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Record Store Day 2012: The Annual Celebration Of Vinyl

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

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Last year I dedicated basically an entire week to Record Store Day. To me, it’s like Christmas only instead of celebrating the birth of someone none of us have ever met we get to celebrate our love of 180g vinyl and rare 7″ singles. Way more fun in my mind, and I never get anything I don’t want. Last year was a pretty stellar year for RSD releases. I got to Saki pretty early, maybe five minutes after they opened, and a couple of the items I wanted were already sold out. I ended up walking out with a limited edition red vinyl of Team Boo by Mates Of State, the 12″ single for Of Montreal’s “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal,” and Yeasayer’s 7″ release “End Blood.” A pretty good haul considering.

This year, after looking at the list of releases, I was pretty disappointed. I think my problem is that the whole thing is flooded with unnecessary re-releases and crap that’s literally only out to try to cash in on the day. Are audiophiles across the nation clamoring for a vinyl release of the Empire Records soundtrack? Or maybe you’d like a copy of Michael Buble and Ray Charles doing “Georgia On My Mind.” These have no business coming out on OUR day, and it really gets my blood boiling.

That said, there are some pretty decent releases that I would recommend picking up:

Tallest Man On Earth-“King Of Spain”

Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding-“Respect”

Buddy Guy-This Is Buddy Guy

David Bowie-“Starman”

Janis Joplin-Highlights From The Pearl Sessions

Jimmy Fallon-“Tebowie” (I had to include this because I love Jimmy Fallon almost as much as I hate Tim Tebow)

Leonard Coen-Live In Fredericton

Ryan Adams-“Heartbreak A Stranger”/”Black Sheets Of Rain”

St Vincent-“Krokodil”

The White Stripes-“Hand Springs”/”Red Death At 6:14″

Uncle Tupelo-The Seven Inch Singles

Now, Now/Lonely Forest-“Shifting”/”Woe Is Me”

The Portland Cello Project-Homage

And that’s it. If any of those titles interest you, I suggest getting to your record store of choice early.

The real draw, of course, is that many stores will have live music throughout the day. Last year I was at Saki where my friends Chaperone were performing with a bunch of great bands. In Tall Buildings delivered a great set capped off by Neil Young’s “For The Turnstiles.” This year there are a few really good lineups across Chicago (sorry if you live outside Chicago you’ll have to do your own research).

Over at Record Breakers they’ve got Owen (Mike Kinsella from Joan Of Arc) and The Sweeps

Saki has another solid show with Santah and Bare Mutants kicking off the day, followed by Minor Characters, Cains & Abels, and The Runnies

Vintage Vinyl up in Evanston will have Luck Of Eden Hall at noon.

My personal pick, though, will be down in Forest Park (a short blue line ride away) where Canasta will be playing at Cyklopx Records. It’s an early start, 11:30 in the morning. Well worth getting up before noon though.

That’s it. I’m happy to have another Record Store Day approaching,but sad that it will be over so soon. If there were some way we could work in a tradition of eating mass quantities of food and watching football, it would be a perfect day.

Record Store Day Recap

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday was a great celebration for music fans and record enthusiasts around the world. Special limited-edition vinyl releases, in-store performances, and free swag from the stores themselves. A joyous day that I wish never had to end.

I had to get to the record store early because I had to be at work by 11. I rode the bus over to Saki and walked in five minutes after opening only to be greeted by a nice long line. I was happy to see that so many vinyl appreciators were able to make it out so early. But, when the guys started scratching releases off the list as inventory ran out, I got a little sad. Just a couple minutes after I got there the White Stripes releases were gone. By the time I made it to the head of the line, only one item from my original list remained.

That didn’t bother me, though. For my own, personal Record Store Day celebration, I ended up with the following: Mates of State‘s re-release of the 2003 LP Team Boo, a 7″ single of Yeasayer‘s “End Blood” and the 12″ single re-release “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” by Of Montreal.

            

And that’s ok. Record Store Day is a bit of a crapshoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t quite win as much as you could have. The funny thing about Record Store Day is that the only way to actually lose is to not participate. I urge everyone out there who didn’t join in this year to make a point of at least stopping by a local record store when the time comes next year. Or just go to one now.

On top of all the great music they had for sale yesterday, Saki also had a great lineup of in-store performances. I didn’t get to see much because I had to work. I missed Chaperone (dammit!), but I hear there were no cookies or kettle corn, so that eases the blow a bit. I also missed The 1900’s. I really wanted to see them, but I guess I’ll have to catch them next time.

