Vinyl Gear Review: The Vinyl Vac

Cleaning your records is probably the most important thing you can do for the life and longevity of your collection.  It is also one of the most overlooked and under thought about parts of owning vinyl records.  Many people may not think there is a need to clean their records, but if they buy albums then they should be cleaning them.  I'm not talking about just used records either, I'm talking used albums, new albums, and albums you may have owned for years.  You would be amazed what a good cleaning can do for the sound and experience of a vinyl record.

There are many ways to clean vinyl records.  You can dry clean them with a velvet brush.  You can wet clean them with a brush and spray.  You can vacuum clean them with a special vacuum device.  You can even sonically clean albums.  What it comes down to is what you want to invest both moneywise and timewise.


Vinyl Review: Sara Bareilles - Amidst The Chaos

Artist: Sara Bareilles
Album: Amidst The Chaos
Release Date: April 5, 2019
Label: Epic

Sara Bareilles has been one of my favorite songwriters since I first heard her hit "Love Song" back in 2007.  Her ability to capture emotion in her words and music makes me want to be a better songwriter myself.  In fact, her song "The Light" from the Kaleidoscope Heart album is one of my all time favorite songs, so when I saw she had a new album coming out I quickly pre-ordered it.

After the departure that was What's Inside: Songs from the Waitress, which was a Broadway play, I was looking forward to the return to form.  While I enjoyed the last album, it wasn't really what I think of when I think of Sara Bareilles.  Amidst the Choas is a wonderful return to that songwriting that I fell in love with, and the vinyl package is pretty cool.


Vinyl Gear Review: My Journey to the Fluance RT85 Turntable

In mid-December of last year, I decided that I really wanted to upgrade my turntable from the Audio Technica AT-LP60 to something a bit more high end.  I set myself a budget of no more than $500 and began my quest to learn about the possible options.  I queried a Facebook group I belong too to get some opinions on different options in and around my price range.  I was given a myriad of makes and models to look into which excited me to no end.  When I decide on a big money purchase, and I am definitely calling this a big money purchase as $500 isn't chump change, I do a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, and weigh the pros and cons of all options I am interested in until I feel certain I know which one I am going to buy.

With a list of about fifteen different turntable recommendations, I began widdling it down based on features and brand reputation.  I weighed cost along with ease of use, input from trusted vinyl gear fanatics, and online reviews from both end-users and tech industry insiders.  My choices came down to five models:  U-Turn Orbit Special ($450), Pro-Ject Carbon Debut ($400), Fluance RT83 ($350), Fluance RT85 ($500), and the Audio Technica AT-LP120 ($250).


Vinyl Review: Halloween (2018)

Album: Halloween (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Artist: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies
Label: Sacred Bones Records
Released: October 19, 2018

So you may be asking yourself, why are we looking at the Halloween soundtrack in March? We still have six months to go before Halloween season begins.  That's a great question, and the answer is simple... The music is amazing and should be played year round.  Also, I finally bought my copy last month, so I am a little late to the party.

Halloween is the soundtrack to the 2018 sequel of the original Halloween (1978) movie.  For more takes on that, head over to Timeout, Need More Popcorn and request the archived reviews of the whole franchise of movies I did with my buddy Jay on Continuous Play Podcast.  Today though, we are looking at the vinyl package that was released in October of 2018.


Vinyl Review: Glass Apple Bonzai - Night Maze (Sofa King Vinyl)

Glass Apple Bonzai
Album: Night Maze (2018)
Sofa King Vinyl SKV-1012
Release Date: Dec 7, 2018

Before starting this blog, I want to send a word of thanks to Sofa King Vinyl for sending me two of their newest releases for review.  They have been a pleasure to deal with.  This is the second vinyl release from them that I will be reviewing and it comes from another band I was not currently aware of, but if you are a fan of 80s synth pop or Depeche Mode then this is definitely for you.

Today I am looking at the vinyl release of Glass Apple Bonzai's Night Maze.  The album was initially released digitally on May 1, 2015, and Sofa King Vinyl released it on wax in December of 2018.  Glass Apple Bonzai is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and has been releasing music since 2014.


