I’ve come over all nostalgic about indie record shops a couple of times before on Colour. They’re certainly a diminishing presence in the industry – The Guardian reports that there are now only 305 left in the UK, down from over 2000 at their zenith in the ’80s, when they were capable of influencing the success of emerging artists, championed or derided by their knowledgeable, music obsessed staff.The number is sure to decline further, as a generation of listeners with no tie to the tangibility of music come of age and current obsessives adjust to the digital future. Each passing Record Store Day is sure to feel more like an elegy for this endangered species than the last, although some of the bigger stores like Rough Trade are sure to survive.
The annual event is an attempt to lure music fans back into the comfortingly dusty and dimly lit racks of their local indie by offering a plethora of exclusives, mostly on technology-defying 7″. This year you will be able to pick up releases by artists including Tom Waits, Akron/Family, Jenny Lewis and Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Pavement, Sonic Youth and Beck. If you need any more persuading, there are many testimonials to bricks-and-mortar record shops from musicians here. Former Grandaddy leader Jason Lytle’s contribution should be enough on its own:
A visit to this store is almost religious for me. I take a deep breath before I enter, go all quiet, and the journey begins in the search for something new. It is a tactile, physical journey, involving artwork, photographs, liner notes. it is not a solitary journey. It involves questions and answers to people who share my love of music. People who know so much more than I do, who guide me to the places i need to be, to hear what i am hoping to hear […] the music I have purchased will inform my music life for months and years ahead. My life-long love affair with music and songs is all about people. it is not a lonely pursuit, but a shared one…
Over 100 UK shops are participating, although the only one ’round here appears to be Polar Bear Records in King’s Heath, Birmingham.