I did get to see one band I’ve been trying to see for a while, In Tall Buildings. I’ve been told many times to listen to them by friends, but hadn’t got around to it just yet. They were stripped down at Saki, just Erik Hall and a drummer performing Black Keys-style (except I like these guys way more than Black Keys).

They played the A-side and B-side of the single they released for Record Store Day, and did a few more songs off of their self-titled record that came out on Whistler last year. I was quite taken with Erik Hall’s voice and ability on the guitar. The soundsystem at Saki isn’t mind-blowingly great, but In Tall Buildings made it sound like it could be.

They finished their set with this cover of Neil Young’s “For The Turnstiles.” I couldn’t think of a more fitting end:

Keep that performance in mind next time you’re trying to think of a reason not to trudge out to a record store. Supporting local music keeps bands like In Tall Buildings, Chaperone, The 1900’s, and This Is Cinema going. It’s up to us to decide whether or not these bands make it. Instead of acting as some sort of “death panel” for these bands, why not chip in five bucks and see them perform or buy a copy of their cd?

So I’ll see you next year, when I assume the ambassador for RSD 12 will be Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future and Rebecca Black will be playing all the in-stores via hologram.

A Boy And His Record Player

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

I remember way back in 2002 the idea entered my head for the first time to purchase a record player. Napster had hit it’s peak in popularity among people my age, and now sites like Limewire and Kazaa were overtaking the originator of P2P file sharing. There was something about that particular time and place that made getting an old, antiquated piece of machinery seem like the right thing to do.

We’d gone to the Trinity Mission Thrift Store a bunch of times. Thrift Store’s that offer student discounts are a great thing. Instead of paying a dollar for a piece of crap I’d never use, I only had to pay 85 cents! There was never much for me to buy in a place like this; old sofas that were pink and stained, John Grisham and Stephen King novels that someone had bought but never read, clothes. The clothes were always the item I was most hesitant about. For some reason I’m convinced that anything in a thrift store is a shirt or jacket that someone died in. Even the kids stuff. Like, maybe when Jimmy rode his bike out into the street and got hit by a car, he was wearing this Farmington Fruit Bats t-shirt. Irrational, I know.

There was always one item that caught my eye. A 1959 Sears brand Hi-Fi. It stood upright with a cabinet on the bottom for storage and a upward-opening top to get to the turntable. The original owner had added a 8-track player to the fold, but it did not work. Made of a deep mahogany with ornate trimming along the top and nice hardware on the cabinet doors, it must have cost the owner a pretty penny.

On student discount day, it cost me $33. It’s a heavy son of a bitch, so I had to call my friend Ian to help me pick it up and get it into my roommate’s truck. After getting it into our apartment I realized that I had failed to get any records to play on my new treasure. So I got back into the vehicle and drove back to the Trinity to get some old, cheap records.

The record bins at thrift stores might be the saddest place on Earth. It seems like everyone of a certain age listened to all the same records. I literally had to stop counting the Ray Coniff Singers albums for fear that I would be there the rest of my life. There are some hidden gems in with all the schlock, though. On that first day I picked up copies of: Elton John-Madman Across the Water, Bill Cosby-Himself, Bruce Springsteen-Born In The USA, and The Monkees self-titled debut.

And with that, a record collection was born. I’d hit up the Trinity a couple more times, but I started going to Von’s record store on the main campus strip where there was a much greater selection-and much higher prices. I made a few purchases here on my no-shoe-strings budget. The most controversial pick was Justified by Justin Timberlake. I took a lot of crap for that one. I make no apologies though. Justified is a great record, and Justin Timberlake is one of the most talented guys out there right now.

When we moved to Buffalo I felt like a kid in a candy store. There were at least 5 record stores that were decent within a short drive of where we lived in Delaware Park. I picked up albums like Kick Out The Jams by MC5, Jets To Brazil’s Perfecting Loneliness, and every REM album I could find. It was a grand time. I’m not sure how much money I spent on records in that one year, but I’m glad I had a decent paying job to support my habit.

And now we live in Chicago and I can’t spit without hitting a record store. The music gods have been shining on us for sure. I haven’t hit all of them, of course, but the ones that I have been to have all seemed like nice places. I really enjoyed Saki when I went. Especially after going to a place like Reckless Records, which is just huge. Saki is just the right size for me, even though I have to go to Logan Square to visit.

