It's almost here: Record Store Day. The day the industry bands together and does its best to shine a light on the independent record stores that dot neighborhoods in cities all over the U.S. Now, I could take this opportunity to lecture about how music fans should treat normal days like Record Store Day, but here's the thing: I get it.
For some folks, music is just something you download (hopefully via some legal channel, like eMusic or iTunes). And that's not wrong . But then there are those of us who just need to collect. We're hoarders, really, just with awesome stuff. So yeah, I don't need a special day to visit the local shops, but there is a kind of glee that comes over me when I look at some of what the labels are trotting out to reward the faithful (and maybe inspire some newbies to stop by).
Here are the exclusives I'm most excited about (coming tomorrow: Phoenix's Record Store Day events). What are you most pumped to pick up? Leave a comment below.
Shuggie Otis "Inspiration Information" b/w "Magic" (Legacy Records)
You've probably heard the A-side, the beatific, absolutely classic future-soul cut featuring young Otis' mastery of a the stutter-step beat, funky guitars, and bubbling melody, but you've never heard "Magic," the B-side that's been unearthed from Shuggie's personal archives to supplement this release; that's what you gotta love, when a RSD release offers you something brand new, and not a different colored version of a record you already own.
Hush Arbors/Arbouretum, Aureola (Thrill Jockey)
Keith Wood (Hush Arbors) and Dave Heumann (Arbouretum) share more than similar band names: the two tap into the same sense of Americana desolation via stomp boxes and far-out incantations. You can chin-stroke to the former and toss up devil horns to the latter, but too often those propositions are viewed as opposing ideas.
Sam Means, NONA (Photo Finish Records)
It's kind of hard not to contrast the sounds of hometown boy Sam Means against those of his former-Format buddy Nate Ruess (who's in fun. these days). Both are explicitly tuneful, but Means' long-delayed solo work is far more classicist. "I Will Follow" and "Something in the Air," the two songs featured on this exclusive '45, share their names with U2 and Thunderclap Newman singles, and while they aren't covers, they share a melodic kinship with the radiowaves of the past. (And if you're hungering for a good cover, just wait till you hear Means' take on the Hollies' "Carry Anne.")
Lee Hazlewood, The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes, & Backsides (1968-71) (Light in the Attic)
After leaving Phoenix (where he pioneered the twangy sound with folks like Sanford Clark and Duane Eddy), Lee Hazlewood found fame with Nancy Sinatra. And after that? He launched Lee Hazlewood Industries, and entered his famed and quite fruitful "Cowboy in Sweden" era. This collection's no joke -- every track, from the melancholy and elegiac "Come on Home to Me" to the cocksure "Hey Cowboy," has a swaggering, psychedelic energy to it. Highly essential.
Mastodon/Feist, "Commotion/Black Tongue" (Warner Brothers)
Mastodon has teamed with Flaming Lips and ZZ Top in the past for Warner's usually-pretty-cool split '45 series (see this year's Afrika Bambaataa/MC5 combo), but taking on Feist's "Commotion" might be their boldest move yet. Not to be outdone, Feist returns the favor, hopefully tapping her inner fire-demoness to give Mastodon's "Black Tongue" the Canadian art-pop treatment.
Shabazz Palaces, Live at KEXP 12" EP (Sub Pop)
Man did I ever sleep on Shabazz Palaces' stellar 2011 Black Up. Avant-rap starts to describe it, but something about that description sounds too stuffy to fit the sounds on the album; this release, recorded live at Seattle radio station KEXP, proves Ishmael Butler aka 'Palaceer Lazaro' (formerly of Digable Planets) and his crew are a potent force in the flesh. Live records usually fail to capture the force of a live performance -- let's hope the transfer of the following performance gets it right.
Deep Fried Boogie Band/Colossal Yes (Jackpot Records)
I'm feeling pretty divided on Howlin' Rain's long delayed Russian Winds (it came out on American Records earlier this year). Some of the tunes are real barn-burners (gimme "Cherokee Werewolf"), but too much of the record has a kinda bloated, not-ablaze quality that leaves me missing songwriter Ethan Miller's old band, the cosmic exploders of yore, Comets on Fire (live takes fare much, much better). Colossal Yes features former-Comet Utrillo Kushner, exploring piano pop sounds, and I've got some hope it'll have a little of that maniacal edge based on Kushner's last record. Oh, and the record is a split with Sam Coomes' (Quasi, Crock) no doubt excellent "Deep Fried Boogie Band." Because with a band name like that, how could they possibly suck?
Nobunny, MaximumRockNRoll (Goner)
Five jams. "Minimum fidelity." RIYL GG Allin, The Queers, David Icke, Alan Partridge Project, Emerson Lake & Palmer Eldritch. Where do I sign up?
Jonathan Wilson, Pity Trials and Tomorrow's Child (Bella Union)
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And now, to squander any punk rock vibe I gathered with that Nobunny record, Mr. Jonathan Wilson. This covers record follows up last year's easy, breezing Gentle Spirit, and finds Wilson teaming with Graham Nash on a cover of George Harrison's "Isn't it a Pity." Side B includes Happy Traum's "The Trials Of Jonathan", "Tomorrow's Child" originally performed by Japanese psych-rockers Apryl Fool.
Buck Owens, Colouring Book w/Flexi Disc (Omnivore Recordings)
Modeled after uncirculated coloring books from 1970, this is the quintessential RSD item. It's fantastic to behold, colorful, and it's got a flexi disc -- yeah, one of those flimsy little pull-out records. It's fun, it's cool, it's exactly the sort of thing that you don't expect but can't live without. It's a the sort of thing you hope to find every time you cruise into a record store.