Tell us a little about yourself: I come from a very musical family. My mother, father and maternal grandmother could all sing and play piano, and I remember being fascinated when they played. I loved singing at a young age and had a blast on the rare occasion my mom would pull out her records, just a few dozen tucked in the back of her closet. I remember how distinctly vinyl felt like a dead medium, and how appealing it was that I was delving into history when I handled and listened to her records. Now I make music myself and hope someday to get the opportunity to immortalize myself on wax.
First album: The first cassette I bought myself was the Spice Girls single Too Much, at Tower Records in Massapequa Park. My first full album was Pokemon's 2 B A Master. Then the first vinyl record I remember buying new from the store was War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream. I finally had a real job and had just upgraded my record player from an Ion to a U-Turn and I was ready to start taking record collecting seriously.
Favorite album: Can anybody pick just one? My desert island go-to for years has been The Beatles (White Album), partially for the sheer diversity of moods and sounds. It's like 3 or 4 short albums rolled into one, and I reckon it could get me through the emotional roller coaster of being stranded.
Favorite Enjoy The Ride or Enjoy The Toons release: Hey Arnold, hands down. I remember loving the music when I watched it on Nick and I could hardly believe it had never been officially released before 2019. I have a couple of copies on hand and they're among my most coveted possessions.
Favorite album artwork: of Montreal's Hissing Fauna You Are the Destroyer springs to mind. I love the color and the movement. Jerry Paper's Toon Time Raw also makes the list for similar reasons.
Favorite albums to play around the holidays:
I'm so glad you asked! I reliably melt for Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas. I have a lifelong fixation on We Three Kings by The Roches, which brings back vivid memories of sitting in the backseat of my parent's car and driving slowly through neighborhoods to admire all the different Christmas lights. As far as newer stuff, I'm digging on It's a Holiday Soul Party by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Nick Lowe's Quality Street.
What are your favorite local record shops to support? I just moved to New Jersey and fell in love with a store called Vintage Vinyl, but they shut their doors just a few months after I stumbled in. The owner ran it for 42 years and decided to shut it down and retire. I'm on the lookout for another store to hit the sweet spot for me but haven't found my fit yet. In the meantime the internet is empowering me to support local record stores in other parts of the country; my favorite this year has been Luna Record Shop in Franklin, Tennessee. It's run by a couple of badass sisters, and they do right by their customers because their heart is in the music first.
What have you been listening to more frequently lately? This year I've taken on a lot more country and gospel than I have historically. Merle Haggard and John Prine spend a fair bit of time on my turntable, and I picked up the T. L. Barrett box set when it released and I can just listen to individual sides over and over, I love the grandeur and the funk.
Any specific albums you wish you had on vinyl? De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising - I sold the copy I got from my record club because I saw dollar signs, and now all I see is the empty place on my shelf where it belongs. I'll need to bite the bullet and get myself another copy. I only had seller's remorse one other time, with Blossom Dearie's self-titled, and I just replaced it over the summer. I played it four times in a row that day!
What was the best album(s) you've discovered this year (it can be anything, doesn't have to be a new release): I have to highlight a self-titled release by The Bobs - I did a lot of crate digging this year and I love to take chances. This one won me over because the 4 performers, none of whom are named Bob, are all credited as Bob. It wasn't until I got home and spun it that I realized it was an a capella album, and that's not usually my jam but boy does this one slap. The whole thing is solid but the stand-out track for me is "I Hate the Beach Boys" and I must admit that I've played it for nearly every one of the few visitors I've had this year. Don't sleep on The Bobs.
What upcoming releases are you most excited about?
I'm always excited for what King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard will do next, and the same can be said for Shintaro Sakamoto. Other than that I don't have my sights set on anything in particular.
Who is a band or artist that you think is underrated that we should give a listen to?
Shintaro Sakamoto! I go crazy for bossa nova, a seed that was probably planted by the Charlie Brown Christmas album, and Shintaro takes a lot of those Brazilian vibes and channels them into a laid back psychedelic funk. Lyrics are generally unimportant to me so my music might as well be in Japanese. My only hesitation with this recommendation is that the one time he came to Brooklyn the tickets sold out in minutes and I missed the show. So please, buy all his albums but go slow on concert tickets (unless you're gonna snag one for me!).
Scenario time! If you could create a vinyl variant for any album (already pressed or never been pressed before), what would it look like? Feel free to get creative with this one, it's always awesome to hear what different features everyone likes! I already feel seen and spoiled by the powers that be in the vinyl industry, but I do have one idea: Esquivel - Merry Xmas from the Space Age Bachelor Pad NEEDS a release on vinyl. I'm so confused by this album, is it official? I think it's a compilation. I was able to find a bootleg cassette version on ebay in 2007, but I misplaced it in college and I don't even have a working tape player. His music is wild, and perfect for a Christmas party. I would have an alternate cover worked up showing a Jetsons-esque future Christmas scene, with a reimagining of holiday decor. On the back I'd put a black and white photo of Juan Garcia Esquivel in a tuxedo, grinning broadly with friends. The inner sleeve would be printed with the weird CD cover art you can find online, Esquivel's face stretched to form the surface of a martini. Then for the vinyl a color-in-color, red blob at the center of green, a toast to both the holiday and the olive lurking at the bottom of the dirty martini, a symbol of the easy living of the 1950s. Whether the red or green or both are translucent I'd leave to the experts, but for sure this one would have to be 180 or even overweight so that it, like the music, stands strong for a century to come.