Record Store Day surfs in on cresting wave of vinyl mania

The Philadelphia InquirerApril 18, 2014 

Music Underground and Stax of Trax will host record-release events on April 19.

METRO CREATIVE GRAPHICS

  • if you go

    What: Record Store Day

    When: April 19

    Where: Music Underground, 224 W. College Ave., State College

    Info: http://musicundergroundusa.com

    related event

    What: Stax of Trax second anniversary celebration

    Where: Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, 133 N. Beaver Ave., State College

    Where: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 19

    Info: 237-9522, www.facebook.com/staxoftrax

    Featuring new LP acquisitions, food, books and giveaways and live music:

    • 3 p.m.: Eric Condo

    • 4 p.m.: J.T and Andy

    • 5 p.m.: Anatolian Fusion

  • 20 curiosities to chase on Record Store Day

    Below is a curated selection of some of the more odd releases this avowed vinyl fetishist would recommend chasing April 19 — or, if not, searching for on eBay about six months later after the prices for most of these will have plummeted.

    •  Chuck Inglish and Chance the Rapper, “Glam 7” (Federal Prison): Two generations of Chicago rappers join forces, one of whom, Inglish, is best known for his work with the Cool Kids. He’s teamed with young lyricist Chance the Rapper, marking the latter’s first-ever appearance on (non-bootleg) vinyl. This is one of four in a series that Inglish is releasing for the day. Others include collaborations with Chromeo, Action Bronson and Mac Miller & Ab Soul.

    •  The Allman Brothers Band, selections from “Play All Night: Live at the Beacon Theater, 1992” (Sony/Legacy): Double LP with a side four that features just two jams: “Jessica” and “Whipping Post.” Somewhere in the galaxies, these solos are still echoing.

    •  Chvrches, “Recover EP” (Glassnote): 12-inch clear orange vinyl, bootleg sleeve, hand-numbered and stamped. Features three originals and two remixes by the Scottish electro-pop band.

    •  Joy Division, “An Ideal for Living” EP (Rhino): Before the band signed to Factory, it released an EP. Much bootlegged, the four songs showcase Ian Curtis’ primal beginnings as a vocalist.

    •  The Cure, Dinosaur Jr., “Just Like Heaven” (Rhino): This 45 rpm record features the Cure’s original 1987 version and Dinosaur Jr.’s classic distorted reworking.

    •  Devo, “Live at Max’s Kansas City — November 15, 1977” (Jackpot): As Devo was first invading New York from its home base of Akron, Ohio, the band started drawing bigger and more impressive names to witness its stage show. Among them one fall night in 1977 was David Bowie, who is captured on this limited-edition pressing. Entire performance available, including audio of Bowie.

    • Fleetwood Mac, “Dragon Fly/The Purple Dancer” (Warner Bros): The first song recorded after Christine McVie joined the band in 1970, this Rhino records release celebrates the bluesy power of the pre-Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham” era.

    •  Haim, “Forever” 12” (Columbia): A track from the siblings’ debut, this gem features an extended remix by dance music legend Giorgio Moroder.

    • The Julie Ruin, “Brightside”/”In the Picture” (Julie Ruin Records): Kathleen Hanna’s exuberant dance-punk band offers two previously unreleased tracks in a limited-edition form.

    • Jon Brion, official soundtrack to “ParaNorman” (Mondo): Extremely limited (500 copies) glow-in-the-dark vinyl pressing of the longtime Largo favorite’s music from the animated film. Features alternate artwork, as well.

    • Django Django, “The Porpoise Song” b/w “Flat of Angle Vol. 1 featuring Benedict Cumberbatch” (Mute): British synth-rock band covers the Monkees’ surreal pop song on one side, and on the other offers TV’s Sherlock Holmes some room for a spoken-word piece.

    •  The Animals, “The Animals” EP (ABKCO): High-volume maximum R&B from Eric Burdon & Co., pressed on 10-inch wax for better fidelity than the original 7-inch. Features “Boom Boom,” “Around and Around,” “Dimples” and “I’ve Been Around.”

    •  Sky Ferreira, “Night Time, My Time” picture disc (Capitol): The major-label debut by rock chanteuse Ferreira is pressed on a picture disc of the album’s seductive front cover.

    •  Heatmiser, “Dead Air,” “Cop” and “Yellow No. 5” cassettes (Burger): Re-presses of music from Elliott Smith’s early group, released in limited edition on tape from Burger Records.

    •  Heavens to Betsy, “Calculated” LP (Kill Rock Stars): Pre-Sleater Kinney band from Corin Tucker, this riot grrrl classic has been unavailable on vinyl. Back for a limited time.

    •  Disclosure, “Apollo” 12-inch (Glassnote): British dance team offers ultra-rare physical release of its wonderful “Apollo.”

    •  The J.B.’s, “ ‘Food for Thought’: The Get on Down Edition” (Get On Down): Fancy pressing and package of the first record on James Brown’s People Records. The J.B.’s were Brown’s backing band in the 1970s, and this reissue features music, a custom tote bag, a poster of the cover and a 7-inch record.

