In these days of infinite choice, invisible (and instantly disposable) digital music files and on-demand streaming, turning listening habits into something akin to a musical version of Tinder, it doesn’t take much to get us longing nostalgically for a not too distant past in which discovering new music required a little more effort, patience and trust.
Growing up in the mid-nineties I was a big fan of singles clubs such as Fierce Panda and Vibrations from The Edge of Sanity, which for a small financial outlay would send a mystery parcel of limited edition vinyl to my doorstep once a month. Subscription was an act of faith, trusting in the good taste of the curators to select something special, and the anticipation when a small, square parcel appeared on the doorstep made receiving these records just that little bit more special than one purchased at the local record shop. I would immediately head upstairs, carefully slide the record from its sleeve (often hand numbered for that added feeling of exclusivity) – if the vinyl appeared in a lurid colour (or indeed on occasion, specked with glitter) all the better – place it on the turntable and wait to see what wonderful sounds were contained within the grooves. I was rarely disappointed.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and record clubs are not the influential taste-makers they once were. Where they do still exist, such as Third Man Records’ excellent (if rather pricey) Vault series, they’re often aimed more at collectors looking for special editions from their favourite acts (or indeed to sell on eBay), rather than those seeking new discoveries.
Picking up the torch of previous generations comes new record club Flying Vinyl – for a monthly fee of £20 they’ll deliver a beautifully packaged discovery box of five specially selected 7″ singles by emerging indie artists. Each one will be an exclusive, special edition release, one on coloured vinyl, complete with full artwork and labels, a booklet with information about the featured bands and a piece of exclusive merchandise.
Our box, the second edition, released in July, contained singles by indie-popsters Idle Frets, folky singer-songwriter and summer festival favourite Eaves, frenetic Canadian duo Moon King, cinematic two-piece Meadowlark (on clear vinyl) and Nottingham teen alt. rockers Kagoule along with an illustrated lyric sheet for Eaves’ ‘Dove In Your Mouth’.
As you might expect it all looks very pretty, but a club like this lives and dies on the quality of the music which they select and thankfully the people at Flying Vinyl have done just as good a job in choosing the music as they have with the presentation. Personal highlights come in the form of Kagoule’s sinewy ‘Glue’, its grungy guitars winding themselves around a wonderfully crunchy rhythm section – their debut LP Urth is due next month and if this and previous singles ‘It Knows It’ and ‘Gush’ are anything to go by, it’s likely to be one of the best debuts of the year. Giving them a run for their money are Toronto natives Moon King, whose contribution ‘Apocalypse’ is a slow building treasure, demonstrating a mastery of quiet – loud – louder dynamics as it gradually unfurls from a gentle jangle into a jagged explosion of breakneck guitars worthy of its title.
Take a leap of faith and sign up to the Flying Vinyl Record Club now at flyingvinyl.co.uk
Review by Paul Maps