Saturday, April 20, 2013

Record Store Day 2013

The Earth's inexorable journey around the Sun has brought us around to the third Saturday in April once again, and that means that the most holy day in my personal religious calendar is upon us once more. I speak, of course, of Record Store Day. That day when a certain select caliber of geeks assemble to celebrate their favorite independent purveyors of delicious discs of grooved vinyl. As a lifelong disciple of this odd little cult, I am compelled once again to make the early morning pilgrimage to the temples to pay homage (and no small amount of tithe) to the vinyl Gods. This is the story of my Record Store Day, the holy day, 2013.

Part One: The Electric Fetus

6:00am - Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb... oh wait... that's someone else with hair. In any case, I drag myself out of bed, shower, and assemble my necessary necessaries. Checking the weather I am informed that the current temperature is a record low for this date. While the coincidence of a record low on Record Store Day may be amusing to some, the idea of standing on the corner of Franklin and 4th for over two hours in 23 degree weather is not pleasing. At least the Sun should be strong. The wife puts on a coat over her pajamas and we head out the door. 

6:50am - We arrive at the Electric Fetus and once again this year the line is already around the corner. The wife kisses me goodbye, shoves me out of the car, and leaves me to my fate. Taking my place in line, I note that despite arriving a few minutes later than last year, I seem to be a few spots ahead this year. I put this down to the weather. I put my headphones on, prop myself against the north wall of the Fetus and begin the long wait.

7:50am - One hour in. I am starting to get concerned about the state of my freezing toes. I can't wait to get to the East side of the building and into the stronger sun. At this point I overhear that the people at the head of the line with the bench and the blankets began their stakeout at 8:30 last night. I may be a little crazy, but those guys are nuts.

8:10am - Fetus employees finally begin to hand the numbers out determining the order that people may enter the cordoned off RSD exclusive release area. I am number 63, five spots earlier than last year, just as I suspected. I have no idea if this will make any difference. Once people receive their numbers, they are no longer compelled to stand in line, and many people seek a warmer spot to spend the remaining time before the doors open at 9. Having nowhere to go, I am compelled to stay, but thankfully the thinning line allows me to move to the considerably warmer side of the building. The sun and its reflection off the plate glass windows warm me nicely. My toes breathe a sigh of relief.

8:25am - I spy some familiar strangers. Two years ago there was a couple ahead of me in line who quite generously brought a couple of dozen Krispy Kreme donuts to share with people around them. At the time the woman was VERY pregnant. They walk past me now with no donuts, but with their child in tow. The geekdom is safe for another generation.

8:45am - I am lamenting the fact that the kind people from Dunn Bros. handing out free coffee are conspicuously absent. Note to self: No pocket cup.

9:00am - The doors open at last. The wait in the chilly exterior is over. The wait in the hot and crowded interior has begun. I grab a complimentary pastry from Glam Doll Donuts and a coffee courtesy of Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop & Coffee Bar. These are wonderful people. Let the waiting begin.

9:30am - After commiserating briefly with Bob the overworked manager, I start to wonder if that coffee may have been a mistake. I hope my number is called before nature does. Thankfully, the process seems to be moving faster than usual. I don't know if this bodes well or ill, but I'll take it.

9:50am - My number is up. They really are moving it along. I've never been in the exclusive area before 10am before. I enter the fray and join in the frenzied grab for choice nuggets.

10:00am - Finished with feeding frenzy, I head to the counter for a check-in and check-out with Bob. With a little help from my friends, I seem to have scored a goodly percentage of the most desired items on my list. Time to call the mrs for a ride home.

10:30am - Arrive home much earlier than expected. Time to use the facilities, have a snack, and sort the loot before the next journey.

Electric Fetus Scores. Tale of the Tape:

Record Store Day Exclusives:

Robyn Hitchcock There Goes the Ice double 12” 45
Stephen Malkmus and Friends Can’s “Ege Bamyasi” Played By Stephen Malkmus and Friends LP on green vinyl
Shuggie Otis Introducing Shuggie Otis LP
The Small Faces There Are But Four Small Faces LP
Tame Impala debut EP on raspberry red vinyl
The White Stripes Elephant double LP on red and black vinyl and white vinyl
The Animals The Animals Is Here 10” EP
The Black Keys/The Sooges No Fun split 7” on red and orange sunburst vinyl
Cheech & Chong featuring Alice Bowie Earache My Eye 7” on green vinyl
Husker Du Amusement double 7”
Moby & Mark Lanegan The Lonely Night 7”
Frank Zappa I’m the Slime/Montana 7” on green and blue marbled vinyl

Other Items:

Serge Gainsbourg Histoire de Melody Nelson LP
The Black Angels Indigo Meadow CD

Part Two: Hymie's Vintage Records' Record Store Block Party

12:45pm - Having recuperated from the morning's activities, the mrs and I head off to check out the doings at Hymie's Vintage Records.

1:00pm - Hymie's is a zoo. The rapid fire clerks are doing their level best, but with only one register they are swimming upstream. Meanwhile, I am finding waaaay too many pricey items calling my name. This could get ugly.

1:15pm - I have finally checked-out at Hymie's. I somehow managed to exceed my budget for this store by nearly 66%. What can I do? It's Record Store Day. The mrs and I head outside to check out the block party. Despite the unseasonable cold, the turnout is pretty nice for the party. The Sun has warmed the air to a much more manageable 40ish degrees, the band on stage is comporting itself admirably in the chill, and everyone seems to be having a pretty fabulous time. These are Minnesotans, after all. A little frigid air is not enough to spoil a party. A guy walks by carrying a huge box of records he has just purchased. Ah, Record Store Day...

