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.
Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (plans start at $25/month) and they send you one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Easy, right? Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) 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 May’s VMP Classics reissue of Carla Thomas’ second Stax Records release Comfort Me – not to mention a bevy of rare and exclusive releases.
The shop opens June 18th. When it does, you’ll have a chance to build your collection with another killer slate of releases. Releases like Bon Voyage, the long-delayed sophomore album from dream pop maven Melody Prochet (aka Melody’s Echo Chamber), or Childqueen, Kadhja Bonet’s followup to her soulful VMP approved debut The Visitor. There’s also a new album from electro-drone-miester extraordinaire Oneohtrix Point Never (hot off releasing one of last year’s best original scores). The new album is called Age Of, and it’s an absolute must listen. Then again, if a hard-rocking nostalgia trip is what you’re after, you’ll probably just want to dig a copy of the 30th Anniversary reissue of Guns N’ Roses iconic debut Appetite for Destruction and call it a day.
Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’re bound to find something essential in the VMP Store. While said store is now open to the public, many of the more exciting selections are only available to members, so you’ll need to sign up if you wanna get your mitts on them. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection over to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you don’t like for a past AOM that’s a little more your speed. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
So, what’s in this month’s box? None other than TV on the Radio’s art rock masterpiece Return to Cookie Mountain.
Oh, you better believe I scooped up a copy of that reissue of Jonny Greenwood’s long out of print soundtrack to the documentary Bodysong. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll grab one for yourself too.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, finding form and meaning within fevered aural abstractions)
Some bands just seem destined for greatness. If you were fortunate enough to stumble across a copy of TV on the Radio’s Young Liars (the band’s 2003 EP) you knew that upon hearing the propulsive opening bars of “Satellite.” Young Liars‘ standout track “Staring at the Sun” likely became your go to summer suite too. Still, odds are at some point over your first listen through Young Liars, you also thought to yourself, “what the hell am I listening to here?” as well. You were not alone. With its dense layering of spastic drum beats, vocal tracks, heavy synth, unwieldy guitars, and general punk rock aesthetic, Young Liars felt like it’d been delivered to Earth by interstellar travelers as well versed in crunchy riffs and industrial electronica as they were in primal chant. Wherever it came from, there was nothing out there like it, and you wanted to hear more.
Thankfully, the band didn’t keep their modest (but instantly avid) fan base waiting. TV on the Radio returned in 2004 with their full-length debut Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, another wildly eclectic collection of synth-rock bangers, art-punk anthems, and soulful barbershop melodies. In a word, Desperate Youth could be described as “enthralling.” If you were to add a second word to that description, you’d likely use “unfocused.” As compelling an aural experiment as TVOTR’s debut LP was, it still felt a bit like a band figuring out what their music could be. Given the variety of influences that were at play throughout, one had to wonder whether they could harness the sporadic energy of their influences into a singular sound.
A full two years passed before the band answered that question. The retort came in their wildly ambitious, irreverently tilted sophomore release, 2006’s Return To Cookie Mountain, and the answer was an indisputable, soul-thumping “yes.” I’m not going to waste much of your time bestowing praise on the album. If you’ve listened to it, then you already know what a rarity Return to Cookie Mountain is in its sound, its execution, and its soulfully spellbinding effect. And if you’ve never heard it, well, there’s not much I can say that’ll explain the album’s intrinsically offbeat sort of grace. You simply need to experience it for yourself.
If you can experience it on vinyl, all the better. Either way, you should know that track by track, Return to Cookie Mountain is as much an experimental sonic tapestry as it is an introspectively fist-pumping pop album. You should know that every unusual bit of instrumentation, every stark turn of phrase, every booming beat, lustful lament, ambient swell, and primal wail contribute to an auricular journey through the bombed-out but ever-hopeful terrain of humanity itself. And you should know that the more you give yourself over to that journey, the more you’ll get out of it.
Return to Cookie Mountain is a legitimate work of art. And yes, it’s as open to interpretation as any work of art should be. So, rather than force my own opinion about its (clearly metaphorical) cover art down your throats, I’ll just let you bring your own point of view to the matter.
But What’s in the Box!?
As usual, there are goodies galore in this month’s box, but before we dig in, let’s take a moment to absorb the all-important information on this little sticker. Half-speed remastering. Colored vinyl. Gatefold Tip On jacket. This is what Vinyl Me, Please does, my friends.
Once you’ve removed said jacket from its protective sleeve, you’ll want to check the notes on that slick new sleeve wrap as well, ’cause there’s some vital info included there. Like the band name/album title/VMP catalogue number.
Not to mention a few notes about why Return To Cookie Mountain was selected as a VMP Essentials pick in the first place.
And if you like to enjoy a cold beverage while your shiny new discs spin, you’ll want to check out the companion cocktail for this month’s album. It’s called “The Provincial Sour,” and it features bourbon, so it’s bound to be a tasty little number.
Keep digging and you’ll uncover this month’s collectible, album-inspired artwork from Brooklyn graphic designer, Dillon Kogle. I’m guessing this little beauty will be most satisfactory for all the “Wolf Like Me” fans out there … like me.
If you like what you see, and you wanna know a little more about Dillon, just flip that insert over and @ the man himself.
Not to beat a dead horse about how great the VMP Store is month in and month out, but they’ve always got something to covet. You’ll wanna check this handy little insert before you make any fiscal decisions about what disc(s) you’re gonna add-on to next month’s delivery. Please do not make any final decisions until you’ve at least considered picking up a copy of Miles Davis’ original score to Louis Malle’s 1958 crime drama Elevator to the Gallows (aka Ascenseur pour l’échafaud). Trust me.
Now, before we dig into those sleeves, let’s take a moment to appreciate the gloriously abstract artwork inside that tip on gatefold, shall we?
Before we get to those discs, you’ll probably want to spend a little time with this 24-page color lyric booklet that comes with, ’cause as breathtakingly original as Return to Cookie Mountain is musically, it’s got profoundly affecting lyrics to boot. And yes, it’s an album you’ll feel compelled to sing along with as well … on second or third listen, that is.
What about those discs? Well, they’re positively luminous on amber and grain colored wax.
And they’re certain to bring a shadowy effervescence to any turntable, though I’m a bit partial to the amber myself.
How do they sound? Like waking up to a world where chaos reigns and humanity has retreated underground, surviving in makeshift communities. With no phones or TVs or apps to distract, music is the primary source of entertainment. Songs spring up around group vocals, improvised instruments, and harmonious explosions of ardor. An uprising of compassionate valor feels ever-imminent. You take a deep, cleansing breathe, and join the chorus. But you’ll probably hear all that in the video clip below. All you gotta do is push play.
Give It a Spin
Sometimes you can have a great big gaping hole in your record collection and not even realize it. TV on the Radio is one of my favorite bands from the 2000s. Return to Cookie Mountain is one of my favorite albums of the last 20 years … possibly ever. I really should’ve dug a copy for my collection a long, long time ago. But the album (which has seen a couple of sub par represses of late) has remained elusive. The fact that people who already own vinyl pressings of Return to Cookie Mountain rarely sell them has made it even more difficult to own. Leave it to Vinyl Me, Please to fill the void with a reissue to end them all. Thanks to Team VMP for filling that gaping hole in my collection (and hundreds of others out there too). And thanks for making every month another musical adventure.
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! We can’t imagine they’ll be able to outdo themselves with their July pick, but we cannot wait to see them try!