Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008
No Hiding Place
Photo by Zach Cordner
The resurgence in vinyl sales in the digital age is a popular talking point these days, so when an artist the stature of Elvis Costello announced that he’d be releasing his new album Momofuku on vinyl and vinyl only, tongues were a-wagging. After all, it was one thing to ensure your work was available to those who preferred the analog realm, but entirely another to cater to them exclusively. Eventually it was revealed that the LPs would come with a coupon for a digital download version and that a CD version would then follow – almost certainly the game plan from the beginning – but the analog uber alles-ness of the release would be the main story surrounding the record.
Which is rather unfortunate, because relative to his last few albums which were pushed as “returns to form”, Momofuku comes across a lot more naturally than EC has sounded in a long time. Both When I Was Cruel and The Delivery Man had much to recommend them, but both felt like they were trying a bit too hard – the former to prove that Costello could still rock and the latter with its concept album narrative. Like those two, Momofuku was recorded with The Imposters, who are essentially The Attractions less curmudgeonly bass god Bruce Thomas and plus more amiable bass slinger Davey Farraghar.
Momofuku feels much like a blend of those two records – the sonics recall The Delivery Man‘s rootsiness while the songwriting aspires to the ranginess of Cruel – and yet it’s decidedly more likable than either. There’s no sense that Costello had any agenda beyond making a rock record – nothing to prove, nothing to reclaim – and he puts that freedom to good use. There’s no immediate standouts, but Costello’s days as a singles artist are long behind him. Instead, it maintains a high standard throughout and is welcome both as an excellent record and as proof that Costello can still make excellent records.
But back to the initial debate – analog v digital. Courtesy of Filter, I’ve got three copies of Momofuku on vinyl (double LP!) and three on CD (single digipack!) to give away. If you’d like to win either, leave me a comment with your email spamproofed as necessary explaining why analog is superior to digital or vice-versa. The side you choose is the prize you’re seeking, though I fully expect there’ll be far more analog-heads than digi-freaks and after the vinyls are all given away, I may have to consolation prize out the CDs. Sorry. Anyway, the contest will run a week and close at midnight, June 9 and is open to any resident of North America. For my part, I love much about vinyl – the tangibility, the size, the interactivity, but there’re so many variables in playback – the turntable, the cartridge, the stylus, the setup, the preamp, the weight of the vinyl – that for someone as techie obsessive compulsive as I am, I’d spend more time tweaking than listening. That and the fact that any time I try to play vinyl, my cat attacks my turntable. So I, in fact, prefer a good digital setup (good player, good amp, good speakers). Your turn.
Stream: Aimee Mann / @#%&! Smilers
One to file under “oh man” – I already mentioned that Okkervil River were coming back for a show at the Phoenix on October 12… well I’ve just learned that support for the show (and presumably the tour) will be Crooked Fingers. This is doubly exciting because it implies that there will be a new Crooked Fingers release between now and then. I had been thinking about going out of town Thanksgiving weekend, but I’ll now happily put that off a week or two in order to be around for this show. Tickets will be $15.50 in advance.
Four-part harmony monsters Bodies Of Water have a date at the El Mocambo on August 9, tickets $10.50. Their new album is A Certain Feeling, due out on July 22.
Fleet Foxes release their self-titled debut album today and are streaming the whole thing on their MySpace. They’re in town on July 16 and judging from the “THE PHOENIX w/ MALKMUS !!!! !!!! !!!!” note on their tour calendar, they’re a wee bit chuffed to be playing with Stephen Malkmus.
Stream: Fleet Foxes / Fleet Foxes
God forbid the boys in Wolf Parade should actually devote their full energies to, well, Wolf Parade with the release of At Mount Zoomer on June 17. Immediately after wrapping up their tour in support of the new record (which hits the Kool Haus on August 9), Dan Boeckner will climb back in the van as the Handsome Furs for another tour and be at Lee’s Palace on August 22.