The Vinyl Review

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Up at the futurists HQ, we recently had a debate about nostalgia and how it pertains to the resurgence of vinyl audio recordings in our modern society. Just so happens that we have quite the formidable record collection up here, which we add to whenever we have some spare bucks. But why are we amassing this army of vinyl? A friend of the futurists was contesting that vinyl recordings are a harbinger of “cool” that elevates the status of the owner through some warped idea of nostalgic preference. He defined nostalgia as a false aspiration that is blind to the truth of whatever time-frame it harkens back to. His argument hinged on the simple fact that nostalgia seems to evoke only the best and most memorable parts of a certain era, rather than the experienced reality. I can’t disagree with this statement but I must contest that although nostalgia represents an amalgamation of “the fondest memories”, it never claims to be anything but; simply put, the very definition of the word invites wistful remembrance and sentimentality.

But we’re not here to argue definitions. Rather, we’re here because we fucking love music and how it makes us feel. Music can take a humble heart and make it soar. Music moves us and affects our thoughts and personalities more than many of us understand. It is our nourishment in times of famine and a cool well-spring of refreshment when we’re parched. Music is the closest I’ve ever been to god. The songs and the artists, they’re simply prophets of it’s heavenly form.

And in our age, we literally have all the music we could ever desire, right at our fingertips. The accumulation and consumption of it is practically effortless. Broken down into binary, the digital revolution has provided an insipid boon for artists and aficionados alike. It’s now possible to carry music with you everywhere you go, to provide a sensational soundtrack to your every-day. But has something been lost in this mass switch to the digital form? Are we missing out on the faithfulness of analog? I think not, though some may disagree. The difference in sound quality between high quality digital recordings and their analog counterparts is negligible at best, and it’s an obvious coin flip to determine which comes out on top. But I imagine it isn’t the sound quality that pulls people magnetically toward vinyl; it all starts with our old friend nostalgia. Him who promises a simpler, better time… and delivers with gusto.

The thing with vinyl is that it’s supremely tangible. The hefty weight and breadth of a record when you hold it in your hands is exciting. The act of flipping and manipulating the disc is rewarding. A feeling of companionship with the form is achieved. All this without speaking of cover art or inserts which were both minimized when the popular medium was the cd. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love collecting records. Sure, I’m proud of my capacious itunes library but the apple of my eye is my steadily growing vinyl collection.

So without further ado, I introduce you to this, the first ever Vinyl Review on theFUTURISTS.CA. In this edition, we will look at two records, recently purchased by Hartbraker and myself. On the docket are: Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young,and  the new King Khan and BBQ Show album, Invisible Girl.

JULIAN CASABLANCAS — PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG

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Fronted by the exceedingly charming Julian Casablancas, The Strokes were the first band to break into the mainstream as part of the turn-of-the-millennium garage rock revival movement. Released in October of 2001, Is This It (the debut effort from The Strokes) changed the direction of popular, contemporary rock music in our time. It was a gnarly, snarling debut that struck a chord with people everywhere and remains to this day as one of the best records of the past decade. Now, two Strokes records later, we find Jules charting his own course through the musical landscape with the release of his first solo record, Phrazes for the Young.

My anticipation for this record was fueled by my inbred love for anything and everything Strokes related. Enough about The Strokes though. This album is Julian Casblancas’s release into the world as an independent artist, and I must say that he acquits himself formidably. The record evokes a sensational feeling of floating through the dark vacuum of space with nothing but the singer’s brash voice for comfort. That is to say, the background, the melodies and composition that serve as relief for Jules’s hallowed wailing, conspire to create a feeling of infinite space.

The record begins with “Out of the Blue”, a bouncy, cavernous track in which Jules claims that he knows he’s going to hell in a leather jacket, but at least he’ll be in another world while you’re pissing on his casket. Though he’s never been accused of writing profound lyrics, his vacuous, to-the-point songwriting style has always held a certain amount of bad-boy-poet charm, as if he is just too buzzed to revise his thoughts into something prettier.

The album continues with three solid numbers that continue to reaffirm the central theme of this project: a laid back, if shit-kicking, approach to modern life, love, and experience. 11th Dimension is a fiery ball of synthesized bubblegum coupled with a ranging guitar that either compliments or accelerates the frenetic one-two step of the songs central theme. And it’s followed by 4 Chords of the Apocalypse, a slow burning track that has Jules singing, “We’re going nowhere, and we’re going there fast”, before launching into an expansive chorus, which is followed swiftly by a delectably pointed guitar solo. A standout on side B (remember this is the vinyl review), is Glass. Probably the best song on the record, it begins with an intro that is definitely reminiscent of some songs off of The Knife’s “Deep Cuts”. But rather than falling victim to formula, it manages to transcend it’s derivative beginnings to mature into a fantastic song. Jules’s wonderfully awful singing voice is given center stage as he croons over a meandering beat that reminds one of a slow turning satellite graphing the shape of the universe. An ascending guitar rounds out this choir of the obscure and somehow melts into Jules’s voice as he continues to bemoan some vague interpersonal tragedy.

