Category: Record Nerd Newz

Live Mint Pillow Vinyl Set: Afro Funk Psych Garage JAMZ

Mint Pillow - Live from State Park 8.25.16

Mint Pillow – Live from State Park 8.25.16

The above is Mint Pillow’s live vinyl set from State Park Bar on 8.23.16 and features FOUR HOURS of hot jams from around the planet Earth. Focusing on afrobeat, psychedelic, funk, garage, & reggae – Pillow traipses across the planet, playing tracks from Ghana, South Africa, Singapore, UK, Nigeria, Jamaica, Turkey, Thailand, Mexico, France, the US and all points in between.


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Episode 83 – Charley Patton’s Hand

Episode 83

Episode 83 – Charley Patton’s Hand

I recently finished reading Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records – and it was an engaging read. Written by Amanda Petrusich, it chronicles well known collectors of 78 records, and in particular collectors who specialize in Pre-War Blues. Petrusich did an excellent job in connecting the music, history, fanaticism, and people who’ve saved this music from being lost to history. I wouldn’t read without a highlighter in hand as I wasn’t too versed in this era of music (outside of Robert Johnson) – and it was a fantastic way not only be entertained, but educated. The result of my dog-eared & Highlighted copy of Do Not Sell is this podcast.

  • Buy Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records

    1. Intro
    2.  Mississippi John Hurt – Spike Driver Blues
    3. The Williamson Brothers & Curry – Gonna Die With My Hammer In My Hand (1927)
    4. Skip James – Drunken Spree (1931)
    5. Joe Bussard – R&B Stuff Now
    6. Eddie Head & His Family – Down on Me (1930)
    7. Charley Patton – Some These Days I’ll Be Gone (1929)
    8. Blind Lemon Jefferson – Black Snake Moan (1927)
    9. King Solomon Hill – My Buddy Blind Papa Lemon (1932)
    10. Geeshie Wiley – Last Kind Words Blues (1930)
    11. Bessie Smith – Down Hearted Blues (1923)
    12. Sylvester Weaver – Guitar Blues (1923)
    13. Blind Uncle Gaspard – Sur Le Borde De L’eau (1929)
    14. Tommy Johnson – Alcohol and Jake Blues (1929)
    15. Frank Hutchison – K.C.Blues (1927)
    16. Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hull – Original Stack O Lee Blues (1927)
    17. Cincinnati Jug Band – Newport Blues (1929)
    18. Arthur Miles – Lonesome Cowboy Pt. II (1928)
    19. Lucie Bernardo / Otto Rathke – The Okeh Laughing Record (1922)

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Support This: If the Devil is Six – A Volar Records Sexennial Compilation

Volar Records

Volar Records

Part of my mission statement with Visions of the Unexcused is to expose bands & labels that are under the daily radar – and over the past six years Volar Records have been exemplary in regards to small, independent, and utterly fantastic record labels that repeatedly put out music that places a smile in my ear.

Run by Craig Oliver out of San Diego – Volar has released favorite LP’s and 7″ records that have become mainstays on my platter, in DJ sets,  on my Radio Show, and on this very site. Craig’s taste and ear have a batting average that’d make Tony Gwynn blush, and I hope he’s putting out records for many more years.

Below is a 45 track sampler (yes….forty five!!!) that will be available for another week via BandCamp at a price you decide. As lover’s of music it’s equally important for us to not only support the bands, but the labels that are brave enough to put their time and money on the line to expose freaks like me to music that’s as important as air. And if you know what’s good for you you won’t just stop at the sampler, jump on over to the Volar Store and purchase some beautifully pressed (and priced) wax.

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When The Going Gets Weird: Weirdo Records Is Dead. Long Live Weirdo Records.

Long Live Weirdo Records. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Long Live Weirdo Records. (Photo – D.Hixon)

It’s been a heart wrenching week for Central Square, and selfishly, myself. First news trickled out that the seminal rock club, one in which I’ve seen both friends and heroes play in, TT the Bears, is closing it’s doors – and now…..this. Pound for pound Weirdo Records was the greatest record store in the world, and now….it’s gone, as Central Square takes one more giant step to becoming Kendall fucking Square. Jesse was right, Hi-Fi Pizza becoming a goddamn vegetarian spot was only the beginning. The gentrification of Central Square is now in full throat. But Hey, at least we have a bunch of soulless and pretty pharmaceutical buildings creeping up our ass. Yikes, this could get ugly quick….let’s get back to Weirdo.

