Category Archives: Record Store Day

“You’ll never pass beyond the gate if you don’t hear my warning”: Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (2006)

Americana:
“contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”

fox confessor

I remember when I first heard Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  I think the word stunned just about covers it.  I was heavy into her two previous albums and this wasn’t what I expected.  It’s a dark, mysterious, emotional and captivating album filled to the brim with Ukranian folk mythology.  Not to mention the Lynchian imagery.  And it’s over in just over 30 minutes.  Talk about intense.  Did I mention that it’s dark?  Well, it is.  It’s also tender and beautiful.  That big voice that belted out the bruised ‘country sounding alt. country’ on Furnace Room Lullaby and Blacklisted is restrained and, dare I say it, a tad vulnerable.

The country noir of Neko Case’s early albums is now furnished with intricate new sounds, textures, and open space.  It’s still unmistakably Neko, right enough… Neko and the sound of another of my favourite bands (and Case conspirators) The Sadies – Travis and Dallas Good’s guitar twang and sound looming large on a number of tracks.  Anyhoo, despite it all, Neko’s voice … that voice… just cuts through everything.  This, ladies and gentlemen, if I may be so bold, is Case’s finest work.

Margaret vs. Pauline is a haunting opener and I’m still trying to decide whether one of them is dead (I think they might be), Star Witness is jaunty and there’s a music box kinda quality going on there and Case’s delivery is wonderful.  Anyhoo, each of the six tracks on the first side are great, but my favourite here is The Sadies co-write Hold On, Hold On.  It’s a pretty remarkable tune with a nifty guitar hook and a line that smacks you in the gut.  That line being “the most tender place in my heart is for strangers”.  It’s awfy cynical, but also hopeful.  I dare say we often have more faith in people we haven’t met, cause ultimately they haven’t let us down. Yet.

The second side has the pretty exceptional three track run of Dirty Knife, Lion’s Jaws and Maybe Sparrow.  Picking a favourite from that bunch would be difficult.  Yikes!  Did I mention that Garth Hudson appears on the album?  He’s all over it.  Piano here and organ there… always lovely and subtle.  The playing on Maybe Sparrow is particularly special, I reckon.  Dirty Knife has some of my favourite Neko lyrics.  “So suddenly the madness came with its whiskered, wolven, ether pangs” she sings and it’s all swirling and dizzying – madness indeed.  “… Cats are wild… you can’t even touch the tip of their tails” … the cello as Case sings “the blood runs crazy with giant strides”… and then her etheral falsetto!  Lordy!  I also love the closing refrain in Lion’s Jaws (“momentum for the sake of momentum”).

fox confessor LP

It’s easy to say it’s all very David Lynch.  What with the animals and surreal mystery and suchlike.  Neko’s voice is as expressive as it is powerful.  It’s sad and heavy, but it’s also beautiful and warm.  Anyhoo, what’s it all about?  Well, it’s all interpretations of the Fox Confessor mythology.  Sure there’s some other stuff in there (personal stuff and what have you), but the true beauty of this one is what it says to the listener and how it resonates with them.

I mean, folks love to talk about music, books, poetry and movies (including me) but we don’t need to connect the dots and fill in the blanks.  That would undo the mystery of this one.

… and the title? Well, that’s a really pretty wonderful slice of mythology that fits all this pretty well. The relationships that animals have within the songs and that opening line of Hold On, Hold On and the message of the title track (“It’s not for you to know but for you to weep and wonder when the death of your civilization precedes you”).  Essentially, the person you put your faith in will wreck you. Like the frog and scorpion tale, but not just death, but complete annihilation of your confidence and soul.

So aye, there ya go.  Giant strides indeed.  In every sense this is Americana.  A rich and strange brew.  As a myth-interpreter and myth-maker.  Fuck, I’m delighted this is in the collection. You can tell that, right?  Right?

This copy is the 2015 Record Store Day release, which came with a smashin’ RSD slipmat.  Thanks to Aaron over at KMA for finding a copy for me.

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“That’s one of the worst albums you have brought into this house”: The July Record Round-Up

Not quite the end of July, but I don’t figure I’ll be buying any records before the month is up (though I did go pre-order Mark Lanegan’s Houston and I’m considering Keith Richards’ Crosseyed Heart, too – but they don’t count, right?).

