Gone Record Shopping!

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The Vinyl Hysteria crew is off to the Pacific Northwest for some good ol’ record shopping.  While we’re gone, the site won’t be updated, but we’ll be posting plenty from our Instagram and Twitter accounts.  Follow us there, if you don’t already, so you can keep up with our travels and our vinyl finds.

 

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#WhyIMarch

It’s nearly impossible for me to write this.  Why?  Because as I sit here at my computer, Donald Trump is being sworn into office.  How can I concentrate on writing a thoughtful piece on tomorrow’s Women’s March and how it ties into this blog — and the intentions behind this venture — when someone who wants to strip women of their equal rights is becoming President of the United States at this very moment?  It’s a challenge, but if I’m not up to the challenge of writing a simple blog post, then how will I continue to fight for the representation of women — in the arts, in music, in general — over the next four years?  So here I am.

Tomorrow, millions of women and allies will be marching in Washington DC, in NYC, in Los Angeles, and at more than 600 sister marches across the United States and abroad. The mission is this: We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.  And there’s good reasoning behind this stand of solidarity:

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

Now, before you say that this is an overreaction, it should be noted that as soon as Trump became President today, the White House website was stripped of its pages devoted to LGBT and civil rights protections.  This small act says so much about what the coming years will be like for women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and LGBT folks. The daily micro-aggressions were already happening before, but after the election, they increased. And they’ll continue to increase. If we’re going to survive it, we have to stand together.

And I guess that’s why I created this site/project a year ago.  Trust me, collecting records is the very LEAST of my concerns right now — and is such a tiny, tiny issue compared with the larger issues at hand — but when you’re a woman in a world that is dominated by men (the record-collecting world), you experience and witness sexism all the time.  You get pushed aside, you aren’t considered as knowledgeable about music or vinyl.  I started to realize that I wasn’t taken seriously, and that I didn’t have a lot of female allies to combat these misconceptions and dismissals.  I wanted to promote the visibility of women in this world, band together with them, change the conversation and the dynamic.  I can’t say I’ve really accomplished that yet, but I’m working on it.  It was a microscopic version of what this march tomorrow is all about.  Reaching out, standing together, changing the landscape.  Making our voices heard.

I’m hoping to strengthen my resolve tomorrow.  I’m hoping to come back revived and ready to fight — for all women, for all those who are marginalized or scared or wanting.  And with that resolve, I’ll be creating more content here, seeking out other women who want their voices heard.  Get ready to meet some awesome vinyl-collecting ladies.

Vacation Record Haul, part 1: Olympia, WA

The small town of Olympia, Washington, is saturated with music history. Think about all the great bands and labels that got their start in Olympia: Sleater-Kinney, Heavens to Betsy, Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Excuse 17, K Records, Kill Rock Stars. Riot Grrrl. Kurt Cobain lived in Olympia.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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With such a rich history, it’s no wonder that Olympia is home to a gem of a record store like Rainy Day Records. I could have spent an entire day in there. Not only do they have a solid selection of records, but they’ve got cassettes (many local), CDs, t-shirts (their own, plus K Recs tees), pins, stickers, postcards, and all sorts of other goodies. I visited the store twice and came away with Le Tigre, Gossip, Tacocat, Yoyo a Go Go, Ex Hex, and a bunch of cassettes and fun stuff. That shop is definitely in my top 5 now, and I can’t wait to go back the next time I’m in the Pacific Northwest.

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I thought I’d been thorough in my research, but apparently I missed adding Funk Fuzz Records to our Olympia itinerary while planning. I was under the assumption that Rainy Day was the only record store in town. But while shopping downtown, we noticed Funk Fuzz attached to Dumpster Values, a vintage clothing store. It’s a very small space, but it had some great stuff. I grabbed a few things that I’d been looking for, and then as I was making my purchase, I noticed an original 1991 self-released Bikini Kill cassette in the display case. I passed it up at that moment because of the price, but then I got outside and realized that I would likely never come across one of those in person ever again. They’re incredibly rare, and they go for big bucks. The one in the shop was fairly reasonable, considering what it was. Five minutes later, I had talked myself into buying it and went back in to purchase a piece of music history.

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Check out my video below to see all my finds, and check back soon for the next installment in my vacation haul series. I went to so many record stores and purchased so much that I thought it would be better to break it out into a few videos. Enjoy!

New shops + new haul video

Here’s the deal: I’m supposed to be saving money for my upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest, which is rife with record stores and thrift shops. I have about twenty on my list so far, and I’m sure I’ll be ducking into some that didn’t make the first cut. Plus I have a 32-page list of records I’m seeking. So I need to save some cash for that vacation, but you know me — I can’t resist vinyl! While visiting with family in upstate New York over Memorial Day weekend, I stopped in at Thrifted, a great thrift store with clothes, retro housewares, and lots of records. Most of the records were 70s and 80s, which was fine with me. I picked up four records for $10 and was a happy camper.

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That was supposed to be my last purchase until vacation, but this past weekend, my better half wanted to go check out the vintage denim selection at the Kiam Records Shop in Nyack, NY, so we made a late-afternoon impromptu car trip down towards the city. I was trying to talk myself into only buying one or two used records, but right away I started spotting stuff I’d been looking for, and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been wanting to check out Kiam since I’m a fan of the label and its founder, Jennifer O’Connor. Plus they’re always posting photos of records I’d want. I’m really glad we made the trip, because it’s a great shop. Not only do they have a solid selection of new and used vinyl, but they also sell turntables, books, vintage clothes, pins, and other assorted goodies. I came away with some pieces I’d been wanting to add to my collection for a while.

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You can check out my finds in the haul video below. This will be my last one for a few weeks since I’m leaving for the good ol’ PNW soon, and when I come back, I have a Quasi show in New Jersey. I’m sure I’ll have a TON of records to show you guys when I’m finally home and recovered from my travels. Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to catch a few glimpses of the stores I visit and the records I find.

It’s a Quasi Party!

I could write pages on my love for the band Quasi, but anyone who follows my blog or my videos knows about my Quasi devotion. So I’ll just say this much — I have been excited about the Up Records reissues for months, and I was wowed and impressed by what arrived on my doorstep. This vinyl is incredibly gorgeous, and I could not be happier.

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Wanna watch me geek out over it? Check it out below.

Brooklyn Flea Record Fair + a new haul video!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Brooklyn Flea Record Fair in Williamsburg. The weather forecast was iffy, so I was on the fence about making the trek before seeing Land of Talk and Little Scream at Baby’s All Right. But at the last minute, we decided to head on down and see if we could get a little browsing in before the rain.

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We arrived around 4:00, so I didn’t expect there to be much left in the bins, but it was still hopping. I was saving my cash for Land of Talk merch, so I wasn’t looking to drop a lot of money on records, but I figured I’d pick up a couple items. In the end, I only purchased one record: a sky blue pressing of the new Frankie Cosmos album, “Next Thing.” Yes, I already have the clear w/ white splatter pressing, but when the label rep told me they were designed so laying the clear and white over the blue would create a clouds-in-the-sky effect, I was sold. Plus, as you all know, I’m a completist, and I like having every pressing of any record I like.

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There were quite a few women at the fair, which was nice to see. But as usual with these shows, I had a lot of dude elbows in my way as I flipped through bins. I watch the body language of women, and I see them all tucking their elbows in so that the person next to them can flip through without issue. But every time I was next to a guy, I had his elbow completely covering the bin I was attempting to peruse. I know there’s no malice behind the act, but it irritates me anyway. I don’t think that women should be having their elbows over the bins either, but what bothers me is that women (not all, but most that I witnessed) seem to automatically adopt the position that they shouldn’t take up any more space than they need to, and men just take up as much space as they damn well please — whether it gets in the way of others or not. Not all men, by any means. But I looked through maybe five bins, and I had dude elbows covering four of them. Also discouraging was the guy who told his daughter to stay away from the records, even though she was just looking and not causing any trouble or damage. Dude, don’t discourage her! That is precisely what worries me about young girls who might want to get into record collecting. If it’s presented as a boys’ club, then what happens to those girls who are interested? They’ll just move on to something else. It shouldn’t be that way.

I really need to devote an entire post to the ways in which women are so marginalized in the vinyl community (again, not by all, but by a good majority), BUT I do have a bunch of new records to show everyone. I stopped at Redscroll Records in CT over the weekend and found a good group of gems, plus I got a new record in the mail. Check out my haul below — it even has a small cameo by my cat, Cubby, at the very end.

Another Haul

It’s time again! This one’s a good one, kids. Lots of great finds, including some cassettes, even though I do not collect cassettes. I don’t. I can’t. But some of those bands I love don’t release on any other medium, so I have to take what I can get.

What have you been picking up these days?

Hysterical for Sleater-Kinney (and colored vinyl)

Okay, so, if you follow my blog and videos, then you know I’m a total geek for Sleater-Kinney. I’m always on the lookout for those harder-to-find S-K pressings, and I’m pretty much always over the moon when I manage to snag one. I’ve been to their shows, and I’ve gained a huge group of friends through this fandom — wonderful people I wouldn’t have met had it not been for our mutual love of this band.