Vinyl Review: Opus Science Collective - Girls On Bikes (Sofa King Vinyl)

Opus Science Collective
Album: Girls On Bikes (2018)
Sofa King Vinyl SKV-1004-2
Release Date: October 12, 2018

I have to admit until I received this album from Sofa King Vinyl, I had never heard of Opus Science Collective.  Synthwave or Vaporwave music isn't typically something I listen to.  It isn't because I don't like the genre, but I just don't typically think to look for music from that genre.  I was approached by Sofa King Vinyl about my willingness to listen to and give my thoughts on a couple of their releases.  After picking myself up off the floor, I graciously accepted.  Sofa King Vinyl was generous enough to send me two albums they recently put out to review.  I made sure not to listen to either album before the vinyl came so I had a clean slate to go off once it arrived.  So let's get into my thoughts on Opus Science Collective's Girls On Bikes from Sofa King Vinyl.


Vinyl Review: Prince Reissues by the Prince Estate

The Prince Estate has been pretty busy lately keeping the legacy of Prince alive and well. They recently put out three of Prince's 2000 era albums, Musicology, 3121 and Planet Earth. Check out my review of the album packaging and more below.



Vinyl Collection - AC/DC The Razors Edge

My copy of AC/DC's The Razors Edge getting some play
As I mentioned in a previous blog, the summer between my sixth and seventh grades was a pivotal time for my musical tastes.  Before then I was listening to pop/top 40 music mostly, and I still love those same artists today.  But that summer, my musical scope was broadened to include heavier things.  Things I never would have thought to listen to before.  I spoke earlier about how I became a Poison fan that summer, and now I will tell you how I became an even bigger AC/DC fan that summer.

It all happened on that same basketball court, with those same friends, and that same boombox.  While my buddy Mark had brought along the Poison record that would make me a lifelong fan, my buddy Nate brought along an album unlike anything I had heard before; The Razors Edge by AC/DC.  From the opening riff of "Thunderstruck" to the bellow of Brian Johnson's opening lines, all I could think was "what in the world is this?" The energy was insane.  The songs were heavy and hard-hitting.  The singer was, well I didn't know what he was, but I liked it! Shortly after this day, I received a dubbed copy of the said album on one side of the tape and a copy of Back in Black on the other side.  I was transfixed on what I was hearing.  What my parents called screaming, I called amazing.


Vinyl Collection - Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion

The early 90s were pivotal years in the shaping of my musical tastes.  I've talked about the fact that Poison and AC/DC were my introductions to things a little heavier than I was used to.  Those two albums opened a whole new world of music for me.  Another big part of my musical taste development was my friends.  As middle school started transitioning to high school, I found myself listening to a lot of new bands.  Firehouse, Damn Yankees, Cinderella, and Bon Jovi were all my favorites, but two more bands would suddenly eclipse the rest.  Those two bands were Metallica and Guns N' Roses.

As the fall of 1991 was approaching, I was entering eighth grade and rediscovering my love for playing guitar.  That is also when two of the biggest albums of the 90s heavy metal world where just being released.  Guns N' Roses were coming off the massive success of their Appetite for Destruction album and the follow-up Lies EP when they unleashed not one but two albums on the world.  Titled Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, Guns N' Roses slapped the music world with thirty tracks all at once.  When the album was initially released I was not yet aware of who Guns N' Roses were apart from "Sweet Child 'O Mine" which was a song almost everyone knew and a massive hit.  They were not even on my radar, and wouldn't be yet for another year or so when I started playing guitar again with my friends.


Vinyl Review: Metallica - Helping Hands... Live & Acoustic at The Masonic

They are hailed as thrash metal icons by many, heavy metal heroes by others, but today they can add acoustic masters to the list.  A quarter of a century after the dawn of the MTV Unplugged craze, Metallica has joined the fray... well sort of.  While it isn't MTV Unplugged, Metallica's latest release is unplugged, all acoustic concert put on to raise money for All Within My Hands Foundation which was set up by the band in February of 2017 to help communities in need.