All in all Julian Casablancas — Phrazes for the Young is a wonderful record. A pre-drinking favorite at the futurists HQ since it was purchased, I envision a healthy shelf-life for this, a strong debut from an artist who has nothing left to prove, except maybe that he has something more to say.

Julian Casablancas is at the Commodore November 23rd.

THE KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW — INVISIBLE GIRL

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It hardly seems fair for me to review the new KK&BBQSHOW record, seeing as how I’m such a devout fan-boy of theirs, but I’ll give it an objective shot none-the-less. If you haven’t listened to this band, it’s about time you did. They’re a Canadian garage rock duo who intrepidly mix doo-wop, punk, and soul to achieve a sluttish cornucopia of blistering, melodic noise. Not to be missed.

My love affair with this band began a span of years ago when I was living in Montreal. I was lucky enough to catch a bunch of their live shows, and all at once, my musical reality was forever altered. King Khan and BBQ hold a long association, serving time in the fantastically named Spaceshits, as well as fronting solo projects (Blacksnake, Les Sexareenos, and BBQ respectively). Throughout their joint  and individual creative endeavors, they’ve risen to the top of the underground rock scene, proving themselves to be two of the most influential rock-and-roll artists of our generation. In 2004, they recorded their first release as the King Khan and BBQ show, and haven’t looked back since.

“Invisible Girl” marks the bands 3rd full length release. Their first two records offered up a buffet of bad-ass, croon-worthy garage rock angst and ambivalence and this newest effort doesn’t disappoint. A bit quieter than their previous efforts, “Invisible Girl” showcases a stripped down maturity that relies on their unwavering devotion to the hay-day of rock and roll. Throw this record on, pour a drink, light a joint, and you’ll soon realize that (like their previous works) it is timeless. Although it is difficult to imagine that this kind of music is made today, among the plethora of crap-tastic radio-friendly jock rock, it somehow it manages to be contemporary as well as a vision of a glorious past.

It is difficult for me to dissect and criticize this record. Every song seems a ballad, calling like a storybook-siren to my soul, forcing my eyes closed and my lips open, mouthing the words while throwing phantom punches into the air. Side A begins with “Anala” which features the overlapping voices of King Khan and BBQ in wonderful harmony, praising the virtues of “this girl I knew”. Followed by the title track: “Invisible Girl” and “Tastebuds” (a testament to the usefulness of tastebuds, “on my ass, on my cock”), as well as “Animal Party”, a song that seems like  a vessel for King Khan to display his prowess at making farm animal noises. Side B kicks off with a warbling surf guitar that acts as a precursor to BBQ’s haunting voice wailing, “I’ll be Loving You”. Followed by the punk-rock swiftness of “Truth or Dare” and the frenetic yet beautiful pacing of “Crystal Ball” (where Mark Sultan enquires, I wanna know why!), I must admit that “I’ll be Loving You” is the standout track on this record. This isn’t to say that the last 3 songs on the record are negligible. In fact “Lonely Boy’, “Tryin’”, and “Do the Chop”, acquit themselves splendidly as a book-end for an almost perfect album.

All in all, I have to say that this album is 3rd best when compared to the rest of their ouevre. But don’t interpret that as a negative review, because even the 3rd best King Khan & BBQ record deserves a shining spot in the rock-and-roll playbook. Pick it up, give it a listen.

The King Khan and BBQ Show are at the Red Room November 23rd.

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So that’s it. The Vinyl Review. Keep one eye open for the next installment, where we’ll dissect a new pair of swinging records. Until then, stay tasty my faithful readers.

Words by Gunslingrrr

Photos by Swashbuckle

The Sex: Hart & Gun

6 Responses to The Vinyl Review

  1. gingerkidd says:

    let hilarity reign

  2. hartbraker says:

    ironically enough, the strokes’ “is this it” was just named album of the decade by NME… good call, gun.

    http://www.nme.com/list/the-top-100-greatest-albums-of-the-decade/158049/page/10

  3. vulva says:

    “The difference in sound quality between high quality digital recordings and their analog counterparts is negligible at best, and it’s an obvious coin flip to determine which comes out on top.”

    this is only true if you’re listening to albums like ‘phrazes’ which were entirely recorded digitally and slammed with compression during the mastering.

  4. gunslingrrr says:

    I think it’s still debatable whether analog audio is superiour to digital, or vice versa.. But you’re absolutely right, complicating the debate is the simple fact that industry professionals often mix and match analog and digital techniques while producing a record.

    Both forms have drawbacks and advantages to be sure, but often the question hinges on the quality of the system under review.

  5. Sydney says:

    where the f did the sexy pics go?!!!!

  6. Wonderful article!!! Keep it up.

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