Record Store Day 2013

There’s something rather exciting about Record Store Day – loads of your favourite bands start throwing out obscure releases on bizarre formats. Not downloads, but real, tangible formats.

There’s also something rather disappointing about the whole thing. Of all of the releases I’ve heard about and wanted on Record Store Day, I’ve never actually seen a single one of them. Partly because I’ve always been out of the country every year so far, but partly also because I have a sneaking suspicion that what happens is that it’s actually a day for private dealers and too-keen collectors to swamp record shops and buy all the good stuff out. Anything worth having will be up on eBay within the day. Which seems to slightly defeat the object to me.

In fact, the only release from previous years that I remember having seen is the cassette version of Goldfrapp‘s last album Head First – which is a brilliant idea, but the knowledge that I’d never actually listen to it was what stopped me from buying it at that point.

Anyway, this year’s Record Store Day is this Saturday, and I’m actually going to be in the UK this time, so we’ll see if I can keep hold of my wallet while it happens. Here are some of the highlights of the releases that I spotted:

  • Bent – From the Vaults 1998-2007 (unknown format, 500 copies)
  • Booka Shade – Black Out: White Noise EP (12″)
  • David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday Night (7″ picture disc, 3000 copies), The Stars Are Out Tonight (7″ white vinyl, 5000 copies) and 1965 (7″)
  • Calexico – Spiritoso (LP, 2200 copies)
  • CaribouStart Breaking My Heart (LP), Up in Flames (LP) and The Milk of Human Kindness (LP)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Animal X (7″ picture disc, 2500 copies)
  • Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love (12″, 4000 copies)
  • Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know? (7″)
  • Brian EnoNicholas Jaar x Grizzly Bear (10″, 2000 copies)
  • Frankie Goes to HollywoodThe Eye Has It (7″ shaped picture disc)
  • Garbage – Because the Night (10″, 5000 copies)
  • The Human League – Don’t You Want Me (12″)
  • Inspiral Carpets – Fix Your Smile (7″)
  • Junior Boys – Even Truer Remix EP (12″, 400 copies, “regional”)
  • MGMT – Alien Days (cassette single, 2000 copies)
  • Moby feat. Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night (7″)
  • Mike Oldfield – Theme from Tubular Bells (7″)
  • Pink Floyd – See Emily Play (7″, 5000 copies)
  • Röyksopp – Ice Machine (10″)
  • Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (12″, 982 copies, “regional”) and Hvarf / Heim (double LP)
  • The XX – Jamie XX Edits (12″, 1600 copies)
  • Various Artists – Astralwerks 20/20 (seven 7″ box set, including rare and unreleased tracks by KraftwerkAirThe Chemical Brothers and others, 100 copies, “regional”)
  • Various Artists – Factory Records – Communications 1978-1992 (10″ or 12″ including tracks by Joy DivisionNew OrderDurutti Column and Happy Mondays, 1000 copies)
  • Various Artists – Music from the Motion Picture Drive (LP picture disc of the excellent album with tracks by Kavinsky and Cliff Martinez, 1000 copies, US only)

Which should be more than enough to keep you busy. I’ve no idea what “regional” means. Thanks to the New Vinyl blog for helping with information about the releases. The full list is here for the USA and here for the UK.

Various Artists – Drive

One of my favourite discoveries of last year was the film Drive. In a bleak and heavily stylised Los Angeles, Ryan Gosling is a professional stunt driver who by night drives getaway vehicles and gets steadily pulled into a very dark and seedy world.

But I actually found the film itself pretty pedestrian – very much a triumph of style over substance. The atmosphere is undeniable, but the characters are entirely one-dimensional with no particular redeeming features, and the plot is notable only in its absence. Where it shines is in its soundtrack, mixing modern retro with real retro electro and dreamy atmospheric ambience.

The album is a little schizophrenic, with all the livelier tracks stacked up near the top. It opens with Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx‘s 2010 work of genius Nightcall – which at the time the film came out was only available on this soundtrack, and more than justifies the purchase of the album by itself. Apparently I saw Kavinsky play live a few years back, and it’s a great source of shame to me now that I remember very little about the event.

Less exciting but still pretty good is Under Your Spell by Desire, with a similarly eighties feel but just a little too repetitive and dull at times. A Real Hero by College feat. Electric Youth is better, but then the whole thing takes its only real downturn. I’m not sure what the significance of Riz Ortolani and Katyna Ranieri‘s 1971 song Oh My Love – I can only assume it meant something particular to the director. But frankly it stands out in the movie as absolutely awful, and on the soundtrack album it’s a particularly dreadful moment.

Or maybe I’m wrong – I’m sure it’s there for a reason, and perhaps it’s only me that felt that way. Anyway, the last of the imported tracks is Tick of the Clock by The Chromatics, a pleasant if somewhat dull moment of relief after the dross it follows.

The rest of the album is then a fourteen track dark and moody album of film music composed especially by Cliff Martinez, with moments of excellence (Rubber HeadI Drive, Where’s the Deluxe Version?Skull Crushing, and Bride of Deluxe) standing out from the rest of the crowd. The music has an abstract, ethereal, almost dreamlike quality, at times sounding as though it’s played by people running their fingers around the edge of a glass.

As an album it is, admittedly, mainly only worth buying for Nightcall, and would probably have benefitted from some more imaginative sequencing than having all the non-Martinez tracks at the start. But in general it’s pleasant and interesting, and was a real surprise to me when I first saw the film, so is definitely worth a listen.