RSD13: Life Behind The Counter – by Tom Rose of Reveal Records

To round off this week of RSD themed features, it’s time to focus on those hardy folk who keep us all in tunes. At the end of 2007, Derby’s Reveal Records closed its doors for the final time; Tom Rose, owner of the shop, wrote this wonderful piece to launch thelocalrecordshop.com back in August 2012. It’s a warm and engaging reflection on the route to running a record shop and what happens when it’s no longer possible. Tom has compiled a lengthy mixtape, ‘Behind The Counter’, via Spotify to accompany this piece so click here and pour a glass of something splendid as we continue to toast the nation’s indies. 

I spent much my early 80s childhood dreaming of working in the music industry and each month I’d catch the bus to spend hours in Selectadisc and the many other Nottingham record shops of the era. The magic for me started at the Selectadisc window which, rather than displaying glossy cut outs and posters of the new pop albums, simply housed one empty copy of each of their new or sale vinyl, cassette, cd or magazines with a hand written price and sometimes a short description. I’d stand outside staring at the incredible artist names (Butthole Surfers? Pussy Galore? Naked Raygun? Half Man Half Biscuit? 10,000 Maniacs?) and their artwork and imagine what on earth they might sound like. I knew almost nothing about anything I’d ever see in that window and it only made me want in on this mystery world.

Pre-internet, everyone I knew who loved music was older than me and they relied on late night radio, bought records and tickets by word of mouth, saw the odd good thing on the Channel 4 TV show The Tube and read the weekly music papers – NMESounds and Melody Maker – cover to cover. I copied this and was soon hooked in by the enthusiasm or passionate hatred toward the music from their writers. I’d always find loads of singles and albums I’d read about in the shop, plus lots of interesting looking fanzines and imported music publications. Often, when you bought something, the staff would give you piles of free stuff in your bag like local singles and badges, flyers etc, so I just started to listen to and read everything about all the music that I could, regardless of genres, in a bid to get more educated.

I’d hang around flicking through racks and just listening to what the staff were suggesting to customers and I’d read the short info stickers they would write by the price on the sleeves – things like “featuring the guitarist from ‘insert band you’ve not heard of’” or there would be messages on strips of paper stuck onto the sleeves in the window like YES! BACK IN STOCK AT LAST! or LAST FEW NOW DELETED! which just made me think: “Oh, I should get that” (Later, I would copy these strategies wholesale.)

I was equally consumed by the hits on Top of the Pops as I was the strange noises played by John Peel or the World music which followed on Andy Kershaw. I loved The Tube and most of my late 80’s favourties (Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, Smiths, The Cure, Lloyd Cole, Billy Bragg, R.E.M had all been on TV and were very successful artists) but I’d also buy things randomly that I saw in the shop window or older kids suggested and talked about like: early Fugazi, Wedding Present, Sonic Youth, Big Black, Descendents, Dag Nasty, The Replacements etc. Each one lead me to other indie record labels and projects by their members and many varied other sounds. Dinosaur Jr lead me back to Neil Young, Pixies to all the 4AD record label stuff like Cocteau Twins and early Throwing Muses, Fugazi to Pailhead and then to Skinny Puppy and Wax Trax and industrial music and I liked the ethos of Dischord Records from Washington who sold everything cheaply and made their gigs all ages so I followed U.S hardcore. I didn’t much like English Punk and I decided early on I preferred The Byrds to The Beatles. Indie record labels seemed very important in the shop and thus I followed these just like I would the bands: SSTShimmy DiscCreationRough Trade etc.

I left school at 15 and worked the summer folding shirts in a city clothes shop, where the staff would all go out clubbing and stay up all night. That was the summer of acid house and hiphop supplied the clothes shop’s soundtrack – for me, this was the start of DJ culture, and so my knowledge expanded further and my tastes grew wider. I was still out watching hardcore and indie gigs most nights and there was a burgeoning independent music scene; I’d travel to Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield – loads of amazing gigs.

I never found any record shop to match Selectadisc in the other cities though and when I turned 16 and couldn’t get a job there I took a YTS (youth training scheme) placement at Way Ahead, a record shop that stocked mainly heavy metal.  I knew nothing about heavy metal other than that I didn’t like it at all! But I took this as an opportunity to learn more about that music and hoped my chance might come to introduce the shop and customers to other music I did like – plus you got to go to Rock City and Trent Poly on the guest list to watch gigs, as we sold tickets, and this alone made up for the fact I only got £30 a week wages.Strangely, my lack of any metal music knowledge didn’t seem to phase the owner too much; perhaps I was ok because I maintained a tidy shop and well organised filing system!

