Friday, February 3, 2012

January Record Shopping in Orange County.

During my past trips to Los Angeles for work, I'd stayed/worked in a hotel in the heart of Hollywood, so I never felt the need to hook up any transportation. Amoeba was within walking distance, so I just hoofed it over there and back, taking in the always-exciting happenings on Sunset Blvd. and making a night of it. This time around, as I've mentioned previously, I was staying in Anaheim (right next to the Disneyland part of it), so I knew I'd need to be more mobile if I wanted to hit any record stores.

I figured this out before I went down there, so I arranged a rental car (that my work paid for - boom) and made sure to bring my most recent copy of Record Collector News with me. It's got a sweet map of Southern California record stores in it, and even has them divided up by area. So: Thursday night I went to Amoeba. Friday night I was exhausted, so I stayed in my hotel room with my iPad and my record store map, plotting out the places I was going to go on Saturday night. I figured out a nice little route, loaded the addresses into my phone (along with notes on when each one closed), and set out Saturday night to try to hit six local record shops. This was ambitious, considering I wasn't even leaving Anaheim till five. I knew this. So when I ended up making it to four shops, I still felt pretty good about it.
My first stop was Burger Records in Fullerton, which is housed on the end of a strip mall on what felt like a not-so-busy street. As soon as I stepped into the place, the strip-mall vibe ceased to exist. This place is everything a record store should be: it stunk like either really good pot or really bad B.O.; there were dirty couches on opposite sides of room; there was a band setting up for an in-store performance; and there wasn't a CD in sight. Though there were tons of cassettes. They run a label, so they not only had lots of tapes by their bands, but also all kinds of other old ones. Nice to see that.
I was able to poke around a bit before the band started playing, and even when they did get situated and start their set, I just kept at it. I felt a little awkward because the place is tiny and almost everyone else was just watching them, but I was on a schedule. They were good, though. They're called Part Time, and I think they have a cassette or two out on the Burger label.

I found a lot of cool stuff while I was flipping around - they have a great indie/punk LP section - but I had to exercise some restraint because it was my first stop. So, I only picked up a few things. I also tried to get a sticker to commemorate my visit, but they were all out. Weak. Here's what I bought:

Dickless - "I'm a Man" 12" (1990)

Faithful Stallion Alert readers may recall that I picked up this 7" on green vinyl at last year's Eugene Record Convention (which I'm going to next week, btw), and they may also recall that I've been on a bit of a foreign-issue Sub Pop 12" kick as of late. This one is on the Tupelo label, and has the ol' "Made in United Kingdom" sticker on the back of it. So, it's not German like the other ones I've come across recently, but it's the same idea. The first two tracks are the same as the 7", but it also includes the one-minute scorcher "Miniskirt Mob." Cool find.

Calamity Jane - "Love Song" 7" (1992)

I bought my first Calamity Jane 7" at Amoeba last year, and I think this single was released the year after that one. Getting all chronological in this piece. The B-side is "Believe," and the vinyl on this is a crazy kaleidoscopic mix of red and white that is quite impressive. My Calamity collection grows. This single is on Tim Kerr Records and has a "01557" stamped on the back, but who knows how many that's out of. Representing for the 90's ladies at Burger! I'm a real hero.

My next stop was Mass Media Records in Santa Ana, which isn't the most clearly marked store on the block (as you can see above), but I didn't have any trouble finding it. It's a really cool little shop that has vinyl, shirts, patches and stickers and other punk gear, and even some vintage clothing for the ladies in the back. The dude who runs the place told me they just moved to that location from Costa Mesa, which means nothing to me because I don't understand where that is - let alone where I was - but it sounded like he was happy about it.
They have mostly underground-ish punk stuff, so there weren't a ton of records there that struck my fancy, but I actually found three things that I had been looking for, and all at really reasonable prices. And like I said, the guy who works there was super nice. I asked him for a store sticker and he also said they were out. Orange County record stores: step up your sticker game. Still: if you're in the area and you're looking for some obscure crusty punk, I say go there. It's awesome. Of course, I bucked the system and bought some of the most un-punk records in the place. Check it:

They Might Be Giants - Lincoln (1988)

I have been putting off buying this record on eBay because I already have it on CD, I've heard it a thousand times, and I knew I'd eventually come across it in a record store. Did I think that store would be a punk-rock shop in Santa Ana, CA? I did not. But that's why record shopping rules. This is the German Version on Rough Trade, which is pretty sweet, and it's in really good shape. This is one of those records - kind of like their first one - that's not really rare, but you don't see it in shops very often. Glad I got it. I have their debut and Flood, so this one fills the gap between those two. Very important.

