Monday, May 26, 2014

10p Album Club

Back in January, I popped into the Bristol branch of Rise Music (a very good record shop with an equally good café on the ground floor) and stumbled upon quite the bargain. In the centre of the shop was a box labelled '10 Albums for £1' - as you'd expect, most of the artists in that box were completely unknown to me, but how often do you get that much music for that little money? I grabbed ten of the most promising prospects and headed for the till.

I figured that, even if all ten albums were completely dreadful, it would still make for a good blog.

So here are the ten albums that I  rescued from the bargain box - if you're familiar with more than one of these releases, give yourself an Album Wall-approved pat on the back:
  1. Disko by Drivan
  2. Yeth Yeth Yeth by Fops
  3. Knock Knock Knock by Hot Hot Heat
  4. Howie Beck by Howie Beck
  5. Confetti by Lull
  6. Shore to Shore by Norman Palm
  7. Good as Gold by Petter & The Pix
  8. Messages by To My Boy
  9. We Love by We Love
  10. Out of the Woods and Trees by Various Artists
Now, one of these albums - Messages - disappointed me before I had even listened to it. Outwardly, it was one of the most intriguing items in my carrier bag that day...

Looks pretty cool, doesn't it?

...but when I opened that pretty package to feast on the sounds within, I discovered that I'd paid 10p for a case without a CD. To this day, I've no idea what To My Boy sound like; I suppose I could listen to them on the internet, but if they transpired to be any good, I'd just feel even more bitter about the missing disc.

A note, too, about Petter & The Pix. Good as Gold is actually a damn fine listen, but it's disqualified from this blog post because it was thirty times as dear as the other nine albums. I had assumed that any album in the 10p box would be included in the deal, but while I was on the train home from Bristol, I examined my receipt and realised that - shock horror - the album with the £3 label had actually cost me three pounds. This had evaded my attention at the checkout because, well, I was buying a few other things as well and I hadn't really done the maths.

As I say, Good as Gold is pretty awesome, and so I'm not particularly cheesed off about the extra £2.90. Check out the title track:

Of the eight albums that I really did buy for 10p, six were exactly what I expected: okay, but not great. Had they all been like this - solid 5s and 6s out 10 - I would still have been reasonably pleased. After all, you can't expect too much when you're only paying ten pence, right?

Well, no, but that doesn't mean that you won't be surprised. Two of the albums from that list of ten proved to be really, genuinely great: Yeth Yeth Yeth and Shore to Shore.

The former is a dark, angular treat, as slanty as the lettering on its cover. Its highlights are Scandinavian Preppy (a synth-heavy number that simultaneously sounds very lonely and fatally hip), Yellow Jacket Corpse (a song about wearing distinctive clothing to ensure that your body will be easily identifiable in the event of a plane crash), and Ghost Town Hall (a pumping seven-minute workout that turns the sound of sawing into krautrock gold).

If any 1p Album Clubbers are reading this, Yeth Yeth Yeth is (at time of writing) available for a penny on Amazon Marketplace. Buy it for someone and blame me if they hate it. 

Shore to Shore isn't quite as dark as Yeth Yeth Yeth, but it's still tremendously affecting when it wants to be. WDYD? is a great example - it's a lovely little waltz that looks at a doomed relationship ("one can't be without the other, and one will break the other's heart") and looks to the listener for the best course of action ("what do you do, do you leave them or cut them apart?)

Other cuts are less emotional but no less enjoyable - witness the slow-building laptop brilliance of $20 or the astounding pop savvy on display in Sleeper, the album's bouncy showstopper:

The moral here, I suppose, is that you should always buy super-cheap albums when you have the opportunity. Worst-case scenario: you waste a few pennies on rubbish music. Best-case scenario: you unearth something phenomenal for which you would gladly have paid full price.

I mean, the likeliest scenario of all is that you'll end up with something semi-decent that you listen to once and then forget about forever. But you never know, eh?


  1. Best bargain basement bin I ever had was Far's Water and Solutions for £1. Plus I also got Drugstore's White Magic for Lovers for the grand price of £2. Both winners that were well worth taking a punt on, plus swelled a music shops coffers by an extra few quid, always a winner!

    1. My all-time best bargain was Mansun's Attack of the Grey Lantern (one of my favourite albums ever), which cost me the princely sum of £1 from The Record Shop on Inverness Place.