A few months after I joined, the manager of their under performing Derby shop left. I was 17, living 35 miles away and with only 6 months experience. I didn’t know about VAT or how to change a price gun or till roll but, other than that, I felt sure I must be a very strong contender to become store manager in Derby! To my amazement, after I suggested this, they gave me the Derby shop to manage and that was it: I moved to Derby determined to make Way Ahead Derby into a destination record store just like Selectadisc and my love for Selectadisc stopped there – from now on they were sworn enemies!

To some extent we achieved what I set out to, turning a small scruffy shop full of metal picture discs, arcade machines and T shirts into a thriving haven for heavy, alternative independent music – mostly American indie, as this was the during the start of the grunge years: Sub Pop, Nirvana, Mudhoney, plus UK bands like Teenage Fanclub. We also sold hardcore rap such as NWA, ICE-T and anything vaguely anti-establishment. By happy coincidence, hair metal was now deeply unfashionable so the new direction I wanted sat fine with the owner, if not the group of Derby rockers who regularly protested that the music had turned shit in the shop but couldn’t deny it seemed busier. As our reputation grew, we opened a second Derby store mainly for dance music, hip-hop and breakbeat, US house, techno and jazz etc, just as artists like Wu Tang, Portishead and Goldie broke out big and, again by coincidence, we were right on the front line of a new music movement. People started to travel to Derby from around the Midlands and we had some amazing staff at that time.

What came next was at first really exciting and then almost the death of everything I loved – Britpop saw indie going over-ground and I was now DJing at a local indie club night after work on Fridays. You could soon sense we were losing more than we were gaining, as major music stores opened and there was less and less underground guitar music and more of the artists were being signed to major labels. It changed the focus toward finance and away from music, and was the start of the end for indie stores.

During this time I was drawn more towards the new electronic music scene: WarpR&S, Logical ProgressionMo’Wax, trip hop and French house. Nu-soul, techno and drum ‘n’ bass all seemed to be making exciting new sounds, just as guitar music was turning me off. When I look back now I realise there were still many good rock records made but I was absorbed in discovering new music I’d not learnt about yet. Eventually, around 1998, Way Ahead (who also sold tickets as their main business) were bought out and became SEE Tickets. They didn’t need the record shops and things were moving online. I was 26, and out of a job for the first time since leaving school.

I was still quite confident there was a need for a good small independent shop in Derby so, after a few months of thinking and planning, I contacted the letting agents and, six months after it had closed, I opened up my own shop called Reveal Records in the same premises where Way Ahead had been. With no major label stock or major label distribution accounts, and no intention of selling anything other than harder to find independent music, whatever the genre (from punk to ambient electronica, industrial metal to deep jazzy house and Americana) my idea was Reveal would be just me, behind the counter alone, and my mate Dave (a local college student) helping me on a Saturday.

On the first day we opened we sold roughly a fifth of all of my stock. We’d taken over a week’s money in that first day and it was clear I’d massively underestimated both the demand for good music and the sort of titles people expected to find, not to mention the fact that I couldn’t run it alone. Within a few months I’d opened upstairs too, selling vinyl and second-hand, called in some of the old full time staff from Way Ahead and the shop was bulging at the seams. Each month, I’d re-invest any profits to buy more racks and extend our catalogue until we couldn’t get another album out. The place was buzzing and there were great new independent guitar and electronic records coming out by artists like Godspeed You! Black Emperor , Sigur Ros, Autechre, Super Furry Animals. I was feeling excited and using that energy to spur myself on towards creating a small version of that Nottingham shop that had inspired me 20 years before.  Over the period 1999-2003 things were just amazing, hard work but amazing; every week incredible music came out and we sold vast quantities of it, had some fun at work and then from nowhere, just as I was paying off the last bit of what I’d borrowed to start the business, I received a letter saying the shopping centre was being demolished and we would have to vacate. This was devastating news. It meant there was a rush to find a new site, just as all the other businesses in Derby were doing the same thing. Rents were twice, three times what I was paying and it wasn’t clear how or if we could survive or relocate.

