Sunday, October 15, 2017

Event Attendance: Portland's Night Owl Record Show - October 14, 2017

Man, this is the biggest vinyl-shopping expedition I've been on in the last six months (since the previous Night Owl show), and it felt good to get back in the game. The Night Owl was - god bless it - crazy tolerable this time around: the air was dry and the attendance was not overwhelming. Didn't have to wait in line to get in; didn't have to jockey for position at every table.

Did I have to deal with tactless dudes looking over my shoulder and crowding the shit out of me? That's par for the course. But let it be known that I hate dudes looking through the records that I'm flipping through. And I say "dudes" because it's literally never been a woman. They have more sense than that. Anyway, even that wasn't so bad this time around.

I was struggling to find any big gems, but I did happen across an old guy's table where he had a full section of fairly priced private-press stuff, a lot of which was from the NW. Ended up dumping the majority of my budget there, and ended up with some rare-ass DIY local records, which is becoming a hot part of my collection. Got some other stuff, too. Let's get into it.

Kurt Vile - God is Saying This to You (2009)

Grabbed this LP/cassette combo package from one of the first dealers I happened upon and glad I did: It's a limited-to-300-copies pressing of one of Vile's earlier albums, hand-numbered on the back. Didn't even have this record, let alone the most rare version of it. Feeling good. Though do I keep the cassette with the record in my collection? That seems tough to pull off without some collateral denting. We'll see.

Kevin Johns - Desert Sands (1978)

Private-press folk LP out of Grand Canyon. Arizona. My copy is autographed by the artist and producer (?) to a woman named Sue, who is a "fellow Oregonian." Producer mentions he is "late of Silverton." Vinyl's in hot shape. Here's a sample.

The Jim Hearn Band - The Telephone (1981)

Couldn't pass this one up. The back cover is equally great. Private-press new-wave rock out of Pebble Beach, CA.

Rancid - Rancid (1993)

This was the last record I bought at the show. Original pressing, still in the shrink, insert inside. I've been known to get down with early Rancid.

Sonic Youth - "Flower"/"Halloween" 12" (1986)

One of those many Sonic Youth records that I've seen here and there over the years but never pulled the trigger on. This is a really nice copy - "clean," as they say.

The Wreckin' Cru - "Surgery" 12" (1984)

You'll see a decent amount of World Class Wreckin' Cru records out in the wild, but not usually this one, at least not around these parts. My old pals from Boom Wow! Records (RIP, miss you every day) hooked me up with this one and this next one. They didn't have a ton of rap records with them this time around, but I was happy to find these. Early Dre that he used to be embarrassed about but now it all seems pretty sweet.

The World Class Wreckin' Cru - "Juice" 12" (1985)

Another Wreckin' Cru disc, another entry into the unlikely history of N.W.A. Dr. Dre doesn't rap on this one, but he does do the drum programming. Yella's on the scratch. These are, somehow, the first Wreckin' Cru records I've ever purchased. Plenty more to go. I need to get back to Amoeba in LA, where they give these things out like candy.

Jeanne & Joanne - Look Around You (1969)

Twin girls from Portland singing for Jesus. Notable: every song on here is an original, written and performed by the twins. No "Amazing Grace" bullshit.

Ron & Cathy - More Than a Man (197?)

Another NW couple singing about the ol' lord. These folks are from Vancouver, WA. Also all originals. This one's sealed.

The Clark Family Gospel Singers - I Wouldn't Miss It Would You (196?)

Private-press gospel out of Cottage Grove. Can't find a lick of info about this one. All covers, for what that's worth.

We Three - Work in Progress (197?)

Rare private-press female worship "xian" folk from the Oregon Coast (Gardiner, to be exact). Record is in amazing shape. Handwritten lyrics on the back. I love records like this. Wish there was a date, though!

Johnny and The Distractions - Johnny and The Distractions (1980)

Self-released first effort from this Portland band that would eventually go on to sign to A&M and then back to the indies again. I have another Johnny and The Distractions record in my collection, called Totally Distracted. This one will look real sweet next to it. Here's "Shoulder of the Road" from this self-titled LP. Real solid early-80's rock.

Dennis Doyle - Chanticleer (1978)

Private-press Portland/Tualatin folk/blues LP. Dude actually had two of these, but one had writing on the front that was not the signature of ol' Dennis there, so I went with the cleaner one. Record is in damn fine shape.

Gary Parks - Toneweave (1983)

Private-press folk out of Eugene. Seems to be Gary's sole release. He sprung for the color cover!

