Record Store Day 2009 & Opinions on Bat for Lashes and Asher Roth

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome a panel of independent record store representatives from around the country to celebrate Record Store Day.

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First up in the news, Jim and Greg discuss the murder trial of famed producer Phil Spector. Spector was found guilty of shooting actress Lana Clarkson six years ago. This was the second trial for the man behind the sounds of The Beatles, The Righteous Brothers and The Ronettes. While the first jury was deadlocked, this one handed Spector a conviction that will lead to a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Jim and Greg have been following the debates in France concerning internet piracy with some interest. The French parliament recently defeated a highly anticipated bill that would have given users caught illegally downloading files two strikes before disconnecting them from the internet entirely. A re-vote is scheduled for later this month. Back in the states, President Obama tapped Recording Industry Association of America attorney Ian Gershengorn to join the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. This is the fifth RIAA attorney to join the DOJ–not a promising precedent for file-sharing proponents.

While most of us are spending more modestly in today’s economy, some Prince fans will be shelling out $2,100 for his limited edition Opus iPod. For that price, 950 devoted fans will get purple touch iPods loaded with live tracks and a 40 minute movie. Sounds absurd, but Jim and Greg agree that there is a market for high end, specialty items like this one. Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead had luck with their box sets last year, and Pearl Jam recently released a deluxe reissue of Ten.

Record Store Day 2009

The official Record Store Day is April 18, but for Jim, Greg and other hardcore music fans, every day is Record Store Day. To honor the independent record store industry, Jim and Greg speak with Matt Jencik, head buyer at Reckless Records in Chicago, Marc Weinstein, co-founder of Amoeba Music in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and John Kunz, owner and president of Waterloo Records in Austin. These veterans of mom and pop record shops discuss the challenges they face in the wake of the digital music revolution, including exclusivity deals that artists like Prince and AC/DC have made with big box retailers. They also stress the value local retailers have in our communities.

Jim and Greg both have personal relationships with record stores as well as professional ones. During the next segment they recall two indie shops that were important to them and play songs they discovered subsequently. Jim plays You’re So Cool, by The Cyclones, a band he discovered at Pier Platters in Hoboken, NJ. Greg plays, Temptation by New Order, a band he fell in love with at Wax Trax in Chicago.

Two Suns Bat for Lashes

Two Suns

Now onto something you might want to buy at a record store. Jim and Greg first review the latest album from Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes. The British artist’s first album was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Now she is back with Two Suns. Jim and Greg hear a lot of heavy subtext in the songs, half of which are sung from the perspective of Khan’s alter-ego Pearl. Greg thinks these tracks are the most interesting. The melodies and hooks aren’t that insistent on this record, but listeners who pay attention will hear some really complicated stuff. For ambition alone, Greg gives Two Suns a Buy It rating. Jim admits that this album will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But, that’s what he loves about it. He also gives Bat for Lashes a Buy It.

Asleep in the Bread Aisle Asher Roth

Asleep In the Bread Aisle

Next up is Asleep in the Bread Aisle, the debut album from rapper Asher Roth. The bread aisle refers to Wonder bread, and part of the marketing push behind Roth is that he is not just a rapper, but a white rapper. Comparisons to Eminem are inevitable, but Jim thinks that comparisons to The Beastie Boys and The Streets are more apt. He appreciates Roth’s honest, mundane storytelling, as well as the great grooves and gives the record a Buy It. Greg hates to say it, but believes that if Asher’s race wasn’t a story, no one would be paying attention. He calls Roth’s frat rap mediocre at best and gives Asleep in the Bread Aisle a Trash It.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!