Culture, Music

Jam of the Week: Nicole Willis – Paint Me in a Corner

Nicole Willis - Paint Me splash (640x360)There’s a fire brewing along the edge of the Arctic Circle. And if gets any hotter it may just begin to melt the icecaps. This week sees the return of the raw talent that is Nicole Willis. Brooklyn-born and now Helsinki-based, her first two albums with the Soul Investigators (Keep Reachin’ Up (2005) and Tortured Soul (2013)) are marvels of original, sensational soul music – they’re more than 60s “throwbacks”.

Culture, Music

Choice Cuts: Otis Redding – Blue Otis

Stax Records, 1965
Otis Redding banner, Apr 3, 2014, by Bill Lile (800x450)Had Otis Redding and his band not been tragically killed in 1967, we can only imagine what head-spinning music they would have made. It’s been said that if Otis and company had let go of their ethos for playing every single show they were booked for, they might have kept their feet on the ground, instead of boarding a plane bound for the storm that claimed their lives. We can’t know that. Their tireless work ethic and commitment to audiences brought about stacks of stirring soul that’s among the greatest examples of music full stop, as this week’s Choice Cut makes clear.

Culture, Diary, Music

Record Store Day 2015: a vinyl collector who’s pleased to be getting out of the rat race

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Apr 3, 2012, by Facundo Gaisler (1000x563)This year’s spate of Record Store Day releases were announced yesterday to the delight of ever-eager vinyl-buyers. Some 592 exclusives will be available in independent record stores on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Vinyl is the most beautiful physical music format there has ever been, in my opinion. But it can very quickly become an expensive vice for the music aficionado who craves every limited release from the dozens of bands in his/her ever-expanding library. That was me for a time. But as well as space issues forcing me to reflect more seriously on all the possessions in my keeping, after realising that certain so-called ‘limited editions’ I’d forked out for at full-price on previous RSDs were still available for half that months later, I’ve wised up. (Lord knows I love Disclosure, but first their label, PMR Records, offers us a mispress, then a single-sided 12” that is in no way ‘limited’.)

Culture, Music

Record Store Day 2013 desirables

Record Store Day 2012 releases by Aurelien Guichard (Apr 2012)There are three things you can never be sure of in this life: the weather, buses turning up on time and technology.

Last night, it was that latter that was stopping me, and thousands of other eager record obsessives, from seeing all the special releases for Record Store Day 2013.

Culture, Music

Record Store Day 2012 and the vinyl revival

The line didn’t seem so long at first. It was only when I had cleared the greying industry buildings that blocked the record shop from view that I realised I my trip may have been in vain. And the worst part was it was only 7:30am in the morning.

It was Record Store Day 2012, and I was heading to Rough Trade East to try and get my hands on the some of the hot exclusive releases that were out specially for the day.


Fall in Spring

Today, Gorillaz’ tour album, The Fall, goes on commercial release worldwide.
I’ve actually had a digital version of the album since Christmas 2010 as part of my Sub Division fan club subscription. Back then I had my misgiving. I wouldn’t hold it in the same esteem as the band’s other studio albums, but it’s really grown on me in recent months, especially thanks to the airplay of ‘Revolving Doors’.
I had a terrific time celebrating my first proper Record Store Day, but I didn’t manage to get my hands on the vinyl album I was desperately craving.

So it was back to eBay were I’ve already been seeking out the best deal I can from the 40+ copies of The Fall that have been listed there in the past two days. And much to my delight I was able to snap up a copy this evening for just over £25 (the original sale price being £15). Ah, Gorillaz complex over, I can back to work… or at least gaze out of my window and daydream about little pink plastic bags floating on a highway.


