A.V. Club's surprisingly specific Record Store Day goodie guide
We've got records for every kind of shopper
Plenty of artists are stepping forward to express their support for the second annual Record Store Day this Saturday. That means this year's RSD comes complete with a flood of "exclusive"—or at least well-timed—7-inch singles. The selection is a bit overwhelming, so Decider picked through it and found some gems that might be right for certain highly specific types of record shoppers. (For a list of local Record Store Day activities, go here.)
For people who like their depressingly apocalyptic music in small doses: Tom Waits, Live 7-inch
This mini live album captures the gravelly voiced bard on 2008's Glitter And Doom tour, and features two tracks: a medley of the old blues numbers "Lucinda/Ain't Goin' To The Well" from Atlanta, and "Bottom Of The World" from Edinburgh, Scotland. If this record were any longer, it would drag you into the gutter.
For those who still believe in the power of radio: Grizzly Bear, "While You Wait For The Others" b/w "He Hit Me (Live on KCRW)" 7-inch
One of the most anticipated indie-rock albums of the year, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest caused its first stir in an old-fashioned way thought long dead in this age of Rapidshare and Hype Machine: It premièred this swooning '60s pop number on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Here's an opportunity to not only buy into the future, but also dig up the past by supporting two different music formats that refuse to die. As a bonus, you'll get another version of the band's haunting, similarly retro cover of The Crystals' "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" from that same session.
For those who never gave up on Elvis Costello: "Complicated Shadows" b/w "Dirty Rotten Shame" 7-inch
This decade's seen Elvis Costello try out a new role as a born-again Americana statesman—touring and recording with Allen Toussaint and breaking into Southern-Gothic blues-rock on 2004's The Delivery Man. His forthcoming Secret, Profane & Sugarcane heads in a country direction, but also reaches back to one of his best and most rocking tunes, "Complicated Shadows." So, here's an early chance to find out if the new version's a porch-stomper or a lazy ol' steamboat.
For those who like The Smiths, even sans Morrissey: "The Headmaster Ritual” b/w “Oscillate Wildly" 7-inch
One of the problems associated with The Smiths' instrumental "Oscillate Wildly" is that its gorgeous piano chords and Johnny Marr guitar parts beg to be played repeatedly, ad infinitum. Not so if it's the lone song on a 7-inch side. The A-side is no slouch either—a song that Radiohead has covered to great effect, all while seeming to cower before the dire intensity of Morrissey's vocals in the original from 1985.
For people who flip through the little "comedy/spoken word" section: Flight Of The Conchords, “Pencils In The Wind” b/w "Albi The Racist Dragon" 7-inch
Record Store Day's official website boasts a long (overkill?) page of quotes from artists praising independent record stores, but Patton Oswalt is the only comedian among them (unless you count one from the fictional Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force). As far as actual releases go, it's up to Patton's Sub Pop labelmates Flight Of The Conchords to inject some humor on "Albi The Racist Dragon" and the characteristically dry-witted "Pencils In The Wind."
For those who like avant-garde music in a singles format: Akron/Family, “Everyone Is Guilty” b/w “Total Destruction” 7-inch
Record Store Day might lead some to question why the music industry stakes so much on the album format. It's an arbitrary fit for some artists, but then there are bands like Akron/Family, who need and deserve an extended format to work out its sprawling, experimental ideas. Then again, Akron/Family is one of those bands that packs a ton of adventure into a few minutes, so it's not totally inappropriate to hear "Everyone Is Guilty" (the first track from its forthcoming Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free) as a single.
For those who enjoy Kill Rock Stars' more accessible side: The Thermals / Thao And The Get Down Stay Down split 7-inch
While venerable indie label Kill Rock Stars is a good home for challenging acts like Xiu Xiu and New Bloods, some of its artists are damn catchy. Here, pop-punksters The Thermals share two demos of songs from their recent album, Now We Can See, including album opener "When I Died." On the flipside, Thao And The Get Down Stay Down cover The Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind" alongside their own "Cool Yourself You Are Flush Red."
For the Wilco fan who would rather not shop at Best Buy: Ashes Of American Flags DVD
Independent record stores are getting the new Wilco tour documentary 10 days before big-box retailers, but that's not the only reason you'll want to rush out to buy Ashes Of American Flags. If the first Wilco doc, 2002's I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, aspired to the grainy weariness of Don't Look Back, Ashes is the group's version of The Last Waltz—a triumphant tribute to a legendary band and its life on the road.
For those not lucky enough to have Leonard Cohen passing through town: "The Future (Live In London)" b/w "Suzanne (Live In London)" 7-inch
One of the highlights of 2009 has been the phoenix-like reemergence of Leonard Cohen on the touring circuit after a 15-year absence. Unfortunately, not every town has the good fortune to witness his nigh-religious rebirth. If that describes you, there's no need to resort to shoddy bootlegs: Pick up these live tracks of Cohen's apocalyptic come-on "The Future" and the yearning ode to his bohemian almost-lover "Suzanne" (which more or less serve as bookends of his long, strange career), light some candles, and—like Cohen so often suggests—make the best of things while you still can.
For people who want to relive when "punk" actually meant something: The Stooges, "1969" b/w "Real Cool Time" 7-inch
Now that groups like The Clash and Sex Pistols regularly turn up on classic-rock radio, it's sometimes hard to remember that punk used to be considered dangerous—and that's even more laughable a notion now, thanks to all these brats with guitars complaining about their girlfriends and citing Blink-182 as "our biggest influence." But somewhere in between Woodstock and Altamont, the first crunchy chords of The Stooges' "1969" cut through all the era's power-to-the-people bullshit like a rusty razor, heralding the official end of the Summer Of Love and the country's plunge into Watergate-era cynicism. It's primal, nihilistic, and knowingly dumb—and that's what punk is supposed to be, you fucking whiners.
For '80s night DJs in need of a credibility boost: New Order, "Temptation" b/w "Hurt" 7-inch
You can't spin an '80s night without New Order, but there are so many 12-inch "club mixes," remastered reissues, and godawful mash-ups that odds are your MP3 of "Temptation" has been stepped on more than that bag of "inspiration" you just bought. Keep it simple—and impress the purists—by whipping out the actual 7-inch of this just-before-closing-time staple and you'll have everyone going, "Wow, I've never heard this version! Awesome!"