Tomorrow, Saturday, April 20th, is Record Store Day. Across the nation, droves of rabid music fans will swarm the remaining brick and mortar music retailers, drawn by the lure of in-store performances, special sales and, most importantly, limited-edition collectibles too numerous to count. My head swims as I survey the list of myriad goodies minted exclusively for RSD 2013.
What’s on my wish list? One of everything. But that’s just not practical. Tough decisions have to be made. Seriously, you’d think I was auditioning for a remake of Sophie’s Choice to watch me agonize over which records to purchase and which to leave in the bins. And that’s if you can even find what you’re looking for. I know more people who’ve seen Bigfoot than snagged the original version of The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends on vinyl last year.
Not to get all “the true meaning of Christmas” or anything, but really all I want out of Record Store Day is to rub shoulders with other members of my tribe. I’ve met some of my best friends working or hanging out in record stores and my life would be poorer without them. But just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend my credit cards aren’t maxed out and some benevolent, white-bearded sky god has deigned that I can score any five RSD items of my choosing without having to knee somebody in the groin to get the last copy. Here’s what I’d pick:
Beak>, “0898”/”Welcome to the Machine” EP (Invada)
Featuring Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Beak> makes music pitched squarely at diehard record nerds; you don’t fuse Krautrock, instrumental hip-hop and John Carpenter-style soundtrack grooves if you want to trouble the pop charts. Their version of this tune from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here originally surfaced on a compilation packaged with the October 2011 issue of MOJO. Much as I love that periodical, it’s hard to swoon over a cover-mount CD freebie. But press the same cut on the flip side of a white vinyl ten-inch single? Sold!
Various Artists, Kill Rock Stars: The Compilations three-cassette box (Kill Rock Stars)
A triple-cassette reissue of the original KRS comps featuring rare cuts by Team Dresch, Nirvana, Bratmobile, God Is My Co-Pilot, Pansy Division, Melvins, 7 Year Bitch, Smog, Bikini Kill… the track list reads like the lyrics to Mary Lou Lord’s “His Indie World!” (And yes, Mary Lou Lord is on there, too.) Exemplary indie rock, grunge, riot grrrl, and queercore selections the way nature intended them to be heard: with tape hiss.
Husker Du, “Amusement” 7-inch (Numero Group)
Back in 1980, before they’d hooked up with SST or Warner Brothers, the Minneapolis punk power trio recorded a handful of cuts they thought would comprise their debut release for Twin/Tone. When that deal fizzled, Bob Mould and company ended up issuing two of the songs (“Amusement” and “Statues”) in January 1981 on a self-released 45 and shelving the others. This double seven-inch reissue, packaged in a gatefold jacket, pairs the original “Amusement” sides with its long-lost companions from the same sessions, “Writer’s Cramp” and “Let’s Go Die.”
Austra + Gina X, “Mayan Drums” 12-inch (Domino)
I’m cuckoo for singers that don’t “sing” in the traditional let’s-carry-a-pretty-tune sense. If their delivery is heavily accented, so much the better. German art critic Gina Kikoine cut four amazing albums in the ’80s as one half of synth-pop duo Gina X Performance with producer Zeus B. Held. Her deadpan delivery made Marlene Dietrich sound like Beverly Sills, while her ESL lyrics paid homage to the self-proclaimed “stately homo of England” Quentin Crisp and turned conventions of gender and sexuality sideways. So who better to bring her out of musical retirement then than Canadian combo Austra, who know a thing or two about queer culture and spinning top-notch electronic grooves themselves.
Orange Juice, Rip It Up (Domino)
Domino is reissuing all the Scottish indie pop combo’s full-lengths on vinyl for RSD but this is the one I must possess. Or rather, possess again. Because back in 1983, the first guy I ever dated gave me a copy of this album on our first date. He knew I liked the Smiths and hoped to broaden my horizons. But I got home and it didn’t sound like Depeche Mode or Heaven 17, and we only went on a few dates, and eventually I traded in my pristine copy of Rip It Up for something more important like… oh, I don’t know… probably a Haysi Fantayzee picture disc. But eventually my horizons caught up with my former paramour’s projections and I have been kicking myself for getting rid of an original Orange Juice LP ever since. I am going to buy a replacement copy on Saturday, offer up a little hosanna to that thoughtful beau of yesteryear, and pretend this whole sordid episode never happened.