Record Collector of the Month - January 2022
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Hi, my name is Ellen and I’m from Antwerp, Belgium. I’m currently studying printmaking at my city’s royal art academy and I’m hoping that one day I get to do something that combines this with my love for collecting vinyl records. My collection started by buying a vinyl record here and there about six / seven years ago but I only got really into the collection aspect of it in 2017. Sadly, I don’t have many independent record stores, or vinyl focussed stores, nearby so when I get to travel it’s almost always the first thing I go looking for. My dad, who has been with me on many of these occasions, used to collect records himself when he was younger and even DJ’d as a part time job for a while in his twenties.
First album: Let Go by Avril Lavigne was the first album I remember listening to consciously. As a kid you just listen to what your parents put on but this was the first album I remember thinking about “this is mine”. I was obsessed with her for years and even got my mom to take me to one of her concerts when I was like 10. Growing up in Europe the early 2000’s really has a specific feeling, and even more so, a specific sound. Everything on the radio is American rock music that you don’t understand one single word of because, you’re five years old and do not speak or understand English at all. Music from around this time frame really stuck with me in a way that most of the albums I discover now, were also released back then and come with a weirdly nostalgic feeling.
I don’t really remember the first vinyl record I ever bought with my own money but I do remember buying Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning a little later on and being utterly amazed by it. The sleeve, the artworks and lyrics in the booklet, and even the label on the record itself, were so beautifully done that it was the only thing I wanted to listen to and look at for weeks. This record really sparked a big interest in starting an actual collection instead of just buying a record here and there because I “like the way they look”.
Favorite album: This is a really hard question as there are so many albums I love! Looking not only at what albums I enjoy listening to but that also inspire me artistically, I have to say that The Execution Of All Things by Rilo Kiley holds the title of favorite album. This album is a masterpiece front to back that I just want to listen to for hours on loop and, it sounds so good on vinyl. Another album I never get sick of listening to is the soundtrack of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. You know, that one animated horse movie that Bryan Adams and Hans Zimmer did the music for? Yes that one. It’s a real piece of childhood nostalgia for me and yet, looking at it twenty years later, it holds up so well. Sadly there is no vinyl pressing of it, someone please make this happen?
I can’t not mention Taylor Swift when talking about my favorite albums. She’s such an amazing songwriter! Red and Evermore are my two favorites of hers, both have that folk indie vibe that I so love, but it’s a tough decision to make. She has a big and broad discography and her albums are all so great in their own way, whether they’re full of pop bangers or more country-esque ballads.
Favorite Enjoy The Ride or Enjoy The Toons release: I really love my black with white splatter variant of Santi by The Academy Is… and Z Berg & Ryan Ross’ The Bad List 7” that’s a beautiful half white half red vinyl. My black smoke pressing of The Guest by Phantom Planet does take the number one spot. I’m a really REALLY big fan of them and this record is one of my favorites in my entire collection because it not only sounds great but it’s also just so pretty!
Favorite album artwork: My fascination with Rilo Kiley’s The Execution Of All Things and Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning aside, I love love LOVE the cover of After Laughter by Paramore. Everything about it fits so well with the sound of the record and I think the cover describes the album and what to expect from it, perfectly. Phoebe Bridgers also smashes it with the album artwork every single time and Z Berg’s album covers, especially the ones for the singles, are beautifully made too.
The alternative cover for Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads that was done by Rauschenberg is literally an art piece and one I’d love to own.
Another album cover that has kept me in a bit of a chokehold since I first saw it, is Mutable Set by Blake Mills. It really has inspired me artistically many times and how could it not? This is an album I don’t own on vinyl yet but I know that once I do, I’d love to put it permanently on display.
What are your favorite local record shops to support? My go to record shop for in-store shopping is Music Mania in Ghent. It’s a good two hours away from me but it’s the one I always go to for Record Store Day since they have an amazing selection every year. Fnac, a European multi-media store chain, has a location 10 minutes away from my college campus that I can’t help but visit frequently, “not to buy, just to look” but we know how that always ends.
What have you been listening to more frequently lately? Ever since Waxahatchee released her album Saint Cloud in 2020, I’ve been revisiting it every couple of months and then listening to nothing but those 11 song on repeat for days. I fall in love with it all over again every single time! I recently discovered Laura Marling’s 2008 album Alas I Cannot Swim and wow, I don’t seem to get enough of it no matter how much I listen to it. I think it’s the next record I’m getting myself, I just know it will sound amazing pressed on vinyl.
Any specific albums you wish you had on vinyl? The problem that I come by often is that most of the albums I want to get on vinyl are not being pressed or sold anymore so the second hand market like Discogs or eBay are the only places to find them, and those prices aren’t always great. I’m looking forward to the repress of Rilo Kiley’s Take Off’s And Landings this spring, and hope to complete their discography this year. Raise The Dead by Phantom Planet and Release Me by The Like are two other albums I’d love get my hands on.
What was the best album(s) you've discovered this year: (Since 2022 has just began, I’m gonna use my 2021 discoveries.) After 2020 being the best year of new releases for me and finding music I quickly became obsessed with, 2021 felt kind of slow compared to it. Red and Fearless, both Taylor’s version, are the two albums I think of immediately when thinking back to last year’s releases. Allie Crow Buckley released her debut album Moonlit And Devious in the spring of 2021 and it’s magical! I’m Having Fun Now by Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Rice is another album discovery that jumps out when looking back at last year. So far 2022 hasn’t really brought anything I think of “wow”, although I did start listening to Fleet Foxes and I can’t say I’m disappointed.
What upcoming releases are you most excited about? I can’t wait to hear Wet Leg’s debut album! So far, the singles that they released have been really great so I have high hopes. After 5 years of nothing Paramore finally announced that they’re in the studio again and that they’re releasing new stuff this year so I’m really excited about that too.
Who is a band or artist that you think is underrated that we should give a listen to? I don’t know wether or not you can call Phantom Planet underrated or not, but their latest album Devastator is so brilliant and I need everyone to know of it! Another artist I feel that I’ve mentioned a lot already is Z Berg but oh man, she makes music I just. can’t. stop. talking about. With such a big discography under her arm, touching a lot of different styles and genres, it’s a bit strange how little talk there is about her. Her first solo album came out in a really uncertain time for a lot of people and, to me, it sort of became the soundtrack to that end-of-the-world feeling— 2020 things am I right?
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 feel like I’ve mentioned them a billion times at this point but I’d love to see more Phantom Planet vinyl records being pressed! They teased about pressing their 2004 self titled record— which I LOVE — but I honestly getting some kind of B-side vinyl box set would be the dream. I imagine their 3 b-side albums: Polaroid pressed on half black half white vinyl, Negatives is clear with a dominantly purple multicolored smoke, and Negatives 2 is a white with black and purple splatter. All three albums have to be gatefolds because let’s be honest, those are so much nicer, and come in a black box with the logo on the front where the records slide out from the side. Sigh, imagining this makes me want it so badly now.