Friday, October 30, 2009


Published by Gregorious Winter

White label disc jockey promos. Withdrawn 45 picture sleeves pressed in Sweden. Mint Lexingtons with a deep groove, flat edge and RVG in the run off. While this terminology is alien to the general population, these words were often murmured throughout the WFMU Record & CD Fair held at Metropolitan Pavilion’s expansive convention space in downtown Manhattan from October 23rd-26th. Fuzzed out, foot stomping, head banging and shoe gazing grooves from every period of music could be found this past weekend as millions of records were available for purchase under one roof.

WFMU Record Fair

This year’s event saw record breaking (not literally) numbers in attendance, with 2,300 people paying admission to get in on a dreary Saturday and 4,000 people tallied for the whole weekend. Once inside, attendees were presented with a cornucopia of sensory-overwhelming paths to travel down that included live music, film screenings, DJs spinning and, of course, more records and CDs than you can shake a stick at. With over one hundred and fifty dealers, every conceivable genre of music could be found at the annual event. While vinyl was the main course at the convention, there were plenty of dealers who were hawking non-playable tchotkes to tempt potential customers. From books to t-shirts to homemade drink coasters (nothing says class like resting a glass of Merlot on a Kraftwerk coaster), there really was something for everyone.

The Trashmen Live at WFMU Record Fair

What makes this annual pow-wow of music nuts so unique is the addition of live music performances throughout the weekend. The walls of the pavilion shook as the legendary group from the 1960s The Trashmen played a rawkus set of dirty rock and roll, including their infamous hit “Surfin Bird.” Following close behind was Heavy Trash with an hour long set of raw and bluesy grooves. Legendary NYC guitarist Jon Spencer, of Blues Explosion fame, is 1/3 of the group and their presence at the fair was mind-blowing. Sunday was highlighted with a majestic performance by Chris Brokaw and his 12-string guitar trio, setting a more calm and relaxed atmosphere at the event. Throughout the whole weekend, the radio station’s DJs spun slabs of LPs and 45s for the crowd. Unlike many record conventions where hundreds of thousands of records are in one room and none are actually being played, WFMU provides an uninterrupted stream of music for the whole weekend.

Rarities are abundant at the Record Fair

Walking the aisles, bits of conversation in French, German, Italian, Russian and Japanese could all be heard as travelers came from all points to attend the fair. This show, which is the largest of its kind in North America, attracts every manner of customer through the doors. Many of the foreign attendees are knee deep in the business of buying and selling high-end vinyl, dropping thousands of dollars in the US and turning a profit back in their country where desirable Blue Note Jazz LPs and obscure funk LPs from the Midwest are not to be found. Beyond the high rollers though, the bulk of attendees were just people who love to shop for music but find it increasingly hard to do so as record stores continue to close left and right. The most notable trend though was the overwhelming amount of young people digging through crates and building their collections with foundational artists and recordings. This development in the record collecting community is a strong sign and solid proof of vinyl regaining a foothold in the market.

My nook in the corner attracted a fair share of collectors seeking out all kinds of genres— many attracted by my display of dozens of records plastered all over the wall behind me. Even so, the fair was sprinkled with highly specialized dealers hawking very specific albums and singles. Crates littered with ludicrously rare Nigerian high-life and afro-beat records could be found close to the stacks of mouth watering Brazilian psych and jazz pieces brought straight from São Paulo. Collectors of Northern Soul 45s (read next week’s post “Trends in Collecting”) could be seen satisfying their fix as buyers sought out anything obscure on the favorable 45rpm medium. Beyond all the rare and expensive vinyl that can empty a pocket of cash in an eye blink, the record fair also offered up a plethora of bargain discs for casual shoppers who favor paying for wax in single digit values. Despite my addiction to vinyl and my insatiable appetite to consume overwhelming amounts of it, I did not make many purchases this weekend. From behind my table, I enjoyed the countless hours of meeting new people and watching interesting specimens of the human race. For every ordinary music loving person that would walk past, at least two examples of your stereotypical music fanatic —smelling of old records and body odor—would shuffle by.

With the last spin of the turntable and the handful of diehards scoring the best bargains at the final seconds, the WFMU Record Fair closed its doors until next year thus allowing everyone another twelve months to recover and excavate more obscure wax for the hungry masses.

Keep Digging!

Special Thanks to Gregorious for allowing me to reprint this material!


Music News & Notes

Rare Beatles LPs

Earlier in the week, I told you about a gent who, for years, during the wee small hours, as an employee at a Capitol Records pressing plant created a series of magnificent one-of-a-kind LPs.

These spectacular, rainbow-coloured records were created by an unnamed former worker at a Capitol plant in Canada. After shifts at the factory, the employee "would amuse himself", according to a pair of Toronto vinyl dealers, "by creating totally unique coloured-vinyl LPs". As an employee of Capitol, this Beatles fan allegedly had access to the "original plates" for several albums. Using these, he would press his own special copies – applying coloured dye and artisanal techniques.

These copies include Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on bright baby-blue marble vinyl, the 1967-70 greatest hits compilation on swirled blue-and-white vinyl, and a translucent blue LP with side A of Revolver and side B of John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band album.

However, the most beautiful item in the collection is the Beatles' Love Songs anthology, made with gold vinyl. This is streaked with an abstract expressionist rainbow, like an explosion at a paint factory. Unfortunately, the set's second LP is just plain black vinyl.

In addition to the Beatles records, the vinyl guru also pressed special versions of albums by Helen Reddy, Peter Appleyard and a compilation featuring Anne Murray.

There may be more in the treasure chest, watch here for more updates.


