Vinyl Me, Please April Unboxing: M.I.A. “Kala”
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 (a 3-month membership will set you back about $119) and they send you one carefully selected album they feel is Essential to any record collection. Yes, it really is as easy as it sounds. You even get FREE SHIPPING. Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with killer extras like original artwork, informative booklets, or even a recipe for a companion cocktail.
You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP store too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including that immaculate March reissue of Kid Cudi’s landmark debut Man on the Moon: The End of the Day – not to mention a slate of super-limited releases pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please. The store is open, and Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.
Word to the wise, while the store is open to the public, most of the more covet-worthy stock is only available to subscribers. Members are privy to reduced “Members Pricing” as well, so joining the club definitely has its rewards. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you’re not interested in for a past AOM selection that’s a little more your speed (including picks from the Classics and Rap/Hip Hop tracks). My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
As for April’s box, Team VMP went big indeed with their 100th Essentials drop with a jaw-dropping reissue of M.I.A. brilliant sophomore album Kala.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or, how I learned to stop worrying and once-again pump my fists to “Paper Planes”)
I should start off by saying it’s all but impossible to try and condense the styles, themes, and textures of M.I.A.’s music into condensed, digestible thoughts and concepts. As such, I sort of feel like it’s borderline unethical to even try and write about any M.I.A. album in the context of a review … because there’s just too much going on from one song to the next to translate it all into words. These are songs, after all. And to truly understand them, you actually need to listen to them.
But if you haven’t listened to M.I.A.’s music before, you should know you may never find a more singular voice in the annals of modern pop music. Likewise, you won’t find an artist who so giddily, and effectively effuses her music with sounds captured from all corners of the globe. And if I could be so bold to offer a word of advice to those who haven’t heard M.I.A. before – start your education off by jamming out to the artist’s immaculately crafted sophomore album (and current Vinyl Me, Please Essentials pick) Kala, ’cause it’s a singular an artifact as the woman who created it.
Please believe that when I say if you’ve never heard 2007’s Kala, you’ve really never heard anything quite like it. In the words of the artist herself (as noted in Kala‘s VMP exclusive listening notes), the album is, “like making a big old marble cake with lots of different countries and influences. Then you slice it up and call each slice a song.” Frankly, it’s just not possible to more accurately describe the perpetually-shifting sonic palette of Kala, an album seemingly so far removed from Western pop ethos it’s almost comical that it became such a legit pop hit in North America upon release.
Yet that’s just what happened, with the album first finding the ears of U.S. listeners via a perfectly placed needle drop in the trailer for Seth Rogen’s 2008 stoner comedy classic Pineapple Express. That song was none other than The Clash sampling classic “Paper Planes.” And if you’ve heard but a single track from Kala‘s 12-song set list, it’s that one. In all honesty, if you only ever hear one song from Kala, it should be “Paper Planes,” ’cause it was, is, and ever will be the very definition of “banger.” Just FYI – it’s also a track you can essentially drop into a play list at any junction and absolutely bring the house down.
Of the other 11 tracks rounding out Kala‘s kaleidoscopic aesthetic, there’s really not a miss in the mix, with M.I.A. ripping it up and rapping raw through sonic terrain that genuinely feels like it’s never before been explored. And yes, she’s doing so with a mind for global politics rarely glimpsed in the pop realm. But here I am writing words upon words about Kala, and by proxy countermanding my own thesis. If that’s the case, well, so be it. Either way, I sincerely hope you’ll heed my advice and give this M.I.A. classic a listen with utmost haste. If you can do so via this immaculate VMP pressing, all the better.
Look man, cover art should first and foremost serve as representation of an album’s overall aesthetic. And as far as that concept goes, the kaleidoscopic insanity of Kala‘s cover art simply could not be more on point. Ditto for the equally splashy rear cover. Oh, and note that shiny silvered sheen on both, ’cause it looks super cool in just the right light.
Please be sure to not the foil-stamped tag in the bottom corner of that back cover, ’cause that mark forever M.I.A.’ Kala a legit VMP Essentials pick.
Now, before you dig too deep into this month’s box, you’re gonna want to read over the hype sticker spotting the archival style, re-sealable dust sleeve, ’cause it’ll tell you exactly why this pressing of Kala is the definitive pressing of Kala. Just in case there’s any question.
As I’ve been noting in these unboxings over recent months, Team VMP has been running an awesome little contest for subscribers to submit designs for a monthly sticker to be dropped in every box. And yes, that contest has been every bit as fun as it sounds, with George F. Baker III earning honors for April with a delicious design of his own.
Once you’re done plotting where to stick that glorious sticker, be sure to read over the OBI strip cradling the spine of your record too, as that’s where you’ll learn a few more vital stats about this month’s album. Did I already mention M.I.A.’s Kala is the 100th edition of Vinyl Me, Please’s Essentials series? ‘Cause it’s kind of a big deal.
Flip that OBI over to learn exactly why Team VMP deemed Kala a fitting pick for their 100th offering.
Now don’t panic, but there’s been a bit of a programming change with VMP Essentials this month in that there’s no more companion cocktails with every pick. In lieu of that recipe, however, the VMP crew will now be including a listening notes booklet with their Essentials selections, which is pretty effing cool. This month found music journalist Tara Joshi writing some truly lovely words about M.I.A. and the myriad inspirations that went into Kala.
And don’t worry, Essentials selections are still gonna be coming with an album-inspired art print every month. April’s appropriately eclectic print comes via Soljee Lee, who clearly has a flair for graffiti-styled graphics.
Now, there are indeed a pair of super-sexy 45 RPM discs inside Kala‘s jacket. But before we get a look at them, let’s take a minute to appreciate the artfully conjured inner sleeves too, ’cause they’re positively gorgeous.
Yes, that splashy aesthetic even carries over into the sleeve itself … which is a really nice touch.
As for the discs they’re protecting, let’s just say they’re as colorful as the songs they contain.
You’d better believe they’re fit to jazz up any deck on planet Earth.
How do they sound? Like you walked into 10 different record stores in 10 different countries throughout the world, bought one pop album from a local artist, and played them all simultaneously.
Give VMP a spin
I’m not gonna sit here and tell you M.I.A.’s Kala is one of my favorite albums of all time, and could not have been reissued in higher fashion than this VMP stunner. Truth is, a week ago I would’ve told you Kala is an album I really dug back in ’08, but outside of a yearly needle drop on “Paper Planes,” it’s not an album I’ve felt compelled to listen to much since. After spinning this fresh Vinyl Me, Please pressing, I can tell you beyond doubt that Kala is about to get some serious airplay in my house, ’cause I’ve literally never heard it sound better. And holy hell is it a sight to behold as well. Sincere thanks to VMP for putting this banger back on my radar for good.
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! Be sure to check back next month when I’ll be unboxing VMP’s lavish reissue of Darkside’s underrated electronic jammer Psychic!