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Rarities / Subscriptions

05.) Stephin Merritt - Obscurities

Compiling rarities from the 1994-1999 Merge Records years, this collection spans tracks from Stephin Merritt, The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, Gothic Archies, and Buffalo Rome...basically all things Magnetic Fields, Merrit's solo work, and band side projects.  Instead of spending ridiculous amounts of cash on Ebay for these rare 7"s or out of print cassettes, you get everything your heart desires for under twenty bucks.  Even though the track order scatters the various groups/solo works, amazingly, the album works from start to finish and never feels disjointed.  

Listen / Purchase

04.) Jean-Claude Vannier - Electro Rapide

My favorite contemporary composer, Jean-Claude Vannier released a fourteen track collection of super rare tracks from his "private vault" to make "Electro Rapide".  These works exist before and during his time with creative collaborator Serge Gainsbourg and display some of Vannier's best instrumental works and the rare occasional vocal accompaniment.  The collection ranges almost every texture of sound and shows off Vannier as one of the greatest musical minds of our time.

Listen / Purchase

03.) Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Tape Club

A twenty-six song collection curated from ten years of SSLYBY material never released on proper albums.  What's shocking is how time has tied these songs together rather than pushing them apart and resulting in one of my favorite SSLYBY albums to date.  No longer available, Polyvinyl offered a beautiful marbled maroon 2xLP pressing that might be one of the most visually appealing pieces of wax this year.  

Listen / Purchase (ltd 500 is Out Of Print)

02.) Van Dyke Parks - 7" Series

Van Dyke Parks is a legend and is currently doing some of his best work in decades with six 7" records sent out through a subscription service.  His first 7" includes the track "Wall Street" which has become one of my top five Parks song of all time.  His music is grandiose and feels like a genius composer playing within the rules of a Broadway musical.  While the series is expensive, $75 for the six 7"s, it has been one of the better purchases I've made in 2011.

Listen / Listen / Purchase
01.) Matthew Friedberger - Solos

Matthew Friedberger's six solo vinyl only LP subscription (plus two bonus LP's and wooden box) is easily my favorite music related purchase of 2011 and by far the best vinyl release of the year.  Every two months a new vinyl would arrive at my door and grace my turntable with the most interesting and ambitious music of 2011.  The idea behind the project was for Friedberger to limit himself to one instrument per album including the guitar, piano, harp, percussion, organ, and strings.  I like to compare this project to the span in Alfred Hitchcock's film career where he self imposed restrictions to challenge his own art.  Be it shooting an entire film in a life boat or doing a feature in ten minute takes, Hitchcock discovered that by complicating the artistic process his final products were a breath of fresh air because of the restrictions.  The same is true for "Solos" which can be spun for hours and with each new spin there is something new to discover.  This collection has been the ultimate treat for music fans and if it was released as a single album would probably be at the top of WLFY's album of the year list.

Vinyl Only / Out Of Print (can find a few pieces in stores)


03.) Mississippi John Hurt - The Immortal

This Record Store Day reissue of one of the best folk/blues album of all time features a far superior sound then the flimsy original vinyl pressing.  It's one of those albums I've had forever but never felt the pressing did the music justice, but now the sound on this reissued wax tops all cds, digital, or other pressings.  Limited to 1,000.

Listen / Out Of Print

02.) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - S/T

If you didn't start collecting until recently, you may have noticed that most of your favorite indie rock albums from the mid 90's to mid 2000's are out of print and going for ridiculous amounts on eBay.  CYHSY's wildly popular self-titled release was one of these hard to find indie gems and the band corrected that by repressing the record and making the reissue pressing much better than the original.  A must own for fans of the band, fans of vinyl, or even broader, fans of indie rock.  

01.) Magnetic Fields - Holiday 

Made in 1999, it's been twelve years waiting for the second best Magnetic Fields record to finally be pressed to vinyl.  I actually wrote hand written letters to Merge and the band themselves asking for a vinyl pressing several times over those twelve years and it finally happened.  I couldn't be happier with the crystal clear synths and Merritt's low voice radiating from this well pressed piece of wax.  It will forever sit in my collection as one of my favorite vinyls.  


03.) Oregon Bike Trails - High School Lover 

One of the most beautiful vinyl packages of the year.  A stunning cover complimented by a crisp snowy white vinyl pressing limited to 500.  Oh, and the track is wonderful as well.  A nice piece of wax for any collection.

