Vinyl love: Secret Machines “Ten silver drops”

(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: Secret Machines
Album Title: Ten silver drops
Year released: 2006
Year reissued: 2019
Details: gatefold, 2 x 180 gram, expanded deluxe, limited to 1227 copies, numbered 970

The skinny: Last week, I posted about “Now here is nowhere“, the very excellent debut album by Secret Machines, and the pressing by Run Out Groove vinyl that I couldn’t help but purchase for my collection when it was announced. As I mentioned there, Run Out Groove is a label that solicits votes from music fans on its website for three options each month and the potential reissue with the most votes gets a limited run based on the amount of advanced orders. Well, Secret Machines’ fans must be a rabid bunch because Run Out Groove has already done three pressings from the band in the label’s short history: the aforementioned debut, a rare live record, and this sophomore record, “Ten silver drops”. I’ve read the complaints about the low volume levels on the mastering for this pressing but that doesn’t bother me at all. It just needs to be cranked and it sounds amazing. And yeah, “Ten silver drops” is an album that demands to be cranked.

Standout track: “Lightning blue eyes”

Vinyl love: Secret Machines “Now here is nowhere”

(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: Secret Machines
Album Title: Now here is nowhere
Year released: 2004
Year reissued: 2017
Details: gatefold, 2 x 180 gram, clear with silver swirl, clear with red swirl, limited 1625 copies, numbered 1239

The skinny: Just over a week ago, Brandon Curtis’s Secret Machines came out with a new album, their first in 12 years and first since the death of the frontman’s brother and ex-bandmate Benjamin. I had only heard news of this release a few weeks before, just enough time to get suitably excited. I had loved the neo-space/prog rock of the band’s first two albums and was only slightly disappointed by the sole release (up to now) after Benjamin’s departure. “Awake in the brain chamber” is an excellent new album and immediately got me thinking about their other work. So I dug out “Now here is nowhere”, the band’s very excellent debut, to take for a spin. This pressing was done by Run Out Groove Vinyl, a label that releases special edition vinyl reissues as voted by fans. ROGV-008 is pressed to two 180-gram slabs, clear with swirls, both a different colour, numbered, and artwork lovingly redone on a gatefold sleeve. It sounds just awesome, rocking and droning for days.

Standout track: “The road leads where it’s led”

Best tunes of 2012: #27 The Dandy Warhols “I am free”

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When The Dandy Warhols last graced these pages, it was September in 2017 and they were hitting up the number two spot on my Best tunes of 2000 list with the very, very excellent, “Bohemian like you”. I wrote in that post how I saw them live before I had properly become familiar with their music but was so enthused by their set that I purchased “Thirteen tales from urban bohemia” on CD a few years later, without first hearing a note. The rest was history, I suppose. I bought “Welcome to the monkey house” when it came out in 2003, watched the 2004 documentary “Dig!”, and went back to explore their 1990s output. It seemed to me that I had found a new favourite band – I’ve had many over the years – but then, the Dandies went through a period where their excesses were allowed to overflow their bubbling cauldron. I couldn’t get into their 2005 album, “Odditorium or warlords of mars”, at all, and ditto for its successor, 2008’s “…Earth to the Dandy Warhols…”. I moved on.

The Portland, Oregon based alternative rock quartet were relatively quiet for the next bunch of years, their only musical releases being an alternate version of “Monkey house” (called “The Dandy Warhols are sound”) that came out in 2009 and ‘best of’ compilation released by their old label just before they parted ways with them in 2010. There were murmurs of a new album in 2011 when frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor joked about potential album titles while on tour. However, when “This machine” was finally launched in the spring of 2012, it came upon me as a surprise. Being the forgiving sort that I am, I gave it a spin and it ended up being featured on my old blog, Music Insanity, as one of my favourite releases of the month.

For this album, The Dandy Warhols opted for a simpler, ‘stripped down’ approach and for me, it felt a lot less excessive and a lot more palatable. “I am free”, for example, contrives to sneak up to some of their early singles and rival them in the ear worm category. The jumping and reverberating guitar line by Peter Holmström deserves a true guitar rock god stance, legs spread wide and axe held aloft. Brent De Boer pounds the drums and Zia McCabe holds the bass line steady and true. Taylor-Taylor, of course, fronts it all with his usual tongue in cheek attitude, his laidback, slacking delivery giving it just the right vibe. And when the horns kick in at the end, it doesn’t even feel like they’re crowding themselves into an already packed room. It feels effortless and easy.

Yeah. “I am free” is easily my favourite song on the album but it is by no means the only good track. To me, it was like a comeback of sorts, a righting of the ship, a beginning of a new course that followed the band through the string of their next bunch of albums.

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