Saturday, February 23, 2013

RSA DIY: Build Your Own My Bloody Valentine B-Sides And Rarities Collection!

Miami Bloody Vicentine?!? Bootleg MBV rarities collections, am a I right?

     It's been about 22 days since I reviewed My Bloody Valentine's m b v (their first studio record in nearly 22 records, if ya didn't know), and I seriously can't stop listening to this thing. It's almost as if with each new pass of this record--which averages a four-to-five-play rotation schedule here at The Rocket Science Alliance World Headquarters--reveals some new aural tidbit and sonic pathway. My Bloody Valentine's latest is seemingly more dense and chock-a-block than an episode of Arrested Development, with repeat exposure reaping new found audio rewards. 

     (Just so we're clear, this record has not become an addiction. I'm fully in control. No, honestly; I can quit anytime I want. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to hit "play" on my iTunes and take another hit... er, listen to this record. What? I can quit anytime I want!)

     This record has, however, inspired me to revisit a My Bloody Valentine rarities and unreleased collection I made for myself a couple of years ago. As a record collector and admitted OCD-having human being, my predilection to collect every bit of audio ephemera from bands I love and cherish knows no bounds. My Bloody Valentine, of course being near the top of my listening pleasure apex, is very much a part of that obsession. So much so in fact , that I've collected every  single studio proper recording My Bloody Valentine has released in the Isn't Anything/Loveless era (I don't go in for that sketchy live recording bootleg bullshit, mostly because I don't believe in listening to second hand live music experience).

     In compiling all of this music, I found that the band recorded enough extracurricular material to fill a 2CD set. In 2012, they actually did just that, releasing (well, in Europe, anyway) a compilation titled EPs 1988-1991. Head Valentine Kevin Shields went back into the studio to not only polish-up and remaster this odds-n-sods on this collection (which included several rarities that had previously only managed to find themselves in dodgy mp3 form on the Internet), but both Isn't Anything and Loveless, as well.

     Listening to this EPs compilation, however, I found that it was missing several non-album tracks that, over the years, I've considered quite essential to this band's catalogue. So I dusted-off the collection I originally made, added those songs from Shield's rarities compilation and went to town. Below is my 2CD, quasi-double album My Bloody Valentine EP and rarities collection, titled Temolo Glider/Sugar Glider (Sony Records execs: If, god forbid, you're reading this blog entry, please consider putting this My Bloody Valentine collection out here in The States--do something good before the inevitable end of your dominance comes to a nadir):

tremolo glider

1. you made me realise
2. slow
3. thorn
4. cigarette in your bed
5. drive it all over me
6. i believe
7. emptiness inside
8. i need no trust
9. soon
10. glider
11. don’t ask why
12. off your face
13. to here knows when
14. swallow
15. honey power
16. moon song

sugar glider

1. how do you do it
2. good for you
3. just like us
4. incidental one (feat. mark eitzel)
5. instrumental a
6. angel
7. Incidental peace (feat. skylab)
8. map ref. 41°n 93°w
9. instrumental b
10. we have all the time in the world
11. sugar
12. glider (full length version)
13. soon (andrew weatherall remix)

     So, right about now, I bet you're thinking, "I wish I had this collection of My Bloody Valentine rarities all in one easily accessible compilation!" or "I'm not really a fan of this band's music, per se. But I am an American, and I always want what I cant have!" Well, I'm going to show you how to easily compile this collection of My Bloody Valentine rarities for your very own listening pleasure. All you have to do is simply follow the directions I've outlined below:

1. First, you're going to need to go back in time (don't fret--it's easier than you think) and get a job in Tower Records' shipping an receiving department. When you open a box marked "Import Singles," grab all of the My Bloody Valentine recordings you find (there are four discs in all: The "Feed Me With Your Kiss" single, as well as the You Made Me Realise, Glider and Tremolo EPs). Now, come back to the present. These EPs form the entirety of the Tremolo Glider disc.

2. Via eBay or Discogs (or a record-selling site you know and love), purchase the following compilations: Whore: A Tribute To Wire ($15 on eBay), Peace Together (found in a bargain bin at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, California for $5) and Offbeat: A Red Hot Soundtrip ($.98 from Amazon--AIDS benefit compilations were HUGE in the 90's, apparently). These compilations feature Sugar Glider's songs "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W," "We Have All the Time In The World," and "Incidental One" and "Incidental Peace."

3. Again, via eBay, Discogs or (assuming your town still has one) your local record shop's import section, purchase the EPs 1988-1991 compilation. It'll set you back an estimated $20, but it's worth it to get the remastered versions of "How Do You Do It," "Good For You," "Just Like Us," "Angel," "Sugar, both "Instrumental A" and "Instrumental B," and the extended ear-bending version of "Glider." (You know what? Since EPs 1988-1991 comes with all of the songs for Tremolo Glider, just skip Step 1 up there. My bad.)

4. Then, go on iTunes and download "Soon (Andrew Weatherall Remix)" from the JBO: A Retrospective - 1988-1991 single. This was originally the B-Side (or was it the A-Side? I forgot) to the extended version of "Glider." It's worth the $.99 download price alone just to feel those sweet Andrew Weatherall clipped-on beats that scream "THIS WAS TOTALLY MADE IN THE 1990's!"

5. Now find any My Bloody Valentine video on YouTube ("Soon" works the best, in my opinion) and start snapping pictures. One or two of the photos you take will become your compilation's cover(s). Or you can just right-click and download the covers above which I made using the method I was kind enough to share with you in the sentence before this one. It's your call.

