5 tracks to kick off your weekend.

Welcome back to Schnide’s 5™️! Slather me with butter, cuz I’m on a roll.

Decided to go with a different approach this week. I recently had to replace the needle on my turntable. I bought it about ten years ago and all of a sudden it was producing decidedly shitty audio quality. I have a nice stereo system – not the greatest, where you can hear two ants fucking during the recording session, but decidedly better than what most vinyl listeners have at their disposal. I paid about a grand for the turntable and the preamp, to go with some solid MK speakers and a Marantz tuner. I’ve always been happy with it, but I realized that the needle the turntable came with was the equivalent of the base package when you buy a new car – no premium leather seats or sunroof, and don’t even think about that paint that survives snow storms. Just a small upgrade from the basic $100 the $250 needle and holy guacamole. It’s like a whole new sound system. There’s nothing quite like hearing an acoustic guitar strum or background vocal that you never heard in the hundreds of times you’ve listened to a song. So even though you can’t hear the music as I am listening to it now (come over whenever, mi casa es su casa), here are some highlights from my vinyl listening party.

Weyes Blood “It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody”

OK this isn’t a track I’ve listened to hundreds of times, maybe a dozen or so. But there’s a ton of nuance to the vocals on this album, which shone through, thanks to my Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge. Shout out to DJ Dilly Dally; Weyes Blood is one of her favorites. To wit – I bought this album on vinyl for her last year for Christmakkah, but she already owned it. So I kept it and let her buy something else. As any good dadrocker should.

Led Zeppelin, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”

Now I wanted to switch gears and get loud, getting the volume up to a level that is, to paraphrase Better Call Saul, something unforgivable. As legend would have it, there are some tracks in the Led Zep catalog where it has been said that one can hear the squeak of Bonham’s kickdrum pedal. Supposedly it is most audible during “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, so I threw on my copy of Led Zeppelin III, and I’ll be damned, you can hear that squaky pedal like two ants getting down in Studio A. Me and ant I and II might need to smoke a cig after this one. Can you hear it on Spotify?

Brandi Carlile “You And Me On The Rock”

Listening to Brandi & Co on vinyl, two things stood out to me: the vocals, natch – Carlile is on the shortlist of greatest vocalists of her generation. And the separation of instrumentation gets the proverbial hair on the back of your neck standing at attention.

Willie Nelson, “Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”

I’ve been on a bit of a Willie kick recently, having attended the Willie 90th Birthday celebration at the Bowl last month (now at a theatre near you). One of the things that is cool about the new needle that I count as one of my children is how it upgrades the sonics of an old slab of vinyl like getting bumped up to first class on a flight from LAX to JFK.

Keith Jarrett, “Köln January 24, 1975, Pt II C- Live”

From his legendary album The Köln Concert, which has a facinating backstory (I urge you to listen to this podcast about it). Listening on vinyl I heard some nuances that I might not have noticed if I was listening on digital streaming. The only downside of this new turntable needle is that it picks up every snap, crackle and pop, so now I gotta up my record cleaning game.

Happy listening.