Beck - A Western Harvest Field by Moonlight 10" (1994)

I really didn't expect to find this one in a store, and especially not at this store. There's a true first press of this that was limited to 3,000 copies and includes an original finger painting by Beck and his pals. Those sell for a lot of money. This is not one of those. This is a repress from a year later, but it's still a somewhat tough record to find, so I was excited to find a copy still in its original shrink and in really good shape. This is early Beck, so it's that noisy, Stereopathetic-style stuff that is really awesome. I was never going to shell out a hundred (or more) bucks for the first press of this, so I'm glad I came across the next best thing.

Asspiss - Fuck Off and Die 7" (2010)

This is great. I found out about this band after googling the phrase "asspiss" a few years ago because I think it's hilarious. Then, my brother tells me he scored a copy of this 7" last year, and I had never even told him about the band. I'd been meaning to get my own copy, and while I was in Mass Media, I actually remembered to look for it because they seemed like the kind of shop that might have it. And they did. For a dollar. This thing is on white vinyl, has five songs on it, and also comes with a sticker for the record label, a sticker for the band, an Asspiss stencil, an Asspiss postcard, and an insert with song titles and various propaganda. A buck well spent.

After shoving off from Mass Media, my next stop was TKO Records in Fountain Valley. This place has some CDs, but the focus is vinyl, and it's meticulously arranged and organized. I found a bunch of 30-dollar records that I wanted, including a Sonic Youth 10" for "Bull in the Heather" that was on silver vinyl, but I had to pass a bunch of stuff up. That was rough, but the responsible thing to do.
I struck up a conversation with the guy working behind the counter there, asking him if he had some specific records, and when he said that they sometimes have Fudge Tunnel LPs, I knew I was in the right place. We talked about some other stuff, including Portland and the NAMM conference that I was down there working at, and he told me an awesome story about getting to jam with John Entwistle. I asked him if he had any stickers for the store that I could take home as a memento, and he said they were out. Of course. But, he followed it with "How about a t-shirt?" I was excited. But when I saw the shirt, I became ecstatic:
He said something about it "breaking down the truth about people like us" and I said I would wear it proudly. And I already have. I only ended up getting one record, and I was a little concerned about its condition, so he gave me 10% off. I mean come on. That is fantastic. I've gotta make it back to this place next time I'm in the vicinity. A great experience. Here's the record I bought:

Beck - Mellow Gold (1994)

Can you believe I didn't already have this on vinyl? I've been stalking auctions on eBay for months, but just couldn't bring myself to pay that much for a copy sight unseen. The copy I bought at TKO isn't in the most pristine condition, but the price was reasonable and at least I knew what I was getting into before I laid down the dough. And John (the guy who worked there - yeah, we're on a first-name basis) was nice enough to play it for me before I bought it to make sure it didn't skip. And it didn't. Now I've almost got every Beck album on vinyl. I just need Guero, which won't be hard to track down, and The Information, which will cost me at least $250 and I'll probably never actually buy it.
My final stop of the evening was Vinyl Solution in Huntington Beach, a store that looks like it has been there for years and has no intention of moving. I love places like that, especially when they're filled floor-to-ceiling with records. The dude who runs the place is super friendly, and the store is overfilled and slightly ramshackle, just like any good record store should be.
It's got more of a classic-rock vibe to it than some of the other stores I went to that night, but they did have some rap and hip-hop, and even some metal. I dug through pretty much everything, and didn't really find anything I had to have, but I did come across a bunch of cool shit, and it was a great place to just hang out at 10PM on a Saturday night.
Here's one more picture:
Now that's a record store. I ended up buying an original copy of Dolly Parton's Jolene for my wife, and I got this one for myself:

The Breeders - Head to Toe 10" (1994)

I really hit the 10"s hard on this trip, didn't I? You don't often see Breeders records in stores, so you've got to scoop up the original issues when you see 'em. This copy's a little dinged up, but nothing that I'm going to fret over. I go through phases with this band and I've actually been listening to them a little bit lately, so it doesn't hurt to have this around. Another one that I didn't expect to find considering the store I was in, but again: that's part of the fun.

And that was it for my Saturday night Orange County excursion. There were a few other places I wanted to check out, but it just didn't happen. Hopefully there's a next time.v

No comments: