International Party Mix

It’s that time of year again. Time for the 16th Annual Post-Holiday Holiday part at the Life in the Vinyl Lane house. We put on this shindig every January and invite our friends over to eat and drink their fill. And, as we’ve done for the last 10 or so years, we also made an official party CD as a give away for those who stop by. This year we’re going with a sort of travel theme to the festivities, so the 16 artists on the CD are all from different countries. Here’s what we put together:

1. “Pale Green Ghost” – John Grant (USA)
2. “Storm” – Django Django (Scotland)
3. “Iso Pasi” – Lama (Finland)
4. “Amidinine” – Bombino (Niger)
5. “Don’t Mess” – Juvelen (Sweden)
6. “Feel Like You Should” – Shiny Darkly (Denmark)
7. “Hand of Law” – Radio Birdman (Australia)
8. “Egu Szot Se Szoij” – Sarolta Zalatnay (Hungary)
9. “Gleipnir” – Skálmöld (Iceland)
10. “Dynamite” – Jamiroquai (England)
11. “Manhattan Skyline” – A-ha (Norway)
12. “Wenu Wenu” – Omar Souleyman (Syria)
13. “Top of the World” – Shonen Knife (Japan)
14. “Mission a Paris” – Gruppo Sportivo (Netherlands)
15. “O mundo é já aqui” – OVO (Portugal)
16. “Someone Says” – Casino Royale (Italy)

We think it’s a pretty cool mix, so we’re excited to hear what our guests think.

But for now, I have to get back to some serious party prep.

Record Store Day 2013

I have a love/hate relationship with Record Store Day. I love that so much cool stuff is released on vinyl – from the re-releases to the limited edition versions on colored vinyl, different formats, rare b-sides, you name it, I get excited to see all of this coming out on vinyl. It’s a huge boon for indie record stores as the crowds waiting in line attest to. The selection is deep, and it’s fun.

But I hate waiting in insanely long lines, and perhaps even more so I really hate all the jostling and overall poor behavior as people try to get their hands on items as if they were starving and reaching for a loaf of bread. Let’s get it straight – these are just records. They’re completely unnecessary. But from the looks of some rabid collectors foaming at the mouth you’d think a life or death struggle was underway. The stores could perhaps do more to control this, but they’re outmanned – you’ve got a small number of employees who still have to do normal employee stuff, a relatively small amount of space and product, and a big group of people. Mind you, only a handful are truly unruly or rude, but it can certainly sour the experience. This isn’t the fault of Record Store Day, or even of the stores; this is more a comment on our society.

So… it was with some trepidation that we decided to head out to West Seattle to hit up Easy Street Records, which was opening its doors at the ridiculous hour of 7AM. I had one item on atop my want list – the re-release of Mad Season‘s one and only album Above, a limited edition pressing (of 5,000) with a few new tracks sung by Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees. I figured my chances of getting it were 50/50 – Easy Street was having Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready (former member of Mad Season) in for a signing later in the day, so I figured they’d secured a decent number of copies. But I wasn’t planning on waiting in line to get in, so we got there around 7:30AM and I headed upstairs.

The vinyl section was a bit of a madhouse, but not terrible. Unfortunately, however, the Record Store Day section was packed and those in the area were informing everyone around that Above was totally gone. Some guy right next to me somehow found a random copy that made it into the Miscellaneous M section to my immense dismay, as I figured I was SOL at this point. But then… about 10 minutes later, while I was still trying to shoulder my way into the RSD section, an Easy Street Employee next to me opened up a cardboard box and shouted, “Who wants Mad Season? I got Mad Season!” Bam! I managed to get ahold of a copy, and it made the whole thing worth it. While there I picked up a copy of the Bombino 10″ (edition of 3,000) and a newly released Soundgarden 10″ and got into line… where I slowly, over the course of an hour (no exaggeration), made my way to the register. Along the way Holly and I chatted with a few people around us (one of who told us he arrived at 5AM… and was the 20th person in line, two hours before the store opened) and picked up a few CDs as we weaved through the aisles, most notably the new Depeche Mode and a three CD box set of early Wipers albums, plus a vinyl copy of The Zombies that someone evidently didn’t want and just put down randomly. Knowing I had my copy of Above, plus the good company, made the wait tolerable, and overall the haul was a good one.

We were going to head down to Hi-Voltage in Tacoma next, but I already had my top three items, and a quick check of Facebook showed that the line waiting to get into Hi-Voltage was long, so we skipped it and headed back to Bellevue so Holly could run some errands and I could check out Silver Platters. It was a lot less crowded there, and I picked up a few more decent items – a PiL 7″ (edition of 2,200), the Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe” 7″ (edition of 3,000), a Factory Records 10″ featuring Joy Division and New Order (edition of 1,000), and a sweet box set of Scientific Dub on three 10″ records, none of which I saw at Easy Street. From there we made a quick stop on the way home at our truly local shop, Vortex, and while they didn’t have any RSD titles I wanted, I did find a used copy of Black Flag’s Jealous Again in the “New Arrivals” section, so it certainly wasn’t a wasted stop.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff after just having returned from Reykjavik with a huge pile of vinyl and CDs, but RSD only comes around once a year and I knew I’d be sorry if I missed it. I sort of lucked out in getting my hands on a copy of Above, but that’s the way it works sometimes. So now I have an even bigger backlog of vinyl to listen to… so I suspect the blog posts will be coming fast and furious over the next few months. Stay tuned!

Bombino – “Nomad” (2013)

“This sounds like Bob Dylan meets Bob Marley.”

That was Holly’s observation just after we flipped over to side B of Bombino’s latest release, Nomad. I’d been racking my brain trying to come up with the appropriate name to finish the sentence, “Bombino is like the Tuareg [insert famous awesome guitarist here].” But who was the the right guitarist? Santana? Joe Satriani? Nigel Tufnel? Then it dawned on me that Bombino isn’t really like any other guitarist I’ve ever heard before, and that is part of his greatness.

The 33 year old musician was born Omara Moctar to the Tuareg people in Nigeria, though he spent his formative years in Algeria when his family moved there to escape warfare in his native land, and it was there that he first picked up a guitar. He brings a style to the guitar that is kind of unique to our American ears – it doesn’t sound Western, nor is it what we normally associate with “Eastern” sounds like those that influenced Jimmy Page as his career progressed. Bombino is somewhere in the middle… and somewhere different all together. He’s got a unique style, a solid backing band, and vocals that carry a different cadence than what we’re used to, and it all comes together well. Nomad Is his third studio album and has been getting a lot of positive press, and deservedly so.

I’m always on the look out for something different. Something familiar but done in a different way and with a unique style. And Bombino does that on Nomad with the electric guitar. I suspect we’ll be hearing more from him in the future, and I for one am glad.