Henry Kinsley - Never Gonna Stop Dreamin' (197?)

Country music out of Vancouver, WA on the private-press tip. This one is sealed. I especially enjoy the NW self-released records that let you know on the cover that it is indeed the NW.

Various - Lane County's Greatest Hits (1978)

This is a crazy little LP compilation of some really disparate artists from Eugene and Springfield, Oregon, ranging from a 16-year-old hippie kid doing an instrumental guitar number about mushrooms to a 53-year-old lady tickling the ivories as she sings a heartfelt tribute to the Eugene area. This is exactly the kind of record I hope to find.

Cathy Lunsford - You Men At The Bar (1975)

Singer/songwriter private-press LP out of mid-70s Portland. She's got another one, too, that seems a bit harder to find. Keeping my eyes peeled. This one: also sealed.

Kidskin - Murder in a Tight White Dress (1985)

This was one of my bigger-ticket items for the day and I have no regrets. Private-press hair-metal EP out of Seattle with the title track, "One Nite Stand," "Twist of the Blade," and "The Edge of Wetness." Amazing. This music video for "Murder in a Tight White Dress" seals the deal. Oh, and speaking of sealed, this one is.

Providence - Ever Sense the Dawn (1972)

Not private press, but these dudes were based out of Portland at the time this was released. Sensitive, intricate folk. Full album here.

Cymantha - Cymantha (1977)

Seattle private-press folk from the late 70s. Photo of her on the back playing a fat stack of keyboards. This one looks fun. Oh and my copy's signed, too.

Barney Armstrong's Machine - Live at Jordan's Alpine (1978)

"Recorded live at Jordan's Alpine in Everett, Wash. December 28, 1977 thru January 1. 1978." Between the cover, that statement, and a written endorsement on the back cover from hydroplane racing legend Bill Muncey, I was fully in for this one. They're a cover band, and from the looks of some of the cuts, a party band at that. It was 1978. You better believe "Disco Inferno" is on here. But they also kick the whole thing off with a six-song Stevie Wonder medley. Decent recording and these dudes go for it. Feeling real good about this one.

Sand - Head in the Sand (1976)

If you fancy record album covers, you might recognize this one. I see it every once in a while, but never put together that the band was from Portland. Anyway, the one with the sandwich cover was Sand's first LP, put out by MGM. This one is their follow-up, and they put it out themselves. It includes a lyric sheet, an 8x10 promo photo, and a bumper sticker. All accounted for; all in great shape.

And that was it! Wish I would have found more rap records, but that's usually the case. Next up: Am I going to RSD Black Friday? Maybe! But honestly probably not.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Event Attendance: Portland's Night Owl Record Show - April 8, 2017

When the former owner of the recently shuttered vintage shop you religiously haunted texts you two weeks in advance to tell you she'll be at the Night Owl Record Show with multiple topless Samantha Fox picture discs, boy, you mark your calendar and you make plans to attend.

Not a bad day for it, either: it was raining sporadically but overall not wet and humid, ensuring that the b.o./cigarette reek trapped in ironic ponchos wasn't in danger of fully breaking free and engulfing the cramped Eagles Lodge in screaming ghosts of marinating vinyl-freak stink.

It was crowded as always, though, and I was a little taken aback to hear a dealer say he thought it was a little crazier than usual. Nah, dude: every time I go it's packed to the gills and I'm infinitely hip-to-hip with rows of dudes asking loudly about African Jazz. It's fine: it's part of it. But overall it ain't a relaxing experience. I was there for maybe an hour this time around, and that was solid: I blew through most of my budget early and then got pickier after that.

Ended up with a good mix of stuff. Here's what made its way home with me:

Samantha Fox - Interview Picture Disc (1986/7)

Baktabak issued hundreds of interview picture discs (and eventually CDs) in the 80's/90's, and none of them were ever "official," though they contained no music, so they really weren't bootlegs, either...I think that's how they got by. These Samantha Fox discs I got were not in the original die-cut Baktabak sleeves and they seem to have additional text on them, which makes me think these are boots of the original releases.

Samantha Fox - Interview Picture Disc II (1986/7)

Makes sense: this is a record that begs to be booted. Either way I don't think I care too much; I got these for a good price and they look damn fine to me. Additional photos on the B-sides are equally cheeky. Apparently there is a Part III to this series, so I'll have to keep my eyes open and complete the trilogy here at some point.

Kevin Wet - WET (1980)

This is an incredible record. Private-press out of Mercer Island, WA, in 1980; unlabeled clear vinyl with steamy, showering gals in the background. Kevin Wet himself on the back with Ziggy makeup and an earnest dedication of all songs to John Lennon. This was also reissued as a picture disc by a Canadian label, as was his second release, Hard Attack, which he originally released himself on Wet World Records while living in Portland in 1981, which means I'll be tracking that one down as well. Here is "The Dreamer."

Deee-Lite - "Good Beat" 12" (Promo, 1990)

Unabashed Deee-Lite fan over here. Listened to World Clique twice last week while doing dishes. When I ran across this it just made sense. Album version, extended version, instrumental versions. You know how it go.

Vanity 6 - "Drive Me Wild" 12" (1982)

12" single with a very Prince-y seven-minute extendo-jam version of "Drive Me Wild" and an album cut on the flip.

Vanity - Wild Animal (1984)

Vanity's first solo album, where she thanks Price on the inside but he's nowhere to be seen otherwise. Never heard this one. It's never been released on CD, which is odd. Also odd: I thought she left Prince's camp because his vibe was too filthy but this album has a song dedicated to a strap-on that found its way to the PMRC's Filthy Fifteen. Well I never!

Nightwynd - Nightwynd (1980)

Private-press funky jazz jams out of Texas that I could not pass up. Great cover and the liner notes further the intrigue: "This album marks the very beginning of Nightwynd as it is being released in the band's second official month of existence." Seems to be their only recording, but they are notably tight for a band that'd only been together that long. I love records like this. Also: I would wear the shit out of a Nightwynd T-shirt.

No Doubt About It - "Young Boys"/"Tellin' All the Girls" 12" (1984)

Private-press mid-80's pop-rock out of Colorado. My version is signed in red ballpoint by all members of the band, dedicated to a fan named Denise. Very strong Nu Shooz vibe here, and there's nothing wrong with that. Here's the video for "Young Boys" and here they are covering Missing Persons.

Mudhoney - "You're Gone" 12" (1990)

12" German Glitterhouse pressing of this bad boy, which was sealed until I just cracked it open to rip it, because apparently I don't have a few of these songs in the ol' library. Smelled really good when I opened it. This single is a good example of how not all Mudhoney b-side tracks ended up on March To Fuzz: The title track here, the alternate version of "Thorn," and the Billy Childish cover, "You Make Me Die," are all exclusive to this single.

Mudhoney - "This Gift" 12" (1989)

Also sealed. Also the 12" German Glitterhouse version. This one's a good example of ALL tracks appearing on March to Fuzz.

Larry Coryell - Offering (1972)

When it comes to records I put on when I'm dicking around in my house, Larry Coryell has been in the top 5 for the past year. I picked up two more of his records at Night Owl, this being the first. It's a crazy, jamtastic free-ride of grooves from Larry and his gang of ruffians, and man: it is intense. I'm into it. Dude can play that guitar.

Larry Coryell - Lady Coryell (1968)

The copy of this one I picked up is in sweeeeet shape - still in the shrink and the vinyl looks like it hasn't seen much action. Haven't had a chance to listen to this one yet. No idea what it'll sound like, though dipping a toe tells me intricate as ever.

The Puget Sound - Untitled (1986)

This may have been my purchase of the day. Private-press new-wave synth out of Kirkland, WA, recorded during '83-'86 and released shortly thereafter. VERY Flock of Seagulls with maybe a little bit of Gary Numan in there. too. Longest song on this thing is 2:46. Really couldn't be happier with this one. Though I am pissed that I can't find any clips online.

Billy Idol - "Rebel Yell" 12" (1984)

This is the UK pressing and oh boy was the guy who sold it to me excited to tell me about the extended (full) mix of "White Wedding" that appears on the B-side of this single. I humored him, then paid way too much for this. But it is in really sweet shape and I love a good 12" 45.

Wendy and Lisa - Wendy and Lisa (1987)

Wendy and Lisa, directly post-Prince. I've really been buying a lot of Prince-adjacent music lately. Never heard this one. They thank Prince on the inside.

Ultravox - Vienna (1980)

I've had Ultravox on the brain lately. After watching the entirety of Live Aid and enjoying their performance immensely, I realized I didn't know much about them. Been talking with an older dude at work about them. Then I came across this LP as I was getting ready to leave Night Owl and brother: that's a sign. I snatched it up and bolted because I was beginning to sweat fairly heavily by that point.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Picks for the Top Twenty Albums of 2016.

