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Vinyl

Vinyl love (revisited): The Decemberists “Picaresque”

(I started my Vinyl Love posts pretty much right after the launch of this blog to share photos of my growing vinyl collection. Over time, the photos have improved and the explanations have grown. And looking back at a handful of the original posts in this series, I found myself wanting to re-do some of them so that the posts are more worthy of those great albums. So that’s what I’ll be doing every once in a while, including today…)

Artist: The Decemberists
Album Title: Picaresque
Year released: 2005
Year reissued: 2015
Details: Gatefold sleeve, 2 x 180 gram, Red translucent vinyl, 10th anniversary, Limited edition, side ‘D’ includes “Picaresqueties EP”, Record Store Day 2015 exclusive, coloured booklet, postcards

The skinny: On Saturday April 18, 2015, I ventured downtown early in the morning and lined up in front of Vertigo Records at their old location on Rideau Street. It was probably the first and last time I ever got myself out of bed early for Record Store Day and incidentally, it was (I think) the last time that Vertigo participated in the RSD festivities. I met my friend Jennifer in line and we passed the time in conversation, waiting for the store to open, for our turn to enter, and to locate the RSD exclusives on our respective wish lists. As luck would have it, the store still had enough copies of this special edition, 10th anniversary pressing of The Decemberists’ third album, “Picaresque”, for both of us, so we both went home happy. This album is not only my favourite by the band but also perhaps one of my favourites of all time. Why? A title taken from a style of fiction writing. Fun hummable songs with diverse sounds. The same literate songwriting we’d come to expect from their first two albums. Stories ranging from failed high school sports careers, romantic trysts with spies, star-crossed lovers, and of course, a vengeance that is finally taken within the belly of a whale. And this reissue is an example of how they all should be done, coloured 180 gram vinyl, including a bonus EP filled with rarities, a full colour booklet, and really, just plenty of extra stuff. This is a treasure.

Standout track: “The mariner’s revenge song”

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Vinyl

Vinyl love: Weezer “Weezer”

(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: Weezer
Album Title: Weezer
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2016
Details: Mobile Fidelity, limited edition, numbered 011775, 180 gram, transparent blue

The skinny: Just over three weeks ago, fellow blogger Super Dekes over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock posted a review of Weezer’s self-titled album (also widely-known as ‘the Blue album’) and mentioned how he had finally gotten a copy of it on vinyl the previous summer. Coincidentally, I had tracked down a vinyl copy of it myself that very week and when I told Deke so, he suggested I also write a review. Well, I figured one of my ‘Vinyl love’ posts would work just as well, so here we are. I actually saw Weezer live before I heard this album. They opened for shoe gazers Lush at Toronto’s Warehouse in the summer ’94 and at the time, I was only vaguely aware of “The sweater song”. Nonetheless, I was blown away by their set – all crunchy guitars and Beach Boys harmonies – and told Rivers Cuomo as much when I spotted him at the merch table. A friend of mine in university later dubbed a copy of the album for me to cassette and I played the hell out of it. This debut is still Weezer’s most successful piece of music in my books, a classic, and though I spent a few dollars more than did Deke, it was well worth it to procure this limited edition Mobile Fidelity release. They do such a great job all round, what with the remastering, the pressing, and the immaculate packaging. Splendid.

Standout track: “The world has turned and left me here”

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Vinyl

Vinyl love: Levellers “Levellers”

(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: Levellers
Album Title: Levellers
Year released: 1993
Year reissued: 2018
Details: 2 x LP, orange vinyl, includes bonus live disc

The skinny: After last week’s Vinyl Love post, this one seemed like a no-brainer. Levellers’ 1991 album, “Levelling the land“, resonated with me so deeply and became so ingrained in my soul that when a new album was released a couple of years later, in 1993, of course I was going to buy it. And it was love at first listen for me. It had all the hallmarks that made their previous record such a mainstay in my collection: the passion, the politics, and the fiddle. Levellers’ self-titled, third album is one my favourite out of all of the band’s releases and so when they decided to release a bunch of their albums on coloured vinyl back in 2018, this is the one for which I was on the hunt. Like last week’s focus, this reissue includes a bonus disc of a live recording of the album, though, it’s not as successful and likely won’t get very many spins on my turntable. Nonetheless, “Levellers” is a welcome addition to my vinyl collection, not just for the nostalgia but also for the interesting, alternate mixes to some of the songs.

Standout track: “This garden”