A music blog, established 2010. My name is Chris Cappello and I'm a Yale student from New Haven, Connecticut.

"Records"
Saturday, January 21, 2012

I’m currently listening to Sufjan Stevens' Michigan, which I purchased on vinyl at the end of last year during a trip to New York City. See that giant block of text on the back? No, those aren’t the lyrics (open the gatefold for those). Actually, it’s a lengthy and passionate articulation of the nature of Stevens’ relationship with his home state, written by Stevens himself, that reads exactly the way the album sounds.

Some choice selections:

"Oh Detroit, what have you done to man, his wife and kids, his cousins, his music, his hairstyles, his shoes with white tips, his pleated pants, his elbow slung out the car window, his basketball courts, his officers downtown, his nightclubs, his shirtsleeve tucked over a pack of cigarettes, his imagination, his industry, his sense of humor, his home?"

"Even still, here and now, there is a renaissance of hope. The streets will take up horns and play free jazz, the busses will clang their bells in time, the buildings once burned out will be home to the homeless."

…and the powerful conclusion:

"Perhaps we don’t like what we see: our hips, our loss of hair, our shoe size, our dimples, our knuckles too big, our eating habits, our disposition. We have disclosed these things in secret, likes and dislikes, behind closed doors with locks, our lonely rooms, our messy desks, our empty hearts, our sudden bursts of energy, our sudden bouts of depression. Don’t worry. Put away your mirrors and your beauty magazines and your books on tape. There is someone right here who knows you more than you do, who is making room on the couch, who is fixing a meal, who is putting on your favorite record, who is listening intently to what you have to say, who is standing there with you, face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. There is no space left uncovered. This is where you belong.

God, isn’t he just incredible? I want to hug him for being so wonderful. My love for Sufjan Stevens will never fade. Why couldn’t he have made an album about Connecticut?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island (1995 - 2011 Vinyl reissue)

I’m giving this a quick spin right now before the Jeff Mangum solo show tonight at The Shubert in New Haven. This release of On Avery Island was included in the vinyl-only Neutral Milk Hotel box set that was released at the end of last year. It’s notable for its slightly different cover art, which doesn’t feature the red border and text of the original and the CD issue. The inner gatefold features a black and white drawing of an angel in an old theater hall, much like the hall in which Mangum will be playing tonight.

Anyway, regarding the show —

Julian Koster’s band The Music Tapes is opening, which hopefully means that I’ll get to see a Mangum/Koster reunion of sorts at some point tonight. This will be my second Jeff Mangum show, as I saw him in Boston in September. Check out a review of that show HERE and expect a new review tomorrow night. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Low's First Two LPs To Be Reissued On Vinyl

I Could Live In Hope, the 1994 debut record from the long-running slowcore band Low, is being reissued on vinyl, according to the band’s facebook page. This is the first time that the record has ever been pressed to vinyl, as it was originally issued on 2xCD. To this day, I Could Live In Hope stands as one of the very best records from the Duluth, MI band — A fragile, spacious, and rather hopeless recording, despite what its title might suggest. Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s paired vocals have a crystalline harmonic beauty, and the minimalist instrumental arrangements provide a subtle but powerful background. Their sophomore LP Long Division, released the following year, has also been reissued on vinyl. The record is very similar in style to their debut, and evokes the same kind of frigid winter atmosphere. 

Both records are available for purchase online. I Could Live In Hope (a double LP) can be purchased HERE, while Long Division can be purchased HERE.

In the mean time, stream “Words,” the opening track from I Could Live In Hope, below.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Photos: Deer Leap + The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - Are Here To Help You split 12”

Okay, I’ve had just about the best past three days ever as far as music nerd stuff goes. Two days ago I posted #s 50-21 of my Top 50 Albums of 2011 list and my Neutral Milk Hotel vinyl box set came in the mail. Yesterday I finished my top albums list with #s 20-1 and saw WHY? live in Hartford with Serengeti (a review of that show will be up later today). Today, I just got back from Wallingford to find a copy of the new 12” split from Deer Leap and The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die in my mailbox. I don’t think I could possibly be more stoked right now.

