So, here’s the thing. In trying to answer some questions about the modern music-buying community (are most of them online? how much do they spend? how can we get them to breed? etc. ), we’ve all been able to poke holes in the Record Store Day format. We’ve all seen the proof that one big, fat day of booming sales isn’t enough to save the countless great record shops in Ireland and abroad from being forced out of existence. There’s also been lots of talk about major label bogeymen and Ebay pre-sales over the last 12 months, giving RSD a bad rap.
For me, the bottom line is that Record Store Day still works as a sales tactic. In 2012, vinyl sales were up more than 50% on the previous year’s event, and some shops enjoyed a sales hike of over 100% compared to 2011. Granted, Record Store Day won’t save the music industry, but it’s a worthwhile reminder to music-lovers to spend a little bit of cash.
The other thing is, I love Record Store Day and I always have a really, really great time getting my fingers dusty and chatting to people before and after gigs.
Last year, I treated myself to this completely dreamy collection of tracks from Bill Evans’ Live At Top Of The Gate on cobalt blue vinyl, murdered some free ice cream, caught some live music in the Twisted Pepper and used a trip to a handful of record stores as an excuse to pick up non-Record Store Day bounty, including circular physical versions of the Mmoths EP and Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s The Main Ingredient. This year, I’ll be figuring out whether or not I can justify Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die on 2 LPs of white vinyl, and also weeping a little that I agreed to work on April 20.
In the meantime, I’ve been having a listen to some of the best Irish-made RSD releases, and scared up a list of some of the free live music you can hear on the day itself.
I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome vinyl LP
The debut collaborative album from Jape and Lisa Hannigan drummer Ross Tuner and genre-hopping composer Cian Murphy, Monochrome set the blogosphere’s collective heart aflutter in February when it was released online as a free download via Brooklyn music site Noisey. If you haven’t heard it already, hop to it. A swirling collection of moody, ambient electronica, the nine-tracker deserves every bit of hype it gets and will sound positively hypnotic on wax. Psst. Look out for appearances from Cloud Castle Lake man Daniel McAuley, who lends his glass-breaking falsetto to ‘Esque’, and Solar Bears’ Rian Trench, who tickles the ivories on ‘Lost Rhythm.’
Limited to 250 copies. Available in Elastic Witch.
Wizards Of Firetop Mountain – ‘Sonic War’/’Dollar Hips’ 7″ vinyl
Despite what my current musical diet might suggest (since you asked, groove-led hip hop and R&B all the way), nothing gets my blood pumping faster than the words Wizards Of Firetop Mountain, which have come to represent a highly glamorous Irish reincarnation of ’70s-style Stateside rock and ’80s metal. As part of this year’s Record Store Day celebrations, two of the band’s signature tracks, ‘Sonic War’ and ‘Dollar Hips’ are being packaged into one, neat little 7″, complete with possessed riffing, demonic percussion and gut-busting yelps. It’s no substitute for seeing the wildly addictive fivesome perform, mind, but at only five beans, it’s an absolute steal.
Limited to 250 copies. Available for preorder here.
Record Store Gay Compilation on CD and melody pop
I’m not even going to pretend that someone didn’t send me an advance copy of this, and that I haven’t already listened to the whole thing several times and that it’s not totally brilliant and completely mad in equal measures. The tracklist has yet to be officially announced, but if you scroll down the page a bit, you’ll find details for the April 20 all-dayer, which will give you a good idea of the calibre of artist we’re talking about. The deal is this; 15 Irish acts, each covering a gay anthem of their choosing. Although I’m sworn to secrecy on the finer details, I will say this; there are some tracks on here that could, nay should, be international cult hits, and a couple that are so deliciously enslaving, they should probably come as standard with every new iTunes account. Oh, and as the above graphic suggests, the marvellous Patrick Kelleher does indeed cover Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’. What more could you actually want from life?
Limited to 200 CDs, available at the show, and a play-along-with-melody-pop single for each band.
Ghost Estates and Twinkranes – ‘In Waves’ and ‘The Wizard’ 7″ vinyl
Progressive trio Twinkranes and psyche rockers Ghost Estates have teamed up for a joint 7″ comprising two tracks, which you can stream here and here. Twinkranes have plumbed for a proudly abstract cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘The Wizards’, while Ghost Estates have chosen to debut their first new release since 2012’s LP, a terribly poppy, vintage-sounding guitar number called ‘In Waves’. A bit of a contradiction, this, but a cleverly executed one all the same.
Limited to 250 copies.
Funeral Suits – Lily Of The Valley vinyl LP
The fiendishly sunny electro pop opus that is Lily Of The Valley finally gets a wax release on April 20 and if you’ve heard the album and you have access to a record player, this will probably come as very good news. Stephen Street’s production is sure to sound even glossier in the old school format, especially on tracks like the metaphysical pop jam above, and the swoonish ‘Hands Down’, the video for which I have dubbed too disturbing to post in a friendly Record Store Day round-up such as this (but do check it out if you haven’t seen it, because it is rather good).
The Hot Sprockets – Soul Brother 7″ vinyl
They had me at ‘Love TKO’… Just in time for RSD, and, might I add, moshing season, country rock stalwarts The Hot Sprockets have come up with a brand new, typically rabble-rousing number called ‘Soul Brother’, a song so buoyantly chirpy, I feel like it would be wrong to listen to it without making room for recreating an action-packed movie montage afterward. ‘Soul Brother’ also precedes the band’s second album, which we can expect to see on shelves later in the year.
NOTE: The above video, directed by the perpetually awesome Finn Keenan, is arguably more violent than Funeral Suits’ ‘Hands Down’, but just remember that dismemberment is not always an accurate measure of on-screen creepiness.
FREE LIVE MUSIC
Open 9am to 9pm
Gypsy Rebel Rabble
The Hot Sprockets
ELASTIC WITCH @ The Twisted Pepper
12pm to 6pm
No Monster Club
Cillian Mcdonnell (Music Is For Losers)
Elastic Witch Djs
RECORD STORE GAY @ Outhouse
12pm to 8pm
The Holy Sparks!!!
Ickis Mirolo & Margie Lewis
Seeping into Cinemas
Lights Camera Sundown
I Heart The Monster Hero
Little x’s For Eyes
Biggles Flys Again
The Hot Sprockets
The Holy Roman Army