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My wife and I recently moved into a new home with a finished attic upstairs. Even before I could think it, Jen declared it my record room, so I’m beyond excited to have an area of the house dedicated for audio enjoyment. There’s a great window A/C unit as well, so the records aren’t baking or anything. Without that unit though, it does get pretty toasty up there.

Anyway, this was a picture I took on Sunday afternoon 8/24 as I was re-alphabetizing everything after the move and filling up the Expedits. I look forward to putting up my autographed stuff, framed gig posters, baseball bobbleheads, etc. as well soon. Very much on pins and needles for the Orbit+ to arrive and getting the Sansui fixed (as I mentioned in my last post), so the entire room starts to feel permanent. 

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Testing… Check. Check. Check 1. Sibilance. Sibilance.

Despite not giving you much to read here in the near year-and-a-half since my last update, I’ve been able to share my passion for vinyl with others across the country and the globe in a myriad of ways, outside of this site: I do my best to post record-related pics daily via Instagram; I’ll tweet up a storm with anxious abandon regarding what’s coming out soon; And most notably, I stumbled upon the YouTube Vinyl Community, a loose collective of folks all over the world making short videos about their recent pick-ups, grails they hope to find one day or other general vinyl talk. So what sometimes I would’ve talked about at length here on Tumblr - and taken me probably several hours to type up exactly how I wanted - actually went on my YouTube channel instead. 

It was through the VC that I ended up meeting several strangers who would come to be friends. A Chicago-area record store crawl was organized this past June, where folks came from as far as Cincinnati and St. Louis to dig at four area stores, have lunch and generally get to know each other outside of a keyboard or smartphone. (The above photo of me was taken by Rob Clark - who was my intro into the VC and has since become a good friend both online and off - during said crawl, and the current banner photo on the VC Facebook page is one I actually took, too).

For the last two years, I’ve devoted a significant chunk of my free-time to writing press releases and doing PR for area bands, and while that’s rewarding as a side-job, it’s made the thought of typing out my thoughts on records - after spending several hours on one band bio - unappealing over that same time period. Hence, why not film myself for 10 minutes and toss it up for viewing, where more of my personality can come through?

There aren’t as many shows or releases towards the end of each year, so that’s why this is a great time to begin shifting my writing back towards the blog. The truth is, I loved writing ever since I was a kid, and to a larger extent, just telling people what I thought of stuff. Watching Reading Rainbow or At the Movies as a kid, it blew me away that people could talk about whether they liked or disliked something, and that other people would care. My mom recently told me a story of how I was up all night one time in fourth grade, too excited to sleep because I had a book report the next day. Mom thought I was nervous, but on the contrary, I was way too psyched to go to school the next day and talk about whatever book that was.

From a talking-about-vinyl standpoint, part of me misses being proud of something I wrote, and not just saying “This is amazing!” 17 times into a camera. Chances are I’ll still do that from time to time, and do a better job of sharing those moments here on the blog.

From a writing standpoint, I’m looking forward to posting at least once a week, as opposed to under a slew of conflicting deadlines that come up in the PR world. There are few thrills in that industry bigger than scoring a young group their first actual interview, which I’ve been lucky enough to do several times over. Writing for bands and musicians is a fantastic exercise in speaking on behalf of someone and interpret their own work in a few paragraphs, which will hopefully lead to press folks wanting to share that work with their readers, followers, listeners, etc. But I guess what I’m saying is that I’m interested less in the exercise portion of that. If anything, I’d like to increase my actual exercise these days!

So what’s coming on the blog? I’ll begin to cover items of my own collection that I’ve been wanting to discuss, and I also hope that keeping the blog more current will lead to bands, labels, etc. sending me their records as well for coverage here, as they did in the past. (FYI - my address has been updated on the Contact page, so visit there for where to send things if you care to). I’m also incredibly excited to be upgrading both my turntable and amp: My wife was kind enough to order me a U-Turn Orbit+ for my birthday this week, and I was able to pick-up a Sansui 5000X earlier this summer (only one channel works currently, so I plan on getting that fixed), so there’ll definitely be posts regarding those. PLUS, the finished attic in my wife and I’s new house as of 9/1/14 will be a dedicated record room, so I’m very happy to have a listening area and space for autographed LP covers, baseball memorabilia and all my other crazy stuff to go. I feel the change of scenery and the gear upgrade will do wonders for both my enjoyment of my collection, and your enjoyment of the blog.

So, stick with me. Thanks for your patience and hope to see you here again very soon!

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(NOTE: If you wish to copy this post for your own blog, forum or social media, please provide a link and give credit. Use Twitter handles @jimhanke or @rythvinyl. Thank you.)

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I chatted with Steve Warrenfeltz, the owner of my local record store Kiss The Sky in Batavia, IL, the other day. They had moved to their new location last summer and being that the store is about three blocks from my front door, I informed him I was excited to be able to walk to his location for Record Store Day, even late at night for their usual midnight sale. “No midnight sale this year,” Steve replied. He explained that it was part of each store’s pledge (an agreement made with RSD in order to participate and carry several RSD-sanctioned releases), and that although he disagreed with the policy, Kiss The Sky would not be a participating RSD store if they didn’t oblige. 

Having interviewed Carrie myself for a podcast last year prior to RSD 2012, I reached out to her via a message on Facebook, wanting to refrain from posting my questions as comments, which I felt would lead to a long back-and-forth between commenters (or even between commenters and Carrie) and I didn’t feel it was my business to “announce” this change publicly before RSD did, if they choose to.

RSD has its detractors, especially from those who actively shop in physical record stores every day of the year. The complaints are often same (limited releases create over-crowding and scalpers; “I don’t need a special day to support my local store”) but for me, I use a probably somewhat-broken analogy of attending a sporting event: Scalpers may take the best tickets and hike up the prices, but I still am going to buy a ticket to the game. I still want to participate. I just don’t let it ruin my outlook. Unless they’re doing something illegal or that could be perceived as soulless, attempting to get more bodies in record stores is something I can always get behind.

Despite all the work that goes into organizing a national event like RSD, Carrie found time to reply - something she didn’t have to do - and her points are well-made. Here’s what I said about the experience of midnight sales in my recap of RSD 2012:

The last album I can remember standing in line for is Radiohead’s seminal Kid A, and it was a neat experience being there: You’d talk with folks in line about what you heard the album might sound like, then you’d walk in and hear it being played overhead. You’d rush to your car after purchasing it and play it the whole way home, and probably one more time all the way through before bed to soak it all in. So as romantic as it is to stand in line at a record store now - and it’s great for RSD to give folks a reason to, who wouldn’t normally - it’s sad that those record release lines are a thing of the past. (An argument could be made that Radiohead themselves have been the primary champions of the communal listening experience in the Internet age: They’ve avoided leaks for their last two records by quietly releasing both In Rainbows and The King of Limbs seemingly overnight digitally, therefore forcing millions fans to hear the album at the precisely the same time. It’s a nice, welcome strategy in the 2000’s, when release dates don’t mean much to your average music consumer.)

Even without midnight sales, RSD is pretty much the only time you’ll stand in line to purchase music these days. With the digital revolution, there is a severe lack of chances for people to await similar, or the same, releases in the flesh at one time. I enjoy pretty much everything about RSD, from the lines to the new releases to the general joy everyone seems to exude in a store that day. And this year in particular, they’ve made a perfect choice in Jack White as their ambassador, inarguably the biggest artist doing the most to keep physical vinyl media alive. But I wanted to know the reasoning behind this change, and why stores that want to open early, like Kiss The Sky, can no longer do so without breaking the RSD pledge.

