Vinyl Me, Please August Edition: The National ‘Boxer’
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 July’s funktastic release of Betty Davis’ self-titled debut – plus additional rare and exclusive releases.
The store is now open, and it’s stocked with all kinds of goodies. Like a 10th Anniversary reissue of Dan Deacon’s whacked out electronic opus Spiderman of the Rings (blue and magenta vinyl, Ltd to 750 copies) not to mention the second – and still best – album from The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient (blue wax, Ltd to 2000 copies). For all you children of the ’90s out there, there’s a fresh new pressing of Nirvana’s posthumous live album From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah. If disco-punk is your thing you’ll have a chance to pre-order American Dream – AKA the first new LCD Soundsystem in seven years. And for all you soundtrack divas out there, Team VMP is bringing a couple of gems to the store this month in Baby Driver (curated by Mr. Edgar Wright) and Good Time (featuring new music from Oneohtrix Point Never).
There’s more. A lot more. 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, 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? Get yourself a hanky, ’cause you might be weeping through much of The National’s Boxer.
Oh, you better believe I snagged a copy of Clint Mansell’s score from the ‘San Junipero’ episode of Black Mirror. I hope you grabbed a copy too, ’cause it sounds like heaven.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND
A wise man once posed the question, ‘Which came first … the music or the misery?’. Over the course of six albums – and a new one coming in September – The National have dedicated themselves to exploring weighty themes of love, loss, success, failure, joy, agony, expectation, and regret. Their songs are meticulously orchestrated, deeply personal and propelled by the passionately restrained vocals and clever word play of front man Matt Berninger. Over those six albums, The National have all but ignored the question of ‘which came first?’, painting the music, the misery, and all the beautiful/joyous moments in-between as one in the same. Boxer is the middle album in that lot. And it’s their one true masterpiece.
Of course, many of you already know that. The album has been around for a whopping 10 years already. If you’re anything like me, there’s probably a very well defined time in that decade that Boxer was your go to album when you were feeling down. And – who are we kidding – it probably still is. But if you’re late to the game on Boxer, well, get ready to join the human race, ’cause it’s an album of uncommon humanity and unflinching emotional conflict.
Make no mistake, Boxer is an album rife with conflict. You’ll hear it in the lavish balladry of album opener ‘Fake Empire’ and the pensive aggression of ‘Mistaken for Strangers’. You’ll hear it in the musing moodiness of tracks like ‘Squalor Victoria’ and ‘Ada’ or the sallow sweetness of ‘Green Gloves’ and ‘Slow Show’. Most importantly, you’ll hear it within the band itself, their guitars and pianos and drums and vocals beating each other around from song to song to create an unapologetically dramatic tapestry of sound. One that you’ll need to listen to a few times before you fully grasp the depth and the unbridled emotion that lingers just under the surface.
As an album, Boxer is a study in musical melodrama that – pardon the pun – never pulls its punches. It’s stark in its introspection, resolute in its abstractions and forgiving in its transience. It begs listeners to look inward, dig deep and find a way keep swinging. ‘Cause one day you may find yourself standing tall, battered and beaten but with arms raised in victory. And won’t that be a time?
Boxer often feels like a collection of memories pasted like black and white pictures into a scrapbook. It’s painful. It’s pleasant. And it would make a fitting soundtrack for the saddest dance party in history. So …
But What’s in the Box!?
Alright let’s get digging. But before we tear off that plastic, be sure to note the important information on this little sticker.
Have a gander at this little stamp on the back as well. Exclusive pressings is what Vinyl Me, Please is all about … in case you didn’t know.
Now, once you’re into that sleeve, you’ll find a wee bit of poetics from VMP co-founder Tyler Barstow inspired by the album.
Make sure you don’t overlook the initials in the bottom corner of that page. They belong to the VMP Staffer who lovingly packed your disc. And that person deserves a little love in return. Thanks, DL!
You’re going to want to flip that page over as well. That’s where you’ll find the recipe for this month’s companion cocktail. It comes via Sean Skvarka of Whisler’s down in Austin, TX. It’s called ’29 Years’. It features Mezcal, so it may not be for everyone. But there’s no harm in trying two or three before you make that decision.
You’ll find another 12″ X 12″ insert inside that sleeve too. It’s got this astonishing bit of Boxer inspired artwork from New York based designer Philip Johnson. Take a few moments to let this one sink in, ’cause it may well be the best piece of artwork from a VMP release yet.
You’re going to want to take a good, long look at this little insert as well. Especially if you’re planning on spending a little dough in the VMP Member’s Store this month. Yes, they’re bringing a 50th anniversary pressing of The Velvet Underground’s groundbreaking debut to the store. It’s still as relevant today as it was upon release. And your collection is not complete without it.
But the goodies don’t stop there. If you keep digging, you’ll find this slip with full lyrics from Boxer. Now you can be certain you’re saying the right words while you’re weepily singing along.
There’s a digital download card in there as well so you can feel the feels anywhere you like.
Oh hey, there’s also a translucent 7″ in that sleeve featuring two tracks from The National’s forthcoming album Sleep Well Beast. Which is pretty sweet.
And before we get to that exclusive pressing of Boxer, be sure to note the lovely artwork on the album sleeve. Just another slick detail from this drop dead sexy release.
Anyway, here’s a look at the album itself. If you’re interested in that sort of thing. Gray may not be the most exciting color, but it sort of suits the gloomy, moody vibes throughout Boxer.
And I gotta say, it’s gonna look pretty damn great on your deck. Though it looks particularly great with the red ones.
How’s it sound? Like locking yourself inside your head with a baseball bat and a bottle of scotch. Beauty will come of this, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
Give It a Spin
Some albums sparkle and fade. Some get into your head or under your skin and linger there forever. With its knowing sense of loss and its passionate exploration of longing, regret and redemption, Boxer doesn’t just get into your head or under your skin … it feels like it was born there. It’s an album awash in wistful hues and complex emotions. An album thick with humanity in all of its lavish extremes. It’s an album that needs the warmth of the vinyl experience to fully indulge those extremes. I’d like to thank the folks at Vinyl Me, Please for giving me the chance to finally experience it that way. And I’d like to thank them 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! Can’t wait to see what tasty treat they pick for September!
thanks, for sharing about “THE NATIONAL BOXER”.
I’m waiting for your another article.