This album placed at number 5 on my year end top albums list. I’m pleased to see that the packaging is beautiful, and I’m excited to hear how it sounds on vinyl. I’ve been waiting for this record for a long time, and I’m glad it’s finally here. Topshelf Records also threw in a free My Heart To Joy Seasons In Verse promo poster that they must have had lying around. Thanks Topshelf!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photos: Neutral Milk Hotel Box Set Unboxing

It looks like the indie rock gods are rewarding me for getting my lists in on time! My brand new Neutral Milk Hotel box set arrived in the mail today, and I’ve been salivating over it ever since. This vinyl-exclusive set includes reissued copies of both of Neutral Milk Hotel’s two LPs, On Avery Island and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, in addition to their Everything Is 10” EP and a picture disc copy of the ”Holland, 1945” 7” single. The set also comes with some previously unreleased material, in the form of a 10” record called Ferris Wheel On Fire and two 7” records, “Little Birds” and an alternate version of the “You’ve Passed” / “Someone Is Waiting” single. In addition, the box set includes two 24x24 inch posters, which are gorgeous. The packaging is beautiful and I’m incredibly excited to listen to all of these records. Christmas came early!

Also, I posted the first segment of my Top 50 Albums of 2011 list earlier. Be sure to check that out HERE. Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Record Haul

I spent a good portion of my Thanksgiving weekend in various record stores buying a rather large number of records, so I thought I would share my purchases here, complete with photographs and brief descriptions of each. Luckily for me, most of these were on sale because of Black Friday or whatever. Anyway, without further ado —

The Replacements - Let It Be (1984)

  • Bought at: In Your Ear! Records, Warren, Rhode Island
  • Used, Twin-Tone Records Original 1984 Pressing

The first record I bought this weekend caught me by surprise. I was hanging out with Mary in Rhode Island when we decided to visit a local independent record store that she had been telling me about. Amazingly, I found a used copy of The Replacements’ landmark album Let It Be in great condition in a box by the cash register. Finding an original pressing of one of my favorite records ever by chance is great, but purchasing it for just 12 dollars was even better. I’ve been searching for a copy of this for a long time, and I’m really happy that I finally have one.

Queen - The Game (1980)

  • Bought at: Cutler’s Records, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Used, Elektra/Asylum Records Original 1980 US Pressing

I had a few hours to kill after taking the train back to New Haven on Saturday, so I decided to stop in to my town’s record store, Cutler’s Records. Cutler’s is usually pretty expensive, but I managed to find some really good deals that day. The first thing I bought there was a used copy of Queen’s The Game, a pretty rare find, especially for under 10 bucks. Queen was basically all I listened to between the ages of 10 and 13, so listening to this record again is making me pretty nostalgic. I’m kind of surprised at how well the album holds up, actually, but maybe that’s also testament to how great vinyl sounds in general.

Black Flag - Jealous Again 12” (1980)

  • Bought at: Cutler’s Records, New Haven, Connecticut
  • New, SST Records 2007 Reissue

I was also surprised and pleased to find that Cutler’s recently restocked its collection of Black Flag records, a number of which were reissued on vinyl. I picked up this new copy of Jealous Again, the band’s 1980 EP, which was their only release to feature singer Ron Reyes. I must say, I probably looked pretty square walking out of the store with a Queen record and a Black Flag record, but who cares?

Hüsker Dü - Flip Your Wig (1985)

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, 1990 SST Records Vinyl Reissue

Since I’ve been reading Our Band Could Be Your Life for the past few weeks, I’ve been making a point to listen to all of the bands mentioned in the book as I read about them. Michael Azerrad devotes an entire chapter to Husker Du, a band from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and one of the rivals of The Replacements. I’ve listened to them before, and even own their 1984 record Zen Arcade on vinyl, but I haven’t listened to this one before. Azerrad seems to think that it’s their best, so I’m excited to give it a shot.

Minor Threat - Minor Threat + In My Eyes EPs (1981/1981, originally compiled 1984)

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, 2008 Dischord Records Vinyl Reissue

Minor Threat is also covered extensively in Our Band…, and I had to jump at the opportunity to purchase this 2 EP compilation. It contains the legendary DC Hardcore band’s fantastic first two seven inch records on one twelve inch — sixteen brief minutes of raw and aggressive 80s hardcore punk. At the classic Dischord Records $10 list price, plus the 20% sale discount, this was an absolute steal.

Beirut - The Rip Tide (2011)

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, Pompeii Recording Company Original 2011 Pressing

Although I’m not a huge fan of Zach Condon’s previous two efforts as Beirut, his new record The Rip Tide has grown on me with its crisp, lush sound and earworm melodies. My appreciation for this album has increased after buying it on vinyl, mostly because the packaging is of remarkably high quality. The textured sleeve and thick, card-stock liner notes make for a sturdy and durable vinyl package that will definitely stand the test of time. Mary was lucky enough to catch Beirut live on Saturday night with Perfume Genius, which is a show that I would have loved to see. Unfortunately I had to take a train back home before it started. 

