For the last three years, my Record Store Day has started the night before while waiting for Permanent's midnight opening. However, this year was different. (Honestly, I was fine not having to deal with the numerous people walking in and out of Cleo's or Roots asking, "What's up with this line?") I went to bed at a reasonable hour, slept in past 8 a.m. and even found the time for brunch to gameplan with my record shopping pal.
To begin the day, we headed to Hyde Park Records where WHPK was spinning and all used records were 10% off to entice people to not just buy from the day's special releases. (It worked.) Instead of keeping those special releases behind a counter (like almost every other shop), everything was set out in the new releases rack and restocked as items were purchased. The shop was full, but not crowded. A lot of the good stuff (especially new used arrivals) had been picked over thoroughly, but there were still a few gems dug out.
At Saki an hour later, we passed Jim James while walking in and then made note of the Record Store Day release availability board, which every shop should have. After browsing the official official list, I'd been lukewarm, but I was pleased to see a few surprises, like Radar Eyes' "Dreaming of Giants" flexi-vinyl single. With in-store performances all day, Saki was quite full of people shopping and others just hanging out for the sets. Luckily, the people not shopping had the courtesy to let others browse through product. It hasn't always been that way.
This is Record Store Day's seventh year and it's now gotten to the point of any other consumer holiday where the backlash is winding up. Yes, record stores are open other days in a calendar year and new records are officially released every week, but there are few opportunities to assemble consumers anymore. A normal Saturday at Reckless or Dusty Groove has a respectable draw, but nothing quite like the third Saturday in April. And it's not like NewAlbumReleases.net or NoData throws a party when an album leaks. So, despite the eBay flippers and once-a-year shoppers, it's generally a positive. And you and your friends might just come away with a nice haul.
Nearly six years have passed since we started setting aside a certain Saturday in April and heading out to our favorite (or new favorite) local record stores to celebrate the brick-and-mortar music shopping experience. Whether you choose to line up at the crack o' dawn, or head out at a leisurely post-brunch hour, a visit to your local music purveyor can be easily accomplished this weekend with Saturday's return of Record Store Day. What follows are our best recognizance for what's planned, celebration-wise, at a record store near you, Chicago.
Recently, I forayed into Chicago's musical wilderness in search of some of the more gripping record stores this city has to offer. It took some sifting; I wasn't accepting any vintage-bookstores-that-also-sell-Bonnie Raitt-records, nor on the opposite end of the spectrum, hitting up all the Reckless locations and calling it a day. I aimed for somewhere in-between, hoping to simply unearth some fine, browsable shops. I think the record stores that offer the best selections are ones that devoted vinyl shoppers probably already frequent but that are still relatively unknown to the masses. In search of this ideal record shop, I headed out to three stores — Logan Hardware, saki, and Dusty Groove — that I knew from previous experience have stocked shelves, fewer crowds, and consequently are easy to get lost in for hours.
I traveled first to Logan Hardware (2410 W. Fullerton Ave.). Logan Hardware's retro vibe is evident even from across the street. The outside looks like a '70s bowling alley what with its jaundice-tinged, brick façade and rusty-red, angular sign. The inside is a little unkempt, but very charming, akin to the neighborhood kid who always had dirt on his cheeks but a smile on his face. The unkemptness does not apply to the organization of the upper-echelons of its selections though. Sure, the bargain albums are shoved beneath the prettier records in a cramped, un-labeled heap, not visible to the level eye, but isn't this how it usually is? What's more important is that Logan Hardware was the only store of the three I visited that actually labeled their albums by artists. This is likely because they were also the only store I visited that had enough albums of a certain artist that warranted doing so.
Record Store Day — come get your bargains (photo by Kelly Loris)
A few Transmission staff members headed out into the fray over the weekend to check out the scene at record stores around town. With some successes (and failures) under our belts once again this year, here's our recap of Record Store Day 2012 in Chicago.
Ahoy all vinyl-loving music fans! Another Record Store Day is nearly upon us. Come this Saturday, April 21st, the doors of your local record shops will be thrown open, and all the masses are welcome to flip, peruse, and, most importantly, purchase some amazing new tunes. Chicago stores have always embraced this (most holy) of music celebrations, and this year is no different. Plan your route, or in some cases your level of caffeination, and head out to one of these shops for some RSD fun.
