Vinyl You Need: Electric Fetus

On May 4, 2016

Vinyl You Need calls up the people who work at record stores and asks them what records they think are essential. This edition features Electric Fetus.

When record shopping in the Twin Cities, there’s just one name you need to know—the Electric Fetus. Actually, there’s another location of the Minnesota record staple up in the coastal town of Duluth, too. But since 1968, The Electric Fetus has been one of the most consistent spots in all the state for music. What began as a meeting place during social movements has since grown into a gathering hall for music aficionados.

The main location of The Fetus, now on 4th Avenue at the intersection of Franklin Avenue, is unmistakable. The storefront, emblazoned with the logo’s horizontal rainbow-filled lettering, claims almost the entire block. Inside, the store has multiple rooms for gifts and gags, CDs, DVDs, and of course, vinyl.

Kendall Wolf began working at the now-closed St. Cloud location of Electric Fetus in 2010 and transferred to the main Minneapolis store in 2012. Since 2014, he has worked in the web department, processing online orders and managing digital databases and sales accounts. We checked in with him to see which five records made the cut (even if hometown heroes like The Replacements or Hüsker Dü didn’t!).

Kendall Wolf
Electric Fetus

Five Essential Records to Own on Vinyl

Artist: Sonic Youth
Album: Daydream Nation
Reason: Daydream Nation is my personal favorite, and if there is one record I would suggest everyone owns, it’s this one. The album takes sonic guitar noise and blends it with indie rock sounds to create a well balanced, controlled experiment. This is immediately demonstrated on the opening track, “Teen Age Riot,” where a slow indie rock tune develops into a punk-paced song with some minor guitar freak out. This purposeful experimentation grows throughout the record. At one point, Thurston Moore creates a matchless sound by using non-standard tunings while shoving a drumstick through his guitar strings. There are a variety of vocal highlights, as well, featuring Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon all taking on songs varying from screaming with intensity to spoken word. The album has a lot of styles and sounds that blend together to create a piece of music that is truly captivating; it helped lay the ground work for many indie bands to come.

Artist: Can
Album: Tago Mago
Reason: While working in our record store, one of my favorite activities is watching people react to their music finds, which is how I was first introduced to Can. I remember watching these two regular customers flip through a recently purchased collection, which was about to hit the shelves. They grew increasingly excited with each record they saw. They browsed through records by Can, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk. Seeing their interest made me want to learn more about those records. After my shift, I went home and immediately began investigating Krautrock. Can still remains one of my favorites today, as they had a sound that truly grabbed me as a listener—psychedelic meets avant-garde. It was baffling to me that music pushing the boundaries like this existed in the early ‘70s. The tracks feature large repetitive grooves, guitar noodling, random vocal spurts, and some production manipulation. This record blended a lot of different styles and sounds to create a piece of music that truly pushed toward new areas of music.

Aritst: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: R Plus Seven
Reason: R Plus Seven is an album that pushes the boundaries of electronic music unlike any other piece of music I have ever heard. It has glitchy and spastic parts and switches between analog and digital sounds, all the while remaining a cohesive, ambient electronic album. The album is one of the more interesting listens on this list, as songs are split up into so many parts that the listening experience is constantly changing, shifting, and evolving into something much more. The album as a whole is a beautiful composition and one I would recommend for anyone wanting a dynamic listening experience on vinyl.

Artist: Mogwai
Album: Young Team
Reason: Mogwai is a group with a fundamental intention to make some serious guitar music. Their debut is nothing short of an incredible sonic journey that demonstrates how powerful music can be, despite having minimal to no lyrics. Young Team can be so quiet and delicate at times with piano parts and soft guitar tones slowly shifting in the background, and then it suddenly delivers a wall of noise that fills a room. This album carries a beautiful intensity that is captivating. If you’re trying to hear and understand this album’s true complexity, I recommend you listen to it loud.

Artist: Slint
Album: Spiderland
Reason: I don’t know that anyone could have predicted an album like this could be the creation of a group of teenagers in a Louisville basement, but the resulting record is held close to the hearts of many. The vocals on Spiderland range from spoken word to shouting on top of oscillating instrumentation, and it is reminiscent of a person who is lost in sorrow and about to lose his mind. Parts sound very controlled and then suddenly very loud and intense, as if throwing all sensibilities out the window. The band intended for this album to be heard on vinyl; even the CDs say so.

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