Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Microphones "Song Islands" CD (K Records, 2002)

(CD spine 1, spine 2, "bone" sticker, hype sticker, back in plastic with barcode sticker, front, back, CD itself, 5 pics of the play-side info, outside cover foldout, inside cover foldout)

Song Islands CD

-Recorded at various dates and places and featuring many different players. The complete info of persons involved and dates/info of recording is viewable on the pictures I've included if the liner notes. I am usually not lazy in this way but it feels redundant to type it all out here when it's right there, written by the man himself.*

*This is a collection of rare and out-of-print 7"s and compilation tracks

-Released August 20th, 2002 on K Records ( (KLP125) and 7ep ( (ep002) in Japan

-CD version is the only one available to date.*

*It always bummed me out, especially at the time, having not heard many of these tracks, that this was not released on vinyl, though I guess there is something of an idiosyncratic hang-up there, re-releasing out-of-print vinyl tracks on vinyl... Phil's take on this can be read in the PW site listing for this cd:

There was also a Japanese import version of this CD (not pictured above, BUT, pics coming soon) on the 7EP label ( who, alas only ship within Japan (I found out after a long and arduous process of translating the text on the site, piece by piece). After a long night of scouring the internet I finally came up with a source, I think, fingers crossed, for this version, as well as the many other Japanese and other country imports ( This version was actually called "Island Songs", which I find to be very charming. It somehow changes the entire tone of the CD or me. This version did not have "Lanterns" or "Antlers" on it and, in their place, featured the song "Buzz, Buzz" which was one of the two Microphones songs (the other was a version of "Pre Amp") inexplicably included (along with two Karl Blau songs as well) as extra tracks on the D+ "Dandelion Seeds" CD (on K Records, KLP084). (D+ is the band that Phil is in along with Karl Blau and Bret Lunsford.) The "Dandelion Seeds" LP (which, unlike the CD, is on Knw-Yr-Own Records, KYO032) featured only the original eight tracks.

UPDATE, HMV turned out to be a reliable source for Phil's overseas releases and thus I am proud to present pics and info for "Island Songs":

(Spine 1, spine 2, spine with obi strip, front and back in plastic with obi strip and barcode, obi strip alone, plastic and barcode alone)

Love, love, love obi strips. For those unfamiliar with the term, these are the paper wraparound ends that are on all Japanese media, DVDs, CDs, Books, etc... It's really just an extra bit of paper on the spine that gives all the relevant information about the product. As far as collectability they tend to be the types of things that up the value to collectors and dorks, such as myself. I consider them to be in the same vein as a record insert. It's part of what makes a particular release complete. A friend of mine from years ago, who bought many, many Japanese CDs, used to make a habit of "laminating" them in packing tape and then attaching them to the end of the CD. I myself became a fan of this, though I am refraining from it for the sake of trying to preserve these CDs in as close to as-they-came states as I can. If anyone out there was not already picking up what a loser I am about this blog I am certain it's coming through loud and clear now. Go me.

(Disc itself and play-side info)

Insert fold out, has a number of slight differences than the US version, they are as follows:

-Liner notes are oriented upside-down compared to the US cd. Which is to say that, for example, the panel with the front cover of the cd on the US version is on the flip side of the top of the liner notes, where they begin. On the Japanese version the front cover panel is on the opposite of the end of the liner notes.

-The liners notes have all obviously been re-written by Phil, some of the spacing and sizing of the words is slightly different.

-On the listing for "Where It's Hotter parts 1, 2, 3"... On the US version he uses the word "parts" on the Japanese he uses the abbreviation "pts." Alson on the US it lists it as "1, 2, & 3" the Japanese version has no "&".

-Release info for the "Bass Drum Dream" 7": On the US cd it simply lists the address of UP Records as Seatle, Wash., on the Japanese he goes on to list the PO BOX info (21382, Seattle, Wash. 98111). Also the year of release is listed next to the address on the US, on the Japanese is is on the same line as the artwork credit.

-Release info for the "Feedback (Life, Love, Loop)" 7": On the US version The Bedtime Record is in quotation marks, not so on the Japanese. The US version lists "art by Pogue and Elvrum", the Japanese reads "artwork by P. Elvrum".

-Release info for the "Moon, Moon" 7": The Japanese version includes an address for K Records (Box 7154, Olympia, Wash. 98507) as well as an artwork credit for P. Elvrum. These are not on the US version.

