Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Record Store Day 2012

Another year, another early morning queuing up for records. The first time I took part in Record Store Day was in 2009; I arrived at Piccadilly Records at 9:40am - twenty minutes before it opened - where we (it was a family outing then) stood outside sheepishly with another 6 or 7 people. Since then I've got there earlier and earlier each year, only to find myself further and further back in the queue. Here's the queue that greeted me on arrival this year at 6:30am (I joined the queue just before it spiralled round onto Tib Street).

So I was glad that this year Piccadilly Records decided to open at 8, to save me waiting too long outside in the rain (yes, we had about an hour of fairly relentless rain to cope with) - still, I didn't get served until 10:30, so that's still a pretty long wait. Luckily I had the company of my next door neighbour, Queen lover (the band) and all-round audiophile, Gary (on the look out for a 45rpm high quality vinyl pressing of a Fleetwood Mac album), and a couple of blokes who shared the same sort of passion for music as we did. Oh, and some free teabags courtesy of Yorkshire Tea.

So, here's this year's booty...

John Cale - Extra Playful: Transitions 12" EP
BBC Radiophonic Workshop - Out of this World LP
Richard Hawley - Leave Your Body Behind 10"
Tindersticks - Medicine 10"
Billy Bragg and Wilco - The Complete Mermaid Avenue Sessions 3xCD and DVD
Futureheads - The No. 1 Song In Heaven 7"
Mouse on Mars/Prefuse 73 - 7" split single
Arctic Monkeys - R U Mine/Electricity 7"
Graham Coxon - What'll it Take 7"
Orbital - Wonky (remixes) 7"
Field Music - Actually, Nearly 7"
Belle and Sebastien - Crash 7"

Plenty of great stuff to keep my ears busy for a while...

Good as it is, I do think it's time for a rethink with the way Record Store Day is run - I'm sure it's doing wonders for promoting and supporting independent record stores, but I'm not convinced that labels pressing such small quantities of "exclusive" releases is the right way to go, especially when it creates such a mad panic amongst fans, who will camp outside all night to try and get a copy before it ends up on Ebay for a hugely inflated price. And as for the in store prices? Well, do people really want to pay £17.99 for an Arcade Fire 12"?! I'm all for saving record stores, but not if it means fleecing the fans.

Having said all that, you can guarantee that I'll be down there next year - probably from 6am this time.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Orbital's Wonky Vinyl

Live review alert. I'm listening to this for the first time right NOW and typing this up as I listen..

So far? Well most of the reviews I read seem to be aligning this album with a return to the Green and Brown albums - can't hear it myself, I think it's wishful thinking on their part that Orbital are going back to their old school (skool?) roots.

Opening track "One Big Moment" does take us straight away into familiar Orbital territory, but it's the Orbital of In Sides or The Middle of Nowhere (a vastly underrated album) that immediately spring to mind - all shimmering melodies and crunchy beats. Yep, the next two tracks confirm I'm definitely listening to an Orbital album.

The single "New France", featuring Zola Jesus, is good but so far sounds like one of the albums weaker moments; why do people insist on releasing the tracks featuring another artist as singles, irrespective of whether they are the strongest tracks on the album? Is it just to boost sales by appealing to both sets of fans? Anyway, the song's a bit better than the next track, "Distractions", which is okay, but sounds like it's been lifted off Kraftwerk's Tour De France Soundtracks.

Oh, hang on, it's picking up again and they've got the rez filters over the top of the lovely melody of "Stingy Acid". "Beelzedub" is, apparently, their attempt at doing dubstep, not that it's that obvious - especially when it kicks into some good old drum'n'bass about 4 minutes in.

The title track is possibly the least Orbital track here, but it's still pretty good, especially the bits that sound like there's a drunk fly stuck in your speakers. And closing track "Where is it Going?" just makes me smile, in that way that Orbital tracks make you smile, knowing that everything is going to be OK.

So, yes, it sounds like the Orbital of old, but we're definitely talking a slightly beefed up In Sides Orbital, which is a very, very good thing indeed.

Welcome back lads, I've missed you.