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Filtering by Category: Vinyl

Flaming Lips

Christopher Locke

Dark Side of the Moon

You may say to yourself "I thought Dark Side of the Moon was a Pink Floyd record."  And you would be right.  It's the third best-selling album of all time.  It's amazing.  There's no arguing that.  But really, after listening to the same recording of "Us and Them" seven hundred thousand times, you may grow a little tired of it.  At the very least, you might appreciate a fresh take on an old classic.

So (the) Flaming Lips recorded a cover of the entire album.  That's right.  The whole thing from beginning to end, in order, and in a magnificent way.  There's so much to say about it, I don't know where to begin!

My wife gave me this album for my birthday a whole bunch of years ago.  I still remember hearing it for the first time.  It's the musical equivalent to putting on a pair of rubber hip waders and sloshing through a vat of knee-deep chunky beef stew.  It's insane.  I sat stunned and let the music pour over me in large globs, like I was on "You Can't Do That on Television," and someone had just tricked me into saying "I don't know."

This entire album is phenomenal.  Every track is true to the original, but brings a fresh new style and flavor that cannot be beaten.  It's even better than Dub Side of the Moon, which is really saying something!

-Technically, this record is called "The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon" but who really wants to go through all that every time?  Not me.

-Henry Rollins does all the spoken word segments that originally came from recorded interviews, that are woven throughout the album.

-We all know that "The Great Gig in the Sky" is the best song ever, after "Let it Be."  Don't argue.  But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the TFLASAWDWHRAPDTDSOTM cover of "The Great Gig in the Sky" may even be better than the original.  I know, you're thinking it's impossible.  But you should hear it before you make that call.

-Peaches does the wailing part of Great Gig, and she kills it!  Maybe you've never heard of Peaches.  Maybe you've heard of a singer named Peaches, but you think it must not be the same one.  Yeah, it's the same one.  Peaches sings some really raunchy stuff.  It's the kind of stuff I am not sure I even want to talk about here, because it may poison your semi-sophisticated mind.  She's incredibly capable, and I admire her work a great deal.

-Peaches used to live upstairs from a sex shop with another musician, named Feist.  Awesome.  Feist is also amazing.

-The album was originally released on sea foam green vinyl, but my copy is clear vinyl.

-Listen to it, but please please PLEASE play it on a real stereo, not the doodoo speakers on a laptop or phone.

You'll thank me later.

Beastie Boys

Christopher Locke

Let's face it- Hip Hop has gotten a lot of bad press over the years, and some people don't even think it qualifies as "music."  But thorough analysis will reveal the depth at which Hip Hop (or "rap music") is woven into not only other genres of music, but many other facets of life and culture.  It's hard to look at modern fashion, art, cinema, television, or literature, and not see the influence that Hip Hop has had.  What started out as a method of expression for kids too poor to buy real instruments, has now become one of the most influential movements in living memory.

Hip Hop has traditionally been dominated by African American artists, which makes it very difficult for a trio of rowdy semi-jewish white boys from NYC to turn their punk rock band into a household name in the rap industry.  It's completely implausible!  Not only that, but the DJ who used to spin records for them later became Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam Recordings.  Not bad for a handful of honkies!

In honor of Hip Hop's influence on the world, and the Beastie Boys' influence on Hip Hop, I bring you Hello Nasty.

Rigorously written, majestically performed, and expertly arranged, this album really showcases the Beastie Boys' diverse musical talents.  They are more than just rappers, they're poets and composers.  Each song has its own flavor, its own personality, and while the track list is eclectic, it's very cohesive.  It's got a flow like the mix tape you wish you could have made for Deborah, so she would pay more attention to you in pre-algebra.  It's playful, but not silly.  It's deep, but not heady.  But most importantly, this record is truly masterful.

Furthermore, the Boys brought Mix Master Mike on board for this record, and he takes it to a whole new level.  If you listen closely, you can hear the Tweak Scratch through voicemail.

Give your Pandora disco station a rest, and listen to this record.  I'm telling you.

