In rotation: 6/4/20

Memphis, TN | Memphis Record Stores Keep The Flame Of Vinyl Burning: In addition to being a boiling cauldron of musical creation, well documented in this week’s cover story, Memphis is a city of world-class record stores. Both Goner Records and Shangri-La Records have been celebrated, by Rolling Stone and others, as being among the best in the country — or in the world. And there are others in their ranks as well, as reported thoroughly last year by Cady Jones in the Choose901 blog. To cap off this week’s celebration of all things musical in the Bluff City, I reached out to some of the finest purveyors of vinyl here, hoping to hear some good news about their continued survival. But the first person I contacted offered a more sobering message. Paul Williams ran Audiomania for 30 years before shuttering it for good, a month ago. In an email exchange, Paul reflected on his years in the business and that rare magic to be found on certain corners in the city.

Sarnia, ON | Record store pays ‘talent tax’ on CDs from local musicians: Shortly after their downtown Sarnia business re-opened following the provincial COVID-19 lockdown, Cheeky Monkey Record Store owners Mary Anne and Roland Peloza were thinking how they could give back to the community during these unprecedented times. It was a chance conversation with Mary Anne’s Australia-based nephew Jim that inspired the record store husband-and-wife team to come up with an initiative that will both help struggling local musicians currently unable to earn a living performing at live venues while also making Sarnians more aware of some of the musical talent that has emerged from their community. Until such time that music can be enjoyed live and in person once again, Cheeky Monkey will be supporting local musicians by paying the tax on every purchase of a ‘local talent’ CD. That includes albums made by a wide variety of artists ranging from the country stylings of Eric Ethridge to the metal/grimecore carnage of 4HATEU8, from the hypnotic blues of Missy Burgess and the Blue Train to the scintillating sounds of local music icon Jim Chevalier and Almost Floating.

Astoria, OR | Video Horizons, record store moving to Duane Street: Video Horizons owner Neal Cummings is partnering with vinyl collector Richard Moore to create a new rental and record store on Duane Street. Cummings closed Video Horizons, one of the few video rental stores left in the region, to walk-ins during the coronavirus outbreak. He recently raised more than $4,500 through a GoFundMe campaign to help with a slowdown, but said his rent at the Astor Street location is unsustainable. On Tuesday, he began moving his video collection to 1156 Duane St. The storefront is next to the Deals Only thrift store and on the opposite side of the building from the Five Zero Trees marijuana store. “I’m really looking forward to presenting kind of a physical media paradise,” Cummings said. Moore, a former Elvis impersonator, has amassed more than 300,000 vinyl records spread between several storage units across Oregon and southwest Washington state. He runs Play it Again, a record store inside a hangar in Gearhart selling a menagerie of media, including LPs, eight tracks, 33s, 45s, 78s and VHS tapes.

Chicago, IL | Artist Behind ‘Tiny Guide’ Donating More Than $10,000 In Sales To City’s Indie Record Stores And Venues: Maura Walsh is donating proceeds from her popular hand-drawn guide as well as from larger prints. The artist behind “Our Tiny Guide to Chicago’s Best Music Culture Spots” is donating its proceeds to help record stores and venues hit hard by the shutdown. Artist Maura Walsh started selling her hand-illustrated guide last year as a way to spotlight places like The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., Laurie’s Planet of Sound, 4639 N. Lincoln Ave., and Old Town School of Folk, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. The tiny book has been so popular, Walsh is on her third printing. As an avid music fan, she decided to reach out to venues featured in her book to ask if they would accept donations from its sales. Walsh announced her fundraising effort May 19 and raised more than $10,000 by Thursday. Her tiny book costs $20, but Walsh has a pay-what-you-can option on her Etsy store. Some people have paid more than $100 for it, she said.

