Tag Archives: Vinyl

Record Store Day 2013 – Rise Music Shop Bristol

Well another record store day has passed and what a day it was.  More releases than ever before and the most well attended by music fans and those who wish to support independent record stores.

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This year I chose Rise Music store in Bristol for the 3rd year running and it was an even better experience than usual due to the excellent staff and organisation of the large queues that inevitably are formed so early in the morning.

Rise has recently had to branch out and diversify its product range in order to keep the integrity of it’s core activity, namely being an independent record store.  They now have a partnership on the ground floor of the premises with Friska, bringing a high quality independent Cafe and a stage for in store gigs.  This works remarkably well and in someways adds to the record store ambiance rather than taking away from it.

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So for record store day rather than waiting in the freezing cold for hours we were able to spend some of it in the warmth of the cafe while waiting for the fun to begin.

This year I ended up getting to the shop for 4:15am, yes – 4:15!!!! unbelievably I was still 20th in the line!

It was a 2 hour wait before the cafe opened at 6am and slowly allowed the queue of people to enter.  The lucky first 20 in the queue get their items picked for them and a goody bag with some freebies for making the effort.  This is an excellent way of doing it and avoids the scrum for the very rare items that people are after.

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Lawrence (owner of the store) sporting his red fez for the day was constantly looking after people making sure they got the help they needed to find what they wanted.

It’s an exciting time to get your hands on the limited edition items, however, it is easy to forget what the day is really about.  To bring people into the independent record stores all over the country that have been going out of business at an alarming rate.

The record stores still around are excellent and have had to up their game by diversifying and essentially giving people a much better experience.  Rough Trade, Sister Ray and soul jazz records to name a few I have been to recently are all excellent.  One of the great pleasures is talking to the staff who are enthusiasts for new music and are extremely knowledgeable.  Rise Music is excellent at this, and many are in bands themselves such as Olo Worms in Bristol, adding to the live music vibe of the store.

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The much hullabaloo about HMV recently brings into focus how good independent record stores are.  People cry that HMV is the last music store on the high street.  My beef with this is that I don’t think that it has truly been a music store for 20 years.  It lost it’s soul a long time ago and became a bland entertainment store, charging too much on the whole, with little support for local bands hiding vinyl in a corner somewhere if you were lucky.

Whoever has the pleasure of re-organising the HMV business model would do well to look at the independent record stores for inspiration.

So what were my picks of the RSD 2013.  I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on all 3 of the Caribou albums – of which rise only had 3 copies of each in store.  Tame Impala, Paul Weller, David Bowie and Nick Cave were all highlights for me.

Apparently the day became the best in Rise music’s history so far.  The interest generated by the event and the entertainment provided by Rise was superb.  The bands that played all day were excellent and I met many like minded music lovers from as far away as Swindon who will be back next year.  More importantly, they will be back between now and the next RSD supporting their independent record shops.

As if to stress the point – I was back at Rise the next day for an in store free gig by Mathew E White.  A lunch time beer and a free gig is not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  Mathew E White was amazing.  The band played for about half an hour, the ground floor was packed and the music was superb.  Their rhythm section blew the house down.

I couldn’t recommend Rise music highly enough.  Remember to support our local record stores!

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RECORD STORE DAY 2012: A Vinyl extravaganza at Bristol’s best independent record store RISE

Record store day 2012 finally arrived in the early hours of yesterday 21st April.  I chose Rise Records, one of the finest record stores in the UK and the best independent record store in Bristol as my vinyl heaven location.

I nipped into RISE on Friday afternoon to see how preparations were going, the staff seemed a little rushed off their feet! With over 400 titles to put out onto the floor and prepare for what they hoped would be hoards of eager shoppers, they had their work cut out.

Each year the event has been going, it has become more popular with more releases and more interest.  Vinyl sales went up by over 40% last year and a welcome niche market has opened up for the musical connoisseur and a lifeline for “real” independent record shops.  Times are hard, and Record Store Day is a welcome silver lining to the dark clouds of economic gloom for record dealers around the world.

Last year I began queuing at 6:10am for the 8am lift off. By the time the shop opened there was a queue several hundred meters long. This time I was told that people were intending to start queuing at 4am!  So with heavy eyelids I set my alarm for 4am and got to the queue for around 4:30am.

It is essential to be in the first 20 in the queue as people are let in 20 at a time.  I was number 8!  This year I managed to even persuade my partner to join the fun!  Ironically I was standing next to the same people as last year as the geek music chat began!

Time passed quickly as the excitement built and the darkness fell away.  Automatic lights came on in the shop to reveal the hundreds of limited edition titles on display, and then by 7am the staff arrived to prepare for the rush.

