Unboxing The Decemberists

It’s been a while since I’ve done an unboxing video, but I knew this record would be a great one to unveil on YouTube. Watch below to see the gorgeous vinyl for The Decemberists’ new album, I’ll Be Your Girl, hear a snippet of the best track on the record, and listen to me ramble on about my love for this band.

 

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New video up! Mega vacation haul + VCLT.

I had a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest last month.  I visited record stores in Portland, Eugene, Beaverton, Olympia, and Seattle.  I found something to buy at almost every shop I checked out, and my DJ bag was stuffed when I returned home.  Not only did I find some incredible things on my trip, but I came home to some VCLT from one of my YouTube buddies.  The vinyl community is truly a wonderful place.

Check out the video below to see what I’ve added to my collection!

 

Gone Record Shopping!

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The Vinyl Hysteria crew is off to the Pacific Northwest for some good ol’ record shopping.  While we’re gone, the site won’t be updated, but we’ll be posting plenty from our Instagram and Twitter accounts.  Follow us there, if you don’t already, so you can keep up with our travels and our vinyl finds.

 

Canada Is for (Vinyl) Lovers

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Today is the second day of The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK.  A few days ago I ran a preview of the Canadian Blast showcase happening at the festival, featuring interviews with some of the bands. I had asked them about female representation in music festivals, and in the music community in general.

But I couldn’t help asking them about vinyl, too.  I’m always curious about people’s taste in music: their influences, their favorite albums, what kind of vinyl collections they have — if they even buy their music on vinyl.

I suspected that at least some of these Canadian musicians might be into vinyl, though.  In the research I’ve done, it seems that Canada has a greater number of record stores than the US.  Or maybe it’s just that Ontario all by itself has hundreds, even in its furthest reaches.  There’s a shop in Sault Ste Marie.  There’s one in Thunder Bay.  (By contrast, I live in a supposed cultural mecca, yet my closest record shop is 30 minutes away, and it’s not even worth the trip.  I have to drive at least an hour to find anything with a decent selection.)

Also, my favorite current Canadian bands were putting out vinyl before the hipster boom brought it back into popularity.  And there are a number of fantastic Canadian record labels, like Paper Bag, Dine Alone, Nettwerk, Arts & Crafts, and True North.  Vinyl might be as Canadian as the maple leaf.

It was excellent to ask these kick-ass women and their bandmates — most of whom, as I suspected, collect vinyl — about their music collections and most influential albums. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: Are you a music collector?  Do you collect vinyl records?  If so, what is your collection like?

Hannah Georgas: I collect vinyl!  I alphabetized my albums finally not too long ago.  I realized I have a lot more records that I thought.  I’ve accumulated a bunch of vinyl from when I was a kid.  My mom gave me a ton of classical records and then the rest is from what I’ve collected over the past 5 years or so.  I do have a habit of playing the same vinyl over and over.  And the same side, haha!  People get annoyed.  The Sylvan Esso album should be broken because of how many times I’ve played it.

Mo Kenney: I buy a lot of vinyl, but I don’t hunt for rarities or first-press issues … I just enjoy listening on vinyl. My collection isn’t enormous, but it’s getting there! I have a lot of older stuff that I’ve collected since I was a teenager, and I buy a lot of new vinyl now. It’s how I like to listen to music when I’m at home.

Beliefs: You know it! I don’t have a huge collection, but I go through buying phases. The last record I bought was Marie Davidson. After seeing her perform a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto, I’ve been so enamoured by her. I also just bought the new Slowdive at their show here. That’s a band who haven’t aged a day, but have matured a lifetime. Love the new songs. I’ve also been grabbing more ’70s Nigerian comps lately.

Mozart’s Sister: Yeah, I have a collection. I have worked at a record store for a number of years, so I have a small collection that I like a lot. It’s a real mix of stuff, lots of ambient and instrumental records. ’80s and ’70s disco, contemporary experimental and classical music, and ’90s indie rock/pop, mostly.

