Bobbyisms: Record Store Day returns
Endeared to music fans over the last five years, Record Store Day has been widely embraced as vinyl has made its gradual return to popularity, thanks in no small part to the rise in digital music sales and declining public interest in physical CD formats.
Digital Music News reported in January that vinyl sales in the U.S. had another record-breaking year in 2012, selling a total of 4.6 million units with a significant trend toward rock albums. That figure is an increase of more than 17 per cent over the 3.9 million units sold in 2011, better yet than the 2.8 million sold in 2010.
In 2012, the top-selling album in the U.S. was Blunderbuss, the debut solo album by Jack White of The White Stripes. Of course, in addition to his music career White is the founder of Third Man Records and a noted vinyl enthusiast himself — fitting, then, that in an innovative move, Record Store Day elected White as its official Ambassador 2013 to champion the occasion.
“I'm proud to help in any way I can,” White wrote on recordstoreday. com. “To invigorate whoever will listen with the idea that there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves.”
The appeal isn't lost on Cursed Arrows, the Toronto duo of Ryan and Jack E Stanley. Like many independent artists, they've embraced the spirit of the occasion with all of their DIY work ethic and are coordinating the release of their newest album Sonic Union to coincide with Record Store Day this year.
In case you missed them in town at The APK with Brews Willis and Baseball Furies in early April, Cursed Arrows recorded two songs from the coming album for the video series Southern Souls, which can be viewed on their site at cursedarrows.com or on southernsouls.ca.
You won't find Sonic Union listed on the Record Store Day website officially, however thanks to distribution by Aluminum Monster Records and The Ford Plant Recording Co., you should find the album in your favourite record shop. Probably.
Be sure to browse the list of titles online, it's tough to know what releases are going to be the most valued or sought after. Although most releases are exclusives, many are only manufactured in small numbers, like The Gaslight Anthem's deluxe edition of Handwritten (800 copies) or the Dave Matthews Band's Live Trax Vol. 1 box set (500 copies), both of which are popular artists among those who collect vinyl.
Even if you're not a serious collector, it pays to do a bit of research. You may only be after one album, but London has a lot of record shops spread out across town that all open at roughly the same time, so make a call or two to improve your chances of getting what you want. Pro tip: take advantage of retailer membership programs, like that which they have at Sunrise Records. Membership gives you a discount on purchases and will get you early entrance on April 20.
For more on Record Store Day, to find your local participating stores or browse the complete official list of releases, visit recordstoreday.com and follow the conversation on Twitter @recordstoreday with the hashtag #RSD13.
And for more on the latest music news and more over the summer, consider following this column on Twitter @fsu_bobbyisms. Whether you're graduating this summer, finishing your first year of finals, just reading this as a favour to me or anything in between, congratulations on a great year. See you next time, I'm out of words.