It was incredibly well organised as they passed out lists to the first 20 people to pick their items strictly to Record Store Day rules – first come first serve.  This prevents any initial over exuberance and “elbowing” tactics for the ultra rare items.  Last year there was nearly a fight over a Dr Who single!

8 o’clock came and we were allowed in, our piles of records waiting for us.  We browsed in ore at the wealth of vinyl on offer to be tempted with yet more purchases.  It is hard to resist!

Some ask, “what is the point of vinyl?”, usually asked with their mp3 in their pocket full of pirated music that they have neither paid for or on the most part ever listened to.

I love music, all kinds and on all formats.  Everything has its place.  Mp3 players are amazing and very convenient; CD’s are excellent quality these days and are also convenient (the original CD’s in the 80’s and early 90’s were simply awful quality); and Vinyl are a different listening experience, superb quality and playing albums the way there were intended to be listened to, with artwork and an emotional experience.

The Vinyl experience is different and more attentive and more emotional.  When record companies began trying to force the death of vinyl in a re-issuing frenzy on CD of back catalogue items in a “bring them in and pile them high” attitude as a cash cow, the emotional aspect of buying records began to be broken.  The start of the death nail for recorded music.

This year many of the items available for record store day are of high quality and much sought after, along with some titles that are the inevitable cash in.  Record store day is more than just getting your hands on some lovely limited vinyl though, it is an event.  RISE had bands on all day and DJ sets, Record store day beer (very good!) as well as special offers and a few give away’s.  With   physical sales of music declining and difficult economic times generally this day has become very important in the record store retail calender.

The highlight for me was seeing Duke Spirit play live at 3pm.  They were superb and I can’t wait to listen to their live album I bought.

My vinyl highlights were The Kinks re-issues; Lee Scratch Perry 3 x 10″ box set; David Bowie Starman pic disc; Refused “The shape of punk to come”; Blood Music 7″; Keith Howard 12″;  Gorillaz 10″, Edwyn Collins tape box and Velvet Underground Loaded on pink Vinyl!

I’m still counting the cost however, as inevitably over enthusiasm got the better of me! Not to worry, it’s only once a year!

A great day for independent music shops – great music, great live music, great beer and a great day.  Thanks RISE for an excellent day!

Roll on next year . . . . .

RECORD STORE DAY : A Great Day for Music

Tomorrow the 16th April 2011 is Record Store Day, and one of the most exciting days of the year for all music lovers.

This is the day when music labels and bands old and new from around the world release special limited edition music on Vinyl and CD, attracting fans from around the world to independent record stores to pour through the new releases.

In recent years there has been a sudden growing interest in vinyl and specialist music with the vinyl market now over 4% from a point of almost extinction a few years ago.  It is a niche market but one that is greatly satisfying and growing.

In the UK there are more independent record stores today than there were 12 months ago.  A reverse of a trend that has been on going for the past decade.

The key to the success of these stores is the specialist nature of them and the enthusiasm and localism of the stores.  Supporting new bands and liaising with acts on promotions and having in store band performances.

When we look at the performance of stores like HMV and compare them to these independent stores it is clear how HMV have got it so wrong.  They have not really been a record store for some years, being a sanitised entertainment store, ignoring the profitable niche markets and alienating music fans.  Try picking up something out of the ordinary or on vinyl in most HMV outlets and you will be sadly disappointed. Even their support of the Mercury Award Nominated acts has been poor over the past few years.

The success of record store day has been clear to see.  Last year it was the day of a massive increase in foot fall and sales, with around 9% increase in album sales and nearly 500% in single sales.

The record store day began in 2007 and has steadily picked up momentum.  Music fans have taken to it, and so have sadly the ebayer money maker.  Yet the 2011 record store day seems to be set to be an even bigger success.

This is a welcome day for the music industry as CD sales keep falling and yesterday Spotify announced another cut in its free service.

The Music industry is still reeling from the decline in physical sales and the flux in their economic model.  It does seem clear though that much of this decline has been largely their own making, ignoring new technology; crying wolf too many times (remember tapes are killing music??); and profiteering from the fan base that sustained record companies unhealthy profits.

The niche market though is alive and well and growing again.  Those interested in unusual and interesting music, on quality formats, appreciate the amazing sound that is produced on vinyl and modern CD formats.  Vinyl still has the warmist sound of any format, something many of us knew back when the music industry abandoned it on mass for higher profits in the early 1990’s.

I will be ready to queue early tomorrow morning, in keen anticipation. 300 people were queueing at the rough trade stores in London an hour before they opened last year, so a long cold wait will be awaiting me!  But it will be worth it.

For a list of exclusive releases click here. 

BEST ALBUMS OF 2010

2010 was an excellent year for music, the death of the album has been much muted, but with the evidence of current releases I don’t see the evidence of the format dying.

