There’s the exclusivity of having a limited-run piece of wax, sure, that’s fun to check the market price on Ebay like a music nerd stock trader, because you wouldn’t dare buy to sell, would you? Should you have rightly answered ‘no’, it should make you feel nice and wholesome for supporting local record shops and getting some honest salesman out of the red and into the black, despite doubling down their plea here with two Record Store Days now a year, the second – and original – in the Spring.

But added to all this consumerism rationalization is a whole other barometer of covet, we being lyric-centric hearts, which is to see some of our most favorite sentiments take a new beautiful shape like so. Because, yes, wax is the ultimate format, and lyrics are just better when you can inject a needle into them. So go SONGLYRICS’ 10 most coveted crate-diggables for your Black Friday hunt, five from the UK, and five from back on the other side of the pond here in the US. Happy hunting!

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Live at KCRW 

In keeping with the subtle and sombre minimalism of this year’s studio comeback, Push the Sky Away, one of rock’s most funereal bands go for the stripped-back approach on this souvenir of a session recorded live for the Los Angeles radio station back in April. Cave’s tones may have mellowed slightly as he now approaches his late 50s. But a macabre reference to Miley Cyrus, presciently made several months before she twerked her way to MTV VMA infamy, on the exquisite hallucinatory trip of “Higgs Boson Blues” and a raucous version of “Jack The Ripper,” an anguished account of a man drawn to despair by his ruthlessly vindictive wife, proves that he remains as darkly comic and as uniquely intense as ever: [LISTEN] – Jon O’Brien (UK)

"Jack the Ripper"

The Civil Wars – Between the Bars

Male/female duets are a formula for success that has worked for The Civil Wars, but that won’t win over non-Americana fans. However, Joy Williams’ performance on “Sour Times” alone makes this a worthwhile purchase for anyone. The duo are releasing a 10″ with studio versions of covers they’ve been known to perform live, and their Portishead rendition magically stays faithful to Beth Gibbons’ vocal idiosyncrasies while retaining their signature harmonies. The tale of regret, possible infidelity, and dark love perfectly fit the group’s musical chemistry and disastrous lack thereof personally. Even the YouTube vid is haunting, but the climax clips at its peak (about 2:43), reminding why vinyl is still important – especially on acoustic songs that utilize the  inexplicably archaic idea of dynamic contrast: [LISTEN] – Karl Ernest (US)

"Sour Times"

The Flaming Lips – Peace Sword EP

The story goes that the Lips were commissioned to provide a single track for the Ender’s Game Soundtrack, but fell into the creative rabbit hole, resulting in this full concept EP. Oddly, even while following this storyboard, the title track is actually vaguer than “Yoshimi” or “Do You Realize?,” as well as a bit more melancholy. This vagueness makes another signature Flaming Lips candy-colored, psychedelic party feel all-inclusive as it opens the door to the sci-fi adventure that they should’ve composed years ago. If you pick up a CD or vinyl on Record Store Day, you’ll get an exclusive bonus track that the mp3-obsessed listeners won’t: [LISTEN] – K.E. (US)

"Ender's Game"

Ladytron – Gravity The Seducer Remixed 

A conscious effort to embrace their ‘disco soul,’ the elder statespeople of the synth-pop revival call upon twelve different producers to shape the space-age shoegaze of their fifth studio effort into something a little more upbeat with inevitably more pulsing but equally cinematic results. Outfit turns the ‘heartbreak at 37000 feet’ tale of “Altitude Blues” from an 80s-themed fantasy score into a warped glitchy slice of electro-house. Tarsius ramps up the juddering bassline of “White Gold” to transform its rejection of all things Au into an intense piece of techno menace. While Somekong takes the weightless ambience of “90 Degrees” into second gear with a driving beat which perfectly complements the desperate plea to a reclusive conqueror of the night: [LISTEN] – J.O. (UK)

"90 Degrees"

Lady Gaga – Applause (Remixes)

