Friday, April 24, 2015


Vinyl Vagabond Apprentice Reporting from NY on Record Store Day Spring 2015

Normally, I turn into a 13 year old girl at a One Direction concert on Record Store Day.  My body tingles, my heart pounds, and my bank account evaporates.  Not so this time as I didn’t absolutely need any of the fancy limited edition special releases that are a hallmark of RSD.  Don’t get me wrong, there were tons of interesting releases this year that I was primed to purchase, but it was not a life or death situation if I did not score any … or so I thought.

A few days before, my New York RSD buddy and I laid out our plan of attack.  We would meet up no later then 6:30 AM at Bleeker Street Records, the most reliable shop in the city.  It was thought, we could hit that great spot and get to another three record stores before most of the best LP’s went bye-bye.

I woke up at 4:50 AM.  As you can tell, on RSD I don’t play around.  I threw on my clothes, jumped on the subway, and got to the record store by 6:10 AM.  Third in line; not bad for a Vagabond Apprentice!  Taped on the window of the yet-to-open record store, was a long list of RSD vinyl they would have available.  While waiting in the ever growing line, I casually made my decisions of what I wanted to buy.  Luckily, the weather was nice, and fellow vinyl addicts were friendly.  Entenmann’s cookies and donut boxes were being passed around making for a pleasant and relaxing morning.  I had a vinyl smile from ear to ear.  A paid record company lady came around giving out bags of mystery goodies. (More on that later.)

Next thing I knew, it was 10 AM, and the store started letting a single-file line through the door.  We were whisked in, navigating through the aisles towards the RSD area, as if we were candy in a Willie Wonka machine.

Since we were scrunched together, I could hear what the two guys before me were buying.  All of a sudden, I noticed they were both purchasing the exact same records I was looking to get.  Even being third on line for RSD can become a problem.  The record companies distribute the limited edition vinyl to record stores randomly and stores can get ten, two, or even ZERO copies of LP’s no matter how many the store orders.  I began to get scared.  It felt like a bucket of ice was poured on my head, my blood started to boil, and murder was on my mind.  What stared as a fancy free morning turned ugly real fast.  I saw these two guys as enemy combatants now.  I MUST HAVE THOSE RECORDS!  If I don’t get what I want, they better leave Manhattan real fast!  In the blink of an eye, it was my turn.  I meekly asked the clerk if they had any more of the LP's I most desired.  Thankfully they had one more of each.  RECORD STORE DAY IS NO JOKE!  I noticed that many of the best LP’s were gone after about fifteen people.  With over 100 people behind me, I thought there was going to be a vinyl riot.  As we left Bleeker Street Records, my buddy told me he still wanted a bunch more records from his list, so we journeyed to the next store, Rebel Rebel, which is a dank, hoarder-mess of a store, but in a charming NYC way.  No large line had started there yet, mainly because everyone was still waiting in line at Bleeker Street Records.  In a jiffy, my friend was able to swoop up the other LPs he was looking for.

Feelings of invincibility quickly faded when we realized we both forgot about the Citizen Dick 7” that we both wanted.  I know what you are thinking: Who is Citizen Dick?  Citizen Dick is the fictitious band in the 90's Cameron Crowe film Singles. The bogus band starred Matt Dillon on vocals and the members of Pearl Jam as his bandmates.  The RSD 7" consisted of one ridiculous song they created, "Touch Me I'm Dick," and the reverse side was an etched quote from Matt Dillon's character in the movie.  Sounds like a must have, doesn't it?   So we trekked to the snooty, stuck-up punk rock store, Generation Records, next, only to find a line of around 50 people.  After about a half hour, there was just one guy in line in front of me.  Guess what happened?  I heard him ask for the Citizen Dick 7” I wanted.  The store clerk told him “You got the last copy bro.”  I was floored.  Record Store Day agony was in full force.  My buddy and I estimated our luck in finding that 7” was fading fast.  We decided to go to one more store, the too-cool-for-school indie hub called Other Music.  As we walked across town, we noticed so many people had vinyl sized record store bags in their hands.  I’m happy to say, it looked like a vinyl parade had spread out all over New York City.  We got to Other Music as quickly as we could, but the 7” was long gone.  It had been just two hours, but we knew the RSD vinyl gold rush was over.  At the end of things we both spent way too many dollar bills.  My friend was now flat broke, and in deep trouble at home, for spending all that money.  I took pity on him and bought him a burger and cheese fries.  An exciting, frothing-at-the-mouth Record Store Day it turned out to be.

Curious about that bag full of promotional RSD stuff?  Was it cool goodies or garbage?  You decide.
  • Flaming Lips, Johnny Marr, Erasure, Royal Blood, Neil Young, Rush, Robert Plant, J. Mascis, Dr. Dog mini posters
  • Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Charli XCX, Death from Above 1979, Grateful Dead Stickers
  • Prince, Alt-J buttons
  • Jenny Lewis patch
    Heart shaped box ... of mints?
  • Muse turntable slipmat
  • Three Gary Clark Jr. guitar picks
  • Arctic Monkeys, Head or Heart temporary tattoos
  • The Raa bottle opener keychain
  • The Whigs refrigerator magnet
  • The Thermals, Justine Skye No. 2 pencils
  • A Plague Vendor coaster
  • A Trevor Jackson bookmark
  • A Lee Brice beer cozy
  • A Goo Goo Dolls coffee clutch
  • A Sarah Silverman comedy album reverse window sticky
  • And lastly, Kylie Minogue breath mints in a red heart shaped plastic pack  (I guess Kylie knew a lot of people were going to forget to brush their teeth on Record Store Day morning, thanks Kylie!)
And with that, Vinyl Vagabond Apprentice is signing off.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Outfitted for the Apocalypse

VVer #1 got out of work a little early and decided to stroll to and through Chinatown.  After a coffee break he got set to hit the metro before the full swing of rush hour.  On a whim he popped his head into the huge Urban Outfitters which is a mere minute from the metro entrance.  Why not check out what the kids are listening to these days?
Ugh, not Journey.  Ralph!

