Jack's Picks Vol. 1
I think most of us at Gramovox liked records before we came out with our own turntable. I definitely had my own collection, albeit a small one. I’d go to the record shop here and there, mostly buying used albums from bands everyone’s heard of. The Eagles, Cheap Trick, Talking Heads, the list goes on. Simply by extension of working on our own turntable, I started spinning more and more vinyl—oftentimes listening to the whole album the whole way through. Tracks I’d have skipped on Spotify became my new favorite songs. Fear of Music’s (Talking Heads) “Minds”, “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, basically every song on Fleet Fox’s Sun Giant EP. I wasn’t just listening to “Our House” or “Mykonos” per algorithmic suggestion—I was giving it all a shot.
Flash-forward: for the better part of a year, I’ve been heading to the record shop every weekend. Sometimes the same one a few Saturdays in a row, other times I’ll give another one a go. I like flipping through the soundtracks, and then I move to the metal section. I’m still looking for a Dio album (R.I.P., Ronny James). I’m pretty sure I bought Gone with the Wind and Van Halen’s 5150 on the same occasion. I’ve even pulled the trigger on album art alone—Starcastle, anyone?
I like talking about what I picked up over the weekend. I’m going to talk about those records here, every week. These will be my “picks”—sort of my generic and unabashed Dick’s Pick’s knock-off. It’s my hope to not only spark a little conversation between music enthusiasts, but provide new vinyl junkies with some tunes for your turntable. Enough from me, let’s get down to business.
Psychedelic Furs—Mirror Moves
I heard this album playing over the speakers at Laurie’s Planet of Sound. It’s basically a John Hughes movie for your eardrums. It’s the 80s in sonic form, essentially a 38-minute DeLorean. I love it. I think there were three other customers mumbling the refrain to “My Time,” the album’s first song on the B-side. I honestly believe every song on the album could be a single in its own right. It’s like punk rock uppercut new wave and made it angry. There’s an insane, really fast and driving drumbeat that pretty much slays it on each track. It’s almost like Def Leppard’s Rick Allen lent his other arm to the serious wizardry that is this album’s solidness.
I really couldn’t recommend this album more, and seriously advise that you start with “Ghost in You” (the album's first track) and take it all the way to the end. I bought my copy for around $11, though it’s available anywhere from $5 and $20 on Discogs.
MF Doom - Special Herbs 5 & 6
MF Doom lies at the apex of mid-to-late nineties hip-hop, superb sampling, lyrical audacity, and straight-up funk. Special Herbs is a nine-album instrumental series that could easily be the soundtrack to a Blaxploitation rock opera. Special Herbs 5 & 6 is a 2XLP that comes packed with a 2-track “bonus 45 from the KMD kitchen.” Aside from the bonus 45, there are 13 tracks across the two LPs. Some of them are more instrumental and more repetitive than others, but they all lay down a great vibe. My personal favorites are “Pennyroyal” (track #2), “White Willow Bark” (track #3), and “Coffin Nails” (track #5).
“Coffin Nails” is actually amazing. If you ever want to show someone how musically in-tune you are, put this track on your turntable. It really blasts off with this poppy drumbeat, and this jazzy little guitar riff sort of takes the whole thing home. I’m not sure if you’ll find this one at your local record store. It really depends if they stock rap/hip-hop or not. Not all of them do, or have a weak selection. I found mine new, and it cost $20 on Amazon.
Father John Misty - Fear Fun
I won’t act like you don’t know who Father John Misty is. Joshua Tillman, “Father John Misty,” is the soulful and somewhat rebellious ex-drummer from Fleet Foxes—a mildly psychedelic indie folk band who desperately need to put out a third album. You’ll probably have heard about him from that friend of yours who wears Sub Pop t-shirts and makes coffee in one of those drip-pour carafe deals. His new album, I Love You, Honeybear, is what’s trending right now, but his first album, Fear Fun, is still my favorite.
I picked this one up at Reckless Records in Wicker Park. They do this fun thing where they write a short description on the price tag, with a more-than-slightly-biased opinion from the counter clerk to yours truly. The author of this price tag must have enjoyed the album and had a premonition that I, the reader of its contents, would not only be a fan of Fleet Foxes, but 70s-style A.M. radio and Harry Nilsson. Really a trifecta in my book.
My favorite song on the album is track #9: “Well, You Can Do it Without Me.” This song in particular highlights the lyrical and rhythmic genius of Father John Misty. Yes, I sound like a millennial (I am one). The chorus comes with this great little tambourine number, and at one point pulls an Otis Redding by replacing the lyrics with a strong and soulful whistle. Again, I highly recommend picking this one up—especially before listening to Honeybear. I think my copy was around $17, which seems congruent with Discogs’ asking price.
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.