Friday, August 31, 2012

A Couple of Must-Stop Record Shops

The blog has been pretty quiet this month because I have been doing a bit of traveling with the family. The good news is, along the way, I got to hit two legendary record shops worthy of mention.

The first, the cozy Vintage Vinyl in Evanston, Ill., is an old haunt I have returned to several times since my college years there two decades ago. Back then, my pockets were full of lint, and this not a store for the poor. For the most part, all I could do was dream. Even now, with a shekel or two in the piggy bank, I still can't waltz out with much of a stack. There are no bargain bins, and I have never bought even a 12" single for less than $15 to $20. The most absurd price for an album I saw this time around was $100 for 'The Sound of The Hit Parade.' Still, if you can get past the dollar signs, the selection is a real head turner.

You can find every imaginable genre, including a very impressive selection of '60s rock, but the real treasures are unearthed in the UK-heavy punk/new wave section. Just to give you a taste, there aren't too many spots in the U.S.A. that would even have an Associates section, let alone one with 18 pieces of vinyl, as I witnessed on a recent Friday afternoon. I picked up a few gems, including a handful Lloyd Cole 12" singles that have eluded me for many years.

For a terrific mention of Vintage Vinyl from a real writer, read this piece from the great Dave Eggers that appeared in the Guardian back in '06.

Lloyd Cole & the Commotions - My Bag (Dancing Mix) (mp3)

The second shop I visited this month was one I heard about in a most unusual way. Back in February, during my trip to Scotland, I was looking for the works of several local bands at
Elvis Shakespeare in Edinburgh. As you may have guessed from its name, it was equal parts record and book store. I struck up a conversation with the owner and asked about the likes of Close Lobsters, Altered Images and others. He was out of virtually everything I desired. He explained he usually had what I was looking for but there were these two Americans that recently came in and cleaned him out. He said they fly over to the UK a few times a year and hit dozens of record shops, including his, to stock their own store back in Los Angeles. I took all of the info on this mystery store and hoped for a reason to be in SoCal.

Perusing the stacks at Wombleton Records made me anxious and giddy all at once. There were so many albums I had always wanted. There were so many more I had read about but had never actually seen before. Like Vintage Vinyl, the prices are out of my league. Since these fellas go to Europe, handpick the albums, hire a customs agent to take care of the bureaucracy and ship them to America, you can sort of understand why the Sounds' first album, for example, was $60.

Other than the prices, just about everything else at Wombleton is wonderful. It's an intimate and fantastically decorated shop. It's -- more or less -- all vinyl, and the real hard-to-find albums are given their own section. I have never seen so much C86 in my life, and I didn't see a single reissue. These were very old but well taken care of originals. And, oh, the 7" singles! At one point I had six from Postcard in my hand... even though I knew I would never be able to afford them all. It just felt good to hold them. When the dust settled, I got a Hit Parade 7" on Sarah, Orange Juice's "Poor Old Soul" and Josef K's 'The Only Fun in Town,' both on Postcard, a few rare Go-Betweens albums and an old favorite from Strawberry Switchblade. Seriously, if money was no object, I could have spent thousands of dollars. The scary thing is, according to the owner, his stock was low. They will be hitting the UK again next month. I hope I can find another excuse to head to Cali.

Josef K - Sorry for Laughing (mp3)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Snapshot of Upcoming Aztec Camera Bonus Tracks

I should be ecstatic. Aztec Camera's catalog is about to be reissued with loads of bonus tracks. As you may know, I'm a pretty big fan. 'High Land, Hard Rain' is my favorite album to ever come out of Scotland, and I happen to like quite a few other moments in Roddy Frame's discography. So much so, in fact, that for the last year I made it my mission to find most of the bonus tracks found on these new reissues. Patience is, indeed, a virtue. I do enjoy the hunt, but if I had waited a bit, I could have had all of these songs in one shot. My one saving grace is that I got most of the following songs on vinyl, and the reissues are on CD.

I don't have the live show that comes as a bonus disc on the new 'Dreamland.' So, I'll probably pick that one up. I never would have believed I would be buying that particular album for a second time... I can tell you that. I'm writing about this now because Demon Music Group was to re-release the catalog this week, but there has been a brief delay. You can see the new release dates below. Let me know if you plan to pick any of these up. Are the bonus tracks worth it to you, or can you live with your old vinyl copies? Did any of you ever buy anything after the brilliant debut album? How many of these albums are essential?

Aztec Camera - Deep and Wide and Tall (Breakdown Mix) (mp3)

'High Land, Hard Rain' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 17
Queen's Tattoos
Orchid Girl
Set The Killing Free
Oblivious [12" mix]
Walk Out To Winter [12" extended version]
Oblivious [12" extended remix]

'Knife' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 3
All I Need Is Everything” [7" edit]
All I Need Is Everything [remix]
Jump [Loaded Version]

'Love' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 10
Deep And Wide And Tall [Breakdown Mix]
Bad Education
The Red Flag
Killermont Street [live]
Pillar To Post [live]
Somewhere In My Heart [12" remix]
Everybody Is A Number One [Boston '86 Version]
Somewhere In My Heart [The alternate mix]
I Threw It All Away [live]
Working In A Goldmine [sax version]

'Stray' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 10
True Colours
Consolation Prize [live]
Do I Love You?
Good Morning Britain [7" mix]
Good Morning Britain [Laylow Posse Hypno-Mix/Kitsch n Sync mix]
Good Morning Britain [Laylow Posse Hypnomental/instrumental mix]
Good Morning Britain [Laylow Posse Hypno-edit/vocal remix]
Good Morning Britain [Mendelsohn Single mix]
Good Morning Britain [Morning Acid mix]