I decided to risk a bigger shop, on the main street and, on the basis, that if it didn’t work I was still young and we could get out after five years, I went for it – two large floors of stock, a separate store online and someone doing eBay. At one point, we had ten staff and different specialist buyers for certain genres and we were also now open seven days a week. It was a huge undertaking, madly stressful and a challenge to maintain, both in terms of my original D.I.Y ethos and getting stock out in the racks. I’m not sure how people viewed this store. I never stopped to think and I know I never enjoyed working there, even though it just got busier and busier. We had some superb people working there and a great vibe at times, but I’d also just started a family and moved house and was spending no time at home. My partner had given up work to come and do the accounts at the shop and life was just too full on. With the upturn in business, we were now able to do a few more interesting things like a free magazine that we started and now we could employ designers to do the artwork and ads to promote the store, but it was all much less fun for me. In 2005, Reveal won Best Independent Shop in the UK at the Music Week awards, I got completely hammered at the ceremony (it was the first time I’d been out in ages!) but I do remember a guy from Domino Records collaring me and saying ‘now is the year – do the thing you always wanted to do, whilst you have the spotlight on your Reveal name’.

So I woke up and decided a record label was what I always wanted to do. At first, I thought I could do something by importing stock from America and find acts that way, licensing their albums for the UK. I thought that sounded pretty easy. Picking good music. I didn’t want to be the one to speak to the artists; I was too shy for that stuff but after trying to work with someone else running the label side for a few months, I realised it had to be me so I tried to balance running the shop and label. My first signing was Joan As Police Woman, who I saw opening solo for Rufus Wainwright in Birmingham. I emailed her after buying her EP, to see if she wanted to sell some to me for the shop. She did and we sold so many I asked her to be the first signing on the Reveal label; to my amazement she agreed and I was off to New York to sort it out. During this time, I saw Kris Drever sing a song (Farewell To Fiunary) as part of a Kate Rusby concert. I fell in love with his voice and guitar playing (and folk in general) that night and rang him to see if he’d like to make a solo album. Again, he was surprisingly up for it and invited me to Edinburgh to talk more about it. This label stuff seemed really interesting and I was getting more into that work than I was the new shop. In 2006, I toured around with JAPW and did some early management work for her: gigs and promo stuff. The album “Real Life” came out in June 2006 and got rave reviews. In October I released “Black Water” by Kris Drever and he won the best newcomer at BBC Folk Awards and this lead me to Lau, a trio Kris was part of, and I went to see them and got blown away. I was a folk convert and keen to learn more about it.

Back at the shop, we were noticing we had a new competitor: Amazon, someone we couldn’t beat on price or range. This didn’t look good for the future and, coupled with the dawning of broadband and free music downloading, I decided that when the five year break clause came up, I would either move to a smaller shop or close the shop completely. We made it to 2007 ok, but it was now harder and harder to make ends meet so we announced we’d close in spring. It was a huge relief to me when we finally closed; I hadn’t realised how much stress I was under nor how much being open 7 days meant I was thinking about the shop and work. I toyed with the idea of continuing online selling vinyl or in a smaller shop, but just as I was looking into this another opportunity arose to start a new folk label (Navigator Records) with Proper Distribution as partners, so I figured that had to be a good thing and we did that, signing Bellowhead, Chris Wood, Boo Hewerdine, Roddy Woomble, John McCusker, Heidi Talbot, Spiers & Boden, Jon Boden, Mary Hampton and Angel Brothers. I was now running two labels, a music publishers and managing artists.

Running a record shop helped me greatly with selling music, promotion and marketing. The final months (even year) had been a tough balancing act. I didn’t want to invest more in the shop as I knew I was leaving it. My father had just died, I’d a wife and two children I wasn’t seeing enough of and there seemed no positives from being there. I’m especially grateful to Dave who started on the first day with me in 1999 and closed the door for the last time in 2007. As we’d announced we were closing down early on, customers rallied in the final months trying to convince us to continue, but the reality was I had to pay much more for the next five years of the lease and it was becoming impossible to make a profit selling CDs, and vinyl just didn’t sell in large enough quantities to warrant the investment it required. Since we closed, lots more indie stores have gone, including Selectadisc, so I think the time was right to say goodbye. The music business misses good indie shops greatly, they were a filter for the good and great, and the people who visited left more often than not with more than they went in for, thanks to the enthusiasm of the staff.

