Category Archives: Got It On Vinyl

Digging for Heat at On the Record Vinyl Fair

The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, May 4, 2024 for On the Record Vinyl Fair (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
On the Record Vinyl Fair at The Music Center on May 4, 2024 (Pic: Liz O.)

Salt Box Records has never steered me wrong. So, when I saw a 7” with a tag on cover the sleeve that read “Italo-style Spanish synth pop,” I grabbed it. I had never heard of the band Tango?— or, at least, in that moment, I thought that I hadn’t heard them— and the song title “Breve Síntesis de los Huecos,” sounded completely unfamiliar to me. I bought it strictly because that descriptive tag, written in Sharpie by an actual human, said, “Listen to me, Liz” in a way that algorithmic suggestions never do. 

Later on, I would realize that I had previously heard Tango?, who were based in Barcelona and active in the mid-1980s. They had a self-titled song that was included on the stellar compilation, Ritmo Fantasía: Balearic Spanish Synth-Pop, Boogie and House. The two songs couldn’t be more different, though. “Tango?,” the song, is a slow groovy piece suited for pool parties and bars where they serve tapas on shady, outdoor patios. “Breve Síntesis de los Huecos” should have accompanied a montage in an ‘80s movie. It’s a vibe.

But, back to the record shopping. 

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Who Is Bobby Velvet and How Did He End Up Doing “The Martian”?

Bobby Velvet "The Martian" Ernest Kohl "Sooner or Later" 12" vinyl singles found at Sonido del Valle in Los Angeles
Pic taken at Sonido del Valle where I found Bobby Velvet “The Martian” and Ernest Kohl “Sooner or Later” (which I’ll post about later) last November. (Pic: Liz O.)

Sometimes, I buy a record because it contains a mystery that may or may not ever be solved. Like, who is Bobby Velvet and how did he end up doing “The Martian” in a North Hollywood recording studio for a 12” single released on a label based out of a Pasadena building that’s now a law office? 

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The Extended Mix of Toto Coelo “Milk from the Coconut” Is New Wave Heat

Toto Coelo "Milk from the Coconut" extended dance mix 12" single on vinyl (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Toto Coelo 12″ single with the extended dance mix of “Milk from the Coconut.” (Pic: Liz O.)

On a Sunday afternoon, I flipped through a bin of new wave records at Sonido del Valle in Boyle Heights. At this point in the dig, I had already found a 12” of Bananarama’s cover of “He Was Really Saying Something” for 99 cents that was dusty, but definitely playable. I was starting to feel lucky. Not lottery ticket lucky, but lucky enough to take a chance on a Toto Coelo 12” single called “Milk from the Coconut.” 

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Here’s What I Played at Razorcake Hearts… on March 9, 2024

Gucci Crew II vinyl 12" for "Sally That Girl"

Something that happens when I play all-vinyl sets is that I decide on a personal theme that should, theoretically, make it easier for me to narrow down what I pull from my stacks. Take, for example, Saturday night’s Razorcake party at Footsies. My theme for the night was dubby ‘80s, a mishmash of the dub mixes found on 12” singles during that decade and post-punk tunes that are clearly influenced by dub.

But, now matter how often I say to myself, “Liz, stick to theme,” I just can’t do it. In this case, I started out pulling essentials like The Flying Lizards, Tom Tom Club, The League Unlimited Orchestra, Bauhaus and The Clash. Then I came across a copy of Outkast’s album Speakerboxx/The Love Below and was like, ‘when was the last time I listened to this?’ And then I find my copy of “Sally That Girl” and start thinking about how there will totally be people in the bar who haven’t heard that song since a middle school dance in 1990. But, if I’m going to play that, then I really need to bring Cybotron because that might be the only way I can mix out of Gucci Crew, and then I should probably bring Patrick Cowley too, just because I forgot to bring it to Disco Matinee last week. 

Long story short, that’s how you end up with set lists like the ones listed below. If this is your jam, you should probably pick up tickets for Disco Matinee: Punk ’n’ Funk Edition on April 7 because it will also be all-vinyl and I know a few of these tracks will end up in my crate for that party as well. 

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Why I Keep Living in a Magazine By Zoot Woman in My DJ Crate

Cover of Zoot Woman Living in a Magazine released in 2001 on Wall of Sound Records, U.K. import vinyl (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
Here’s the cover of my copy of Zoot Woman’s debut full length Living in a Magazine

For all-vinyl gigs, I often bring my copy of Living in a Magazine, the 2001 debut full-length from Zoot Woman, with me. The reason why is simple. No matter which song I play off this album, at least one person will come up to the booth and ask about it. In fact, that happened last Friday night, when I played the band’s cover of “The Model” at Club Synth. More than 20 years later, this album is still a vibe. 

