If you are a music fan and you looked at this list of Record Store Day releases for 2012 you probably thought to yourself "my goodness that is a load of crap I don’t want." But let’s be charitable, borrow a little PR-lackey spin-talk, and say that’s because of the "incredible diversity of this year’s releases." Let’s also go so far as to paraphrase an imaginary press release addressing this issue and say that: "At 284 officially sanctioned exclusive releases, Record Store Day’s annual offering of incredible music has evolved to the point where you simply can’t like ALL the amazing music out there!" Right guys? I mean, that’s as nice as we can possibly be about this.
What if there was some objective way to quantify exactly how crappy this bloated corporate fleecing of vinyl fans has become? Enter the number crunchers at Chunklet Co. with this handy breakdown:
Out of the 284 "exclusive" Record Store Day releases this year…
82 or 29% are listed as released by a major label or major label subsidiary.
72 or 25% are listed as released by an independent label which is currently distributed by a major label or major label subsidiary (this includes major-indie labels like Merge or Sub Pop or Domino or Thrill Jockey)
34 or 12% are self-released or vanity-label projects controlled by an artist who currently or formerly appeared on a major label
Throw those numbers together and you’ve got 188 or 66% or two thirds of all Record Store Day releases from which at least a part of the proceeds go to somebody who probably has plenty of money already. Does that equate directly to the music being shitty? Don’t ask us. We’re just spewing facts here. We’re not judging.
If we were judging, we’d say that of the remaining "true independent" releases, many are on "rip your balls off and shove them in your eye sockets"-level bad labels like Victory, Bloodshot, Omnivore, Dangerbird, and we swear we are not making this one up, Jealous Butcher Records. If you’re not familiar with Victory Records, they very clearly wrote their own Wikipedia page including a hilariously feeble publicity-grab over their signing of “the worst band ever,” and are putting out a limited-edition Snapcase reissue. Snapcase has sucked since way back when Snapcase was Snapcase.
To get an idea of the caliber of organizations now getting involved in Record Store Day, check out this quote by the "CEO" of Brookvale Records, which actually has major-label distribution: “I started this little record label a few years ago but never dreamed I would be working with such amazing bands as 311, Dream Theater, and Ace Frehley.” -Karl Groeger Jr., CEO/President Brookvale Records. That is a direct pull from the guy’s own website. He wrote that down and put it on the world wide web for all to see without a hint of irony. THIS IS WHO IS PUTTING OUT RECORD STORE DAY RELEASES.
What’s left that we might actually like? There’s a reissue of the first Pussy Galore 7”, a Nobunny EP on Goner that’s like medium interesting, the Trouble In Mind covers 7” EP with Apache Dropout doing a Monkees/Nilsson cover on it, The Dan Melchior 12” on Moniker, a Sacred Bones comp, some Sundazed 7”s that seem initially exciting until you realize you’re standing in line for 45 minutes for a Blue Magoos 45, some Vanguard folk/blues reissues that might float your boat or get your hopes up about a Japanese insano-dude overbidding on eBay, some reggae your favorite record store probably won’t have anyway, a Devo live LP (just kidding, we don’t want it), a Lee Hazlewood comp, a reissue of Little Richard’s first album that’s already been reissued a bunch of times, a Tinariwen double LP you could buy if you don’t already have more Tuareg Rock than you know how to listen to, A Deep Fried Boogie Band/Colossal Yes split 7” on Jackpot, a 4-way split 2xLP on the Expo 70 label if you’re into “experimental” (read: boring pretentious) music, a Jeff the Brotherhood live 7” and a Smoke Fairies 7” on 453 Music, a v/a comp on the Bardo Pond label, a “lost” Joey Ramone solo 7” of stuff he recorded in the 90’s, and an electronic covers of Dinosaur Jr. thing that we can only assume is a novelty record. That’s (probably) it. Like 20. Out of like 300. Just a hair over 7%.
And those are just the “does not immediately induce coma” releases. We’re not saying we’re over the moon excited about any of these. There might be other good stuff in there too, some of which falls into the highly subjective “already have it” category, some in the less subjective “just not into it” category, and much more in the “additional investigation would cause me to break down and cry at this point” subdivision.
Is that list exciting enough to make you want to deal with the crowds of consume-o-nerds that you’ll have to wade through if you want a chance (none of these is guaranteed) to get your mitts on one of those releases?
Keep in mind that the crush of humanity surrounding your nearest and dearest record store will likely also contain people who might be interested in, most egregiously, a limited 311 (yes, the aforementioned 90’s band) 12”, a Black Keys “limited to 6,000 numbered copies” version of the album they already put out 6 months ago, a Common (the rapper) LP, a 12” by the drummer from the New Bohemians (of Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians – because the drumming on “What I Am” is “start up a new band 20 years later” level intense), a 7” from the new band formed by the singer from the Deftones, a Coldplay 7”, a fucking Jamiroquai double 12” with CD, a Bruno Mars 10” for fans of both mainstream radio and 10” records, some Widespread Panic and Phish LPs, three 7”es on the Pearl Jam vanity label, a reissue (!) of Lou Reed’s “Transformer” (!!) that is “exclusive on Record Store Day (!!!) but will be released to other retailers in the future,” (which is an EXTREMELY odd way to use the word “exclusive”), and a MOTHERFUCKING GARBAGE 7” by the band “Garbage” and not by a probably much better nonexistent band called “MOTHERFUCKING GARBAGE.”
This list of the worst offenders (20 or so, or 7%) is of course accompanied by the “maybe I could buy this and flip it for $50 on Discogs real quick” limited Arcade Fire 12”s and “I guess I’m glad Leonard Cohen is getting into this whole Record Store Day thing but I’m not sure this record needs to exist” Live EPs and “Hey, it’s the fourth best Destroyers album, that’s cool, I guess” or “I guess somebody out there likes Uncle Tupelo” reissues that make up the bulk of the not 100% horrendous/not exciting middle part of the Record Store Day release spectrum. Which, scientifically if we’re still keeping track, is 86%.
So there you have it. Mathematical proof that Record Store Day is 93% horseshit.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t support your local record store, here. This is a really big sales day for some of the best local businesses in the country, and you should by all means get out there and have fun with it. What we are saying is that it’s also a really big sales day for some of the worst local businesses in the country, and if you don’t believe us, try record shopping in some shitty record store full of $30 Smashing Pumpkins reissues and entire sections full of Brian Wilson “That Old Lucky Sun” LPs, located in a giganto state school college town near you. You will find plenty of Bruno Mars 10”es there well into 2015 if they haven’t, as they would so richly deserve, had to close the place the fuck down by then. We’re waiting for that collapse with baited breath, because we can’t wait for Good Record Store Day.