Uplifting News

As the HMV culling begins, with eleven branches and a Fopp having shut their doors this weekend, it’s a pleasure to be able to inform you of some rather more positive news in the world of music retail. Rise, 2010’s winner of the UK Independent Retailer of the Year award, has finally unveiled its online store and it’s none too shabby. Competitively priced, beautifully designed and with a comprehensive search option, navigating your way around it is actually a pleasant experience.

rise web1

You’ll find some startlingly good vinyl prices at the moment on numerous indie label releases from the last couple of years, along with some genuinely rare stuff at silly prices. Even more vinyl goodness is going to be listed on the site by the end of this week, so I’d keep your eyes peeled for what are some undeniably ridiculous bargains. Now, drenching Rise in hyperbole as I am, I should declare again my minor involvement in this music retailing behemoth. I’m doing some of the reviews for the site and you can already find my wordsmithery on the pages for the newies by Iron & Wine, The Decemberists and Jonny. In addition to this, you can find my sizeable review of the new album by The Low Anthem, ‘Smart Flesh’, here. The album’s great and I’m rather pleased with the review too. It’ll appear here in due course, but why not pop over and have a read. Then buy some stuff. I’m deadly serious about that. As we continue to see shops struggling to stay afloat, the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ has never been more apt. If you want Rise to open a store near you then you’ll need it to be operating as a viable and successful business, which means supporting it however you can. Don’t read into that, by the way. I have no insider knowledge, but as their Warwick Arts Centre branch will close in the coming months due to lack of custom, it’s worth remembering that these places are few and far between. Continue reading “Uplifting News”

It was Kevin Greening’s last record on Radio 1

A strange day today. Not only have I had it made clearer than ever before the need to save the independent record shops from almost certain doom but I’ve also experienced the potential upside of the iTunes store.
Actually made a special journey to Sheffield today to visit Record Collector, a revered indie store at the heart of the city’s music scene. From my personal perspective it was, well, alright, but as a shop it was a marvel. If I hadn’t bought so many bloody records then I’d have been thrilled by the incredibly good pricing, but as it was I kept finding myself saying ‘Bollocks’ before thinking ‘Well, I’ve had it for a while now, and got good use out of it.’ Who am I fooling? Sadly the vinyl section was closed to due to ‘long-term illness’ which is no doubt more sad for the person involved, rather than people who just want some cheap LPs. Still, it’s a great little shop and it serves a clear purpose to an obvious audience. Not quite as spiffing as my beloved Reveal Records but then what is. I’m not sure I can ever move so that I’m not near enough for regular visits. Ever.
Then, upon returning, I had a gift voucher for iTunes so I thought I’d round up a few ‘iTunes exclusive’ thingies I was going to pick up recently. Then, figuring that I wasn’t going to do anything else with the credit, started tiddling around searching for certain names to see what they’ve been involved in. It’s been rather interesting listening. For example, I’ve never heard Damon Albarn‘s cover of ‘We Have A Technical‘ with Matt Sharp before and it’s, well, not brilliant, but interesting. That’s the key word here, folks. Similarly, Damon, Graham Coxon, Thurston Moore and Voafose‘s collaboration, ‘101% / Threpton‘ from the bafflingly titled, ‘Fabulous Shit‘ was, you guessed it, interesting. None of these tracks are going to make future compilations, but they’re nice to have. Also picked up the Super Furries‘ ‘The Proper Ornaments‘ from ‘The Free Design : The Now Sound Redesigned.’ No idea what it’s ‘supposed’ to be, but it’s bloody good. I have to confess to downloading ‘Where I Find My Heaven‘ by the Gigolo Aunts too, but we don’t need to dwell upon that.
Anyway, who knew that iTunes could be a satisfying experience? Even with things as ace as the ‘Live at SoHo EP’ for ‘The Good, The Bad & The Queen‘ record, I still resent paying for digital files, rather than a physical item. Downloads don’t mean an awful lot to me. I’m far, far less likely to play something on a CD-R than a proper CD, and furthermore, if I like a record, I want a proper copy on the shelf. But, having said that, I did quite enjoy the hour spent pootling round the iTunes store. Frigid Vinegar‘s ‘Dogmonaut 2000‘ brought back some bizarre memories, and I think I’ll download Bowie‘s ‘Baal EP‘ in a moment, to supplement my prized 7″ copy.
That said, and this is where the big lesson came whilst browsing not only Record Collector in Sheffield, but also the charmingly traditional Hudsons in Chesterfield, the thought of this being the only way we do things in the future is horrifying. It’s a nice little toy. A digital jukebox, but you get to keep the songs you choose in a little file. It’s not, however, wholesome, aesthetically pleasing or materialistic to suit me.