Here is Carrie’s reply to me, which she has given me permission to post:

"We did ask the stores to refrain from midnight sales, and there are several reasons why. It’s also not the only thing we asked of them. It was part of our revamped Pledge, which was revamped after reading through and taking into consideration every compliment and complaint from customers and stores in the past year. We actually received quite a bit of feedback about midnight sales, and we put a lot of thought into our request to the stores. It basically broke down into three reasons:

1. CUSTOMERS: One of the things RSD does is bring NEW people into record stores. I have said or typed the phrase “find a store near you” so many times, I probably say it in my sleep. But customers are finding stores near them. And going to them, the morning of Record Store Day, to find that all the releases were sold by 12:15 AM. And they are not pleased. No matter how good a store’s promotion is, no matter how complete their email list, or full their Facebook page, they are never going to get the word of a midnight sale out to all their customers, and that leaves them feeling frustrated and angry. We heard from quite a few of these.

2. FELLOW STORES: Midnight sales were originally created as a way to let folks be the first to get a release — before they could go to a big box store or some other place and get it. These are releases where the competition was those big box stores and midnight sales were a way to turn it into an event. Well, RSD releases are ONLY at record stores, the only competition is your fellow indie record store, if you have one in town. And I hope I don’t sound immodest when I say that RSD is the biggest event a store can have — bigger than any midnight sale. RSD is the one day of the year when a store can open their doors at any time they choose and still have a line of people out the door. But you’re right that when one store in a market opens, the other stores feel they have to as well. And that isn’t always wise or fair. And it also, to be honest, starts leading to a sort of “Black Friday” creep — with more and more focus on the releases, and less on the idea of the day itself — a celebration of the stores.

3. THE INTERNET FLIPPERS: Finally, there’s this. People who buy items and flip them are the bane of our existence. Of course, we do whatever we can to control this if it’s a store employee doing it, but when a customer walks out of a store with a piece, they are free to put it on the internet. And they do. Lots of them. And if someone on the East Coast buys a piece at midnight and immediately puts it on eBay, it’s still 9 PM on the West Coast, and it actually begins to effect whether people will go out to the stores on the West Coast to buy what they’re looking for. There’s a big difference between buying something on eBay at 9 PM the night before, and buying something on eBay at 5 AM the morning of.

As I’ve explained to a few stores upset with our decision, and maybe even to the owner of your store, we don’t have a lot of rules or regulations for the stores. In fact I think most people would be surprised at how few we do have. But when we do implement something like this, it’s after we’ve listened to and weighed a lot of feedback and think it’s best for Record Store Day, the stores, and the customers, taken as a whole.”

I can see the points made about “new” customers, but like anything, it’s a shame that a few bad apples - primarly folks snatching up releases only to sell them immediately for inflated prices - had to spoil an aspect of record shopping that others look forward to. Luckily, it’s just an aspect, and I’ll still be shopping on RSD, and every other day of the year.

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 20, 2013. You can find your participating stores via the RSD website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can listen to my interview with Carrie prior to RSD 2012 here.

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10. Nick Waterhouse - Time’s All Gone (Innovative Leisure) // An unassuming 20-something using all analog equipment and blasting classic sounds of 1950’s R&B. No frills, just great songs with astute attention to detail and an honest desire to match. I caught him at Lincoln Hall in Chicago this year, and went in with the expectation that he’d be good. What I got was one of the best performances I had seen in 2012. // WATCH: “Some Place”