I should probably always call these "The Top ____ Albums I Listened To in ____" because, you know, it ain't definitive and I don't claim it to be - I'm just one man. And when I look at other year-end lists, they're really well rounded with a ton of shit I never got to, but I just exercise the myopic luxury of assuming all that stuff is garbage. It's a time-honored tradition of mine! Here are the albums that dominated my 6-disc CD changer this year:

(Oh, another note: Run the Jewels just dropped RTJ3 and it's technically still 2016, but its original release date was January 2017, so it'll be on next year's list.)

20. Vince Staples - Prima Donna

This record's dope and mad thumpy, and a sweet stop-gap between Summertime '06 and the next full-length masterpiece everyone is expecting from this dude. He'll deliver.

"Pimp Hand"

19. Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.

Kendrick flexing, showing that even the tracks on his studio floor are doper than what most rappers are leading with. I didn't listen to this one nearly as much as To Pimp a Butterfly, but I probably should have.

"untitled 2"

18. Royce Da 5'9" - Layers

Rap curmudgeons who whine about lyricism being dead in hip-hop must be caught up in a perpetual loop of hate-watching the trash-rap that teenagers go nuts for on YouTube, because there are plenty of rappers (old and young!) who still wanna go toe-to-toe with anybody. Royce has always been that dude, and since he gotten sober he's dug his heels in even further, and you can really hear it in his music. This record is dense, and you can tell he put everything into it. Mad passionate.


17. Lloyd Banks - Halloween Havoc 3: Four Days of Fury

Banks is another one of those dudes, like Royce, who hasn't slipped a bit on the lyrics, and he just won't stop dropping virtually feature-free albums where all he does is rap his ass off. He actually put out another mixtape in 2016, before this one, called All or Nothing - Live it Up, and it's solid, too. And it appears he just released another EP last week. If anyone ever accused Banks of dick-riding Fif, they best retract.

"Money Crime"

16. G-Unit - The Lost Flash Drive

You know my ears perk up for G-Unit rarities! This is such a bizarre set of songs that it somehow works, even down to the absurd, six-minute Young Buck freestyle that runs through a barrage of ridiculous beats. There's not a lot of 50 on this thing, which is curious, but I think they're interested in letting Kidd Kidd get his. Fair enough. Will this make new fans for the G-Unit? Nah. Is it crazy Tony Yayo still gets paid to rap? Indeed!


15. Cousin Stizz - Monda

Can't remember how I got turned onto Stizz, but as soon as I heard it I had a tough time shaking his track "500 Horses." That beat? Come on, man. The rest of this mixtape is equally dope, and more sweet antidote for those who think modern rappers don't have shit to say. Love this dude's voice.

"Every Season"

14. Swet Shop Boys - Cashmere

Heems links up with the cool pilot dude from Rogue One to make a record that is much more original, much less predictable, and lots more fun than that film. Pakistani beats and political raps hidden inside Heems' stony, fun-times drawl. Gets a little grimy, too. India in this.


13. NOFX - First Ditch Effort

I don't always go in for new NOFX records, but I ended up listening to this one quite a bit this year for whatever reason. They just keep doing it, man! "Oxy Moronic" is classic Fat Mike, with ridiculous puns ("Klonopinions," etc.) aimed at a very serious issue - the legal drug trade. And it's over four minutes long - these guys are growing up.

"Sid and Nancy"

12. Dumbfoundead - We Might Die

Dumbfoundead is a battle rapper, among many other things, and he's got lyrics for days. This new mixtape is dense but to the point, with ten tracks that get in, get out, and leave you wanting just a little bit more. That's the way to do it. And when Nocando shows up, you know it's on.


11. Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition

Danny Brown's weirdness knows no bounds, and it's not hindering him a bit. This record is strange as ever, but his prowess for getting beats together that match both the tenacity and unpredictability of his vocals is becoming more and more apparent as his reach grows. DB knows who to work with, and he apparently hasn't even come close to saying what he needs to say. Check his verse on the new RTJ!


10. Spark Master Tape - Silhouette Of A Sunkken City

We still don't know exactly who Spark is, but he's opening for Run the Jewels on their upcoming tour and Eminem's manager keeps yapping about him, so shit's about to get real. Either he's the next big deal or the backlash - which has already begun - will be swift and this will all be "exposed" in some shitty internet post. Whatever. I still find it interesting, though I will admit this record wasn't a huge step forward. But it was a step.