A little background: for years UO has been selling new vinyl and basic all-in-one turntables for the hipster set.  Prices are usually moderate to pricey (except for the extremely rare super-sale).  Selections are often interesting; heavily geared toward hipster and aging hipster alike (not a bad thing, but somewhat limited).  Quite a few years back the VVers picked up the Black Market Clash 10" -- a strange but solid addition to the collection.  UO is always good for a reissue as well.  An example being a not-long-ago purchase of Mr. Bungle California; said Pitchfork "one of those albums that you can't believe a major label had anything to do with."  A bizarre album to find at an UO in VVer #1's former neighborhood mall.  An aside: decades ago, this mall housed no less than three actual music stores.  Now the only place to find any substantial selection of music is the UO, which has filled the void of quasi-music stores similar to Hot Topic, Sears, or Woolworth's (that's going back a lot of years).  If you don't happen to live near one of the few remaining independent record stores, UO and the interwebs are pretty much it.  Most indie stores feature a large used section which affords the visitor to do a significant amount of digging (half of the fun), discovery (the other half), and hobnobbing with other music lovers (essential).  How does UO fit into all of this?  Since they have always stuck to new vinyl and newish artists, much of the records could just as easily be found on Amazon or the like (think Santigold Master of My Make Believe or Tune-Yards Nikki Nack, two examples of purchases by the VVers from UO in the past few years).  Less direct competition for the indie record store which can get wild with variety and keeping that used section flowing with goodies.

You dirty bastards.
Back to the mega-UO in Chinatown which has an equally massive vinyl display.  While this section isn't exactly set up in a user friendly manner it does present very prominently in the shop.  Form over function -- the upper racks are so high up off of the ground that you would either have to be a basketball player or sit on a friend's shoulders to check it out.  That aside, it was an interesting passing of the time until VVer #1 spied two new wooden crates on a table, each slab in said crates marked with a massive orange sticker reading "vintage vinyl," i.e., used vinyl.  Used. Frickin'. Vinyl.  What in the name of Wilford Brimley's mustache does UO think they are doing messing with indie record stores bread and butter?  Aghast, VVer #1 proceeded to check out their offerings and it was a joke.  Not only were the prices stupid high, but the selection was just laughable.  One album in particular that really galls is Steve Martin Let's Get Small for thirteen bucks.  Really?  A copy of that can easily be had for a dollar, oh just about anywhere.   Oh well, suppose a sucker is born every minute.  VVer #1 pulls over a manager and politely asks "what's the deal?"  The guy, very nice, doesn't know much about it except that it is a pilot program isolated to just a few UO stores.  Other stores aren't doing it... yet.  He has no idea who is buying the records, where they came from, who prices them, etc.  Seriously UO, you are not allowed to further mess with indie record stores.  Back away from the used vinyl.  Whichever jerk in the UO business office decided this was a good idea; may you please fail miserably.

The VVers tolerate that UO is selling glossy new releases (to an extent), but delving into used vinyl is unacceptable, bandwagony, and horrifying.  This week's edition of Parade (the glossy, pulp-portion of the Sunday edition of the anywhere-USA newspaper) has a full spread on Record Store Day.  Why are the VVers not dancing the watussi about this?  The article doesn't say a whiff about a single actual record store (and proceeds to interview Barry Manilow and the likes; the VVers disapprove).  Mainstream stores, such as UO, and mainstream press continue in ignorance of the vital part of what makes music interesting, irreplaceable, and community-oriented.  Long live indie record stores!

RSD is this Saturday, April 18th.  Most shops, in addition to having extended hours and fancy special limited releases, also will have other fun things like live music, contests, freebies, used vinyl sales, etc.  The store closest to the VVers usually has free coffee and donuts as well as a store-wide sale.  For a solid list of stores, check here.  Most importantly, make it a point to go to your neighborhood record store and embrace it for all its friendly, knowledgeable, un-corporate glory!  If these stores are passed-over, all that will be left is the UO at the mall and Amazon.  Prepare for the apocalypse.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

DJing at Bump N' Grind is Now a Thing

Yes, there is a pizza record.  Yes, it will be played.  Yes, your mind is blown.
The VVers are at it again for three Fridays in the next three months.
From 7pm - 9pm they'll be rockin' the private stash of rare and tasty vinyl. The new zine (#6 Monster Edition) will be for sale, which is also in fact rare and tasty and probably more edible than any of our records because zines are made of paper which is organic and won't kill you.  Hooray!

April 17th 
Record Store Day Eve (yes the date was purposefully picked!)
Pulling from the many wild, weird, and wonderful RSD purchases

May 29th

June 5th
The VVers Take Your Request Night (HAHA, not really)

These are free, metro-walkable, all ages, cosmically relevant music nights at Silver Spring's newest (and only) record/coffee shop.  Also, they have an awesome staff, fine adult beverages, and delicious foods for eating.  YES!

Bump N' Grind
1200 East West Highway,
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

You outta be there!
  You probably know this already, but just in case your mind is still blown from the whole pizza record thing ... the Vinyl Vagabonds (who are Eric and Sara) is a music and art focused project inspired by the medium of vinyl records, going strong for sixish years!  They like all kinds of music and are prone to play just about anything.

"So, uh, how does it work?  Do I just give you my records?"
"Yes, give us your records."