The Great American Record Store

Things have been hectic around these parts and therefore, I couldn’t queue up with the diehards (see PopHeart contributor @AllMyAnnie) and get wholeheartedly behind this year’s Record Store Day.

However, I was reminded this past week of the venerable status of American Record Stores as an institution ranking alongside libraries, gourmet food trucks, and the judicial branch as absolutely essential to our culture. IMHO.

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Strip-mining the bargain racks at Amoeba Records, Rasputin, among others, I managed to come away with Death Cab For Cutie’s Forbidden Love ep (Barsuk release 15 if you are counting) and The Get Up Kids Simple Science ep (hand numbered 4414 of 10,000).

Probably my favorite score on my trip through the North Valley and Bay Area came courtesy of Davis’ Armadillo Records. A brown paper lunch bag promised CDs, Mystery, Magic and Fun for the bargain basement cost of $1.

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In my grab bag I received: a Led Zeppelin drink coaster, Ryde or Die Vol. 1, Dave Matthews Some Devil, a large Cloud Nothings sticker (fav item), Del Taco free taco coupon, a 1990 Wes Gardner baseball card, a Mike Roesler rookie card, and a McDonalds-branded cardio workout DVD.

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I should’ve bought ten more.

Future Islands play The Observatory OC

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It seems like Future Islands is one of those bands that burst onto the scene in a thunderstorm of buzz. It began with an appearance in March on the David Letterman show where their performance left the host nearly speechless.  Then they scored a slot at the famed Coachella festival where front man Samuel Herring’s eccentric stage performance set the Internet a chatter with accolades ranging from worship to down right disgust.  So when I had the chance to see them during Localchella here in the greater Los Angeles area I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

The crowd packed into the intimate Constellation room at The Observatory OC until we were sardines sharing sweat and oxygen. As soon as Future Islands took the stage the crowd broke into a “Happy Birthday” serenade to Herring. Turns out he recently celebrated his 30th birthday. Sweetly he thanked the crowd then turned to his band mates and spun around singing out the first notes of what was to prove to be a wild show. For several songs the crowd cheered, sang along and danced with Herring.  Each time he did his signature squat dance moves (refer to the YouTube video below) the fans shrieked with excitement.  At times Herring was so lost in his music that he began singing to imaginary people/objects/or maybe lost memories. He’d reach his hand out as he was singing and then pull it back to himself hitting his chest or shoving it in his mouth only to fling it back out like he was resurrecting something lost deep within himself. Somehow it all worked. We were transfixed.

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By the fourth song in the set the crowd started surging with increased intensity as Herring danced and gyrated on stage. These fans didn’t just love this band they were eating up every single disco move, guttural growl and drip of sweat until  that energy was thrown back to the stage.  His performance verges on crazy and Herring himself described his dance moves as weird, but this over-the-top performance is what the fans love.

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Another part of what draws people to Herring, I believe, is the mash up of a singing voice. He goes from singing pop hooks when suddenly he drops down into a low cookie-monster-like growl when a mischievous grin spreads across his face and a quirky high pitched voice comes out.  But the thing is when he actually lets go and sings, the man can sing! His baritone voice is clear, deep and emotive. When he allowed himself those pure singing moments I could hear and see the talent that moved beyond the theatrics. He clearly is a romantic and finds joy in what he does and possibly all the dancing and death metal growling that he does is the purest expression of that joy. Like all buzz bands, Future Islands really isn’t an overnight sensation; they have been a decade in the making and don’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. I walked out of the show knowing that the buzz surrounding Future Islands is no joke, this is a dynamic synth-pop group that will no doubt continue to rise to stardom.

 

The Golden Republic, Flick #TBT

When I moved to Springfield, MO in 1998, I was immediately exposed to a new world of mid-western rock bands. One of the first local musicians I met was Kenneth Jankowski, who was playing in a local band called Avionic and eventually went on to form The People who would base themselves out of nearby Kansas City.

Having grown somewhat accustomed to slacker-noise-college-rock and post-grunge, one thing that stands out about the bands we would go see was the intense work-ethic and professionalism of the dedicated locals. Bands like Flick (Oran Thornton got his start in Johnny Q. Public and would go on to produce most ever MO-based band for a few years), Fern, Ghettoblaster, a reunited Johnny Q. etc. were so dang professional and skilled that I was often left shaking my head in awe.

Official bio:

The Golden Republic was an American rock band, originally formed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1999 under the name People by founding members Ben Grimes and Ryan Shank. In 2003, The Golden Republic signed with Astralwerks Records, releasing one album and one EP through the label. The band split up in December 2006 and Kenn Jankowski went on to form The Republic Tigers.

After they returned from a European/U.S. tour supporting Placebo, I remember thinking that Flick might be the greatest band in the universe. But their reign was short-lived, which makes this a perfect Throwback Thursday because the best bands only make 1 or 2 albums max.

Leagues release free deluxe album

As Jerry Magiure so eloquently put it “We live in a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors, I love you. You complete me. And I just…”

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In this brutal, unforgiving world of cynicism and irony, we need music like LEAGUES. Download and find out for yourself.

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What Nashville’s LEAGUES creates is ethereal, joyful music that captures the imagination and challenges the mind. This isn’t music played in a vacuum, solely for the benefit of the artist and their creative vision. Their infectious sound brings people together in a way that is unbiased and knows no boundaries. YOU BELONG HERE is not just the album title, but an invitation to enter into the journey. On this deluxe version of YOU BELONG HERE, drummer Jeremy Lutito comments, “We are a band that loves songs. We believe that great songs are timeless. And it’s our hope that with the first version, second version, and third version of the same song we can recapture the imagination of old and new listeners.”