Record Store Day 2009 Roundup


Despite news to the contrary, there are still record stores in America. Chains, less and less but, at least in New York, the good ones are still going. April 18 was the third annual Record Store Day, a “celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally.” Or, an excuse to get people to go out and remember just how cool and fun it is to browse and buy physical records and CDs in an actual record store. To entice people to do so, labels and bands pressed up exclusive vinyl releases that were only available that day. 

The turnout last year took a lot of shops off guard. This year, with way more exclusive goodies, everybody seemed prepared. Especially record collectors, who got up early and cleaned out a lot of places by 1pm.  (In NYC most stores opened at 11AM, just for context.) In New York, weather couldn’t have been more perfect and everybody seemed to be having a good time. Including me. Here’s how it went down.

First Stop: Academy Records Annex (96. N. 6th Street, Brooklyn)
Academyrecords_sm One of the best places for vinyl in NYC, and probably THE best for the ever-growing new 7″ scene. Big, with fairly wide aisles, plenty of listening stations and nice staff who’ll let you listen to anything you want as long as it’s not sealed, Academy Annex has moved near the top of my favorite record stores in the city. (It’s also five blocks from my apartment.)  Arriving a little past noon, it was crowded but not frenzied.

LOOT: They were out of the Sonic Youth / Beck split 7″, but I picked up the Jay Reatard / Sonic Youth split (Jay’s song, “Hang ‘Em All,” is a good ‘un; the SY side is a negligible instrumental). Also got the Pavement Live in Cologne 1997 LP, but passed over a numbered copy with a slightly bent corner in favor of a pristine, non-numbered copy. Little did I know it was one of only 97 copies (of 2500 printed) that was on colored vinyl. D’oh! Also picked up last year’s excellent Arthur Russell comp, Love is Overtaking Me, that was printed on double-vinyl just for Record Store Day (1000 copies). Nice.

MP3: Jay Reatard – Hang ‘Em All

MP3: Pavement – Cut Your Hair (live)

MP3: Arthur Russell – I Couldn’t Say it to Your Face

SECOND STOP: Sound Fix (110 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn)
Soundfix_SM Williamsburg’s other best record store near the Bedford L stop, Sound Fix had a bit of a setback this year when pressure from neighbors forced the closure of the adjoining Fix Cafe, where they hosted some amazing in-stores over the years. But the actual store seems to be weathing the storm all right, with an equal focus on CDs and vinyl. Definitely one of the friendliest stores in New York.

LOOT: Arriving around 1:30, they were out of a lot of the super-exclusives but I did pick up Records Toreism, a five-song 12″ compilation from Thrill Jockey that easily had the best sleeve and packaging of anything I bought: a gorgeous sleeve by Post Typography and Crosshair, and a ‘zine inside with essays from Ira Robbins, Stephen Pastel, Ian Mckaye, Mike Watt and more. You can read more about it here. My favorite track is “Wounded Monkey” by Trans Am featuring Tim Soete, which sounds like some lost new wave single from 1979 (Spizzenergi comes to mind):

MP3Trans Am featuring Tim Soete – “Wounded Monkey” 

THIRD STOP: Other Music (15 E. 4th Street, NYC)
OM_Mirror_sm The king of indie/alt/etc in New York. Last year on RSD, the store was absolutely banannas. Co-owner Chris Vanderloo told me this year there was a long line before the store even opened! When I got there, he was playing doorman, keeping the small store from getting to crowded. Like last year, Other Music had bands DJing in hour shifts, with the 2009 roster including Grizzly Bear and Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Sohrab and Greg from Obits were DJing while I was there, and was happy to hearthem spin  “Psychedelic Woman” by Honny & the Bees Band, and trippy classic “My White Bicycle” by Tomorrow. People were clamoring for the RSD exclusives and OM had a lot of them.

LOOT: I bought three of the four Sub Pop 7″ the label made for RSD (Vetiver, Blitzen Trapper, Obitz). The packaging was top-notch, and the vinyl was colored. The Vetiver single, on pale blue marbled vinyl, was especially nice and the two warm, Dead-ish tracks (which is what a lot of Sub Pop release sou
nd like these days) are the kind of stuff that sounds so good in this format. All three singles are very good, I only wish I could’ve scooped up the fourth which was Flight of the Conchords. I also got a Lykke Li/El Perro Del Mar Split and the new, eighth installment of the great The World’s Lousy with Ideas series, a 12″ with great new tracks from the likes of Vivian Girls, The Intelligence, Thee Oh Sees, and what I think is the first Sic Alps recording since adding Ty Seagall to the fold on drums. This was the best haul of the day.

MP3: Obits – I Can’t Lose

MP3: Vetiver – Wishing Well

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – War is Placebo

MP3: El Perro Del Mar – (At Your Best) You Are Love [a cover of Aaliyah’s cover of the Isley Brothers)

MP3: The Intelligence – The Beetles

FOURTH STOP: Academy Records (12 W. 18th Street, NYC)
Academy_nyc This is the original Academy. The rock vinyl all moved to the Williamsburg location, but this is still the place to go for jazz and classical. It’s also primo promo dumping grounds. You can get just about any new CD, sometimes way before it actually streets. It also pays to dig through the bins. Sometimes the same titles can be found in different locations with wildly different prices. There didn’t seem to be any actual Record Store Day stuff to be had — or if there was some it was long gone — so I just browsed the bins to see what I could find.

