Batten down the hatches – Record Store Day is approaching.
In its sixth year of operations, Record Store Day UK still begs plenty of questions. Does it celebrate record shops, or does it overwhelm them? Does it reward committed vinyl shoppers, or does it unfairly privilege the fairweather digger? Does this day-long jamboree valorize independent labels – who toil January through December to put out lovingly produced 12″s and LPs – or does it compromise them?
What it definitely means is a profusion of limited editions, box sets and curiosities, of varying levels of exclusivity and quality. This year’s event might be a deliberately downscaled affair compared to 2012, but with vinyl sales on the up, it’s likely to be as busy and chaotic as ever. It’s hard territory to navigate: for every sought-after reissue or nifty package, there’s a 7″ tossed into a barely tweaked sleeve with a drab remix as a sweetener.
With the above in mind, here’s our annual pick of the 20 finest, worthiest and strangest exclusive releases up for grabs during this year’s waxstravaganza. Oh, and as we’re duty bound to remind you: record stores are for life, not just for April 20.
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AT THE DRIVE-IN
RELATIONSHIP OF COMMAND
(TWENTY-FIRST CHAPTER 2xLP, 4000 COPIES)
After briefly reuniting in 2012, the Texas punks announced plans for reissues of their classic albums Acrobatic Tenement and Relationship of Command. While the former was re-released last month, the band’s breakthrough album will receive a limited color vinyl edition on RSD (with a standard vinyl to follow). Released on the band’s own Twenty-First Chapter imprint, the record will include bonus tracks ‘Extracurricular’ and ‘Catacombs’.
START BREAKING MY HEART/UP IN FLAMES/THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS
Before he was trading in liquid funk and scruffy house, Dan Snaith did a neat line in pastoral folktronica with instrumental flourishes. Former home Leaf are set to issue Snaith’s first three full-lengths: 2001’s Start Breaking My Heart and 2003’s Up in Flames, both released as Manitoba, plus 2005’s The Milk Of Human Kindness to boot. Long out of print on wax, all three will get tasty coloured vinyl releases, plus airbrushed cover art retroactively crediting all three albums to Caribou. A full release will follow in May.
LOREN CONNORS & THURSTON MOORE
THE ONLY WAY TO GO IS STRAIGHT THROUGH
(NORTHERN SPY 12″, 3000 COPIES)
Connors is one of the most distinctive and instinctive guitarists of his time – and with 50+ full-lengths to his name, he’s one of the more prolific too. The Only Way To Go Is Straight Through captures a pair of thrilling live collaborations with avant-rock nonesuch Thurston Moore, recorded at two separate New York shows in 2012. Despite suffering from Parkinson’s, Connors’ playing is as spirited as ever, and Moore makes for a vital foil.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
(EMI NASHVILLE 7″)
What’s Record Store Day without a naughty gimmick? Chart-troubling country star Eric Church isn’t exactly racking up column inches at FACT, but this new version of debut live LP Caught In The Act – which arrives supplemented with a whiskey-infused 7″, featuring tracks called ‘Hungover’ and ‘Jack Daniels’ – earns him his maiden post. Sure, it’s not blood vinyl, but props all the same.
(TRI ANGLE 12″)
On 2012 breakthrough Kings And Them, the Tri Angle darling dealt in ghoulish hip-hop and juddering beat music. DUGA-3 sees him on more adventurous/contrary form, offering up a “heavily conceptual” 20 minute experimental composition inspired by the titular Soviet transmitter. The suite, split into four parts, is reminiscent of Ambient-era Eno, spotted with scalped radio signals and Geiger Counter chatter.
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THE FLAMING LIPS
You know the Zaireeka story by now: band record album, band decide to release it on four LPs that need to be played simultaneously, band gain reputation as architects of one of popular music’s greatest and grandest follies. This expanded Zaireeka package will see the 1997 album arrive on four different coloured vinyl discs, and also boasts specially redesigned packaging for the occasion.
1/2 GENTLEMEN/ NOT BEASTS
(FIRE, 4xLP BOX SET)
In our era of mixtape drip-drip and focus-grouped debut albums, it’s worth celebrating the example of the Fair brothers: in an audacious move, their 1980 debut Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts was released as a deluxe 3xLP box set. Their first full-length as Half Japanese is one of the decade’s most satisfying grab-bags, tilting from zany covers to ambient shorts to wonky post-punk compositions. This four disc edition comes with a bonus 12″ featuring archive gems and previously unreleased material, plus a 32-page booklet, a poster, and a download card. Gentlemen indeed.
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
(DEMON LP, 1000 COPIES)
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 proto-shoegaze debut will be reissued as a “paint splatter” edition, bundled with an A3 reproduction of an early gig poster. The UK’s Demon Records will have a busy RSD: there are singles by Suede, Arthur Russell’s Dinosaur L, and Men Without Hats (‘Safety Dance’, natch), along with orchestral reworkings of some Ian McCulloch classics.
JAMIE XX EDITS
(XL 12″, 4000 COPIES)
Jamie xx’s shuffling rework of Coexist cut ‘Sunset’ gets a proper vinyl showing, backed by his comparatively sweeping edit of Coexist bonus cut ‘Reconsider’. Both tracks will be thoroughly familiar to xx-spotters – the former was all over the place in January, and the latter cropped in his Boiler Room set – but this die-cast edition is worth a peek for completists.