-Release info for the "I Can't Believe You Actually Died" 7": The US version has quotation marks around the record label, Coming In Second. Not so on the Japanese version. The Japanese CD includes an artwork credit to P. Elvrum which is absent on the US cd.

-Release info for "The Moon" 7": The US version says it was "released by", the Japanese says "released on". The US version lists an "art" credit. The Japanese lists an "artwork" credit instead.

-"Deeply Buried": This track has a different drawing on each version. The US version reads "was on a compilation in Italy supposedly". The Japanese reads "appeared on a compilation in Italy maybe. The US version says "recorded in early 1999". The Japanese only says "recorded early 1999".

-Wake Me Up": The US version says it "was on". The Japanese version says it "appeared on". The US version says it was "recorded in April 1999". The Japanese just says "recorded April 1999".

-"I Listen Close": US version says "was on". The Japanese version says "appeared on". The US version says "recorded to Mirah for her birthday, Sept. 1999". The Japanese says "recorded for happy-birthday-Mirah Sept. 1999".

-"The Glow pt. 4 (version)": The US version says "was on". The Japanese says "appeared on". The US version lists the label as " 'LOVE TAPE LOVE' or 'WAXWING' or something". The Japanese only lists LOVE TAPE LOVE.

-"You're Standing On The Ground": The US version says "was on". The Japanese says "appeared on". The US version says "Red Square is the label" and gives no contact info. The Japanese simply says "RED SQUARE" and then lists contact info (

-"Phil Elvrum's Will": The US version says "was on". The Japanese version says "appeared on". The US version says only "recorded June 2001". The Japanese says "recorded in June 2001".

-"There's No Invincible...": The US version says "was on a compilation in Scotland maybe". The Japanese version says "appeared on a compilation in Scotland"

-The credits for who appears on the CD differ quite a bit. The Japanese cd lists, in addition to those on the US cd: Chris Takino, Jake Cunningham, Jeremy Jensen, Aaron Cohen, Bernardo Saurtarelli, Pat Maley, Chris Adolf, Hugh Holden, Carrie Brown, Jen Turrell, Jef Logsdon, Alex Botten. On the US version Khaela's name appears as "Mikhaela". All those not listed on the US version appear after the last name on that CD on the Japanese version. Some of those people included on the Japanese version are no doubt due to the inclusion of the slightly different track list on the Japanese CD, the D+ song. Outside of that I have no idea about their omission.

-The artwork credit on the Japanese version simply says "PAINTINGS BY KYLE FIELD, 2001 used by permission". On the US cd it reads "COVER PAINTINGS: 'untitled' 2001, ink on record jackets by Kyle Field, from the collection of the artist."

(Please refer to the included pictures if you'd like to see visual coverage of all of the above discrepancies.)

-And, as usual, all Japanese CDs tend to come printed on much, much nicer paper, almost like card stock, thicker, heavier, more tactile, very nice.)

(All Japanese CDs come with these. An additional insert which folds out, giving the track info, lyrics in Japanese and English [just in case any of you wanted to know what "I Can't Believe You Actually Died" looks like in Japanese] and sometimes a brief statement from the artist.)

-Footnote to the saga of me trying to find a place to buy Phil's Japanese releases on 7ep: In an act of supreme frustration after spending quite awhile trying to find a source for these, finding them, and then realizing they only ship in Japan, not overseas, I decided to go right to the source, against my better judgment. I email Phil himself and explained the situation and apologized profusely for being so presumptuous as to email him with my trifling problem. Did not expect to hear back. It was the highlight of my month when I checked my mail one day and saw a reply. He kindly said he would email the folks at 7ep and ask them to tell me how to get ahold of their releases. Luckily for me I figured out the HMV thing shortly thereafter as I never heard from the 7ep folks. Oh well, it was worth it to go into my inbox from time to time and see this...

-IFPI number: 6000 (US), IC86 stamped into the plastic inner groove and L603 in the silver (both Japan)

-Barcode info: 78956112524 (US), 5000006030198 (Japan)

-Cover Paintings: "untitled" 2001, ink on paper by Kyle Field (Little Wings) from the colleciton of the artist.*

*The cover is a collection of typical drawings/paintings, very similar to the unique, hand-painted covers to some of his limited releases, the "Blood" LP, "Little Bird Flies Into a Big Black Cloud" LP etc... The liner notes are Phil's hand-drawn approximations of the originals and attendant liner note info. The CD itself is, as usual, a black and white drawing by Phil.

