In rotation: 12/13/19

Montreal, CA | Mile End record stores uncertain about future as they face fines over business hours: Shops visited by provincial inspector on Record Store Day have now received fines for thousands of dollars. Independent record stores are wondering about their future in Mile End after being fined thousands of dollars for being open past 5 p.m. on the weekend. Four stores — Phonopolis, Sonorama, La Rama and Death of Vinyl — were visited by an inspector from the provincial Economy and Innovation Ministry on Saturday, April 13, and all were given notices saying they were open too late. The fines, issued by the Justice Ministry, arrived this month. They were taking part in Record Store Day, where shops around the world sell exclusive pressings and hold events to promote supporting independent retailers. Eduardo Cabral, co-owner of Sonorama, says it was the first time in his 35 years working at Montreal record stores that he had a visit from a provincial inspector, who arrived around 5:40 p.m. Instead of handing Cabral a warning, the inspector gave him a notice saying his case would be passed on to the Justice Ministry to determine the fine — with the minimum being $1,500.

UPDATE: Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said she is sensitive to the situation of record stores and that economic development services will propose solutions to ease the stores’ financial struggles.

Bridport, UK | Clocktower Music is voted the best record store in the south: A record store has achieved podium position in a national competition – making it the best in the entire south of England. Clocktower Music, which can be found on Bridport’s St Michael’s Estate, took home the third place accolade in 2019’s independent Record Shop of the Year competition. This competition – which is run by industry magazine Long Live Vinyl – saw more than 280 stores face off against each other for the podium positions. Both stores which won first and second place are up north, meaning that Clocktower Music can boast of being the south of England’s best record store. Owner Roy Gregory said: “A mega thank you to all our customers and supporters for voting for Clocktower Music, we are amazed at the support. “We hope the result will also bring more music fans to Bridport and St Michael’s Trading Estate.”

Springfield, MO | New Record Store Opens in Springfield: City Music is set to provide the Ozarks with vinyl records and CDs. The new store is run by Jeff Moffatt, Ken Childers and Joe Livingston – KSMU’s host of the Roundabout. Livingston says the store fulfills a need in the community for new releases that he would like to see available in town and not just on the internet. “We are selling records, CDs, books, artifacts, furniture, tape decks, record players. Anything that we can sell that’s music related,” said Livingston. City Music will soon host house concerts in the back part of the store, featuring local and touring musicians. City Music is located in Springfield at 2528-A South Campbell and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 9 and Sundays 10 to 4.

Record Store Day Black Friday 2019 Helps Drive Third-Biggest Sales Week for Vinyl In Nielsen Era: Vinyl helps yield biggest overall album sales week of 2019. Pearl Jam’s “MTV Unplugged” was week’s top Record Store Day Black Friday exclusive album. Record Store Day Black Friday promotions on Nov. 29 helped drive another big win for vinyl album sales — and the largest overall sales week for albums in 2019 — according to Nielsen Music. The data tracking firm reports that 855,000 vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. during the week of Nov. 29 through Dec. 5 — the third-largest sales week for vinyl LPs since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991. The only weeks with larger sales were the frames ending Dec. 20, 2018 (880,000) and Dec. 27, 2018 (905,000). Also goosing sales in the most recent tracking week were Black Friday discounts and promotions on vinyl LPs at both Walmart and Target, where many titles were temporarily marked down to $15. Further, the sizzling vinyl sales around Black Friday helped yield an overall industry haul of 2,819,000 albums sold across all formats (vinyl, CD, download, cassette, etc.) — the biggest sales week for albums in 2019. The last week to generate a larger overall album sales number was the week ending Dec. 27, 2018, when a total of 4,391,000 albums were sold.

Tokyo, JP | Vinyl: The retro format that refuses to go away: Sales of premium audio equipment that allows listeners to fully appreciate the rarefied quality of analog records have been experiencing a boom as a growing segment of music fans rediscovers a passion for high-fidelity sound. In addition to a rise in the number of audiophiles who listen to music on such systems at home, a few new cafes are housing private booths equipped with record players. Soji Nagase is one such audiophile. At his home in Moriya, Ibaraki Prefecture, the 65-year-old doctor has a soundproof listening room lined with speakers, amps and other audio equipment. A record player is a recent addition to his hi-fi line-up, he said. Nagase began collecting vinyl records as a youth. His interest in the format was reignited this spring after attending a music event where organizers played records produced “direct-to-disc” — a recording method in which audio is recorded directly onto master discs. “I was surprised by the range of sounds I was able to hear,” Nagase said. “When listening to (those discs) on high-end speakers, it’s as if the ceiling disappears.”

Cassettes and EPs are the best of Record Store Day Black Friday: Leave it to Matt Berninger and the pranksters in his band, The National, to offer the best Record Store Day Black Friday item — the three-cassette Live at the Greek Theatre, Berkeley (4AD). Even if cassette decks are a rarity, this makes more sense than the omnipresent and silly 3-inch vinyl records priced at $10.99, and the Crosley turntables that play them. The National used the old Mike Millard analog recording method to get prime fidelity from a 2018 concert that borrowed heavily from Sleep Well Beast and 2019’s I Am Easy to Find. Other live albums for Black Friday were more conventional, such as a two-LP set of a Tony Joe White concert from 1971. EPs stood out amidst the reissues, particularly a 12-inch clear vinyl version of Lizzo’s Coconut Oil (Atlantic). The Hold Steady, who returned with a new album in 2019, offered four more cuts from the same studio sessions on Four On Ten (Frenchkiss), and all indications are that songwriter Craig Finn saved the best for last.

Final Fantasy VII vinyl soundtrack has cool picture discs, pre-orders now live: Spin that wheel, clash that steel. Square Enix Music has released images of its upcoming double vinyl release, featuring the scores of Final Fantasy VII and its upcoming remake… err… Final Fantasy VII Remake. Launching January 31, the double vinyl set is available to pre-order right now. The premium sound package features two double-sided LPs, one of which contains a selection of tracks taken from Final Fantasy VII Remake, while the other features the indelible sounds of the 1997 PlayStation original. Both records are picture discs, and are emblazoned with images of Cloud Strife and Sephiroth in the classic and redesigned forms. The records come housed in a sleek, triple-folded sleeve, with minimalist cover art depicting the game’s logo and the mighty meteor. You can check out images of the double LP set in the gallery below. The track listing is as follows

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