Note: shops have, in most cases, pre-ordered special releases for Record Store Day, but they won't know what they've been sent until the boxes are opened this week. (It's more of a wish list, really.) Check out what you might find with this long run-down of special releases for RSD 2012.
Zaireeka and Liz Tooley, co-owner of Permanent Records (photo by Kirstie Shanley)
Not the usual friend to run into at a record store, Zaireeka was Permanent Records' furry friend who greeted patrons at their Chicago store (1914 W. Chicago Ave.) and silently approved of purchases no matter how outlandish. Sadly, the store just announced that a few months ago, Zaireeka moved to join their new L.A. outpost, and soon after died. They have a long Facebook post about the tabby who made me pretty gleeful every time I visited the store, and they'd love to hear your favorite memories with her. My thoughts go out to the Permanent Records store staff and all of the patrons like myself who will miss Zaireeka very much.
My Record Store Days always begin with a little planning and strategy. Popular shops are visited early in the morning to maximize the chances of buying some of the day's special (limited) releases out from under the capitalists who flip them on eBay by noon. It's just a matter of knowing who'll be carrying what, or at least having a good idea of who might stock what you want. (Even shops typically don't know what a distributor will deem them worthy of until they open the shipments.) With that in mind, Permanent is usually my first stop. Unlike last year, it wasn't completely slammed, but certainly busy and all indications from the staff were that their midnight sale went very well. Aside from a handful of predictably popular special releases (Laura Marling's split with a band whose fame baffles me and Ty Segall's T. Rex covers, notably), Permanent seemed to still be well-stocked by 11. With a good haul secured, it was off to the next spot.
By late morning, Reckless on Milwaukee had a line snaking through the store and outside past LensCrafters. The Numero Group's pop-up store was being thoroughly picked over, too. My companion and I decided to hightail it to a shop with less foot traffic: the relatively deserted Reckless on Madison, to see what of our special release lists could be acquired. I scored Ty Rex, but she came up empty. Then we headed to Hyde Park Records. Now, I live rather far from Hyde Park and only visit the shop once or twice a year, but I always find something that amazes me. On this trip, it was a sealed copy of the Stone Roses' seminal "Fools Gold" 12" single and a waterlogged copy of Iggy Pop's The Idiot. (It plays fine.) On a day when many people simply hand a list of wants to a clerk, it was nice to get some satisfaction among a thousand Whipped Cream and Other Delightses and Tubular Bellses.
A roundabout route to Beverly took up precious time and the selection was a little spotty, but my companion did excitedly find an album that she'd be too embarrassed for me to mention. So the trek wasn't a complete waste. Mad traffic on the Dan Ryan got us to Saki just in time for the 1900s. Even though it's a large store, there were a lot of bodies taking up space. The used section was impenetrable, so I browsed through the new stuff and came away with a few nice finds. Where Saki separated themselves from other stores in regard to customer service was the board of all releases that they received and what their availability was. It undoubtedly kept employees from being asked the same questions a hundred times and put into perspective how varied the special releases are. Neither rain nor snow could hamper the day and another Record Store Day came to a close with numerous new records and a lot of rewards points.
Marc Ruvolo isn't the type to take it easy. With ventures in music, literature and art, Ruvolo is always looking for his next creative outlet. His latest and most notable undertaking presents itself as Chicago's only genre bookstore, Bucket O' Blood Books and Records, which also offers customers an impressive vinyl and CD selection.
Ruvolo's name might sound familiar because he's the co-founder and now sole owner of Johann's Face Records, a label that helped spawn the careers of some of Chicago's best known punk acts like Alkaline Trio and The Smoking Popes. Obviously, he's acquired quite a bit of music over the years. That collection, paired with a lifelong passion for science fiction and fantasy literature, led to the idea for Bucket O' Blood. The store opened June 4, 2010.
"I'm a collector at heart," Ruvolo confessed. "I like to collect things...so [Bucket O' Blood] is my collection now. And when a customer buys something, then I get to buy new things, so I get that part of the collecting. I don't get to keep it, which is fine with me. I don't really care anymore."