JANDEK VINYL BOX SET
(JACKPOT 12″ BOX SET. 500 COPIES)
Jandek’s project is as bewildering as it is beguiling: 70+ albums’ worth of elliptical lo-fi rock/folk/spoken word, released anonymously over three decades with only a Dorian Gray-style cover star as a constant. This box set, produced with the blessing of Jandek’s Corwood Industries label, offers a neat entry point into his private cosmology, collecting three of his earliest releases: rough 1978 debut Ready For The House, the legend-making Six And Six (1981) and fan favourite Chair Beside A Window (1982). All arrive on numbered heavyweight vinyl with three exclusive posters and an insert.
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KING MIDAS SOUND
(NINJA TUNE 12″)
We’ve heard the first taste of the band’s new “My Bloody Valentine in dub” approach, when the videos for the bombastic ‘Aroo’ (which the FACT Single’s Club quite liked) and the quieter ‘Funny Love’ appeared online. On RSD, the trio will make their Ninja Tune debut with the release of the single.
(GET ON DOWN 4xLP)
Get On Down’s reissue of GZA’s Liquid Swords — complete with chess set — was one of the year’s finest. As expected, this RSD edition comes on 4xLP instead of 2xCD, with the same bonus material that made the CD version so essential: the original album and its instrumentals, in-depth liner notes by journalist Chris Faraone and the GZA himself, plenty of art reproductions, and a sticker pack. Never forget: “The game of chess, is like a sword fight… You must think first, before you move.”
(THRILL JOCKEY LP, 1500 COPIES EACH)
Markus Popp and co’s landmark LPs get a much-deserved vinyl remaster. Systemisch is the glitch Rosetta Stone, recasting CD stutters and technical bugs as valuable instruments in their own right. 94Diskont, meanwhile, showed how those experiments can be used to more conventionally musical effect; the results are pabulum for the soul. No extensive bonuses, but you do get a free download coupon and the chance to spend time with two hugely important discs. Popp went in-depth on both records in a recent FACT interview; head here to read.
POLTERGEIST: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
While Mondo’s special release of the Drive OST has seen some technical difficulties, the Austin, Texas reissue house still have something up their collective sleeves: a glow-in-the-dark version of their Poltergeist OST reissue, which quickly sold out earlier this year. We can’t imagine a better way to experience the classic score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith.
THE WORLD’S SHORTEST ALBUM
With its 13 “songs” totaling just 83 seconds, The World’s Shortest Album is a tribute to grindcore and/or a satire of idiosyncratic Record Store Day promotions; to that end, releasing the 5″ in a 12″ sleeve is a nice touch. While it was released on iTunes last year, this is clearly the definitive version of TWSA, which beats out Jack White’s Voice-O-Graph booth for this year’s dumbest RSD idea (intentional or not).
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MUSIC IN 20/20
(ASTRALWERKS 7″ BOX SET)
To celebrate the electronic music depository’s 20th anniversary, Astralwerks has collected twenty 7″ flexis in this box set. The highlights include a rare, German-language Kraftwerk track (‘Die Roboter’), a new song by Air (‘Indian Summer’), and a pristine Four Tet remix (of Sia’s ‘Breathe Me’), but the inclusion of Astralwerk’s most well-known hits (Chemical Brothers’ ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’, Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’, Basement Jaxx’s ‘Where’s Your Head At’) makes this one better suited for the dance music novices in the audience.
50WEAPONS MEETS MONKEYTOWN RECORDS
Modeselektor’s two labels are showcased as Monkeytown vets Mouse On Mars, Otto Von Schirach, and eLan join forces with 50Weapons regulars Benjamin Damage and Phon.o on this 12″. Since their founding in 2009, the Berlin-based imprints have released nearly 100 releases from a diverse crew that also includes Siriusmo, Lazer Sword, Addison Groove, Dark Sky, and Bambounou — this is as good a place as any to catch up on Modeselektor’s passion projects.
BEAT BOX: A DRUM MACHINE OBSESSION: V.2 TR-909
(GET ON DOWN 7″ AND 20-PAGE BOOK)
The reissue specialists behind some of the finest hip-hop re-releases in recent memory are taking a break from classic albums to focus on classic technology, starting with the Roland TR-909 drum machine. The release includes a 20-page book by Get on Down co-founder Joe Mansfield and two flexi-discs: one with individual sounds of the 909, narrated and explained by Philly OG Schoolly D, and the other with Mansfield’s instrumental remakes of the drum tracks for Schoolly’s ‘P.S.K. What Does It Mean’ and ‘Gucci Time’.
CLASSIC TV THEMES
(DEATH WALTZ 7″, 1000 COPIES EACH)
Along with de rigueur horror soundtracks by Antoni Maiovvi (Yellow) and Steve Moore (Horror Business), Spencer Hickman’s reissue imprint will move to the small screen with 7″ splits of classic TV themes and variously colored vinyl: Star Trek backed with Lost In Space, The Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents with The Munsters. The countdown begins until the creation of a reissue label focused exclusively on TV theme songs…
(LEX 12″, 1000 COPIES)
Willie Isz is the union of blue-chip alt.rap producer Jneiro Jarel and Goodie Mob member Khujo. 2009 debut Georgiavania – a psychedelic hip-hop record running the gamut from retooled No Wave to Southern rap – was more slept-on than a waterbed, and now gets its debut vinyl release.Boasting a guest spot from TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and stunning artwork from James Jarvis, it’s a pleasure to see the album get a second crack at the whip.
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