Record Store Day 2012

princeton record exchange

Happy Record Store Day!  Impose Magazine put together a great feature after asking people what their favorite record store is.  I put together this quick piece about my own favorite.

My favorite and first real record store is the Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ.  I think technically my first record store was a Sam Goody’s in my town in Morristown, where I bought a Hanson CD in 6th grade, but I’ll pretend that didn’t happen (just like I pretend my first concert wasn’t LFO, but Sonic Youth).
I did a radio show on Friday nights throughout my four years of high school, and the first two years I played a lot of albums that my dad had, or bad metal music that generally captured the attention of the typical slacker boys who ran WJSV.  The summer between that sophomore and junior year, I went to Irving Plaza to see Phantom Planet (Jason Schwartzman was still in the band, but alas- this was just before I discovered Rushmore).  I was asked along to the show by a group of girls who I wasn’t so much friends with as I was in all the same nerdy honors classes with.  They wanted to go to the show to check out the band who did The O.C.’s theme song.  I wanted to go with them because I always wanted to go to concerts, but never had anyone to go with.  A beautiful marriage of necessity.
I remember looking aimlessly around Irving Plaza, still not totally understanding the rules of live music and wishing that I did.  All of a sudden, a band came on who I quickly realized were not Phantom Planet, but even then, recognized as something much, much better.  A goofy lead singer who jerked around the stage in an original Jagger impression, two guitarists shredding through power chords, one of them the coolest looking woman I’d ever seen.  Who WERE these people?  Their music was SO EXCITING!  I was caught off guard and completely rapt.  When their set ended, my friends complained how loud the band was and when would Phantom Planet come on, and I patiently waited the rest of the evening to get home and log on to AOL and look up this Washington Social Club.
WSC may not be the greatest band in the world (I still think they were woefully underrated), but at the time they represented an entirely new world to me.  I went to Sam Goody’s to buy their record, and was met with blank stares when I asked about it.  I mentioned this to my much cooler, older sister on the phone, and she suggested I make a trip to Princeton to go to the Princeton Record Exchange.  It seemed a bit far to go to buy a CD, but I thought hey, why not?  It was summer in suburban New Jersey and I had nothing better to do.
I mentioned this to my not-exactly-friends in my nerdy classes, and afterwards one of them, Lauren, asked if she could come with me.  Turns out, she was also excited by the loud power chords and didn’t speak up, just like me.  So, that weekend, the two of us got into my parents’ car and made the hour long trip.
I was dubious that this record store, in the middle of what had to be the preppiest town I’d ever seen, would be any kind of cool at all.  But as Lauren and I opened the doors for the first time, I knew I had made it to mecca.  I was scared of the clerks behind the high up counters covered in decades of concert posters on the right- they must know so much and know I know so little.  The new record section was on the immediate left, where we immediately found the WSC album that we came all that way for.  But the best part, the most important discovery, were the racks and racks and racks of used $2 and $3 CDs that lined the back walls.  Oh my gosh.  I was hooked.  Since that afternoon, I have lost hours and hours of my life digging through those albums.  I left that day with a $3 copy of Doolittle and a $4 copy of Nevermind.  So little risk, so much musical exploration!  It felt like home going through those stacks, and the Record Exchange helped me feel like far less of a freak when I was in high school.  I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and my Friday night radio shows got a lot more interesting.
When Lauren and I left that day, we put the WSC album into the car’s CD player, and listened to it on repeat the entire way home.  That was one of the most memorable car ride experiences I’ve ever had- listening to a new album with the windows down, singing and laughing with someone who was becoming a friend.  That’s the power of record stores- they’re a place to make pilgrimages to, a place that makes music more special, that makes it something worth exploring and connecting over.  If I had gone home after that night at Irving Plaza and just downloaded what I was looking for, it never would have been such a powerful moment of youth and fun and friendship for me.  I wouldn’t have discovered the Pixies on my own.  I wouldn’t have walked around high school knowing that there were other people who would rather stay in playing records on a Friday than going to a party.  Music isn’t something physical, it’s not something you can hold in your hand and keep.  But it is something that defines us and binds us together and helps us make real connections.  Record stores like Princeton Record Exchange don’t just sell music- they give us a space to discover it together.
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MP3: Hotfox “Mountain Tiger”

hotfox the bandDrawing by Molly Crawford

Hotfox is a band that I found searching around for music for the show.  This song is straight-up pretty.  It’s a great study in how to gradually build emotion and layers in a song.  It’s the #1 reason I like this band.  The #2 reason I like this band is because they are from Bloomington, Indiana, and that is where my sister lived for a long time, and I know for a fact it’s a cool place.  If you’re looking for a song that matches your grown-up style angst (not as angsty as you once were, maybe more concerned about your immediate future and the fact that we’re all turning into robots, etc.).  Please check out the song, and stream the rest of their excellent album on their Bandcamp.

MP3: “Mountain Tiger” – Hotfox

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MP3: Alabama Shakes “On Your Way”

alabama shakes bandI discovered Alabama Shakes in September, and immediately thought to myself, “What a great find!  I’m going to post about them as soon as I get the blog back up and running.  They’ll be a great unknown gem to get started with.”  Turns out I was only slightly ahead of the curve.  I mean, it isn’t hard to tell that these guys are going to be huge.  After playing a few CMJ shows, they slowly sold out Mercury Lounge and then somehow sold out the entirety of Brooklyn Bowl.  When I heard that, I thought I was confused, that the band had actually been more popular than I realized, but no, they’re just one of those overnight success stories (though this one has way more to do with their live show than the Internet, thank goodness).  It’s no wonder- Brittany Howard’s vocals and guitar presence are larger than life- surely a star in the making.  She sounds a lot like Sharon Jones- a seasoned performer who’s been in the biz for decades.  You can download more songs on their Bandcamp page- definitely worth the $4.

MP3: “On Your Way” – Alabama Shakes

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Blog Is Back

dwight smith record

Hello!  It’s been seventh months, but New York Rockmarket is up and running once again.  Over the last half year, I’ve spent all my musical energy music supervising a new show on ABC called Final Witness.  It’s going to air in March, and I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been working on with you.  Some New York Rockmarket favorites will be featured on the show, like Thee Oh Sees, JEFF the Brotherhood, Kurt Vile, Widowspeak, Young Man, Tennis, Parenthetical Girls, and I’ve discovered a ton of new music I love now, like Sean Rowe, Family Band, BOBBY, Barn Owl, Toubab Krewe, Katie Kim, The Bony King of Nowhere, and J. Pinder just to name a few.  I anticipate you’ll hear from me about a lot of these bands.  I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who wrote to me when I shut the blog down back in May.  It was so nice to hear from people who had been reading– thank you.

I’m still frustrated with the state of music in Brooklyn.  I’ve admittedly been a bit out of touch, but I don’t see the same energy and passion from young bands coming up that I think I saw three or four years ago.  So many DIY venues have shut down, and the community feels dry to me right now.  I don’t think that the shift towards one-man(woman)-electronic-bands helps foster a sense of local community.  And I still don’t care for most of that music.  Still, there have been inspiring things happening since I left off here.  Amy Klein’s amazing blog reminded me of what I was hoping this blog would be, but wasn’t ever able to quite put my finger on- longer, thoughtful pieces on the state of rock and roll’s place in our cultural world.  I didn’t know a blog could be like that AND find an audience.  Impose Magazine continues to be a force for good in the universe, and I continue to run the photo section of their page.  And many of my old favorites, like Real Estate, have gone on to release incredible, mature albums on big-deal labels.  We’ve all grown up a little, I guess.  Still, my favorite things about music are angst, and rebellion, and that feeling you get at shows when you know that you and a room full of strangers completely understand each other without having ever spoken a word.  I’m still very confused about how those feelings fit into today’s Internet-centric music world.

With that in mind, I won’t post here every day anymore.  I most likely won’t write show suggestions, or post every day.  I plan to write about bands I come across that I like.  I plan to publish longer, thoughtful pieces when I’m able.  I haven’t been taking as many photos lately, but when I do, I will post those, too.  In the ethos of this blog, to be 100% transparent, part of the reason I’m posting again is so that I have a place to show potential music-supervising clients the type of music I like.  Not very rock and roll, and a personal conflict I will hopefully address soon in more depth.  But most of all, I will always and forever love good music, and have a compulsion to share it with others.

In that case, I’m very excited for my first new MP3.  It’s from a former classmate of mine at Swarthmore, Dwight Smith.  I’ve known Dwight to be a multi-talented guy for years, but I was pretty damn impressed when I heard these new tracks from him.  The Neutral Milk Hotel/Sufjan influences are there, but Dwight’s voice is clearly special and unique, and blends perfectly with the DIY-folk production of this track.  Check it out below, and visit his Bandcamp to pay what you wish to download another track, too.

MP3: “Ruins” – Dwight Smith

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Blog Hiatus

As you probably have (haven’t) noticed, I have not been doing a good job on here lately.  The last few months have been devoid of content except for show recommendations, and the past few weeks have been scant even on that front.  Despite this poor showing, I love writing this blog, and I think it has a place within the Brooklyn music community.

Still, some crazy things have been happening to me job-wise and life-wise.  I need to take some time off from the blog to figure out if NYRM is still something I should do.  Right now I do a lot of things, and I do an ok job.  I hope to do a few things in the future, and do them extremely well.  One of those things might be this blog, one of them might not.

