Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Last updated: 1 year ago

Judging CiTR’s new vinyl comp by its cover

It began as a clandestine meeting at Dairy Queen.

On Februrary 24, CiTR and Mint Records released Pop Alliance Compilation, a vinyl collection of Vancouver indie bands. Work on the project started last July as a discussion between Duncan McHugh and Shena Yoshida over Blizzards.

“The vinyl was … unique,” says McHugh, host of CiTR’s Duncan’s Donuts. “It’s been a long-time dream of CiTR record nerds to try and put out a record, but it’s quite expensive. [Mint] had some funding and so they bankrolled the whole thing. They said, ‘You guys pick the bands and we’ll take care of the expenses.’”

The final selection includes Fine Mist, No Kids and Slam Dunk, groups that can often be heard on McHugh’s show. “The whole idea was that there is a tremendous metal scene in Vancouver, there’s a great noise scene, a great hardcore scene. There’s so many bands doing all sorts of niches that we want to focus on pop.”

There is no doubt that the vinyl record as a medium is experiencing a resurgence. McHugh feels it is more than an Urban Outfitters novelty. “There’s a warmth to records that you don’t get any other way. There’s just a permanence to putting something on vinyl that doesn’t exist in any other format.
“Music fans are flocking to it and it’s not because it’s easy to walk around with records. You have to want to own a record to buy one.”

A large part of McHugh’s love of the record format is the artwork and, coincidentally, that’s where Pop Alliance Compilation has drawn the most criticism.  David Barclay’s cover art features an appropriation of the Ellen Neel Kwakiutl totem pole outside Brock Hall. The image is superimposed with the likenesses of Dan Behar, Tim Hecker, Nardwuar and other notable figures from Vancouver’s musical community.

Each copy of the record includes Barclay’s artist statement, which begins, “For over 50 years, ‘college rock’ has been dominated by an elitist cultural lexicon, reinforced by the institutionalized racism of the post-secondary education system in Canada and the US.”

Barclay goes on to speak of CiTR’s support for “unlikely artistic voices that have become iconic local anti-corporate, anti-racist figures.” The statement then suggests to people, “Contact the UBC President Stephen J. Toope about the university’s diversity, land use and artifact re-appropriation.”

As to the criticism, McHugh says, “They’re entitled to their opinions. I stand by the art. I certainly had hesitations about using that symbol but he convinced me it was a worthwhile use of it.”