Friday, 30 December 2011

Lists of things I did and didn't do: 2010 Interview with Audio Antihero



So about this time last year, I was asked to do an interview for a Norwich fanzine of which I never knew the name, nor do I know if it was ever published. It was too good not to be, so I assume it was.

I'm posting it here now because A) as my own number one fan I tend to do things like this and B) I think it's quite funny to see how I felt going into the 2011 when we now know how I feel slivering out of 2011...


If you'd care to see what I said, contradicted or otherwise abandoned...read on. Rereading this was like watching myself age drastically, which I have also been doing.

So what was it about Nosferatu D2 which made you feel was worth throwing your time, effort and money into?

I couldn’t think of a better record. I’d wanted to start a label since my late teens and I’d been eyeing Nosferatu D2 for that whilst they were still going. When they split up I gave up on the idea, it was only when I spent some time at Southern Records that I got my heart back. I had to ask ‘if I could only release one record, what would it be?’ and Nosferatu D2 were the answer. Most people don’t get the chance to release an album (much less THE album) by one of their favourites bands from when they were a teenager. I’m pretty privileged.


Both artists on your label recorded their records pretty much single-handedly. How important to you is it that Audio Antihero's artists have that DIY mentality?

I love DIY but it isn’t necessarily a big deal. I wouldn’t really want a band who‘re just sitting around waiting for it to happen to them and any band who ‘signs’ to Audio Antihero has to understand the limitations of the label financially. I think I just need artists to be good, decent and aware of their resources. Bruce Springsteen isn’t what you’d call DIY but I’d be more than happy to release his next record. DIY is just common sense.


Do you think there have been any major points where the word about the bands and Audio Antihero really spread?

We’ve had our moments. Over time we’ve had radio exposure like 6Music, NME Radio and Triple R, reviews from DIS, 405, GITTV, Music Fix, TLOBF, Organ, The Skinny and got lucky with some mentions on Pitchfork, Time Out, etc. Nosferatu D2 even got on the front of the iTunes Alternative page. So there’s been moments where we’ve been ‘bigger’ (luckier) than the other doomed DIY labels we share a boat with, I suppose.


The biggest boost definitely came from the Los Campesinos! endorsement. I actually dread to think of how much worse off the label would be without that leg up. I kind of wish that luck had come a little later on though, I really didn’t know what I was doing, the website wasn’t finished and I didn’t even have the stock at the time – so I do think I probably fumbled the ball a bit. Still, eternally grateful to have been given that exposure and opportunity. Awesome band too, so a double honour.


The label's just had its first birthday, how has the first year compared to what you expected when you started out? Has it been the commercial suicide you expected?

You know, it’s not been as bad as expected. I mean, sales are BAD. But I always knew they would be. There’s been no profiteering on our end but the costs are low and spread out – so it’s an affordable loss. Sadly Audio Antihero will never be sustainable as a business – but I can keep it running as an awesome mother of a record label.

T-shirts have sold pretty badly though!


What's coming up for AAH? Will Benjamin Shaw's album-in-a-month see light of day on the label?

That album is a mystery to me, man. It’s being done for Soundcloud’s International Album Making Month so I guess it’ll be self-contained but I’ll do anything Ben wants me to! I sent the link to him as a joke and he’s actually started on it. I’ve heard a couple of songs from it live. One was a 30 second murmur about ‘sometimes I fear my head might explode’ which he followed with ‘I’m hoping to do another 60 or 70 just like that’. I love him.


Next up, I’m planning to do 12 EPs next year. Hopefully starting in January, I’ll tail over into 2012 if I need to. It’s going to be a monthly digital EP, each from a different artist. I’m also toying with the idea of a pressing a couple of 7 inches or maybe an EP of unreleased Nosferatu D2 material, if they’ll let me. I’m really still looking for ‘the one’ to push next as the real follow up to Benjamin Shaw’s EP. It’s a tough thing to do though, following up two of your favourite albums.


How does file sharing affect you? Do you feel that because you're in a position to talk personally with listeners on Twitter etc and are obviously putting a lot of your own time and money into AAH that people respect your business?

I think file sharing affects every inch of the music industry, from the bands to labels to distributors to manufacturing companies to recording studios to shops to the sleeve designers to photographers to journalists to people who provide raw materials for plastics, etc etc.


