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From the Vinyl Vault - 5/2/19

Frankie - Secret Stuff and Sundressed - 7" Split Vinyl

This week I decided to spend a little time appreciating my small collection of 7” vinyl. One I love dearly and don’t spin nearly enough is this sweet, colorful little split by Secret Stuff and Sundressed. Secret Stuff is a band supplying “Tasty Nashville Emo” (as one of their shirts boasts) to bars and basements all over the country. Sundressed hails from Phoenix Arizona, and their indie punk sound is jam packed with huge melodies and sweet, sorrowful choruses. Both bands are weathered veterans of the DIY scene.

This split came out in 2016 and is only four songs long; two songs from each band designated to their own side. The bands developed the split to commemorate a tour they would set out on together that summer that would take them from the Midwest out to the west coast. Secret Stuff kicks off side A with the melancholy little love letter humorously titled “Ew, You Taste Like Cigarettes” and heads straight into the homesick number “You Betcha, Pal” that remains painfully emo while still capturing that twangy guitar almost required of a band that calls Nashville home. Sundressed fills out the b-side with their energetic and insightful song “Autopilot” that tells of all those classic 20-something feelings and includes and saucy little guitar melody and the sort of echoing hook I associate with some pop-punk bands. Their second song “Best of Worst of (Acoustic)” is a softer side of this youthful punk group; an introspective number equipped with another massive hook, even for an acoustic song.

I saw Secret Stuff (well, one of them, I’m not sure which one) in a garage basement in Athens, Ohio when my friends that leased the place considered themselves amateur DIY venue managers. To be honest, they did have one of the better setups I saw while going to house shows there (if any members of the defunct Mooney Tyson are reading this, I love and miss you all). Secret Stuff was touring with Hodera that summer, and I believe I bought one of everything at the merch table. Through various events, I’ve lost some of that merch, but what remains is that shirt I mentioned previously (a tie-dye t-shirt also boasting the likeness of a certain breakfast food establishment’s logo) and this pretty little variant. They pressed this EP in three different versions; Arizona was pressed 200 times on aqua blue/bright yellow half-and-half with red splatter on the yellow half, Tennessee was pressed 200 times on aqua blue/white swirl with red splatter, and Washington was pressed 100 times on cyan blue/ transparent yellow/ transparent green triple swirl. I have the Arizona variant, which I think is the most striking variant personally.

Sundressed put out another split with the group Nominee in June of last year, and posted a new single “Heart Lie” to Spotify in March this year. They are currently touring with Hearts Like Lions. Secret Stuff put out the single “2828” last April.


Michael - Hello June - Hello June

I cannot begin to tell you excited I was when I came home yesterday and saw a box with a vinyl in it on my porch. I was ecstatic because my copy of Hello June's 2018 self-titled album had arrived! For months I have been listening to Hello June in all of it's glory on Spotify and that's great. But there's just a difference between digital and vinyl. I'm so excited to give it a spin. When I listen to this album, I never listen to one song in isolation, I almost always start at "Mars" and strap myself in for the journey to "Handshakes" (the last song on the album for the uninitiated).

So what's so great about Hello June? Well there are elements of their sound that are simply fantastic. Sarah Rudy's guitar work has a presence and a dynamic to it that reminds me of Robert Smith's guitar style from The Cure. Especially in her utilization of effects. This at the same time while having a flavor that evokes alt-rock and alt-country stylings. Rudy's vocals are instantaneously recognizable and unique from anyone else on the alt scene right now. They perfectly complement the style of music that her and Whit Alexander create together. Alexander's drumming is methodical, it's patient, and it's supportive of the overall melody. He knows how to create a tempo to fit the type of melody Hello June is going for, some of his beats are more alt-country oriented, whereas others lean more alt-rock or indie.

So that's a lot about their style, but what about the songs? Well, I personally enjoy them all but there are a few I want to highlight. "Problem" is an alt-country jam that is reminiscent of a Neil Young, Son Volt, or Jason Isbell track. It has a hint of twang to it, but overarching elements of rock as well. Judy's vocals delicately balance with the melody in this one to produce an end product that is heartbreaking and awe-inspiring simultaneously. If you can't tell, it's my absolute favorite track on the album. "Mars" has a bit more of an indie feel to it. Here we get some of those Robert Smith guitar stylings I was talking about earlier. Alexander's drums also keep a nice tempo that pushes us into the indie realm. Rudy and Alexander make great use of musical pauses in this track to build anticipation and allow Rudy's vocals to shine.

To conclude, I'll touch on "Handshakes". This song sits squarely in the alt camp as far as genre goes. Rudy and Alexander build a beautifully-paced track through their melody and Rudy's vocals. The song keeps an even pace throughout most of the track, not too slow or fast. But it certainly builds, it's a slow burner of sorts until right about the 3:30 mark where we get a breakdown with some great guitar work and complimenting drums, before the beat picks up. Rudy has an awesome solo almost 5:00 minutes into the track that is celebrated and elevated by Alexander's drumming, it helps make the solo feel more important, all before the song concludes.

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