The first time I entered Weirdo Angela Sawyer (Godhead & Owner of Weirdo) turned to me and asked over some sort of percussion driven screech chant “music” if I wanted a beer. I of course said yes and my experiences only improved from there – Weirdo was always perfect for me. As a DJ, blogger, podcaster, and overall music freak I can’t overstate how important Weirdo Records was to me. I was admittedly intimidated by the place at first. Walking into Weirdo Records was like entering a tomb. The claustrophobic feel of the large closet called store berated your senses and didn’t allow you be comfortable – and that’s why it was utterly fantastic. There’s still plenty of great shops in Cambridge, but none push your taste or limits like Weirdo – and that’s what a shop’s supposed to do, expose you to new sounds, make you a little uncomfortable, all while helping you cultivate the musical garden garden of taste in your head, and my garden never grew faster than it did with Weirdo. It was like this strange sonic miracle grow for my ear taste.

If I’ve turned you on to new music, you’ve seen me spin out, or listen to my radio show or podcast – then you should certainly shed a tear with me. So much of what I play was discovered and mined out of Weirdo – and it gives me more than minor (major?) anxiety now that it’s gone. Where the hell am I going to get my Afro-Beat, Asian Soul, Middle Eastern Psych or rare Garage from? Goddamn it. The more I type the more I realize how big a hole such a small place is going to leave.

If she reads this (and I think she will) I want to take a step back and thank Angela. I was mostly quiet in there, but you always pushed me in directions that were beyond good, and from that first beer to last purchase, you made the most intimidating shop the most accessible and in the end the best – I’ll be a cow-eyed shoegazer the next few days as I wallow in my “loss” – but am beyond thrilled for your future adventures. We need more Angela’s in this world. Full Stop. End of Sentence.

I’ll be spinning records tonight at State Park from 9:00pm to 12:00am and will wear my Weirdo Records T-Shirt with pride while playing a healthy amount of wax from the pound for pound undisputed Record Store Champ. Drinks on me if you can make it Angela.

Weirdo Records is Dead. Long Live Weirdo Records.

Mint Pillow @ State Park 05/21.

Mint Pillow @ State Park 05/21. (Photo – J.Nguyen)

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Road Visions: Record Stores of London – Notting Hill

Honest Jon's located on Portobello Road  in Notting Hill. (Photo - D.Hixon)

Honest Jon’s located on Portobello in Notting Hill. (D.Hixon)

Late last year I was able to spend a couple of weeks in London. As I’ve stated in the past, shopping for vinyl in Europe is a dream, an expensive dream albeit, but a dream none-the-less. Every shop you enter is stacked with non-American releases (everything’s an import) and the selection’s vastly different than what you’re used to in the States.

With some modest research my friend Kevin and I made our way to Rough Trade West, which is located in Notting Hill, and let the streets lead us around a non-lazy afternoon that found the wax to be plentiful, the pints proper, and conversation delightful.

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market (D.Hixon)

Portobello Road Market
As we got off the Tube and started walking towards Rough Trade we were greeted – totally by luck – with the Saturday Portobello Road Market, a closed off street filled with throngs of tourists, hustlers, and locals. There were bazaar’s, pubs, and shops lining the streets with open air vendor’s selling everything from food, clothes, antiques, and yes….records.

The prices varied here, but I was able to pick up and barter for a killer copy of I-Roy’s 1973 UK press of Hell And Sorrow as well as an original 1977 Italian first press of Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols – records and pressings you just don’t run across in the States. A main goal heading into London was to get as much reggae as I could. Outside of Jamaica, and maybe even more so – there’s no better place to get reggae on vinyl than the UK. Punk, Indie, and Garage were also on my list – so before we even hit Rough Trade I was off to a great start. I’ll say records were priced a little high on the street until you got further down the road and past the food vendors – where the true locals were selling. Some of the vendors were pretty crass, and to be frank, total assholes (particularly one dude I tried to buy a Hawkwind record from, first & only time I’ve been called a “wanker”) – but other vendor’s were friendly & willing to come down from their tourist high prices if they sniffed out you were a true collector.

The outside of Rough Trade West. (Photo - D.Hixon)

The outside of Rough Trade West. (D.Hixon)

Rough Trade West
After traipsing down Portobello we finally got to Rough Trade West, and I have to say, I was disappointed upon entering. The smallish room was jammed with new records and when traveling internationally I’m strictly on the used record tip. Thankfully I noticed there was an equally sized downstairs filled exclusively with used records. Crisis averted.

I dove right into the reggae section which was bigger than most back in the States, but not necessarily huge. The Indie, Rock, and Garage sections had the more impressive selections. The prices weren’t cheap, but the vibe in the basement was good. The lady behind the counter recognized I was wearing a Bleecker Street Records T-Shirt and we immediately started talking record nerd with each other. Upon hearing I was from Cambridge, MA she informed me that her Husband incessantly wears a T-Shirt they got some 20 years ago when visiting the States from In Your Ear Records, one of my home turf stores. This was my favorite part of Rough Trade, swapping stories of past digs with this lady behind the counter. It’s akin to fisherman telling big fish stories, and as we wrapped up she pushed us on our way further down Portobello to Honest Jon’s, after we (of course) stopped for a proper pint.

