Record shop day and Amoeba records


Yesterday was Record store day, a day to support independent music stores, for the music fan anyway. I suspect most people don’t care too much. That might be a shame considering how many music stores are disappearing in favour of a few online stores. I’m well aware of downloads being the current and mostly future of music (for most people anyway), but I love the physical aspect of vinyl or CDs. Plus the quality. Online downloadable music is not fully up to scratch yet. I did a post about that once. Also as much fun as it can be looking online for music, and it is, I really do enjoy flicking through the racks of a music store. I love the posters, artwork, the smell and feel of a store.

In support of record store day, many artists have been releasing limited edition singles, EPs, or even albums. These are strictly limited number pressings available only through participating independent stores. This year there were a lot of releases, and to some extent it looked like there was a bunch of artists jumping on the bandwagon, just so they will have something out on the day. I might be being cynical, but that is the way it seems. Still there is plenty of cool stuff in there, including a big release by the Flaming Lips (and friends), singles by Jack White, and a good single by Best Coast. However that barely even gives a flavour. A full list of releases yesterday can be viewed at the link at the top of this post.

Having a small child, I’m not really in a position this year to get in line with the music geeks and queue up, making sure I could get a record or two. I kind of like the look of the Flaming Lips release but I figured I was unlikely to get to somewhere before it sold out. That said, whilst I wasn’t desperate to get hold of anything, I figured a trip to Amoeba in Hollywood, was in order (a sort of wedding anniversary gift from my lovely wife). A chance to check out the vibes, and see how different from a normal day it is.

We usually head to Amoeba for when it opens, to get decent parking, but as anyone who has lived around LA can tell you, also to avoid some of the worst traffic. When we arrived, there was an enormous queue of people outside, a couple of blocks long. It was soon revealed as a line for those wanting to try to buy releases for record store day. Otherwise you could head straight in. Good luck to them I say, as previously mentioned, I was not in a position to queue in the hot sun, and I figured I was so far back I would not get what I wanted anyway. So a little disappointed that I might not be able to get the Flaming Lips release, I went for plan B. I was at Amoeba, might as well just browse the store and pick up a few things.

So that I did. It was pretty busy (which is good really, even if not the best for browsing), And I didn’t spend a lot, but I picked up the following:

  • Wilco – “Kicking Television – Live in Chicago” (Wilco are a really good band live, and I have never heard this).
  • Pavement – “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (deluxe edition)
  • Graham Coxon – “Love travels at illegal speeds” (I already had this, but it came from the time when there was stupid copy protection on the disk and I could not even import it into iTunes, I always wanted to pick it up again with a “clean” disk).
  • Pete Townsend – “Lifehouse elements”
  • The Verve – “Forth” (I thought this might be a bit average, but it was cheap so worth a go).

See, I’m a music fan who has a lot of albums, and a lot that I like. Sure there is always something to discover, but sometimes my music browsing is often to pick up a few things round the edges that I haven’t got yet. Actually I have a list of some things I want to pick up. Many were not there today, but that is ok. I got others, I supported an independent store a little. In terms of record store day releases it was a washout for me, but maybe next year if there is something I want, I will get up nice and early. Amoeba is always good for a look, for something new, or for something to add to the collection.

I think Amoeba had a successful day. You can read their store blog about it here.

Lexicon word of the day: gallimaufry.

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The Grammys.

It’s not about the Grammys, but a small nod to this blog here (by Aly Hughes) which is in similar spirit to what I’m trying to do with writing lately, and has had to put up with a couple of my comments this past weekend.

I am not American, I am English, and I live in California. I’m not a big fan of the Grammys anymore than I am of the Brit awards, the English equivalent. For me they are an excuse for big mainstream acts, i.e. those which have sold a lot, to back slap each other and tell each other how great they are. It excludes plenty of bands who may do well critically, but for a variety of reasons, have not hit the interest of the public at large, and thus not had the sales. They are mostly flirting with acts I’m not overly thrilled at, with a token indie act pulled in as though to show they’re making an effort. This year see Bon Iver. For a comparison, here is a list of albums I really liked from last year (currently in order but the order may change over time) :

  • 10 Bill Callahan – Apocalypse
  • 09 Tom Waits – Bad As Me
  • 08 Washed Out – Within and Without
  • 07 White Denim – D
  • 06 St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
  • 05 The Horrors – Skying
  • 04 Elbow – Build a rocket
  • 03 Wilco – The Whole Love
  • 02 Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
  • 01 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

To add to that, you could say these ones where floating around the surface:

  • — Radiohead: The King Of Limbs
  • — Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
  • — Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
  • — Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • — Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots
  • — My Morning Jacket – Circuital
  • — Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
  • — Kurt Vile – Smoke Rings For My Halo
  • — Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow
  • — Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  • — Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
  • — The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

So I say compare this with the Grammys. See what I mean? Now I’ve nothing against Adele, she is very good, but not really for me, so well done to her. The Foo fighters I like but I’ve not listened to that one much so it is not on my list above (yet). The rest, I cannot even remember even though I watched the tv coverage! However that said, the live performances are often decent. The highlights for me:

  • Bruce Springsteen opening.
  • The Beach boys reunion. Brian Wilson kind of looks like an old man let out for the day who is not entirely sure where he is, or what he is doing, but thinks he ought to soldier on anyway. – Still it was great to see.
  • Adele’s live performance. Good return from surgery, knocked that one out.
  • Paul Mccartney’s finale with the “guitar off”. It put me in mind of the “Base off” that Spinal tap did at (I think) Live 8. It was clear that Dave Grohl & Bruce Springsteen were really enjoying themselves, although I think the latter broke a guitar string. That shines through and was fun to watch. I liked the bit where Paul sang at the end but Dave was still in shot over his shoulder and singing along as though it was him on the mike. This for me is a little of what music is about.

I suppose I should mention Whitney Houston. Not a fave of mine it has to be said, although she was an incredible vocalist. I could have done without the prayer at the beginning but no big deal. I suppose they treated the scenario in a dignified way without going too much over the top. However if this had happened a few months back, I cannot help think that she would have been little more than included in the “those lost” section with Amy Winehouse et al, and a song tribute would not have been necessary. It is only as it was the big news item the night before (and likely for the next few days) that it was felt as needed to be dealt with here

So no PJ Harvey even mentioned at the Grammys or no Wilco either. I’m not sure what the cut-off is for inclusion (and quite frankly have no wish to look it up right now). I saw Wilco live a few weeks ago, they are fantastic right now, playing like a band who know each other and are comfortable together.

I was going to write about the album “Copper blue” by Sugar, twenty years old this summer today. I will do that another day. A great album, and Bob Mould is a music legend. He demonstrates my point about the Grammys too, in that in music circles he is a legend for what he has done / written, but as never a big seller, is not part of that club. It is almost like he might not have existed, where to us who are fans, he means a lot more than many of the forgettable acts who have appeared on the Grammys over the years (This year Chris Brown, however much you try, I’m talking about you).

N.B. 2 PM update. I remembered earlier something I forgot to mention about token indie act Bon Iver. He won best new act – for his second album under this monicker. His first album was a critical hit although not a big seller. Why is that best new act? Are they referring to breakthrough, as in sales?

Lexicon word of the day: Mountebank.