Craven Hermit Blows His Wad on Records

Relax, the title of this blog post is a metaphor, and an homage to some of the deliberately unsettling chyrons they use on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Believe me, you DON’T want to know what other titles were under consideration 🙂

Today is Record Store Day 2012.  I moseyed down to my favourite local indie record shop this morning to see what they had on offer.  I originally planned to get there right when they opened (10 am) but some under-publicized road construction sent me on an impromptu detour.

I walked in the doors of Blackbyrd Myoozik at 10:15 am to find the place jam-packed with hipsters, enough to surely test the maximum occupancy limits in our local fire code.  Usually on my Friday afternoon sojourns to the store I’m the only customer.  But on this day, by the time I got there the store was overrun by people with WAY more facial and/or cranial hair than me.  And the ubiquitous music-nerd glasses too.  I would estimate that there were 30 to 40 people in the store by 30 minutes after opening this morning.   Everyone behaved in an orderly fashion, and it did the Craven Hermit’s soul good to see so many people with armfuls of albums waiting in the check-out line, even if the line-up effectively filled the entire store.  The shopkeepers’ choice of spinning the new Spiritualized record as a backdrop to the mayhem likely helped maintain some semblance of decorum.  It could have gotten really ugly if they’d played the new Lou Reed / Metallica album instead.

Not only were there many Record Store Days special promotions available, but they put all the new vinyl on sale 20% off, and all used vinyl was 50% off.  This proved to be a popular move.  Maybe RSD cuts into Blackbyrd’s profit margin a little bit, but they more than made up for it in volume today.  Good for them.

Your faithful correspondent went on a bit of a spending spree today (hence the wad-blowing title of this post).  I’ve accumulated some overtime at work lately, getting the next phase of my latest project set up for my team.  So today was a reward for keeping my nose to the grindstone.  I decided to focus my weekend on what makes me happy, so that meant adding new records to my collection.  I managed to get there early enough to come away with these RSD exclusives:

  • Pete Townshend – Quadrophenia Demos 2 (10″ vinyl)
  • Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20, 1992 (on 180-gram 12″ vinyl)
  • Blitzen Trapper – Hey Joe (7″ on yellow vinyl)

As I mentioned earlier, in-stock vinyl was also on sale today so I picked up a number of titles that I’ve seen on the shelves but just never pulled the trigger on until now.

I was really hoping to find a copy of the Decemberists’ new live record, but they didn’t have it in stock.  I consoled myself with a copy of last year’s most excellent The King Is Dead on 180g.  Peter Buck is about as close to a hero as I have, and his influence is all over this record like stink on a monkey.

I also helped myself to a copy of the Fleet Foxes debut album.  Nice thing about this one is it comes with a copy of the excellent Sun Giant EP.  Two birds, one stone.  Very nice.  Can’t wait to hear “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” the way it was meant to be heard, rotating rotisserie-style at 33-1/3 rpm.

I saw a copy of The Clash’s debut album on 180g and had to have it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the slashing strains of “Career Opportunities” in my tape-recorder brain while having a bad day at work.  That’ll be my go-to record the next time I get wound up (so… Tuesday, at the latest).

I’ve also been looking for a copy of Spoon’s Gimme Fiction album for awhile now.  There is something magical about the carefully crafted sparseness of songs like “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” and “My Mathematical Mind” that really gets to me.  Can’t wait to drop the needle on this one.

M. Ward’s new album A Wasteland Companion was in stock, so I helped myself to a copy.  The early reviews sound very promising; I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve had time to give it a proper listen.

One of my favourite bands is UK rock act Muse.  What I love about this band is how fearless they are.  Prog rock is decidedly uncool these days, yet Muse find a way to make interstellar paranoia and balls-to-the-wall compound time signatures sound relevant and topical.  My favourite live gig in 2010 was Muse’s tour in support of The Resistance, so I finally picked it up on LP today.  I’m still not 100% sold on the symphonic ambitions of Side 4, but the brilliance of rock songs like “Resistance” and “Undisclosed Desires” simply can’t be denied.

Yours truly was privileged to be in attendance this week when the Joel Plaskett Emergency blazed through town.  Their new album still isn’t available on vinyl, but I broke down and picked up Plaskett’s best ‘solo’ record Ashtray Rock today.  There is just something unmistakable about Plaskett’s musical talents that really comes through on this record; it captures the essence of being 18 years old and stupid (yet cool) all over again.

At this point, with ten pieces of new vinyl in hand, I remembered that discretion was the better part of valour and headed for the cashier.  The store was so grateful for my (over)consumption that they offered me a very nice complimentary tote bag to transport my new purchases home.

I got home just before lunch, and felt suitably inspired by what had just transpired on Record Store Day to set out across the neighbourhood for a long walk.  I picked up a new pair of cross-trainers in Georgia while on a slurry pump training course last month.  Since the weather has been nice lately and the trails are mainly dry, I decided to break in the new shoes today.  It was like walking on a mattress – my new Air Pegasus trainers have beautiful bounce and traction.

When I returned home 3 hours and 6 minutes later, I was expecting to see that I had traveled 15 to 16 kilometres.  Instead, my trusty app tells me I clicked off exactly 18 km over those three hours, which is a very good pace by my standards (10’20” per km).  It must have been the new shoes.

Today’s walk has inspired me to go downstairs, rip the packaging off of some new top-notch music, and set up shop in front of my turntable.  Tonight has been a long time coming, and while I may have the absence of a couple of people hanging heavy on my mind, I can still take refuge in the age-old thrill of spinning some excellent new recordings for the first time.

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