Vinyl love: Lush “Split”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Lush
Album Title: Split
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2016
Details: red vinyl, disc three in limited Origami box set, Record Store Day 2016 release, limited to 2000

The skinny: I’m posting this, the third disc and third part of a series featuring the pieces of previous Record Store Day purchase, just as I am preparing to wade out into the madness for more this morning. In my opinion and it’s likely an unpopular one, Lush’s second album “Split” was their best. The album served as a transition piece in their too short, three studio album recording career, bridging the gap between the dream pop influence of Robin Guthrie in “Spooky” (and their early EPs collected on “Gala”) and the Britpop exuberance of their final album, “Lovelife” (which we’ll see next weekend). It’s also very possible that the slightly edgier tendencies found here could have been rooted in their touring with the who’s who of American alternative as part of the Lollapalooza festival two years earlier. All this and the top notch work by Alan Moulder add up to an excellent album. 4AD pressed this third piece of the Origami box set to brilliant red, oft the colour of frontwoman Miki Berenyi’s hair. Yup.

Standout track: “Desire lines”

Best tunes of 2012: #22 Family Of The Year “Hero”

<< #23    |    #21 >>

Family of the Year was formed in California in 2009 by brothers Joe and Sebastian Keefe, as well as James Buckey, who were all veterans of the Boston alt-rock music scene in the late 90s. California native Christina Schroeter joined the group not long after, solidifying the indie folk band’s roster and adding her female vocals to give the group its trademark harmonies. A debut album called “Our songbook” appeared almost immediately after their formation, suggesting that material had been percolating for a while, and then, their major label debut was launched three years later. “Loma Vista” was actually my introduction to them (and still the only album by them in my collection) and this meeting came a year after its release, in 2013, because they were slated to play the local summer music festival (remember those?) and they piqued my interest.

Family of the Year’s set was quite amazing and the album got a lot more play after I saw them than it did beforehand. I especially fell in love with the single “Hero”, a track that had been released earlier, albeit as a shorter and not nearly as finely realized version. This song was then used for the trailer and as de facto theme song for Richard Linklater film, “Boyhood”, in 2014 and became a hit of sorts for Family of the Year. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the film but it’s a long one, following the protagonist throughout his formative years. What makes this coming of age flick different from the rest, though, is that it was filmed real-time as the actor (and his co-stars) aged through those same formative years, making the pay off at the end all the more worthwhile. The film also imbued the song with more meaning for me, burnishing the protagonist of the song’s reluctance to stand out, and dancing all emotional and heroic in spite of himself.

“So let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
Just wanna fight with everyone else”

“Hero” pulls into you tightly with its jangly arpeggiating plucking on the acoustic guitar, the light brushing on the snares, and the way each eases their way out of the ether. Synth washes are just there, like the flickering shadows just beyond the reach of the campfire, and then, just at the song’s apex, comes a touch of electric guitar, but more as support than overpowering force. The rest of the band joins Joe Keefe here, singing as a crowd, cheerful and uplifting. And then, the song ends as it began, quiet and acoustic, leaving a slight but definite smile on your face as the last note fades.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Lush “Spooky”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Lush
Album Title: Spooky
Year released: 1992
Year reissued: 2016
Details: grey vinyl, disc two in limited Origami box set, Record Store Day 2016 release, limited to 2000

The skinny: Last weekend, I started off this series within a series, sharing glimpses of the first piece in the Lush “Origami” box set, their 1990 compilation LP, “Gala“. The focus of this week’s instalment is the influential English shoegaze quartet’s debut album from 1992, “Spooky”. Much like a bunch of the material on last week’s album, this one was produced by Robin Guthrie, guitarist from Cocteau Twins, another highly influential band in the dream pop world, and whose touch obviously informed a lot of Lush’s early days. 4AD chose to press this particular album to grey vinyl, very much in keeping with the feel and beautiful artwork of the album. “Spooky” isn’t my favourite Lush record (though I know many for whom it is), but I really appreciate its sound and mood and it is home to the song below, my introduction to the group and number twelve on my Best tunes of 1992 list.

Standout track: “For love”