Vinyl Minded: Ashnikko and Lily Allen


Demidevil (Parlophone)

Special edition 1LP Pink EcoRecord transparent vinyl

The 2021 debut mixtape from rapper, singer and songwriter Ashnikko is a fine introduction to the artist who would drop the more fully-realized Weedkiller album two years later. Don't get us started, by the way, on the interchangeable use of the terms "mixtape" and "album" nowadays.

No matter, Demidevil is jam-packed with stellar tunes from the real life anime character. Ashnikko's image sits somewhere between Sailor Moon and Harley Quinn, while her music is equally vivid, if laced with a healthy dose of cynicism. It's like eating ice-cream with broken glass.

The illustration on the metallic sleeve of this Record Store Day reissue pulls you in, and the one-eyed gummy bears on the inner sleeve are further enticing. The transparent pink vinyl, meanwhile, is gorgeous. But it would mean nothing without the killer tunes.

The collabs are fire. "Cry" featuring Grimes is devastatingly emotional, while "Slumber Party" with Princess Nokia is a NSFW dance floor banger. "Deal With It," featuring Kellis, is another gem with that "I hate you so much right now" refrain."

"L8r Boi," Ashnikko's take on Avril Lavigne's "Sk8r Boi," is a riot, as is the wonderfully titled "Clitoris! The Musical" (do your research, people, for god's sake).

Ultimately, this is the mixtape that introduced Ashnikko to the world, and we're grateful for it.

Lily Allen

It's Not Me, It's You (Parlophone)

Limited edition zoetrope picture disc

Lily Allen is a complicated soul who has released four fascinating, very different albums--genuine chapters of her life set to music. It's been six years since the last one -- the electropop flavored (and appropriately titled) No Shame, and frankly, we miss her.

Allen has stated publicly that she's been focussing on her children, but that's not something we ever say about male musicians. Clearly the patriarchy is a smog that we all breathe.

So this Record Store Day re-release of her sophomore album is most welcome, not least because it is and always was a fucking gem.

The songs, to revisit, are packed with Allen's trademark wit and cynicism, alongside her equally familiar catchy melodies. The perfect example is "Fuck You," a line that she sings with all of the sweet joy of Shirley Temple recalling the Good Ship Lollipop.

That juxtaposition is what makes Allen such a joyful listening experience. "Chinese" is a song we can all relate to -- feeling so dragged down by life that getting a Chinese takeout and watching TV sounds like heaven.

Allen's delivery is so matter-of-fact underneath the sing-songy surface that she's capable of really packing a punch when you focus in on the lyrics, such as: "Do you think his favorite type of human is caucasian / Do you reckon he's ever been done for tax evasion" on the song "Him." Well, he sounds rotten.

The "zoetrope" picture disc means that the vinyl is decorated with tiny frames of Allen, the idea being that when you play the record, it will create a little flicker book-style film. It's a lovely idea, although at 33rpm it was a moving a bit too fast for us to make anything out.

No matter -- it's the sort of ingenuity we love from our vinyl.