Record Store Day

Record Store Day in Toronto 2014

Record Store Day 2014 is this Saturday in Toronto and all across North America. Do you enjoy music? Do you like limited, tangible keepsakes? Hell, are you simply a sucker for free entertainment that can fill those dull Saturday hours of this phony spring? If so, Record Store Day has something for you.

Now in its eighth year, Record Store Day has been injecting much needed interest in struggling brick-and-mortar record shops worldwide, providing exclusive releases and unmatched dopamine rushes for vinyl fiends of all ages.

Before you decide where you're going to trade your hard earned cash for some of that delicious, delicious vinyl, you should have an informed idea of the goods you'll be scouting out this Saturday. Not only is there a glut of limited releases and reissues being distributed worldwide, as usual, but this year sees a greater focus towards regional exclusives, to make everyone feel the warm tingly sensation that freshly-pressed wax from your homeland inspires.

The "regional," insofar as it applies to Canadians, is constituted by stuff your grandpappy will probably dig, including the concentrated Canadiana of Gordon Lightfoot and Blue Rodeo (the latter of which are the "ambassadors" of our country to the world this Record Store Day, a role obviously necessitated by a national struggle towards maximum cultural bragging rights among record nerds). Elsewhere, there are Ontario institutions like The Darcys and Arkells, who are pressing limited releases on a slightly larger production run.

The international releases are obviously more diverse and, well, pretty much objectively better than the relatively sparse Canadian exclusives. That said, a brand-new four-song EP from the eccentrically brilliant Chad VanGaalen, conspicuously titled I Want You Back, is one of the more exciting releases on the list, as is the new Michael Feuerstack (don't call him Snailhouse) record, Singer Songer, punnily titled for the multiple guest vocalists employed throughout. Looking south to the States, one can see America swimming in riches with damn fine reissues from the likes of Built to Spill, Outkast, and Link Wray (luckily these, and most others, will have worldwide distribution to some degree).

Everybody's got a stake in the spotlight the world over, with locales as far flung as Sweden (represented by pop mastermind Nina Persson) and, um, space (repped by a compilation entitled The Space Project) participating. The latter has to be the strangest release of all on the list, incorporating actual electromagnetic vibes produced by planetary bodies, as recorded by Voyageur 1 and 2, and logically worked into the material of Spiritualized, Absolutely Free, and many more space-friendly bands to create a medley of spacey jams.

Stream it over at NPR if it sounds like your thing, but regardless of taste and genre preference, you ought to scour the wealth of bounty on offer over at the Record Store Day Canada site.

You can also find listings of particular Record Store Day happenings in your area. Since this holiday was founded on the dream of thinking local (and following through on those thoughts), you should at least make it out to show your support for the endeavour to save the tactile parts of music enjoyment, damn it.

Your best bet for the afternoon is probably in the Annex, at the day-spanning blowout at Sonic Boom. Expect live sets from all-caps enthusiasts and altogether good folks DIANA and HSY, along with GTA classics like The Bicycles, Luke Lalonde, and more. However, if staying in one place for hours seems antithetical to a day where the concept is predicated on an easily accessible free consumer market, well, you'd probably be right to want to boogie 'round the city for maximum exposure. If you self-identify at all as a music fan, a busy Easter weekend schedule is no excuse to miss out on the proceedings.

Really, it shouldn't take any press blurbs or master list to convince you (though they're handy, and again, the official site is worth quite a few looks over). It's the active engagement principle: run a torch map of Play De Record, Soundscapes, June Records (DJs all day), She Said Boom, and Kops. Pop by Grasshopper while you bring your Bellwoods brews to the park to celebrate spring's arrival. Just introduce exposure into your routine in some capacity, and note that many spots are opening early to sate the impatient brats we can all become when exclusive record swag is involved.

For an alternative view (and to break free from maintaining hopeful cynicism for a moment), Good Records and Vortex won't be participating in Record Store Day. Read why here. Then if you really want to get into the thick of it, the Quietus has a scoop on how Record Store Day actually hurts small labels.

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 19th 2014.

Photo by Joseph Fuda via June Records on Facebook

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