Vinyl love: Cults “Cults”

(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: Cults
Album Title: Cults
Year released: 2011
Year reissued: 2022
Details: Limited edition, 10th anniversary, gold foil, signed

The skinny: Here’s a recent record purchase that illustrates the current state of our vinyl collecting woes. Dream pop duo Cults announced the special edition 10th anniversary pressings of their incredible self-titled debut back in June 2021. I remember thinking the price a bit steep and the projected December delivery date a bit far out but I jumped on it anyways. I had fallen in love with this album back in 2011 and its retro sounding wall of sound escapades. It had been on my vinyl collection wish list for a while and I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen a whiff of it at any of my local record shops. I opted for a the gold foil version and of course, I went for the signed option, given that it wouldn’t cost me anything more. I had nearly forgotten about ordering it when last Christmas rolled around but then, I saw an update on their Instagram account explaining how it was wildly delayed. I completely understood and went on with my holidays. Later news was that it would be delivered in February but then that month sailed by without further updates. I checked in with the online shop in April and was told it was pressed but no shipping date had yet been provided. The band finally received them in June, nearly a year after the reissues were initially announced, and I got mine near the end of July. No harm, no foul, because as you can see, it’s lovely. But between you and me, with the rising costs of these things, the delays, and delivery charges, my purchasing has slowed to a crawl this year.

Standout track: “Go outside”


Best tunes of 2013: #28 John Grant “Pale green ghosts”

<< #29    |    #27 >>

I’ve said it before on these pages and I’ll likely say it again. The lot of the opening act is a tough gig.

At the risk of dating myself here*, I’ve been going to see live music for almost three decades now and pretty much for every show to which I’ve ever been, I’ve arrived early enough to catch the lion’s share of, if not the entire set by the opening act. And I’ve been rewarded with some excellent performances for my efforts. I’ve discovered way more great bands in this way than I have had to suffer through forgettable sets. In some cases, I’ve even walked away from shows having been more impressed by the opening act.**

My practice these days, as it has been ever since music streaming has become a thing, is actually to sample the opening artist’s wares in advance of the gig and if it sounds promising, give it a proper chance to sink in beforehand. Such was the case back in the early spring of 2014, when I purchased tickets to see Elbow playing at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. I made it a point to check out the latest album by the solo artist starting things off.

I had never heard tell of American singer-songwriter John Grant before, nor had I heard of the alternative rock band that he had fronted for over a decade called The Czars. He had just released his sophomore album the year before, recorded with one half of electronic duo GusGus, it was apparently a bit of a departure from his first solo album. The opening track is of the same name as the album title and is the stark wake up call one would think it might be to long-time listeners.

“Pale green ghosts must take great care,
Release themselves into the air
Reminding me that I must be aware”

It is six minutes of rumbling tribal beats run through all kinds of digital distortion and augmented by bleats of synthesized horns blown by heartless robots. It is suffocating and intense and harrowing. And through it all is jaunty John Grant singing breathlessly and with purpose but in that whiplash-inducing voice that is inescapable and that commands such a presence. What a voice indeed.

*It’s probably too late.

**I made a playlist a couple of years ago inspired by all the great opening acts I’ve seen.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2013 list, click here.

Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Julien Baker [2018]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Julien Baker live in Toronto, 2018

Artist: Julien Baker
When: August 4th, 2018
Where: Fort York Commons, Toronto
Context: It’s hard to believe that only four years have passed since the summer of 2018. Indeed, it feels like a millennia has flown by since those days but I guess the calendar doesn’t lie. That particular summer, I forewent the usual big festival pass at both Ottawa Bluesfest and Montreal’s Osheaga in favour of a couple of smaller lineup shows in Toronto that boasted some pretty great fare. The first was Arts & Crafts’ annual June weekend, Field Trip. And the second was a stacked card headlined by The National at the height of summer, that also included Father John Misty, Jenny Lewis, Julien Baker, and Dan Edmonds. My friend Mark and I spent the afternoon beforehand sampling the wares on the patio of Bellwoods Brewery. After being satisfied that all their beers were good products, we ambled down to the lawn of the Old Fort York historic site just in time to catch the back end of the opening act’s set. Julien Baker was on next and I had definitely wanted to catch the whole of her set given my successful explorations of the two albums she had released to that point. She was only supported by violinist Camille Faulkner but her stage presence and honesty had me (and a boatload of others) rapt on that warm August afternoon. I became a fan in that 30-40 minutes. Of course, Baker has become much bigger since then, partially because of her association with Phoebe Bridger and Lucy Dacus and partially because of her incredible third record, “Little oblivions”, released in 2021 and will now likely be a bigger draw at future festivals.  For this, I am thankful I got to see such an “intimate” performance.
Point of reference song: Appointments

Julien Baker
Camille Faulkner on violin
Julien Baker looking cool in shades
Julien and Camille entertaining the early evening crowd