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - “Shake The Sheets” (2004)

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, Lookout Records Original 2004 Pressing

I’ve had a huge indie rock crush on Ted Leo for quite some time, so I knew I had to pick up one of his records on vinyl this weekend. Although I think that all of Ted Leo’s records are equal in quality for the most part, if I had to pick a favorite it would be Shake The Sheets. Leo’s songwriting is as honest and powerful as ever, particularly on the propulsive opener “Me and Mia” and “Counting Down The Hours”, which features a surprising acoustic intro. This is just a great record and if you’re into emotive indie rock you should absolutely take it upon yourself to give it a listen.

The Mountain Goats - Tallahassee (2002)

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, 2008 4AD Vinyl Reissue

I see John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats) as an indie rock figure similar to Ted Leo. Both are heartwarming/breakingly earnest songwriters, both are quite prolific, and both seem like the kind of interesting, literate, musical dudes I would want to hang out with. Ever since I first heard it over the summer, The Mountain Goats’ Tallahassee has come to be my favorite Mountain Goats record, a stunning peak in a remarkably large and consistently great discography. I’ve played this album a ton already, but hopefully owning it on vinyl will make me appreciate it even more.

Trash Talk - Awake 7”

  • Bought at: Redscroll Records, Wallingford, Connecticut
  • New, True Panther Records Original 2011 Pressing

Trash Talk’s new Awake EP was the only 7” record I bought this weekend, and, strangely enough, one of only two 2011 records. But compared to that Beirut album, the other 2011 record I bought on my weekend record hunting excursion, this 7” could not be more different. Awake is a brutal eight-minute slab of the most visceral and immediately engaging hardcore punk released in years. It has incredible playability, and never fails to get me pissed off and ready to hate-mosh the world. Despite its short length, this is easily one of my favorite albums of 2011, and an essential one to own on 7” vinyl.

Anyway, that’s what I bought this weekend. Redscroll also gave me a free Christmas record from their used bin, which was cool. Have any of you bought any cool records lately? Photo reply with a picture of them!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

5 Essential Fall Vinyl Records

From a musical perspective, Fall is my favorite time of the year. This is the case for a number of reasons. For one, lots of albums get released in the Fall because bands want to make the year end lists and don’t want to risk releasing their albums too late in the year. I also have nostalgic ties to a lot of music that I’ve listened to in Autumns past, which I talked about in detail in my Fall 2010 Nostalgia Mix post. Furthermore, quite a few of my favorite artists also happen to have music that sounds like it was made for the Fall, including artists such as Elliott Smith and groups like The Feelies, whose pastoral 1986 The Good Earth is my quintessential Fall album.

But most of all, I think that a lot of music just sounds better at this time of year. Vinyl records sound especially good during the Fall, as though the crispness of the air matches the crisp sound of the record spinning. Since I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon lately, I’ve been listening to some of my favorite records all morning and thinking about how they sound in the changing Fall atmosphere. Here is a collection of some of my favorite vinyl records to listen to in the Fall. 

  • 1. Nana Grizol - Ruth (2010)

This album is definitely one of my most played records of the past year. I first heard it towards the end of 2010, just in time to put it on my top 50 albums of 2010 list. The album almost cracked the top 10 on that list, but based on the amount of times I’ve listened to it since then, I would have to say that it deserves to be at least in the top five if not higher. I bought the actual record in February at Redscroll Records, and since then I’ve been waiting for the Fall to come so that I can hear it in its prime. Ruth is a collection of warm, heartfelt songs that range from aggressive folk (bordering on folk-punk, but not quite) to quiet and gentle acoustic elegies that never lose their underlying sense of hope.

Sample: "Cynicism"

  • 2. Bright Eyes - Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (2002)

I scoured countless record stores to find this record just because I knew that it would sound even better on vinyl than it does digitally or on CD. I couldn’t find it at any traditional stores, but I did finally manage to acquire a copy when I saw Bright Eyes in Brooklyn in August. I reviewed that show HERE if you’re interested. Lifted has been my favorite Bright Eyes album ever since I first heard, and I view it as the only Bright Eyes record that fully lives up to the conceptual ideas behind it. It’s a great concept, and such an expansive and grand album that it absolutely deserves to be listened to as a tangible, physical product. The album’s merits are entirely amplified by the physicality of the vinyl format. It just feels more real. This could be said about most records versus digital files or CDs, but the difference in listening experiences is greater for this record than any other record I’ve heard. As musically diverse as the album is, it all sounds great at this time of year. 

