Archive for records

Permanent Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
181 Franklin St
(between Green St & Huron St)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-4083

Permanent Records is located in Greenpoint just a couple blocks north of Greenpoint Ave on Franklin Street (a very short walk from the Greenpoint Ave G Station, or a 20-25 minute walk from the Bedford L). In 2007 Permanent relocated from it’s original location on Long Island to Greenpoint. While this is a tragic loss for it’s former location, it was a great addition to Franklin Street.

While some of the record stores in the Bedford area have an air of pretension Permanent Records is friendly and welcoming! Marjorie, the owner of the shop, is typically behind the counter and is extremely friendly. I have been in several times, and have only had enjoyable experiences.

Permanent has more vinyl than CDs, and of course this is a plus for me. The store set up is records down the right side, and CDs down the left. There are a couple stand alone racks in the center of the floor: one for newly arrived used LPs, another for 7″s, and a third for DJ esque type LPs). They have a variety of record players in the windows, and lots of sun light. The store is not huge, but feels spacious, and comfortable.

Selection wise I always find more records than I need to be buying in my hands. I’m not quite sure how it is labeled, but they have one large section of LPs (that lives in the back right side corner of the store) that is comprised of a very eclectic selection of rock, noise, folk, electronic, and country of the modern varieties. Then they have some smaller section of things like reggae, soul, jazz, ect. The selection is really wonderful. They have your typical record bins, (by alphabet), and then they reserve space on the walls to display albums too (as pictured). They have pretty much something for everybody, and I find that you might end up with something you didn’t quite expect to find.

On my most recent visit I purchased Boris’ new effort Smile, the repress of Thurston Moore’s of Psychic Hearts, a used copy of the Grateful Dead’s Blues of Allah, as well as the reason for my visit… my special order of Eat Skull’s new album Sick to Death.

I have to thank Marjorie and Permanent Records for allowing people to do special orders. I had been looking all over to find that Eat Skull record, and had asked several places about ordering it for me…but no one would do it. I just kept hearing “Check back next week.” Marjorie ordered the record for me, and kept in touch with me until it came in stock. The LP I wanted was on back order, but the store followed up with me three times. Once to let me know that it didn’t come in, a second time letting me know the day it would be there, and finally a call to let me know that my record arrived. This is wonderful customer service, and they didn’t even make me put down a deposit (which I happily would have done).

They are also open until 9pm! Which means I still have time to make it to the store before they close after I’m done having happy hour (it is one of my favorite activities to record shop after a beer or two)! Permanent Records does instore performances too. To find out what is about upcoming events stop into the store, or email: marjorie@permanentrecords.info and ask to be added to the mailing list.

It may be that Greenpoint just has wonderful specialty shops…besides my consistently good experiences at Permanent, I was also recently surprised by the kindness of the young lady that was working at Dalaga (we didn’t catch her name, but she mentioned she was a new employee). KLK and I were in the store on Sunday, and she was just so genuinely nice that she really made us want to frequent their shop.

While I had never visited a lot of these shops before moving to Greenpoint, overall I am just pleasantly surprised with the shops in my new neighborhood. I am happy to live here and be supporting them. Permanent Records (and Dalaga) are both doing good things. They both have made some return customers out of us. I love the Franklin Street shopping district, and I can’t wait to explore it more.

If you are a record collector, or just in the mood for some new tunes stop by Permanent. If you can decide on something I’m sure that they are full of recommendations. One last thing I forgot….Permanent is typically a couple bucks cheaper on new LPs than Earwax and Soundfix!

Photos:

Greenpoint Store by JT (via Picasa)

Inside Greenpoint Store by Michael Kirby (via Time Out NY)

Old Store on Long Island by Seamus McGuire (via flickr)

More music news in Greenpoint this week…if you are a fan of punk rock or folk music… Defiance, Ohio is playing Club Europa this Thursday August 21st. If you don’t have anything going on, or are looking for something to do, I highly recommend going (I plan on being there)…it is not so often that you get to see a mostly acoustic punk band play. Good times.

(Tom)

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Brooklyn Record Riot. Sunday June 29th at the Warsaw.