Bucket O' Blood Books and Records owner Marc Ruvolo (photos by Katie Karpowicz)
Just in time for a spring thaw, it's time for Record Store Day again! Like Christmas wrapped in a birthday tucked into a bucket of geekery, this coming Saturday will be the most wonderful day of the year for audiophiles. It's also a great excuse to do a little local economy stimulating and head out to your neighborhood record store to do some shopping. Maybe you want to check out the latest releases, maybe you just want to wander and enjoy a free prize or two, any way you look at it, it's going to be fun. Take a look at the splendid Record Store Day special limited releases you might be able to snag, and then plan your route using our handy list (after the jump) of participating Chicagoland stores. Let us know what you pick up in the comments (or by tweeting us @gapersblock), and keep an eye out for our staffers at your local store. We promise we won't cut in front of you in line.
Remember - If you're using Twitter while you're out and about, use hashtag #rsd11 for your tweets about Record Store Day!
Reckless Records in Wicker Park on Record Store Day 2010 (photo by Kirstie Shanley)
Our intrepid staff of audiophiles headed out on Saturday, April 17, 2010 to our favorite record stores in Chicago to see what we could find. If you've got your own experiences to share, please let us know in the comments or drop us a line. Don't forget you can share photos from Record Store Day in our Transmission Flickr group.
Laurie's Planet of Sound on Record Store Day 2010 (photo by Kirstie Shanley)
When you think Chicago landmark, the first ones that come to mind reside within walking distance of the EL, or maybe in "friendlier" confines. But any DJ or record collector worth his Groove Glide would tell you that a destination as distinctively Chicagoan as any exists beyond even the 95th/Dan Ryan stop of the Red Line. At 118th and Western, Mr. Peabody Records is one of Chicago's most unique record stores, catering to those looking for the best of house, soul, funk, rock, hip hop, world music, jazz and above all...disco. In business together since 1996, owners Mike Cole and Mark Grusane hoped to combine their extensive knowledge and passion for music into the brick and mortar store on 11832 S. Western. They've since supplied many a crate-digger with their fix of rare vinyl and have expanded Mr. Peabody into a record label and distributor. As though there wasn't enough to do this weekend, Mr. Peabody will open their doors to a deluge of bargain shoppers, as it offers a huge inventory liquidation sale on over 60,000+ LPs, 12"s, and 45s. Check out the flyer, and follow their progress on Twitter!
Bookworks, at 3444 N. Clark St. in Lakeview, is probably best known for selling used books, but inside the store, you'll also find a nice selection of used records and cds. Bookworks' Dylan Underwood passed along these recent top sellers:
This week's list of top sellers comes from Melissa Geils of Laurie's Planet of Sound, at 4639 N. Lincoln Ave., in Lincoln Square. Melissa titled her list "Laurie's Planet of Sound Top Sellers: '(Fairly) Under the Radar' Edition!" As always, Chicago artists are bolded.
Transmission checked in with Jeff Johns from Reckless Records in the Loop at 26 E. Madison St. to find out what the top sellers were this week. The list isn't scientific but is based on what records managers have noticed are selling a lot. We're hoping to make this a regular feature by checking in with indie record stores across the Chicagoland. For our first segment, here's Jeff's list, which he titled "Reckless Records' (un)lucky top 13 sellers in alphabetical order." Chicago-based artists are bolded.
Between the recent boom of digital music sales and the current economic downturn, some music fans have lately been speculating about the fate of brick-and-mortar independent record stores. With that in mind, the March issue of GQ features "The Last Record Store" by contributor Dan Kennedy, in which Kennedy profiles -- and spends a couple of weeks working at -- the indie record shop Kiss The Sky in Geneva, IL. (Note: The article is not yet available via the publication's online edition.)
Also of local interest in the same issue: Kanye West makes the mag's latest list of "The 10 Most Stylish Men in America," and explains his low Day-Glo policy for photo shoots.
In this digital age, the iTunes Music Store and Amazon's mp3 service reign supreme. The indie record store, some say, is getting absolutely shellacked by the movement to mp3s, Ogg, and FLAC, and are forced to close their doors. We're lucky that, here in Chicago, there are quite a few indie stores holding on and kicking, and today is their day.
On Record Store Day, the goal is to patronize actual brick-and-mortars who serve as an alternative to the bog-box entertainment outlets. The advantages are many, the locations smaller, but the attention and selection are, in many cases, FAR better than the nationwide chains.
We've reviewed some of these spaces here before, and some places are having star-studded events for the occasion. So, whether JazzMart, Deadwax, Lauries, or anywhere else, get out there today! At least you won't freeze.