I love writing about music, and I believe that cultural criticism, especially when it relates to music, is an incredibly important task to undertake.  But I’ve figured out it’s pretty much impossible for someone my age to make a living off of writing excellent music criticism (let alone finding the opportunity to become excellent in the first place).  I don’t really want to have a successful blog.  I want to be a successful music writer.  I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make that happen without mooching off of my parents the rest of my life.

I thought the key was to get a related music-industry job and blog in my spare time.  That sort of works.  But I’m beginning to suspect that the only people this whole thing is a good deal for is the people in the bands, the people actually making the music.  I want to be creating something worthwhile and bringing people together through entertainment and excellent critical thought about that entertainment.  So, while I figure out how to do that in a life-plausible way, I’m going to take a blogging break.  It might be a week or two or a few months, and I might never start back up again.  Only time will tell.  And if you know how I can make money writing, well, you know how to get in touch.

Thanks,

Madalyn

MP3: “Answering Machine” – The Replacements

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Recommended Friday Show: NYU Strawberry Festival

lightning bolt

Lightning Bolt is crazy.  They have the loudest, rumbliest, most rocking live show, and it is something not to be missed.  Combine that with the outdoors on a nice spring day- the juxtaposition is sure to be magic!  Plus, you also get to see Pterodactyl, Ducktails, and So So Glos.  AND enjoy street booths manned by NYU students.  Which, you know, might be a good thing or a bad thing.  The music, though, that’s definitely a good thing.

MP3: “Dead Cowboy” – Lightning Bolt

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Photos (for Impose): Madalyn and Meredith Go to Shea Stadium

madalyn and meredith comic

Awhile back, I shared a new comic with you about going to The Bell House with my friend Meredith.  We posted another installment last week, this time at The Bell House.  We saw some really excellent talented new bands, including Grand Rapids and Balkans.  Both definitely worth checking out.  And, of course, The So So Glos ruled.  Check out our interpretation of the whole night over at Impose.

MP3: “Edita V” – Balkans

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Recommended Thursday Show: Cults, Oberhofer, and Puro Instinct at Music Hall of Williamsburg

brad oberhofer

I’ll be honest, I’m mostly recommending this show because it’s free.  But that’s fantastic, because this is a pretty damn good quality show for no money!  You have to RSVP here, and entrance is based on capacity, but Cults are fun and Oberhofer is one of those deservedly-hot-right-now young bands that it seems like we’ve all been talking about for years (but it’s actually only been since October).  Puro Instinct (they used to be Pearl Harbor), well, I think their music is mediocre at best and that people have taken a shine to them because they photograph well, but hey, maybe you like bands that photograph well.  Either way, I think this is going to be fun, and you really have nothing to lose.  Grab a few friends, get there early for the MHOW happy hour, and enjoy some great free tunes.

MP3: “I Could Go” – Oberhofer

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Recommended Saturday Show: The Fresh & Onlys, Young Prisms, and Bass Drum of Death at Music Hall of Williamsburg

fresh & onlys

Technically, The Crocodiles are headlining this show, but what I would do is go for the first three bands.  The Fresh & Onlys!  Young Prisms!  Bass Drum of Death!  That is some good rock n roll on a nice, big stage with a nice, big soundsystem.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Fresh & Onlys lately, and I’m consistently impressed at the clever way they put their albums together.  They’re the kind of garage band where every song sounds totally different, which isn’t the easiest thing to do.  Check one out below.

MP3: “Dude’s Got A Tender Heart” – The Fresh & Onlys

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Recommended Thursday Show: Woodsman at Cake Shop

woodsman

This show happened, but I wrote this up and forgot to post it.  And the MP3 is really good:

When your average indie music fan is presented with instrumental, more experimental music, I think the general reaction tends to be, “Okay, that’s nice, but I’m probably not going to listen to that, and it would honestly probably be boring to watch an entire concert of.”  They might not admit that out loud, but I’m guessing they’re probably thinking it.  Maybe they sort of like Mogwai, but that’s the extent of it.

Woodsman isn’t something that you’re going to put on in the car on your way to the beach (probably not) or on Saturday night at your dinner party (probably not), but if you want to expand your musical box just a little bit, then this band is for you!  They create instrumental compositions that are most successful when compelled by guitars, though they’re pretty heavy on the electronics, too.  It’s not noise music, but it isn’t as easy as something like Mogwai- nor as difficult as some more out there Sonic Youth.  The music is often pretty and often exciting, and watching them live adds another great element, as you can watch to see how they’re creating the many layers in their songs.  They have a fantastic new track out, and you can download it below or check them out at Cake Shop.

MP3: “Tone Cloak” – Woodsman

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