It irritated me when Jack White made this video to brag about how innovative he was being with record pressing, when things like odd-sized records, multicolored vinyl and unusual speeds have been around for decades.
I found this ad from Billboard magazine. The year is 1960, but the vinyl oddities it describes might as well be from 1995, or 2002, or 2011. I was really perplexed when I got to the bottom and saw that it wasn’t for Rainbo Records or Erika Records, either.
In last week’s Bohemian, I raved about Christette Michele’s new album, Epiphany, and the surprisingly rewarding low-and-inside swing it takes at commercial success. Chalk one up for the 26-year-old batter: Epiphany was released this week, and swiftly hit #1 on the Billboard 200.
The funny thing about all this is that Michele is so obviously skilled as a jazz singer. But does jazz sell? Could Michele have tried to make a stab at Norah Jones-ness? Is Norah Jones-ness dead? Is “Love Is You” just a crappy Corrine Bailey Rae knockoff?
So: Into the studio with more rappers, into the makeup department with a new hairstyle, and into the computer with more music editing software. Maybe she’ll make that small-combo album someday, but once the beast starts giving, it’s hard to let go of the leash. Epiphany only sold 88,000 copies in its first week, the lowest sales ever for a #1 album in the SoundScan era, but I’m guessing that unlike the industry, Michele’s pretty happy with her figure.
I wrote a few weeks ago about Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, a record that a surprising number of critics have no reservations about already hailing as the album of the year. I didn’t like the album at first. Then I reconsidered the unique achievement Animal Collective had made by constructing pop songs out of unconventional ingredients, and wrote my review.
Another reason I may have been inclined toward speaking favorably of the album is that the band released it on vinyl two weeks before the CD, which is always a way to win my heart. Not that anyone could find the damn thing. Websites sold out of it immediately. Stores couldn’t even order copies. It swiftly went out of print. Fools were bummed.
Here’s the amazing thing. As reported by MTV, of all places, Merriweather Post Pavilion has a chance at actually hitting the Billboard charts next week for selling out the initial run of 4,500 copies. That’d be vinyl on the Billboard 200. Could you believe it?
This falls in line with reports of vinyl sales being up 89-percent from last year, and of record pressing plants being swamped with orders nationwide. It’s getting crazy in lacquerland.
Anyway, if you missed out on the 180-gram gatefold 2LP version of Merriweather Post Pavilion, don’t stress. It looks like they’re already rush-releasing a vinyl repress to be out “in the next three to five weeks.”
As for me, I’ve been swinging back toward my gut instinct. It turns out that those hooks all over the record are in fact obnoxious to me, after all. What can I say? I like Feels. Renaissance Faire singing about quaint domesticity, not so much.
A successful, but far less funny, version of what they tried to pull off live at the Grammy Awards in 2006 arrives in the form of a software-enabled mashup of the Top 25 Billboard hits of 2008:
In related news, Pitchfork reverses their past worship and calls for an end to the mashup craze. Too little too late, I say.