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09. The Tallest Man on Earth - There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans) // It might not be my favorite full-length from Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, but the title track alone (where he takes to the piano instead of his normal nimble guitar playing) is easily one of his best. A unique, humble voice that gives me chills nearly any time I listen. // HEAR: “There’s No Leaving Now”
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08. Run, Forever - Settling (Tiny Engines) // Having the feel of a concept record but without a weighty subplot, Settling sounds at once both powerful and nervous. Much like the Thermals’ modern classic The Body, The Blood, The Machine, these songs from the Pittsburgh-area trio deal with a singular topic  (the Thermals focused on religion, while Run, Forever sings of connections with people) but with 1,000 routes to get there: franticness, humility, disappointment, pride… They may all be off the map, but they’re all the right way. // HEAR: “Maritime States”
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07. Glen Hansard - Rhythm & Repose (ANTI-) // His first solo album without The Frames of The Swell Season, Hansard is still one of today’s best singer-songwriters. His voice is equally amazing at a whisper or a scream, and this record - though maybe his most quiet overall in his career - stands toe-to-toe with his previous output. // HEAR: “Maybe Not Tonight”
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06. Expatriate - Expatriate (self-released) // A pal of mine from my Milwaukee days relocated to Minnesota, and now plays some reverential Americana tunes with help from Cindy Cashdollar of Ryan Adams & The Cardinals. Outstanding stuff.  For a limited time, you can download the entire record via Mediafire (band-approved). // HEAR: “Scott Walker Blues”
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06. Bob Mould - Silver Age (Merge) // This had made several Best of 2012 lists, so I won’t bore you. This is just blissful, aggressive indie-rock at its best, from one of the best there is. // HEAR: “First Time Joy”
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05. Rocky Votolato - Television of Saints (Undertow/Second Nature) // The only Kickstarter-funded album on my list, this is Rocky’s best since 2006’s Makers. Enlisting his brothers Cody and Sonny on several tracks, there’s something about Television that feels a bit more honed-in than some of his Barsuk releases, which arguably saw a bigger audience. He’s still done the best cover of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” I’ve ever heard. // HEAR: “Little Spring”
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04. Geronimo! - Exanimate (self-released) // Full disclosure: These are three friends of mine from Chicago making gigantic, fuzzy rock that proudly bows to bands like Dinosaur Jr. and the Meat Puppets. For a band without a bassist, somehow their sound makes you think they have two. Nasty and propulsive all the way through, aside from the gorgeous, Pet Sounds-esque “Please Come Over,” which was inspired by a Twin Peaks episode. How 90’s! // WATCH: “Into The Sun”
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03. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar) // Another one that’ll appear on some of the big blogs’ year-end lists. She’s also responsible for my favorite A.V. Undercover performance this year, partnering up with Shearwater for a blistering rendition of the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” // HEAR: “Give Out”
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02. John K. Samson - Provincial (ANTI-) // The Weakerthans’ poetic leader creates a solo record that tugs on the heartstrings as much as any previous release. Though his lyrical references are weirdly a bit more generic (wanting to borrow the car; unrequited love), modern (the Call of Duty video game series; html coding) and sports-related this time, Provincial is no less effecting. Even the boredom of a one-note small town is presented in some hard-hitting verbiage: “This city’s some cheap EQ / with the mids pushed up / in the one long note of wheat”). Musicians and non-musicians can equally relate. // WATCH: “Longitudinal Centre”
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01. Father John Misty - Fear Fun (Sub Pop) // There aren’t many words that truly encapsulate the metamorphosis that Josh Tillman underwent this year, ditching his abbreviated birthname of J. Tillman, as well as his solo minimalist, home-recorded weariness and the household-name folk of Fleet Foxes, for whom he drummed. If his stark and achingly beautiful albums like Cancer & Delirium were black-and-white silent pictures, Fear Fun is The Big Lebowski. That sounds like a weird comparison, but it fits: Rumored to have been inspired by a drug-induced road trip, this album plays like a greatest-hits of a west coast band from the 70’s you’ve never heard, but the songs are timeless and immediately recognizable. From the addictive and mysterious stomp of “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” (with a partnering video starring Parks & Recreation's Aubrey Plaza) to the oddly Schoolhouse Rock-esque “Well, You Can Do It Without Me” to “Only Son of the Ladiesman” (which had one of late-night TV’s strongest performances of 2012), every song sports some sort of dark humor about sex, drugs, music or other worldly conquests, while keeping harmonious vocals and outstanding musicianship at the center. The opening "Funtimes in Babylon" is far and away my favorite track of the year, a campfire ditty with gospel undertones where Tillman seems to be looking back at a fulfilled (if not hazardous) life, hoping to “ride around the wreckage on a horse, knee-deep in blood.” He plays the cocksure yet charming guy everyone wants to talk to at a party to a T. It’s like Rufus Wainwright’s pomp and elaborate songwriting dressed down, in a beat-up Army jacket. Watch some interviews with him on YouTube and his dead-pan amusement at the entire process is intriguing and hilarious. He’s still a mysterious dude, but Fear Fun is possibly the brightest record from one of those in a while.
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Hey, long time, no post! My vinyl collection has been growing exponentially. I’ve been to my first Record Collectors Show, and I’ve been communicating online a lot more about records in general as part of the YouTube Vinyl Community, which I suddenly fell upon a few weeks ago. Folks post videos of new treasures, how they care for their vinyl, etc. and I’m really enjoying a wide range of opinions from an even wider range of the planet. Visit the VC on Facebook, and I’ll try to update the blog with the videos I’ve submitted as they happen.