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I’ve continued to buy physical albums on vinyl and some CDs but I must admit I’m also happy enough with a digital version, unless it’s a special release. I look forward to Rough Trade’s Album Club mailer coming through my door and I would encourage anyone reading this to buy vinyl from Diverse Records, folk music from Coda in Edinburgh and even use Fopp and HMV or you’ll lose them. I tend to buy lots of music from gigs and direct from the artists now, as part of my job involves gig promotion now. Last week I went into Fopp and they were playing a new album out that week, I liked it and I bought it.

For those interested in the Reveal label click here www.revealrecords.co.uk for more info. Tom’s wesbite can be found here: www.tomrosemusic.co.uk

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It’s any day I get the chance for me…

Saturday is the second fully blown UK version of Record Store Day and this time around it seems to be considerably more high profile. As much as I still cherish my Rough Trade tape, signed Lucky Soul LP, Graham Coxon 10” and Magnolia Electric Co 7” from last year, the avalanche of splendour on offer from 9am on April 17th is quite something to behold.

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I was a little dismayed to see the NME taking a sneery pot-shot at independent record shop staff in amongst their otherwise fairly sizeable mentions of this important day. I refuse to believe that there are that many record shops left full of surly, elitist staff with meticulously crafted enormo-hair. Yes, they still exist and, yes, you may occasionally encounter them, but with the dramatic decline in record shops in the UK, few establishments are so carefree with their clientele. Every bit of footfall, every physical visitor is crucial and those of us who still value the unique service provided by actual record shops can tell of many, many positive experiences in the nation’s musical emporiums. Emporia. Emporiums. Oh, sod it.

I’ve previously written about numerous wonderful record shops that you’d be well advised to visit this Saturday and this seems a convenient time to remind you of those pieces.

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Rough Trade East – The Record Store Day hub and a vast pleasuredome, the likes of which were the reason for the invention of credit cards. You will enjoy yourself, you will buy loads and you will spot loads of albums you’ve already bought with frustrating ‘free bonus discs’ available.

Action RecordsAn online presence to be proud of, but also a marvellous shop in the great tradition of record stores, situated in Preston. Stuff piled everywhere, racks creaking with superb stock and staff who can answer pretty much any question you put to them, They take vinyl seriously and their prices are very competitive.

Rockaboom – There’s no website for this cracking little shop in Leicester. Carl, the one man music dispensing machine, is a laid back chap with a shop full of wonderful music. His increased leaning towards vinyl is helping matters for him, while his CD prices easily match or often outclass local rivals, HMV and Powerplay. He is as obsessed with music as you are and I’ve enjoyed numerous conversations with him about all sorts of records, most recently the illustrious Tindersticks back catalogue and the splendid Galaxie 500 reissues.

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Resident – Probably my favourite out of a number of wonderful record shops in Brighton, Resident was mentioned as part of FUTUREMUSIC 09’s exploration of how we purchase music. It uses staff-written labels to recommend records to you, it’s priced competitively, has a good stash of vinyl and genuinely seems to be run by people who likely blow almost all of their wages before they even leave work. It’s one of those shops I wish I lived near enough to that I could visit regularly.

RPM / Reflex – Newcastle, like Edinburgh and Glasgow (more on both soon), is a city that still has a reasonably healthy record shopping climate. Windows, Steel Wheels, Reflex and RPM are all well worth a visit. RPM tickled me most, looking as it does like a truly old-school record shop. Posters everywhere, old plastic racks on the wall, plain price stickers and stock in every available space. The music was not only up nice and loud but also bloody decent. As I said in that original piece, it smells like a proper record shop. Would love to revisit it some time soon.

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Spillers – I don’t appear to have ever written a full piece about this most spellbinding of shops in Cardiff and, apparently, the oldest record shop in the world. However you want to describe it, it is a veritable treasure trove, with the available space used to great effect thanks to their notorious ‘photocopied sleeves on a bit of plastic’ display technique. Prices are great, stock is wide and with a great depth – the era of the back catalogue being easily available may have been stabbed by the HMV bosses, but Spillers provides the life-support machine. The vinyl range is far from comprehensive, but suitably quirky and curious and always worth a browse. And, inevitably, about £20. The display of box sets at the counter is an age old tricks, but there’s a something about the way this lot do it that makes it harder to resist than in most shops. Add to all of this their wonderful, wonderful staff and their delightful t-shirts, including one I have from last year which actually marked Record Store Day and you’re on to a winner. I’ve had conversations at the till not just about my purchases, but also a three-way chit-chat about what the person next to me was buying. They are part therapists, part feeders, but they’re bloody good.

