Digital music files are the Snuggie of the music industry; so comfy, so easy, but it's fleece is cheap and one dimensional. Vinyl is a thick quilt, a layered labor of love Grandma crafted just for you-- a product that brings about a whole new quality of life when you're wrapped beneath it. Strange analogy, but if you're unfamiliar with the loveliness and depth of vinyl's sound possibilities, Record Store Day-- this Sat/17 at locations across the Bay-- is your day to give 'em a spin.
Steve Stevenson, owner of Oakland's 1-2-3-4 Go! Records understands why people chuck and trade their physical albums for digital-- to simplify their lives and clear out some clutter. He says he did the same thing two years ago when he opened the store.
"I ended up selling almost all of my records-- it's basically how the store started. And now I don't have many..." he says, pauses, and looks around at the loaded shelves in his shop. "Or I guess I have more than I've ever had." Exactly. Stevenson didn't cut his collection-- his passion for records blew up, the physical stacks of beats and sounds have become his livelihood.
Maybe you're not into building a gigantic vinyl collection over the weekend, but a short celebratory stack for the holiday can make for a healthy collection. And what's great about visiting a small, boutique shop like Stevenson's, is what it's lacking-- no over abundance of records to sift and flip for hours on end.
"My shop is small, but it's packed with almost all exclusively good things," he smiles. "We have good turnover on everything in here. And customers often tell me it's nice to come in here for a half-hour and leave with something. It's not a six-hour process of digging to get to one album you care about."
So what are some things Stevenson is currently caring about? He would love to share.
The self-titled debut of Vermont's grunge-pop trio Happy Birthday [Sub Pop, 2010] is by far this record shop's pride and joy right now. Stevenson claims it's the best collection of music he's heard in the past two years and while he has yet to confirm totals with the label, he's pretty he has sold more copies than any store around.
"It's only been out a month and I've sold 35 copies. I tend to push it on people. It's just so good."
He's also pretty proud of Seattle's Cute Lepers' sophomore release, Smart Accessories, [1-2-3-4 GO! Records, 2009] put out on Stevenson's very own label. Why he gleams and grins so big when it comes to this particular record? It glows in the dark! Trippy!
"Perfect for dark listening," he says.
Besides music, 1-2-3-4 GO! also showcases the work of local artists each month. Currently it's Danny Neece's totally awesome paintings that pair oh so perfectly with the store's colors. Get introduced to new music, new people and new art: everybody wins.
While these goodies and other rotating gems are available every day at local music shops, the grandiose appeal of Record Store Day is the limited edition, exclusive releases both labels, artists and shops put out each year in celebration of the under-appreciated music hubs. From in-store performances to mix tapes and snacks (maybe?), put down your iPod this Saturday and let a physical person give you an earful of inspiration.
Check out www.RecordStoreDay.com to see the major list of nationwide events.
Or browse this list of participating stores in the Bay Area: