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The best day of the year, as any vinyl-obsessed shut-in can attest, is Record Store Day, the music industry’s holiday designed to celebrate the fact that, even in these digital-release and online-shopping based times, actual stores that sell music in a form that requires you to leave the house to hear it still exist. To celebrate, the list of exclusive, limited-edition releases grows each year -- and features some pretty amazing stuff. Here are ten to be aware of when you’re putting together your shopping list for Saturday.
Most ambitious release: The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends
Sure, reissues and exclusive 7” singles are swell, but leave it to Wayne Coyne, indie rock’s zany uncle, to put together the most complicated release of Record Store Day 2012. Plenty of ink and blood has already been spilled on the collaborative album, which features guest appearances by everybody from Ke$ha to Bon Iver to Yoko Ono to Nick Cave to Erykah Badu, but let’s give the Lips some extra credit for ensuring that RSD feels like a genuine event by pegging the release of this monstrosity to the music nerd holiday.
Least essential box set: Disturbed, The Collection
There are few genres less fondly-remembered than late-'90s/early-'00s nu-metal, but the silent majority of once-alienated teenage boys who shotgunned Mountain Dews in their parents’ basement nonetheless catapulted the genre-defining act Disturbed to major chart success. If those guys are feeling nostalgic and have turntables, maybe they’ll rush out to own all five of the band’s studio albums on six LPs on Saturday morning?
Best reissue of an album that hasn’t been pressed on vinyl in at least forty years: Skip James, Devil Got My Woman
Previously, if you wanted to own a vinyl copy Devil Got My Woman, the final album by legendary Delta bluesman Skip James, you had to shell out big bucks on record geek websites, or scour thrift stores and estate sales for a forgotten 1968 edition. Now, though, Vanguard’s newly remastered pressing gives you the chance to be all Steve-Buscemi-in-Ghost World without breaking the bank or digging through old people’s stuff.
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Most surprising reminder that this band still exists: Jamiroquai, Rock Dust Light Star
Hey, remember Jamiroquai? Here's a fun fact: that guy in the video for the ubiquitous 1996 single “Virtual Insanity” – you know, the guy who wore the hat? His name is not Jamiroquai. His name is Jason. Jamiroquai is the name of the band. Another fun fact: Apparently they put out their seventh album in 2010, and it failed to receive a vinyl release … until now! Final fun fact: Yep, even on the cover of this one, ol’ Jason is wearing a stupid hat. We have thought so little about Jamiroquai in the past 16 years that the only things we have to say about that band relate to the singer’s hats. Buy this record!
Best novelty 7” single that is already kinda outdated: Jimmy Fallon, Tebowie 7”
The album art for the 7” tribute to both the messianic NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” features Jimmy Fallon, in Bowie makeup and a Broncos jersey, down on one knee in the classic “tebowing” pose. The only problem? Tim Tebow was traded to the New York Jets last month. Still, don’t let that stop you from enjoying a novelty single that Weird Al must be so jealous he didn’t think of first.
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Best opportunity to raise twee, precious little children who will be totally unprepared for the outside world: Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths
Teaching small children about the warmth and open sounds of vinyl as opposed to the commodity-like digital formats is not a great way to ensure that those kids won’t be swirly’d like crazy when school starts. It’s even worse to wean them on a diet of sleepy, lullaby-style versions of songs by Morrissey. Combining the two? We suspect that things will be really hard for any child whose formative years were spent being lulled to sleep by hushed voices singing “Girlfriend in a Coma” from their parents’ vintage Magnavox console. On the bright side, that kid will probably get her own show on HBO when she’s 25, so haters gonna hate. You can nab a free MP3 of "Coma" here.
Best way to revisit your '90s nostalgia: Empire Records Soundtrack
Your dreams of one day singing “Sugarhigh” on the roof of your favorite record store in front of all your friends may have faded, but you probably still get a little tingle up your leg when you hear the Gin Blossoms sing about how they don’t want to take advice from fools and they’ll just figure everything is cool ‘till they hear it from you. Well, the dream of the '90s is alive on Record Store Day 2012, and while that sometimes manifests in ways that are not really exciting (see: Jamiroquai, 311), Empire Records – and its soundtrack – remain a perfect reminder of how great it was to be a teenager in the mid-'90s.
Worst way to revisit your 90’s nostalgia: 311, 311
Not only has hindsight revealed to us that 311 was kind of objectively terrible back in their heyday, but even if you have fond memories of getting high to “All Mixed Up,” you won’t find it on the band’s Record Store Day EP – this one just features remixes from the band’s 2011 album Universal Pulse. More baffling: the fact that the otherwise tastemaking ATO Records put this out, or the fact that the promise of remixes that turn the songs into “dubstep bangers” and “laid-back reggae grooves” might actually move some of these units?
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Best commitment to a deeply unlikely collaboration: Mastodon/Feist, Commotion/Black Tongue
Haha, we get it -- Mastodon is heavy as shit, and Feist is airy and delicate and has her hair braided each morning by cartoon birds, so having each of them agree to cover one another’s songs for a split 7” is a cute lark. But it seems like somewhere along the way, both acts really got into it: check out the cover art if you don’t believe us. Plus, let’s be real – the taut, tense strings on Feist’s “A Commotion” will sound killer all fuzzed out by Mastodon, and the fact that Feist once rocked Sesame Street doesn’t mean that she can’t sink her teeth into the lead-off track from Mastodon’s most recent album. This one’s got sleeper hit written all over it.
The Best chance to revisit the glory days of this past January: Lana Del Rey, Born To Die (Damon Albarn Remix) / Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)
It was a simpler time. Youth was in the air, and the promise of a new day blossomed before us like a beautiful field of wildflowers. Then Lana Del Rey was kinda mediocre on SNL, and a thousand bloggers wrote a thousand blog posts about how they hated her, or loved her, or hated that you loved her, or hated that you hated her, or loved that you hated her, and it all got so overwhelming that by February, an unspoken agreement had been brokered that we would all forget that Lana Del Rey had even existed until at least this summer. But here is a quick reminder: her first two singles have been remixed by a Grand Ol’ Mensch of indie rock and an Up-And-Comer who can help you revisit Lana Del Rey in a way that will hopefully not require nearly as much blogging.