Honest Jons Records

Inside Honest Jon’s Records. (D. Hixon)

Honest Jon’s
Honest Jon’s is a quaint shop located towards the end of the Portobello Market that features music of different genres from across the globe. I discovered that Honest Jon’s is also a Record Label of the same name which happens to be co-run by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) – not bad pedigree for a record shop/label.  This is where I began to quench my thirst for reggae, as I picked up a Delroy Wilson LP as well as a Studio One Sales Sampler from 1979. Prices were reasonable and I was very thankful to pick up a “London Is The Place For Me” record directly from the source. These excellent complications are put out by Honest Jon’s and feature music composed by Caribbean immigrants in a variety of styles – Calypso, Jazz, Mento, and Highlife – all composed and often centered around London life – absolutely killer comps. After leaving Honest Jon’s we had another pint and meandered off the Portobello path in & got further lost in the Notting Hill afternoon.

All the Reggae 45's & a happy me.

All the Reggae 45’s & a happy me – People’s Sound!

People’s Sound
As we explored the streets we tripped into, by either destiny or luck, Sarm West Studios – a world renown studio which was created by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. Sarm has recorded the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, & Rolling Stones – all British Rock Royalty. We went inside and chatted with the friendly fellah behind the desk and he informed us that Bob Marley not only recorded there, but lived in the Studio for about a year – which is no coincidence as we were entering what appeared to be the Jamaican section of Notting Hill. Still thirsting for reggae I asked if he knew of any good shops – he smiled slyly, and directed us to People’s Sound – which was only two blocks away – safe to say – I was about to get all I could drink.

The outside of People's Sound (D.Hixon)

The outside of People’s Sound (D.Hixon)

I walked into People’s Sound to find no one behind the counter and a copious amount of incense floating in the air – however, as I 360’d around the small shop I realized I was 100% surrounded by Reggae, Dub, and Dancehall records – my prayers had been answered. A red eyed Rasta eventually came out to see my shaggy haired stupid grinned face and we were off from there.

I handed him my reggae 45 wantlist – which he was impressed with, but the only one he found in the bowels of the shop was Max Romeo – It Sipple Out Dehwhich I was 100% fine with, because I was about to be exposed to a hell of a lot more. We then sat at the counter chatting as he played me 45 after 45 of incredible roots reggae as I plucked what I especially liked while learning a helluva lot from this lifted sage. A week later, when my Wife met me in London this is the only shop I went back to, and is one I’ll go to any and every time I’m in the City. Most shop’s in the US have reggae section’s with maybe 20 records or so, but this was an ENTIRE shop – talk about drinking from a blunted fire hose. Beautiful, beautiful shop. Positive vibrations, yeah.

Music and Goods Exchange (D.Hixon)

Music and Goods Exchange (D.Hixon)

Music / Soul & Dance Exchange
After leaving the high of People’s Sound we backtracked towards the Tube and hit a Pub we earmarked on our way to Portobello. My bags of wax were starting to weigh heavy so after a few pints we decided to be proper tourists and just explore the other side of the neighborhood, but of course, before we got too far we ran into Music / Soul & Dance Exchange, and the dig (thankfully) continued.

This was actually two record stores in one, The Music & Video Exchange on the first floor and The Soul & Dance Exchange on the second floor. I was on the hunt for Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking all day, and of course, it was found in this last shop upstairs, I was overjoyed and scared the employees as a blurted out a too exuberant yelp. Both floors had an incredible mix of new and hard to find used records – and this shop, while facing the stiffest of competition, ended up being my favorite of the trip for three reasons:

  1. Pure Volume – On both floors there were a lot of records, 45 and LP, the most of any store we stopped in.
  2. Divergence of Selection – Downstairs had all the rock, pop, garage, indie, psych, you could want – and upstairs had an equally impressive selection of Hip Hop, Dance, Soul, Funk, African, and Electronic. If you’re a collector you’d be guaranteed to find something you’ve been searching for here.
  3. Price – On top of the quality and quantity the prices were by far the most reasonable of the day – and with the British Pound lapping the US Dollar this was a more than welcome sight.

We spent another good hour here, left with bags straining to stay in tact, and went across the street to (wait for it…..) another Pub. It was a beyond successful dig – such a cool, unique, and interesting neighborhood – one most recommended if in London and looking to get your fingers dirty and mind clean.

