Like 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
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.
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.
MP3: Adult Acid
MP3: Had A Bird
MP3: Everybody's Down.mp3
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.
Stop 4: Rebel Rebel | 319 Bleeker Street New York, NY
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.
MP3: Elbow – Mirrorball