Friday, April 17, 2009

regarding Record Store Day

Record Store Day, easily one of my top five favorite holidays, is tomorrow. Indie stores are pulling out a bunch of awesome deals - Siren Records in Doylestown is having a massive vinyl sale, for example - and there are plenty of exclusives being issued. I'm looking forward to seven-inches from Camera Obscura and Flight of the Conchords. There have been a few bloggings about the event today, the best of which comes from Spin's Charles Aaron. Cut through the cynicism - this event is meant to take your money, make no mistake about it - and Record Store Day is a celebration of our bond with music, however tenuous and fluctuating it might be. Aaron's article taps into that joy, listing his favorite stores and memories and why in-store purchasing means connecting to people and art, something that's lost in the point-n-click approach of online shopping.

The hunt is part of the ecstasy, and while I'm a sucker for eBay as much as the next record nerd, I can't think of a better place to spend Record Store Day than at Repo Records on 538 South St. It's one of the first stores I ever fell in love with in high school, and while lesser favorites have passed on - Disc was too sketchy anyway, Spaceboy's clerks were dicks and liars, and my former employer Sam Goody was riddled with corporate tools - Repo has remained. When I moved to Philadelphia for college, Repo trips became a weekly occurrence. The clerks know who I am and what I like. They make recommendations, but don't get so uppity about it that I can't browse. I love the cozy feeling of walking past the shelves. The feel of musty vinyl in my hands. And I'm sure one day I'll even appreciate that guy who sits outside mangling Beatles, Deep Purple, and Jimi Hendrix tunes on guitar for change.

Convenience shouldn't be allowed to co-opt good aesthetics. Repo has a great Nick Hornby quote on their site:

"Yes, yes, I know. It's easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what's playing on your favourite download store when you walk into it? Nothing, that's what. Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flatshares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who's going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and, eventually, your soul. Record stores can't save your life. But they can give you a better one."

Repo has been my guiding light for underground music for about nine years now. They've operated in one form or another for over 20 years. Shopping there is always a pleasure, and unlike online ordering, I don't have to pay for shipping and handling or get ripped off on record quality. I like physical music over digital because it's physical; it hits all of my senses (well, minus taste. But man those Bowie covers are sexxxy...). And Repo is an extension of that.

And shopping local is American, got-dammit!

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