    •  Liars, “Mess on a Mission” 12-inch (Mute): New track and remixes from one of L.A.’s most enigmatic bands. The group’s new album, “Mess,” features Liars digging further into old-school analog synth tones. The highlight of this one is a remix by the fantastic Drag City outfit Black Bananas.

    •  Nino Rota, “Amarcord” soundtrack (Music on Vinyl): Re-press of this essential soundtrack to Frederico Fellini’s 1973 film, composed by the director’s longtime musical muse, Nino Rota.

— Back in 2008, Record Store Day was launched as a hopeful holiday aiming to buck up struggling independent music retailers desperate to lure customers.

The situation was dire. The Tower Records chain had closed in 2006, and CD sales were shrinking. Vinyl was an outmoded format that barely amounted to a drop in a music industry bucket with a hole in it.

“The general consensus,” said the day’s cofounder Carrie Colitton, “was that record stores were dead.”

The seventh annual Record Store Day is set to take place April 19. More than 1,200 retailers across the country, including Music Underground, 224 W. College Ave., State College, will sell limited-edition merchandise and hosting events.

The mom-and-pop music-store glass is half-full.

A big reason is that sales of vinyl have increased sixfold since 2008. Last year, CDs, hurt by the growth in streaming Internet services such as Spotify and Pandora, fell an additional 14.5 percent. Digital sales declined for the first time since the advent of iTunes.

But vinyl increased 32 percent — rising from 4.5 million units in 2012, to more than 6 million in 2013, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

This year, there will be 450 Record Store Day-specific releases hitting stores, up from “between 10 and 20” in 2008, according to Colitton, who oversees the Raleigh, N.C.-based event along with partner Michael Kurtz as an unpaid vocation. (In her paid job, she’s director of marketing for Dept. of Record Stores, a coalition of indie record stores.)

Among the choice selections: Bruce Springsteen’s “American Beauty” EP, featuring four unreleased songs; LCD Soundsystem’s “Live at Madison Square Garden”; and “It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” the vinyl reissue of the 1988 classic by rappers Public Enemy, whose leader Chuck D is this year’s official Record Store Day ambassador.

Evidence of the vinyl renaissance is apparent throughout pop culture.

The day will see the release of Eilon Paz’s “Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting,” a gorgeous coffee-table book that depicts 130 enthusiasts with their collections, including “King of 78s” Joe Bussard, and Frank Gossner.

“Portlandia” star and Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein’s American Express TV commercial set in a record store has been viewed 10 million times on YouTube. (She and costar Fred Armisen, in a 2011 sketch, mocked the Portland-based Ace Hotel chain, where all suites have turntables.)

Director Alex Steyermark’s movie “The 78 Project,” which captures musicians such as Victoria Williams and Ben Vaughn making 78 r.p.m. discs on a 1930s Presto recorder, premiered at the South By Southwest Film festival in March. In July, Amanda Petrusich’s “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records” will be published by Simon and Schuster.

Paz started the “Dust & Grooves” project as a website after he moved to Brooklyn from Israel in 2008 and spent most of his underemployed time crate-digging in stores.

Vinyl has become cool again “because of digital music,” Paz said. “The natural thing to say would be that the MP3 killed vinyl. But I think it’s the opposite, actually. The lack of a physical, tangible medium brought vinyl back to the people.

“We don’t change, really,” Paz said. “Times change, technology changes. But our basic need to hold, to feel things — vinyl lets you fulfill those needs.”

It also sounds good.

“The sonic quality of the vinyl format is so warm and full compared to all digital mediums,” Big Rich Medina, a Philadelphia-based DJ, tells Paz in “Dust & Grooves.” “It’s ridiculous. There is no reputable argument for that point.”

“I think it’s happened because of the anonymity of the digital age,” said Grammy-winning producer Aaron Luis Levinson. He estimates his wide-ranging but salsa-centric collection at 6,000 LPs and 1,000 or so 78s. “Just as the slow-food movement has come back, and craft beer has come back, records have come back. People are once again prizing something of quality that has human scale and authenticity and personality to it.”

As a diehard enthusiast, Levinson enjoyed the era of CD dominance “because all sorts of people were dumping amazing records. I had so much less competition. Now it’s really hard to get good records. Everybody wants them.”

Record Store Day isn’t only about vinyl. There are also exclusive CD releases. Record Store Day’s Colitton, who says most of the more than 200,000 people who follow Record Store Day on Facebook are in the 18-to-35 range, stresses that most LPs come with a download card for “digital convenience.”

Vinyl made its comeback, Colitton thinks, because “it’s a very physical, human way to interact with new music. It’s a ritual, almost. You pick up the record. You probably clean it. It’s like a Japanese tea ceremony. I love my phone, I love my headphones. But even for the young people who grew up with digital music, I don’t think anyone wants to live their entire life in front of a screen.”

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