Living in a Magazine is one of my favorite records of the early ‘00s. In fact, I would argue that it’s one of the finest, and certainly most under-appreciated, albums of the era. The brand of soft funk-meets-indie disco that Zoot Woman cultivated on this album helped solidify a sound that persists this day, whether or not the bands who land Spotify playlists like Pollen and Indie Chillout realize it. At the turn of the 21st century, few outside of Zoot Woman and Phoenix were riding such a mellow groove. This was a handful of years before bands like Hot Chip and Holy Ghost hit the scene, before the fascination with “yacht rock” and definitely before the vinyl resurgence sent a new generation of crate diggers on the hunt for the smoothest sounds of the 1970s and 1980s. 

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“Me and My Music”: The Candi Staton Song That Reminds Me Why I DJ

Cover of Chance, 1979 album by Candi Staton featuring "Me and My Music" (Photo: Liz Ohanesian)
The cover of Chance

I think I’ve encountered nearly every album Candi Staton released on vinyl while sifting through L.A. record store bins these past few years. Sometimes, I’ll find multiple copies of the same album in one dig. There’s one, though, that has eluded me. It’s called Chance and it was high up on my wish list since the pandemic. I wanted this album for one reason, a song called “Me and My Music,” which became a welcome earworm back when Los Angeles’ nightclubs were closed. 

Candi Staton is best known in the U.S. for the 1976 disco jam “Young Hearts  Run Free.” People in the U.K., and househeads here, are probably also quite familiar with “You Got the Love,” an early ‘90s dance hit that was famously covered by Florence and the Machine in the late ‘00s. But, Staton has been singing since the 1950s and is still active (she played Glastonbury last year), so there’s a significant amount of her music out in the world. Some releases are harder to track down than others, which is the case with Chance. Not only did it take me far-too-long to find the actual vinyl, but, from what I’ve seen, it’s not available to download and streaming options are limited to Deezer and a few YouTube clips.

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New Year, New Vinyl

Records from Musical Youth, Detroit Grand Pubahs, Body of Light inside Going Underground Records in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles from "New Year, New Vinyl" by Liz Ohanesian
Records from Musical Youth, Detroit Grand Pubahs and Body of Light inside Going Underground Records (Pic: Liz O.)

My first quandary of 2024 occurred late in the afternoon on January 1 inside Going Underground Records as I quickly flipped through a crate of indie releases alphabetized by the letter F. There, I found Kate Fagan I Don’t Want to Be Too Cool and Future Islands As Long As You Are on vinyl, both of which I could use in my collection. But, when it comes to new vinyl, I need to exhibit some restraint. Which should I choose? 

In the end, I chose neither. 

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It’s Time for a Christmas Disco Classic From Charo

Charo "(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?" 12" single with Tom Moulton mix released on Salsoul in 1978. Seen here at Pasadena City College Flea Market. (Photo: Liz Ohanesian, February 2022)
That time in 2022 that I found the 12″ single for Charo “(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?” at PCC Flea Market. (Photo: Liz O.)

The 12” appeared in the midst of a deep dig through crates set up inside a Pasadena City College parking garage during the monthly PCC flea market. I had already excavated records by Harry Nilsson, Tangerine Dream and Patrice Rushen when a friend, whose visit to Los Angeles was the catalyst for this adventure, called me over to a booth filled with soundtrack albums and soul records. I flipped through As the Record Turns ‘ vinyl selection and paused when I noticed “(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?” the 1978 disco Christmas single from Charo, “A Tom Moulton Mix” released as an extended 12” single on Salsoul with a stamped note on the backside of the cover that read:

 “In all my life, the most happy time of the year is Christmas and I want to share it with you. When you play this record I’ll be with you. Merry Christmas. Love and cuchi cuchi, Charo.”

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“Song of the Factory” Is a Dreamy Synthpop Jam from Jane Wiedlin’s 1988 Album Fur

Jane Wiedlin Fur 1988 vinyl

I’m constantly filing and cataloging my record collection. Every time, I think that I will devise the perfect system and reveal a latent talent for organization, like in Party Girl. But, once I get about halfway through the task, I realize that the system doesn’t work as well as it should and start all over again. The only upside to this Sysiphean task— which, I suppose, is also very Party Girl— is that I inevitably reconnect with a handful of old records. 

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I Love Playing These Five Depeche Mode Songs

Depeche Mode 12" vinyl single for "Everything Counts" Depeche Mode vinyl 12" single for "Love in Itself" with "Fools (Bigger) on B side
Depeche Mode 12″ singles for “Everything Counts” and “Love in Itself” from my vinyl collection.

There’s one band I’ve played more than any other in my DJ sets. That’s Depeche Mode. The British synthpop pioneers have been a part of my gigs, often regardless of the vibe of the party, since I started DJing. I doubt this will ever change. 

I’ve been a Depeche Mode fan since I was a kid, but there are a lot of bands that I’ve loved for most of my life and don’t play nearly as often. It does help that L.A. has a lot of Depeche Mode fans. Outside of the clubs, the band frequently appears on request lists for weddings and birthday parties. But, that’s also not really the reason for so much Depeche Mode play. 

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