6. Arrange these songs like I have above (or do it yourself. Whatever...), and viola! You now have your very own My Bloody Valentine EPs and rarities collection. Enjoy! Just remember not to capitalize any of the song titles!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Bloody Valentine: 'Bout Bloody Time - The Legendary Band Finally Releases Their New Record!

My Bloody Valentine
m b v
9 out of 10

It's been what, 22 years since My Bloody Valentine released their seminal album, Loveless? Since 1991, there have been a myriad of promises from My Bloody Valentine's leader and consummate perfectionist, Kevin Shields, that a follow-up album was well on its way. 

As the years (and decades) passed, these promises slowly became punchlines to loyal, yet disappointed fans. In the interim, Wire and Louis Armstrong were covered, the band split-up, Shields scored a film between bouts of remixing other band's songs with his signature note-bending flair, the band reunited, Isn't Anything, Loveless and collection of EPs and rarities were remastered and released (well, in the UK, anyway), and promises of new material again began to surface directly from the MBV camp of not just a new album (partially containing previously shelved tracks), but a follow-up EP, as well--both of which were finally seeing the light of day at the end of 2012.

As the tail-end of last year faded into the ether, so to did any and all faint hopes that the new My Bloody Valentine record release would surface. As die hard fans, we've been here so, so many times; when the new record didn't materialize, it wasn't really a big surprise. I mean, sure, there was fleeting glimpses of hope, but of the shoulder-shrugging variety when Shield's follow-through proved empty ...again. 

(A YouTube clip featuring a live performance of a new song was a bit exciting, but, you know. I mean, you're a fan. You know. You've had your chain yanked by this band, like, a kajillion times by now.)

Then today happened. Saturday, February 2nd, 2013. The promises of studio tinkering, mastering, track listing, and getting everything sorted out were, well, actually true! Today, the world finally has a new My Bloody Valentine record. I know, I know. I can't believe it either, but here it is, wafting from my computer speakers as I type these words.

So, the verdict? Was this new record, simply titled after the band's initials, worth the 22 year wait? Well, yes and no, but mostly yes.

The moment word of this album's release started making the rounds online, I immediately Googled "My Bloody Valentine" to confirm that Shields and Co. had indeed pulled the trigger and surprised-attacked their fans with a new record. Jumping on the band's website I immediately downloaded the mp3 version of the record (with promises to myself to order a vinyl copy of the album as soon as I'm finished boring you here). I was at once elated, giddy and impatient as the transfer crawled across my computer's download box. What have you been working on all these years, Mr. Shields? I must know NOW!!!

As the crashing waves of opener "She Found Now" roll in, it becomes very clear that m b v is unmistakably and distinctly not Loveless 2.0. On first listen, m b v sounds more like a collection of songs than an wholly conceived album. Fortunately, the songs in this collection are absolutely brilliant. I think it's safe to say that if you're a fan of the soundscapes and tone-bending soft-focus textures this band is legendary for, you will definitely be transfixed by the nine songs here.

Where Loveless felt like a singularly conceived album proper from start to finish--featuring bridges and arcs between its 11 songs--m b v 's songs are islands unto themselves, with those "dusted-off" ditties rubbing distorted shoulders with newer compositions. Front-loaded with songs that move at a glacial pace, the second half of the album begins with the languid and bouncy "New You" then immediately shifts to a more guttural and angular territory with "In Another Way," "Nothing Is" and album closer "Wonder 2" (is that an actual jet plane fly-by noise I hear running through this song, or has Shields discovered yet another sustained note inconceivable by your average, every day guitar player?) This two-sided dichotomy gives m b v an almost two-albums-in-one feel.

That said, the ride provided here, albeit slightly disjointed, is so, so, so damned delicious. Shields is a perfectionist, and it shows over m b v 's nine songs. Every note, ever phase shift, every incomprehensible lyric sounds like they are all exactly where he wanted them placed. It's hard not to listen to the opening melodic salvo of "Only Tomorrow" and not get arosed. No, seriously; who wouldn't want to schtupp to this song as its beautifully-bent notes and melodies twist and weave like a phantom floating around one's synapses?

And what would a My Bloody Valentine record be with Bilinda Butcher's breathy and seductive contributions? "Is This and Yes" finds her breadcrumb vocals dotted between flashing pulsars and Music From the Hearts of Space-esque keyboard flourishes. On "If I Am," Butcher beckoning listeners down gossamer corridors Captured Tracks entire roster works tirelessly to perfect (Full Disclosure: this writer admires every single band over at Captured Tracks, and considers this record label to be one of the absolute best going today). In his full arsenal of studio sorcery and attention to sonic details only he can register, Kevin Shields' greatest arrow in My Bloody Valentine's quiver may just be Bilinda Butcher.

In no uncertain terms, m b v is a great record; an extremely welcome return. Was it worth the 22 year delay? Absolutely. Will it sate the appetite of die hard and casual fans of this band's music? No doubt. Those more passive ears looking for the shimmering A-Z cacophony of Loveless won't find it here (that album you can buy a remastered version of, if you haven't already managed to purchase a copy for the criminally bargain-binned price of $7.99). No, this record bears the initials of a band that's the brainchild of a man who slaved over it on-and-off for a little over two decades, and he's decided to branch-out his blissed-out sound structures ever so subtly. And that's a very good thing, indeed.

Here endeth those previous broken promises. Finally.