Vinyl Review: Cause & Effect Vol. 1 (VIP Edition)

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Joyful Noise is one of my favorite record labels. And it’s not just because they’re home to great artists like Lou Barlow, Talk Normal, Deerhoof and Kishi Bashi (KISHI BASHI IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS), but it’s also because they seem to be one of the only labels out there having fun with the physical format.

Joyful Noise puts out cassette tapes. Not only that, they put out giant cassette tape box sets. They put out flexi-discs flip books. They sell their test pressings. They love colored vinyl, elaborate packaging and everything else that makes record collectors go gaga. Even better, they tend to do it in an affordable fashion. They’re the ideal label for the collector on a budget.

The label’s latest budget-minded limited edition release is Cause & Effect Vol. 1, a boxed collection of three split singles with an interesting concept; the A-side of each single has a historically significant solo musician, while the B-side features a modern act influenced by them.

It’s a cool idea, and one that hinges entirely on the artists and bands chosen. Thankfully, Joyful Noise did well there. Repping the A-sides are “classic” musicians Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh), David Yow (The Jesus Lizard) and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), with their respective B-sides being Dumb Numbers, Child Bite and Talk Normal.

All the parings make sense. Talk Normal are obviously influenced by Sonic Youth’s early work; the lo-fi, low-key melodies of Dumb Numbers screams Sebadoh; and Child Bite are born of the same freak star that David Yow descended from. Perfect matches that serve great to open the fanbases of the older artists to the newer ones and vice versa. If you like one artist on any of the singles, then you’ll most likely enjoy the artist on the flipside.

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The box set comes in a thick, standard-sized 45 sleeve that holds three regular-sized sleeves within. All feature portraits of the featured artists by Shawn K. Knight, a graphic artist who has done packaging and poster art for many indie acts. The art is kind of dark and grimy for my tastes, but it fits the overall aesthetic of the artists being featured.

The singles themselves keep with the “split” nature of the release; each are split-colored. I’m a member of Joyful Noise’s VIP Club (basically a fan club for the label) so the records in my copy are split clear and grey, while standard editions are split clear and black. I imagine they look just as great. They all certainly sound great, I didn’t pick up any surface noise on any of the singles. But if you don’t have a turntable don’t fret, they come with a download code too.

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This is a great box set, so great that I only have one, incredibly minor complaint. See that paper band that wraps around the box set? Well, it’s crazy hard to get that sucker back on the box set once you slide it off the first time. That’s a real drag because that’s where the individual number is for your copy! I hope Joyful Noise remedies that minor quibble for Vol. 2.

If you have any interest in any of the artists on this set, or if you just want to support a label that is still trying unique and fun things with the physical format, then you need to pick up Cause & Effect Vol. 1. It’s limited to 2,000 copies, but you can still pick it up over at Joyful Noise’s official website. Get you one.

 

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