I’ve had some torrents and the like and it is a bit mind boggling. Some of them have even stolen press clips that describe what the label is doing and how much of a financial struggle it is and all the rest – so one has to assume they just don’t care. It annoys me, I had to buy 1000 copies of the albums, why should they get theirs for free? I’ve called a few sites on it though and most of them were alright about it and took the album down, to be fair.


I’d say though, that even if no one had ever illegally downloaded one of our albums that we’re still suffering from file sharing. Music has lost value. People actually try to make me feel stupid for paying for music, you know? People buy less music now. That means AAH sell less music. That means less shops take less AAH music. Meaning less people see it.


I think the convenience of streaming and downloading just stops people from caring like they used to. No effort goes into finding a band anymore, so ‘difficult’ albums can easily be written off. I think we’ll come to regret the digital age, if we’re still capable of doing so.


Are there any other acts, labels or people out there who you think are working along the same lines as AAH? Or any in the past you're a fan of and taken hope from?

I always admired Sub Pop. They really did it for themselves, they made something out of nothing. They made a city a brand. I mean, I kind of hate ‘branding’ but I respect what they achieved. I adore the early ‘grunge’ bands etc they got started and even now they’re with Warners they’re releasing really awesome stuff. That new No Age album is pretty much all I’ve been listening to lately. Their logo and catchphrases are definitely something I’ve taken or stolen a lot of inspiration from too.


There’s plenty of people doing a similar thing to AAH. Most of them probably do a better job of it too. Armellodie, Barely Regal, I Blame The Parents, Jezus Factory, Records Records Records, Song,By Toad, Alcopop!, Philophobia are all nice people releasing nice records. Probably not profiting either. Labels like that keep me realistic, if nothing else.


One of the most frustrating yet charming things about Nosferatu D2 was the way they just stopped when they stopped enjoying playing. If AAH stopped being a labour of love would you stop? Do you think it's vital for independent DIY projects to stay enjoyable?

I don’t know. Indie isn’t always enjoyable. Passion and pleasure are two very different things. I had a nasty personal thing pretty soon into the launch of the label that probably allowed me to miss a lot of opportunities but you just need to keep looking forward. Bad reviews, being polite to rude people, accounting, data entry, gritting your teeth at idiot audiences talking over an artist who deserves much better – there’s plenty of things I don’t particularly enjoy with Audio Antihero and sometimes failure hurts but it’s all about the satisfaction at the end. It’s when someone tells me they’ve picked up one of the albums in their local and they stayed up until 3am listening to it that I know I’m doing what I want to be doing. Just feeling that for one day in twenty your artist has actually had what they deserve is a pretty wonderful experience.


It’s when you don’t enjoy the music you’re putting your name to that you need to stop. I haven’t released an album in a year. Why? Because I haven’t found anyone I like enough, mutually anyway!


I don’t really know why Nosferatu D2 stopped feeling how they did – but I get the impression they aren’t the same people now that they were then. Maybe it was the ‘summer they finally cut their hair’ as Ben Parker puts it on the new Superman Revenge Squad EP?


Anyway, I’m pretty excited about 2011. I hope some other people are too. Never Say DIY.


God, I'm depressed.


For further 'end of year' opinion:


Thanks & Never Say DIY!

Jamie - Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide

www.audioantihero.bandcamp.com

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Paper Bag Waiter: The short-lived blog of Benjamin Shaw, corner shop wine connoisseur



I'd fully recommend that you have a read of Benjamin Shaw's short lived blog. Half wine, half whine - all glory.

Or if you hate to read, just buy his records now from Bandcamp, particularly his debut LP, 'There's Always Hope, There's Always Cabernet'.

Thanks & Never Say DIY!
Jamie - Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

LOOK AT ME, I OWN RECORDS! #10 - Hamish Rankine

PART 10 IN THE 'LOOK AT ME, I OWN RECORDS!' SAGA

Hello! I’m Hamish. I’m 21 and I do university in Exeter but I just did a year living just outside Madrid. I’ve been a ‘fan of music’ (i.e., finding my own) since I was maybe 11. I first came across Audio Antihero when I downloaded Nosferatu D2’s ‘It’s Christmas Time (For God’s Sake)’ for free two Christmases ago.

I’ve been meaning to do one of these for a while now, and now, after over a month of doing nothing in Somerset, I’ve finally found the time.


First Record

Warning by Green Day



I did love Green Day a lot. And Warning had some fantastic songs on it. It all went downhill with American Idiot, as everyone says. I won’t go into why that is, as it’s pretty common knowledge. So I choose to remember them by Warning.