Jumbo – Not the cheapest, by any stretch, but you can feel the record shop heritage hit you in the face as you enter the fabulously timeless Jumbo in Leeds. Nearby fellow indie Crash is well worth a visit too, although Jumbo’s size and thus variety of stock makes for a more satisfying browse. The simple window displays using LP sleeves are tantalising and the vinyl selection is pretty bloody substantial. It may not be the cheapest price in the country, but if you want it, there’s a fair chance they’ve got it.

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Avalanche – Now, my experience of both Avalanche stores is pretty recent, having been up in Scotland only last week. I have to say, I’m a Glasgow shop man, myself, but they’re both decent places to buy your music. I got the impression that the Glasgow shop is thriving rather more and a little more on top of the new releases. While there wasn’t masses of vinyl, what they had was very good. Very knowledgeable staff, with whom I discussed Record Store Day and, in particular, the special Blur release. Regular readers will remember how I used to always budget an extra £10 when I went to the now deceased Reveal Records of Derby because I knew I’d end up buying whatever was playing in store. And so, in Glasgow, I ended up adding King Creosote’s ‘Rocket D.I.Y.’ to my bundle of purchases as a result of thoroughly enjoying it whilst browsing.

Monorail – Another Glasgow based palace of delights, this one. Situated in the Mono cafe, Monorail is the most esoteric shop on this list and the one least likely to be able to furnish you with the indie chart smash you’re trying to track down. No bad thing. The enormous quantity of vinyl available provides a dangerous thrill and the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and, as with a few examples I’ve already mentioned, clearly as obsessed with it all as much as their customers. Whether it’s Mazzy Star vinyl reissues you’re after, vintage Four Tet 12”s or the vinyl box set of Tom Waits’ ‘Orphans’, they’re all there waiting for you, along with piles and piles of other great stuff. The really noteworthy point is how decent their prices are – clearly, there’s a market for a shop dealing only in the more cult side of alternative music, and it’s a market that’s sufficiently successful that the customers don’t need to pay a little extra to keep it afloat. Works for me.

Obviously, there are bloody loads of brilliant independent record shops that I’ve missed off this list. Please, feel free to comment and post about your favourites. The more positive comment about physical record shops, the better. Few music fans have not had a positive experience of one kind or another, and it’s a great shame to think that there might be future generations coming through soon for whom the whole concept of record shopping may mean nothing. All of the shops participating in Saturday’s festivities can be found by clicking here whilst a reasonably comprehensive list of the special releases for the day can be found here. Just loading that list of shops to get the link has reminded me of wonderful places like Diverse in Newport, Badlands in Cheltenham, Polar Bear in Birmingham and Head in Leamington Spa. While we don’t have many independent record shops left now, so many of the survivors are truly great. Please, give them your custom on Saturday and mark Record Story Day with your fellow music obsessives.

 

Just make sure I get a Blur single, ok?

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(For general musings and updates on RSD and new releases as and when I feel inclined, why not follow Just Played on twitter by clicking here or on the massive logo below?)

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Futuremusic 2010: Ever onwards

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Train journeys are tricky things to soundtrack. A lot of it hinges on the weather and the accompanying view. If, in addition to this, you’re bloody knackered then this also has a pretty crucial bearing on this. I tend to gravitate towards the more acoustic end of my collection when in these situations, despite the fact that quieter music doesn’t tend to fare all that well when put up against the many and varied noises emanating from most of the East Midlands Trains stock. Still, I endeavour to find that precise sound that will fit.

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Kris Drever’s music deserves to soundtrack those deeply intimate, private moments when your eyes lock on to something arbitrary in the middle distance and your brain switches to somewhere between autopilot and shuffle, churning out random thoughts, one after another, spring cleaning through the humdrum detritus that builds up over the course of an average day. The musical accompaniment needs a voice which sounds suitably lived-in, a voice which is actually singing the words rather than raspy talking or laconic drawls and a voice which can transport you just as much as the train in which you sit. Drever is absolutely the man for the job.