'Dreamland' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 17
(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice [Aztec Camera with Andy Fairweather-Low]
Live at Ronnie Scott's
Recorded at Ronnie Scott's Club, London, June 23, 1991

Birth Of The True
Song For A Friend
Killermont Street
Spanish Horses
The Bugle Sounds Again
How Men Are
Sister Ann
Good Morning Britain
Mattress Of Wire
Let Your Love Decide
Orchid Girl
Just Like The USA [live at Sala Apollo, Barcelona]

'Frestonia' Bonus Tracks:
Release Date: Sept. 17
Live At The Phoenix Festival, July 1995
The Crying Scene
Black Lucia
We Could Send Letters
Rainy Season

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Countdown Is On: New LP From A.C. Newman

Matador just announced details on A.C. Newman's upcoming album, 'Shut Down the Streets,' including an Oct. 9 release date and our first listen to a new song. If "I'm Not Talking" is any indication, expect the album to be less dense and more melancholy than anything done by the New Pornographers. Given all that, you'll recognize the distinctive background vocals of bandmate Neko Case on the new tune. You're gonna want to download this one. Preorder here.

'The Slow Wonder' was one of my favorite albums of 2004, and I consider it a must-have purchase. I'm in the minority, but I didn't like his 2009 followup, 'Get Guilty,' quite as much. I have a really good feeling about this, his third solo album.

A.C. Newman - I'm Not Talking (mp3)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Countdown Is On: New LP From Jens Lekman

The five-year wait is nearly over. Jens Lekman, the Swedish singer behind my favorite single from the last decade ("Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song to the Blind Girl"), is finally following up the 2007 album 'Night Falls Over Kortedala,' and that's worth celebrating. I have been meaning to mention the release of 'I Know What Love Isn't,' out Sept. 4, but I was a little bit concerned because I wasn't crazy about the first song I heard from it. After today, however, my fear has subsided. I just heard the title song, and it's so lovely and so Lekman. Here are both videos for the new songs I have heard. Give them both a look... then preorder here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cover Me Impressed: 'Hounds of Love'

Earlier this week, the Guardian named several artists that declined invitations to participate in the Olympic Games closing ceremony on the history of British music. David Bowie was the biggie on this list, but, for me, it would have been nice to see Kate Bush, too. I have been listening to Bush's music quite a bit today, and that brings me to this fascinating take on her 1986 hit "Hounds of Love." This was the first song I heard from the Futureheads' fantastic 2004 self-titled debut album, and I was immediately taken by the band's vocals and poppy hooks. It's a rare feat when a cover betters the original, and I'm not saying this is the case here, but it's worth a conversation.

The charts never really tell the story, but Bush's "Hounds of Love" peaked at No. 18 in the UK, while the Futureheads' "Hounds of Love" managed to debut in the Top 10. Bush and the Futureheads continue to release new music, but it's doubtful either will be able to capture the brilliance of their "Hounds of Love" eras.

But we can hope.

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (mp3) (Buy)
The Futureheads - Hounds of Love (mp3) (Buy)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Will Ween Still Be Seen?

Ween made several memorable albums, but Gene and Dean Ween had but one real commercial triumph. In 1993, the catchy "Push th' Little Daisies" was all over MTV and a huge smash Down Under. There was a promo only CD single and 12" that included two fairly funny cleaned up versions of the song without a certain four-letter word that rhymes with "sit."

A few months ago, I read in the Wall Street Journal that Gene released an interesting album based on the music of Rod McKuen. Soon after, he announced the end of Ween. Dean fired back that it was news to him. I have to admit I haven't followed the band for many years, but I always liked knowing they were still out there somewhere.

Ween - Push th' Little Daisies (Shitless Radio Edit - No Shit) (mp3)
Ween - Push th' Little Daisies (Funky Drummer Mix) (mp3)
Ween - Push th' Little Daisies (Happier Than Shit Album Version) (mp3)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Son Says, 'Please Let Me Get What I Want'

The blog will be quiet for a bit. For the first time in a couple of years, the family is visiting our old stomping ground of Chicago. Oh, the hot dogs! Oh, the record stores! One of our stops will be for our youngest son. This past school year, in kindergarten, if you can believe it, he was bitten by the art bug. (Whatever happened to baseball?) In particular, he likes the pointillism of painter Georges Seurat. So, just as Ferris took Sloane and Cameron, Mrs. LTL! and I are taking him to the Art Institute to see the famous 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.' I have to admit his excitement is contagious. This song is for him. Linear Tracking Lives! will spin again in about 10 days. Take care.

The Dream Academy - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (Instrumental) (mp3)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jim Noir's 'Jimmy's Show' Out This Fall

For the second time today, I have news (of sorts) on the subscription series front. If you weren't part of Jim Noir's club that featured a whopping 16 EPs, here's a little redemption. According to his Web site, Noir's upcoming record, 'Jimmy's Show,' will "compile all the best bits" of that subscriptions series, "leaving aside all the shit ones, to make up the all new (old) album." You can preorder for the Sept. 17 release of 'Jimmy's Show' here. In the meantime, for the price of joining Noir's email list, you can download "Tea," one of the "new" songs, now. Click the widget below for that. I haven't heard his more recent work, but I can certainly vouch for his first two albums, 'Tower of Love' and
'Jim Noir.' It's quite possibly the smartest pop I heard last decade.