Best On Vinyl 2008

Without further ado… Links take you to purchase sites. No link means that it is not available at the moment.

12″ Category

1. Thee Oh Sees

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The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending the Night In /
Hounds of Foggy Notion / Peanut Butter Oven Ep / Split 12″ w. The
Intelligence

Qmass: The EPs sound like they are likely The Master’s bedroom outtakes, and all of it is just as good as anything on The Master’s Bedroom, so I’d  be doing Thee Oh Sees a disservice by choosing only one. No band captured my attention the way that John Dwyer’s OCS/The Ohsees etc did with their string of increasingly limited and difficult to acquire full lengths, 12″ eps, and the one 7″ that came out. So good. Even though I am not as big of a fan as Kallen on the Hounds of Foggy Notion album, it has certainly grown on me.

Kallen: As noted above, I’m actually more of a fan of Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion than anything else they’ve put out in this prolific year of theirs. I mean, I really have no qualms with the turn in direction they made with Master’s Bedroom (“Visit Colonel” is most definitely one of my favorite songs of the year) but Hounds is them at their most top-notch front to back – perhaps, due to the fact that it’s actually a live collection of their older, folkier material. Anyway, I think of this as a greatest hits collection (I guess this reveals which side I’m on in the neverending ‘greatest hits’ debate). They’ve managed to find all my favorite songs of theirs to date and put them in one collection (and don’t worry, you can’t have audience noise without an audience and also, these live versions don’t stray too far off from the originals at all). One last thing: if anything, Hounds gets my #1 pick for versatility alone. It’s great for actual listening but it also works as background music (napping, schooling, maybe even fucking?).

“Inquiry Perpetrated” from the Intelligence Split

2. Nobunny – Love Visions (Bubbledumb / 1 2 3 4 Go!)

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Qmass: Originally released this summer by Bubbledumb, but the guy who ran the label had a string of terrible things happen to him, which made this record impossible to find until it was re-issued last month by 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. Since I finally got my copy, it has rarely left the turntable, instant hooks, timeless melodies, a half naked dude in a bunny mask – its all here.

Kallen: I love Mr. Nobunny. Listening to Love Visions the 30 or so times I’ve done so far made me happier than anything else this year, musically or otherwise. May it grant me (and you) as much happiness the next 30 listens. This has ‘instant, modern classic’ written all over it, think Guitar Romantic. If we at Seven Ten Twelve weren’t giving you combined lists, this would get my #1 and I’m well aware of what I wrote above re: Thee Oh Sees.

“Chuck Berry Holiday”

3. Cheveu – S/T (S-S)

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Qmass: This record took two months to leave my turntable, and when I pick it up again, I get the same satisfaction. “Herman Choune” is one of my favourite songs of the year, and I even like “Happiness”, which many seem to hate. Primitive futurism.

Kallen: One of my most anticipated records of 2008? Yes. Expectations met? Absolutely. Exceeded? Don’t know. All I know is that this record is all over the map but it still sounds French as fuck. When this record stopped spinning on my turntable for the first time, I knew that this ‘weird punk’ thing had already hit its peak right here in 2008. Yeah, I feel as dirty for writing that as you are for reading it, okay?

“Dog”

4. Blank Dogs – On Two Sides (Troubleman Unlimited)

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Qmass: Though of late I’ve been thinking that The Fields is an improvement on this, every release seems to be an improvement on the one before. As a debut LP, this has historic qualities, and this album has enough of Blank Dogs weird nostalgia to go around. Blank Dogs singular vision alone makes this a worthwhile endeavor.

Kallen: While I’m not nearly as big of a Blank Dogs super-fan as my cohort Paul is, sure I enjoyed On Two Sides a hell of a lot. I really likes the more guitar, less synths approach he took with this one. Here’s to hoping his In The Red debut is as good as this.

5. Thomas Function – Celebration (Alive)

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Kallen: I’m actually in the video above, very briefly. Guess which member of the audience I am and win the prize of the warm fuzzy feeling I’ll send out to you for knowing that a complete stranger (most likely) took the time out to try to spot me in a 3-minute YouTube video.

