Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Got Out of Record Store Day 2010

Record Store Day, conceived in 2007 by a Bull Moose music employee in Maine, started as a full-fledged idea in 2008.  What started as an attempt to throw a life preserver to independent record stores has become an international event the third Saturday of every April.  Bands create releases exclusively for Record Store Day, primarily vinyl, both as giveaways and for sale.

I've been to the last two; after going in 2009 and getting shut out on some things, in 2010 I decided to get to the Newbury Comics in Norwood about a half an hour before the store opened.

I figured I'd be plenty early -- and I was wrong.  I was about 30th in line.  Yup, 28 guys and one woman ahead of me.  And by the time the doors opened, the line had doubled.

It got ugly quickly.  I grabbed the last Weezer freebie 7" just as an alpha nerd reached for it as well.  Said alpha nerd already had one in hand, but he STILL gave me the "Fireball +20 damage" look.  The geek tension was palpable.

Fortunately, no more shows of dorky one-upmanship occurred.  In the end, I got a lot of music between the freebies, samplers, and limited edition items.  (Confession:  I did have to hit the Needham store on the way home to pick up some items that were already gone in Norwood.  I have a problem.)

So how did it work out in the end?  Pretty well.  I've boiled down just the free compilation/sampler discs to 3 1/2 hours; I used two 7 hour flights to pare down the list to that point.  Not bad for zero dollars.

As for the rest, all are singles on vinyl from 2010 unless otherwise noted:
  • Against Me! - "I Was a Teenage Anarchist."  I've waxed eloquently (and at some length) about Against Me!, and I'd quote myself and link to said reviews if I weren't feeling quite so lazy at the moment.  This is a great pop punk single.  It's not like I wouldn't have bought the album without hearing the single, but it's great to hear on vinyl.  And the "acoustic version" b-side is actually a re-recording, not just stripping out the bass, drums, and electric guitars.  Good stuff.

  • Built to Spill  - "Water Sleepers."  This is actually worth the price of admission for the b-side, "Linus and Lucy (Live)," which is a cover of the "Peanuts" Schroeder song.  But the a-side is no slouch either -- sounds like it's a throwback to the Keep It Like a Secret or Perfect from Now On era.  Very spacey and slow, but in the classic BTS way.  A really cool little single.

  • The Clash - At Shea StadiumI am about to commit many acts of heresy, so please prepare yourself accordingly.  1) I don't like The Clash.  2) I don't like the legendary album London Calling.  So why on earth would I pick up a vinyl single promoting a live album?  Simply, because it was the most visually arresting item there.  It's a picture disc and just looks damn cool.  Now some more heresy.  3) I think this version of "London Calling" is better than the one on London Calling.  And thus 4) At Shea Stadium is going to be a better album than London Calling.  I thank you in advance for your hate mail and comments.

  • The Constellations - "Setback."  Scott and I listened to this at 45 rpm (it is a single, after all), and found it to be quite interesting, although the woman's voice was way out there.  At 33 rpm (correct speed), that dude and his lame sound really did nothing for me.  Adding Cee-Lo to side 2 wasn't enough of a life-saver. Speed it up, kids.

  • Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil.  I was truly shocked to see this in the store.  Since seeing Roky Erickson's comeback in 2005 at Austin City Limits, I've picked up his compilation, but I did not know he was making new music.  This is a combination of home recordings from over the years and new Roky performances, is all over the place and wacky, and is absolutely terrific.  Car CD Changer material.
  • Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move or I'm Gone (Music from Kerouac's Big Sur) (single).  Jay Farrar (Wilco, Son Volt, Gob Iron) writes the music with Jack Kerouac's words, and trades vocals with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service).  It's really great sounding:  not surprising, it's alt country.  The two songs here definitely make me want to hear the whole album -- it's an ambitious project for sure, but they do a nice job paying it off.

  • Fly Leaf - "Chasm"/Paper Tongues - "Trinity."  Fly Leaf's lead singer is a powerhouse.  This song is right in the way that most of today's music is wrong:  the vocal presentation is forceful, the lyrics are interesting, and the music has both power and tension.  Paper Tongues, on the other half of the split single, show what's wrong with most of today's new music:  the vocal presentation is soft, the lyrics are cliché, and the music is formulaic and generic; not bad, but not good either.

  • Gogol Bordello - "We Comin' Rougher (Immigranada)."  A bit smoother than what I've previously heard from these guys (probably because it was produced by Rick Rubin), but with the same raw energy and wackiness you'd expect from gypsy punks.  Very impressive.  I will be checking out the full album (Trans-Continental Hustle) for sure.

  • Kasabian - "Fire."  I was on the fence on this one (a bit dance-y for me), but it has a great riff and they really have something nice going on here.

  • John Lennon - Singles Bag.  I picked this up as an afterthought, but the recaps of the event say this was the rarest piece out there.  The three A-sides (despite what Ken might tell you) are classic:  "Mother," "Imagine," and "Watching the Wheels."  The three B-sides are terrible.  I'm not that interested in the poster, the postcards, and custom adaptor hub, but collectors probably are.

  • Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000, re-released in 2010).  One of my favorite albums, finally available on vinyl.  And it sounds great.  One of the best takeaways of the day.

  • Nada Surf - If I Had a Hi-Fi (CD).  The primary reasons I made the second stop in Needham was for the Modest Mouse vinyl and for this CD.  It's a covers album (and I love covers) by Nada Surf (and I love Nada Surf).  Unfortunately, the covers are mostly of songs I'm not familiar with; the best covers are Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" (which was one of the ones I did know), Arthur Russell's "Janine," and Kate Bush's "Love and Anger."  I guess I don't like the same groups these guys do; if I did I might like the album.  But it's all about me, and thus became Sell-back Pile 1 material. The packaging is very nice, though.   

  • Rogue Wave - "Lake Michigan."    Of everything I got on Record Store Day, this was the best surprise.  Think of Sunny Day Real Estate crossed with Glen Echo.  Really excellent stuff.  Not the most revolutionary, but there is something really nice about the sound of these guys.  A check of this album is in order. 

  • Weezer - "(If You're Wondering if I Want You to) I Want You to."  After wrestling Golem for this puppy (see above), I felt like my expectations were not met with this one right off the bat.  Besides an annoyingly long title for the A-side, I really did not like the song, which tends to be an issue.  However, it has grown on me, and thus the yellow vinyl stays. 
- Snilch