Dismemberment Plan

Christopher Locke

Emergency & I

I always thought of the Dismemberment Plan as a "local" band.  Growing up in Norginia, I had a couple of friends who were big fans of "the D-plan," and they had this album on constant rotation.  The band's members were all from Norginia, so there was a certain amount of pride in knowing they were "one of us."  This feeling was compounded by the experiences I had at their shows.  The fan base was rabid, and full of silly inside jokes.  The band invited us on stage to dance during part of the performance, then they hung out with the crowd after the show, talking, drinking, and selling merchandise.  The members of the band autographed my 7-Eleven shirt, and made me promise not to put it on ebay.

I was shocked years later to meet a guy from Minnesota who was a huge fan of this album.  I didn't know anyone outside of Norginia knew about them.  As it turns out, this is a little band that really made it big.  I'll spare you the details of their career, but I'm sure if you're really curious, you can find a wikipedia entry or something.  Trust me, though...  They're huge.

This record is pure genius.  Every song is right where it belongs.  The album rocks, but not too hard.  If I hear just one of the songs on this album, I need to stop what I'm doing and listen to the whole record.  It's that good.

If I could only listen to ten records for the rest of my life, this would absolutely be one of them.  Do yourself a favor and listen to it twice.

Postal Service

Christopher Locke


Give Up

The Postal Service is one of those amazing side projects, where the side project becomes way better than the members' regular gigs.  The group is mostly made up of the guy from Death Cab For Cutie (who toured with the Dismemberment Plan), the girl from Rilo Kiley (and Troop Beverley Hills) and the guy from Dentl.  But together, they form a group that makes my earbuds drool.

The upbeat tempo and soothing melodies provide a perfect soundtrack to working or driving.  Most songs on this album have simple singable lyrics, layered over gently computerized beats and synthesized tunes.  The compositions are simple and elegant, leaving each component room to breathe.  I like this album for a lot of the reasons I like 80s music, even though it's not 80s music.

The band briefly reunited, maybe as a thank-you to their fans who constantly demand more more more!  The reunion tour was phenomenal.  It looked like a concert Bill and Ted would have imagined, 30 years into the future.  It was excellent.

You'll love The Postal Service for making this record, and then you'll hate them for not making another one.

Side note- If you already know and love this album, but you haven't bought it on vinyl, you're missing out.  There's a whole second disc of remixes and extras.  It's like listening to an album you know and love, but haven't heard yet.

Primus and the Chocolate Factory

Christopher Locke

Once upon a time, I was a little weirdo.  I know, it's hard to believe.  It's also hard to believe that MTV used to play music videos.  But there I was, sitting at home, eating Bagel Bites pizza fresh from the microwave, flipping back and forth between the Comedy Network and MTV.  And suddenly, I found myself watching a man dressed like a giant pig, playing standup bass while circus performers juggled and flipped and posed in the background.  It was so different, so strange, so unlike anything else on TV...  And it felt like home.

When I was old enough to buy concert tickets myself, and go to shows at the 930 Club in DC, Primus was my first.  A boy at my school wanted to fight me because I listened to Primus.  I tried (unsuccessfully)  to convince my art teacher to let me play a Primus song for the class while we painted.  So my love affair with Primus runs deep.

So, imagine my excitement when I found out Primus had covered the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  (Or was it Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?)  Whatever.  Can you think of a better band than Primus to play the Oompa Loompa song?  I can't.

This version of the soundtrack is really dark.  They've done a great job of taking a jaunty set of bouncy songs into a really deep place.  It's fitting, considering the underlying tone of the story.  Kids going into a factory staffed by dwarves, and getting sucked into the equipment?  Gloomy!  When I played the album in my classroom, the kids said it was a little too spooky, and I should change it.  One kid asked a week later if we could listen to "that music that was like space cows."

This isn't a record I will listen to on a daily basis.  But this album will scratch an itch that no other can reach.  But wait, there's more!  The record came on chocolate colored vinyl.  What more do you want?  If you're not convinced, listen to "Cheer Up Charlie."  You can thank me later.