Sample: "False Advertising"

  • 3. American Football - American Football (1999)

This one was another Redscroll Records purchase. I bought it in the middle of Summer, anticipating many plays throughout the next few months, and it has not disappointed. It’s another one of those records that just sounds noticeably better on vinyl, and while I consider it a little more of an end-of-summer record (hence, “The Summer Ends”), it serves its purpose as an early Fall record quite nicely too. I think most 90s emo music sounds fit for the Fall months. The meticulously-crafted intertwining guitars and calm vocals on this record call to mind the slowly falling leaves of this time of year.

Sample: "Stay Home"

  • 4. R.E.M. - Green (1988)

Like American Football, R.E.M.'s 1988 LP Green is perhaps better suited to Summer nights than Autumn days, but listening to it at this time of year procures warmly mixed feelings of nostalgia. It should be said that only about half of the songs on Green fit this description, but the ones that do sound like that fit it perfectly. Melancholic standouts like “World Leader Pretend” and “You Are The Everything” are just sad enough to prepare the listener for the coming months, while the closer “Untitled” has enough hopefulness contained within its 3 minute length to look ahead to the spring thaw. Some of the other tracks, such as the storming Vietnam war indictment “Orange Crush,” don’t really call to mind the Fall atmosphere, but they do hit a little harder on vinyl than on CDs. My dad is actually the one who owns this record, which he bought in its original release year. He owns all of R.E.M.’s 1980s records on vinyl, which is pretty awesome.

Sample: "World Leader Pretend"

  • 5. Carissa’s Wierd - Songs About Leaving (2002)

Fall doesn’t have to be a depressing time of year, but it certainly can be. With the bleakness of Winter constantly bearing down on us throughout the Autumn months, it can be hard to stay optimistic. If you want to embrace that depression, Carissa’s Wierd's Songs About Leaving is the record for you. This album is utterly devoid of any hope or happiness, and might even be a better Winter album than a Fall album. I remember listening to this record a lot last Winter and just feeling awful all the time so maybe that wasn’t such a good idea after all. It’s still a fantastic album though, and the vinyl packaging on the recent Hardly Art reissue that I have is beautiful.

Sample: "September Come Take This Heart Away"

Saturday, August 6, 2011
Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (2007)
I bought this record because Anthony Fantano (aka my boss) has a tattoo of the album art covering his upper left arm. I know I’m late on this one, but this is my first time listening to it. So far I’m liking it a little more than The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, which was the only Explosions in the Sky record I had heard in full before it. It’s currently raining lightly outside and this is making for a fitting soundtrack. I’m pleased with how subdued this record is at times. The harmonizing guitar melodies are also quite beautiful.

Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone (2007)

I bought this record because Anthony Fantano (aka my boss) has a tattoo of the album art covering his upper left arm. I know I’m late on this one, but this is my first time listening to it. So far I’m liking it a little more than The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place, which was the only Explosions in the Sky record I had heard in full before it. It’s currently raining lightly outside and this is making for a fitting soundtrack. I’m pleased with how subdued this record is at times. The harmonizing guitar melodies are also quite beautiful.

Sunday, April 17, 2011
under-the-hedge:

Holy crap! I seriously forgot how much I loved this album. So psyched to hear it on vinyl for the first time.
Animal Collective - Feels (2005)
Original 2005 Fat Cat Records release
Psychedelic Pop, Indie Rock
4.5/5 on RYM
Make sure you guys check out my Rate Your Music account right HERE (or up there), if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

If you haven’t already, remember to follow my personal blog Under The Hedge for some quality blogging of the more personal persuasion! Woohoo! In other news, I just spun the hell out of this and it sounded awesome. I love Feels. This was a great Record Store Day buy.

under-the-hedge:

Holy crap! I seriously forgot how much I loved this album. So psyched to hear it on vinyl for the first time.

Animal Collective - Feels (2005)

Original 2005 Fat Cat Records release

Psychedelic Pop, Indie Rock

4.5/5 on RYM

Make sure you guys check out my Rate Your Music account right HERE (or up there), if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

If you haven’t already, remember to follow my personal blog Under The Hedge for some quality blogging of the more personal persuasion! Woohoo! In other news, I just spun the hell out of this and it sounded awesome. I love Feels. This was a great Record Store Day buy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So, I stopped by Redscroll Records in Wallingford for Record Store day earlier. I posted a video about my experience on my personal blog just now. I’d appreciate it if my followers would follow this blog as well. Thanks a lot. This kind of thing is going to get posted on my personal blog from now on, as opposed to this blog.

-Chris

under-the-hedge:

Hey everyone! Chris here. I just got back from shopping at Redscroll Records in Wallingford and picked up some great records for Record Store Day!

