Boston music scene goes on the Record

by Andrew Doerfler / Beacon Staff • April 14, 2011

Audiophiles across the world (including the many here at Emerson) will soon revel in limited vinyl releases, music shop promotions, and in-store performances: April 16 marks the fourth annual Record Store Day, an event first established by a small group of enthusiasts that included a record store owner and a former president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores.

Since kicking off in 2008 with about 250 participating stores and just 10 special vinyl releases, the day has expanded into an international event. The New York Daily News reports that 1,500 shops will take part throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan.

In order to support a fellow outmoded medium, the Beacon offers the student body of Emerson a few suggestions on how to properly appreciate vinyl on this hallowed day.

Newbury Comics

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The hodgepodge of music, graphic novels, and all things pop culture that is Newbury Comics boasts an impressive lineup this year. According to the band’s website, Brooklyn art rock crew TV on the Radio will be at the Newbury Street location at 4:00 p.m. to sign records. Only the first 400 people who bought the band’s new record, Nine Types of Light, from Newbury will be guaranteed admission. Don’t be discouraged, though. The stacks will still be packed and special deals on vinyl offered all day.

Massachusetts’ own synth-pop heroes Dom are also set to stop by the store for an in-store performance and signing at 1:00 p.m.

332 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

Weirdo Records

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For a less traditional Record Store Day, head to Weirdo Records near Central Square. Instead of in-store performances, Weirdo will be celebrating the day with karaoke on the sidewalk o

outside the shop, hosted by Dan Shea of local power pop band The Needy Visions.

Owner Angela Sawyer says she also plans to offer free beer and to hide treats and rare records on shelves for customers to find while browsing. Weirdo will have extended hours, as well, opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m.

844 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02139

The Record at the ICA

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You don’t necessarily need to spend the whole Record Store Day in a record store. On April 15, the Institute of Contemporary Art will debut The Record, a multimedia presentation focused on vinyl.

According to the ICA’s website, the exhibit aims to “examine the record’s transformative power from the 1960s to the present” through sculptures, paintings, video installations, and much more. The installation’s 99 exhibits come from 41 different artists, ranging from established artists like Ed Ruscha (whose work was prominently featured in last year’s movie Somewhere) to music industry professionals like former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder. The display runs until September 5.

100 Northern Ave. Boston, MA 02210

Tres Gatos

Financial troubles caused Jamaica Plain shop Rhythm & Muse to reinvent itself this year as Tres Gatos: a combination tapas/wine bar and record store. The complete culinary/musical experience just opened in February, and plans to celebrate Record Store Day with extended hours (noon-midnight), a special selection of usually off-menu items, and about 150 Record Store Day releases. Tres Gatos specializes in jazz, rock, and blues, but encourages customers to request special orders for anything it doesn’t have in stock.

470 Centre St. Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Armageddon Shop

Armageddon Shop in Harvard Square will also enjoy the holiday season for the first time. After a decade pushing the finest metal, punk, and any other aggressive music to Providence headbangers, the folks behind Armageddon decided to open a second location in Harvard Square this year. Cambridge has rocked considerably harder since.

This year, the store is trying to make its celebration of the day more specific to its clientele. “We’re getting away from the major label-inspired event, and trying to be more independent,” said Ben Barnett, one of the store’s owners, in a phone interview with the Beacon.

They’ll still offer a few official Record Store Day releases that fit the shop’s attitude (Barnett cited the Revelation Records’ hardcore 7”s), but will focus more on out-of-print and local releases.

12b Eliot St. (basement), Cambridge, MA 02138

In Your Ear Records

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Boston’s veteran vinyl aficionados generally don’t seem too keen on Record Store Day. In Your Ear Records owner Reed Lappin told the Beacon that he finds it to be a “bogus” major label cash grab. But that’s no reason not to support his store on this most audiophilic of holidays.

Since first establishing itself as Boston’s headquarters for selling and buying vinyl in 1982, In Your Ear has expanded to Cambridge and Warren, Rhode Island, and has managed to amass an impressive collection of high quality classic rock rarities.

Boston: 957 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

Cambridge: 72 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA. 02138


Cheapo Records

Cheapo Records doesn’t formally celebrate Record Store Day, either. But their half century-long history and eclectic catalogue make the store well worth a stop on anyone’s Record Store Day excursion. It has moved and shrunk since first opening in 1954, but has remained an important institution in Cambridge’s music scene — enough to warrant a New York Times profile in 2005.

538 Massachusetts Ave. Cambridge, MA 02139