-Also of note, when this was first released it came with a "hype sticker" on the outer cellophane which simply said "Song Islands" By The Microphones.

-Decent review here from our friends at Pitchfork:


And, at long last, rounding out the "Song Islands" section of this blog is "Song Islands" itself. Released on CD by K Records in 2002. This was to be the catchall collection for all the odds and ends of Phil's output throughout the late 90's and early 2000's, the very early ages of The Microphones.

In its way, this has long been my favorite Microphones "album" though it can really not be considered in that light, since it's just a collection of singles and whatnot. But, outside of that fact, it is a very compelling collection of material. It spans the earliest feelings of the Microphones, samples, people talking about the actual equipment they are recording on, passages of sound as song, noise, massive percussion for its own sake, heartfelt sentiments sometimes laid sparse, sometimes lost under thunder and fluorescent lights, all the way up to the Appalachian folky sing-alongs, the sad resignation, the hip-hop elements, the dub elements, the sea shantys and everything thing in-between.

The cover is really, perfectly executed, featuring some drawings by Phil, made to look just exactly like the hand-painted, ultra-limited records just narrowly preceding this ("Blood", "Little Bird Flies Into A Big Black Cloud"), and liner notes, hand-written, accompanied bydrawn approximations of the original source material.

I remember this one coming out in one of Phil's patented gluts of record releases. It was like, this one, the "Mount Eerie" LP, "The Drums From Mt. Eerie", "The Singing From Mt. Eerie" and I think a couple other more minor releases. I was just trying to keep up.

So, this post pretty much draws to a close this opening movement of the blog, the "Song Islands" movement. I picked this slew of stuff first since so many of the earliest mixes came from these singles/this CD (six of the original "Holy 8" come from this CD and its antecedents). I have gone to great lengths to put together a physical collection/representation of all the songs on this CD. Alas, there are a few outstanding that I fear I will never see the source material of. Two of which come from insanely obscure little compilations and, even more frustratingly, two that Phil himself doesn't even know if they ever came out or what releases they are on. Wonderful. I guess we should be thankful to have them at all. And, really, what would an endeavor like this be without a few holy grails.
(--029, --125, --123, --056, --016, --049, --006, --005, Figure 8 PLUS, --032, --004, --126, --001, --002, --033, --040, --260, --022, --014, --268, --269, --272)

Bass Drum Dream
The Storm
Where It's Hotter, Parts 1, 2, and 3
Weird Storm
Heavy Eyes
Moon Moon
I Can't Believe You Actually Died
I'm a Pearl Diver
The Moon
Deeply Buried
Wake Me Up
I Listen Close
The Glow, Part 4
You're on the Ground
Phil Elvrum's Will
There's No Invisible Disguise That Lasts All Day

*Extra track, uncredited in the liner notes, which appears labeled this way when the CD is placed into the computer

Tracklist (Japanese Version)
Bass Drum Dream
The Storm
Where It's Hotter, Parts 1, 2, and 3
Weird Storm
Heavy Eyes
Moon Moon
I Can't Believe You Actually Died
I'm a Pearl Diver
The Moon
Buzz, Buzz
Deeply Buried
Wake Me Up
I Listen Close
The Glow, Part 4
You're on the Ground
Phil Elvrum's Will
There's No Invisible Disguise That Lasts All Day


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

VA-The "Lullaby, Lullaby" Compilation CD: I Listen Close (Eighty North/This Heart Plays Records, Sept. 1999)

(Cover front, back, inside, insert, CD top, CD play-side)

VA-The "Lullaby, Lullaby" Compilation CD: I Listen Close

-Recorded by various artists at various times and places*

*The Microphones track was "Recorded to Mirah for her birthday, Sept. 1999"

-Release date: Unknown*

*I swear, so little info is out there about this CD. You'd never know it existed at all were it not for the "Song Islands" comp, or the fact that I am holding it in my hand. Based solely on my memory of when I first saw it and purchased it I would place it's release somewhere around 2001.

