Album review: Various Artists, “Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl”

by Jon E. Lynch

Various Artists, “Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl”

Available: Now, via Polyvinyl Records digitally, in both MP3 and WAV formats, on standard black double vinyl LP, and in limited quantities on Splattered Starburst Teal/Pink and Teal/Green vinyl (with a redeemable digital download).

Given the current state, generally speaking, of the music industry and the independent record label, it’s encouraging when a label celebrates a milestone for longevity. “Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl” is a testament to the DIY aesthetic and proof that an ethical business model works, seemingly, for all those involved. Following the ethos of tried-and-proven labels like DC’s Dischord and Chicago’s Touch & Go, Polyvinyl was birthed from the zine culture of the late ’90s. Paraphrased from their own words, Darcie Knight and Matt Lunsford founded Polyvinyl Press, a photocopied fanzine that mainly covered the DIY music scene they loved in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, area and the greater Midwest. They sold zines at local record stores, at “ramshackle tables [they] could find in the back of basement shows, traded zines with other zine writers, and sent them out one at a time via mailorder.” They made friends with bands, and for the bands that they liked, they offered to put out their record. Simple. It’s a symbiotic relationship that, again, is proven tried-and-true.

For the label’s 20th anniversary, bands of the roster cover their fellow label mates. It’s a great introduction to a label chock-full of indie artists you may (or should) already know. Deerhoof, The Dodos, Mates of State, and Braid take a shot at their friends’ tracks, while newer bands take on classic Polyvinyl artists such as Architecture in Helsinki, American Football, and Rainier Maria. Want to surprise your music-loving friend with an articulate, well-informed and thoughtful gift this holiday season? Look no further.

Recommended for fans of traditional indie rock, made by artists on labels that support their fellow label mates and the label itself and bands such as Japandroids, Jacco Gardner, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, of Montreal, Alvvays, or Beach Slang.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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