Qmass: “A Long Walk” is as unrelenting as “Can’t Say No” is catchy. A shame you would never hear songs this good on the radio – they should sell “Can’t Say No” to Miley Cirus or the Jonas Bros. Like everything in this top 5 so far, this album got a great deal of play from me.

6. Wax Museums – S/T (Douchemaster)
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Qmass: HEY! I GOT LOCKED IN THE MALL! Wax Museums finally release their debut, and it does not disappoint – so many instant classics. Looking forward to the Fan Club Florida’s Dying is doing next year.

Kallen:  I bought this on a whim and at first, like a few other records on this list, I wasn’t so hot on it but I soon realized the key to enjoying the Wax Museums’ S/T is to really put yourself in the mindset of a 10 year-old. If that is too much of a stretch for you, get drunk and then listen to this. Same effect. Simply put, this is the most juvenile record I’ve heard in 2008. God, I still don’t know if “Cowboys & Indians” is offensive as hell or just plain hilarious.

7. Vivian Girls –  S/T (In the Red/Mauled By Tigers)
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Qmass: There were a few bands working with similar material as the Vivian Girls (such as Crystal Stilts, some of the Sic Alps material on this years Stltbreeze release), though none were as successfull. The songs on this album are short and sweet, well worth any percieved hype (though next time you find yourself ranting about how “big” Vivian Girls are, ask your Mom or your little sister who they are).

Kallen: Man, the backlash sure came quick with these gals, didn’t it? Fuck ’em, their band will never write a song that’s as powerful of a mission statement as “Tell The World”.

8. Cheap Time – S/T (In the Red)

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Kallen: And to think, I didn’t like this record so much the first time I heard it (I think it was the vocals or something)! I thank my agnostic god every day that they clicked just in time for me to witness them live at Gonerfest. Anyway, I listen to this record once or twice a week now. Their cover of The End’s “People Talk” is another one of my favorite songs of the year. Has anyone else noticed how bitter the lyrics are? Dude is pissed off.

Qmass: Yes! “People Talk” is so good. So good. Every time I listen to this record, I have a new favourite song, which says something. Like Kallen, this one is a grower, not a show-er.

9. Wavves – S/T (Woodsist)

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Kallen: Assuming the rumors are true, congratulations for signing to Sub Pop! May you get even a tenth of the expanded budget that Fleet Foxes undoubtedly has now!

Qmass: A late year addition! For being a debut album for a solo album, this album has a tonne of ideas, hooks, melodies. Lo-fi, but sounds are fairly varried. The song “Wavves” (by Wavves, on the album Wavves) is impossibly good.

10. TV Ghost – S/T (Die Stasi)

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Kallen: Call it no-wave, noise-rock, post-punk. Whatever. I couldn’t care less. This is unsettling music for unsettling times and shit, it’s fronted by a dead-ringer for Ian Svenonius as well!

7″

1. Hunx and His Punx – You Don’t Like Rock and Roll 7″ (Rob’s House)

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Qmass: The catchiest gay pop songs you will hear this year. I love everything about this record – the sleeve, the songs, the video, Nobunny’s riffs.

Kallen: Gets #1 for the packaging alone (scratch-and-win style covering of his dong) and hey, the music is pretty fantastic as well. As catchy (and gay) as anything you’ve heard this year and Nobunny proves he has the magic touch with his guitar stylings. Did I mention the handclaps, oh the handclaps!!! I still can’t believe this guy is/was a member of Gravy Train. I mean, yeah, I actually can but they were never this good.

2. The Wicked Awesomes – Information Entropy 7″ (Almost Ready)

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Qmass: The video is from the tour my band went on with The Wicked Awesomes in support of this 7″, so needless to say I have some bias here. I can honestly say that The Wicked Awesomes have songs that will stick in your brain for weeks and weeks, and no matter how many times I have seen them, I cannot get sick of them. Friend rock!

