Frankie - Best Coast - Fade Away
I have terrible news; I’ve lost one of my dearest friends to general wear and tear. I’ve discovered my record player is broken. She was a Studebaker model SB605 wooden turntable with AM/FM capabilities, built in speakers I never used, and it even had an auxiliary port. My brother got it for me many moons ago (around this time 5 or 6 years ago). She wasn’t grand, she wasn’t the best model on the market, but she was absolutely the most thoughtful gift he’s ever gotten me. She has lived in every house and apartment I’ve rented since I moved away for college: a grand total of 8 dwellings and even my car one summer, packed away in her original box. To honor her, for my first From the Vinyl Vault post-Death of a Record Player, I’m going to write about the reason I even got her in the first place.
You see, I got my first record before I even had a record player. I met this girl in my freshman dorm; she made great coffee and had the biggest record collection I’d ever seen (I had never really seen anyone’s record collection before, and she had one whole crate full…). I loved learning about her turntable and how to take care of her vinyl. We’d listen to them for hours! Sleater-Kinney, Babes in Toy Land, Pussy Riot, she was a punk, obviously. I started going on outings with her to the local record store, flipping through records, mirroring her. I never bought any though, because I didn’t have a turntable, so I’d occasionally buy a CD or sticker so I wasn’t That Guy that comes in and never buys anything. A couple years into our friendship, my birthday rolls around and she surprises me with my very first vinyl record: Fade Away EP by girl rock duo Best Coast. She tells me it can live with her records until I get my own turntable and I can come listen to it whenever I want. My birthday is in February, and it wouldn’t be until Christmas that same year that I finally ripped the wrapping paper off my first record player, but Fade Away had some serious airtime between the two fateful days.
I absolutely fell in love with Best Coast from the first notes of “This Lonely Morning” and I learned every song by heart in a week. There’s just something about the way a California surf-rock album sounds on vinyl that’s so… right. Especially girl surf-rock! Owning this album opened my eyes and ears to a much broader range of music: one not entirely comprised of male musicians. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the topic of female representation in music and feeling a bit guilty that I haven’t been spending more time tracking down the great female artists that aren’t getting the airtime they deserve. Any time I start feeling under-represented, I turn to Best Coast and it conjures the smell of coffee and the memory of long talks learning about the revolutionary female musicians that my friend so dearly idolized.
Fade Away was the first album to play on my first record player, and I promise it will be the first to play on my next one, just for nostalgia sake. Then immediately after I’ll play any new ones that I will continue buying even though my turntable is out of commission. I usually listen to the subject matter of these articles while I write them, and streaming Best Coast just doesn’t feel right, so I need to get a new one soon!
Michael - Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
My pick of the week is Manchester Orchestra's album A Black Mile to the Surface. This album is an absolute achievement by the indie outfit from Georgia. Led by the smash hit single "The Gold", this album skyrocketed Manchester Orchestra to further mainstream success. However, I want to point out that "The Gold" is one of many great tracks on this album. Among my favorites is "The Moth".
While A Black Mile to the Surface is one of the more recent albums I had the opportunity to obtain, it is one that is in heavy rotation on my record player. I got the album via a seller in Ohio on eBay. Again it's chock full of indie goodness. If you have yet to take a deep dive into it, you really should. Also, if you haven't added it to your vinyl you need to ASAP.