Friday, July 20, 2012

July 3rd Record Shopping in Portland/Tacoma/Seattle.

My brother was out here in Portland (from Tucson) for a vacation during the week of the 4th of July, so as usual, we made it a priority to head up north and hit our usual vinyl-buying haunts in Tacoma and Seattle. Not to be a downer right from the get-go, but I do want to get this out of the way: it wasn't our most successful trip, for a number of reasons, all of which were beyond our control. Not a total bust, mind you, but there were some frustrating aspects to the day. I'll whine about those as we go.

But first: I'm going to throw in our trip to Green Noise in Portland at the beginning here, even though we didn't hit it up on the same day as our road trip. We did hit it, though, and we spent some time there, and I bought some stuff, so I'm going to kick it off with that.

And if I haven't said it before: Green Noise is one of the best record stores in Portland. The dudes who work there are super nice; they've got a legit collection of 7"s to flip through (which is something a lot of record stores in this town sorely lack); and their prices are fair. And they have cassettes. And VHS tapes. They even had some reel-to-reels when we were there. I liked their previous location a bit better than their current one (the old spot was lived-in and felt more record-store-y), but they're still getting the job done.

Here's what I got there:

V/A - Teriyaki Asthma, Vol V 7" (1991)

I'm actually not 100% sure that I got this at Green Noise, but I think I did. Anyway, these are songs that I've heard a hundred times because I've had the Teriyaki Asthma, Vols. I-V comp for twenty years, but I've been picking up the 7"s if I come across them at a decent price. This one is the yellow vinyl version, and it was just a few bucks, so I laid it down. This one features Jonestown ("Fuck Your High and Get You Up," which is an amaaazing song), Gas Huffer, Porn Orchard, and Daddy Hate Box.

Homostupids - The Brutal Birthday EP 7" (2006)

This is one of Homostupids' first releases, and it's on plain-labeled, one-sided vinyl, and features six songs that don't even last a total of five minutes. Pure Homostupids. Highlights include "Finding the Corpse," "Tapeing the Worm," and "Finger." Brutal indeed.

Homostupids - The Glow EP 7" (2006)

This one is also in the same type of cheap-o white sleeve as the other Homostupids release I picked up, but this bad boy is on pink vinyl, has songs listed on the labels, and one of the tracks almost clocks in at two minutes. Deluxe! My Homostupids collection grows. This "EP" (it's not even four minutes long) marks the first appearance of "Apeshit," one of my favorite Homostupids cuts.

Pailhead - Trait (1988)

When it comes to records I own just for the sake of owning them, this one is right up there with Mike Patton's solo records. You can read more of my thoughts on this record here. I've had this on CD forever, and when I came across this LP for cheap, I figured I'd replace it with a vinyl copy. The one I got has a circular cut-out in the top right corner and I can't get this old-ass price tag off of it without risking ripping the shit out of the cover, but whatever.

Unwound - New Plastic Ideas (1994)

Unwound LPs are a hot commodity these days (copies of Leaves Turn Inside You routinely sell for $80-$100 on eBay), and I'm trying to fill out my collection before things get any worse. This is one that I didn't have, and somehow Green Noise had a still-in-the-shrink, cut-corner copy that has clearly never been played. Yeah, I'm not super excited about the chopped corner, but the price they let this go for made the decision easy. Lyric sheet included. Boom.

All right: Off to Tacoma!
We always look forward to going to Tacoma to go record shopping on our way up to Seattle, because it's always been a great place to warm up. There's a little strip that houses four or five different shops, and they've all been worth the trip in the past. Not this time.

I'm not sure what the hell is going on at Turntable Treasures (pic at the very top), but their prices have gone waaaay up, to the point where we walked around in there for about ten minutes, looked at each other, and bolted. Nearly every single record was $20. Dude was trying to sell copies of Men at Work albums for $8. You can literally find those in the garbage. For a second I thought I may have found a Helloween record that was reasonably priced, but upon inspection the vinyl was fuuuucked and the price tag was around $15. Insane. Like laughably ridiculous. We will never go there again.

