"There are two sides to Record Store Day," contemplates Exploded Records at JuiceLand operator Andrew Brown. "There's the shallow, short-lived hype surrounding the new releases and then there's meeting people who genuinely love record stores."
Indeed, Brown's shop phone will start ringing at 7am on Saturday with anxious record collectors trying to secure limited edition RSD releases so they won't have to later pay a king's ransom on eBay.
"Those collector types – they don't care about the store," shrugs Brown.
And yet the flip side to the international consumer holiday, now in its ninth year, remains the exposure it provides to indie record stores like Brown's vinyl showroom. Since opening in 2013, Exploded Records – occupying a side room at JuiceLand's 45th and Duval location – has been a hot spot for psychedelic beat music, experimental EDM, and underground hip-hop. Over the winter, the site expanded from 500 to 3,000 records, with new sections spanning punk, country, and blues.
"I'm excited for everyone to see how it's grown," says Brown. "And for people who come in for RSD to then enjoy it and form a relationship. Those are the people who are going to keep our lights on for the rest of the year."
For many of Austin's 10 vinyl retailers, RSD stands as the year's biggest single day of sales – a spring stimulus similar to what South by Southwest means for clubs.
"It's a huge boost for us," attests Eve Monsees, co-owner of Antone's Records. "It's basically a week's worth of business in one day."
On RSD, Monsees greets a line of early-morning RSD shoppers with doughnuts from neighboring business Ken's.
"The day tends to start out with people on a mission for specific exclusives," admits Monsees. "Later, though, it just becomes a fun shopping day, which I think is the whole point. I love hearing people say 'Happy Record Store Day!'"
While record emporiums nationwide drop like flies, Austin sustains a wealth of shops – Encore, End of an Ear, Breakaway – all of them RSD 2016 participants, plus crate-digger extraordinaires Friends of Sound and gear specialists Whetstone Audio and Sound Gallery.
"I'm so proud of how cooperative Austin's record stores are," says Waterloo Records owner John Kunz. "We're the only city in the world that has an indie crawl on RSD where you get a discount by bringing in a receipt from any other record store. We're saying, 'Thanks for shopping, but don't stop here. Go check out End of an Ear or another great local store.'"
The 13th Floor Elevators, "You're Gonna Miss Me" 10-inch picture disc: Fifty years after Austin's garage-psych warlocks first unleashed that iconic "E-D-A-G" progression, a pyramid-adorned platter spins the French EP mixes of "YGMM" and B-side "Tried to Hide," limited to 2,000 copies from Charly Records.
The Sword, "John the Revelator" 7-inch: Austin's Southern doom quartet opens the seventh seal with a cover of Blind Willie Johnson's gospel blues classic via 2,000 copies by Razor & Tie.
Willie Nelson/Uncle Tupelo, "Truck Drivin' Man" 7-inch: Terry Fell's long-hauler performed by the king of outlaws (1974) and the princes of alt. country (1994) comes courtesy of Rhino Records' 3,000 copies.
Alejandro Escovedo, Gravity and Thirteen Years double LPs: Former local's first two solo efforts, produced by the late Stephen Bruton for the even later Watermelon Records, land their deluxe reissues on vinyl for the first time – though only 1,200 copies from New West Records.
Billy Joe Shaver, "Wacko From Waco" 7-inch: Son of a gun recounts the 2007 parking lot encounter when he shot an aggressive acquaintance in the face. Hymn "When Fallen Angels Fly" provides B-side counterpoint. 1,700 copies via Lightning Rod Records.
Ethan Hawke, "My Funny Valentine" 7-inch: Austin native promotes Chet Baker anti-biopic Born to Be Blue with a vintage-looking 45 crooning "My Funny Valentine" and "I've Never Been in Love Before." 2,000 copies courtesy of Atco Records.
Ever consider a record-shopping road trip outside of Austin's city center?
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin
A retro vinyl stash in a tourist trap. Thirty minutes of westward Hill Country driving from Downtown brings you to Lake Travis shopping castle the Oasis, where you follow Jim Franklin armadillos upstairs to a store with a Sahm-centric name. "This isn't far from the old Soap Creek Saloon and Hippie Hollow, so I'm keeping the area's weirdo history alive," offers owner Greg Ellis, a record store lifer and stunning conversationalist who opened the joint last April. The boutique shop's selection brims with cosmic cowboy LPs, plus classic rock, soul, blues, and prog at old-school prices.
1208 N. I-35, Round Rock
Round Rock's sole record store might give Austinites flashbacks of Music Mania, a hotbed of Texas rap sandwiched in a strip mall. Yet Piranha flexes more style with a bounty of streetwear advertising one's love for sippin' lean and being a "Trill OG." Setting them apart from Caucasian-catering markets, the 13-year-old retailer comes stocked with regional rap releases and fresh mixtapes, but also boasts an extensive selection of new and used vinyl, including deep sections of soul, R&B, and jazz. A sign on the door advertises an important unofficial RSD release: the debut vinyl pressing of DJ Screw's 3 'n the Mornin' (Part 2).
243 N. Union Ave., New Braunfels
Occasionally a sign hangs on the door of StingRay Records: "Gone to deliver a baby." That's because Dr. Kevin Blair doubles as New Braunfels' record store clerk and ob-gyn. A punk-educated vinyl obsessive whose personal collection exceeds 40,000 LPs, Blair opened StingRay three years ago in an old house, capturing the laid-back vibe of a Seventies-style record store. StingRay's customers include water park tourists and record nerds from neighboring metropolises who can wander in, strum a guitar, play a game of chess, and talk music history with the rock doctor amongst a hoarder's dream of new and used LPs.
Superfly's Lone Star Music Emporium
202 University Dr., San Marcos
Compared to the cluttered bird's nest of music ephemera that hallmarked previous tenant Sundance Records (1977-2012), Superfly's looks like an Ikea showroom. The Gruene transplants know the difference between red dirt and bluegrass with a laser-focused Americana selection, much of which arrives on CD. Meanwhile, an extensive mostly new vinyl inventory monopolizes the store's large interior with an eclectic mix bearing gifts of jazz and underground rock. Friday, French artiste Serge Gainsbourg's seductive spoken word rock oozed from the shop speakers – prompting a young clerk's declaration: "I love concept albums!"
Roky Erickson howled at the moon last Friday with a free surprise concert in the backyard of Indian Roller – his first show this year. Warming up for a European tour, the 68-year-old native third eye and his Hounds of Baskerville gave fans a 90-minute 13th Floor Elevators-focused set including a liquid version of belated Easter egg "Slip Inside This House."
Former Room 710 owner Asher Garber screens Scenesters, a stoner comedy set in Austin's live music scene, on Wednesday 4/20 at King Bee Lounge (6:20pm, 7:20, 11:20). The show, created by Garber and starring real-life scenester Snoopy Melvin, is driven by such authentically hilarious pothead dialogue that you'd swear these guys actually smoke. Episode one features Pocket Fishrmen.
Clifford Antone was already a cultural preservationist through his blues club. Now, a namesake nonprofit continues that work. The new Clifford Antone Foundation intends to preserve Austin's music history by facilitating care for elderly musicians and archiving local blues artifacts. They also focus on the next generation by supporting programs that mentor underprivileged youths and up-and-coming artists. Become a member at www.cliffordantonefoundation.org.
Slack Capital, a new 20-track compilation offering an eye-opening look at Austin's now generation of weirdo bands, has a release show at Barracuda on Friday featuring 10 acts, including comp highlights Annabelle Chairlegs, Basketball Shorts, and Pataphysics.
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