Most Expensive Record(s)

In Rainbows and The King of Limbs by Radiohead

I paid £2.50 for the pay-what-you want download of In Rainbows, but then I got a weekend job for a month or so, so with my newfound wealth, I splashed out £40 on the discbox version. No regrets at all. I love the album, and the whole package was 100% worth it.

Then, when The King of Limbs was announced, because I still had quite a lot of money left from my Erasmus grant (which was meant to help alleviate the expensiveness of living in Spain), I decided again to go for the (£30) special edition. Again, totally worth it. Also, on the day that the album was released in record shops, I was in Madrid, so I popped into Espacio Ufi, where they were giving out copies of the Universal Sigh newspaper, which is translated into Spanish.

The Record That Got Me into Real Music

OK Computer by Radiohead

I know a lot of people go on about how great OK Computer is, but they’ve good reason to do so. I bought it for £4.97 in Woolworth’s back in 2005 or 2006 after it was voted the Best Album Ever in Q magazine. On the first listen I didn’t understand it at all, and didn’t like it, but the second time ‘round, it hit me, and I’ve been obsessed with Radiohead ever since (see the whole ‘spending-£70-on-two-records’ thing above). It also made me realise the joys of more complex music (until then, The Libertines had been my musical deities).


Obligatory Audio Antihero Records

We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise by Nosferatu D2, Sucky Tart by Jack Hayter and I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got by Benjamin Shaw

I’m not simply including these from a sense of duty to AAH, I do genuinely love these records (although I still need to properly listen to Mr. Shaw’s record).

I first started talking to Jamie over Twitter after mentioning how my timing of buying Nosferatu D2’s album may not have been ideal (in short, the weekend that I bought it, I knew I was going to be rather down, as the girl with whom I was/am in love with’s boyfriend was visiting, and as great as the band are, their songs, for the most part, aren’t terribly uplifting). However, I survived the bad timing, and grew to love the album.

I discovered the other artists purely through Jamie’s tweeting about them, for which I’m eternally grateful! (Also, on a side note, the Nosferatu D2 album recently had its negative romantic associations with said girl reaffirmed, as I had to use it to drown out amorous sounds of her and her boyf when I went to visit her. Not fun. Still a great album though!)

(Editor/Profiteer's note: all these fine records are available from Bandcamp)


Most Personal

There Are Listed Buildings 7” by Los Campesinos!

I went to see Los Campesinos! in Exeter back in 2009, and after the show I got talking to Gareth. I wanted to talk to him because a) he’s one of my favourite lyricists, and b) a friend of mine had told me he went to a school just down the road from me. It turns out that, at the time, he still lived in the same town, about ten minutes from my house, so we talked about the pros and cons (mainly cons) of Somerset living, then he signed my single “Hamish, cheers dude, keep it ‘Compton [the village where I live is called Chilcompton], love Gareth x”

Best Support Act-Turned-Favourite-Singer

Tear Jerky by Sparky Deathcap

I saw Sparky Deathcap supporting Los Campesinos! in Exeter (the time I talked to Gareth), and his songs instantly clicked for me. I (almost) instantly went home and bought his EP, and never looked back. It just feels like something special every time I listen to it, like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I’d happily injure several people in order to be able to write lyrics and music as good as his. Not to mention the artwork. The EP came with a small fanzine of cartoons done by Rob (Sparky Deathcap) himself, which are genuinely hilarious (you can see them on his website: http://www.tearjerky.co.uk/)

Best Artwork/Overall Packaging etc.

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed by Los Campesinos!

This album helped me through first year of university when I was a bit of a grumpy/miserable prick (not that I’ve stopped being like that!)

The whole deal of the album is grand as well; the actual album, a poster, a booklet of lyrics and contributions by their (famous/arty) friends, and two badges (which I sadly lost. I had them on a denim jacket, which I wore on a night out in Madrid. My friend insisted that I needn’t put it in the cloakroom, so I put it in her bag, and it was lost between getting in and getting to the bar. I also lost all but one of my AAH badges that night. I still have my Nosferatu D2 album cover badge though.)


An Album with My Name in It!

The Bachelor by Patrick Wolf

I don’t know if you know about this album, but basically he funded it my asking fans for donations. I contributed, and thus got my name in the list of people! Which is exciting. It’s also signed, and thus adds to my list of signed records. I first listened to Patrick Wolf when an ex-girlfriend lent me her sister’s copy of Wind In The Wires, after which I was quite hooked. I somehow managed to find a copy of The Magic Position in Woolworth’s as well, which I was pretty chuffed about.