As usual, we stopped by Hi-Voltage, which is across the street, just to confirm that their prices continue to be not based in reality, and they were, so we were out of there in less than two minutes. But, hey: if you want to pay $17 for a beat-up Fat Boys 12", this is your place!

Next up we went to this place that I can never remember the name of, but it's on that same strip. It's this big-ass spot that has pot-smoking paraphernalia, a huge room full of records, endless racks of 501 Jeans (?), VHS tapes, cassettes - just a mess of shit. Of course, none of it is priced, so buying stuff is an awkward process where you have to ask the guy about every single fucking thing you're interested in, just to find out that he wants $18 for a Sir Mix-A-Lot 12". I left with some random sample-ready records and a Vietnamese bootleg of the Doors' Strange Days.

Next we hit Rocket Records, even though we've rarely had luck there before, but I was getting desperate. The owner is a nice dude, and he explained to us that his policy is to sell things at a "third of internet prices." This got my hopes up. Though "internet prices" can mean a number of things. What it should mean is what people are actually paying for things, not what dildos are trying to sell stuff for. When I saw he had a copy of Sonic Youth's Sister priced at $80, I realized he was either lying, crazy, or maybe he meant he tripled internet prices. I bought an Oaktown's 3-5-7 12" for a buck and we got the hell out of there.

We were happy to leave Tacoma. It was a frustrating bust.
We headed north and hit West Seattle first, because we knew we wanted to go to Rubato Records and the Easy Street location that's over there. Rubato was a weird scene: apparently we were there during one of their final weekends. I couldn't really tell if they were trying to move or if they were just going out of business, but it was a tad bit sullen in there. Of course, that didn't stop me from picking up some random VHS tapes and this:

V/A - Bostonot 2x7" (1992)

My brother picked this out for me, because I think he already has it. It's a weird little collection featuring indie-rock bands covering Boston songs. Treepeople do "More Than a Feeling," Karp takes on "Let Me Take You Home Tonight," and there's also seven other bands doing random Boston covers. Kind of a novelty, but I'm happy to have the Karp track because it's not available anywhere else, and it's not Karp-y in the traditional sense.

After our short stint at Rubato we walked the block down to Easy Street, where I proceeded to find absolutely nothing I was interested in. Last time I was there, I know I walked out with a short stack of stuff, so this was a bit of a surprise. Still: better than finding stuff I wanted and balking at the price tag.
We got back in the car and headed to Seattle proper, where our first stop was the always reliable Singles Going Steady. I once again forgot to take a picture of it, so I jacked the above photo from Flickr to give you an idea of what the place looks like (from behind the counter, apparently). We spent some solid time here, as expected, but again, I didn't have as much luck as I did last time. Still, I found some stuff:

The Fluid - Roadmouth (1989)

I've been meaning to listen to The Fluid for about 20 years, and finding an original-issue of this LP (and the next one) is just the motivation I needed to finally make it happen. Sub Pop. Black vinyl. In really sweet shape. Didn't expect to see this at Singles Going Steady, but there it was.

The Fluid - Glue (1990)

This is the Fluid LP that I always remember seeing when I was younger, and I always thought the cover was pretty sweet. So that's something. I don't know if I see myself ever becoming a full-on Fluid fanatic, but I have been enjoying these two records. Rugged, ragged, and strangely poppy. The 90's continue to live in the music I always meant to get into but couldn't afford to.

Gnome - Six-Hi Surprise Tower (1992)

I'm pretty sure I got this at Singles Going Steady, though it may have been at the Queen Anne Easy Street, which was our next stop. Either way, it was via my brother sticking it under my nose and insisting I purchase it. It's from 1992, on the C/Z label, and is pressed on translucent cherry-red vinyl, so it wasn't a tough sell. Haven't listened to this one yet.