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On to some disappointing news: There is now another delay for the Smoking Popes' Born To Quit vinyl reissue (pictured above), the second in as many months. Originally released in 1994, this is one of those albums that blew me away in high-school. I still know every word to it, and to see it get the vinyl treatment with some bonus tracks, is fantastic. Unfortunately, it’s the way I, as a person who pre-ordered, was alerted to these delays that is leaving me with a bad taste.

I pre-ordered the record on October 16th. The album, according to the Popes’ website, was to be shipped out on or around October 23rd. Because I ordered it so close to the original ship date, I figured my order might not go out in the first batch. No big deal.

I receive an email on October 24th from Benchmark Merchandising, who is running the webstore for the Smoking Popes, informing me that due to production delays, the release date was being pushed back until November 20th. My order was pending and would now ship on November 16th. I would’ve loved to have this information with more notice, not the day after it was supposed to ship. But, delays happen and I imagine this might have been out of their control. Hey, I’ve never pressed anything on vinyl in my life. I felt unworthy to judge.

Fast-forward to November 19th. That’s three days after my order was to ship, and one day prior to the retail release date. Through a tweet from the Smoking Popes, I learn that Side One Dummy, the label putting out the BTQ reissue, has posted what’s below. 

Yep, now we’re talking a delay until February 2013, almost five months from the original release date.

As I type this, it’s now November 28th and I have yet to receive the aforementioned email. 

I can understand production miscues, but this second push-back with (again) no prior notice (in fact, LATE notice) and now an almost 10-day delay in getting an official email on it, have me not only ticked, but now worried. I replied to that same tweet a third time today, indicating that I have still yet to receive that email.

And the special offer mentioned? Unless it’s something free to compensate for my wait time, I can tell you that I’m going to pass. No reason to spend more money on something that also could - hell, probably will - be delayed.

I cannot blame the band themselves, but the finger has to be pointed at either Benchmark, Side One Dummy or both. Let me be clear, they’re not bad people, bad businesses or bad labels. Far from it. But the lack of notice and professional courtesy here has soured me on any future dealings with either. I shouldn’t have to go to Side One Dummy’s website myself to find a news update about this. And in fact, as of Noon CST today (11/28/12), the webstore STILL lists a shipdate of November 16th. You’d think someone could update that. I’d guess it’s the same person who has to send out that mysteriously missing email, but these are two different entities. 

The album is currently streaming online, but I don’t want to hear it that way. I want to pull this record out of its sleeve and treat myself to a great experience with my turntable. It’s an album that deserves that.

You know what’s sad? Born To Quit is near and dear to my heart, and I’m no longer even looking forward to even receiving it. I’m simply anticipating another delay, come February. That’s how bad this has gotten. This whole story can be summed up by the title of the band’s also-incredible 1997 follow-up: Destination Failure.

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I was in my local Target store this weekend when I spotted something eerie: A t-shirt for sale that resembles - although awkwardly - the cover for Best Coast’s latest record The Only Place. I snapped the photo on the left, and the album cover is obviously on the right.

Although I can’t think of anything specific offhand, I feel like this is far from the first time I’ve seen something like this. Pretty recently, Disney had used infused the trademark Mickey head and ears in with the iconic art of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album, and while this is clearly less deliberate, there are too many similarities to just write it off as a coincidence.