Kallen: Undoubtedly for me, the best band going in Alberta right now. They take some left-of-the-beaten-path influences and turn it all into something that’s oddly enough, very singular. “Wizard Ship Star Destroyer” makes me feel like I’m at the best bar mitzvah ever… and with that one, I’ll quit while I’m behind.

3. Catatonic Youth – Piss Scene 7″ (Hozac)

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Qmass: You must have a sense of how stoked I am on the Hozac label, right? They realeased a heafty stack of 7″s this year, and the only one I don’t like is the Subtle Turnhips one. The Catatonic Youth “Piss Scene” EP from this summer is my favourite Hozac release of the year – the songs are great (its a shame that only 500 copies of this exist – more people need to hear this, though the same could be said with much on this list), and the packaging is top notch.

4. Dead Luke – Box Set (Sacred Bones)

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Kallen: You listened to “Jumping Jack Flash Drive”, right?

Qmass: Kallen likes Record 2, I like Record 1 (“I Want You” kills).

5. Eric & The Happy Thoughts – Never Gonna Do It (Bubbledumb)

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Kallen: Eric and the Happy Thoughts have this classic sound that I bet parents and children could really bond to while listening. I wouldn’t know for sure though because my father doesn’t listen to music and my mother only listens to classical exclusively. Anyway, this Romance Novels spin-off reminds me of a band I’d have formed in junior/senior high school but the difference between us and EATHT is that while they’re making AM-friendly pop hits effortlessly and perfectly, we’re selling our souls at menial day jobs.

5. The Barbaras – Summertime Road (Goner)

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Kallen: These days, I enjoy Jay Reatard’s backing band (read: the Barbaras) a lot more than Reatard himself. I’m sure I violated some code saying that but I really can’t get enough of these guys. They’re not the first to combine pop and Memphis soul (e.g. doo-wop) but they combine it with a quick-fire energy that I’ve never heard. Also, I probably had the most fun at Gonerfest watching them. I think I said on Twitter at the time (yeah yeah) that they’re a “pure musical distillation of fun and joy”. I still stand by that 100%.

6. Eat Skull – Dead Families (Skulltones)

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Qmass: I’ve come back to this a great deal over the year – and for this list it came down to this vs. Meth Teeth’s “Bus Rides” 7″, which lives in the same grungy basement, with the same Fisher Price cassette deck/recording studio. The 7″ works better for me than their LP, which is good, but hard to get through. Maybe if the LP had these songs? “Dead Familes” rulz, “No Intelligence” rulz.

7. The Ostrich – Mt Fuji in Red 7″ (Self Released)

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Qmass: The Ostrich were in my top 10 last year, and here they are again. If they were from Memphis or Brooklyn, they would be on everyones year end lists (though I guess that isn’t totally fair – Calgary’s Women have been doing great business this year).  When I randomly bought the first 7″ and fell in love, I said that they were a fitting soundtrack to Calgary’s progress-gone-haywire, and I still think it is true for this release, though they capture the claustrophobia and menace a lot better on this one. Sad to see them break up. I have great hopes for Chris Zaijko (Ostrich’s wild man vocalist) and Mike Bressanutti (Ostrich’s drummer) and their new band Sharp Ends, who are working in the same vein as The Ostrich. The Sharp Ends debut show in November was my favourite show of the year. Go Calgary!

Kallen: A more than worthy exit to one of the best bands Calgary has ever shat out.

8. The Dutchess and the Duke – Never Had a Chance 7″ (Hozac)

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Qmass: B-Side “Scorpio” is one of my favourite songs this year

9. Blank Dogs – Setting Fire To Your House 7″ (4:2:2)

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Qmass: Yes! More Blank Dogs awesome-ness. His best 7″ until the next one comes out.

10. Sex/Vid – Nests (Dom America)

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Kallen: If you made me choose between Tania and Nests, I’d kill you. Actually, I’d let Sex/Vid’s music do it for me. This stuff’ll suffocate you. Now that Fucked Up has chosen to be… something else, Sex/Vid is my pick for best hardcore band going right now. I could be wrong though, hardcore is one of the last genres I’d claim to be anything of an expert on.