Lady GagaGaga’s recent comeback single – a rather needless confession of her addiction to attention – didn’t even really come within touching distance of the pop boundaries that she claimed to be pushing during the media onslaught for parent album ARTPOP.  This eight-track collection of remixes might not fulfill her ‘reverse Warholian’ brief either, but it’s arguably a lot more fun. Purity Ring isolates Gaga’s strangely robotic delivery and transports it to a typically cavernous slice of gothic dubstep. Empire Of The Sun gives it a Balearic sheen with a wave of sun-kissed synths and space-disco beats. While Viceroy takes EDM into an unexpected reggae direction, combining high-pitched bleeps with skank guitar riffs and tropical rhythms. The applause should be redirected here instead: [LISTEN] – J.O. (UK)


Harry Nilsson – Rarities Collection

Cherry-picked from this year’s comprehensive 17-CD The RCA Albums Collection, this 12-track selection of demos and outtakes is a fine showcase of Nilsson’s maverick tendencies, whether it’s delivering a butterfly-catching metaphor in Italian on a baroque-pop interpretation of traditional folk standard “Leggenda,” tackling Stephen Sondheim’s showtune “Marry Me A Little” with just the right amount of yearning it required or pondering on the loneliness of a nun while also paying homage to long-time friends The Beatles on the “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” pastiche of “Sister Marie:” [LISTEN] – J.O. (UK)

"Sister Marie"

Puscifer – Puscifer’s 8-Ball Bail Bonds – The Berger Barns Live in Phoenix

If you know who Puscifer is, then you have probably experienced every inch of Maynard’s lyrical lust in this raunchy side project. Either that, or you’re a big Tool/A Perfect Circle fan but maybe never got into this goofier fare. On 8-Ball Bail Bonds, Maynard still gets sacrilegious, reminisces on fucking all of history’s country stars, and discusses vaginal ownership, but trades the Perfect Circle-sounding porn soundtrack for some bouncy country. Perhaps another way to think of it – sick of Mumford & Sons‘ faux sincerity, clothed in tweed and neards? Imagine them instead singing along to this with their kick-drums blazing and barbershop harmonies intact: [LISTEN] – K.E. (US)

"Rev 22;20"

Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

Receiving the picture disc treatment, the noirish femme fatale pop of Born to Die remains one of the most perfectly executed debut albums of the last few years. Alongside all the Instagram-filtered promos and perpetual pouting, Del Rey proved there was substance to her ‘Hollywood sadcore’ style with a lush cinematic collection which drew upon everything from Twin Peaks to trip-hop. While “Carmen,” a brooding baroque-pop ballad about an alcoholic forced to sell her body on the streets reportedly inspired by her own teenage addiction, showed that away from all the endless declarations for her bad boy lover and melodramatic tales of doomed romance, she has the makings of a compelling storyteller: [LISTEN] – J.O. (UK)


Tegan and Sara – Guilty as Charged/I Run Empty

Tegan and Sara may not have developed any particular unique twists for their later albums’ power-pop infatuation anthems, but damn, if they still don’t get under your skin. These Heartthrob B-Sides, particularly “Guilty as Charged,” can make anyone feel like a teenager with a stomach in knots, “crazy for” a school crush on first listen. They’re only available as a 7″, so you will obviously need to have a turntable to check it out – take it as an invitation towards vinyl-worshiping hipsters to become recquainted with decent, modern pop music: [LISTEN] – K.E. (US)

"Guilty as Charged"

Various Artists – A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein

Who knew Shel Silverstein was a genius musical satirist? Until now, we were probably all too busy reading his children’s poetry books to find out. There’s simply too much good stuff here to mention, but here’s a start for what this indie-celebrity cover album teaches us: conformism can result in “do what you’re toldable/easily moldable/buy what you’re soldable” lives (as sung wistfully by Andrew Bird), songs poking fun at “making it” and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle are best ironically played by highly-influential yet commercially floundering legends with tongues in cheek, and lastly, that macho hotheadedness doesn’t always make you “The Winner,” even if you break more of the other guy’s bones than your own: [LISTEN] – K.E. (US)

"The Winner"