The Best and Worst Releases of Record Store Day 2016
Published Apr 13, 2016Every April, music lovers have a tradition: we visit our local record stores, line up for special deals and exclusive releases, and often also end up complaining about all of the crappy vinyl cash-grabs that are clogging up the world's limited vinyl-pressing resources.
The ever-divisive Record Store Day is returning for its ninth year on Saturday (April 16), and it brings with it the usual massive list of exclusive releases available at participating indie stores. As always, these releases are a mixed bag: there are some intriguing rarities that are sure to please fans, some hotly anticipated reissues of long-out-of-print classics, and some completely pointless novelty records that will clog up shelves for years to come.
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we've put together this list of the best and worst Record Store Day releases of 2016. There's nothing quite as jaw-dropping as that Flaming Lips mega-collaboration, and there isn't anything as foul as that Bob Marley interviews LP, but there are still plenty of interesting releases to keep an eye out for this year — or steer way clear of.
The 10 Best Releases of Record Store Day 2016:
10. John Frusciante
A year ago, former Red Hot Chili Peppers axeman John Frusciante announced plans to step away from making music for commercial release. It comes as a surprise treat, therefore, that he's issuing a 12-inch EP with four previously unheard cuts. It seems that Foregrow follows in the electronic vein of his work as Trickfinger, as an announcement notes that these songs use "elements of John Carpenter's eternal scores, the drum programming DNA of jungle and footwork."
9. Run the Jewels
(Mass Appeal Records)
Normally, Record Store Day is all about vinyl, but let's give rap hellraisers Run the Jewels credit for thinking outside of the box on this one. They're releasing VRTJ, a virtual reality headset designed to be used with an iOS or Android phone to watch their recent VR video for "Crown." It can also be used for viewing other VR videos. This seems to be pretty much the exact same thing as Google Cardboard, but it looks way cooler, and it makes for a creative collectible for fans of the duo.
8. Clint Mansell Featuring Kronos Quartet
Requiem for a Dream
Back in 2000, now-famed soundtrack composer Clint Mansell (formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself) teamed up with long-running string ensemble Kronos Quartet for the chilling score of the film Requiem for a Dream. The score is particularly notable for "Lux Aeterna," which has been used in various movie trailers over the years. Now, the score is coming to vinyl for the first time as a double-LP edition that includes a couple of unreleased bonus cuts.
B-Sides & Rarities
(Warner Bros. Records/Reprise Records)
Alt-metal lifers Deftones have built up a fair number of B-sides and rarities over the years, and in 2005, they collected a decade's worth of oddments on the logically titled compilation B-Sides & Rarities. This reissue marks the album's first-ever vinyl release. The songs are spread across two gold-coloured records — there are three sides of music, plus an etching on the fourth side.
6. The Shaggs
"Sweet Maria" / "The Missouri Waltz (Missouri State Song)"
(Light in the Attic Records)
Leave it to the reissue specialists at Light in the Attic to dig up yet another classic outsider act. The Shaggs are legendary among outsider art fanatics. These three sisters formed a band in the late '60s at the behest of their father, despite the fact that none of them had any particular musical talent. The off-kilter results were an anti-music masterpiece that challenges all conventions of traditional melody or rhythm. In advance of a reissue of their lone album, 1969's Philosophy of the World, this 7-inch unearths a couple of previously unheard cuts, "Sweet Maria" and "The Missouri Waltz (Missouri State Song)."
5. Mac DeMarco
Another (Demo) One
Mac DeMarco's 2015 mini-album Another One featured yet more charming slacker-pop from the prolific oddball songwriter, but its eight-song tracklist felt a little slight. Luckily, this demos collection is more substantial, since there are 16 cuts on Another (Demos) One. Some of these are demos of songs that appeared on Another One, but many of them are previously unheard tunes. An announcement promises "lo-fi fuzz built upon foundations of infectious pop melodies," which sounds a lot like how we'd describe DeMarco's early Makeout Videotape material.
4. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
I Guess We Were a Fucking Surf Band
(Yep Roc Records)
Yes, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were indeed a fucking surf band, and their new box set, I Guess We Were a Fucking Surf Band, is an excellent piece of Canadiana from the Toronto instrumental rock unit. The package includes the band's classic albums (Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham and Sport Fishin': The Lure of the Bait, the Luck of the Hook, plus the compilation Savvy Show Stoppers), along with a bonus record containing B-sides, rarities and previously unreleased material.
