Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m Josh from Green Bay, WI. I’ve been collecting since 2013, but have really ramped up since 2018/2019. During the early lockdowns of the pandemic, it was easy to spend hours browsing titles and getting a little bit deeper in the weeds. The bulk of my collection would be classified as “metal” but I try to maintain a diverse blend of subgenres within that. I think my bread and butter is the more progressive-leaning stuff, but I do enjoy some of the more atonal and abrasive stuff too. Soundtracks make up a fair percentage of my collection including horror, video games, cartoons, etc. I also have a huge soft spot for good ambient stuff. I’m enamored with William Basinski’s work. He evokes some of the most indescribable emotions. And of course, there needs to be some lighter fare in any collection. For me it’s Lorde, Washed Out, Lianne La Havas, Tame Impala, and Mouse on the Keys to name a few. Aside from collecting, I pay the wax bills by working in the not-for-profit arts sector, predominantly for a community choir. I’ve been drumming for 20 years now, most recently having joined some great musicians to form a full lineup for the band Solshade. I think the band would say it’s FFO Loathe, Underoath, and Norma Jean among many others.
First album: The record that set collecting in motion was a plain white copy of ‘Intrinsic’ from The Contortionist. It’s one of those albums that’s just so perfect in a lot of ways. The timing was great, the proximity in the discography is perfect, the songwriting was so pivotal for my ear at the time, the lyrical content, etc. etc. I fortunately had the chance to open for them at a local show right before the album came out. They played some of the songs from it for one of the first times ever live. I could go on, but I digress. Aside from that, I’d also inherited my dad’s old collection, as most do. It’s stocked with the classics: Journey, Def Leppard, Nazareth, Boston, etc.
Favorite album: *cracks knuckles* The Dreaded Question, one of the hardest to answer. In terms of overall timelessness, initial impact, and all the other subjective metrics, I think ‘Language’ from The Contortionist holds the title. My only hesitation is that all their releases all stand so close to each other in terms of lovability. Each one is perfect in its own way. But regarding ‘Language,’ I feel it captures all the elements of their discography up to the point of writing this. It was a massive success in terms of a substantial line-up change and really changed the trajectory of the band. And it displays everything I love about music: atmosphere, expert balance of simplicity and technicality, meaningful lyrical content, and cohesiveness that culminates into a great concept. I could go on for days about it all. If it’s not abundantly clear by now, The Contortionist is the band for me.
Favorite Enjoy The Ride or Enjoy The Toons release: Another trick question? I was lucky enough to witness the golden age of Nickelodeon (Doug, Rugrats, KABLAM!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold). By a small margin, I think ‘The Best of Nicktoons’ takes the cake. It’s got all that and more. It’s perfect. I still vividly remember stumbling on your site to find a treasure trove of nostalgia. Somehow it timed out well and you had the green and orange splatter on clear copies in stock. I knew I had to have it. Vol. 1 of Hey Arnold! is very close behind though. The A side is fantastic, even when you take it out of context. It’s really a remarkable release. Upon listening to it the first time, I was so immersed in it that I forgot it was a record. Literally no fuzz, cracks, pops anything. It’s superb in every measure. Also, ‘Riding the Wave’ from The Blanks. I love Scrubs.
Favorite album artwork:
You’re really making me think about these. Some album art is great as a stand-alone, but there’s always a few that match every nuance and detail of the record. The one that sticks out the most to me is ‘Melting Sun’
from Lantlôs. It’s an encompassing, embracing listen full of summer warmth which Pascal Hauer captured perfectly in the artwork. The oranges and pinks throughout are so bright and vivid but not in a commanding way, you know? They get your attention, they can’t be ignored, but they draw you in. The whole gatefold is stunning. If you’re looking for some post-winter pre-spring tunes, this album is the jam.What are your favorite local record shops to support?
The Exclusive Company and Eroding Winds. I visit the Green Bay and Appleton Exclusive Co. locations regularly, ok, habitually. Tom at the Green Bay location is incredibly helpful, always helping me get a hold of titles I’m after and willing to place special orders for me. I’ve been going there since middle school when I was just collecting CDs. I haven’t calculated the percentage of my collection that’s come from The Exclusive Company, but I’d be willing to bet nearly half. I’m really spoiled to not have to drive hours to find quality selection. The folks at the Appleton location are fantastic too. I’ve had tons of help with the audio side of collecting from their guy Todd. Eroding Winds, also the HQ for Gilead Media, is a newer found haven for
me. I don’t get there often enough as it’s a bit farther of a drive, but when I do, the owner Adam always makes it worthwhile. I blame (thank) him for showing me the ropes on Imperial Triumphant and fueling my deep dive into their work. He’s another one that’s always courteous beyond typical standards.
