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Vinyl Me, What? Vinyl Me, Please!!

Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives. With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club…it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month. In their living room.

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The Skinny

Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please $23 a month and they send you one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Easy, right? Each custom pressing (often in color!) also comes with special features like original artwork and even a recipe for a companion cocktail. Best of all, you get access to the VMP online store. That means you’ll have a chance to grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including February’s pressing of Main Source’s hip-hop classic Breaking Atoms – plus additional rare and exclusive releases.

The store is now open. From the looks of things, it’s been a busy week. A lot of this month’s sexier picks are already sold out. Still, the VMP crew is pretty good about re-stocking some of their best sellers. So it can’t hurt to keep an eye out for fresh copies of The Unicorns’ crunchy, lo-fi rocker Who’s Gonna Cut Your Hair After We’re Dead? or that double LP release of Otis Redding’s Live At The Whisky A Go Go. 

But don’t bank too much on those re-stocks. ‘Cause there’s plenty more to be excited about in the March store. Like a killer, rainbow-splattered pressing of The National’s sophomore album Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers (ltd to 2000 copies). Or that re-issue of Archers of Loaf’s filthy indie-rock debut Icky Mettle. Fans of minimalist electronic noodling should definitely check out Daniel Brandt’s Erased Tapes debut Eternal Something (ltd. edition on clear vinyl). And if deep-fried country balladry is your thing, you really need to check out Brent Cobb’s stunning Shine On Rainy Day. Trust me. Just FYI, your record collection is not complete if you don’t own a copy of New York Doll’s frisky glam-punk debut. You can scoop up a copy for just $18 this month. Do it.  

There’s more. A lot more, to be honest. While the store is now open to the public, many of VMP’s more exciting selections are only available to members. So you’ll have to sign up if you wanna get your mits on them. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, just know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP AOM pick you don’t like for something a little more your speed. And if you want to get up close and personal with fellow VMPers to talk it over, keep an eye out for the VMP road-show, The Spins. They may be coming to a bar near you in the future. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.

What about this month’s release, you ask? Well, Team VMP’s slipped a shiny new release into the box for March. Let’s take a look.

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For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND

Music is an adventure. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley – AKA Tennis – are true adventurers. They recorded their first album – 2011’s Cape Dory – in an effort to document their seven month expedition exploring the Eastern seaboard while living on a sailboat. Much has happened to the couple in the years between. They got married, wrote and recorded two subsequent albums – 2012’s Young and Old & 2015’s underrated gem Ritual In Repeat, and they toured relentlessly. There wasn’t much time for sailing in there. Eventually, life on the road caught up to them. Feeling drained and stale, Tennis was in dire need of a new adventure. Alaina and Patrick returned to the sea in search of inspiration. And Tennis came back to the mainland with their best album to date.

Yours Conditionally – the band’s fourth full-length is nothing if not an adventure. One that sees them blend their signature indie pop sound with a welcome tinge of feminist sensuality.  

That sensual blend brings an impassioned warmth to every track on Yours Conditionally, even in its more confrontational moments. The album opens with ‘In The Morning I’ll Be Better’, a soulful lament to the pressures on a woman to be both partner and savior in a relationship. The toy organ and floating backup vocals seem to rise from a lost song stolen from the AM airwaves of the ’70s. That AM Radio feel carries through the entire album. You’ll hear it in the slinky guitars and thick bass line of ‘My Emotions Are Blinding’ – a soulful indictment of the gender empiricism inherent in musical relationships and the rock scene itself. An idea Moore and Riley double down on in the bitter, thumping disco dance that is ‘Ladies Don’t Play Guitar’.

Still, Tennis never lets the tone get too heavy on Yours Conditionally. They temper the mood with sticky sweet neo-folk charmers like ‘Fields Of Blue’ and Beach Boys by way of Nine Inch Nails crooners like ‘Matrimony’. Much of the album’s aura is wrapped up in Moore’s and Riley’s ability to blend and balance styles. Yours Conditionally shifts from bubble gum indie rock to ’50s girl group pop to Memphis flavored soul with staggering agility. I haven’t even touched on the five songs that comprise the album’s B-side. You’re not likely hear a more confident or dexterous string of songs on any album you hear the rest of the year. Just be sure and take note of ‘Modern Woman’, ’cause it’s likely to become the band’s signature musical moment for years to come.