Here’s what I got:

7” records:

The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Josh Is Dead (2011)

Panda Bear - “Last Night at the Jetty” b/w “Drone” (2010)

Dirty Beaches - “Sweet 17” b/w “True Blue” (2011)

12” records:

Low - C’mon (2011)

Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances (2008)

Animal Collective - Feels (2005)

Built to Spill - Perfect From Now On (Deluxe Edition) (1997 - Reissued 2011)

Algernon Cadwallader - Algernon Cadwallader (2008)

Did any of you guys / girls shop at a record store today? What did you get? 

Just as a quick reminder, today is Record Store Day. Please try to make it out to your local independent record store. They’ll be stocked with exclusive new items including tons of collectible vinyl and CDs! I’ll be headed to Redscroll Records in Wallingford, so anyone in the Connecticut area should head on over there too and we can hang out and buy records together. If you’re interested, you can check out their special Record Store Day inventory update HERE. See you there, and have a happy Record Store Day!

Just as a quick reminder, today is Record Store Day. Please try to make it out to your local independent record store. They’ll be stocked with exclusive new items including tons of collectible vinyl and CDs! I’ll be headed to Redscroll Records in Wallingford, so anyone in the Connecticut area should head on over there too and we can hang out and buy records together. If you’re interested, you can check out their special Record Store Day inventory update HERE. See you there, and have a happy Record Store Day!

Monday, April 11, 2011
Having been inspired to pull this record out by today’s History class on the American Civil War, I realized just now that it’s been almost exactly a year since I first heard this album. The record that I’m referring to is Titus Andronicus' The Monitor, released on March 9th of last year. A lot can happen in a year, and in my case it has. Although it would be shortsighted to say that The Monitor is the sole reason for the many changes that have befallen me since last March, it has undeniably played an important role in shaping who I’ve become as a person. For everything that has happened to me in what has been a pivotal and critical year of my life, The Monitor has been with me, inspiring me and keeping me company at every step of the way. Thank you, Titus Andronicus, for crafting this album, and thank you for creating something that will always be a part of me. Titus Andronicus forever.

Having been inspired to pull this record out by today’s History class on the American Civil War, I realized just now that it’s been almost exactly a year since I first heard this album. The record that I’m referring to is Titus Andronicus' The Monitor, released on March 9th of last year. A lot can happen in a year, and in my case it has. Although it would be shortsighted to say that The Monitor is the sole reason for the many changes that have befallen me since last March, it has undeniably played an important role in shaping who I’ve become as a person. For everything that has happened to me in what has been a pivotal and critical year of my life, The Monitor has been with me, inspiring me and keeping me company at every step of the way. Thank you, Titus Andronicus, for crafting this album, and thank you for creating something that will always be a part of me. Titus Andronicus forever.

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Listening to this and feeling fairly calm. I’ll be going to the Mitch Dubey memorial service tonight, which you can read about HERE. It takes place at 5 PM in New Haven today at the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop downtown. Mitch’s family will be in attendance, and everyone is welcome. If you can, please donate to Mitch’s famly via Paypal at LAUREN.DUBEY@GMAIL.COM. 

Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Merge Records 2009 180 Gram Vinyl Reissue
Indie Rock, Chamber Pop, Art Pop
5/5 on RYM

Listening to this and feeling fairly calm. I’ll be going to the Mitch Dubey memorial service tonight, which you can read about HERE. It takes place at 5 PM in New Haven today at the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop downtown. Mitch’s family will be in attendance, and everyone is welcome. If you can, please donate to Mitch’s famly via Paypal at LAUREN.DUBEY@GMAIL.COM. 

Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)

Merge Records 2009 180 Gram Vinyl Reissue

Indie Rock, Chamber Pop, Art Pop

5/5 on RYM

Thursday, January 27, 2011
One of my most prized vinyl possessions. Listening to it now, sounds amazing. The sleeve has been slightly damaged, but that’s okay cause it’s really old and my dad has had it forever.
R.E.M. - Chronic Town [EP] (1982)
Original 1982 I.R.S. Records release
Indie Rock, Jangle Pop
4.5/5 on RYM

One of my most prized vinyl possessions. Listening to it now, sounds amazing. The sleeve has been slightly damaged, but that’s okay cause it’s really old and my dad has had it forever.

R.E.M. - Chronic Town [EP] (1982)

Original 1982 I.R.S. Records release

Indie Rock, Jangle Pop

4.5/5 on RYM

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Carissa’s Wierd - Songs About Leaving (2002)

2010 Hardly Art Vinyl Reissue

Slowcore, Indie Folk

4.5/5 on RYM

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