The benefit show took place on November 3rd at the Masonic in San Francisco, California in conjunction with an auction, and raised 1.3 million dollars for Feeding America and the American Association of Community Colleges.  It was announced the show would be released as a double LP in February 2019 with the money received from sales of the album (also available digitally and via streaming services) going directly to the foundation.  The album was sold via Metallica's website and was made available to independent record stores on vinyl.


Vinyl Review: Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses (Run Out Groove)

The year was 1994, the month was August, and the venue was the Mirage Nightclub in Minneapolis, MN.  I was a young kid aged just 16 years when I stepped into that venue that night to see Motley Crue headed up by their new lead singer, John Corabi.  I couldn't have been more excited since I was one of the Crue fans who loved the new direction they took with Corabi at the helm.  I was out with my good buddy James and we got there early so that we could be right up front.  We made it all the way into the second row of people (it was open floor) and waited patiently for Motley Crue to take the stage.  Neither of us had heard of the opening act, Type O Negative, before the show and didn't know what to expect.

As we waited for Crue, the lights went down and we got our first look at this band, Type O Negative.  Peter Steele walked right up to the mic and told the crowd how much they sucked before launching into a brutal ear assault that I couldn't take my eyes off of.  It was amazing, to say the least.  My jaw hit the floor as I listened to John's thundering drums, Kenny's drop tuned guitar licks, and Peter's pounding bass, and accented by Josh's haunting keyboards.  Then Peter began to sing in his low voice and I was hooked!  I had never seen or heard anything like it before.  I knew I needed to buy their CD as soon as possible.


Vinyl Collection - Poison Native Tongue

My journey as a Poison fan began on a community park basketball court in 1990 the summer before I started seventh grade.  I had met up with two of my school classmates and good friends, Nate and Mark, to shoot some hoops and hang out before we had to start our first year in the public middle school system.  Mark brought along a boombox (remember those?) and a tape that contained Poison's Flesh and Blood album.  Nate brought a copy of AC/DC's The Razor's Edge.  It was my intro to AC/DC as well, but we will discuss that another time.  Listening to both of those albums opened up a new world to me and I have been huge fans of both bands ever since.

I made a copy of the Poison tape and listened to it constantly.  My favorite tunes quickly became "Ride the Wind", "Life Loves a Tragedy", and "Come Hell or High Water".  Seventh grade me couldn't believe they swore in that later song.  You see, before entering a brand new world of hard rock, I was listening to The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Milli Vanilli, The New Kids on the Block (I admit it), Madonna, and Bon Jovi.  Up to that point, the most controversial thing I had heard was the beginning of the song "Social Disease" by Bon Jovi where we swore she said penis!!! Flesh and Blood instantly became cool to me.  A year later, Guns and Roses would blow my mind with "Get in the Ring", but we can talk about that later as well.

I received an all in one stereo system for Christmas that year and it had a CD player on it.  That opened up a whole new world.  I saved up $30 and went


Vinyl Review: Christina Aguilera - Liberation (RCA Records)

Artist: Christina Aguilera
Title: Liberation
Label: RCA Records 19075-89419-1
Release Date: November 16, 2018
Other: Target Exclusive

As a college student in the late 90s/early 2000s, I got to see the meteoric rise of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera from Disney Club kids to pop icons.  While I had no idea who they were pre-Baby One More Time, I certainly had no choice to know them after that hit.  Christina's Genie In a Bottle was a smash and set her on a path to superstardom.  I started to get interested in her music with the release of Stripped in 2002.  Her Back to Basics album ranks high on my list of favorite pop albums.  After Back to Basics, I lost track of Christina until her appearances on the hit NBC show, The Voice. With the success of the show, it was only a matter of time before she put out a new album.  Well after a long wait, Christina unleashed Liberation on the world on June 15, 2018, via CD and digital/streaming media.

I will admit that I tried to stream the songs a few times and just wasn't really into what I heard, so I put it away for the time being and planned to revisit it down the road.  Fast forward to October and I'm walking through my local Target and notice a new section erected in the electronics department housing a few shelves full of beautiful vinyl.  Now, most of the selections they offered were the popular releases you can find anywhere.  Your greatest hits packages, your represses of old albums, and a few current titles, but nothing screaming buy it from Target.  As the days and weeks went on you began to see little red stickers indicating that the album was a Target exclusive.