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Long live brick and mortar music retail / by Jonathan Williger

Apop Records of St. Louis, MO

Rather than list specific albums or songs released this year that touched me in some way (there might only be a few, and others can certainly speak to their perceived importance with more authority than me), I thought a more accurate representation of my musical discovery process in 2013 would be to collect a few record stores that have provided experiences that have shaped my listening over the past 12 months. Long live physical media, and long live brick and mortar music retail.

Acme Records – Milwaukee, WI
Vinyl-only shop with an extensive, selection of delightfully skewed music from all genres and many eras. I discovered this place on an early-Spring day trip up to Milwaukee with my co-workers and fellow record freaks Erik and Doug. We spent almost 2 hours combing through each every section slowly and carefully. They carried a well-curated selection of new LPs, and the used records, which took up the majority of the store, were all in immaculate shape. They even had a small section of the store where those dragged in by their (boy/girl)friend, husband, or wife could sit in hand-carved wood chairs and read while their weirdo buds dig through the stacks.

Records acquired:
The Deviants – Ptooff! (Reissue – Get Back, 1997)
Joe Jones – Untitled (not on label, unknown)
John Coltrane – Om (Impulse, 1967)
John Fahey – Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts, and Other Contemporary Dance
Favorites (Table of the Elements, 1998)
Laraaji – Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (Editions EG, 1980)
Tuxedomoon – Desire (Ralph, 1981)

Permanent Records – Chicago, IL
This is my neighborhood shop, and while I have stepped into the store around 20-25 times this year, there was a period of time early in 2013 when their selection of vintage electronic music, krautrock, and 20th century classical music was particularly ridiculous. An older collector called up the store and decided to sell off his entire lot en masse, apparently. This happened to coincide with the arrival of my tax rebate check, so you can guess what happened. They also have their own label, which reissued some great LPs by Bil Vermette and The Afflicted Man this year.

Records acquired:
Jon Appleton – Music for Synclavier and Other Digital Systems (Folkways, 1978)
Jon Hassel – Power Spot (ECM Records, 1986)
Joseph Byrd – Yankee Transcendoodle (Takoma, 1976)
Morton Feldman – Rothko Chapel/For Frank O’Hara (Odyssey, 1976)
Renaldo & the Loaf – Play Struvé & Sneff (Ralph, 1984)
Terry Riley – Shri Camel (CBS Masterworks, 1980)
Terry Riley – Songs For the Ten Voices Of The Two Prophets (Kuckcuck, 1983)

Apop Records – St Louis, MO
Shopping at Apop is always my favorite part about going to visit my parents in St. Louis. Looking for noise tapes? Reissues of obscure coldwave gems? Foreign black metal? Pretty much anything else under the radar and/or completely fucked? Apop probably has what you’re looking for. I was able to make it in a couple times this year, and consistently found some true gems in their used new arrivals. It is always a pleasure to talk with Tiffany, the store’s owner, as well. Her recommendations have never let me down.

Records acquired:
Aliester Crowley – Original Wax Recordings (Mr. Suit, 2013)
Cecil Taylor Quartet feat. Archie Shepp – Air (Barnaby Candid Series, 1971)
Charalambides – Historic 6th Ward (Time-Lag, 2002)
Harold Budd – Pavillion of Dreams (Obscure, 1978)
Pearls Before Swine – Balaklava (ESP Disk, 1968)
Pelt – Brown Cyclopaedia (Radioactive Rat, 1995)

Little Axe Records – Portland, OR
Simply put, my visit to Little Axe while on a quick trip to Portland this fall was a revelation. They stocked an incredible collection of used international LPs, including many originals from India that co-owner Warren acquired on a recent trip overseas. The prices were unbeatable. They also of course stock entries in their cassette series, all of which are worth hearing. There are many incredible stores in Portland, but Little Axe takes the cake. Full disclosure, this shop is co-owned by Jed Bindeman, who plays in Eternal Tapestry, a band I work with. He’s a nice guy! Say hi when you stop in.

Records acquired:
Abdul Karim Khan - Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan (Columbia, unknown)
Bhimsen Joshi – Raga Lalit/Raga Shudh-Kalyan (His Master’s Voice, 1961)
Dissolve – That That Is…Is (Not) (Kranky, 1994)
Helen – Helen 7”
John Fahey – Rain Forests, Oceans, and Other Themes (Varrick, 1985)
Shirley Collins – Amaranth (Harvest, 1976)
Ustad Amir Khan – Khayal by: Ustad Amir Khan (His Master’s Voice, 1970)
Ustad Rajab Ali Khan – Ustad Rajab Ali Khan (His Master’s Voice, 1981)
XHOA – Yap Yap Yap (self-released. 1988)
V/A (compiled by Pierre Schaeffer) – Musique Concréte: Groupe de Recherches Musicales de la RTF (Disques BAM, 1960)
V/A – A Wander In Exile (Little Axe Cassette)
V/A – Chaabi Music From Al-Maghrib (Little Axe Cassette)
V/A –Roque, Foke, Psyche (Little Axe Cassette)
V/A – Some Sad Songs From India (Little Axe Cassette)

Jonathan is a life-long music obsessive and current publicist at Thrill Jockey Records in Chicago. He ran his own label, Blackburn Recordings, while in college but that is pretty much done now. He has been heard on the airwaves of WNYU and WFMU. He likes to drone. You can follow him on Twitter @jwilligerand reach him via e-mail at jonathan at thrilljockey dot com

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