Blank Dogs – Diana (The Herald) Repress

Blank Dogs Diana The Herald

I just saw that there is a second (or third? not sure…) pressing of SevenTenTwelve favourite Blank Dogs available from Sacred Bones. I am listening to Blank Dogs practically every day – everything just feels so original and effortless.

Also available for what (I assume) is a very short time today was the Mirrored Cassette, released by this guy. The Blank Dogs site has it listed as “Sold Out” – so I think that is that. I got lucky and managed to secure one for myself, which is pretty sweet, though he was pretty adamant that he “only had a few” (the majority being promised as part of the”Blank Box”).

I also understand that we are two weeks away from the release of the Troubleman Unlimited LP “On Both Sides” – from what I have heard of this LP (which is the stuff playing on his MySpace page) is the best Blank Dogs musics yet.

Also: this video for the song “Poison Ivy” (off the 7″ on Florida’s Dying)

Why – The Hollows 12″ (US)

a1: The Hollows
a2: By Torpedo Or Crohn’s (a remix by Dntel)
b1: Yoyo Bye Bye (a cover by Xiu Xiu)
b2: Pre-teen Apocalyptic Film Acting (Medley) (a cover by Half-handed Cloud)
Order directly from Anti-Con! (or get the UK version from TomLab)

Listen to “The Hollows” on some random blog!

This is Yoni Wolf (cLOUDDEAD, Hymie’s Basement, Reaching Quiet) and his brother playing really dark indie-style music – and it really works nicely. Just really solid songwriting and sharp production.  There are two versions of this – the US version is the one I have, with all of the remixes being interesting enough (and the Xiu Xiu cover is worth a listen), but you are going to want this for “The Hollows,” which is worth tracking down both versions for.

The US version comes in Orange (1000 copies), and the UK  version is in Purple (500 copies).

Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Ask Forgiveness 12″ EP

 Available from Drag City

Perhaps this is stretching the limits of this blog, but this is good enough to warrant attention, and allows me to reference the “Wai Notes” CD that came out randomly today (also available in “limited quantities” from Drag City). Two amazing Wil Oldham releases in two weeks? Are you even kidding me?

“Ask Forgiveness” finds Oldham playing eight covers alongside the freakfolkies of Espers, and sounds wonderful. Not as sinister as other Bonnie “Prince” Releases (save for the cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon”), but a highly enjoyable listen none-the-less. If you get this album for one thing alone, it should be for his cover of R-Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest,” which continues to blow my mind.

Out of nowhere this am, I come accross “Wai Notes,” a collection of what sound like ghetto-blaster demo’s from when Oldham and   Dawn McCarthy were putting together last year’s “The Letting Go.” I tend to fall in the camp of Oldham’s fans who think that “The Letting Go” was way over produced, and I found it really hard to get into. One morning of listening to “Wai Notes” and I am obsessed. Very, very good.  This CD is available from Drag City on a “first come, first served” basis, with a note that this is “very limited,” with each cover coming with “handmade photo things” on the back. Amazing. Good old Drag City, randomly releasing things in limited quantity without telling anyone until they are sold out.

Update:  Apparently the “very limited” is 10,000 copies worldwide.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM-Confuse The Marketplace 12”

a: Freak Out / Starry Eyes
b1: North American Scum (Onanistic Dub)
b2: Hippie Priest Bum-Out
Available at Scratch.

You know, sometimes being a completist can be really annoying, especially when the bands you love and actively “complete” are such dicks about doing over-seas only versions and then randomly repackaging them and re-marketing them. This is like a dare from the band – “we dare you to buy these same songs again.” I hate that shit.

James, let me get this straight: you are telling me that I can now purchase these tracks, which were previously available in the UK only (“Freak-Out” being the “All My Friends” 12″ b-side, and “Hippie Priest Burn-Out” was the b-side to the UK version of the “North American Scum” 7″) have been repackaged again (all three being available as well on the US version of the 45:33 CD that came out last month)? Especially since “Freak Out / Starry Eyes” is the only thing worth listening to on this, with “Hippie Priest Burn-Out” being such a snore-fest.

