'm keeping them all, thanks very much.

4. Something is missing between you
According to ebay, I don't own a record player. Seriously, fuck off. And if you want me to buy records from your site, please don't get people who know fuck all about condition or grading and have got no record player to test them on to sell on your site. Because there's way too much of that already.

5.You’re not spending any time together
What started out as a flimsy proposition is falling apart like a cheap toy. On their fifth point, ebay rehash their second point. Mate, I'm a record lover. I can spot a crappy remix a mile away let alone a few paragraphs apart.

6. They’re spending all their time with younger people
Ebay have packed a lot of bullshit into their final point. I'll rightly unpack these points so they deflate like the balloon at a party no one's turned up to:

  • "Like so many music lovers, you found your tastes by leafing through your parents’ records." No I didn't. Not one.
  • "Some became the germ of your own collection, and now, to your delight, your children have taken a shine to some of your records." Even if the State Sponsored Sterilisation Scheme hadn't intervened and I had children, I'd have those pesky kids disinfected and issued with white cotton gloves before they went near them.
  • "Sell what remains on eBay – and your record player." Hang on, according to point 4 I don't own a record player. Make your fucking mind up.
I've made my fucking mind up. I'm not selling my records on your site, paying your costs, queuing up at the post office and then regretting everything.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Popguns C88 demos

These 1988 demos have been given a new lease of life. One label turned them down at the time because they were "too professional sounding".

It really was like that back then. Some of 1980s indie harboured the suspicion that not using biscuit tins for drums or hiding musical incompetence under gales of feedback meant wanting to be Dire Straits.

Medium Cool, the label that did sign them for 1989's Landslide single, had to persuade The Popguns their interest wasn't based on the band sharing a drummer with The Wedding Present.

I'm not sure why they were worried about that. 28 years later and I'm still not bored of listening to Landslide's crashing jangle. It sounds even fresher on this remix (where "remix" means the vocals are higher in the mix).

For your £2 on bandcamp you also get one of Landslide's b-sides (Leave It Alone, which always sounds like they'd listened quite closely to the House Of Love's Destroy The Heart), Where Do You Go? from their 1988 flexi (that's where the remix really helps out) and a previously unreleased song, Beat Me Up.

Two quid? Seriously, it's a bargain.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Sprinters

You know those "RIYL" blurbs that bands or labels put on their releases? If they were all as accurate as The Sprinters' effort, you'd know exactly when to open your wallet. The Sprinters claim they're like these bands: Ariel Pink, Real Estate, Pavement, Mac DeMarco, Yo La Tengo, Kurt Vile, The Feelies.

And they are. This eponymous debut album is 90s American indie (Pavement's brutal melodies, Yo La Tengo's narcotic noise). It's 1970s radio-friendly hits warped in the California sun (Ariel Pink), post-punk jangle (The Feelies), woozily dazed (see Mac DeMarco) and, hold up, let me swap Kurt Vile for Neil Young. You get the idea.

The Sprinters are from Wigan. They write pop songs like the 1960s have just ended and they're not sure where they're going. 20 years ago this record would have been released by Elephant 6. Rejoice that it's freshly made.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip

The Rain Parade recorded Emergency Third Rail Power Trip in 1983 with the conviction that Eight Miles High, We Can Work It Out and Forever Changes were the 1960s’ most essential artefacts, and that punk’s true legacy was Marquee Moon. I expect they liked Pink Floyd as well, but I won’t hold that against them because this is a phenomenal record.

Bucketfull of Brains named it the best album of the 1980s. Alan McGee tried to licence it for Creation. To know this psychedelic masterpiece is to love it. Over 10 years ago I started working in a second-hand record shop in London. On my first day a woman asked for Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. We didn’t have it.

A colleague told me she came in every week to ask for it. The next week I promised I’d copy it for her. She was delighted. I brought the copy into the shop the next day. The woman never came back. The only explanation is that she’d found a copy in another shop. Her search for the holy grail of modern psychedelia was over.

Real Gone Music are reissuing it in August. You need this album. It includes the follow-up mini album, Explosions In A Glass Palace, which is very good but not quite in the same league. By this time founding member David Roback had left The Rain Parade. Opal and Mazzy Star came next, which you know all about. Or if you don’t, go into record shops every week until you find a copy of Opal’s Early Recordings.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Bonny Doon

I'm not certain how some Detroit garage musicians came to make a brilliant alt-country lp, but l'm delighted they did. Bonny Doon channel Smog's world weariness, Wilco's rich gloom and Dylan's wild mercury sound. It complements 2017's other near-perfect albums, Dag's Benefits of Solitude and Courtney Marie Andrews' Honest Life, with a psych side order of Woods and Real Estate.

What Time Is It In Portland? might not seem like one of the big questions, but it's about lost friends and an ex-lover. Bonny Doon give the subject - romantic chaos and melancholy longing - the gravitas it merits.

They show their garage roots on Lost My Way, though they've opened the door and let the light pour in. They realise what they're doing on the even grubbier Maine Vision isn't quite right so cut that song just shy of a minute.

All the other songs are played at leisure (or more often despair) and given room to breathe. This album is a low-key minor classic.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Mr. Jukes feat. Charles Bradley "Grant Green"

This is possibly the biggest surprise since Sean Dickson claimed there'd always been a dance element to the Soup Dragons. Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club has gone to soul sampling and vocals from Charles Bradley with the storming Grant Green.

There's an album, God First, which has some songs as good (or almost) as Grant Green, and a few that mine the jazz catalogue too much for my taste. I expect Grant Green will get a 7" release at some point. It's what happens with the big soul cuts from albums (yep, album first, then 7" for "DJ demand" or maybe "record company bottom line").

Still, Mr Jukes stands up next to the Avalanches, Mr President and Hifi Sean. Stream it, I bet you'll find something you love.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Lab Coast

Lab Coast are the Canadian wing of the Elephant 6 and Kindercore fan club. They make short psych-pop songs that stop when they're on top. They sound like they could be on a bill with Apples in Stereo, Elf Power and Masters of the Hemisphere.

If their name suggests experimentation - not just the lab, but the lab coats anagram - then that's about right. Samples, FX pedals, cello and, yes, banjo rub shoulders. Very possibly on the same song. Like Wurld Series in New Zealand, Lab Coast are picking up DIY music with an adventurous spirit and pure pop hearts.

This album is a sort of greatest hits, or misses, or songs only released on cassette. You see, Lab Coast have been going since 2008 and bewilderingly the world has yet to fall at their feet. They toured the UK last week and I only found out the day after their last gig. Still, this record, though.