I came to his first album entirely by chance. It was put out by Reveal Records, the label which grew out of the excellent, but now deceased, independent record shop of the same name in Derby. As I’ve mentioned previously, I would frequently pick up those early releases on the label simply on the basis that I knew Tom, shop and label boss, wasn’t likely to be trying to shift something that wasn’t up to scratch. The fact that the vinyl came with a free CD was the clincher and I soon found myself listening to ‘Black Water’ at fairly regular intervals. I recently deployed ‘Honk Toot’ as a Song Of The Day and it’s that track which really caught my attention and drew me into the record further. It is, as I said a week or so ago, 21st century music that happens to use traditional sounds rather than traditional music trying to sound contemporary. The recordings are completely uncluttered and sympathetic to the attentive ear.

Drever’s particular gift comes in term of the arrangement, not actually writing all that much of the material on either of his two albums. Whether reimagining old folk numbers of putting his stamp on the work of friends and label mates like Boo Hewerdine, Drever’s performances are imbued with a true spirit and passion, ensuring that once his music has clicked with you, it’s hard not to feel a little protective of this beautiful secret you have. His new album, ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ picks up where ‘Black Water’ left off, filling out the sound a little without overcomplicating matters and offering some more assured vocal performances after the tentative steps of that debut release.

On top of all of this, Drever is also a member of increasingly revered – and rightly so – folk group Lau, who only two days ago received the Best Group award for the third year running at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Their music, while different to these solo recordings, is a logical step for anyone sold on ‘Black Water’ or ‘Mark The Hard Earth’. I should also quickly mention the album he released along with Roddy Woomble from Idlewild and John McCusker, Drever’s producer. Going by the name of Drever, McCusker, Woomble (I know, inspired) they released ‘Before The Ruin’ back in September of 2008. It slipped by unnoticed but it’s yet another cracking record worthy of your attention.

Having said all of that, this piece is about Kris Drever’s solo work and, with ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ out next month, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you end reading rather more about him in the coming weeks. Pick up the debut for a very reasonable price direct from the source and get your iPod kitted out ready for your next experience traversing the country by rail. I should point out, his music works with other forms of transport too. And at home, obviously.

Spotify – ‘Black Water’

Advance copies of ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ available here while stocks last.

2010 on the record

Song Of The Day 24: Kris Drever – Honk Toot

I’ve just put to bed my review of his splendid new album, ‘Mark The Hard Earth’, and my thoughts returned to one of the standout moments from his debut. It was one of the Reveal Records releases that I simply bought on trust because I loved the now defunct shop and knew that if Tom Rose, formerly shop owner and now label boss, liked it then I probably would too. I wasn’t disappointed. This is folk music with blood pulsing through the veins. It’s 21st century music that happens to use traditional sounds rather than traditional music trying to sound contemporary. This particular track is a force of nature and never fails to stun. No YouTube options for this one, so it’s Spotify or you can always attempt more nefarious ways to hear it, if you wish. Click the image below to be able to play it.

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40. Dan Arborise – Around In Circles

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A reasonably uneventful summer is coming to a close and I’m increasingly turning to old favourites when it comes to my listening. It’s not so much that I have any problems with the new music appearing, I just want to wallow a bit in the tunes that will truly comfort me and offer an aural hug.

My regular visits to Reveal Records in Derby continued apace, although little was being bought and for a number of consecutive visits I’d left with very little. As I came to the end of almost thirty minutes of browsing around what was a relatively small shop, I realised that I wasn’t paying attention to the rack I was working my way through. Instead, I was transfixed by the lulling guitar sound coming out of the speaker just behind my head. I stood there for another four minutes, staring at nothing in particular, until all nine minutes of the track had entered my world.

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Three minutes later, I was in possession of a copy of Dan Arborise’s debut album, ‘Around In Circles’, featuring that track that had awoken me from my musical nostalgia trip – ‘To The Sea’. The whole album is a work of effective understatement and is utterly charming. ‘Let Me Be’, ‘Beauty Through Her Eyes’ and the aforementioned ‘To The Sea’ remain some of my favourite songs to this day and have, in somewhat oxymoronic fashion, a gently euphoric feel about them that can calm this often antagonised mind. It didn’t sell many, the world barely noticed its charms but, while it might not be as trail-blazing as some of the stuff to follow on this list, if you like ‘To The Sea’, it is an album I can only implore you to investigate. You can thank me another time.