Jack's Picks Vol. 6
This week's picks are actually bonkers. Not cohesive in any way, shape, or form! I have two new releases for you this week, plus one time-honored live album from the 1970s. Just like last week, my favorite tracks from each album will be embedded here, smack-dab in the middle of the article.
Ship to Shore PhonoCo - MOTHER 2: ギーグの逆襲
Is there anything more amazing than a seriously displaced piece of media? A copy of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on VHS or, I don't know, a Super Nintendo game on vinyl? Given the former does not exist, let's roll with the second: MOTHER 2: ギーグの逆襲 (a.k.a. Earthbound) on vinyl.
Video game soundtracks are really gaining steam. Mondo has released more than a few Sega soundtracks, and video game enthusiasts iam8bit have released a bevy of video game soundtracks as well. Still, the MOTHER 2 soundtrack really took me by surprise.
The game itself is two decades old. It is lauded as one of the rarest Super Nintendo games, going for as much as 700 clams on eBay. That sort of notoriety gives the game (and its soundtrack) an exclusivity you wouldn't expect an independent record label in Brooklyn to have. But they do, and it is awesome.
The package from Ship to Shore PhonoCo is pretty amazing. It's a 2X LP, 180 gram release with colored vinyl. If you pre-ordered, you were given a few color options, each representing characters or enemies from the game. The inner gatefold is nostalgia central. It's littered with clay character designs from the game's original strategy guide, centered around a linear map of the game's levels.
For better or worse, the soundtrack is a perfect stroll through the game's triumphs and challenges. Remember chucking your gamepad at the TV? Me too. It's pretty whimsical, though. Dropping the needle immediately turns your apartment into Pee-wee's Playhouse -- I'm almost positive my sofa started bobbing along to the record's 16-bit charms.
The verdict: if you're a fan, pick it up! It's a lot cheaper than buying the original cartridge, and you'll have a fun time reliving the game's white picket towns and devilish overworlds. The LP is $40 on Ship to Shore's website.
Keeps - Brief Spirit
I think one of my favorite parts about Keeps is that they sound better live than they do on the LP. I actually saw them play in Chicago for the second time last night, and was genuinely impressed with their performance (says vinyl review guy, from his desk chair). Their studio recording is incredibly well-mixed, but I love when a live band goes a little wild.
Keeps is often described as dream-pop, which—to the best of my knowledge—straddles the line between 80s new wave and newer alternative or indie rock. To me, Keeps sound a lot like an energetic Mac DeMarco, or the less-cheezy bits of Local Natives. Honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to tie it down to a genre.
Both of their guitarists are pretty amazing, and even their studio recording leaves plenty of room for their trademark reverb sound. I have a friend who plays drums in the band, and am really glad to see their sound lends itself well to a super prominent drumbeat. Some of my favorite songs on the album come one after another: "Translucent Girl," "Idle Desire," and "Everyday."
If you're looking for some new music, pick it up! The album is available for just $15 through Old Flame Records. And if you really like them, check 'em out live—they tour around our great nation pretty frequently.
Cheap Trick - Live at Budokan
You ever heard of Cheap Trick? Of course you have. I was supposed to see Cheap Trick live at the Metro this Friday, but I think I psyched myself out. This particular live album is amazing, but it came out over 30 years ago...Don't meet your heroes, right?
Regardless, this is a rock solid album. I sort of go gaga for live albums. If it's mixed correctly, it's the perfect blend of crowd noise and absolutely wild instrumental magic. Live at Budokan gives you a great sense of the band's live performance that night. The lead singer, Robin Zander, announces pretty much every song before he launches into a more-than-perfect version of it. Afterward, the crowd goes wild.
One of the coolest parts about this album is the timing. "Surrender" is the eighth track on the band's setlist. Before announcing the track, the lead singer mentions that this next song ("Surrender") just came out the week before. It's almost like a little time travel moment, immediately giving you a sense of time and the crowd's ballistic reaction to what eventually became a karaoke staple.
I wasn't actually looking for this album when I went to the record store, but I'm glad I ran across it. If you like classic rock or live albums, pick this thing up! It was seriously like 7 bucks. I'm trying not to recommend Amazon anymore, so keep an eye out at your local record store!
And that wraps up this week's picks. If you have any comments, lay it down in the comments below and let’s start talkin’. I’d also be curious to see what you picked up this weekend, or what you’re planning on playing first on your Floating Record when it arrives. Until next time.