Artist I won’t stop banging on about

Yann Tiersen

Seriously, I just won’t shut up about how great he is. Put me near a speaker system, and I’ll put his new album on, even at my brother’s house, hanging out with his psytrance loving friends and The Teknoist (who is apparently a world famous breakcore producer). I just think everyone needs to hear it. I, like most people I’d imagine, first encountered his work as part of the soundtrack for Amélie. After seeing him live, which was a slightly odd and disappointing experience, I got into even more of his work, and now I just can’t stop listening to it. His new album, Dust Lane, in particular seems to be addictive. In contrast to his earlier work, which is a blend of classical and folk, the new songs build up layers of acoustic and electronic instruments, along with choirs, to create beautiful soundscapes. Christ, this sections gone all un-eloquent, but I can’t help gushing when I’m talking about how great it all is. In conclusion: go and download or get the CD of Dust Lane. You won’t regret it. And then get this record (Le phare).


if you'd like to contribute contact us at infoATaudioantihero.com or go to www.audioantihero.com

Friday, 22 July 2011

Look At Me, I Own MP3s! - Paul Hawkins


Paul Hawkins of Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences is a contrary beast and is following the latest "Look At Me, I Own Records" feature from our favourite red headed woman with a list of his favourite MP3 albums.

It is perhaps not the best means of promoting his upcoming physical CD on Audio Antihero Records...but what can we do?!




Here's some word on his records, strange but true:

Best Album Literally Nobody Knows

Albino – Bleeding Heart Yard

Albino are a band who gig around London and have never really achieved much recognition, even in obscure indie circles. They recorded this album in 2006 and it’s basically an album of near-perfect folk-pop songs and I really wish more people knew it. If a song like “Flotsam Drift” had been recorded by someone with even a tiny bit of money or publicity behind them it would have reached Coldplay-esque proportions of success…


Album I’d Be Least Likely to Give my Grandmother for Christmas

Momus – Hippopotamomus

There are two famous (in minor indie celebrity terms) stories about this album – firstly the fact that the NME gave it a 0 out of 10 after their reviewer was physically sick through listening to the song “a Dull Documentary” and that the whole album was ultimately pulped due to Michelin’s legal action over the song “Michelin Man” which compared their corporate mascot to a sex toy. For any other act this would undoubtedly be considered a bizarre piece of legal action. However – given Momus was also sued by transsexual conceptual artist Wendy Carlos for a later song speculating on her travelling through time to engage in a relationship with her pre-surgery identity Walter Carlos – he probably found it a bit more par for the course.

The album itself is basically an album of songs about sex but, rather than being erotic or deliberately shocking done with quite a childlike sense of glee and wonder. Vorarephilia, bestiality, and various other paraphilias are all covered. The overall effect is rather playful though, and there’s something very joyful about someone being as explicit as possible purely ‘cos they can. Still won’t be given it to my Grandmother for Christmas though!


Guiltiest Pleasure

Simon Turner – Sex Appeal

Simon Turner was a 70s aspiring teen pop star who never quite made it, later released a couple of great albums on Creation as the King of Luxembourg and now, as Simon Fisher-Turner, is a respected film composer on Mute Records. “Sex Appeal” is a compilation of what he terms the “awful pop music” of his early career, perhaps made a bit more contentious than it might be due to the fact that many of the songs were written by his then-mentor Jonathan King which does admittedly colour your perception of some of the more innocent songs. There’s some great offbeat throwaway pop songs on here though and I do rather enjoy it.


Most Ridiculous Claim that the First Album was Better

David Bowie – the Deram Anthology

Most people into music know the story of David Bowie – a struggling musician called David Jones who kept releasing music without success until he changed his name, changed his identity and suddenly started writing brilliant songs. Not so many people though have actually heard the records he released during that time – one album and a few singles on Deram records which are compiled on the “Deram Anthology”. It’s a strange mix of music hall, novelty songs, psychedelia and the odd moment of sweeping pop brilliance but what’s really fascinating is just listening to someone develop, try things out, fail and try again. There’s something very human about it and I’m a big fan.


