Saturday, 18 April 2009

National Record Store Day

Today is National Record Store day, a celebration of independent record stores across the UK and hopefully a reminder of how bloody fantastic they are that will jolt people into spending a bit more dollar in them. I went down to Pure Groove this afternoon, soaked up some Farringdon sun and watched Patrick Wolf perform dressed as Dracula, if he were a biker. It's been a while since Patrick released anything and his live shows can range from the astonishingly brilliant to the terrifyingly disappointing. Today fell into the former category, with a handful of new songs that make you think, if they sound so... perfect in a record shop instore then how mind-blowingly out of this world are they going to sound in a proper venue/on record? Seems like the Wolf is back on form. 

After, we got interviewed by a freelance journalist (who also goes to Goldsmiths, yay us!) about our record store habits. He was Scottish and nice and let me ramble on about kids today, download culture, how record stores have to have more than just records to get people through the door and how I had more money to spend on records when I was at school than I do now. Good guy. When I was 13 and read the NME for the first time, I realised people actually get paid to listen to records, go to gigs, talk to bands and then write about it. Hey, and they get free records and don't have to pay in to shows. Perfect job. I decided pretty snappily that that's what I wanted to do, but even though I thought I could probably get whatever records I wanted without spending a penny, I still thought I would buy copies, so I could have the full artwork etc. Alas, I'm far too skint to actually do that, which is a massive shame because talking to that journo today made me realise how long its been since I actually bought a record with my own money. I see CDs/vinyls on merch desks at the end of shows and think I need to own that record but I could probably do with that £5 or however much so I can get trashed or get a bus or something. Besides, I can just email the PR company and get a link or a CD-R, right? And that's me, who's writing about bands and (hopefully) introducing people to them and making them want to go out and buy their records, so what about everyone else? Most people go on the internet and find a link where they can download a record for free and then sit back and enjoy, guilt-free, without paying a penny. I hate this new download culture where everything is so accessible and immediate, where people think there's nothing wrong with downloading it for free and then not going out and buying a physical copy. Where no one cares about the artwork or the colour of the vinyl, or even what label the record's released on. 

I hate this new download culture because its changed how we consume music in terms of money and the environment in which we access it. Now, you can get the new Art Brut album (before its even out) from the comfort of your own home and record shops are having to provide other services to get people coming in to their stores and spending money. Pure Groove is essentially a coffee bar now. There's hardly any records, and what stock they've got are on the wall behind the bar. I remember going into the shop when it was still on the Holloway Road and spending ages flicking through boxes of vinyl in a tiny space crammed full of music and thinking it was heaven. I almost applied to London Met on the basis that halls were on the Holloway Road thus my local pub would be Nambucca and my local record store would be Pure Groove. And then Nambucca burnt down and PG moved to Farringdon, cut its stock to a top 100 records and lost its charm a bit. My love for it is deep rooted and will last forever but its just not as good now. Especially not now the emphasis is on serving espressos rather than selling the new No Pain in Pop compilation. I had to deliver some issues of Kruger there the other week and it was the first time I'd been in since they'd started serving drinks. I didn't even notice the records behind the bar and went back to the office more than a little confused. 

This wasn't meant to turn into such a rant but the subject angers me greatly. I just want to be able to sit in a grubby little shop and search for new records to fall in love with, not some flash joint full of rich kids desperately trying to be cool sipping on lattes where I can't even touch the things I want to buy. 

Graham Coxon played later and was amazing. Only new album stuff, which was nice. Folky and beautiful. It was good to be able to hear Graham talking in his hushed Essex tones too. Yes. Coxon makes me happy, very much so. 

Otherwise... I went on a massive Blur kick yesterday due to the warm-up show announcements and then looked on the GCSU site late last night and almost cried with happiness at the implication that Goldsmiths students might be being offered tickets somehow. All doubts I had about coming here are now erased. Yay Goldsmiths. Also, um, sorry for whining on the internet about not being able to go. Woe is me an'that. Sorry. I am a spanner. Contrastingly to that "yay Goldsmiths" bit there, I made myself upset earlier reading the No Pain in Pop interview in Loud & Quiet in which it is revealed the Amersham Arms (aka coolest pub, like, ever) has stopped putting on live music until the East London line is back up in 2010. I don't even understand. Surely Goldsmiths kids will go to gigs there? Fuck non-NewX-ers if they can't be bothered to travel. Give me my New X dream back! Oh, Amersham. I think I really have missed the boat on this one. What I would give for someone to come along and give us our scene back. And now, I can't wait until next month when I can move to somewhere with good things happening rather than being stopped. 

This week we've been listening to: 
The Big Pink - Velvet (single. of. year) 
Blur/Graham Coxon 
Chairlift - Bruises
Patrick Wolf - Vulture
Boy Crisis 

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