Friday, August 28, 2020

James' Record Store Day Picks

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As record collecting survives another year, it seems to continuously prove that its resurgence isn’t just a fad. Even after every parent has purchased an all in one player for their child going off to uni, and every article has been written about how ‘it just sounds better man’, vinyl seems to live on simply for the same reason any tangible art form has, because it feels fantastic to have a collection of something. Not to mention it’s now becoming one of the only surefire ways to financially support an artist you love.

There is one facet of record culture though, that while not lost, has been completely assimilated into the internet. That facet is ‘cratedigging’. The pastime of combing through sales racks at your local shop to find weird but cheap oddities, is something that has become obsolete for the disappointing but overall positive reason, that vinyl just isn’t cheap enough to do that with anymore.

Record Store Day however, seems to be one of the last providers of an actual cratedgging experience. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of singles, LP’s, 12 inches, soundtracks, demos, that you will never have heard of, and that most importantly, will be somewhat discounted.

Unlike buying a record because it’s one of your favourites, or to support an artist, Record Store Day offers the novelty of buying something you have no clue if you’ll like, but still potentially getting a valuable exclusive that the shelves will never witness again.

After sifting through the insane amount of releases this year, both good and bad, I’ve created the below list that has everything from old classics to brilliant rarities on it.

Maybe buy them, maybe don’t, but I guarantee, they’re all worth a listen...

WARMDUSCHER - European Cowboy - 12”

If you’ve never heard of Warmduscher, you’re not in the minority. Most people aren’t actively searching for a hard rock, electronic, funk infused, comedy band with songs titled like ‘Disco Peanuts’ and ‘The ability to cry while eating your cake no matter what it's made of’.

That being said, when you do somehow stumble acrossn them. It’s glorious. They’re like Primus, if you doubled the instruments, and replaced each member with one of your Dads friends.

All of this aside, the European Cowboy record is actually a collection of remixes of the band's songs, and I’ll be buying it for one in particular. The Soulwax remix of ‘Midnight Dipper’. The Belgian DJ’s have a history of dropping stuff on RSD which I have a history of missing, but not this year! Midnight Dipper is by far one of the best mixes they’ve done, and like with all their other work, they don’t add in random bits to a song that doesn’t need it, they just highlight what’s great about it in the first place. In Midnight Dippers' case, this is just lots of bass.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

SLINT- Breadcrumb Trail b/w Good Morning, Captain - 12”

To take a complete turn, Slint is probably as far away from funky as you can imagine. They stand as alt. Legends and for all the right reasons. It’s impossible to dissect post punk since the early 90s without touching on their influence. They’re spooky, but not miserable and childish like a lot of the stuff that’s followed. They’re not instantly accessible as a band, but totally unforgettable after the first few listens.

The 12” is two tracks from their critically reviled album ‘Spiderland’, and a perfect introduction to their sound.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

PIGBAG - Dr Heckle and Mr Jive - 2LP

A long time treasure trove of samples and beats, there’s no way you can listen to this record for the first time without recognising something you’ve heard before.

Pigbag has long been a staple of any aging DJ’s set, but that doesn’t undermine how hard this first album still slaps. The question still stands of how an 80s band from Cheltenham managed to create one of the most diverse in influence, dance and afrobeat infused records of the decade, but the truth is, this album shirks all analysis. It’s just very very good, and you should buy it.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

NATALIE PRASS - Natalie Prass - LP

While her more recent album cements Natalie Prass as a current figure to watch, there’s a strange timelessness about her self titled debut that any neo-soul fan should pick up.

It’s a strange but brilliant combination of her immensely high but present voice, singing some great songs over a big, but laid back band. I always find it difficult to find the right context to listen to Soul in. Is it music for running, walking, sitting down, doing stuff?

To be honest, it’s a bit of a stereotype but this album in particular only exists for ‘cruising’, however that’s interpreted. It’s big but not too big, chill but not boring, and has a constant but benign pace.

Release Date: 26 Sep 2020

OST: Mikis Theodorakis - Serpico

While perhaps it’s too much of a coincidence that I’ve picked a soundtrack by a composer with an equally long Greek name to mine, Theodorakis has always been one of the best when it comes to Original Sound Tracks.

While Serpico might not be seen in hindsight as one of his greatest (I would highly recommend ‘Z’), it works better than most in providing the perfect backdrop to any daily activity in a room with a record player. Not to mention the fact that you can pretend to be Frank Serpico himself a lot easier when listening to the appropriate soundtrack.

Theodorakis has always had a talent for adding European flair to his Western scores, and Serpico is perhaps the most concise example of this. It’s groovy and 70s, but with flashes of traditional folk to introduce an element of mystery, something essential for any good crime film.

Release Date: 26 Sep 2020

SAMMY MASSAMBA - 1990 - Beni Soit Ton Nom - LP

Who is Sammy Massamba? I had absolutely no idea until about a week ago, and since then I have played what I can find of this album, at least two times everyday.

This is Congolese Afro-Disco. Something I didn’t know existed, but that is now probably the funkiest record I’m aspiring to own this year. It’s also quite rare! As I said I’ve had trouble finding more than just a few singles from it online, and decent second hand copies can go for about £50. This reissue is much required, and definitely anticipated.

Release Date: 26 Sep 2020

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Pinata (The 1974 Version) -LP

Not to beat a dead horse (or Pinata), but Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are one of the greatest rapper/producer combinations to come out of the 2010s.

While we recently got an amazing Gibbs record with Alfredo, it’s worth going back to Pinata, which I’d argue is still the duo's best collaboration. It’s some of Madlibs tightest beats, and the sheer number of great features is more than enough reason to give it a proper listen.

It’s being reissued with an exclusive new cover in only 3000 units worldwide. I’d suggest buying it, but I’d rather not take the risk of it selling out before I get there.

Release Date: 24 Oct 2020

Working Men's Club - Megamix - 12” B Side

With their debut album pushed back until October, and the awesome ‘Valleys’ single giving us a further reason to wait in excitement. Working Men’s Club have released another taster to tide us over until the album release. Effectively the Megamix is a 21 minute continuous remix of songs that haven’t actually been released yet, but that have been reinterpreted during quarantine.

If you haven’t heard Valleys, I can promise you that after listening, this record will be at the top of your wishlist, even if there isn’t anywhere open for you to dance to it.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

Soft Boys, The - I Wanna Destroy You / Near The Soft Boys (40th Anniversary Edition)- 2 x 7”

Contrary to the band's name, this record isn’t a gaggle of middle parting boys in full Dickies playing

dream-pop. The Soft Boys predate the stereotype by a long time. The 80s post-punk band from Cambridge are, much like some of the other artists on this list, the definition of ‘your bands favourite band’.

Considering this record came out at the beginning of the 80s, it’s hard not to acknowledge the impact that can be heard on everything that came after it. While this isn’t a full release of their classic album ‘Underwater Moonlight’, which I highly recommend, this collection of two brilliant singles is more than worth it for anyone who hasn’t heard of the band before, and wants to give their catalogue a try.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

Kuumba-Toudie Heath - Kawaida - 1LP Black Vinyl

An untouchable and consistently trippy Jazz classic that belongs on any collector of the genre’s shelf. It’s kind of hard to describe, as it falls perfectly into the gap between genre, with a huge collection of world influences smashed together with Herbie Hancock’s as always, flawless piano playing. Feeling like a drum circle that’s spontaneously started in the middle of a Jazz set, probably quite rudely, this album comes highly recommended, and is certainly one of the comprehensive classics to pick up this year.

Release Date: 29 Aug 2020

- James Charalambides


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