Best Album With Worst Title

Final Fantasy – He Poos Clouds

I’m a huge fan of Owen Pallett and this is one of my favourite albums of recent years – perhaps even my favourite. But Christ I wish it had a different name when I recommend it to people…


Most Star-Studded Album

Rogues’ Gallery – Various Artists

Rogues’ Gallery was released in the wake of the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and is basically a set of covers of traditional sea shanties recorded by one producer in four locations around the world with whoever he can get to play on the records. So far, this is probably only interesting to me, but the cast of performers is staggering – Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, Martin Carthy, Warren Ellis, Richard Thompson III, Loudon Wainwright III, Anthony from Anthony & the Johnsons, Stan Ridgeway, Van Dyke Parks and, erm, Sting all feature and there’s some absolutely cracking songs. All in all, it’s amazing it isn’t more widely known…


Best Boxset

Jake Thackray - Jake in a Box

Jake Thackray was sort of a Yorkshire Jacques Brel. He taught English in France and then starting performing songs became, oddly a staple of “That’s Life” for a few years as well as releasing some brilliantly observed warm, satirical and funny songs about Northern life in the 1960s which stand amongst the most perfect examples of narrative storytelling I’ve ever heard. This compilation contains nearly everything he ever released and is utterly superb.


Most Improbably Festive

Mickey & Bunny sing English Christmas Carols in Ukranian

I found this online (you can too here) when I was searching for music for a Christmas gig I put on three years ago. As far as I can understand it’s a 1965 Christmas album by a husband and wife duo are called Mickey and Bunny and are, erm, singing English Christmas Carols in Ukranain. There’s something very weird about hearing nostalgia-inducing songs from your childhood in an entirely different language and it’s both comforting and jarring at the same time. Слухай Як Вісник Співає (or Hark the Herald Angels Sing as it’s known in English) is definitely the strongest moment, which is odd at it’s not one of my favourite carols.

Honourable mention must also go to the 1973 album Merry Christmas from the US Navy, which I found on the same blog. Recorded just after the end of compulsory military service in the US, it was a strange mix of Christmas record and Navy recruitment ad where Navy bands playing traditional carols were mixed with then-TV comedian Danny Thomas extolling the virtues of Christmas, family, tradition and signing up for the Navy as though they all went logically together.

“In the sprirt of this glad season, the United States renews its faith in the many blessings that are ours. We are a country endowed with great natural and spiritual wealth. And ours is a people of strong minds and stout hearts, determined to rise to new heights of happiness and Nationals Security.” You don’t get that from the Queen’s Christmas message.


The "The Wrong Life" EP from Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences is out Monday the 1st of August on CD & Download and you can pre-order it from:

Bandcamp - free track for your troubles

iTunes

Amazon

Play

Rough Trade

Jezus Factory - you can get their complete discography from these badboys

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Look At Me, I Own Records! #8 - Kathleen Elise (WVUM Radio)


BOYS AND GENTLEMEN!

I present the first piece of solid evidence that chicks dig us.

This installment of "Look At Me, I Own Records!" comes from our number 1 Pre-Raphaelite, Kathleen Elise of Miami's WVUM Radio. She recently interviewed me for her show, which will broadcast sometime soon. I cannot believe some of the things I said...Pitchfork are going to send their hit squad after me (and I'll probably just be happy for the attention). There's also going to be exclusive sessions from the hypochondriac-tic Broken Shoulder (new split EP in September with Fighting Kites) and the mischievous and expensive Benjamin Shaw (new album in November, I've even hired PR for it).

Coolest find? The Max Levine Ensemble/The Spirit Animals 7”

When I was a kid (a younger kid), Max Levine represented everything about punk to me. I learned of them from my cousin, who worked at an infoshop in D.C., and I was soon obsessed with their music and their mantra. Unfortunately, the one time they came down to Miami I was not allowed to go see them because the venue had a bad reputation. Bummer. At any rate, I stumbled upon this split at my local record shop and the 13-year-old in me about died.


Cover with most back hair? Seven Songs, by Fabulous Diamonds

This one easily goes to Seven Songs, one of two records I own by Fabulous Diamonds. I work at a radio station and intended to play the albums on my show, but it never ended up happening – likely because the most interesting thing about this record is its cover. Eugh.


Most valuable? Inside In/Inside Out Live at Abbey Road, by The Kooks, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, by Modest Mouse

My parents tried to buy my love by getting me these two albums for Christmas. It worked. Each album is categorically unattainable in the U.S. They are the envy of my friends and foes alike, and oh, how I cherish them.


