Letter from Home: Nov. '23
All about Acetone (again)
Faithful readers of The Machine Shop will remember, some time back, when I devoted a whole post to this band Acetone — particularly their 1997 self-titled LP. It was an album I’d picked up in a bargain bin at the record store in the University of Montana UC. A promo copy; it had only their name and the song titles on the CD. It became a sneaky favorite that year and has since had some real staying power in my record collection. Why then, I wondered, was so much of their stuff out of print? Why were the only two records by the band on streaming services a puzzling 2015 compilation and that selfsame self-titled LP? And why was there pedal steel on two tracks of that self-titled LP — certainly there was none on the promo copy I’d owned. So many mysteries.
Well, the the collective internet hive-mind certainly came through. Not only did someone send me a copy of that promo CD that I’d long mislaid12, but an old friend emailed me digital copies of Acetone’s whole oeuvre — and sure enough, there was no pedal steel on that original version of the S/T LP. And lo and behold, a few short weeks later, a guy from New West Records reached out saying that they were slated to release an 11 LP Acetone box set, comprising all of the band’s recorded output plus an LP of unreleased stuff, and would I consent to have one of the nice things I’d said about the band in that post printed on the sticker on the cover? Yes, please! I was also given some insider scoop as to where and how that mystery pedal steel player appeared: apparently, someone from the label pressured the band to go back and add pedal steel to two songs after it had been released. Bizarre! Suffice it to say, the version that would be on this box set would revert back to the original master, sans pedal steel. It’s the small victories, I suppose.
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Anyway, all this to say: what a pleasant surprise it was to hear the UPS truck arrive yesterday and dislodge a cardboard box from its innards to place on my front stoop: this very same 11xLP box set. And omg, is it a thing of beauty:
Music industry types: this is how you do a career spanning box set. Quality is top notch; this thing is a behemoth. Doesn’t seem like any expense was spared, and yet there are no unnecessary splashy features that would otherwise inflate the cost. It’s handsome, it’s made of quality stuff, it’s simple. I appreciate the fact that they pressed each one on clear vinyl — there’s no unique dual-color marble splash for each LP, messing with the overall aesthetic of the thing. The sleeves of the records are not monkeyed with — each one uses its original art and layout. Each LP side is sub 20 minutes, so there’s no squishing songs together to make for a single LP when a double is required. And the booklet that accompanies the record is a lovely perfect bound thing with tons of photos, an affecting intro from J Spaceman from Spiritualized, and a series of thoughtful essays by Drew Daniel on each of the records, telling their individual stories and, taken as a whole, the story of the band. It was an exquisite joy to square up with the stereo in the living room, put on the first LP and dive into the liner notes.
It’s out November 17 but you can preorder it now via the New West webshop. It is most certainly on the spendy side at $250, but man, I tend to think it’s worth every penny. They did such a nice job on this. A criminally neglected band, this Acetone, now brought fully into the light. Shine on!
Thanks for this, whoever you are, you get a pass this once. But people: please let me keep the illusion that my home address is private. Don’t send me stuff.
I am, however, happy to receive mail — letters, gifts, crafts, out of print records etc — if you wouldn’t mind sending it to:
Colin Meloy c/o
Red Light Management
159 Western Avenue W Suite 485
Seattle, WA 98119