Anyway, July’s been an odd one over these parts – the weather here has been right changeable.  Though always warm, there’s been rain, heavy rain, monsoon rain and occasionally a bit of a breeze making a welcome change to the humidity.  The last few days have even had a bit of a chill about them.  My hayfever has been a son of a gun, too.  Bah.  Anyhoo, in conditions like this the only place I’m safe is indoors.  Indoors preferably meaning at home; but occasionally (like 5 days a week) that indoors is an office.  To my relief, indoors can also mean a record store.  Hurrah!

shake it
The Cars – Shake It Up (£2.99)
Bought at the Record Fayre at the end of June, actually (after the June round-Up).  I decided to buy this after reading Mr 1537’s assessment of it.  Now, you may remember me mentioning previously that I had started listening to The Cars pretty heavily after that post – picking up the debut, Candy-O and Heartbeat City on vinyl – but I was never a big fan of Shake It Up and held off revisiting it.  Blargh.  It also managed to secure second place in my wife’s “worst albums you have brought into this house” list.
at the sandsFrank Sinatra – Sinatra at the Sands (£3.00)
Yes!  Couldn’t believe my luck!  A really pretty nice original copy of Sinatra at the Sands.  There’s something really pretty special about this one, so I was pleased at finding it for just £3.  I also learned something about how they made some doubles back in the day, as I was baffled as to why side 2 isn’t side 2, but side 3.  Turns out that’s something they done for playing on a record changer.  A few marks, but they weren’t troublesome at all and it’s really quiet.
day at the racesQueen – A Day at the Races (£3.00)
The only other Queen album I was interested in picking up (I have A Night at the Opera) and I managed to nab this fairly nice copy at the Record Fayre just a few days after reading that 1537 guy’s assessment of it (honestly, I need to stop reading his opinions on records).  Anyway, I think someone had decided they don’t like Queen anymore, cause there was quite the selection of Queen albums.  I wasn’t that interested in the others, though.  I still haven’t listened to this yet!
buy this recordMichael Nesmith – Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash (£7.00)
I’ve been after this one a while. Spotted in a good few months back (probably this time last year) when I bumped into Blabber ‘n’ Smoke‘s Paul in Missing.  Decided to weigh it up, as I was also interested in a couple of other records that day. When I went back it was gone.  Bah.  This copy is in just about perfect nick. Sounds really rich, too … in that nice gatefold sleeve. Wee extra inside it, too – a ‘promo shot’ of Mr Nesmith.
purple rainPrince – Purple Rain (£4.00)
I’ve been interested in this one for a while.  After all, it’s an album that folks wax lyrical about – “Prince … blah blah blah … Purple Rain … blah blah blah”.  Never really gave it much time myself.  A few things happened recently that meant when I seen this I decided to finally give it a listen.  Somewhat underwhelmed, though.  Can’t imagine I’ll be keeping hold of this one.
deja vuCrosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu (£1.00)
Sometimes the bargain crates at Mixed-Up are worth looking in.  There’s a lot of records that are clearly hoofed, but sometimes they just need a wee bit of a clean.  This copy is tatty and the record has a lot of marks, but at a £1 it was worth a punt.  I was expecting a serious case of the rice crispies, but it’s surprisingly quiet. Hurrah!
fox
 And of course, that Record Store Day copy of Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood ($34.99 – approx £20) that Aaron at KMA found for me.  That’s an utterly gorgeous slice of vinyl and it sounds wonderful.

“Parcel for you, pal”

So, back in May I got a message from Mike Ladano saying that Aaron at KMA had located an item that would be of great interest to me.  Aaron is the keeper of the Master Grail List and I’d been meaning to send him a few titles for a while.  Anyhoo, a few months back I mentioned that aside from two things, I wasn’t all that fussed about the Record Store Day releases.  One of those two things was an all-timer. An album that I’m particularly mad about.

Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  Now, it’s not one I’d likely get my hands on  had I got out for the big celebrations and I had a look online and copies were a little too rich.  I have the CD, but it’s one of those albums that really needed to be in my collection.  Cause I absolutely love it.

Anyway, Aaron and I have been exchanging emails the last couple of weeks.  Mostly we wonder where the hell this thing is.  Each time the mailman has knocked on the door I’ve had my hopes up.  Got to the stage where I was looking at the door … poised to answer any knock around about the time the mailman was due.  But the enthusiasm waned a bit the last two weeks.  Saturday was different, though.  The door chapped and I was racing (and I didn’t even get a chance to change out of my pyjamas).
neko 1 They really put some effort into this too.  It really is a wonderful looking package. Red vinyl in a nice gatefold sleeve.  And an unexpected extra – a special Record Store Day slip mat.
neko 2

Moby & Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night (2013)

The Odd Couple

So, I first heard about this Record Store Day release a few weeks ago and thought “oh, that’ll be interesting”.  Mark Lanegan is one of my favourite artists since, well, since I heard Screaming Trees’ Dust.  However, I can’t claim to be a huge fan of Moby.  I did, however, dig both his 100 million zillion selling Play and it’s follow-up, 18.

Anyhoo, Moby threw the track up on YouTube a few days and I checked it out this evening after work (which reminds me: Stone Gossard’s single).  I actually really like it.  Much like the best of Moby’s work, it has a real simple relaxed vibe and Lanegan adds some hushed, dusky vocals (similar to his work on the quieter Soulsavers numbers).  A perfect match.  It’s a twilight pace that moves along with a time-lapse video of some desert landscapes.  Sweet.  Check it out below.