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Must Watch: The Rock-n-Roll Farmers: Donnie & Joe Emerson

Donnie & Joe Emerson - Dreamin' Wild

Donnie & Joe Emerson – Dreamin’ Wild

The story of Donnie and Joe Emerson is something vinyl heads tell their children as they tuck them in at night. Their only record, Dreamin’ Wild, was recorded by two brothers who lived in middle of nowhere rural Washington – they worked the farm during the day and played music all night. Their Father was so inspired by their passion that he built a $100,000 state of the art recording studio….in the 70’s… the middle of nowhere. The result is a weird mix of white boy soul, rock, and funk. The original vinyl is a holy grail find, as only something like a 1,000 records were pressed, however, it’s since been repressed by Light in the Attic records – and is an essential album for any record collection. Watch their story below in a brief but touching documentary on the brothers.

Recommended If You Like: 70’s AM pop, White Boy Soul

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Must Watch: Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton – the best Music documentary of 2014. Essential.

I have the habit, especially while driving, of gradually turning up the volume of an album I’m feeling, track by track. It may start at a four but’ll be cranked up to ten halfway through if it’s hitting home. I’ve never ever done this with a movie, well…until I watched Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton. I found myself continually reaching for my remote to bump the volume as if I was listening to a banging album or mix, this was a documentary I was most certainly feeling, and it hit all sorts of places with me. Having Madlib provide the soundtrack didn’t hurt either.

Stones Throw may be the most important record label in America today, and if you see one documentary this year make it Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton. Stones Throw founder, Peanut Butter Wolf, is a personal hero of mine. His musical taste is impeccable – and his ability to cultivate, promote, and nurture new music and musicians is beyond admirable. He’s also fearless, not scared of getting weird or pimping something he knows won’t profit. I find his “misses” just as important, if not more, than his “hits” – as I think too often record labels only get behind what they deem to be a “sure thing” – which is not good for art and progresses nothing.

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton goes from the origins of Stone’s Throw to where it is today with all sorts of deliciously funky non-sequiturs, and it was more inspiring than anything for me. Wolf has created such an amazing culture with Stones Throw – he’s a true champion of sound – and I hope nothing but continued success and failures for them as they help shape what good music is and can be. Turn it up.

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Road Visions: Record Stores of Portland, Maine

Electric Buddhas gets trippy in naming their genre sections. (D. Hixon)

Electric Buddhas give a psychedelic twist to the naming of their genres. (Photo – D. Hixon)

While vacationing on Lake Ossipee, NH my Wife and I took a day trip to Portland to explore Maine’s largest city. It’s by no means a “big” city – but it resolves this with a strong dose of personality & charm – which is most evident while visiting the record shops.

Moody Lords records and vintage clothing made it a standout.

Moody Lords records & vintage clothing should be on your radar.

My first stop was Bull Moose – which unfortunately has more CD’s & DVD’s than vinyl, with the majority of records being new releases. That’s no problem if you live in Portland – but if you’re a n0n-Mainer it’s a bummer as there’s nothing unique to the selection. While I stayed away from most everything – I found some insanely affordable records in their bargin bin which made the shop worth peeping, but I’d make it later in your crawl.

Next was Moody Lords – which ended up being my favorite shop in Portland. I was greeted at the door by a quizzical babe in diapers, and once I got past the buddha I was exposed to a shop layered with tasteful vintage garb and a well manicured landscape of vinyl. Cultivation was as equally easy as it was dangerous due to the quality of fruit to pick from – and the laid back vibe, friendly service, and sloppy garage bouncing off the walls made me fall a little in love with everything. A must stop if on the hunt in Portland.

Just a few doors down I visited Strange Maine which was my most anticipated shop to visit – but in general, I was disappointed. This could be because my taste isn’t particularly metal/hard rock aligned, but I found the majority of records to be in shoddy condition and displayed in a cramped and forced way. I’ve been to a lot of dusty record stores – not my cup of tea, but could see why a collector of a certain disposition would dig this place.

Last up was Electric Buddhas which was hands down the most joy riddled shop in Portland. It’s a garden salad mix of retro video games, rare vinyl, and audiophile quality stereo equipment. While Moody Lords was manned by vixen like sirens who bleed cool and breathed hip – the Buddhas tag team of lovable (and I think admitted) dorks gave everything in the shop extra credibility, love, and care. I picked up a copy of The Freak Scene’s Psychedelic Psoul which I never thought I’d see in person – and that was one of many adjacently priced gems they had stuffed between N64 games and unopened packs of Saved by the Bell cards. Like I said, joy, as was the rest of Portland, a worthy stop for the record obsessed fiend lost in Northern New England.


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