Before we dig into November’s box, let’s have a moment of silence for the late, great Leonard Cohen. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said. I’ll just offer that ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ was, is, and shall ever remain my go to song when I’m feeling less than human. And I’ll leave it at that.
21 August 1934 – 7 November 2016
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 supply Vinyl Me, Please with $23 a month and they supply you with one meticulously selected album worthy of your time and attention. Stupid 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 the October reissue of Beck’s landmark album Odelay – plus additional rare and exclusive releases. And there are goodies galore hitting the store this month.
Like an exclusive 10-year anniversary pressing of electro-pop stalwarts Islands’ Return to the Sea (limited to 750 copies on splattered clear vinyl) and a special edition of Sleigh Bells’ latest noise-pop opus Jessica Rabbit (on colored wax with signed poster included). You’ll also find a copy of FLOTUS, the new album from chamber-country pioneers Lambchop and a haunting collection of new songs from Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions titled Until the Hunter. Oh, there are reissues of Beck’s weepy break-up album Sea Change and Bright Eyes’ emo-folk classic Lifted! or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground available too. You can also grab a copy of Leonard Cohen’s final album You Want It Darker if you so desire. And yes, you should. Just try to contain those tears, my friends.
Trust me, there’s more. If you’re on the fence about it, just know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP 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 Vinyl Me, Please’s road-show, The Spins. They may be coming to a bar near you in the very near future. But don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
Before you do, let’s see what’s inside this month’s box.
You better believe I scored a copy of that Drive Original Soundtrack from last month’s store. I cannot say how happy it makes me to see VMP teaming up with the awesome folks over at Invada UK and Lakeshore Records. Well done. But let’s stay on topic, eh? ‘Cause The Lemon of Pink is quite a topic.
For the Love of Music, Please DO NOT BEND
Expectations are a complicated thing. Even more so when you don’t have any. Such was my approach to VMP’s November selection The Lemon of Pink by the Books. Sometimes having no expectations is a really good thing. I don’t quite know what to make of The Lemon of Pink just yet. I’ll simply say that, in my opinion, some bands make music and some bands make art. I won’t claim to know where that line is drawn. But I knew which side the Books were on after hearing the first two-and-a-half minutes of The Lemon of Pink.
The moment came about halfway through the opening track ‘The Lemon of Pink I’ … just after the fractured voice of Anne Doerner broke in to make a song of the sloppily plucked banjo and typewriter keys and random washy electronics. I didn’t really know what I was hearing … because none of those sounds fit together before Doerner appeared. But they didn’t not fit either. They just sort of existed. The Lemon of Pink only got weirder from there. Almost immediately, I knew I needed listen to the album again. So 36 mintues later, that’s exactly what I did. And after that second spin, I listened again. Even after a third listen, I still don’t quite know what to make of The Lemon of Pink. The second album from Nick Zammuto’s and Paul DeLong’s experimental outfit the Books can only be described as a confounding and enthralling experience.
And yes, The Lemon of Pink is … an experience. A transfixing, hypnotic experience where found-sound experimentation meets gentle acoustic alchemy and shines through the prism of ethereal electronics. I know, that sounds like a bunch of rubbish. And it is. Truth be told, I don’t think one can put the experience into words. Sure, I could write all about the glitchy, folktronic ambience of ‘Tokyo’. Or the soulful, washy strum and Gandhi-centric recordings from ‘There Is No There’. I could tell you that the stirring, found-sound mashup that is ‘A True Story of a Story of True Love’ is the sort of song that might make you laugh while you’re crying. I could even try to describe the joy of hearing the awkward goodbye that is ‘PS’.
Just know that all of that would come across as completely disingenuous. One simply cannot put into words the level of skill, ingenuity, and unabashed sincerity at play over the 13 tracks on The Lemon of Pink. And one really shouldn’t bother. You can either hear it or you can’t. And if you can’t, then I pity you. Either way, know that the Books do not make music. The Books make art. The world is their instrument and their chisel and their brush all wrapped in one. And The Lemon of Pink is their medium.
But What’s in the Box?!
Cover art can say a lot to say about an album and the artist who made it. But sometimes meaning is a little harder to decipher. I can’t really tell you what this cover for The Lemon of Pink is all about. But it’s kind of awesome. And it’s pretty enough that I don’t feel the need to attach any meaning. Ditto for that back cover.
Now let’s get down to business. But before you rip open that shrink-wrap, take note of this dandy little sticker. You guessed it – another sick exclusive from Team VMP.
Don’t forget to have a gander at that outer sleeve, ’cause it’s full of important info. Like the artist’s name – the Books. The album name – The Lemon of Pink. And, of course, the initials of the VMP staffer who packed your disc. Thanks for the love, II.
Make sure you flip that sleeve over and check out the album’s companion cocktail, ‘Margo Flips’. You’ll need Single Malt Scotch, Chocolate Stout, and a whole egg. Sounds like a tasty treat for a cool autumn evening. Can’t wait to make one for myself.
There’s a couple of other gems hiding in that box too. Like this lovely bit of rambling from Tyler Barstow about why VMP chose The Lemon of Pink. There’s also a stunning 12″x 12″ print from New Jersey based visual artist William “Zoe” Fitzgerald in there. Not to mention a few words from the artist detailing his approach to the material on the back. And whatever you do, don’t overlook the noise track instructional from the Books’ own Nick Zammuto.
And if you’re curious about what else is coming to the VMP store this month, there’s a little teaser included. There’s a reissue of Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band coming to the store this month. Remain calm. In case you were wondering, Christmas is right around the corner. And a VMP membership might be the one must have on your vinyl lover’s wish list. Just sayin’.
OK, who’s ready to start digging? Me too. But before we dig too deep, take a moment to appreciate The Lemon of Pink‘s sexy ass die-cut cover. ‘Cause wow.
And don’t overlook the art inside that gatefold either.
Now, let’s get into that sleeve already, ’cause there’s more lovely extras in there this month. Like this insane, 16 page pull out booklet. There’s a lot going on in that book … like some glorious original art work, a detailed account of the band’s formation straight from the member’s themselves and even some detailed insight into the creation of each song.
And yeah, there’s a full page of lyrics to boot. Though it’s a little difficult to call a lot of those words lyrics in the traditional sense.
Don’t miss out on the digital download card. Trust me, The Lemon of Pink is an album that you’re going to want to take with you. And that download comes with a handful of killer bonus tracks, too!
Before we whip out that wax, let’s take a moment to appreciate the artwork on the inner sleeve. No, that’s not actual ring-wear, but you’ve got to appreciate that VMP took such care with the details.
Don’t worry, they took just as much care with your wax.
That’s lemon colored with hot-pink splatter. Like the album, it’s a legit work of art. And on your deck, it’s a site to behold.
How’s it sound? Like walking the Earth with special headphones that tune you in to every sound, every song, and every conversation in the world … simultaneously.
Give It a Spin
What I love about music is that there’s always something you haven’t heard. Some random little nugget by some unheralded band that comes through and completely turns your world upside down. That’s the sort of band the Books are. What can I say about this album other than I listen to a lot of music, and I’ve never heard anything quite like it. I don’t know how I missed The Lemon of Pink when it was released. Quite honestly, I don’t care. It’s here now. I’ve listened to it three times since I broke it out of the box. I’m about to listen to it again. And that never would’ve happened without Vinyl Me, Please. Thanks Team VMP for making that happen. And thanks for making every new selection an adventure … ’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 crunchy treat they send our way for the holiday season.