Welcome to the revamped From the Vinyl Vault where each week Frankie and Michael will share a record from their collections and talk about its importance to them and alt music! Let's get started!
The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die (TWIABP) - Whenever, If Ever (2013) - Frankie
I’ve never had an album fill me with dread and joy the way Whenever, If Ever can when I drop the needle on the first track. It is the debut full-length album from Connecticut collective The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, frequently abbreviated to TWIABP to save breath and space on marquees.
TWIABP started up in 2009, and has been ever evolving since. They arose with the wave of emo-revival and legitimized the genre with their unapologetic bleeding-heart lyrics and constantly cacophonous instrumentation. With a massive rotating roster of musicians coming and going, TWIABP is more of a community than a band. They currently stand at six members, but I have seen them perform live with as many as 12.
TWIABP was signed with Topshelf Records (currently Epitaph Records), joining a lineup that includes other emo greats such as Everyone Everywhere, The Jazz June, and A Great Big Pile of Leaves. With lyrics alluding to inside jokes we will never understand, and instrumental harmonization that only comes from knowing the musicians around you as well as you know yourself, the album is even more a self contained force, as it was also produced by the bands very own Chris Teti, and was partially recorded at Silver Bullet Studios, which he is now the co-owner of. There is no real front man or woman to note, because almost everyone in the band contributes to vocals and song writing. One voice that stands out the most to me, however, is that of David Bello, who joined the band just before the recording of Whenever, If Ever in 2013. David Bello hails from Parkersburg, WV, just across the river from where I grew up, and that fact is the reason I picked up this album in the first place.
The lyrics, printed on the inner sleeve of my pressing, spin imagery of what its like to tour and make a home out of wherever you are, to loss and suffering as a group and individually, and how to come out on the other side alive and kind of okay. Much like you might assume from the name of the band, the lyrics are a journey and an encouragement to keep going, no matter what. The first song with lyrics, “Heartbeat in the Brain” ends with the line “It’s shouldn’t feel like this if everyone belongs here,” but the album is wound up at the end in lines from the final track Getting Sodas “The world is a beautiful place but we have to make it that way. Whenever you find home we’ll make it more than just a shelter. And if everyone belongs there it will hold us all together. If you’re afraid to die, then so am I.” These members have found home and family amongst their ranks, and they’ve found a reason to keep living, to keep creating.
In the right dive bar, with the right sound guy, there isn’t a greater live show than TWIABP crowded on stage in a maze of drums and chords, rugs and classical instruments. From the very beginning and throughout, you are accosted by constant noise. Songs will seem to carve themselves out of the myriad of sound into a recognizable tune, you’ll sing and nod along, and when the song ends, and members begin changing stations or tuning, still the sound continues. So fluidly do they transition from tuning to tune. In the five times I’ve seen them live, the thing that stands out to me most is vocalist David Bello, not usually at the forefront but standing amongst his comrades in the thick of it, swaying, eyes closed, hands clasped in front of him as if in prayer. This is his church, his congregation.
I picked up my pressing of Whenever, If Ever at Haffa’s Records in Athens, Ohio, now sadly closed and turned into a flower shop. It is pressed on yellow vinyl, but can only be found in black on their merch site. It might be hidden in a little record store near you!
Radiohead - The Bends (1995) - Michael
I'd always been a music fan, I was raised to be this way by my Mom. As a young boy I would sing every word (and sometimes the instrumentation and solos) to a wide variety of music that was beyond my years from Motown classics, to Elton John, and even Creedence Clearwater Revival. This all corresponded with my Mom's era of music and I loved it and still love and appreciate it to this day. My brothers and I discovered other music when I was younger such as Metallica, Warren G., and Green Day. But never did I discover a band for myself that shook me to my very core like Radiohead did. This was my first true blue alternative love and without it, there might not be an Alt Revue and I might listen to shitty music in some weird alternate universe. When people think of the Radiohead album that transformed their lives, they tend to think OK Computer, for me it was their sophomore release The Bends.
I had never heard anything like this before. I remember Johnny Greenwood's screeching guitars on the title track immediately drawing me in and Thom Yorke's vocals on "Fake Plastic Trees" were like nothing I had heard before, (though now they are often imitated but never duplicated). I would listen to the album repeatedly and never miss a song.
There were two songs that especially impacted me and remain to this day my #1 and #2 Radiohead tracks. They were "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and "Black Star". "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" is a piece of art and to be honest, it is best enjoyed when accompanied by it's hauntingly beautiful (and abstract) music video.
I used to watch a VHS of this music video on repeat with a friend because we didn't have this sort of thing in Southeastern, Ohio. It legitimately opened our eyes up to the possibilities of music and culture. The lyrics are extremely dark, but we think there's real purpose here (as with all things penned by Thom Yorke). This song impacted me as a musician as well. When I was in my band I begged to cover it because I wanted to sing this song so badly. We finally did add it to our set list and while I was typically pretty light hearted on stage, I was pretty serious when we played this song as I had such immense respect for the band that created it.
While never considered among their greatest hits "Black Star" remains a staple for me as showing how to perfectly build to a hook through verse and melody. It's subtle, but Radiohead slowly climbs and wrenches up the pressure in those verses in a way that few songwriters can. This track is a shining example of the band's prowess. Just when the tension cannot build any longer, the release the valve with that fantastic chorus. The song also shows how a song doesn't need to have an elaborate bridge to be an effective one as they close with simple yet effective one.
As much as I have loved this album, I will be honest, I have no special story for where I bought the copy I own now. I don't remember when or where I got it. What I do remember is that it was the second record I acquired for my collection once I started, because Radiohead. I also remember is paying a hefty fee for it, as albums were not in vogue as they are now and were much more difficult to find then (and thus more expensive). There is nothing special about this edition of The Bends, its a standard reprint pressing that comes in black. The one thing I can say that is special about it, is how many times it has spun around my record player and the memories I have had listening to it over the years.
What are some of your favorite records from your vinyl vault? We'd love to hear your stories and see pictures of your collections!