3. David Bowie
I Dig Everything - The Pye Singles 1966
The world was shocked by David Bowie's death back in January, and any release from the late rock star is bound to be a big draw. He's releasing a couple of picture discs, but the most interesting release from Bowie is this reissued EP that compiles singles from 1966. These early singles pre-date the commercial breakthrough of "Space Oddity," and they even came before Bowie's eponymous 1967 debut. As we look back on one of the greatest music careers ever, this offers an illuminating glimpse into his early days.
Following last year's CD box set Chorus (which sold out quickly and has since been repressed), reunited shoegazers Lush are collecting their back catalogue for the five-LP set Origami. It includes the band's three classic '90s LPs (Spooky, Split and Lovelife), plus the compilations Gala and Topolino. Each album comes on a different colour of vinyl, and it's all housed in a laminated box. Making the whole thing even more exciting for Lush fans is the fact that the comeback EP Blind Spot comes out the day before RSD (April 15).
1. The White Stripes
The Complete Peel Sessions
(Third Man Records)
The White Stripes are perhaps the most thoroughly well-archived band of the past 20 years, as Jack White has repeatedly dug up interesting oddities from the duo's past for release on his label Third Man Records. This treasure from the vaults is no different: The Complete Peel Sessions captures Jack and Meg's BBC radio appearances from 2001, just as their album White Blood Cells was catapulting them to a commercial breakthrough. The recordings have been widely bootlegged, and now they're finally getting an exclusive release. A standard black vinyl is due out later in the year, but this RSD release features a white LP and a red LP. It's a must-have for anyone who wants to hear one of the new millennium's best rock bands at the peak of their powers.
The 5 Worst Releases of Record Store Day 2016:
5. Soul Asylum
Grave Dancers Union
In the '90s, CDs dominated the music market, and many classic albums were never released on vinyl. We're totally in favour of some of these albums getting vinyl reissues, but Soul Asylum's Grave Dancers Union is not one of them. CD copies pollute thrift store bargain bins everywhere, and the album was already released on vinyl just last year. The fact that this comes on clear red and clear green doesn't make up for the fact that Grave Dancers Union isn't nearly as cool as we thought it was in middle school. This is reminder that not everything needs to be reissued on vinyl.
4. All of Those Pointless Picture Discs
Picture discs can look pretty cool, but here's the unfortunate truth: they sound like shit. The quality is never as good as on standard LPs, so if you're one of those people who likes to go on about the "warmth of vinyl," you'll want to avoid all of these (yes, even the Bowie ones). The real problem is that nearly all of the many albums that are being released on picture disc this RSD are already readily available on vinyl. This goes for Justin Bieber's Purpose, James Bay's Chaos and the Calm, Logic's The Incredible True Story, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and more. We wish labels would focus on putting interesting music on vinyl rather reissuing the same stuff in gimmicky formats.
3. Hello Kitty
(Phineas Atwood Productions)
This is another pointless picture disc, but Hello World is so ghastly that it merits its very own entry. We can't help but wonder: who are they making this crap for? For parents who demand that their Hello Kitty music be on vinyl? For Brony-esque adults who embrace Hello Kitty as a twee attempt to cling onto youth? Are there aging record nerds who are into this stuff? We seriously can't imagine who will be buying these and why, but there will be a thousand copies going around this Record Store Day. Let's forget this ever happened and get back to arguing whether Hello Kitty is a cat or a human girl.
"The Sound of Silence"
(Warner Bros. Records)
Curiously popular metal band Disturbed included a tacky, overwrought cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" on their 2015 album Immortalized. Fine, whatever. But now this Crash Test Dummies-sounding stinker of a cover is being reissued on a picture disc with an enormous image of singer David Draiman's ridiculous chin piercing. Adding insult to injury, it contains the most boring of all imaginable B-sides: an instrumental version of the same song. On the bright side, this definitely has some comic value as a gag gift.
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! - Live at Le Bataclan. Paris, France - June 11th, 2003
We feel a little guilty about ragging on this Metallica album, since it was recorded at the same venue where the tragic Eagles of Death Metal terrorist attack took place last year, and all proceeds are going to charity. But seriously — a fucking CD? We all know that most CDs are destined to be ripped onto a computer and then discarded, which makes this release no different from the many dozens of Metallica live albums already available online. Metallica are the ambassadors of Record Store Day in 2016, meaning that the onus was on them to deliver a cool exclusive release. But instead, the band are reissuing not one but two massive vinyl box sets of their best material the day before Record Store Day — a fact that seems almost like an insult to the event itself.