Frankie - The Head and the Heart: The Head and the Heart
Another Record Store Day has come and passed, and I know several people that claimed they spent way too much money, but we truly cannot control ourselves. I picked up a few things from my local record store on Saturday, but one I am cherishing a little more than the others right now wasn’t even a RSD 2019 release. In fact, the album in question made its grand entrance into the vinyl LP world on Record Store Day back in 2011 and I managed to get my hands on this dusty first pressing. The Head and the Heart exploded onto the indie folk scene back in 2011 with a self-titled, self-released and self-burned CD in hand-made denim sleeves that immediately caught the attention of Sub Pop records, who promptly swept the band into a studio to put finishing touches on the record and put it out for the masses. It is one of my absolute favorite albums due to its simple but massive harmonies that make it enjoyable to listen and sing along to.
The first song I heard from this album was “Rivers and Roads” which wont surprise any fan of the band of album, as it is one of their most well known song and is frequently performed as the last song in their sets. I love how lonesome and melancholy the song begins with just a guitar and the voice of lead male vocalist Josiah Johnson, and is met a far away harmony of the line “but I miss your face like hell” by lead female vocalist Charity Thielen. My good friend Matthew Vinson showed me the song during a study session for a stats class we met in freshman year of college and we would often attempt to match the angelic harmonies. Matt now tours with the folk trio CAAMP as their bassist, and performs original music under the moniker The Wonderfool.
“Down in the Valley” is a close second favorite of mine. The imagery dredged up by the lyrics, a plea for a simpler life and returning to your roots, reminds me of my parents home in the MOV where I grew up resenting the small town lifestyle but look back on fondly now. Other songs I love from the album include “Sounds Like Hallelujah” and “Ghosts.” I picked up this album from Spoonful records here in Columbus, Ohio. I look forward to collecting more albums by this band and broadening my indie-folk collection in general as well!
Michael - Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center
Record Store Day 2019 was good to me. I got a record that I have been on the hunt for for a while. The special orange edition of Better Oblivion Community Center's self-titled LP! When Better Oblivion Community Center appeared out of seemingly nowhere I was overjoyed, as I am an unabashed Phoebe Bridgers fanatic (if you've been reading this long enough this is no surprise to you). I also am a fan of Conor Oberst's work both lyrically and vocally. When I first heard that the pairing was happening it was so unexpected to me that I wasn't sure what to expect. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.
The day the album dropped, I listened to it from start to finish multiple times throughout the day and couldn't get enough of it's mixture of alt and folk stylings. What especially stuck out to me was how well Bridgers and Oberst shared the limelight vocally. The songs and portions of songs where it was decided for one to sing over the other always seemed perfect. And the harmonies, damn they had me hook, line, and sinker with their homemade harmonies (Ya'll know I'm a sucker for good harmonies).
Some of my favorite tracks from the album include "Service Road" because of Bridgers and Oberst's use of harmony. "Didn't Know What I Was in For" is a masterfully written song that features such a strong chorus both lyrically and vocally. I enjoy "Dylan Thomas" and it has seemed to catch on with alt radio stations as well as the hit from the album. "Chesapeake" is another tour de force of harmonization. It also features great arraignments musically, particularly when the chords shift down in tone. Also, the keys are great on this one. Simply put, there's not a song that drags on the album, it's best to just start at the top and let it rip. I got this copy of Better Oblivion Community Center from Hybrid Records in Corpus Christi, Texas.