For the past five years I have been a committed collector of vinyl LPs. Before I got back into records I dismissed vinyl nuts who claimed music sounded better on big old 12 inch discs. Now, I must reveal myself as one of those nuts. First off, I have to admit that most of the musci I buy on LP is old stuff – I picked up a copy of Odessy and Oracle by the Zombies (review here) only yesterday. How could I pass it up? It was only €12.99 when just about every other LP worth buying (in Dublin) is at least a tenner dearer. one notable exception is the Rolling Stones back catalogue which is reasonably priced, in the main, at €14.99ish – even Exile on main Street (a double album) can be found for only €19.99.
With the advertising out of the way I can get back to my main point: I don’t buy old records exclusively. I have picked up some new music – stuff that was originally recorded for and released on CD. Things like Animal Collective‘s Merriwether Post Pavillion, Wilco‘s A Ghost is Born and In Rainbows by Radiohead. Although I do prefer to buy music on vinyl if I can get it, I’m beginning to lean back toward buying albums released in the CD era on CD because I’m not seeing that much difference between the warmth (or lack of it) of the sound between the two formats on albums that were engineered for CD originally. It’s too early to make that decision as it has been hard up until the past twelve months for me to actually find vinyl versions of newly-released albums. Certainly this year, it appears that every major release goes out on vinyl siumltaneoulsy (near as dammit).
My two favourite albums of 2011, I bought on two different formats. Early on in the year I bought The King is Dead (hear a song from it here) by The Decemberists on CD. For the next few months I told everyone who would listen that it was the CD of the year. Then in December I hinted strongly ( gave my son the title of the LP, the cost and where he could buy it) that I wanted Slave Ambient by The War on Drugs on vinyl. Coincidentally I got it as a Christmas present. From my son. Bless him.
Now I don’t know if Slave Ambient is any better on vinyl but it is certainly one of my two favourite albums of the year. I guess The War on Drugs, on this evidence, play intelligent rock music with an adventurous outlook. The Decemberists play what I can only call American folk music , rock influenced, in a straightforward melodic manner with clear lyrics and tuneful singing. I guess that should be enough to put off anyone who reads it but I mean it in a truly positive way. I found the Decemberists totally without affectation and intent on making the best, most musical songs they could manage in uncluttered arrangements that shouted their enjoyement of the music for all to hear.
If any of you have any suggestions of albums I should buy I would love to hear them. I’m a big fan of Uncut but was a little disappointed with the CD of the Year’s Best this year – it all felt one-paced and samey – with the notable exception of, inevitably, The War on Drugs.