Today is Record Store Day, the day we are all supposed to truck out to the local indie shop and plunk down cash for music in hand, the way us old schoolers used to do. I love Record Stores. Along with Used Book Stores, they are among my favorite places to spend hours upon hours of solitary wondering, or social discussion with a shopping partner of shared interests. Sadly, both of these dinosaurs are a dying breed. It's a shame really. I understand the cause, and though I love the benefits of variety that the web has created and opened up, there is something to be said about the old ways.
As a teen, I had to pay my dues in the record stores, listening to my elders, learning, and discovering. A record store was a library of music knowledge when there wasn't an Internet and a million different places telling you what to try. I did my studying at places like Noise Pollution, Third Street Jazz & Rock, the Record Exchange in Philly, Tunes in South Jersey, Venus Records, Other Music, Kim's Underground, Generation Records, Sounds, and Ethereal, in New York City. I've gotten my doctorate in places like Amoeba in L.A. and San Fran, and Rough Trade in London. But these days, I don't get out to the record store nearly enough, due mainly to my location where there are only a couple of used vinyl shops that I do hit up when I can...today for sure. Knowing this, I made my record store visits last weekend while in civilization.
Not if, but when you go out to the record store today, may I recommend checking out some of these if you need something to look for:
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & the Cairo Gang - The Wonder Show of the World: As I commented on their previous 7" a few weeks ago, I really like this pairing. It's very much a Bonnie 'Prince' record of his usual mid-western indie folk, but the full band instrumentation and choir style backing vocals make this one of the more necessary Will Oldman releases in years. (Purchased at AKA Music in Philly...comes with a bonus 7" with two great songs)
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame: It's hard to follow-up Fate, one the best records of two years ago, but these Philly boys never disappoint me. Their blend of classic-rock inspired indie psych is really unique and several albums in, I still don't tire of it because the song-writing is so strong. This album feels like a grower. With each listen I hear more depth to it.
Lightspeed Champion - Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You: His debut, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge was easily in my top 10 of 2008 and I've been dying for this one..and wow! What an epic record. Upon first listen, it was easy to declare it nearly perfect. It has the same indie-pop feel as the first record, but added is a blues undertone that just creates a brilliant sound. Bravo. Right up there near the top of my favorite albums of 2010 so far.
Yeasayer - Odd Blood: Another follow-up to a favorite of a previous year, 2007's All Hour Cymbals, a neo-psych masterpiece. This album is also fantastic. It's definitely a little more electronic, and '80s inspired, but uber catchy and clever. I could see some finding it annoying, but I'm loving it. If you have a chance to check out the insane new video, I highly suggest it for pure wackiness and over the top insanity.
Holly Miranda - The Magician's Private Library: Another new album that I'm quickly becoming obsessed with. This sounds like a female singer's version of Bon Iver's For Emma but slightly more upbeat due to more electronic elements added to the indie pop folk sound. A real quality album and a fantastic voice. (Look for the cover image to be used in an upcoming Rabbit Wars installment).
Midlake - The Courage of Others: The last of my highly anticipated 2010 releases on the list. I absolutely love their last, The Trials of Van Occupanter. This album takes the next step and you can hear the obvious progression of the band here. This is the kind of melancholy indie folk album I adore, but don't let that label fool you, this is not simple music. There's a level of sophistication and complexity that makes this band stand out from the field.
Graham Coxon - happiness in magazines: I've had this 2004 album since it came out, but never really gave it much of a chance before. I love Graham's (of Blur fame) first solo album The Sky is Too High, but after two sub-par punk inspired albums that followed, I kind of lost interest by the time this one was released. On a long drive home last weekend, a song from here popped on the shuffle and made me take notice. Much more in the vain of his first, this is Syd Barrett-esque lo-fi at it's best. Check it out...or any Blur album at the store and you can't wrong.
Joy Zipper - The Heartlight Set: Never far from my playlist since it's release in 2005, I've been listening to this again lately as the weather turns warm. Joy Zipper has to be one of the most underrated bands of the last decade. Every album they recorded is incredible. I put it here so that if you see ANY of their great sunshine indie pop albums in the bins, I recommend you buy it.
The International Submarine Band - Safe at Home: A short-lived Gram Parson's outfit, I found this great album in the bins at the Princeton Record Exchange last weekend. It doesn't stray far at all from Gram's solo masterpieces GP and Grievous Angel. Just perfect late '60s country rock. If Gram is lacking from your collection, your collection is lacking.
John Mayall - Blues From Laurel Canyon: This is one of the Mayall classic albums I'd been missing. The father of British Blues in the '60s, the guy who discovered Clapton, John Mayall has been a favorite of mine since college. I purchased many of his albums from the aforementioned Venus Records which was in the same building as my apartment and felt this discovery of the week was fitting for the list. Worth checking out also are the great albums: Bluesbreakers, Blues Alone, Turning Point, and Bare Wires.