02.) Radical Dads - "Recklessness"

2011 was the year of 90's lo-fi rock pop.  Even with bands like Yuck or Pains Of Being Pure At Heart gnawing on the old sounds, nobody did it better than the Radical Dads.  The vinyl art is handmade and limited to 100.  One more time....LIMITED TO 100.  This is the first piece of wax for the band which makes it an extra special piece.  Radical Dads are only going to get bigger and bigger...if you their sound as much as me, grab this wax quickly.

01.) The Deloreans - "Buffalo"

Not only the run away best 7" of 2011, this piece of wax is one of my favorites in my collection of all time.  Pressed on bright pink vinyl and cased in a painstakingly handcrafted cover (with a gold tin foil buffalo in the center), this 7" houses two of the best songs of the year.  "Buffalo" was just named our number five track of the year and the side B track, "Starfish", is an incredible track that won't be found anywhere but on this vinyl.  It's also very limited, only 150 pressed, and still not sold out.  This is not just the best 7" but wins the WLFY vinyl best in show, a must have.  

12" EP/Single 

03.) Joanna Newsom - "What We Have Known"

Joanna Newsom fans have been clamoring for this track to find its way onto vinyl after it appeared on a   CD b-side for the track "Sprout and the Bean" years ago.  Drag City heard the cries and made a beautiful 12" for the rare track.

02.) Conveyor - Sun Ray 

I loved this EP from Brooklyn's Conveyor so much that we made it our first ever Record Club pick.  Pressed on bright orange vinyl, limited to 500, and individually hand numbered, the pressing does justice to an EP that will definitely find its way onto my top ten EPs of 2011.

01.) Angel Olsen - Strange Cacti

Even though this EP was written in 2010 and released on a very limited cassette run, Angel Olsen is my breakout artist of 2011 with the Strange Cacti EP being pressed to a 12" vinyl, her hypnotizing smoky voice, and work with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on his new album.  Her songs aren't over complicated, but Olsen has a voice that comes around once in a lifetime, every word that is whispered or shouted breathes a life into her songs that melts into the darkest parts of the listeners soul.  

Listen / Purchase (This was Out Of Print but a few copies now remain.  Hurry.)  

12" LP

03.) Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

The best hip-hop album of the year received the perfect pressing treatment from Sub-Pop records.  The outer cover is made out of a rubbery/velvet all black cover with a nice red sleeve inside.  I mean, just look at that beast above you.  I'm not sure what it is, but Sub-Pop always has the best center vinyl labels, they look amazing still or spinning on your turntable.  Pressed on thick vinyl, the record sounds amazing and is a near perfect packaging job (has to be single gatefold to get a 10/10 from me).

02.) Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

Dear Merge Records,
I'm broke because of you.

This is far and away the best vinyl packaging of the year (#2 because, once again, no gatefold) and they made a game out of the pressing by scattering 120 limited blue and 880 clear limited pressings at random.  I've bought twelve of these puppies so far and I'm 12/12 black standard pressing.  My roommate bought one....clear...bastard.  I'll continue to stock pile the largest collection of these vinyls in search of the elusive blue whale pressing because this pressing is the best example of why you should buy vinyl, this album sounds 100% better on wax then on any other format I've heard.  It feels like it was made for vinyl.  Beautiful insert sleeve and a heavy wax pressing marks this as one of the best vinyls of 2011.  Merge, please send me a blue vinyl and make my 2011...or at the very least let me come down to your office and hold one for a few minutes.

01.) Glen Campbell - Ghost On A Canvas
(image by Unboxing Vinyl)

SINGLE GATEFOLD!  Not only that, the 24" gatefold inner section contains my favorite music related image of 2011.  It's Campbell standing in front of charcoal backdrop and presented in two forms bled into each other to convey his newly diagnosed alzheimer's.  It's a perfectly crafted vinyl package for one of the best albums of 2011 and will always be a gem in my collection.  

Here is a list of some of my favorite and most trusted independent vinyl labels.  Check them out and remember to support these small companies and your local record store.

Tympanogram Records
and many more...

1 comment:

  1. OK, for best the reissue section, what about the massive, sprawling boxset that Neutral Milk Hotel put out this year? I just got mine today and it is beyond stunning and beautiful.