Charles Bradley

Christopher Locke

Charles Bradley has lived a tough life, and it comes through in his music.  He sings deep heartache, straight from the soul, and he does it with more style than all pop music put together.

He's a former James Brown impersonator, but the songs he writes are a little slower, more soulful,  and more sincere.  Bradley's gravelly voice is the perfect vehicle for his songs, and his songs are the perfect vehicle for the intense suffering.  This man ties it all together perfectly, with a style that reflects the music that makes up the foundation that all modern records are built on.

I first heard Charles Bradley sing on a cover of a Nirvana song, as part of a free download from Spin Magazine.  One listen, and I was hooked.  I bought his first album right away, and his second album (above) while visiting Amsterdam.  Luckily, you don't have to go halfway around the world to hear Charles Bradley.  You can just click one of these links and give it a try.

Aero Flynn

Christopher Locke

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing Aero Flynn play a live show.  

I had just filled my belly with queso.  I stumbled down the street past some dirty plaid-wearing transients sharing a large bottle of mystery liquid, past the dumpsters that reeked of week-old scraps of fried corn products, and past the 30-year-old trashy bridesmaids encouraging their friend to be promiscuous.

It was a beautiful night.  The temperature was perfect, the sky was clear, and a slight breeze intermittently caressed my face.  The venue had a gorgeous outdoor stage with sticky picnic tables nearby, and plenty of room for the attendees to stand around and look at their phones.  There was even a big balcony for pseudo-rebels who wanted to hang out over the crowd and smoke reefers.

Unfortunately, the show was not set up on the outdoor stage.  The band was setting up on the indoor stage behind the bar.  As I walked past the bar, I noticed the night's special drink was some artisanal hand-squeezed lemon juice cocktail, which required the bartender to spend roughly 35 minutes manhandling lemon halves every time someone ordered it.  Meanwhile, 200 pretentious flannel-wearing neckbeards waited for their cans of PBR and checked Instagram.

Anyway, once I got to the area closest to the stage, I realized only about a dozen people were going to be able to watch the show, and that was OK with me.  The stage was just big enough for the 3-man group to stand on without touching elbows.  Man, I wish there had been that much space on the floor where I was standing.

The show began with a 50Hz buzz of loose connections and cheap equipment.  The band played most of the songs from their album, while the sound man struggled with the knobs on the board. The crowd continued to talk throughout the show, pausing to awkwardly applaud at the wrong times.  There was too much guitar and not enough drums.  There were too many cell phones, and not enough Diet Coke.

And when the show was over and I turned to leave, I realized those unwashed transients I had seen earlier weren't homeless.  They were fans.

Aero Flynn has put together a hell of an album!  I've listened to it about 100 times, and it's still good.  It's like in middle school when you spend all day Sunday thoughtfully putting together a track list for a mixtape, making sure each song flows properly into the next, setting the mood for whatever you need.  This album is like that.  It's hard to point out which songs are the best, because each is improved drastically by the context of the other tracks on the album.

If you mixed 4 parts Radiohead, 1 part Mumford and Sons, 1 part Sufjan Stevens, and threw in a dash of the soundtrack from the shower scene in "Psycho", you would get close to the atmosphere of this album.

Buy the album.  It's phenomenal.

Taco City Rockers

Christopher Locke

Wow.  If you haven't heard the Taco City Rockers record, then you just proved to yourself that you need SPLOTCH!  The Taco City Rockers LP is a compilation of some of the wildest and most gruesome sounds you will ever hear.  It's already impressive that these 23 bands with such differing backgrounds could all come together for one album.  But it's even more startling once you realize they are all from San Antonio, Texas.  Holy mackerel.  Who let these guys in here?  It's like "We Are The World" except instead of Kenny Rogers and Huey Lewis, it's bands like Toe Jam and Children In Pain.  Those aren't even the most tasteless ones on the record.  But I'm trying to keep it clean here.  For me, the highlight of the entire disk is Paul Love's masterful track "Tough Guy", in which he poignantly describes what it's like to be a 7-foot teddy bear.  All this, and it's pressed on green vinyl?  Cute!  It doesn't get better than this.