Paris, FR | Record Store Recs: Polo & Pan Take Us To Paris’ Les Balades Sonores: The funky French electro duo also serve up a great list of recommended albums, including reissues from Tokyo’s experimental electronic innovator Yukihiro Takashi and Lagos’ ’70s psych rockers Ofege. Parisian electro-pop duo Polo & Pan, consisting of Alexandre Grynszpan and Paul Armand-Delille, are a beloved festival fixture across the globe, thanks to their upbeat, vintage-inspired brand of electro funk. Last year, the pair toured their joyful music tirelessly around the world, with major shows at Coachella, Spain’s Vida and Paraiso fests, Israel’s Garden of Babylone and Belgium’s Paradise City Fest, to name a few. They are currently working on their sophomore album, the follow up to 2017’s vibrant Caravelle. Earlier this month, they dropped a teaser of what’s to come, the Home Sweet Home mixtape, which you can enjoy below. As the hour-long project’s intro explains, it includes “edits that we love and cherish, snippets of the upcoming album and other exclusive surprises.” We caught up with Grynszpan and Armand-Delille in a rare break from their productive quarantine studio time for the latest edition of our Record Store Recs series. Read on to learn more about the duo’s favorite hometown record store and the epic list of records on their wish list.

New Orleans, LA | There’s just over a dozen places in the country that actually press vinyl records, NOLA is home to one. Record presses are surprisingly hard to come by. With only about 16 presses in the 50 states, the growing success of one in New Orleans is a big deal. “There’s so much music in New Orleans, it struck me as crazy that no one was making the actual product here,” said New Orleans Record Press founder, Dan Lauricella, as he sat in the flatbed of his truck. He was covered in construction dust from a renovation that he had put on pause to answer a few questions. “Of all of the things I’ve done in my life, pressing a record has definitely been the hardest. It’s so much easier to build a house.” Co-owners Remi Foulon, Mike Quinlan and Dan Lauricella come from wildly different backgrounds but the one thing they all have in common is that none of them has ever run a record press before. “It’s such a specialization, there just aren’t that many opportunities to have done it. We learn as we go.”

Colour my vinyl, colour my life: Our lives are often regulated by fashion. There’s fashion in the fashion, there’s fashion in our vacation destinations (hope this comes back soon), there’s even fashion in politics – I skip this one, for I find myself quite unfashionable in that field. But what is vogue in the music business I follow closely. Not necessarily in strictly music terms, I must admit. Do you like The Kinks? Yes, the old British group with a misspelled name (that was a f-a-s-h-i-o-n of the times to misspell band names, e.g. The Monkeeys or The Byrds). I love The Kinks for the music and the lyrics and the sense of humour. I particularly like to recall their song ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’, just in case, God forbid, I should become one (“One week he’s in polka-dots, the next week he is in stripes”). But there are fashionable things that – even for me – are so hard to resist… The colour vinyl. They have always been around, but they faded as did all our analogue media with the emergence of the digital CD disc. Now they are back.

Miami, FL | From a Distance, Indie Label Father/Daughter Records Achieves Ten Years of Business: “She thinks of the artists as family,” Ken Hector says proudly of his daughter, Jessi Frick. Hector is referring to the artists signed to the aptly named Father/Daughter Records, an indie label the pair co-founded. Frick oversees the day-to-day business, Hector does the bookkeeping — all while living 3,300 miles apart. “I think the label started when I was born, essentially,” Frick tells New Times. That familial bond birthed a widely lauded record label that has been in business for ten years and is quickly approaching its 100th release from a diverse roster that includes Diet Cig, Pure Bathing Culture, Remember Sports, and Christelle Bofale. Though Frick is based in San Francisco these days, the foundation of what would become Father/Daughter was built in Miami. “My favorite record shop growing up was Blue Note Records,” Frick says.

Coronavirus Is Making Record Labels Scrappier: Without tours or stores, indies like Fire Talk and Merge are finding creative ways to forge ahead. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an onslaught of terrible news for the music industry, impacting touring artists, road crew, venue workers, publicists, and recording studios alike. Even if the pandemic’s impact on the recorded music industry has been a bit less straightforward, Independent record labels—and the people who run them—have also been subject to this turmoil. Unlike the world of live music, most labels are still able to operate under shelter-in-place orders; but the unique nature of the work they do, from signing new artists to producing the finished records you hold in your hands, puts them in the crosshairs of disruptions in just about every sector of the industry, which has left them, too, with an uncertain future. With tours and festivals off the table indefinitely, labels have been forced to confront a number of tough questions simultaneously: How will their roster cope with a potentially disastrous loss of touring income, including record and merch sales made on the road? Will closures at record press plants and recording studios affect their 2020 release schedules? How devastating will the shutdown of brick-and-mortar record stores be for their bottom line? Labels of all sizes have no choice but to try to adapt accordingly.

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