Record Store Day is only two short days away. Tomorrow I’ll have a little preview of the records I’m excited to check out. What are you guys looking forward to? Comment below if you’d like and tell us all about your favorite record store memories.

Mine is from when I lived in Buffalo and I was at a store getting the Strokes album Room On Fire. I reached for it, and at the same time the lead singer from The Tragically Hip tried to take the last copy. So I punched him in the throat, kneed him in the groin, and then ran out of the store. As I ran past the cashier I threw a 20 at him and reached for my keys. I knew from doing research for a book about The Tragically Hip that Gordon Downie is a eunuch, so a knee to the groin wouldn’t keep him down for long.

Some of the above isn’t true, but I’ll leave that to you, the audience, to figure out.

Record Store Week Continues!

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

When I was a young man, I never thought much of music by Hall & Oates. In fact, I think all of the following words were used at some point to describe my feelings on their music: “lame,” “retarded,” “stupid,” “barf-tastic,” “for chicks.” For the most part I still think some of those apply.

The only real cultural significance I admit Hall & Oates have is that their song “You Make My Dreams” was used to great effect as an animated musical sequence in the film (500) Days of Summer. Also, Daryl Hall was in the episode of “Flight of the Conchords” titled “New Fans,” which instantly made him a billion times cooler in my book.

So with that said, it may catch you by surprise, as it did me, to find out that I was eagerly awaiting Record Store Day 2010 so I could pick up a copy of The Bird and The Bee‘s Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates.

I went to ZZZ Records in Des Moines to do my shopping last year, and the selection they had by the time I arrived wasn’t what I would call top-tier. I bought a copy of Belle & Sebastian‘s If You’re Feeling Sinister, but that wasn’t a Record Store Day release, just one that I didn’t have and felt I needed. I looked around for about twenty minutes and didn’t really find anything else that caught my eye.

And then there it was, like a bright shining beacon of hope…

I had picked up a copy of the bands album Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future about a year earlier, and I was amazed by how much I liked it. On the surface it’s a lot of simple pop and dance beats, but there is some deeper stuff going on if you let it play and wash over you. Since I enjoyed that release, I thought this would be, if nothing else, an addition to the collection that might act as a conversation-starter.

When I got home and actually listened to it, my eyes were opened to the power of Hall & Oates like never before. With these slightly more lounge-y versions of their hits, I was completely taken in. Songs like “Rich Girl” and “Heard It On The Radio” were sounding more rich, and Inara’s voice was making the words come alive like those guys never could.

So I owe Record Store Day yet again for the great service they have done me. Without this special occasion, I would still be using terms I looked up in the Urban Dictionary to describe the music of Hall & Oates. Instead I now put them in their rightful place in the pop music pantheon, which, I believe is somewhere between Richard Marx and Bell Biv DeVoe.

Record Store Week Begins Today!!!

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Record Store Day is one of the few holidays I truly celebrate. I came to it late, as I do most things, but I’ve cherished every one. So, this week I’ll be reminiscing about some of the official Record Store Day purchases I’ve made over the past couple years.

Initially I was unsure about picking up this release. I am a pretty big fan of The Killers, but “Spaceman” isn’t my favorite song by them. And the idea of Brandon Flowers covering Bright Eyes fantastic “Four Winds” was more of a morbid curiosity than something I really wanted to check out. But, when I looked into those beautiful eyes, I lost control. My wallet opened faster than a Tijuana hooker at a frat party!

I’m a fan of picture discs on the whole. I wish I had a whole collection of just picture discs.

The version of “Four Winds” that plays as the B-side to “Spaceman” isn’t terrible. And it is, irrefutably, The Killers take on the song. I’ve listened to this record enough times to know that it isn’t the best thing The Killers are putting out, but it also isn’t the worst (that remains forever their first single, “Somebody Told Me”, which almost completely turned me off to the band before I ever gave them a chance).

I like it enough to keep it, but not enough to really recommend it. Of course, with the internet you can just go download a torrent and get the song for free if you really wanted to. If you’re curious, you should do just that.

To make this a bit more fun for everyone, why not leave a comment about your least favorite cover song. I’ll start: The version of “Two-Headed Boy” that Dresden Dolls did for The AV Club last year is the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever heard in my life.

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