If you’ve seen this similarity posted elsewhere online, let me know. I came up empty on the Googling that I’ve done on it, only finding that Best Coast did a Christmas song for Target in 2010. Maybe there’s some other explanation out there, but on first glance, it seems like a clear stab at The Only Place, one that has merit for a possible lawsuit if this is news to the band.

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Being a music enthusiast and not living in or near a major city must be heartbreaking. I’ve resided about an hour west of Chicago for almost five years - after spending most of my life in Milwaukee, where legendary Atomic Records did wonders for my growing up - and my location is definitely on the far left end of the area’s record store map. But I’m lucky enough to have some good spots relatively close by: I can easily kill an afternoon at Rediscover Records in Elgin or Kiss The Sky of Geneva, and even Bloomingdale’s Half Price Books offers some choice finds for cheap. With my wife and I sharing a car, heading into the city for a proper attack of several stores takes a bit more planning, and I have some favorites there as well: Logan Hardware ingeniously will let you play arcade games of your youth for free in their back room with any purchase, and between their three locations, Reckless Records usually has what I’m looking for (I also appreciate being able to search their inventory online beforehand). There are plenty more - Saki and Laurie’s Planet of Sound, for starters - that I’ve been meaning to hit as well, but in Illinois alone, what is someone to do if they live west of me? A quick Google Maps search leads to nearly zero record stores in the state’s northwestern corner and this is in the age where more stores are closing than ever. I know it’s small potatoes in a world rife with war and disease, but I seriously feel awful for the kid unable to walk into an independent retailer and hold a vinyl record before they buy it.

So although I frequent my local stores as much as I can, I feel Record Store Day is a great chance to remember why we appreciate them in the first place. True, it can be a madhouse when participating stores open, due to an overwhelming list of limited releases for sale that day. Several folks on Twitter went as far as to compare RSD to St. Patrick’s Day, in its ability to bring out the amateurs in full force. It’s a cute joke, but shortsighted; at the going rate, are we really going to start calling out fairweather fans of a dying business model? I just feel I need to be there early to participate, not elbow my fellow man for a box set. The world is weird, and I could be living in nowheresville with 17 cats in an apartment straight out of Hoarders, so even if I’m spending just $5.00, it’s a tiny thank-you to those that are still open to serve me. I greatly appreciate them sticking it out in this current financial climate, because they give me something rare when I spend money: A thrill. I can’t say I feel the same grocery shopping, you know?

So here’s a rundown of what I did on Record Store Day. Although I went to just two stores, I wanted to showcase how differently things were handled at both. Feel free to share your stories, purchases and more with me via email - ratheryouthanher(at)gmail(dot)com - or on Twitter: @rythvinyl.

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I don’t offer a whole lot of debate on the blog, but in the few hours we have left up until Record Store Day, I’d like to present the following piece and you can feel free to share, comment or whathaveyou.

The heart of the story is that the Chicago-based Numero Group - responsible for releasing countless great soul/R&B nuggets, usually from artists far underneath the radar - will be opening a pop-up store on Record Store Day for the second consecutive year, meaning it will only exist for one day (this year it’ll reside inside the Empty Bottle, a renowned Chicago venue that I’ve had the pleasure of performing at). Many Chicago record retailers have taken umbrage with this, including Patrick Monaghan of Saki.

In a detailed posting on the store’s blog, Patrick runs down his many arguments politely and thoughtfully. He gives a point-by-point breakdown on why he disagrees with Numero’s decision - mentioning that The Metro is also doing a similar pop-up this year - and it’s a worthwhile read.

What are your thoughts? Should labels not be able to set-up a pop-up store, or maybe just avoid it on Record Store Day? Or do Numero and other labels have just as much right as brick-and-mortar retailers, to showcase their stuff by any means necessary?

Feel free to comment or get at me on Twitter. And in case you missed it, please stream or download my chat with Record Store Day’s Director of Marketing Carrie Colliton here.

