For this year's Record Store Day celebration, coming up on April 16, I thought I might as well inject some friendly competition into the proceedings. So, without further adieu, I present nominees for the RSD Awards*. These releases represent true highlights in the crowded field of exclusive Record Store Day releases. There's some classic albums coming back to us on a vinyl, some true gems in the overstuffed field of 7-inches, some labels making a huge impact on the celebration, some exciting rare stuff, some live releases from great bands, and even some interesting compilations to round out the field. Check them out and cast your votes in the comments. Who will stand out from RSD crowd? What releases are worth your hard-earned bucks? Which of these would you tackle some bespectacled bike messenger for?
*-Nominees were chosen solely by me. So while this list attempts to represent what RSD attendees might find most interesting, it is unavoidably limited by my own preferences and my base inability to gauge what other people like. So, you know, write ins are welcome. Anonymous comment board shouting, however, is not. In fact, for Record Store Day, let's put a moratorium on the faceless internet bile. If you want to yell, go yell at the store clerk. See what that gets you.
And the nominees are:
MVL (Most Valuable Label)
There are no real surprises in this category, and perhaps none less surprising than Merge. The biggest indie label going these days has always stayed true to the local record store, and their line-up of releases this year -- including Superchunk and Polvo reissues on vinyl and the very first Wild Flag single -- is just further evidence that they know where the good stuff should go.
Sub Pop Records
Sub Pop are down with RSD so much, they scheduled the physical release of their most hyped new band, The Head and the Heart, around it. Plus, they've got singles from Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, and Lower Dens, and an extensive compilation covering highlights from their recent releases. Well done, Sub Pop. Well done.
Matador may be reluctant participants, but they get big-time points for a gesture more than anything. Matador closes down their online ordering system on Record Store Day, in hopes we'll all get out there and buy some stuff from actual people. Oh, and they are also offering Fucked Up's 11-track companion disc to their upcoming David Comes to Life record, plus stuff from the New Pornographers and Esben and the Witch.
You know how you can't ever find that vinyl copy of some of those Mississippi John Hurt records from the 1960's? Or how you always wanted that Skip James record, or that hard-to-find John Fahey record, but you can't swing the huge eBay prices? Well, Vanguard has you covered. Over the past couple years, they've cornered the RSD market on fascinating folk reissues, and 2011 somehow beats out the impressive set of reissues they hit us with last year.
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues b/w Grown Ocean
If you can't wait until February 3 (because surely you won't download a cheap-sounding leak, will you?) to pick up Fleet Foxes's sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, grab this 7-inch to tide you over. These two songs alone will give you plenty of sweetly gauzy folk tunes to get you through those last couple weeks before the record comes out.
Wild Flag - Future Crimes b/w Glass Tamourine
This single is the first official offering from this indie rock supergroup. Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole have been killing it on tour this spring, and now they'll further whet our appetite with this single. There's a full length coming, I'm sure, and it can't come soon enough.
Fela Kuti and the Africa 70 - Monday Morning in Lagos Parts 1+2
Any chance to hear Kuti's work from the early 70's is welcome, but this one is mastered in mono from the original Nigerian release from 1971. It also comes from a particularly fruitful time, just before he released a glut of classic records (Afrodisiac, anyone?) between 1972 and 1973. So, yeah, this one seems pretty cool.
Velvet Underground - Foggy Notion
The two songs here come from lost sessions recorded between the band's third and fourth records. A must have for any VU fan, this could also be a revealing listen into how they transitioned from the dark quirks of the eponymous third record to the classic rock vibe of Loaded.
Peter Tosh - Legalize It b/w Equal Rights
These are the title tracks from two classic reggae albums from a giant in the genre. Tosh's music is exactly the kind of sound you want on vinyl, so reggae fans should get this one before they go get the 2-disc Legacy editions of the Legalize It and Equal Rights in June.
Best Live Release
OFF! - Live at Generation Records
Easily the shortest live set here, it's also the most incendiary, coming from this new band from some hardcore stalwarts. You think The First Four EPs singed your eyebrows? Just wait until you hear them live.
Mastodon - Live at the Aragon
The biggest metal band in America is putting out a 2LP live record of an October 2009 performance in Chicago? And it comes with a DVD of the set as well? Sounds like it beats the hell out of that shit Metallica did with an orchestra.
Damien Jurado - Live at Landlocked
A solo set from Jurado is always welcome, but this one should be particularly compelling since it focuses mostly on the ornate songs from his last album Saint Bartlett. As if hearing them in a live setting weren't cool enough, there's also an unreleased track in the set, "Thax Douglas #1."
Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963
With Dylan, every new release -- live, in studio, rarities, whatever -- is another puzzle piece in a complex, fascination, shape-shifting picture, and Brandeis 1963 is no exception. Originally available as a bonus disc to last year's Witmark Demos, this short set proves a nice companion piece to those early works, and a great document of the artist as a young man hitting his stride.