"All About the Money"

09. Descendents - Hypercaffium Spazzinate

They've still got it! Maybe this record is why I dipped into the NOFX one. 16 tracks, none touching 3 and a half minutes - you know what you're getting into here. The hooks are hooky, Milo sounds refreshed and ready, and songs like "No Fat Burger" lean heavy on the old-school noddery without resorting to self-parody. Tough to do! That's why the Descendents are good.

"Shameless Halo"

08. David Bowie - ★

Would I have listened to this record if Bowie hadn't died this year? Maybe not, but I did, and anytime an artist with status like David Bowie kicks off a record with a ten-minute song, I'm interested. Most artists can't do that, wouldn't dare do that. Bowie does, and it's only the intro to what is a massive record, one that does somehow seem to shut it all down. Of course he put something out right before he died. It would've been odder if he hadn't.

"I Can't Give Everything Away"

07. Alex Cameron - Jumping the Shark

Alex Cameron doesn't really have those scars. It's all part of...something that takes way too long to explain. Listening to his music gives some insight, but not nearly enough, and it's all working to keep me fitfully intrigued. But it's the songs that are really great, with the stark and chilly videos adding to the overall impression. It's a bleak one, but hey: you can dance to it.


06. Young Thug - Jeffery

Thugger can pull together a full-length, man. This one's a little more "look at me and where I am!" than Barter 6, but dude's getting supremely famous and it would fuck with anyone. So yeah, the hunger's gone, but the beats and hooks are still there, as is that wonderful dress he's wearing that got so many rap dudes pissy. Keep it coming.


05. Kevin Gates - Islah

I'm going to live long enough to hate Kevin Gates, and when it happens, I'll gladly let it wash over me. Until then, I will continue to sporadically listen to his music, especially this album, which features - and honestly this is the single most shocking thing I could say about a rap record in this day and age - NO FEATURES. This is his record, front to back, and it really does hit you when you listen to it. It's just one big lump of this dude's life, which is constantly on fire. He's loving his kids one moment, ending your shit the next. He's telling you material things are worthless, than rapping about his diamonds. And throughout being chillingly polite about ALL of it.

"La Familia"

04. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Radiohead are in that aforementioned Bowie category where they can skip the system, put something out just the way they want it, and you better be ready to deal with it, extensively intricate intros and all. This one is, not shockingly, a terrific record, because at this point this band is apparently incapable of really dropping the ball and laying an impenetrable brick on an unsuspecting public. I think there are still those hoping for some weird regression into the guitar-effect onslaught of OK Computer, but it ain't happening. Sounds like they're sampling snores and using them as rhythm devices. We're wayyyy past "Paranoid Android" here. I mean, I'm not even sure if the drummer's in the band anymore.

"Burn the Witch"

03. DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall

Shadow still getting it done! He's hindered, like a lot of "breakthrough" artists, in that he's never going to be able to sufficiently replicate the influence and overall undying majesty of Endtroducing..., which is something he shouldn't be held to, especially considering the real strides he's made in developing and expanding the trademark sound of his music while still staying true to the sample-based shit he's known for. This record is pure Shadow: mostly instrumentals but with some guest spots that enhance, not distract. Thick beats.

"The Mountain Will Fall"

02. Open Mike Eagle & Paul White - Hella Personal Film Festival

Art rap for the masses! These beats aren't exactly of the kind Mike Eagle usually rides; they're way more 70's-AOR samply, but when paired with Mike's equally buttery vocal effortlessness, it all comes together. I saw Open Mike Eagle perform here in Portland earlier this year and the crowd there was as diverse as any you'd see. I wasn't the old dude, I wasn't the young dude - I was just another person in this group of everybody. It kind of reminded me of wrestling a little bit, in that there's something for everyone in this dude's music. Can't say that about a lot of musicians or rappers. And he even raps about wrestling! It's all there.

"Admitting The Endorphin Addiction"

01. Kristin Kontrol - X-Communicate

I was a casual fan of the Dum Dum Girls, but man: this one caught me by surprise. I definitely listened to this record more than any other in 2016, and in fact I'm really shocked this album wasn't more of a big deal. Sounding as much like it came out in 1986 as it does 2016, this is a no-filler lineup of 10 synth-pop songs that all deserve to be there. Maybe it's taking folks a second to put together this pivot that the former Dee Dee made this time around, because it was a big one, but these songs are strong enough to stand alone, no backstory needed. Hope I get to see her live soon, because I'd love to see these songs pulled off on the spot.

"White Street"