Vinyl Spotlight: Sunny Day Real Estate and Circa Survive split

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Every so often, our resident vinyl lover, Kiel Hauck, takes the time to talk about a recent vinyl release and gives a breakdown about everything from packaging to sound quality. Here’s his latest installment.

So, Record Store Day 2014 has come and gone. Now it’s time to enjoy all of our purchases! The first release I’m focusing in on is the Circa Survive/Sunny Day Real Estate split 7-inch. This was likely my most sought after release for the day – Why? Well, to put it simply, this is a beautiful pairing of a legendary band (Sunny Day Real Estate) and a band heavily influenced and inspired by the former band (Circa Survive).

Incredibly, the song provided by Sunny Day Real Estate, titled “Lipton Witch”, is their first release since the band put out The Rising Tide in 2000. The band had been rumored to be working on new music back in 2009, but things fell through, much to their fans’ dismay. Meanwhile, Circa Survive’s contribution, titled “Bad Heart” is their first release since 2012’s Violent Waves.

Packaging and Presentation

The packaging is both striking to the eye and appropriately in line with both bands’ previous releases. The artwork was done by Chris Thompson, who handled the art for Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary and How It Feels to Be Something On. It’s a bit weird and a bit ambiguous, which means that it’s perfectly suited as a package for both bands.

This pressing was numbered to 2,500 with 2,400 being pressed on burgundy vinyl and the other 100 being pressed on clear vinyl. While I wasn’t fortunate enough to pick out one of the clear copies, the burgundy pressing looks pretty splendid. Not only does it mesh well with the cover art, but the classic-feeling label gives the disc a retro feel. No matter which variant you get, it’s hard to complain.

Sound and Quality

Even more than critiquing the actual sound of the record itself, people are likely most interested in the sound of the individual songs. Truly, it’s a pretty fantastic experience all the way around. “Lipton Witch” is one of the most enjoyable rock songs I’ve heard this year. Could it be because of the 14 year wait between new music from Sunny Day Real Estate?

Maybe, but this song is pretty fantastic in its own right – truly a Sunny Day track, but with a fresh kick that makes it feel relevant. I think this will have most fans itching to hear what else the band has been up to during their absence. We may never get another full length from the band, but “Lipton Witch” proves that the band still has “it.”

Likewise, “Bad Heart” is a fantastic new song from Circa Survive. The track is much more mellow than the majority of the band’s catalogue, but caries that eerie vibe that makes the band so special. Truthfully, “Bad Heart” wouldn’t have felt too out of place on the back half of Violent Waves, but it’s a great stand alone song in its own right. Here’s hoping that this song isn’t the end of the band’s new music in 2014.

What’s even more wonderful than the new tracks themselves is how well both sound on the vinyl format. Both of these songs deserve to be heard on record – don’t settle for YouTube versions. If you can get your hands on a copy of this release, definitely do it. The release also comes with a free MP3 download of both songs, should you choose to use it. Personally, I plan to spin these songs on vinyl on the regular.

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by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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