Vinyl Vlog 476

Vinyl Vlog 476

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Alphabetland LP

(Fat Possum Records)

Alphabetland was one of the most important records of 2020. Let me count the ways. For one it was, just plainly on the surface, a record that did many things and did them well. Compared to both rock and punk music it sounded fresh, yet undeniably familiar. It also managed to be both fun and urgent, and musically it was catchy as hell. Blame that on guitarist Billy Zoom’s rockabilly tendencies matched with the harmonies of Exene Cervenka and John Doe. This is a style of music that can easily appeal to the masses if they tried it. Everything on Alphabetland sounds like a comfortable old shoe you don’t want to take off.

You wouldn’t have guessed Alphabetland to be a phoenix of sorts rising from the ashes, but this is X’s first new record in 27 years and the first reuniting the original lineup which last made a record 35 years ago. Coming as a complete surprise, the songs on this record sound like they were written by punk kids in the 80s, and fit perfectly within X’s catalog. It will take two listens to get the verses of opener Alphabetland stuck in your head, which goes on to serve as a perfect appetizer for rager “Free,” the slow sizzler “Water & Wine,” and fast and furious sound of “Delta 88 Nightmare.” Even the closer “All the Time in the World” which is a spoken word jazz-poetry tracks works as the final songs. This album is only 27 minutes and packs a punch, but it’s almost a shame it’s so short.

As far as vinyl is concerned, this one is quite a beauty. For one thing, the artwork needs to be big to truly be appreciated. It’s printed on heavy matted cardstock, which might be a reason it stands out so much. This is one of those exceptions where a record actually would look good displayed on the wall. Another thing is that it turned out that the color vinyls of this record would be highly sought-after collectibles. If you got one, great, but Fat Possum has you covered on the standard black vinyl which looks as slick as you can imagine.

Alphabetland is a truly fine record that shows there are a lot of tricks left in this old dog. It’s also a testament of how to do a comeback right. One of the best of 2020. Here’s hoping for more to come!

Get it from Fat Possum!

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