Record Store Day 2011

Yesterday was Record Store Day 2011, an annual international event started in the US to celebrate the unique culture of independent record stores. This year’s UK event was huge, with hundreds of stores participating, live music performances for free and Scottish band The View providing this year’s signature tune ‘I Need That Record’. But most important of all it was also the very first time I was able to get down to my local record stores in Nottingham to be part of the event myself.
Out of bed an hour and a half before my local record stores, Music Exchange and Heavy Sound, opened I was in high spirits at the thought of getting my hands on some newly released vinyl and soaking up the excitement of the day. I took my time getting ready, and even got a tweet about me skipping dissertation revision for RSD read out on BBC 6 Music by Nemone. So having had my fill of toast and tea, I left my flat around 9.40am – only 20 minutes before the stores were due to open, really silly in hindsight. I wasn’t worried one jolt though as I made my way toward Trent’s city campus with the Arboretum trees’ first green leaves creating a promenade of shade on what was already a beautiful spring day. I couldn’t have been happier at that moment, as my ears were filled with the mellow guitar intro to ‘Hillbilly Man’ on The Fall, the vinyl edition of which was at the top of my record wishlist for the day.
When I finally arrived at the record stores, both located opposite one another inside Nottingham’s fading West End Arcade, about 10 minutes before they opened, I was hit with a gut-wrenching smash of surprise. The queues for both stores stretched almost all the way to the street entrance. And especially because RSD releases are limited to one or two per store, I knew this was bad news. With a slightly beaten feeling I started down the line towards the back, only to run into Andy Trendell, ex-Platform section editor and current Gainsborough Standard hack. Andy and I have had our differences during my time in Nottingham, but music has been the subject we’ve found common ground on, so it was a relief to see him there. I got in line further down and the more people filed in behind me. As I waited, even people closer than me became agitated, and the possibility of waiting only to be disappointed is certain something which I saw lots of. Things were made worse still by a trio of local drunkards, who clearly took pleasure in not showering, ambled around to disturb the peace. I’ve never seen smartphones disappear into pockets and purses so quickly.
Up until now the feeling of being united with fellow record lovers and the satisfaction of supporting independent record stores had eluded me. Suddenly I knew how it feels to be in the back half of a console launch queue when demand outstrips supply. But having anticipated this day for several weeks I wasn’t able to let it be a complete washout. Thanks to my usual chatty nature, I got a conversation started with the guy behind me – he’d been dragged along by his son, who had his eye on Nirvana. While I was talking to this gent I kept getting the feeling that I recognised the girl who was immediately in front of me. At the risk of appearing a little foolish, I shifted my position so I could peer passed her swish of auburn hair… yes, it was Kim Neve! All this time we’d been right next to each and not noticed. Kim handles band interviews and promotes new music on Fly FM. At this point the mood had really changed as we passed the time talking and were finally nearing the store entrance. (And right now I’m kicking myself for not grabbing some photos of the queue and other RSD related stuff.)
Inside the Music Exchange at last Kim and I took the opportunity to get whatever we could. She was after Miles Kane and as for me it was Gorillaz’ The Fall. Both were gone already (as was the limited edition 6 Music vinyl for the first six visitors). Our primary choices may have been gone, but we took the time to see what remained. I ended up getting the Clash’s debut album US rerelease (non-RSD) and a Tinie Tempah – ‘Wonderman’ 7” pressed to look like the classic Parlophone vinyl (see below). Determined to seek out any other vinyl-collecting opportunities within walking distance, Kim wisely asked one of the store owners if any other local stores were getting RSD vinyl. He tipped us off that That’s Entertainment was giving away some of the 6 Music vinyl, but we’d have to be quick. Andy was waiting for us outside, and together we headed out of the Arcade towards Victoria Shopping centre.
It was the presence of my two fellow record lovers and the friendliness from the people who ran Music Exchange that really made me feel the spirit of Record Store Day. Andy, Kim and I arrived at That’s Entertainment to find only two of the 6 Music vinyl remaining. The shop assistants kindly gave them both to us, but it was up to a game of rock, paper, scissors between Andy and I to decide who would get one of the rare finds. From best of three to best of five, I was fortunate to win the vinyl.
Having been born at a time when records were already starting to be considered only for the dedicated music fan, I honestly wanted to live a little bit of that excitement to line up outside a record store in anticipation of a new release and meet fellow music lovers. Record Store Day fulfilled this and I’m already looking forward the 2012 date. Perhaps my fellow vinyl collectors and I will be able to co-ordinate our efforts next time too.

Intergalactic Vinyl Heroes

Here’s something for all you collectors out there: one-of-a-kind Ratchet & Clank vinyl sculpts created by Jason Freeny and approved by Insomniac Games themselves.

The superlative sculpts have a vivid uncanny look to them, a sense of heightened comic friendliness that’s also been employed in the recent Ratchet & Clank comics (which I plan to discuss here on JTTE soon) and the upcoming game Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One.

They were recently sold on eBay for $1,075.00 with $200 of the proceeds donated to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.