Yours Conditionally will likely prove the same. It unquestionably proves that Tennis is in a beautiful place both as a band and as a couple. Their songs are crisp and passionate and full of daring insights into the role of a woman as artist, lover, and entertainer. Those songs come and go with delightful, hum-worthy ease. They dare you to give yourself over. More often that not, you’ll do just that. And you’ll do it unconditionally.  

But What’s in the Box?!

Considering that Yours Conditionally is all about Alaina Moore’s struggles to relate to the world as a woman and as an artist, this cover is pretty self-explanatory. And it’s a VMP exclusive variant. Which is kinda cool. 

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Before you rip open that plastic, check the info on this little sticker. Exclusive. Pressing. That’s what Vinyl Me, Please is all about my friends.

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Now, let’s get digging. And let’s start with this lovely bit of rambling from VMP’s own Tyler Barstow.

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Make sure to check the bottom of that slip as well. If only so you can personally thank the VMP staffer who packed your box. MH … I can feel the love. And I say thank you.

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Don’t forget to flip that slip over. Otherwise you might miss out on Yours Conditionally‘s companion cocktail – hand-picked by Patrick and Alaina. My personal opinion is that a cocktail should never have more than three or four ingredients. By that standard, the Gimlet is a perfect cocktail. And Tennis’ Cucumber Gin Gimlet is a perfect companion for the album’s laid back vibe. Also, it’s delicious.

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Make sure you don’t overlook Luca Venter’s dazzling original 12″ X 12″ print. And you can flip that print if you want to know a little more about Venter’s work.  

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There’s a nifty little VMP sticker somewhere in the mix too.

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There’s a handy insert in there featuring some of the VMP store’s curated titles for March as well. Blanck Mass. World Eater. Check it out. And for those of you looking to fill the holes in your record collection, you might want to invest in The Vinyl Me, Please Book – an in-depth look at 100 albums Team VMP thinks you need in your collection … complete with cocktail pairings and original essays. Nice.

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Shall we move along? Not before we dig on the photography inside that gatefold sleeve. That’s what boat life looks like. And we should all be a little bit envious.

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Before we get to that disk, make sure to flip through the 16 page booklet hidden in the other sleeve. ‘Cause it’s full of more stunning photography. And a deeply personal account of Yours Conditionally‘s inception penned by Alaina herself. Here’s a taste.

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 And if you’re the sort who needs to go and memorize the every lyric from your favorite songs … there’s a full list of Alaina’s lyrics on the album’s dust sleeve.

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This is what you’ll find inside. 

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It’s like the ocean is melting into the horizon … on your deck.

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How’s it sound? Like you’ve been lost in the woods near some nameless port city. Night falls. You wander through the darkness dodging roots and branches and unseen creatures lurking in the shadows. Exasperated, you stop and stare at the stars shining between the canopy. In the distance you hear a wave crash. Then another. You scramble through the underbrush and find your way to the floury comforts of a deserted beach. A tiny vessel bobs in the current off shore. There’s a lantern burning. Just when you’re ready to call out for help, you hear the gentle strumming of a guitar. Then a soulful voice joins in. You know you should be screaming at the top of your lungs. But you don’t want the music to stop. So you walk into the water and swim out to greet them.

Give It a Spin

The thing I love most about music is that it can guide you through places and feelings and experiences you might otherwise not have access to. I’ve never lived on a boat. Or sailed the high seas. I’ve certainly never been able to feel or see the world through feminine eyes. I won’t claim that Yours Conditionally actually did all of those things for me, but it might be as close as I ever get. That makes Tennis’ adventurous fourth album a must listen for modern men and women alike. I’d like to personally thank the folks at Vinyl Me, Please giving me a chance to hear it. And for making every month another opportunity for pure discovery. ’Cause that’s the whole point of music. 

A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the official Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each month! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for April.

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