Every year on the third Saturday of April, I find myself standing outside Second Hand Tunes early in the morning. I talk with the locals about which exclusive releases we’re most excited to get our hands on when the shop opens for Record Store Day.
The same crowd migrates to Evanston’s independent record stores for this one day of the year. There's the somewhat older guy who makes the trip from Vernon Hills every year and gets the new Jimi Hendrix 7-inch, the college student who won’t leave without the Bruno Mars 10-inch that has an unreleased song on the B-side, and even the mom picking up the Nirvana 7-inch box set for her teenage son’s birthday. Record Store Day is a time for fans of all kinds of music to come together and not only purchase rare releases, but also support local record stores and encourage more appreciation for physical music releases.
Album re-issues, compilations, unreleased material, live recordings and even novelty records are technically available on only this one day of the year (although some have expanded to a Black Friday event as well). These releases can be as standard as a colored 7-inch with the first single from an artist’s upcoming record or as absurd as the Flaming Lips release last year, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, of which select pressings had blood samples from a few contributors to the album pressed into the vinyl. Be prepared to bust the bank for some of the records you want – prices range from $10 for a 7-inch single to more than $100 for special box sets, along with a variety of options in between.
Local shops participating in Record Store Day include Second Hand Tunes and Vintage Vinyl in Evanston and many others in Chicago. This year's designated Record Store Day ambassador is fittingly Jack White, the man perhaps responsible for vinyl’s remarkable comeback. So consider celebrating record store independence in his name and score some of these one-of-a-kind items available this year.
- At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command (re-issue): Seminal alternative group At The Drive-In will be releasing a reissue of their last studio album, 2000’s Relationship of Command, with two brand new, unreleased songs tacked on at the end. For fans of the group, this exclusive vinyl release for Record Store Day 2013 is a must-have. For others, wait until the new tracks eventually make their way onto YouTube.
- Atmosphere, Demosexual (7-inch): Record Store Day 2013 offers unreleased tracks by Minnesota hip-hop group Atmosphere on a cool, hand-numbered purple 7-inch with clear packaging. Typical Record Store Day singles like this usually are still available later on in the day. You can show your Wildcat pride by grabbing this purple release.
- Brian Eno x Nicolas Jaar x Grizzly Bear, "Lux 2 (Remix)" and "Sleeping Ute (Remix)" (12-inch): Electronic artist Nicolas Jaar remixed “Lux 2” by Brian Eno and “Sleeping Ute” by Grizzly Bear, each on its own side of a 12-inch record. The sheer amount of musical genius on one record should have you chomping at the bit, but in case you need more convincing, Nicolas Jaar has been hailed as one of the best up-and-coming artists, so these remixes are sure to satisfy.
- Cream, Royal Albert Hall May 2-3-5-6, 2005 (LP box set): Before they officially broke up, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker reunited for only two strings of shows in 2005, the first of which was this four-show stint at London’s Royal Albert Hall. This particular RSD release is very limited – only 1,500 of this three-LP white vinyl box set are being pressed – so get this landmark concert if you’re into collectibles. Otherwise keep in mind that this has also been released previously on CD if you’re not willing to dish out big money for this vinyl collection.
- Dan Deacon, Konono Ripoff No 1 (7-inch): Dan Deacon is known for his energetic, sometimes improvised live performances, and now fans can finally own his live staple “Konono Ripoff No 1.” It's a limited release (only 500 printed and being sold worldwide) with a fan’s Instagram photo gracing the jacket. This is one of the cooler releases this year, so fully expect it to be highly sought after and put this at the top of your wish list.
- The Flaming Lips, Zaireeka (4-LP set): One of the most unique releases to ever grace record stores, Zaireeka requires that the listener play all four records or CDs simultaneously to listen to full versions of the songs. So, if you own four record players or have friends who own record players, get this re-release of Zaireeka and spend a night enjoying one of Wayne Coyne’s finest accomplishments.
- Imagine Dragons, Live at Independent Records (CD): One of the most hyped up-and-coming bands is releasing the recording from an in-shop acoustic show at a store in Colorado. The record includes versions of hits like “Radioactive” and “It’s Time.” These unique live performances caught on tape are usually pretty common on Record Store Day (Gary Clark Jr. released one last year and is releasing another this year), so there should be plenty available at your local independent record store.
- MGMT, Alien Days (cassette): If anybody still owns a cassette player, Record Store Day has something special for you. MGMT is set to release a new album this year and the first new recorded material comes in the form of a specially-made tape. A cassette single should be pretty cheap, so go ahead and grab this as novelty, then use the accompanying download card to enjoy their new psych rock single digitally.
- The Stooges/The Black Keys, “No Fun” (7-inch): A staple of Record Store Day every year is the Side by Side series, a handful of 7-inches with a different band performing the same song on each side of the record. This year's highlight is The Stooges and The Black Keys tackling “No Fun” on a special sunburst-colored pressing. The Side by Side releases usually are the first to sell out on Record Store Day because they’re some of the rarest physical releases you’ll ever see. Options from this year include The Doors/X doing “Soul Kitchen,” Dio/Killswitch Engage performing “Holy Diver” and a Deep Purple/Type-O Negative version of “Highway Star.”
- South Park, San Diego/Gay Fish (7-inch): This is truly the most novel release of the year. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, musical comedy geniuses (re: The Book of Mormon), give us a special picture disc of the songs “San Diego” and “Gay Fish” from recent South Park seasons. I personally think the songs are most effective seen on television, but nonetheless, this is a fun single that will most likely be pretty cheap.
- Various Artists, Dazed and Confused (soundtrack reissue): In honor of the coincidental timing for Record Store Day this year, the Dazed and Confusedsoundtrack is getting a 20th anniversary release on "weed-green vinyl." Needless to say, if you want to make your 4/20 experience any better this year, pick up this 2 LP and enjoy.
- The White Stripes, Elephant (10th Anniversary reissue): Third Man Records always brings something new and exciting to the table when it’s time to release new vinyl (see: Triple Decker Record, Liquid Vinyl). This year is no different for what is the most anticipated vinyl release of the year. On a two-LP set, with one split red/black colored vinyl and one white colored vinyl, Jack White is reissuing Elephant with an exclusive track at the end. Chances are this record will be the first on many customers’ wishlists come this weekend. If you absolutely need to have it, plan on waking up early to get in line with other fans looking to own an important release in music history.