Guided by Voices Tribute: Sing for Your Meat
Sure tribute albums can be hit-or-miss affairs, but to honor the indie rock godfathers, No More Fake Labels tapped some pretty heavy hitters. We've got Kelley Deal, Thurston Moore, The Flaming Lips, Crooked Fingers, Lou Barlow, and David Kilgour alongside newer faces like Blitzen Trapper, La Sera, and Cymbals Eat Guitars. A great group of bands, and a great set of songs. Nothing salty about this salute.
Follow Me Down: Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era 1966-1970
This is Vanguard's first time digging into the vaults, and they've pulled out some lost classics. Most of the bands here only released a single or two -- though some of the players here went on to greater fame -- so this stuff is truly rare. This one will eventually be widely available in June, but this 2LP vinyl version is sure to be a collector's item.
Rhymesayers - Picture Disc
Atmosphere. Aesop Rock. P.O.S. Brother Ali. Blueprint. Jake One. Evidence. Six brand new, exclusive tracks on hand-numbered vinyl picture discs. What else do you need to know?
Kill Rock Stars - Kill Rock Stars
This is a vinyl reissue of the first ever release from Kill Rock Stars. This compilation, originally from 1991, contains tracks from Nirvana, Melvins, Nation of Ulysses, Bikini Kill, and a ton more. Certainly sounds like a fine way to celebrate 20 years of bringing the rock.
Mississippi John Hurt - The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt
Hurt's "comeback" recordings from the 1960's are all classic, and Vanguard follows last year's vinyl reissue of Today with The Immortal Mississippi John Hurt. Few things sound as good on vinyl as Hurt's cracked voice and otherworldly finger picking, and this record isn't easy to come by, so this one sure seems like an RSD highlight.
Television - Live at the Old Waldorf
Classic bootleg turned classic official live album turned, now, into individually numbered, white vinyl pressing. I would have put this one in the "Best Live Release" category if I thought it would be a fair fight. Might be a hard one to come by, but if you see it, snatch it up.
Skip James - Today!
Vanguard does it again, giving us a vinyl reissue of this classic 1966 record. Some brilliant takes on here of songs like "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" and "I'm So Glad" (one of James's finest songs ever). If you're into blues, you need this one. If you're not into blues, this is the record that will get you into it.
Arthur Russell - World of Echo
Russell's 1986 album gets a limited-edition vinyl reissue here. It features 18 tracks of Russell at his finest, including drumless versions of some of his best disco songs, which is saying something. Chances are, if you get a hold of this one, it might take up space on the turntable for a good long while.
Fucked Up - David's Town
As if the band's upcoming 78-minute concept album, David Comes to Life, wasn't huge enough, Fucked Up had a bunch of songs left over. So what did the guys do? They created a series of fake bands and put together a companion compilation to the album. If you remember, last year Fucked Up released a series of singles with covers individualized to certain record stores. Now, they're giving us the 11-track David's Town. These guys are laying down the RSD gauntlet for sure.
Big Star - Third (Test Pressing Edition)
Big Star on vinyl is always a good thing, and this one -- modeled after the test pressing -- seems extra cool. But the real kicker? 1 in 300 of these contains actual test pressings from the 70's. Yup, seems like a good thing to roll the dice on. Worst case scenario, you've got a great album on vinyl. Best case, you get a piece of rock history.
Nirvana - Hormoaning EP
Sure, this Australian Tour EP contains mostly covers and other songs that ended up on Incesticide, but this stuff still sounds classic. Besides, who doesn't like to get a hold of the original format? It'll be like you were there in Sydney in 1992. Except that you weren't.
Sonic Youth - Whore's Moaning EP
Another Australian Tour EP from another of those early-90's indie rock bands, with a suspiciously familiar name. Still, rare stuff from Sonic Youth at their peak sounds pretty sweet, and they're always a welcome sound on the turntable. So keep an eye out for this cool vinyl release.
Polvo - Celebrate the New Dark Age
Merge reissued this brilliant EP on vinyl back in 2009, and the same version is intact here, amazing sleeve art and all. The catch here is that copies pressed for Record Store Day are all autographed by Polvo's four original members. Seriously. You officially have no excuse not to own this record now.
There you have it, the inaugural RSD Award nominees. So, now you've got to cast your votes in the comment section. What are you most looking forward to? Which of these albums are on your radar? Which of your highlights did we leave off? Let us know what you'll be prowling for on April 16. Then, after you've maxed out your credit cards on Saturday, and spun all your new purchases a few times, come back and tell us which one is your favorite.
Check out the full list of Record Store Day releases here.
And then get yourself out there and buy some stuff. It's a much more fulfilling experience then the click of a mouse, don't you think?