Thursday, November 28, 2013

10 RSD picks for Black Friday 2013

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Black Friday, or at least Record Store Day's appropriation of the busiest shopping day of the year, has long suffered from an inferiority complex. For 2013, the list of special releases still sport its fair share of seasonal cash-grabs. However, the quality and the diversity of what's being offered has stepped up. If the presence of releases such as Uncle Tupelo covering the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog," Nick Cave's Live From KCRW, three solid Miles Davis reissues, and other offerings from Mystical Weapons, Robert Glasper, Grateful Dead, Foals, and likes indicate anything it's that RSD is taking control back from the major label co-opt that's been encroaching over the last few years.

As such, there are plenty of releases that are well worth tracking down this Friday. And with that, a handful of Crib Notes scribes sound off about their top picks for 2013.

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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Live From KCRW 2x12-inch

With few exceptions (Allman Bros., Frampton, the Band), live albums can be pretty boring ... It's difficult for anyone to stamp the energy of a fleeting moment on vinyl. As such, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Live At KCRW 2xLP isn't exactly an essential entry into the group's already swelling catalogue. But as with everything Cave does there's a certain trademark of quality that comes along with this 10-song set recorded live from Apogee Studios for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. From the drifting strings that open the set with "Higgs Boson Blues" to the hallowed words of classics such as "The Mercy Seat" and "Jack the Ripper," the Bad Seeds waltz through a tastefully curated set that's heavy on the group's post-twentieth century numbers. Cave's performance is impeccable, and the subtle but audible wisps of tin can fidelity give this record the earmarks of a super high quality bootleg. If you're a collector it's a must have. 3000 (US) 1500 (Canada). - Chad Radford

UPDATE: I picked up the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds LP this morning. The "tin can" sound that I'd mentioned hearing throughout the promo stream is nowhere to be found here. In fact, the recording sounds really good - really warm. Just disregard that part, I guess. One of the perils of writing reviews based on digital music as opposed to the real thing.

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Van Dyke Parks: "Come To the Sunshine" b/w "Farther Along" 7-inch

Written and arranged in the summer of '65, and released a year later, "Come To The Sunshine" is an exuberant, complex, and subtly bent early pop single that predates Van Dyke Parks, magnificent proper debut, Song Cycle. And yes, the songwriting on display here is of the same proto-psychedelic DNA channeled into the Beach Boys' SMiLE. Dig that mandolin and piano. - CR

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I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute To John Fahey 2x12-inch

This double 45 RPM LP on Tortoise shell-colored features dozens of artists including Lee Ranaldo, Peter Case, Sufjan Stevens, Cul De Sac, and more taking on a broad swath of John Fahey's career. As a producer of the album and a performer, M. Ward's fingerprints are all over this release, but he's not too intrusive here. - CR

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Uncle Tupelo: "I Wanna Be Your Dog" b/w "Commotion" 7-inch

In case any reminder was necessary, Uncle Tupelo had just as many curious bouts of levity as it did stress-induced breakdowns. The pre-Wilco and -Son Volt alt-country institution never shied away from upbeat numbers with a strain of despair or solemn tunes with darkly humorous lyrics. Here we find Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Co salvaging two covers from archival demos recorded during the band's 1990 No Depression sessions. While the A-side re-imagines the Stooges classic bondage-rock anthem "I Wanna Be Your Dog" as a whisky-soaked country jam, the B-side takes a more traditional route with a loving take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 classic "Commotion." - Bobby Power

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Nirvana: In Utero 2013 Mix LP

Although every entry of Nirvana's brief but potent catalog brings with it a bevy of legend and lore, In Utero serves as the bizarrely cantankerous swansong. The band's third and final studio LP, was captured by Steve Albini, a self-described "audio engineer" who had a hand in watershed alt-rock albums by Pixies, the Jesus Lizard, Breeders, and more - all recordings that Kurt Cobain publicly adored. But shortly after mixing completed, Nirvana felt uneasy with the end product, eventually turning to Scott Litt, who produced albums by REM, Liz Phair, and the Replacements, to remix In Utero to what we currently know. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album, Albini remixed and remastered the album at Abbey Road Studios with the approval of Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic in an attempt to recapture the original version. - BP

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Vince Guaraldi Trio: "Linus and Lucy" 7-inch

What better Black Friday release than a tune from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on 45? To many, Guaraldi's 1965 soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the epitome of the holiday season. With all the gentle percussive shuffling, occasional child singers, and his trademark, effortlessly cool piano, the album is standard that gets play over and over until the decorations are boxed away for another year. This release reproduces the original 1964 version - as it was written and recorded prior to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" - on gold vinyl and with new artwork. - BP

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Josh Tillman: The History of Caves (soundtrack) LP

Acclaimed as the reinvented psycho-folk artist Father John Misty, Josh Tillman's newest work credits him without a moniker. This beautifully sparse, original soundtrack to the soon-to-be-released short film The History of Caves, written and directed by his wife Emma Tillman, and marks his first album since last year's Fear Fun. The former Fleet Fox's 10-song soundtrack has only 2,000 copies set to be released via Sub Pop, so grab 'em quick! - Sonam Vashi

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Miles Davis: Kind of Blue LP

As part of a series remastering Miles Davis' earliest works, Columbia Records will release one of the most important jazz albums ever pressed to vinyl for Black Friday. First released in 1959, Kind of Blue became a standard for modal jazz, with the killer combo of John Coltrane, "Cannonball" Adderley, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, and Davis himself on trumpet. The new mono edition adds balance to the layered instruments, exploring the revolutionary album's subtleties and sonic dichotomy of tranquility and tension. (Check out the Miles & Monk and Jazz Track LP reissues as well.) - SV

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Civil Wars: Between the Bars 10-inch

The bluegrass duo releases an RSD exclusive featuring four covers ranging from Elliot Smith's, "Between the Bars" to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." The Civil Wars have come a long way since releasing its 2009 Live At Eddie's Attic EP to having songs from its self-titled album appear in TV shows such as "Ravenswood." The other two songs covered here include Portishead's "Sour Times," and the Romantics' "Talking In Your Sleep." All are aesthetically quite different. - Katie Flint

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Queens of the Stone Age: ... Like Clockwork (Black on Black) 2xLP

Queens of the Stone Age may have had a pun in mind when the group decided on the all black cover art for its Black Friday offering. The group is releasing a limited edition double vinyl of its most recent album, ... Like Clockwork. This pressing is only limited to 1200 copies in the US, and 2400 worldwide, making it a haunting yet hot commodity for anyone who loves quintessential stoner rock rock troup. - KF

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