Most nerdy? Romeo and Juliet Original Soundtrack Recording

I’m an English major and a book hound and an all around SNOOT, so it should surprise no one that I enjoy my fair share of Shakespeare. One of the better film versions of Romeo and Juliet is the 1968 film produced by Franco Zeffirelli (which I own on VHS courtesy of Ebay). I bought this soundtrack just for the arrangement of “What is a Youth” – and maybe partly for all the pictures of Leonard Whiting.


Best album I inherited? Everything’s Archie, by The Archies

My momma always said she’s responsible for my love of music and books. The music bit comes from her relentless blasting of musicals and The Archies throughout my childhood. She’s since passed on her Archies records to me, and for my part I’ve amassed a good number of musicals on vinyl. Thanks, mami!


Hardest to find? The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, by David Bowie

I don’t believe this record is particularly rare, but for some reason I had to travel to three states before I finally found a copy. It was worth it, though, as this album is by far my favorite of the three Bowies I own.


Album I hope to never have to listen to?


(Editor's note: Seriously, man. Kathleen was called on this gross error of judgement INSTANTANEOUSLY. Tad are brilliant. Everyone knows that. 'I'M A JINX! I'M A JINX!')

As I said earlier, I work at a radio station. We get sent A LOT of terrible, terrible, terrible music, most of it in the form of .mp3s or CDs. One of the only vinyls we still have is the one you’re looking at, TAD, by 8-Way Santa – or maybe it’s 8-Way Santa, by TAD. I don’t know. I can only be sure that 1) I do not want to know what an 8-way Santa is, and 2) I’m grateful I will probably never have to listen to whatever music that mustachioed man is offering.


So that's what our fair lady offered us. If you live in a civilised time zone then you should naturally tune into her show. For me it's on at like 4am or something grotesque...and some of us HAVE JOBS TO GO TO (woefully).


Anyway, catch up on the previous installments in this series (I did one, once) here - LOOK AT ME, I OWN RECORDS! If you want to contribute then e-mail me info@audioantihero.com (it doesn't matter if you're a massive nobody).

Never Say DIY!

Jamie - Audio Antihero: Specialists in Commercial Suicide

Friday, 27 May 2011

LOOK AT ME, I OWN RECORDS! #7 - Broken Shoulder


Broken Shoulder & Fighting Kites man Neil Debnam has manned up and been the first on the Audio Antihero roster to stop being such a whiny little toad and finish off his "Look At Me, I Own Records!" selection. (See previous entries here: BANG)

Most of you didn't buy his record and you should, even though he enjoys listening to Jazz, you really should have done. It's cheaper than piracy: Broken Shoulder - Broken Shoulderrr

First record?

Madness - Cardiac Arrest 7"



I remember buying this in a record shop near Walthamstow Central station. Given that I was only 6 when it was released I don't think I paid for it myself. I was obsessed with Madness when I was a kid. I have found myself revisiting their early albums in the last couple of years and quite enjoying them. Stupidly I did the crossword on the record sleeve and though I managed to get the marks off, the imprint of my heavy handed pencil work can still be seen.



Worst cover/best band?

France - untitled


I was at the Kraakfest in Belgium in March and the first band of the day were a drum bass and hurdy-gurdy trio from France called France (this name makes them pretty much invisible to internet searches which is quite annoying as they were really really good). The hurdy-gurdy through a load of effects pedals makes quite a noise. I ummed and aahed all day about whether to buy their album. I really wanted it, as they were amazing live, but the cover is totally horrible. Offensively horrible even. At the end of the day though, you don't have to look at the sleeve when you're playing the record though, so I went for it. It's a damn good 30 minute-ish track though, so it was totally worth it.


Most DIY?

Caroliner - Rise Of The Common Woodpile



CDRs by Spider Compass Good Crime Band, Kim Choo Ja, Compression Of The Chest Cavity Miracle and Core Of The Coal Man


I have only in the last couple of years got into Caroliner so have a lot of catching up to do. One of my favourite Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 singles is them covering a Caroliner song, so I knew that sooner or later I would be checking them out. When I first managed to get hold of one of their records I loved the sleeve. A completely unique mix of photocopies, ink washes and spray paint. And amazing artwork too, which completely matches the music. My photo does not do it justice. My quest to get as much Caroliner stuff as possible led me to Brutal Sound Effects (http://brutalsoundeffects.com/) where I could go crazy on Caroliner and where I also uncovered all sorts of other gems, mainly from the San Francisco area noise scene. The CDRs I have bought from them are, like the Caroliner stuff, really interestingly packaged and it's almost impossible to get them back to how they started when you get the disc out. Top right in the photo is a 'semi-authorised' (guess this means no-one has complained yet) of an impossible to find album of vintage Korean psych by Kim Choo Ja that I was desperate to get. Normally though, I just go to the website and make a semi-random selection of stuff that looks interesting, which to be honest is most of the stuff on there.