BOAT - Life is a Shipwreck, We Must Remember to Sing in the Life Boats 7" (2010)

I am having a heck of a time finding any info on this release on the internet, which is odd, because it says it's a 2010 Record Store Day release, and this band isn't exactly obscure. This is a clear flexi-disc that contains three songs, all of which sound terrible because flexis are a sweet novelty, but not great for much of anything else. Still, this is a cool little record to have.

I wouldn't say we were feeling defeated at this point, but we had definitely acknowledged to each other that it wasn't the most fruitful mission we'd been on. We headed to the Queen Anne Easy Street, which is always reliable, and thankfully I broke my streak and found some stuff I was really excited about. Again, not as much as I have found there previously, but it definitely made the rest of the day feel much less wasted. Here's what I grabbed:

Paris - Sonic Jihad (2003)

I can't believe it's been almost a decade since this dropped. I still think of it as one of Paris's "newer" records. It ain't. But it does still have that insane cover, which has probably been a bit softened by time, but man: putting this out in '03 was a little bold. Anyway, I've had the CD forever, but I'd never come across the 2xLP before. And it's gatefold, even. And also angry. It is very angry.

DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - Kolexxxion (2012)

This is a badass comp of Bumpy/Premier tracks, some of which have appeared on 12" singles, Foxxx's Konexion LP, and probably some other places that I'm not aware of. Not surprisingly, the liner notes on this thing are of no help. No matter: this is 17 tracks of a couple of veterans making some no-nonsense rap music, and I'm into it. I almost bought this when I was down at Amoeba earlier this year, regretted not doing it, and I'm glad I came across it again.

Jr. High - Killer of Friendships (1997)
This is the one-off (right?) LP from Sean Croghan's post-Crackerbash band (that also features Joanna Bolme, and apparently Elliott Smith did some production work on it), and I'd never heard it, so I was fine with paying four bucks for it. I've only listened to it once, but I liked it a lot. It's nothing like Crackerbash; it's much more restrained. Mature, even.

My Name - Megacrush (1992)

I have thought about buying this record, off and on, for 20 years, so when I found a sealed copy of it for five bucks, it seemed like the right thing to do. I was hoping it'd be colored vinyl, because I know there's some of those out there, but mine ended up being black. Still, unwrapping it after two decades was a sadly exciting experience for me. The music's a little too wacky for me most of the time, but I'll always think that cover art is brilliant.

Company Flow/Cannibal Ox - "DPA (As Seen on TV)"/"Iron Galaxy" 12" (2000)

A 2x12", gatefold split single. What a piece of work. I already had the Can Ox songs (because they ended up on their debut), but I didn't have the Company Flow stuff because I'm still catching up with that shit a decade later. This is back when Def Jux was still Definitive Jux, and in fact, I think it might be either the label's first or second release. I'm feeling good about this one.

Gas Huffer - "Mole" 7" (1992)

It wouldn't be a record-buying trip if I didn't pick up a Gas Huffer single, so here I am, filling my quota. Apparently there are a bunch of different variations of this record. Mine has the pink cover and an almost eggshell color to the vinyl. It's white, but not white-white. "Mole" is a sweet two-minute rocker (duh), and the B-side, "Body Buzz," is an instrumental.

Dwarves/Blag Dahlia - "We Must Have Blood"/"Surfing the Intercourse Barn" 7" (1996)

I almost had a Dwarves-less day, until my brother unearthed this gem (and another one that's coming next) for me. This is on Man's Ruin, which is a bit weird, and the vinyl is pink. The Dwarves track is from their The Dwarves are Young and Good Looking LP, though I'm not sure it's the same version. The Blag track is him reading a short story over wankery.

Dwarves - "Underworld" 7" (1993)

Another Dwarves single that I did not have, and though these two songs ("Lies" is the flip) appear on their Sugarfix LP, the ones here are alternate versions, which is always a treat for me. Clear yellow vinyl, Sub Pop, and a hilarious cover.

And that was it for me. Look for my brother's haul soon, if he gets his act together and writes it up. I still love you, Seattle. Tacoma: we're on thin ice.

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