-Released by 80 North/This Heart Plays Records, no catalog number*

*According to the insert, which was a nice print on vellum, 80 North was in the process of changing its name to "This Heart Plays Records" at the time of this release, due to "some different people running it and others quiting". They list a web page here ( but, in searching for info I found it to be no longer in use. The insert also list a couple "upcoming" releases, one by The Badger King and one by Dave Longstreth, presumably pre-Dirty Projectors or at least at the very earliest of it's incarnations. I am assuming, based on the only other mentions of this label I can find (which are here that this upcoming release was, in fact, the first DP release "The Graceful Fallen Mango" which was, at the time, considered to be a Dave Longstreth solo disc. And that's about all I can scrape up about this label or release timetable at this point in time.

-Here's an update to that web search, I stumbled across a new page for 80 North that seems to be more current-

and the little I could find online:

There is a brief mention of the comp. on Dennis Driscoll's iTunes Music page:

the google cache for this page shows some sort of info about the comp. but when you click on it, it's just some random guy's myspace page:

However you will note in this picture what I'm talking ab

-As far as I can tell this was only available on CD, no indication otherwise. Nor is there any indication how many were produced (I'd hazard to guess 500 or less) and there is no indication who designed to cover or packaging.*

And yes now that I'm updating this I've got a little back up on that. As you can see in the Google screencap above someone somewhere was claiming this thing had a print run of 500.

-IFPI number: 2F52

-It's worth noting that the track info is all mixed up when you put this CD into iTunes. For rhe most part the artist and track names were reversed.

-This song would appear in a slightly different form on the "Song Islands" CD

-There's a link to a zip of the entire comp. up in the downloads column.


And, ever onward with the "Song Islands" material. Here we have the "Lullaby, Lullaby" compilation CD from 80 North/This Heart Plays Records, circa 2000/1(?). This is another in a series of Microphones oddities I was fortunate enough to buy on a whim at the time that it came out. I remember, back in the day, at Newbury Comics, basically spending my entire paycheck on records as soon as I got it. I was the ideal employee in that way. But comps were always hard to pull the trigger on. The heartbreak of the completeist music fan, then as it is now. You know there's about a 90% chance that the songs by the couple artists you care about are not going to be anything great. But, there is the 10% of the time when you get a real lost gem (examples are escaping me at the moment) and that makes the gamble worth it. Still, it always comes down to that thing of spending ten to fifteen dollars for the sake of one song generally. Looking over the tracklist here, although it features a lot of good folks doing there steady best, it's hard for me to assume that I bought this for anything other than the Microphones track, which is strange since the time at which I would have got this was in my early, admittedly, trepid Microphones days (you know, like the time I had that copy of the "Blood" LP, limited to 300 copies, in my hand and said, eh, that's ok, I'll pass). But bought it I did, and thank God, because this seems to be one of the more impossible to find artifacts at this point in the Phil Elverum game.

To that end I am going to have to admit, once again, that I am not at all familiar with the rest of this comp, even though there are plenty of folks on it that I know to be plenty solid.

Anyway, here we have the original appearance of "I Listen Close", although, on the insert it is, in fact credited as "Listen Close", typo I guess. (Additional note on the insert, it is lovely and on vellum, which I am always a sucker for, and I have had a long history with this disc where I thought I had lost or misplaced the insert and thank God, for once, I have not. In coming to terms with my Phil thing it has become painfully clear that for me, in these cases, the artifact, the object is the thing. Usually I am only concerned about the music contained. But, for Phil, it is the whole actual recovered artifact, the entire anthropological piece.)

According to the liner notes for the "Song Islands" CD this song was recorded "to Mirah for her birthday, Sept. 1999" which makes it that much lovelier to me. And, speaking of "Song Islands", the version appearing on that CD is, though not credited, a different version than the one we get here. On "Song Islands" the track is 2:17 long and, around the :47 second mark, these pounding drums come in. The track continues on in this manner, ending in some ambient noise/wash and talking. As opposed to the version on this comp. which is only 1:28 long, features none of the pounding drums and simply comes to a close with some droning organ. I prefer this one. It's the one I came to know the song through I guess.