What have you been listening to more frequently lately? I’ve been on a pretty big Meshuggah kick. I think about this time every year since 2017, I dive into their discography heavily. This year it’s been a focus on ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’ and ‘Catch ThirtyThree.’ I’ve also been on a Sleep Token kick. Their newest album took some time to grow on me but it’s continuing to grow quickly. Aside from those two, it’s been ‘Zeal & Ardor’ from Zeal & Ardor, ‘Natoma’ from Stormlight, ‘The Goatman’ OST from The Unseen, ‘Krüller’ from Author and Punisher, and ‘The Shape of Everything’ from SOM on frequent rotation.
Any specific albums you wish you had on vinyl? As far as those that have already been pressed, I’d love to lock down a copy of ‘The Young and the Hopeless’ and ’Good Charlotte’ from Good Charlotte , ‘The Disintegration Loops’ Boxset from William Basinski, ‘BBNG2’ from BadBadNotGood, and ‘Dexter’ – Music from the Showtime Original Series. I’d love to see ‘Trial By Fire’ from Journey, ‘Erotic Cakes’ from Erotic Cakes (Guthrie Govan), and all of Jakub Zytecki’s work be put on vinyl. Here’s to hoping.
What was the best album(s) you've discovered this year: It’s still early in the year, but I’ve been listening to the new album from this French outfit Celeste called ‘Assassine(s)’ a ton. It wasn’t mind-blowing at first, but the more I listen the more I’m finding I really enjoy it. It sounds like a sort of blackened Gojira. If Mario has Wario, in terms of sound, Gojira has Celeste. I’ve also been blindsided by ‘Kinfolk 2: See the Birds’ from Nate Smith recently. I was naively misled that he was only involved with Vulfpeck but turns out he’s well-versed and multi-talented. Massive thanks to Mike at Silent Pendulum Records for sending me a copy and showing me this incredible album. I’ve been watching (binging) Dexter and recently found out about Michael C. Hall’s band Princess Goes to the Butterfly Museum. I’ve taken a quick liking to that, and it’s outside of most of my listening habits so it’s a nice change of pace.
What upcoming releases are you most excited about? First and foremost, the approaching release from The Contortionist. They always tease stuff out of the blue which amplifies the excitement. If my hunches are correct, it’s on the horizon. Aside from that, I know the new Animals As Leaders record ‘Parrhesia’ will be phenomenal. The singles released so far are as mind-bending as ever. I’d be willing to wager the same for ‘Immutable’ forthcoming from Meshuggah. There’s also a label, Wax Vessel, dedicated to resurrecting cult classic MySpace era bands that’s putting out one of my favorites from back in the day. It’s the full discography from the band Silence. It’s that quintessential deathcore stuff I was big on back in high school and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive.
Who is a band or artist that you think is underrated that we should give a listen to? A lot, but I’ll spare the readers. The one that always comes to mind immediately is Town Portal. They dub themselves as “Danish instrumental math rock” but I think that only scratches the surface. It’s definitely mathy, but not in that twinkly guitar, math rock tropey way. They’ve got elements of post metal, sort of the sludgy elements of Pelican, etc. I really love the linear drum work as well. It lends itself in creating that math rock back bone but not at the sacrifice of laying a foundation for the songs. I’d also highly recommend: Snooze, a beautiful mashup of happy, heavy, heartfelt, and catchy goodness. Their album ‘Still’ is phenomenal; Lianne La Havas, a UK singer-songwriter soul-infused pop (?) artist with probably the best vocal timbre I will ever hear. Her cover of Radiohead’s ‘Weird Fishes’ is tran-scen-dental; Jakub Zytecki is worth mentioning again. As far as I’m concerned, he’s at the forefront of guitar-centric music. His finesse and technique are somehow in perfect unison with his ability to emote, especially noted on ‘Nothing Lasts, Nothing’s Lost’; and for good measure, Amiensus, Moon Tooth, David Maxim Micic, and Imperial Triumphant.
Scenario time! If you could create a vinyl variant for any album (already pressed or never been pressed before), what would it look like? I’ve inadvertently been thinking about this for a while. I’ve always felt half and half variants are underappreciated. I have a soft spot for them. To reference my prior list, if I were to have a hand in pressing any Jakub Zytecki release, I’d choose ‘Nothing Lasts, Nothing’s Lost.’ I’d start with a half pastel pink and half baby blue record to match the album art. I’d add in some grey and black inner splatter, originating from the center label only on the blue half, and finish it off with strictly radial splatter on the pink side. I haven’t seen anyone do this (yet) and I think the result would be something unique to add the ever-growing variant diversity.