The Avulsions: Sure, any format. I buy records, but I don’t know if can say that I am a collector in the sense that I have no interest in buying a $300 original pressing from 1978 on Discogs or whatever. I have paid too much money for a few things over the years that were hard to find, but I’m mostly not too nostalgic about it. My overall taste in music is not necessarily well-represented by my collection, which leans more toward recent small-run independent releases because I end up buying records from touring bands quite often. I guess for me, buying records has the function of showing support to artists as much as it does to collecting, or seeking out music I already know. Wanting to support the format makes me more inclined to buy new records, rather than flip through garage sale bins (though this is absolutely worth doing too). I love reissues and curated compilations, and cringe a little bit when I think about how much money Light In The Attic has taken from me. As far as my record collection goes, other than those things, and a bunch of littler-known Western Canadian acts, you’ll find some pretty predictable old post-punk classics—I bought every Joy Division comp/bootleg I could find when I was 19, some early electronic/experimental, ’60s French pop, present-day 4AD-type releases, the remains of a large opera collection I inherited, and way too much emo-hardcore I liked as a teen and should get rid of.

Port Cities: I collect vinyl records, mostly inherited from my parent’s collection: the Beatles, Carole King, Paul Simon, as well as new artists that I fall in love with.

Bad Pop: Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a collection! It is full of records from bands I’ve toured with, records inherited from parents (lots of Talking Heads, The Who, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin), some jazz records (Miles Davis, Chick Corea etc.), important records from the late ’90s/early 2000s (Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Grandaddy … ), and some newer stuff I’m digging (Savages, Wye Oak). Oh yeah, and way too many copies of the same vinyl from my own bands that never sold on tour.

Youngblood: I am and I do! My collection is quite diverse, some of my faves are Air’s “Love 2,” Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu,” and then a couple of weird old ’60s spaghetti western soundtracks.

Mauno: None of us would call ourselves legitimate vinyl collectors, especially being surrounded by hardcore collectors all the time. That being said, our guitar player Scott modestly owns probably over a hundred records. His collection represents all of our tastes in its broadness — he has everything from hiphop records to old country to movie soundtracks.

Like A Motorycle: Extensively. When my sister, Zooey Deschanel, left home to be a flight attendant, she whispered in my ear, “One day you will be cool.” Then she told me to look under my bed. “It will set you free,” she said. She told me to listen to Tommy with a candle burning and that I would see my entire future.

Q: What five albums have most influenced your own musical endeavors?

Mozart’s Sister: I’ll give you 5 songs:

  • Les Paul – “Brazil”
  • Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savanah Band – “Hard Times”
  • Arvo Part – “Fratres Suites”
  • White Town – “Your Woman”
  • Tom Waits – “Tango Till They’re Sore”

Youngblood:

  • Air – “Talkie Walkie”
  • Beach House – “Devotion”
  • Stars – “Set Yourself on Fire”
  • Cat Power – “The Greatest”
  • Arctic Monkeys – “Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not”

Beliefs:

  • Portishead – “Third”
  • Slowdive – “Souvlaki”
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Let Love In”
  • Massive Attack – “Mezzanine”
  • Jesus and Mary Chain – “Psychocandy”

Like A Motorcycle:

Michelle:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Heart – “Dreamboat Annie”
  • The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Show Your Bones”
  • Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”
  • Supertramp – “Crime of the Century”

Kim:

  • Oasis – “Definitely Maybe”
  • The Pixies – “Doolittle”
  • The B-52’s – S/T
  • The Dandy Warhols – “13 Tales From Urban Bohemia”
  • Lou Reed – “Sally Can’t Dance”

Dave:

  • David Bowie – “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust”
  • The Rolling Stones – “Exile on Mainstreet”
  • The Clash – “London Calling”
  • Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life”
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Damn the Torpedos”

kt:

  • The Distillers – “Coral Fang”
  • Nirvana – “Nevermind”
  • Save the Day – “Through Being Cool”
  • Every Modest Mouse album
  • Fear Before the March of Flames – “Odd How People Shake”

BONUS: THE BATMAN FOREVER SOUNDTRACK!