Best value for money

John Coltrane - Live In Seattle, Ole, Ascension, Live At The Village Vanguard Again


Japan. Full stop. Go top Japan and buy all the records you have always dreamed about for dirt cheap prices. Don't bother taking clothes, you will need the space in your luggage on the way back. The majority of my John Coltrane vinyl has been bought there at shockingly low prices. The Disk Union record shop chain is the stuff dreams are made of. Jazz is particularly good value and also the records always seem to have the best covers I think. I particularly like the look of the Ole Coltrane album, and it just wouldn't look so good CD sized. Live At The Village Vanguard Again is here mainly for that fact that most of the band look ready to go on stage, and Jimmy Garrison looks like he's off on a school trip.



Best impulse buy due to outstanding cover?

Takeshi Terauchi - Let's Go Eleki Bushi


The cover pretty much says it all here. Traditional Japanese folk songs played in a surf style. Sometimes you just know you are going to like a record without ever having heard of it before. Slightly disappointingly all of the other records I have bought by Takeshi Terauchi have fallen short of this one.



Best album ever?

The Byrds - Fifth Dimension


Great cover too. My favourite album which I also have on double 10" with alternate takes and instrumental versions. I only play that when I am home alone, as for some reason other people don't seem to find it as fascinating as I do. 11 tracks, and two of them are a bit rubbish but still the best album ever. If it was only John Riley and Wild Mountain Thyme and then 9 duffers it would still be well up there.



Best themed covers

Film Music By Toru Takemitsu Vols. 4, 6 & 10


Ok, so not all records in Japan are cheap. And I've got another 7 volumes of this that I need to get. I think some of them are going to be really expensive. A real variety of styles on these. Unsurprising given that they are from soundtracks to very different films. Takemitsu's more classical an experimental work is also well worth checking out, but none of those albums I have got have such stylish covers.


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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Look At Me, I Own Records! #6


IT'S BACK! A MANFAN CALLED GEORGE WALTON HAS STEPPED UP. George has been liking Nosferatu D2 on the internet since 2009 and now he's here to let his voice be heard. He was also man enough to not fall for that 'zomg jewel cases are so ugly now that forums don't like dem' JIVE.

Here we go again with "Look At Me, I Own Records!"

Okay so I have no idea why I am doing this as I am not notable in any way what-so-ever but I would never miss an opportunity to indoctrinate the world on my music taste and show off just how cool I am so here we are. I should point out though that being young and poor, I only own CDs and don’t really own any rarities or anything and hence probably don’t count as a Proper Music Fan or something. I am holding out for the day when they become retro and everybody loves me. Also, I couldn’t find anyone who would lend me a camera so here are lots of pictures of jewel cases in their full webcam glory:


First Album I Bought

Monty Python – Monty Python Sings



I think I heard ‘Always Look On the Bright Side of Life’ on TOTP2 once before I’d ever seen any of the sketches/films and obviously liked it. So off I went, down to Pendulum Records (which I kind of miss even though it was awful, everything was overpriced and they never had anything you wanted) and ordered this. I dutifully learnt all the words and sang along, completely oblivious to the meaning of such ditties as ‘Sit On My Face’ (I understood ‘The Penis Song’ though) until a few years later when the first Gorillaz album came out and I just had Clint Eastwood on repeat instead.


Favourite Album (On the Day of Writing)

The Replacements – Let It Be


The Replacements are pretty much my favourite thing ever and although I love Hootenanny massively too, this just takes the lead. I discovered this album aged 17 and I remember being completely amazed at how well it captured all those ridiculous teenage emotions and although I’d like to think I have matured slightly since then (I am sure you all still consider me a whippersnapper or whatever), it still seems to speak to me in ways that I can never quite explain (this sentence is far too long but I care not). It saddens me a little that one day I will probably look back at these albums and think how immature they all sound.
P.S. This being a reissue, it has a load of bonus tracks on it. The great part about being a Replacements fan is the amount of non-album material they had that easily stood up to their best work (this probably says more about the amount of effort they put into their actual records than anything else though).