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2008 by criticalreviews

The Brooklyn Record Riot was held at the Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn) this past Sunday. While I am a pretty big record dork this event fell pretty short of my expectations…and honestly my expectations were pretty low. While the short list of dealers that I read on Brooklyn Vegan looked pretty promising:

Denis from Le Pickup of Montreal
Josh Rock from Montreal
Bobby Soul from NYC
John from 21st Century Music
Billy and Miriam from Norton Records
Chris from Relative Action
Neil Drucker from Record Cellar of Philly
Marjorie from Permanent Records of Greenpoint
Malcolm from Trash American Style
Mike from Slipped Disc
John from Rockit Scientist NYC
Larry from ShoutShimmy Of Jersey City
Reggae Tim from Baltimore

Overall it just turned out to be overwhelming due to people and amount of merchandise, and underwhelming in terms of selection and/or price.

My first complaint off the bat is that it was a record riot, and not a CD or DVD riot. While I agree that these items do fit into the category of things a record buyer might purchase, I feel that too much space was given to them. While there were some really wonderful tables, KLK got some of the more obscure Pink Floyd LPs and Leah had some good cheap finds and a very special Nick Cave LP, I came up empty handed.

I felt like there was a lot of good stuff at the record fair, but that overall prices were high (on used LPs specifically). Personally I am always looking for Brian Eno and Frank Zappa but what I found, even records that I already own, were exponentially higher than what I paid for them or had seen them being sold for in Williamsburg or the East Village.

I almost felt like prices were jacked up due to it being a record fair. Possibly people thinking “Oh there will be record Geeks and DJ’s here.” This wasn’t all of the tables, but I did get this vibe from tables that didn’t have prices on anything (or that used a hand written pricing code: example A= $10 D=$40). I guess what I am getting at is that there was a serious lack of good things in the $10-$20 range, and even $20-$30. There were tons of cheap $1-$5, and plenty of collector-y $30-$200 things…but the median range was really weak.

While I will admit that every LP I looked at did appear to be in almost perfect condition, I don’t consider this too much of a luxury. I find that most used records, in stores, priced over $10 tend to be in excellent or at least very good condition.

Some tables were really organized…whether it was by alphabet, genre, or era, but others were just by price. And while this could be good for someone looking deal, it really is too much of a time investment with not enough results.

One of the highlights was the table of Permanent Records (of Greenpoint), which I didn’t shop at because I would rather support them in their very relaxed store. While their table consisted of mostly new records it was a nice change. They were organized, and friendly. Their store deserves a proper review of it’s own (and that should come sometime in the near future after a couple more visits).

I actually think it could have been better if there were more vendors selling new vinyl (like Permanent)…maybe by recruiting the likes of the recently closed Jammyland (because honestly from what I saw the reggae was particularly weak) or Hospital Productions, or other specialty shops.

Four things I would like to see that would have made the experience more enjoyable:

1. Organization (I don’t care how you do it…era, genre, alphabet…just not by price…unless it is a $1 bin).
2. Prices (post your prices on the records, or at the very least have a code that the customer can decode without asking you).
3. More specialty vendors.
4. Those portable record players are obnoxious…vendors should have them set up (if they want to), and customers should not be allowed to bring them.

Not being impressed might have been due to the fact that I didn’t get there til 2pm, but all of the bins looked full, and if it was in fact picked over I can’t imagine what it was like at 6 or 7pm. I can say the Brooklyn Record Riot was worth the $3 admission, and I’m not writing off record fairs completely (I’m looking forward to the next WFMU fair.)

(Tom)

Jammyland Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
East Village, NYC

So I know I just posted about Count Ossie and I my be bombarding you with reggae, but I feel that it is necessary to get this up before Jammyland is gone.

On Sunday, I found out that Jammyland will be closing come the end of May (I assume due to a rent increase or loss of their lease). This is a really sad day for reggae, and music in general in New York City. Jammyland has been a reggae mainstay in New York since 1993.

