Release date: April 2018
Favorite track: “Gold Angel”
“These songs range from summer breeze to helium balloon but they all agree to disagree with gravity.”
Vinyl Moon Co. founder Brandon’s intro letter for Vol. 31, “Cloudgardener,” perfectly describes this record. No matter how many times you listen, your feet won’t stay planted on the ground.
Vinyl Moon is a vinyl subscription company, in which you pay a monthly fee to receive a new vinyl record each month. Every record features a track listing with a mix of burgeoning musicians and an intricate album sleeve designed by a different talented visual artist.
In this album, I hear the mind-transporting abilities of Bonobo’s electronic instrumental tracks, the heart-wrenching tactics of John Mayer’s lyrics and the soaring sounds of Coldplay's discography. The up-and-coming musicians featured have many of the components I seek in music — passion, romanticism and, most importantly, imagination.
The title fits the album. Listening feels a bit like tending to a garden in the sky.
The first two tracks, Adrian Underhill’s “Cruel” and Jimmy Smash’s “Fine Line,” channel the same ethereal somberness as Mayer’s 2009 album, “Battle Studies.” I’m not mad about it.
Mayer’s influence is particularly apparent in “Cruel,” which has an upbeat pop twist and a bluesy guitar finish. Swoon. “Fine Line” has rawer vocals and a vague hint of R&B.
The record took it to the next level with Minke’s “Gold Angel” and Lannd’s “Legends.” When I heard “Gold Angel,” I thought, “This is my favorite track on the record” … until I heard “Legends.” Both spacey, electro-pop tracks exude passion — I love them both.
They were the first two I felt inclined to add to my playlist. I can’t wait to hear more from these musicians.
All dressed up, nowhere to go
TV’s on, no one’s home
Ring me up, I’m not there
Leave a message, show you care
— “Gold Angel”
Sleeping Lion’s “Stop It (stripped)” is a gorgeous track featuring breathy vocals and string instruments. Being that it’s identified as a stripped-down version, I listened to the fully outfitted version. I usually prefer the emphasis on vocals in minimalist versions, but I can’t pretend I didn’t enjoy all the musical bells and whistles of the other.
The B-side begins with Cape Francis’ “Iditarod,” a piano-driven song that boasts my favorite lyrics.
I want to be
Impossibly carved from all my failures
But left standing on my feet
For, all I could see
In some Iditarod
With nothing left behind me
I’ll keep pictures to remind me
Max Garcia Conover’s “Abigail for a While” is a folk song pairing soft male and female vocals. It brings to mind Iceland-based band Of Monsters and Men.
This, along with Simen Mitlid’s “Two Days,” begins the album’s blissful descent. The record ends in a mellow manner.
Germany-based graphic designer Matthias Jung created the visual components. His artwork is a dynamic blend of architecture, nature and geometric shapes. It depicts the otherworldly nature of the album.
Jung also created a floating house turntable spinner, a small cardboard device that spins in the center of the record while it’s playing. I love how he put his own spin on the design — no pun intended.
My favorite aspect is the colored vinyl, a translucent mint green. It’s subtle and ethereal, and I’ve never seen vinyl quite that color.
Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.