The last few years have been difficult for record stores. Tower is gone and Virgin has closed in some cities. Even Berwick Street in London (famous for its plethora of shops immortalized on the cover of Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory?) has been hit hard in the last few years and lost many of its shops. In Chicago, Hi-Fi closed last November and other stores are struggling. The trick in staying open appears to be appealing to a niche crowd and offering consumers something that can't be downloaded.
Or, in the case of Hot Jams at 4814 S Pulaski, it's been offering consumers the chance to download. You see, at this shop that specializes in house and all types of electronic music, the front half has become an internet cafe, which allows for customers to check out records while being online. And in January, the store will become Pink Machine Studios. To make way for the space needed for the recording studio, Hot Jams is clearing out the old vinyl inventory at 50% off until it's gone! So if you're looking for your vinyl-loving friends in the next few months, there's a good chance they'll be digging at Hot Jams.
Local t-shirt establishment Threadless is celebrating the grand opening of its first and only live store with some indie rock (that I hear the kids like these days) on September 14th. Their big party will consist of not one, but two phases.
Phase #1: An all-ages show, starting at 6pm at the Metro. The lineup features some very sweet Chicago talent including Hey Mercedes, Anathallo and Freer and will be hosted by Marcus Monroe. To get tickets, you must stop by the Threadless store (at 3011 N. Broadway Ave.) starting 9/10 and you can pick up two tickets per person. There will be no tickets available at the Metro and just because you snag a ticket, it doesn't mean you get in. It's first come, first serve, so line up early.
Chicago's favorite new independent record store, Permanent Records, has sprouted limbs and become a full-fledged record label! Their first release is Warhammer 48K's An Ethereal Oracle. The Chicago Ave. store/showspace is taking orders for the limited edition vinyl, which is slated to ship after April 8th.
You can catch Warhammer 48K as they play a FREE in-store at Permament Records on April 6th at 4:00pm with Waterbabies, All Out Attack, and He Not In. Contact the store at 773-278-1744 for more information or drop by 1914 W. Chicago Ave.
Those of you who work (or live) downtown and seek a new place to browse away your lunch hour can rejoice; Reckless Records has announced the forthcoming opening of a third store, to be located at 26 E. Madison, in the heart of downtown!
The store's web site says that we can expect to wait 4 to 6 weeks for delivery, but that you should keep bringing in your used CDs, LPs, DVDs, and video games to the current store locations for cash or credit. Isn't it always a bit weird (in a good way) to be browsing through a record store's used section, only to bump into a record you used to own - not like another copy, but YOUR old copy! Like bumping into an ex-, but with a laugh, rather than a shudder, of recognition.
1. Joanna Newsom Ys
2. Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas
3. Swan Lake Beast Moans
4. Clipse Hell Hath No Fury
5. Shins Phantom Limb (single)
6. Sunn O)))/Boris Altar (2CD version)
7. Beck Information
8. Fucked Up Hidden World (LP)
9. TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain
10. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Letting Go
11. Mucca PazzaA Little Marching Band
12. And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead So Divided
13. Neil Young Live at the Fillmore East (w/ dvd)
14. Decemberists Crane Wife
15. Mark Kozelek Little Drummer Boy (live)
16. White Magic Dat Rosa Mel Apibus
17. Chin Up Chin UpThis Harness Can't Ride Anything
18. PJ Harvey Peel Sessions: 1991-2004
19. Yo La Tengo I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
20. Bound StemsAppreciation Night
Simple savings abound at Dr. Wax's Evanston location. Though November get $1 off any purchase (except $.99 discs). No, it's not a big sale, but discounts are discounts, and you wanted to get the deluxe dvd edition of Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere album that's out tomorrow anyway, right? (For some other local music store ideas, check our feature this week, and back in September.)
Dusty Groove America may be one of the best record stores in the world, a fact not immediately obvious when you walk into the surprisingly clean storefront at 1120 N. Ashland. The secret is their incredible mail-order business, which offers an incredibly deep collection of rare albums, niche genres, obscure titles and more via dustygroove.com.
Before you overdo it at Thanksgiving (you know you will), fill up on these small-format concerts. Hear familiar and new music while getting right up close to some of Chicago's finest ensembles. Then pass the pie.