Physically Jammyland is a very long and very narrow store, and if there is someone buying something at the counter it is even hard to fit in the door. But it is loaded with all things reggae. They have the largest selection of reggae LPs, 45s, and CDs I have ever seen (and t-shirts too). My experiences in the store have always been enjoyable….the sweet smell of incense and trying to lean over the mounds of Jammyland t-shirts on the floor in boxes to flip thru records. The employees are always friendly…from making recommendations, to answering questions, and even sometimes putting records on the store stereo so that you can hear them before you buy. Occasionally you will even go in and a DJ will be spinning 45s to figure out what he/she is going to purchase to play in their set later that night.

The first time I went in the store it was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had record shopping. I was more comfortable in Hospital Productions, at least I knew a handful of the names on the shelf. For those who don’t know Hospital Productions is the noise/black metal store, that is located in the old Jammyland recording studio, that you enter by walking into the Jammyland store front…going to the back of the store, and then down a ladder in to the windowless Hospital Productions. I knew literally nothing about reggae the first time I went in, and although the guy working tried to help me I had no direction and no idea what I liked. On my second visit I picked up the Soul Jazz’s Studio One Dub, and after getting some advice I went back and purchased a big handful of LPs.

The first couple of times that I was in the store I was totally blown away…and that was for two reasons: 1) the store has a killer selection, and 2) I was starting on a new genre of which I literally owned nothing. While Jammyland didn’t always have what I was looking for they always had something to temp me…it wasn’t their fault…I realize when I am looking for albums that came out twenty or thirty plus years ago that they most likely will be out of print. But with Jammyland you never know…one day that record just might be there. Someone in Jamaica or England might have been clearing out a warehouse, and if a couple copies are found… they will end up at Jammyland (that is how I happened upon Grounation). Even if they don’t have that specific obscure LP you are looking for the collection of Greensleeves, Pressure Sounds, and Soul Jazz records should be enough to hold you over. Jammyland, from what I understand, even makes trips and orders directly from Jamaica to get Jamaican pressings of albums you typically wouldn’t see in the States (I have picked up random Linval Thompson, and Sly and Robbie records, as well as a Jamaican press of The Upsetters’ Return of the Super Ape).

Their prices are also hard to beat. I love being able to walk into a store, and if you look a little bit you can walk out with a rad roots or dub record for as cheap as $9.99 (I find it a rare occasion these days when you can get a new record for $10, but at Jammyland as long as your willing to look this can happen often). But as you can assume some records go up in price pretty quickly…it is just as easy to spend $25 on an album as it is to spend $10.

Jammyland is a bit messy and disorganized but so entirely unique that it couldn’t exist anywhere else (well maybe in Brooklyn). I sit here listing to Augustus Pablo’s Africa Must Be Free by 1983 Dub (the second record I ever purchased from the store) reminiscing on Jammyland…I guess it will never completely be gone as long as their mail order is still in action, but it is really sad to think that I will never be able to walk into this shrine to Jamaican roots music again.

While I was told that the store was looking for a new location there is no word yet of if it will happen/where/and when, and I guess this means Hospital Productions will also be looking for a new home too. This will be two tremendous (hopefully temporary) losses for New York’s music scene. I plan on making at least a couple more trips to these wonderful stores before they are gone…they are a great example of what independent record stores should be.

If possible show your support in the next month…I’m sure Jammyland and Hospital Productions will both appreciate it.

Photo of Jammyland from the NY Times

also related: my review of Hospital Productions.

(Tom)

Charlie McAlister – “Mississippi Luau” LP (Catsup Plate Records 1997)

Posted in Best of..., music, records, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2008 by criticalreviews

Living in New York City you are kinda spoiled having so many great musicians right at your finger tips, but growing up in South Carolina there aren’t quite as many (but we do have some gems). That brings me to a musician and “living legend” from my home town, Charlie McAlister. McAlister started out, or at least people started to notice his work, in the mid-nineties when he was putting out a whole bunch of cassette tapes. McAlister continues to make music/art/whatchamaycallit, and ended up with a bunch of tapes, a couple proper albums (on Catsup Plate), and is still playing the occasional show.