1:20pm - The mrs and I duck into the neighboring cafe for a beverage and a snack. I am pleased to encounter my friend Douglas and his daughter. He assures me that I must stick around and check out the next band on stage outside at 1:45. We say "what the hell, why not?" and take a seat to enjoy our brief repast.

1:45pm - The aforementioned band, Prissy Clerks, takes the stage. Douglas was right to recommend them. Tasty post-Riot Grrrl indie rock a la the Bangs.

2:15pm - Prissy Clerks finish their set for an enthusiastic crowd. The mrs and I say our farewell to Douglas and head for home. I've been at it for over seven hours. I declare this Record Store Day another rousing success. So much fun. So many titles. So many People! Sooooo much delicious colored vinyl. Mmmmmmm... colored vinyl...

Hymie's Vintage Records Scores. Tale of the Tape:

Record Store Day Exclusive:

David Bowie The Stars (Are Out Tonight)/Where Are We Now? 7” on white vinyl

Others Items:

Blondie Parallel Lines used LP
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians Fegmania used LP
Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians Globe of Frogs used LP
Gene Vincent Live at Town Hall Party 1958 &1959 LP
The Magic Christian – Original Sound Track used LP
The Small Faces Itchycoo Park/I’m Only Dreaming 7”
The Small Faces Tin Soldier/I Feel Much Better 7”

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Catching Up on the 1st Quarter of 2013

Over a quarter of this year of oh lawd 2013 is gone and to that quarter I say a hearty "good riddance!" Personal setbacks and the Winter that Would Not Die have drained me of my enthusiasm for most things, including this column. But it hasn't been all bad. There haven't been a ton of big new music releases this year, but what has come out has been pretty festive, including at least two bona fide masterpieces, as well as welcome returns from some old, old musical friends (actually, you'll have to forgive me if this entry reads like a who's who of the rock and roll geriatric ward). Besides, the minor family illnesses that have kept me tethered to the homestead have offered the opportunity to catch up on some of the big titles that I missed last year. So, in the interest of looking on the bright side of life, here is my best of the first quarter of 2013, along with some of my new favorites from 2012.

1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra II (Jagjaguwar)

I've already written extensively on this crunchy deliciousness, so I'll just say that this rekkid remains one of the great achievements of nouveau-psychedelia and is thus far in a heated battle for Rekkid of the Year with...

2. Yo La Tengo Fade (Matador)

... about which I have also gushed in a prior entry. The most darling of indie-rock darlings have gifted us with their best album in over a decade.

3. Wire Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)

The grand old men of the art-punk industry return with a slate of new songs culled from and expanding upon instrumental fragments that were once part of their late-70s live show. By turns shimmeringly atmospheric and assertively charged, with lyrics both straightforward and deliberately obtuse, Change Becomes Us plays like both a brand new statement by a mature and seasoned collective, as well as an audio history of the band.

4. Atoms for Peace Amok (XL)

Thus far this has been a decade of all-star collaborations, and this is the latest example of the phenomenon. Amok finds Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Mauro Refosco, and Flea getting together to assist in the gestation and birth of Thom Yorke's latest musical brain-child. The resulting jittery electronic rock laced with burbling funk provides an effective backdrop for Yorke's trademark desperate yelps and wails.

5. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Inc.)

Nick Cave continues his recent run of fabulous albums with a departure from his more aggressive releases of late, returning to a darker, quieter sound which should please fans of his bleaker, more acoustic works of old (I happen to like him both ways).

6. David Bowie The Next Day (Columbia)

The Thin White Duke emerges from semi-retirement with his first release in a decade. It is a fine outing indeed, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't quite live up to the enormous hype that much of the press heaped upon it prior to its release. Some critics were lauding it as a return to form after Heathen and Reality, which struck me as odd, as I found both of those rekkids to be pretty huge. As I said, The Next Day is a fine album, and a must for any Bowie fan. I don't think it is quite as good as his last two, but it's growing on me, and it is always good to hear from one of the true icons of rock and roll.

7. Bettie Serveert Oh, Mayhem! (Palomine)

More indie-rock goodness from Holland's finest Velvets/Pretenders disciples. As much tasty fun now as they were two decades ago.

8. The Woggles The Big Beat (Wicked Cool)

Athens, Georgia's finest purveyors of old school garage rock maximum r&b have not lost a step after 25 years. Pure, condensed, party-rockin' fun!

9. Chelsea Light Moving s/t (Matador)

Thurston Moore fills the Sonic Youth vacuum left behind by his unfortunate split with Kim Gordon with his latest rockin' teenage combo.

10. Robyn Hitchcock Love from London (Yep Roc)

Another quality release from one of the true greats.

Also good...

Adam Ant Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter (Blueblack Hussar)
Eric Burdon 'Til Your River Runs Dry (Abkco)
Pere Ubu Lady from Shanghai (Fire)
The Strokes Comedown Machine (RCA)

A pair of rekkids that would likely have cracked my top 20 of 2012:

1. Melody's Echo Chamber s/t (Fat Possum)

French singer Melody Prochet's collaboration with Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker. Think Stereolab meets the new psych-rock. Sooooo delicious. Easily one of last year's best.

2. Dr. John Locked Down (Nonesuch)

Old Mac hooks up with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach on this Grammy-winning (don't hold that against it) return to his turn of the 70s Night Tripper roots.