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Record Store Day, the five-year-old nationally-organized event intended to celebrate brick-and-mortar retail outlets, is coming soon and it’s one of my favorite days of the year. To help shine a light on the neighborhood shops where we’ve all gone to discuss and discover new and classic albums, some of the biggest names in music put out limited-edition releases, perform in-stores or set up autograph signings. None of us should need a gigantic promotional push to get out of the house and visit our favorite record store - let alone on one day - but in the age of the download, it’s encouraging to see RSD grow year after year, getting more and more folks who haven’t set foot in a record store in years - or ever - through the doors.

I recently had the pleasure of hopping back on the Sock Monkey Sound podcast - based out of Rockford, IL - to chat with Carrie Colliton, co-founder and director of marketing for Record Store Day. We talked about the history of the event, how social media assists in getting the word out, and how artists get involved in putting out a special release that day. Listen to the podcast here, and please share it as we ramp up to Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21!

Make sure to also follow RSD via Facebook, Twitter, and this PDF of all the official releases that day.

You can also hear some other appearances of mine on Sock Monkey Sound here, including other podcast interviews with Maritime and The Dismemberment Plan.

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Some folks have asked me to share my audio set-up, so I thought I’d post that today. I’m not much of a gearhead, but in talking with friends who are thinking about improving their current set-up or starting from scratch, it’s discouraging that many make the assumption that a ton of money is needed for a quality listening experience with vinyl.

You really have to decide what kind of listener you are, or that you think you’re going to be. For me, I absolutely do sit and listen to records and I’m able pick out distinct differences between the vinyl and an MP3 or CD version of the same record. However, I also just want to have something on in the house when people come over, or crank a side while I do dishes. If you feel you’re going to be more focused when listening, maybe you do want to invest in a $300 turntable or $600 speakers, and no one can fault you for that. But what I have currently works for me on so many levels - affordability, compactness, overall sound - that I thought I’d try to let folks know just how easy it is to sniff out something that also works for you.

TURNTABLE: Audio-Technica AT-LP60 (My cost: $95) // This is a pretty no-frills machine: Minimal installation is required and it plays like a dream. I opted to not go for one that can convert vinyl to MP3 because that’s not really my goal. I just wanted something that would play perfectly and this guy does. I had eyed them at Kiss The Sky, my local store here in the western Chicago suburbs, and did a lot of YouTube research on it before I invested. It finally took a recommendation from my lawyer/blogger pal Steve Rogovin to push it over the top for me.

RECEIVER: Sony STR-D615 (My cost: $50) // Yes, it’s a heavy, clunky receiver, but freelance writer/musician/friend Jeff Elbel had one just sitting in his garage, so I lucked out. I always run the setting on phono, even though the turntable as a line level switch that would allow you to run off the turntable’s own pre-amp. Despite the size, it fits nicely on my shelving right next to the turntable and for an older unit, it doesn’t overheat and I find myself getting the volume I need by keeping it at 3 or under. I always get a quality sound without any distortion.

SPEAKERS: Pioneer CS-G201WA II (My cost: $15) // I credit my wife for spotting these at Goodwill. For the price, I couldn’t go wrong because if I got them home and they didn’t work or even just performed less than I was hoping, I didn’t blow my paycheck. Yes, they have the fake wood paneling, but I was super happy plugging these guys in. They’re 100 watts and each has a 10” woofer, 4” midrange and a 2.5” tweeter. All of the above, partnered with the IKEA 2x2 Expedit for storage, make this portion of our living room my favorite part of the house, and I was able to do it all for under $200.

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If you’re like me, you’ve probably been waiting for the official release list from the good folks of Record Store Day to come out.

Some things you’ll personally have to fight me for include the Ryan Adams live 7” of Bob Mould covers, the Civil Wars’ Billy Jean 7”, Cursive’s vinyl Burst & Bloom reissue (pictured above), and The Tallest Man On Earth’s King of Spain 12” (featuring a cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”).

Here’s a PDF of the entire list, and you can find more information at www.recordstoreday.com.

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TRUTH.