With great pieces of work from the old and young, it has been a pleasure to listen to such great music. This is my pick of the bunch for 2010 which no doubt many will disagree with, but that’s the beauty of lists!  I am bit late posting this but better late than never!

#1 – Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation

Many of the reviews for this album were excellent, however an often used phrase when it comes to Paul Weller is the obligatory “return to form”.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is the third studio album in a row that has been superb for Weller.   Starting in 2005 with As Is Now, which was the real return to form and he has since gone from strength to strength.

22 Dreams was an amazing double album of immense diversity from Latin influences to pure poetry.  Wake up the nation is an extension of this incredible creative high point in Weller’s back catalogue.

There is everything on this album,  with a return to “Jam Like” utterances with the title track Wake up the nation, and Fast Cars/Slow Traffic (with Bruce Foxton), along with sweet songs and psychedelia.  His songwriting is superb on this outing and his collaborations inspiring.

A well deserved Mercury nomination for the album, I would urge anyone to give this a listen.  A complete album in the old fashioned sense, listen to it from start to finish.  My album of the year.

#2 Caribou – Swim

A critics favourite this year, near the top of most lists I’ve seen.  I caught onto these a little late, but I got there in the end.

This album is an organic journey that takes you through a wholesome kaleidoscope of sounds and feelings.  It starts with Odessa which is a fantastic track,  one of the tracks of the year.

This album is appealing because it grows with every listen rather than one you quickly want to leave behind.  A complete entity which is what an album should be and I’m confident I’ll still want more a year from now.

#3 Everything Everything – Man Alive

I saw Everything Everything back in 2009 supporting the Rumble Strips.  I’d heard about them and thought I’d check them out.  It was obvious even then that they had something special, and its great that they have managed to transfer this to the studio.

The album is full of surprises, twists and turns.  There is nothing formulaic in anything they do which is a God send when so much music is generic and lacklustre.

I have heard critics criticise them for releasing songs that are “too complex”! If it were unlistenable I would agree but there is a beauty in these songs and the complexities keep life in the recordings.  There is always something more to discover.

#4 Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM

This album I would class as the most beautiful of the year.  Smooth, crisp and evocative,  simply wonderful to listen to in almost any mood.

The francophile electro- folk- pop never fails to impress, enhanced by the attention of Beck’s production.

The lyrics flirt with the darker side as this record apparently was inspired by her near death experience following a water skiing accident in 2007.  With this record something truly wonderful was inspired.

#5 Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep

I listened to this album with a speculative ear. This is probably the most surprising album of the year.  You don’t necessarily expect that someone who has been around so long and has had such misfortune could emulate the great songs he has previously written.

This selection of songs is some of the best he has ever written.  Not a bad track on the album.  It is full of collaborations with those that were no doubt inspired by his earlier work.  This could have ended up being a horrible patchwork quilt of guest spots,  but this is far from what has been created.

This is a superb album.

#6 Foals – Total Life Forever

Total Life Forever took me by surprise with the leap forward they have taken from their debut album.  I thought they might do a Pigeon Detectives and make the same album again having such a distinguished sound.

This record is an enormous progression, keeping the edginess of their sound but molding it into something much more refined.   Excellent album with some haunting tracks and a great live band.

#7  LCD Soundsystem – This is happening

If this is the last studio effort from James Murphy et al in this format they will be sorely missed.

Always original, catchy and with a longevity that defines a great album.

#8  Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut

A much underrated outfit, I loved this album.  They have a unique take on the indie format and a sound that is un-mistakenly theirs.  This is an achievement in itself but with the songs that go with it.

Play this album LOUD.

#9 Grinderman – Grinderman 2

We pretty much know what were getting with Nick Cave, but when he does it well it is just superb.   He is on fire at the moment,  his last 2 albums with the Bad Seeds have been classics and now this album is another high watermark.

I love the twisted nature of the lyrics and the grinding gladetorial music.  This is one of his best,  another “old hand” that still keeps coming up trumps.

#10 Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

Now,  I have to admit to not being the biggest Blur fan, but since David Albarn has branched out I have become a real fan of his creations.  All the Gorillaz albums have been excellent and this is no exception.  A great piece of work from extremely talented musicians.

The best of the rest :-

#11   Manic Street Preachers – Postcards from a young man
#12   These New Puritans – Hidden
#13   Steve Mason – Boys Outside
#14   Elvis Costello – National Ransom
#15   Sleigh Bells – Treats
#16   Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
#17   Jim Jones Revue – Burning your house down
#18   Skream – Outside the box
#19   Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
#20  Best Coast – Crazy for you
#21  The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
#22  We Have Band – WHB
#23  The Vaselines – Sex with an X
#24  dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip – The logic of chance
#25  MGMT – Congratulations