In rotation: 2/7/20

Union City, NJ | Promoting local musical talent is shop owners’ cup of tea: Musicians Jonathan Rivera and Jay Herrera combined two of their passions a few months ago and opened one of Union City’s most singular stores, Arawax Records & Teas. Located at 601 11th St., just off Bergenline Avenue, the small shop offers vinyl records as well as a collection of organic teas, art, books and apparel. It also hosts DJ sets by local emcees and a video podcast called “Shop Sessions.” On Friday, Feb. 7, Arawax will participate in a tribute to the late rapper J. Dilla by sponsoring a free show at 414 38th St., Union City, with DJ sets and live music. “We decided to take everything we care about and turn it into this store,” co-owner Rivera said. “We’re really into vinyl and we both have our own collections. We just wanted to do something that reflects what we want to do with music as our careers. We’re just spreading the musical knowledge we have to the community.” But Arawax is much more than a record store.

Lafayette, IN | West Lafayette’s ‘new downtown’ plan panned by property owners who see city muscling in: The longer Jim Pasdach sat listening to city planners talk Monday night about a proposed West Lafayette Downtown Plan – one meant to shape the look and feel of the city’s Village and Levee areas over the next half-century – the madder he got. Halfway through what turned out to be an hourlong discussion in front of the West Lafayette City Council, Pasdach, owner of JL Records at 380 Brown St., said he’d had enough. “See that blue line?” Pasdach asked, on this way out of the makeshift city council chambers at the former Happy Hollow Elementary. The blue line was part of a grid of imaginary blocks superimposed over existing businesses and parking lots in the Levee Plaza meant in the proposed plan to give the area between River Road and the Wabash River more of a traditional downtown feel, on par with the layout of streets in downtown Lafayette.

A new book looks over the environmental toll of music consumption: An excerpt of Kyle Devine’s Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music appeared in The Guardian this week. “…PVC contains carcinogenic chemicals, and the operation produces toxic wastewater that the company has been known to pour into the Chao Phraya River according to Greenpeace, which says TPC has ‘a history of environmental abuses’ going back to the early ’90s,” Devine writes, going on to note that stateside PVC manufacturing in the ’70s also led to illegal pollution including “exposing workers to toxic fumes, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and dumping toxic wastewater down the drain.” Online streaming, however, does not present a responsible alternative according to Devine: “[Streaming music relies] on infrastructures of data storage, processing and transmission that have potentially higher greenhouse gas emissions than the petrochemical plastics used in the production of more obviously physical formats such as LPs. To stream music is to burn coal, uranium and gas.

Questions for a Wedding D.J.: Monique Proctor, who changed her name to DJ Smiles Davis 11 years ago, talks about playlists, fees and her favorite wedding moments. Monique Proctor became known as DJ Smiles Davis 11 years ago. “My career as a D.J. happened organically,” said Ms. Davis, 35, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., in the 1980s and was introduced to music at her grandparents’ record store there. In her early 20s, she began working at Amoeba Music, where she was in charge of organizing cassettes and doing inventory at one store. “I’d take home 10 CDs a day and burn them,” she said. “During that time, my neighbor had a turntable and I become obsessed with mixing vinyls. [DJ or not, the plural of vinyl is vinyl. —Ed.] It was stimulating and exciting. I started doing parties and that took off.” At 24, Ms. Davis left Amoeba to become a D.J. full time. By then she had amassed a collection of more than 100,000 songs. And during the last seven years she has worked at more than 200 weddings. In addition, she has been a D.J. for various celebrities, including Martha Stewart, Gwen Stefani and Bruno Mars, and has performed at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Third Man Records announces 20th anniversary Vault Package reissue of The White Stripes’ De Stijl: Third Man Records, the Nashville-based record label founded by The White Stripes’ former frontman Jack White, is set to reissue he band’s classic 2000 sophomore album De Stijl. This reissue will be a 20th anniversary vault package, titled Vault Package #44 De Stijl 20th Anniversary Package. Prospective buyers will need to sign up for the vault collection series by April 30th at midnight CST. The subscriptions are currently $65 for three months or $240 for twelve months. The package will contain a hardcover case, an archival booklet filled with previously unseen photos, flyers and more, a white LP and a red LP full of previously unreleased recordings and covers, and a DVD containing two performances recorded during the time of the album’s release. This album was released right before the band released their first venture into commercial popularity with White Blood Cells.

For Your Consideration: Quentin Tarantino for Best Soundtrack: The Academy doesn’t honor those responsible for curating perfect film-accompanying playlists, but it should—starting with one overwhelmingly deserving candidate. …From its first needle drop, Once Upon a Time takes us on a giddy joyride through real epochal horror. Like Tarantino’s previous revisionist genre flicks, 2009’s Inglourious Basterds and 2012’s Django Unchained, this Manson-adjacent picaresque is at once preposterous, distasteful, and a genuine magic trick, taking such firm hold of our senses that it manages to suspend 50 years of true-crime lit for nearly three full hours. In a booklet that accompanied a Q.T. compilation album, The Tarantino Connection, the director shared his secret. To start a movie, he writes, “I go through my record collection and just start playing songs, trying to find the personality of the movie.” He then heads into the immense vinyl LP vault in his basement and digs through crates in search of what both DJs and screenwriters call the “beats” that remain to be hit. This mode of narrative assembly leaves Tarantino’s distinct footprint on each of his soundtracks, which are diverse but hardly random.

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