LOOT: Um, did I really find a copy of Jeffrey Lewis‘ great, great, great new album ‘Em Are I here when it doesn’t actually come out till May 19? Well, it was in my bag when I got home. Also in my bag: Deastro‘s Moondagger, which hits stores June 23, and the debut from ex-Out Hud vocalist Molly Schnick new bag, Jean on Jean, which didn’t get nearly enough ink last year.

MP3: Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard – Bugs and Flowers (pre-order)

MP3: Deastro – Spritle (pre-order)

MP3: Jean on Jean – Tonight (buy it)

More Record Store Day photos after the jump…

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Hooray for Buying Things!

OthermusicLike so many so-called holidays, Record Store Day is just an attempt to get people to buy more stuff. But in this case, it's a cause I can get behind. During my time at college, it's probably not that far off to say that I spent more time at Back Street Records than I did attending classes. I could spend hours flipping through records, talking with clerks about music, generally hanging out. And during the late-'90s I probably logged about 5-6 hours a week at Other Music, as it was conveniently located a few blocks from my job.

With the internet, file-sharing, bit-torrent, digital stores, etc I don't log as much time in brick-n-mortar stores as I used to, though I still probably spend just as much on music as I used to (though I spend it differently) and am in stores more than most people. In New York, the good ones still seem to be doing ok; whereas Back Street Records in Morgantown, WV closed in 1998 and there are no "record stores" there anymore at all. So it seemed good to celebrate businesses that have meant a lot to a lot of people over the years. And I used it as an excuse to spend the whole day record shopping.

Stop 1: Sound Fix | 110 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY

Soundfix Sound Fix is my local record store and probably my favorite one in the city, along with Other Music. They've got a smart business model, in that there's a coffee shop/bar/venue attached to the space, which is good for an extra source of income in these wintry economic times… although the cafe been temporarily closed due to some kind of permit problems lately. But it can be a great place to see a show. Online ordering is a little last decade, but they're really more your good local indie record store.

Special RSD events/specials/schwag: Regina Spektor performed and it was easily the most mobbed I've ever seen an instore there (though I  wasn't there for Kimya Dawson or Last Shadow Puppets). Though most of the people there seemed like the type who'd never been in a record store in their lives, and most of them left immediately after without even noticing that you could, you know, buy stuff. No discounts, but there were free Patti Smith 7" singles and a Stephen Malkmus 10" EP for $5 I think. You also got a Record Store Day sticker if you bought something. I didn't stick around but, for them, it seemed like Record Store Day ended around 2pm.

Wye Oak – If Children

MP3: Warning

Buy it

Various Artists – BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979 – 85

MP3: Deux – Game and Performance

Buy it

Stop 2: Other Music | 15 East 4th St. New York, NY

NYC's premier indie record store whose selection will humble even the most knowledgeable elitist. Some people think the Other Music staff are elitists but I've never found that to be the case, and they've turned me onto a lot of great music over the last 11 years (???… can't remember exactly when the owners left the Kim's on Bleeker/Lafayette to open OM). They were also one of the first brick-n-mortar shops to open a digital store.

Special RSD events/specials/schwag: Other Music had the best Record Store Day festivities of the places I visited. Instead of live performances, they set up a DJ table in one corner of the store and had bands (Tapes 'n Tapes, Black Keys, Interpol, among others) spin tunes throughout the day. The Black Keys were the selectors while I was there, playing stuff mostly from their iPhones (hmmm). There was also a shelf of free stuff including a Destroyer/Wye Oak split 7" and a nice Sub Pop CD Sampler, billed as a 20th Anniversary compilation though everything on it was from this year. Also: 10% off everything in the store and if you bought something you got a coupon for 10% off your next purchase. The store was absolutely mobbed the entire time I was there. I have to imagine Other Music was very happy it was Record Store Day.

Thee Oh Sees – The Master's Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In

MP3: Adult Acid

Buy it from Other Music

The Death Set – Worldwide

MP3: Had A Bird

Buy it from Other Music

Noage_weirdo_2 No Age – Weirdo Rippers (promo, used)

MP3: Everybody's Down.mp3

Buy it from Other Music Digital

Stop 3: Bleeker Bob's | 113 West 3rd St. New York, NY

I really wasn't expecting legendary NYC record store Bleeker Bob's to be doing anything for Record Store Day. In fact, I wasn't even sure if it still existed as I walked down West 3rd, but there it was looking like it did the last time I was in there. I mean literally, as if it was frozen in time. Bleeker Bob's looks like it stopped trying to compete  with other stores (or vacuum) around 2001, judging from the CD wall featuring Bis' album Return to Central as "THE BEST NEW ELECTRO." Of course, vintage vinyl is what Bleeker Bob's is all about.

Special RSD events/specials/schwag: I didn't even bother to ask.

Bellestars I wasn't looking to buy anything, but the $2 bin outside the store is hard to pass up. I bought the Belle Stars' 1983 debut.

MP3: The Belle Stars – Sign Of The Times

Stop 4: Rebel Rebel | 319 Bleeker Street New York, NY
Rebelrebel_inside I had checked the Record Store Day website and knew that tiny West Village store Rebel Rebel wasn't taking part in the festivities. While in the store, someone else asked the owner what he was doing for
Record Store Day. His response: "What is Record Store Day?" Good thing too, as you put more than six people in the store and mobility is almost impossible. But I still wanted to go there, feeling confident that they would have the new Mystery Jets album. Rebel Rebel is the place to go for British imports and they often actually have them two days before they were on sale in the UK. No luck on the Mystery Jets, though… sold-out.

Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

MP3: Elbow – Mirrorball

Buy it

Cut/Copy – In Ghost Colours

MP3: Cut/Copy – Unforgettable Season

Buy it