ANALOG ADVENTURES: Must Love Dio, Priest, and Maiden

I get a lot of random records, tapes, and books in the mail, because publicists forget that outlets for which I used to work aren’t around anymore, or someone finds the address hidden on my website, or… whatever. This is a way to keep them from piling up uselessly in the corner of the office.

In terms of timeliness, I am ridiculously behind on this column, because I’m pretty sure I intended this to be done in time for Aneurysm’s debut full-length on Tor Johnson Records, Awareness, to have been out less than a week. It’s now coming up on three, and I’ve had it since before it came out, so I’ve been snoozing pretty hard on the newest release from the Boston five-piece.

Aneurysm’s “Veronica” single from 2015 features one of my favorite songs of the last few years, “Dio, Priest And Maiden,” which was just this perfect blast of post-punk grungy hardcore. They have finally released a full-length nearly three and a half years later, and it’s totally worth the wait.

I had the download probably before the new year, so I’ve been playing this for two months now, but getting the LP and getting to see that insane cover art full-size was pretty stellar. Then, there’s a printed inner sleeve with lyrics in neon ink, so reading them is like taking a short little trip. This stands in stark contrast to the songs, which are fucking heavy.

Aneurysm, because of their name, kind of get tagged with the early Nirvana references. While that’s accurate, I see them as more akin to the likes of Paw, where there’s a stronger classic rock influence coming into Aneurysm’s music. It’s not so much in the sound of the band, but in the structure of their songs like “Stop This Ride” or “Newport.”

Of course, stuff like “Handbook for the Recently Diseased” and “West Coast Video” are barreling down on you like a punk rock freight train, but these are songs which are loaded with hooks. They might be punching you in the face, but goddamn, Aneurysm knows how to write a catchy song.

Van Morrison’s 1974 album, Veedon Fleece, gets its first vinyl reissue in 30 years, courtesy of LP subscription service Vinyl Me, Please. The packaging is the usual incredible work from the company, but this release goes a step further than usual. It’s a heavyweight tip-on jacket with a matte finish, and the record itself is pressed on emerald green 180-gram wax, nicely referencing the musician’s Irish roots.

The art print included is from Chicago-based artist Studio Ashleen, and while it’s a little more straightforward than most of the VMP art prints – it’s essentially just a color block interpretation of the cover art – the artwork emphasizes the themes of “strength and vulnerability” on which the artist focuses. As the digital liner notes from VMP state, listening to Veedon Fleece is best experienced outside viewing it as a cult record or in contrast to the oft-lauded Astral Weeks:

“this gift, a treasure as mythical and mysterious as its titular provenance, cannot simply be discovered the same way you discovered Astral Weeks or really any other record in the artist’s deep catalog. This is a pilgrimage, one as sacred as it is demanding.”

The music is involving and strangely hypnotic. I’ve found myself leaving Veedon Fleece on the turntable for days at a time, just flipping the record over and letting it play whenever I’m in my office. I feel like every time I listen to Morrison’s album, I focus in on a new aspect of it.

“You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River” is nine minutes of string-laden brilliance which puts me in the mind to watch The Wicker Man for the hundredth time, and sort of glory in some further pastoral psychedelia. The cello and flute which respectively anchor and float as the track fades are the sort of touches which make Veedon Fleece the sort of forgotten album which lives up to its cult status.

I went hard on Run Out Groove in the last column, so I’ll be brief about the latest batch of releases which showed up recently. First up was a double LP of Revolting Cocks’ Linger Ficken’ Good …And Other Barnyard Oddities. As I stated, I’m not huge into industrial, but this is a little more dance-oriented, with less noise, so I dug it. The packaging’s nothing to write home about, but it’s nice enough.

The same goes for Juliana Hatfield’s Only Everything, which has the first LP on orange vinyl, and the second on blue. There are a couple of paragraphs from producer Paul Q. Kolderie, which explain the recording process – thankfully, analog, which explains why the record sounds so good – but the 90s alt rock hasn’t necessarily aged as well as I’d hoped.

That’s maybe why “Yardsailing,” one of four bonus cuts on the last side of the double LP, grabs me more than most of the rest of the album: it has some Liz Phair-style snark that’s low-key sarcastic in a way that counterbalances the slightly earnest nature of Only Everything. That said, “Universal Heart-Beat” still rips, and the keyboard parts take me back to a very specific time when I was 5 and listening to the radio more than anything in the world.

The best of the lot from ROG’s latest box is the formerly digital-only release, Luna’s covers collection, Lunafied. The artwork has the same spacey vibe as the rest of the band’s catalog, and there’s even a nice little couple of paragraphs from the band’s Dean Wareham. He describes these cuts as what the band sounds like when they’re “not trying too hard.”

It’s a really relaxed batch of tracks, and, BONUS, there are more tracks which weren’t included on the original release, such as Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed” and “Neon Lights” by Kraftwerk, among others. It’s a delight to own, especially if you dig chill-as-hell takes on songs which are already pretty laid back. Their version of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer” almost edges out the original. I’m so happy I have this double LP. The white vinyl’s a little too on the nose, but put with the yellow of the cover, it really pops.

Finally, there’s this self-released LP from Colourmusic, entitled Swimsuit. The artwork is a very lovely oil painting of a woman floating in a pool on the front of the jacket and what looks like a water color of the swimsuit from the front on the back of the jacket.

The music sounds like what would happen if I fell asleep listening to the local college radio station and had a dream about a band to which I was listening. It’s a melange of styles: very MGMT in the more upbeat moments (of which there are few) and very Beach House or XX in its slower, more downbeat ones (of which there are many).

Now, I know I said to some publicist, “Please, yes, send this to me,” but there is literally no information whatsoever in this LP. No liner notes, no lineup on the back cover, only production credits on the A side label of the LP, and artwork credits on side B. Thankfully, they’re easily searchable online by using “colourmusic swimsuit,” so I know that they’re an Oklahoma indie rock band, and this is their fourth album.

I appreciate the mystique you’re going for, folks, but I didn’t enjoy it that much. Don’t make me work this hard for basic details. It’s not endearing at all.

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek writes about films scores in his monthly OST column for Starburst Magazine (http://www.starburstmagazine.com), and can be found talking about movie soundtracks via the From & Inspired By podcast (http:///www.fromandinspiredby.com). He was once a punk, but realized you can't be hardcore and use the word "adorable" as often as he does.
Nick Spacek
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