Mauno: Between the four of us, the five albums that have most influenced our musical endeavors are:

  • The Books – “Lost and Safe”
  • Erykah Badu – “Baduizm”
  • The Dirty Projectors – “The Glad Fact”
  • Broadcast – “The Noise Made by People”
  • Arthurt Russell – “Love is Overtaking Me”

The Avulsions:

  • Section 25 – “Always Now”
  • Blonde Redhead – “Misery Is a Butterfly”
  • Iggy Pop – “The Idiot”
  • The Wake – “Harmony”
  • Suicide – S/T

Bad Pop: This is always a hard question. I acknowledge the hypocrisy in presenting a list comprised entirely of men, but this is what I was exposed to in my younger and more formative years:

  • Radiohead – “Kid A”
  • The Beatles – “Abbey Road”
  • Green Day – “Dookie”
  • Sigur Ros – “Ágætis Byrjun”
  • Badly Drawn Boy – “The Hour of Bewilderbeast”

Mo Kenney: Uhhhh, that’s tough, but here’s a few records I was listening to whilst recording my latest:

  • Amen Dunes – “Love”
  • Deerhunter – “Fading Frontier”
  • Guided By Voices – “Bee Thousand”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Carrie & Lowell”
  • David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”

Port Cities: Some records that have influenced us are:

  • Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”
  • Joni Mitchell – “Blue”
  • The Beatles – “Revolver”
  • Frank Sinatra – “Strangers in the Night”
  • Norah Jones – “Sunrise”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Born to Run”

Hannah Georgas: That’s a tough question … Some albums that I have listened to front to back many times over off the top of my head are:

  • The Cranberries – “No Need to Argue”
  • Michael Jackson – “Bad”
  • The Very Best of The Everly Brothers
  • Annie Lennox – “Medusa”
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”
  • Janet Jackson – “Velvet Rope”
  • Snoop Dog – “Doggy Style”
  • Enya – “The Memory of Trees”
  • Fiona Apple – “Tidal”

*

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If you’re in the UK, it’s not too late to catch some of these fine performers at the Canadian Blast showcase, happening now at the Great Escape Festival.

Canadian Blast is being held May 18-20 at The Green Door Store (Lower Goods Yard, Brighton Train Station, Brighton, UK), which will be called “Canada House” for this event. Participating artists are: Altamedia, Bad Pop, Beliefs, DSG Samurai Champs, Hannah Georgas, Harrison Brome, Hello Moth, John K Samson, Like A Motorcycle, Mauno, Mo Kenney, Mozart’s Sister, Pierre Kwenders, Poor Nameless Boy, Port Cities, Royal Tusk, The Avulsions, The Wooden Sky, and William Prince Youngblood.

Canadian Blast is presented by Music Export Canada, a brand of the Canadian Independent Music Association.

Record Store Day 2017

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I had a lot of issues with the Record Store Day 2017 offerings, and it did create a little internal conflict — do I continue to support this event when they don’t fairly or equally promote female artists? — but in the end, I decided that it was good for me to get out there and promote the visibility of female record collectors. Yes, I was the first in line, long before the guys started trickling in. But thankfully I wasn’t the only woman in this year’s line. And I had a great experience while supporting three female-fronted bands/female artists. Check it out below.

#RSDsomale

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When I first saw the list of Record Store Day 2017 releases, I had two immediate thoughts:

1. Thank God there are only two items I want, because I’m in the middle of a move and can’t afford to splurge.

2. Where the hell are all the women?

I had hoped to see some gender diversity in this year’s Record Store Day offerings … and I was disappointed.  Now, I never expected a 50/50 split — women struggle for recognition and representation in every aspect of music, from producing to reviewing to collecting — but the absence of female artists or female-fronted bands in RSD this year is staggering.  I took the list and calculated the percentage of women present, removing items like soundtracks and compilations.  What I discovered is that only 12% of the RSD items are by female artists or female-fronted bands.  TWELVE PERCENT.

Why aren’t more people talking about this?

I have so many issues with this list.  Not only is it lacking in women (did I mention that whole TWELVE PERCENT thing?), but most of the selections are white dude bands.  Overwhelmingly white dude bands.  The lack of racial diversity also needs to be addressed, but for the purpose of this post, I’m simply looking at the absence of women.  Where the hell are they?

I honestly don’t know how the selections are chosen, whether it’s something decided by the event coordinators themselves, or by labels, or by artists.  I’ve tried researching this topic, but it’s hard to find details.  Still, whatever the process, it’s obviously broken.  I shouldn’t be surprised, though, given that only 10% of the RSD ambassadors have been women.  I think it’s fantastic that they’ve chosen a woman for their 10th anniversary of Record Store Day, but what took them so long to have female representation?