Best Cover

David Bowie – Low

Maybe it’s not the best cover ever or anything but I really like it. It’s taken from the Man Who Fell to Earth, which is an amazing film and not nearly enough people have seen it. That is all.


Worst Cover

Miles Davis – On the Corner

I mean I have some ‘90s rap albums with pretty horrendous covers and often reggae reissues come with utterly naff packaging but I don’t think I own an album that I am more embarrassed to get out in front of people than this. I mean, it would be fine if I had a lot of friends who liked atonal funk or were knowledgeable about ‘70s Miles but I don’t and even if I did, it’s hardly conducive to conversation. I honestly still don’t know how I feel about the music inside but still, you’ve gotta admire the guy for trying to sell out with this.

Album with the Longest Anecdote Attached

Oliver Nelson – Screamin’ the Blues

I can’t quite remember why but around 15/16, I decided I needed to expand my music knowledge and so one evening I decided to go onto a couple of genre-specific forums and ask for recommendations. Being young and obnoxious, I mostly disregarded all these peoples’ opinions and decided to keep listening to Metallica because I wanted to fight against the system or something. Anyway, a few weeks later I got an email from a woman saying that she’d seen my post on a jazz forum and said she had some albums she wanted to send me. Apparently her husband had recently died and had always loved jazz and stuff and since she didn’t like any of it much, it seemed a good idea to try and pass it onto to a new generation. Somehow this touched my self-obsessed teenage heart and a few days later I received this and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Now while the Miles seemed dull and slow at the time, this appealed to me and so off I went, searching for more... I have no idea who that woman was but this seems like a good opportunity to thank her for introducing me to a fuckload of great music. I think that’s enough sentimentality for one day.

(Editor's note: when I die, likely young - I hope someone will do that to my records too. How lovely. And tragic)

Biggest Mistake Buy (That I Can Still Find)

Tony Allen – Lagos No Shaking

I don’t actually have too many of these as I rarely buy an album without having at least seen a few reviews but there are always exceptions. I bought this one by Tony Allen based on his consistently amazing drumming on Fela Kuti’s records and although the cover is awful, it had some convincingly African-sounding song titles. I haven’t listened to it for ages but I seem to remember it mostly consisted of really rubbish funk with some added congas. I may listen to it again one day and it might be amazing but I am in no hurry when I can just listen to more Fela. I also have an awful Steely Dan album somewhere but I remember liking that once.

(Editor's Note: Ben Parker of Nosferatu D2 once went to see Nearly Dan. "And every band I've ever loved has let me down eventually...")

Most Recent Purchases

Shackleton – Fabric.55

James Blake – James Blake


Being young and poor, I never have enough money to buy all the albums I want but I got these about a month ago on a trip to Rockaboom in Leicester. I have no idea how Leicester can sustain an independent record store but never mind. The Shackleton is sort of terrifying and although I know it’s great, I haven’t listened much as I think you need to be in a certain mood to appreciate 74 minutes of sub, conga loops and spoken word samples. I think the internet might implode if anyone else gives their opinion on James Blake so all I’ll say is I like some of it.

P.S. I wrote this all a while back and since then, I’ve picked up the J Mascis solo album (which is great), some Burning Spear and an I-Roy record I don’t like much…


Last Record I Fell In Love With

How to Dress Well – Love Remains


An album of lo-fi, distortion-filled ambient RnB doesn’t sound like the best idea but somehow this works. I have given up trying to describe it though as I can never make it sound as good as it is.

Most Likely to Offend My Parents

Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords

There are more offensive albums by a long way but I’m pretty sure the combination of cheesy kung fu movie samples and GZA’s raps would irritate them quite a bit. I think if I looked harder, I could find something they’re hate more but I don’t really like going through my music thinking about it from someone else’s viewpoint as it feels a bit like attacking myself from the inside.


Most Irritating Packaging

Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth & Collected Works

WHY DID THEY DESIGN THIS IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET THE DISKS OUT OF THE CASE?


Obligatory Preaching to the Converted/Brown Nosing

Nosferatu D2 – We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On to Block Out the Noise

I don’t really need to say anything about this, do I?

I refuse to reread this as I always hate everything I write so please don’t come and murder me if it’s filled with typos or ill-informed opinions.


Thanks George, I think you're dynamite in a kinder egg.


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