Red Hot Chili Peppers plan 2010 release

With enthusiasm again behind them and a self-imposed hiatus scheduled to end this month, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have begun plotting their next move. And as drummer Chad Smith revealed in a recent interview with Clash Music, this next move will include a new studio album in 2010.

“We’re gonna write for a while, it usually takes us a while,” explained Smith before speculating that the release date would be “Some time next year, maybe this time [next year].”


Frightened Rabbit Returns With Highly Anticipated Third LP

Having topped myriad "Best Of" lists in 2008 with their widely acclaimed sophomore album, "The Midnight Organ Fight," Glasgow's Frightened Rabbit returns with their anticipated third album, "The Winter Of Mixed Drinks." The follow-up to their breakthrough LP will be released worldwide in March 2010 on FatCat Records. The record's first taste, "Swim Until You Can't See Land," is streaming now via FatCat's website and will be digitally released November 17th, followed by a 7-inch b/w "Fun Stuff" on December 8th.

The Rabbit's jangly, anthemic sophomore album earned them critical adoration; among those bestowing it with best-of-the-year laurels were Village Voice's Pazz & Jop Poll, The Onion, Magnet, and Pitchfork, who also designated album opener, "The Modern Leper," one of "The Best Tracks of 2008" as well as one of its "Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s." Upon its unveiling, the foursome's newest offering, "Swim Until You Can't See Land," made instant waves online, with gushing: "We suggest you find a quiet spot this afternoon, turn your desk speakers up and drink it all in."

Following an exciting but exhausting year, lead Rabbit Scott Hutchison retreated to the harbor town of Crail, along Scotland's Fyfe coastline, and was inspired to pen "Swim," an undeniably catchy song about "losing your mind in order to rest the mind and the body." The track, buoyed by chiming guitars and a shuffling beat, builds and swells as it progresses, bolstered by a sweeping string arrangement courtesy of fellow FatCat artist Hauschka.

According to Hutchison, "Swim" is the natural lead-in to the album: "It's the one that sort of sums up the record for me," he reveals. "I had the song's title in my mind before I even started writing the album; I was becoming more and more interested in the idea of a rejection of the habits and behavior most people see as normal, and in turn embracing a certain madness. This is not necessarily a geographical journey, as the 'swim' can involve any activity in which you can lose yourself. It's a good introduction to the record as the theme unravels therein."

Nautical references continue throughout the album, interwoven among recurring themes of wearied endurance, recaptured freedom, and redemption. "Thematically, this record had to be different from the last," explains Hutchison. "Nobody wanted to hear more break-up songs, and thankfully, I no longer had any in me."

While a failed relationship may not be the centerpiece of this new collection, the songs retain some of the solemnity of previous efforts. "I think even the most upbeat moments on the record are conveyed in somewhat dark language," Hutchison admits.

Frightened Rabbit will be touring the UK through the end of the year, with a string of headlining gigs followed by a weeklong run in Ireland and England with Modest Mouse.

A full North American tour is planned for the album's release.


The Band Of Heathens Appear On PBS' Austin City Limits

The Band of Heathens, whose new album One Foot in the Ether the web 'zine ponders as "the best record of 2009," will appear on PBS' Austin City Limits on November 7 on a bill headlined by Elvis Costello. On the program, the band performs five songs: "Jackson Station," "L.A. County Blues," "Shine a Light," "Golden Calf" and "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone."

Austin City Limits celebrates its 35th season this year and is the longest running music series in American TV history - the show was recently named a landmark by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Other artists on tap this season include Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, M. Ward, Asleep at the Wheel, Andrew Bird and Steve Earle.

Although both the Band of Heathens and the producers of Austin City Limits are based in Austin, ACL executive producer Terry Lickona first saw the band while in Nashville for the 2008 Americana Music Festival and Conference.


RJD2 giving away lots of free stuff ahead of new album

“Every Monday, from now until the release of “The Colossus”, I’m gonna give something away, right here at RJEC.COM. Some weeks it might be a singular physical item, some weeks it might be an unreleased song in mp3 format, I really have no idea exactly what, but it’s not gonna be pocket lint-caliber, that’s for sure. Some weeks it will require participation, some weeks it won’t. Each week I will announce the winner, and the new item.”

Per RJD2 on his plans to give lots of stuff away ahead of the January 19th release of his forthcoming full length, The Colossus.

First up is a super rare vinyl test pressing of The Horror EP, originally released in 2003 on Definitive Jux records and in line to be reissued on November 17th via RJ’s newly formed label, RJ’s Electrical Connections, now home to nearly all things RJD2 past and present. To win? Answer the follow question correctly:


Email if you think you know.

============================ Restocks:

AGAINST ME! “Disco Before the Breakdown” 7? gold/orange vinyl
GET BENT “Dead It” 7?
FESTIPALS “Gold Magic” 7?
NO FRIENDS “No Friends” LP
BANNER PILOT “Pass the Poison” one-sided LP


Jesse Malin finds new label, readies new album

Jesse Malin, aka the former frontman of legendary punk outfits Heart Attack and D Generation who is now an acclaimed singer/songwriter as well as a friend of Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams, has been signed by Side One Dummy Records. This is particularly big news because Malin has already begun work on his first release for the label and is currently held up at at Sonic Youth’s Think Tank Studio in Hoboken, NJ with producer Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Lucero, Flogging Molly).

According to an issued press release, the yet-to-be-titled effort was written after a personality crisis and brief hiatus during which Malin attempted-among other things-stints as a charity auctioneer; a Las Vegas wedding DJ; and a documentarian of Rastafarian culture. But none of that, as Malin explains, has taken away from his one-of-a-kind intensity: “I wanted to mix the raw, loose energy that I got from playing in my early hardcore bands and the lonely feeling I get from traveling with an acoustic guitar.”

Expect to hear the album in early 2010, with many tour dates to follow.