From the Vinyl Vault - 4/25/19
Frankie - mr. Gnome: Heave Yer Skeleton
If you know anything about me at all, then you know I’m insatiable for the strange, the cacophonous, and especially the theatrical. Heave Yer Skeleton by mr. Gnome meets all these standards and more. Heave Yer Skeleton is the Cleveland duo’s second full-length album, out in 2009, and is one of the most bizarre listens I’ve ever obtained. Comprised of couple Nicole Barrile on vocals and guitar and Sam Meister on backing vocals and drums, you would think the sheer amount of sound this band puts out to be a full orchestra of instruments, but is in fact the well-rehearsed discordance of a couple completely in tune with each other. Barrile’s vocals can suddenly and alarmingly switch from a sweet lonely crooning melody of a siren luring a sailor out to sea to a sharp yelping that is frequently backed by Meister’s eerie baritone. All in all, the sound is one I associate with those dreams you wake up from but cant quite recant but still leave you in a cold sweat when you try to remember them.
The theatricality I mentioned comes into play in their utterly bizarre and captivating music videos. One of my favorite songs from the album “Vampires” is accompanied by one such video. Trying to explain it in words makes me sound absolutely off my rocker, because the only phrases I can use to describe it are “cocaine sniffing vampires” and “terrifying children’s productions.” I implore you to give all 10 menacing minutes of it a watch and don’t look away no matter how strange you find it, but warning that it is not for the squeamish. The music video is directed and edited by Meister and actually features music from the songs “Vampires,” “Fly Me Over,” and “Cleveland Polka” all by mr. Gnome.
I purchased my pressing of Heave Yer Skeleton off discogs.com as soon as I discovered one available for sale. The all black pressing is still available via the mr. Gnome website, but where is the fun in that? I wanted something more fun than that, so when I found the 2012 marble pressing for sale, I couldn’t stop myself. When it finally arrived, I was excited to discover that the seller had listed the wrong version for sale and I actually received the first-pressing magenta version! mr. Gnome isn’t for everyone, but it might strike you as intriguing if you’re willing to give it a critical listen.
Michael - Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice
This is one of my newest additions to my record collection and if you've been reading this site for a while, you know I've got nothing but love for this album. That's because I did a deep dive into this album on an edition of All That Glitters is Gold my discussion here will not nearly be as in-depth as that one was.
What I want to say is that I think that Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile are two of alt's most uniquely talented singer/songwriters putting out music. And man are they prolific at doing it. Barnett and Vile share songwriting duties on this album, just as they share vocals. What's fantastic is that for having two of the most distinct vocal styles in alt, Barnett and Vile mix extremely well. I have always seen Barnett and Vile's style as distinct from others on the alt scene, but similar to one another. So when they made an album together, I was jazzed. I also still sincerely believe that if Alt Revue had been in existence in 2017, this would have been my album of the year.
With that being said, I got this copy of Lotta Sea Lice from my wife as a random gift :), (those are always the best kind). I have seen Kurt Vile in concert once and he was fantastic. I'm excited to say I will be seeing him again in November playing with another band I have seen before Dinosaur Jr.! I have yet to see Courtney Barnett live, which is on my alt bucket list. Unfortunately for me, the last time she came through Texas, I wasn't available to see her. Here's hoping to next time. If you haven't checked out either Barnett or Vile, this is a fun place to start before exploring their individual discographies. I would highly recommend it.