While I lived in Charleston I started booking and promoting shows (originally punk rock), but I hadn’t done it in a couple years and while I was working at Fifty Two Point Five Records I booked (with the help of Clay) Charleston’s first ever Mountain Goats show. Years later I was involved with the album release show for The Sunset Tree. This show was booked at a really wonderful art space called REDUX. In the process of getting the show set up Charlie McAlister contacted me, and asks to play the show….I really didn’t know what his deal was(and this wasn’t my call…it was the Goats), but John Darnielle ended up being a really big fan. John had Charlie open for him, and it was truly amazing. Charlie’s band played a really unconventional and astonishing set with a really interesting collection of people, instruments, and tools (really I mean it…saws and hammers, ect). While talking to John at the show he told me if I could get a copy of Charlie’s Mississippi Luau (on Catsup Plate) to check it out, because it was one of his favorite albums of all time (and that is a really big statement for someone like John to make).

After the show Charlie told me that he would bring a copy of it by the record store for me, but that unfortunately never happened. This was back in 2005. Now this brings me to my personal experience with Mississippi Luau.

So three years later I no longer live in South Carolina, and I was record shopping at Academy Records in Brooklyn. It was a Sunday and I was waiting for friends to get ready for bagel brunch at Brooklyn Ale House. I was taking my time browsing the used LPs, and I finally got to the “M” section. Charlie McAlister wasn’t even something I was looking for (because I was pretty convinced that I would never find any of his records…even though I read that they are not that hard to come by), but I was flipping through all of the used records and I had one of those moments where I actually said “Holy Shit!” out loud. I had found a copy of McAlister’s Mississippi Luau on LP! The reason I was so surprised was that there are only 350-400 copies that were collaged/painted/screen printed. And this was one of them (there were only 500 copies ever made).

As a big fan of The Mountain Goats (and most things that are low-fi and folky ) this record has quickly become one of the prizes of my collection and all around favorite (I find when I listen to it I have to listen to it at least twice in a row), but I think that I will let others describe it for me (because their descriptions are so spot on):

PopSheep.com says about Charlie:

“So John Darnielle , Guided by voices and Daniel Johnston walk in to a bar. They hash it all out and create a large venn diagram. From this diagram they find the point that their three sensibilities intersect. They call this point Charlie McAlister, lyrics like Darnielle, exploring the possibilities of the 4 track like GBV and as crazy as Johnson.”

Secondly, as I said before, John Darnielle is a big fan and after he played the Charleston show with Charlie he wrote on his website:

“Charlie’s music could probably be described by any number of not-quite-right music terms: it’s back-porch jug band stuff, sorta, but it’s got a real affinity with guerilla noise warfare, and also with actual gorillas, who nine times out of ten will make the guerillas look like amateurs. It’s got that organic Neutral Milk Hotel feel, but its spiritual side isn’t the transcendent schtick that Jeff Mangum mastered and then put behind him; Charlie’s spiritual kin are the mediums who charge you a quarter for an hour’s worth of Ouija board in a shack down the highway near some southern beach town, and you think they’re maybe fulla shit but then they hit that huckster vein where it’s not really a con any more because everybody’s agreed to just ride the moment out even if it did start out phony. Charlie’s the wizard in Kansas without any MGM sanitization. He likes rum.”

Please read John’s full post about Charlie here at Last Plane to Jakarta!

Needless to say I think my best record find of the year was made on January 5th (only five days into it). I am excited to have this wonderful record in my collection, and hope you enjoy checking Charlie out.

I am also very excited. Charlie McAlister only has two shows scheduled right now, and one of them is August 8th at The Stone in the East Village (this night, I have been told, is being curated by Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle and Fantomas). All though not that many people know about Charlie he definitely fits into the freak-folk term pretty well…I hope people come check him out. I will definitely be there.

Here are a couple MP3s off of Mississippi Luau:

“Island of the Robot Building Monkey”

“Darla Comes Down From Jackson”

Download all of the CD-R I’ll See you in Hell. From Tape Mountain!

Charlie also does a really crazy zine called Sardine…which you can mail order from him for $3 or $4 dollars at Charlie McAlister P.O. Box 24, Johns Island, SC 29455.

his new address

Charlie Mcalister
(International Beachball International/Sardine Magozine)
PO Box 20095
Charleston,SC
29413

Photo of Charlie from Wolfie Whitman’s flickr

(Tom)