James Murphy I love you, but you’re bringing me down.

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great 2×12″

a1: Someone Great (Album version)
a2: Time to Get Away (Gucci Soundsystem Remix)
b: Get Innocuous (Soulwax Remix)
c: Sound of Silver (Carl Craig Remix)
d: Us V. Them (Any Colour You Like Remix by Windsurf)

Its telling that every time anyone talks about Sound of Silver, it is prefaced with “album of the year.” I like that. LCD Soundsystem, bringing the people together! Even the people who hate a thing because everyone else likes that thing give terribly weak reasons why LCD aren’t among the most entertaining, most interesting “working” band.

Yet. if I am being honest, it took me a couple of months to actually fully embrace the album as a whole. I just couldn’t, for whatever reason, get into it. It wasn’t until I got Sound of Silver on vinyl that I fully understood what I was missing.

Here we have the third single from the album (the first being “North American Scum” which is available in 12″ and 7″ versions; the second being “All My Friends”, which is available as one 12″ and two separate 7″ that had Franz Ferdinand and John Cale covering the songs). James Murphy is continuing his trend of “dance songs go on the 12 inch/rock songs go on the 7 inch”, and that is exactly what we have here – remixes oriented towards the “dance” side of the equation.

The key selling point of this is the Carl Craig remix of the song “Sound of Silver,” and you have to give it up to the man – he does the most interesting remix on this single. Everything else does a serviceable job, but present the problem I generally have with remixes – growing up as part of the punk scene, I never really got the need for the dance remix if you weren’t using them to dance to. Give me the original any day. I suppose this is how I feel about this single; I like most of the tracks here, but, given the choice of listening to this or the LP, I am going to chose the LP every time.

No Age – Singles Series

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1. Get Hurt 12″ (Upset the Rythm) (Ebay Store in North America)

a1. Everybody’s Down
a2. Switches
a3. Get Hurt
b1. Neck Escapah
b2. Great Faces
b3. I Wanna Sleep

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2. Sick People Are Safe 12″ (Deleted Art)

a1. Boy Void
a2. Sick People Are Safe
b1. Vacation Pay
b2. Semi-sorted

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3. Dead Plane 12″ (Teenage Teardrops – SOLD OUT)

a1: Dead Plane
a2: Goat Hurt
b1: Never Not Beaten
b2: You is My Hot Rabbit

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4. Youth Attack 7″ (Youth Attack Records – Sold Out)

a1: Neck Escaper
a2: My Life’s Alright Without You
b1: Escarpment

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5. Post Present Medium 7″ (PPM)

a: Every Artist Needs a Tragedy
b: Loosen This Job

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5 singles put out by five labels in one month (March 2007) from three different countries (USA, UK, Sweden). When you collect all 5, they spell “NO AGE.” Limited edition coloured vinyl (i.e. I got one of the 100 “beige swirl” copies of the “Dead Plane” ep). You don’t even need to know anything about the music before you are ready to spend the next week tracking down one of each – this is a record collector’s wet dream.

As a strategy for getting a relatively unknown band from LA some action, this is a perfect way to do it. I remember pulling my hair out the day I heard about this series, trying to figure out where to find all of these. The band didn’t even have a proper website (only myspace) and all it said was “five eps out on five labels!” I had to HUNT.

In the age of eBay, with its saved search functionality, the hunt is mechanized for me. I don’t have to do any work – I just have to be patient. Honestly, this has killed some of my passion for record collecting, as it is just too easy. When something like this series comes along, it go my heart racing (would I get one of the coloured vinyl editions, or would I be too late?!!?). I had fun searching for clues, working my contacts… amazing.

The music is another story – NO AGE are one of my primo musical discoveries of 2007. So fresh sounding, so inventive; the recordings are all messy and lofi enough to suit my taste (I love lofi). I just haven’t heard anything by them that I dislike – it really just doesn’t get any better than this.

#3 and #4 are both sold out, but they don’t say “out of print” which is promising. If you want these, just try emailing the respective labels. This has worked for me (even if they point you towards a distro or record store that might have copies).