TRUTH.

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Over the last week, followers of this blog on both Tumblr and Twitter have jumped up a ton, due to some very kind folks sharing particular posts with their own fans and followers. So I wanted to take a few seconds to thank to Minutemen/fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt for sharing my Minutemen post (above), as well as the fine folks at Record Store Day, Reckless Records (Chicago), Darren Walters (Jade Tree Records), VinylVlog.com, Norm Gettis (Vinyl Record Talk), Rediscover Records (Elgin, IL), the Vinyl District (Austin), and Pearl Jam fansite PearlJamOnline for sharing recent posts of mine with their followers.

It was shocking to have Watt in particular share the Minutemen post, and getting so much positive feedback to the article via Facebook is humbling. Though I started music writing at an early age, I haven’t done it in a while, so I feel I’ve fallen out of step with it. It’s just encouraging to have new followers every day, and I hope I can keep turning you on to new music (even if it’s just new to you), cool packaging and design choices, or just remember old classics.

Please do visit the ABOUT section, and even my first post last year, where I laid out what I hope the blog would accomplish. If you’re an artist or record label, my mailing address is on the CONTACT page, and I post about every single record I receive. If you’re kind enough to send vinyl my way, the least I can do is make sure it gets a spotlight.

Thanks again for stopping by, and keep spreading the word.  :) — Jim

http://twitter.com/rythvinyl

Audio

As mentioned in my coverage of Double Nickels On The Dime below, this is some 2008 audio from my discussion on “Liner Notes” with host Derek Wright, on how Mike Watt “got me fired” from my first volunteer writing job at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

“Liner Notes” was a Sunday evening music talk show that I co-hosted for a time on Triton College Radio, 88.9FM WRRG (River Grove, IL).

Source: SoundCloud / rythvinyl
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"You can’t help when you were born and what you are into," says Mike Watt in We Jam Econo, a 2005 documentary about The Minutemen. "Some people were born before, some after, some during." That’s a pretty barebones and truthful statement, and I tend to live by those words when talking about this band, because I was five when Double Nickels came out - often sighted as their best and most influential effort - so I can’t be faulted for not being on board right away. But I’m glad I got there, whatever way possible.

My growing interest in music - how it was made, who made it, and why it spoke volumes to me - paralleled with the growth of bands like Superchunk, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. With the internet light years behind anything of today, often my first exposure to the bands that influenced my heroes was through incessantly reading interviews where the bands spoke out about their favorites (Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr.), who they would take on tour with them, or album reviews where the writer would compare them to someone, positively or negatively. One way I found out about bands that were classic to most but new to me was through Self-Pollution Radio, a January 1995 anything-goes, nationwide broadcast by Pearl Jam. Mudhoney and others performed songs live from a tiny house in Seattle, and any major rock station that wanted to carry it could. PJ members also spun favorites of theirs on vinyl and this was where my original obsession with songs like Sonic Youth’s “Teenage Riot” and The Descendents’ “Silly Girl” came from, not to mention some songs Dave Grohl was working on for some little project called Foo Fighters.

Eventually, Eddie Vedder had a live phone call with this guy Mike Watt, bassist for The Minutemen, and played a few songs from an upcoming album called Ball-Hog Or Tugboat?, on which Vedder, Grohl and many of their ilk appeared. I admittedly got into Watt and the Minutemen through that radio show, and this 1984 double-album - the most readably available that I could find at the time - blew my mind shortly thereafter.

While on his Ball-Hog Or Tugboat? tour (with guitarist Nels Cline in tow, then previously of the Geraldine Fibbers, but who would go on to a stunning future with Wilco), I was able to interview Watt in person outside of Shank Hall in Milwaukee. Due to a quote from Watt that I felt needed to be in the article in order to establish his persona, I was let go from the publication where the story appeared, shortly after it ran. You can listen to me tell that story on a 2008 episode of Liner Notes, a radio show I formerly co-hosted, here and I’ll also post it to this Tumblr via Soundcloud shortly after this post goes live.

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