This makes me wonder if it goes right back to the target audience for vinyl: men.  Did they worry that having a woman as ambassador would turn guys off?  Are they heavily pushing the dude bands because men don’t want music by female artists?  I’m in the YouTube vinyl community, and a lot of the guys there seem to like ALL kinds of artists and music, but are they the exception to the rule?  Is it too much to expect that men who collect vinyl will be okay with an even gender split? Where the hell are all the women?

It’s a question I ask a lot as a member of the vinyl community.  Women are underrepresented here, though a recent article has sought to highlight women-owned record shops.  Yes, we are out there.  Yes, there are a lot of us.  But we’re outnumbered by our male counterparts, and even when we do seek to carve out a space for ourselves, we’re often ignored, neglected, relegated to dabbler status, as if we’re unable to hold vast knowledge of music and records in our fragile female brains.  Many men on the vinyl community forums believe that women only show up to record stores to stand around and nag at their boyfriends as they browse vinyl.  They believe we aren’t serious collectors, serious students of sounds, as if this entire format exists solely for consumption by men.

And it doesn’t stop there.  Female music critics are skewered for their informed opinions and judgments far more than male critics.  And why are there so many white men writing about and talking about music?  I find it difficult to see photos from SXSW panels where the stage is filled with white dudes and believe that truly radical discussions took place around any artist’s work.  Or that any conversation about music could have possibly included experiences outside the single demographic represented on stage.

I seethed recently listening to a well-respected vinyl site’s podcast wherein two dudes dissected the debut record of an African-American woman.  They loved the record, by the way, but their assumptions about her past, about her background, about her identity within this world really rubbed me the wrong way.  The way they said the music is rudimentary at best, but her voice is really what makes it a good record.  How she needs to be careful not to repeat this in the next album, or it won’t be held in as high regard (in their minds).  Do what the men say you should do, or else.  Be a better musician, even though your record is getting wide acclaim (and rightly so).

Why is it okay for men to do this?  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we continue to allow it.  We elevate mediocre music made by men while refusing to recognize the work of so many female artists/producers/label execs/etc.  I’m not suggesting that we reward or congratulate women who aren’t making great music, but we do seem to allow for that when it comes to men.  If I see one more article passing off the creepy/odd things Father John Misty does/says as “quirky,” I might scream.  And yes, I lump him in with the mediocre lot, with apologies to the FJM fans out there.  Don’t even get me started on Ed Sheeran.

There have been numerous discussions around the lack of female representation when award nominations are announced, particularly during the 2016 Juno Awards.  Amy Millan (of Stars) sparked the #JunosSoMale movement on Twitter, and the conversation was continued again this season.  Even if the reason behind the lack of representation comes down to women not submitting their work, we need to look at why they don’t feel that they’re able to throw their names in the hat.  Many say that they’re held back, or not taken seriously, or have been told from the beginning that they won’t be taken seriously so why bother?  And this doesn’t just happen with awards submissions — it happens to women at all stages of music-making, from booking gigs to buying instruments.  Why is that okay?

I have so many questions.  And I’m looking for answers.  What do you think about the Record Store Day list this year?  Why are there so few women?  If you’re a woman who collects vinyl, what have your RSD experiences been like in the past?  I know for me, I’m usually one of the only women there buying vinyl for herself.  Reach out to me and we’ll talk.  Let’s figure out why #RSDsomale.

Christmas & Hanukkah Vinyl Collection

I love the holidays.  I love them so much that I vomit glitter at the stroke of midnight on Black Friday, and I don’t stop until New Year’s Day.  I usually struggle to wait until after Thanksgiving to start listening to Christmas music, and once it starts, it’s pretty much all I’m listening to until December 26th.  And I also spin the dreidel, so you can bet I’ve got a lot of Hanukkah tunes in heavy rotation as well.

I’ve been accumulating holiday music on CD for 25 years, but only in the past couple of years have I started adding to my holiday vinyl collection.  Over the past month, I’ve been highlighting a piece of that collection every day on Instagram, but I decided to make a quick video too.  If you’re interested in seeing my eclectic collection of merry-making tunes, check it out below.

Three Canadian Bands You Should Know, Part 3

There’s an endless supply, I tell you. So many wonderful Canadian artists that aren’t as well known in the US or abroad. Everyone should hear them and have the chance to revel in their beautiful music. And that’s why I’m here, serving up a dish of Canadian music every single week (except last week, when election hell broke loose). Enjoy!