I Am The World Trade Center-Istambul
A Boy Named Thor-Hello Hawaii
The Player Piano-Milwaukee Mile
Dear Nora-Round n' Round
The Love Letter Band-I Knew You Knew
Jen Turrell-Pink Edged Bright
Brett Stubbs-The Cliffs Are Red
Vehicle Flips-The Encouragable Optomis's Song Book
The Intima-Song For Drones
Mirah-Special Death
The Microphones-Listen Close
Dennis Driscoll-Saturday Morning
Audio Armada-Obertin
The Album Leaf-Inbetween Lines
Drawing Number One-After A While
The Plan B-After 5 Years
Park-Red Coat Charmer
Maya Shore-Restless Times
The Galactic Heroes-Dale
Wolf Colonel-Fashionably Left Behind
Denniss Driscoll-Lullaby, Lullaby


Monday, June 28, 2010

VA-Projector, Another Studio Compilation CD: Wake Me Up (Yoyo Recordings, 1999)

(CD cover front, back, spine, part of the liner notes/insert pertaining to The Microphones, CD top, CD play-side)

VA-Projector, Another Studio Compilation CD: Wake Me Up

-Recorded at various times and places by various artists*

*The Microphones track was recorded in April, 1999 at Yoyo studios with: Phil Elvrum, Jenn Kleise Erika Jacobs Dennis Driscoll, Khaela Maricich, Forrest Martin, Pat Maley, Alex Neerman, and Jason Powers

-Released October 26, 1999 on Yoyo Recordings (P.O. Box 2462, Olympia, WA 98507, (YOYO-CD12)

-As far as I know this was only available on CD.

-IFPI Number: Appears to have two, L533 on the silver, 9221 on the plastic inner groove. No idea what that could mean.

-Barcode info: 78956601226

-Number produced is anyone's guess. As usual, things like this I might be able to contact the label and find out, stay tuned. Yoyo was a pretty decently sized indie label at that time, in the scheme of Pacific Northwest labels, so I'd guess there were at last a thousand of these. Most likely more.

-It is worth noting that when you put this CD into iTunes some of the track labeling is a little wonky. Nothing important, just random capitol letters or missing spaces between words.

-Of random interest, in the liner notes it lists the Microphones contact info as KNW-YR-OWN 1717 Commercial Ave./Anacortes, WA 98221. The fine folks at that label were the ones responsible for putting out most of Phil's earliest (and, so far, unobtainable) cassette releases.

-This song would appear (same version) on the "Song Islands" CD

-There's a link to a zip of the entire comp. up in the downloads section.


And still continuing with the "Song Islands" theme, here we have the "Projector: Another Studio Compilation" CD from Yoyo Recordings. This is the last, I believe, in a series of really killer comps from Yoyo that I had been following all through the late 90's golden age of indie rock (check 'em out for all kinds of great stuff by all kinds of great people "Throw", "Julep", "Periscope" and so on).

On this one we are treated to, among other gems, The Microphones doing "Wake Me Up", another in the confusing/confounding series of Phil songs revolving around slight variations in the same title, (ie: "Wake Me Up", "Don't Wake Me Up", "I'll Be In The Air", "You Were In The Air" etc...) It's a very pretty and very brooding and funereal song for Phil. There are some strings in the second half that really remind me, years earlier, of "Pyramid Song" by Radiohead (which I, alas, did not sequence this with on the original mix).

I am, again, shamefully unversed in the rest of this comp, but I am sure it is all really quite nice. I can at least attest to the appearance of the band Get The Hell Out Of The Way Of The Volcano, and I really don't know anything about their history other than that there is a really nice Microphones song that gets its namesake from their name and also that that band apparently consists of only Kaelah Maricich also of (the twisting and confusing history of) The Blow and Get The Hell Out Of The Way Of The Wave. These are all, apparently, the same, or very close to the same band, and she also has some close ties to Yacht. All of which I am not going to try to go into here. For the sake of this blog the important part is that she was pretty much a Microphones member/fixture all through the early/middle/elementary school chorus era.
And there it is.

The KG-X The Calender
Get The Hell Out Of The Way Of The Volcano-Bagfull Of Spiders
The Need-American Woman
C Average-The Weirding Way
IQU-Can't You Even Remember That? (Remix)
Mirah-Precious Little Rocket
Dennis Driscoll-I Like It
Lois Maffeo-Shame The Bells
Bluebirdsky-Lovely Loop (Instrumental)
Ashtray Boy-Koala Boy
Little Red Car Wreck-Rip Up The Carpet
Super Duo-Holiday
Rabbit Rabbit-Differential
The Microphones-Wake Me Up
The Drivers-Another Unknown
Eucalyptus-Barely Alive
Nova Scotia-Stop Motion
The Nervous System-This Planet's Mine
Lowdown, The-Saved By God
The Newlyweds-Stole
Loud Machine 0.5-Without You
Rebecca Pearcy-Pomegranate
Unknown Artist-Untitled