While 8 years ago the majority of my time and money was spent on Etsy and clothing, now the majority of my time and money is spent on Discogs and vinyl. In the last couple years in particular, my record collection has grown almost exponentially, with new additions basically consisting of groups that make my mood and/or rabbit holes I’ve gone down that month quite obvious and traceable. And, since I basically missed the 80s and 90s while, let’s saying, being sequestered in the east wing, my purchasing trends often reflect the recent deaths of musicians who were active during that period and who I’m unfortunately just discovering.
So, since I’m enjoying keeping track of the books I’ve been reading throughout the year, I thought I’d add this page to do the same for the vinyl I’ve recently collected and am listening to on repeat. Since the list could get embarrassingly long if I just listed everything I’ve bought in the year, I’ll keep it to the Last 5 I’ve got and the Top 5 currently on my turntable, complete with links to their Discogs page (for the particular pressing I own). As with the books, I’ll bold any that I recommend. Just a warning that it’ll likely be all of them, as I do a lot of research before I buy…
- Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Spraycan (Lakeland Records, 1989) – I typically don’t list singles or EPs in this list, but this is one of only two pieces of vinyl this Icelandic band ever put out, the other being a self-titled 7″ with a fantastic Blondie cover. Jóhann Jóhannsson, i.e. the genius behind the Arrival soundtrack et al. (RIP), was the 18-year old frontman of this short-lived band, and then carried it as a solo project for a bit. If you dig The Jesus & Mary Chain, you’ll definitely like this. I got this in the mail literally only a couple days before Jóhann died, and it was already one of only two copies available on the Discogs. Will likely be harder to find now, but I recommend trying.
- Agalloch, Ashes Against the Grain (The End Records, 2016 reissue) – If you have an interest in atmospheric black metal and haven’t heard this band, run to your record store. Or the Internets, because your record store may not have any Agalloch in stock. The band is sadly now broken up, but the singer, John Haughm, has reappeared in Pillorian, a more straight-up black metal band.
- The Cranberries, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (Analog Spark, 2017 reissue) – I had somehow never listened to a full Cranberries album until the day Dolores O’Riordan died [being raised in the west wing and all], and I immediately fell in love with this entire album. This pressing in particular is so so good.
- Þeyr, Mjötviður Mær (Eskvímó, 1981) – Before our last trip to Iceland, I went down the rabbit hole that is the Icelandic music scene of the 80s and happily discovered this post-punk/new wave pre-Kukl/-Sugarcubes band, which easily became my favorite Icelandic band of this period. I compare them to Joy Division, and they would likely welcome that given their Life Transmission 7″, dedicated to Ian Curtis. I was hoping to see some live concert footage of the band in the essential [but weird] Rokk í Reykjavík documentary, but it only features the two music videos you can find on the Internets, “Rúdolf” and “Killer Boogie”, the former being from the English version of the album, released in 1982. If you can find anything from this band, definitely grab it.
- Tappi Tíkarrass, Miranda (Gramm, 1983) – A very fun rabbit hole to go down is the Björk rabbit hole, as she has done so much. Though I can’t get into everything she’s been involved in [e.g. Kukl], I can definitely get into Tappi Tíkarrass, and I was lucky to stumble on a fairly affordable copy of this album. The best part of the Rokk í Reykjavík documentary is the live footage of this band, featuring a teenage but already fully-Björk Björk.
- Wardruna, Runaljod trilogy – Norwegian band Wardruna [pronounced ‘Var-ruin-a’] has been at the top of list of bands to see before I die since first hearing them in the Vikings soundtrack. Somehow we managed to do just that this past weekend in Montreal, and their albums have been on constant repeat since. My mind instantly classifies Wardruna as metal due to the background of the members [Einar Selvik and Gaahl] and intensity of the music, but they very much are not metal, and are hard to classify, really. With lyrics in Proto-Norse/Old Norse/Norwegian and the instruments being traditional [old or recreated] Nordic things like animal horns, the mouth harp, and even just branches, the three albums that exist are a trilogy around 24 ancient runes, making what was once relevant relevant again. Listening to these albums have always given me goosebumps, but Lindy Fay’s and Einar’s voices are so powerful live, and the atmosphere created with their voices and instruments is so intense, that I was literally in tears the entire show. And by ‘literally’, I mean literally.
- Einar Selvik, Snake Pit Poetry (ByNorse Music, 2017) – Again, I don’t usually include singles/EPs in these lists, but, my goodness, anything Einar touches is gold. Finding out about the release of this 10″ sort of spoiled the relevant Vikings episode for me, but I knew from the mythology what was going to happen [and Einar’s music is the best part of the show anyway]. I was happy to pick up my copy at the Wardruna show in Montreal, and somehow even managed to transport it back home safely in a grocery bag.
- David Bowie, Lodger (EMI, 1991 Sound+Vision reissue) – As I’ve previously written about, I hadn’t really listened to Bowie until the day ★ was released, when KEXP played Bowie all day and I discovered so much. My first favorite was Low and the Berlin trilogy as a whole, and I was surprised that my local record store had a copy of Lodger in stock after his death, when they had literally nothing else. I was still new to Discogs at the time, but I managed to figure out that the pressing had to be an unofficial release. When I questioned the record shop owner about the quality of an unofficial release, he was like ‘I don’t know, you’ll still have it on vinyl, it can’t be that bad’. So I bought it, figuring that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between it and a real copy [though the cover and weird semi-translucent green vinyl did look sub-par]. Then I found this copy, and thought it was worth picking up at least for the couple extra songs, including one that must’ve been a Tin Machine throwaway. And I indeed can tell the difference. This one sounds warm and louder, while the unofficial sounds very tinny, and literally hurts my ears if played at the same volume. So, if anyone wants that unofficial copy…