So it seemed kind of ridiculous that I still hadn’t gotten my hands on a Start Together box set. Back when the band members started teasing photos of that gorgeous colored vinyl, I was drooling, and I hadn’t even fully immersed myself in their glory yet. It seemed like a big investment to make in a band I didn’t know all that well, so I let the opportunity slide on by. But soon after, I started listening in earnest, and then I was beating myself up for not having gotten the colored vinyl box set. Sure, I could have easily gotten a set with the black vinyl, but I’d already started buying up the single Sub Pop reissues, so it didn’t make much sense to go that route. Instead, I scoured online resources, considering cost and condition each time one of the colored vinyl sets popped up. I wanted it to be as close to mint as possible, and I so wanted the bonus 7″ to be a signed copy (500 were randomly inserted into the 3000 sets made). Nothing ever worked out just right, and then there was the cost. People wanted 2 or 3 times the original price, and that’s a big chunk of change to drop all at once. So I waited, and right when I got a bonus at work, two box sets showed up online for the same price. One was sealed, and one was opened, played once, and had the coveted signed 7″ record. I went back and forth, trying to decide what I wanted more. And in the end, I decided that I wanted to be sure I would get the signed 7″ and went with the already-opened NM set. Then I promptly told a good friend about the sealed one, and she snatched it up.

It’s a thing of beauty. It’s probably one of my most treasured pieces (behind that sealed Weeping Tile record and my signed Wild Flag). And because I already have all the albums on other pressings, I’ll probably keep this one as more of a collector’s piece instead of spinning it. Or maybe I’ll spin it once, just to see that gorgeous colored vinyl in action.

If you want to see the beautiful vinyl in this lovely box set, or you just want to watch me gush over it, check out the unboxing below.

Introducing…me!

I have some goals for this blog.  I don’t want it to merely be a place for me to share my too-frequent haul videos; I’d like it to be a space where I can discuss and highlight women who collect vinyl.  I’d love to interview women from all over — ranging from those who are budding collectors to hardcore vinyl enthusiasts — and show the world that even though the majority of collectors seem to be men, we are here too.  We need some visibility in this community.  There are a few well-known vinyl collecting ladies, but the overwhelming focus has always been on men.  Just take a look at any book about vinyl collectors, and you’ll see that at minimum 90% of them are guys.  And that’s fine, since we are in a minority.  But it seems to me that there are lots of women out there collecting, and no  one’s taking the time to seek them out and highlight them.  I’m not sure if the lack of representation in books and such is due to the author not putting in the legwork to bring out some more diverse collectors, or if some women feel intimidated by the sometimes-aggressive and sometimes-dismissive dude majority and won’t insert themselves into the narrative.  And that’s understandable, since I’ve been there myself.  But it’s time to change that.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about me and my vinyl collection.  I’d really love to interview any ladies out there, so please pass the word and let me know if you’d allow me to ask you some questions and highlight your collection.

Name, age, location, social media handle.

Amy, 36, Massachusetts, @vinylhysteria

When did you get into vinyl?

I’ve always been into vinyl to some degree. I grew up in the 80s when cassettes were the big thing, but my parents bought me a small record player housed in a multi-colored cardboard case. I had a few 45s that I would play on it, including Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo.” But I loved pulling the records out of my parents’ collection and studying the covers. As I grew older, I started buying records for the bands I liked, particularly the Carpenters. I loved Karen Carpenter’s voice, and when we went to antique stores or flea markets, or to that one local music store that still had a section of vinyl, I would grab whatever Carpenters records I could find. Mostly I picked up records that held some sort of nostalgia for me – Chicago, Helen Reddy, Rosemary Clooney. And then in my early 30s, my interest grew more serious, and I started collecting records in earnest. This time, however, it wasn’t just old easy listening records, but newer bands that I loved, and rarer vinyl.

What was your first vinyl record, and how was it acquired? Was it a gift or did you purchase it?

My first vinyl record was most likely one of those Golden Book records they made for kids, but the first record I remember owning was Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Since I was quite young at the time, I probably received it as a gift.

What attracts you to vinyl as a medium?

I love the physicality of vinyl. I love the entire process of going to a record store, finding an album, studying the artwork and the track listing, interacting with the shop owner to purchase it. I love taking it home and opening it up, holding the vinyl in my hands and feeling its weight, reading the inserts and looking at the pictures and label information. I love the act of turning on the record player, adjusting the settings, and carefully dropping the needle onto the vinyl. The act of buying and listening takes time and consideration, and that’s something I find lacking in digital downloads. Yes, I love being able to access music with the click of a button, but for me, it’s a lesser experience. I connect so emotionally and viscerally to music that it feels more real to me to find, purchase and listen to that music through the vinyl experience.

How many records do you have in your collection?

I have approximately 200 LPs, a handful of 10″ records, and 50 7″ records.

What is your stereo setup like?

I have a 1984 Soundesign stereo system with a turntable, cassette player and 8-Track, all housed in an original cabinet with storage below. From what I can recall, it was my great-grandfather’s stereo system, and he gave it to my father. Once I started collecting vinyl more seriously, my parents passed it down to me.

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How do you store and/or display your records?

I store all my records in 3 mil polyethylene round-bottom inner sleeves and 3 mil polyethylene jacket sleeves from Bags Unlimited. I have part of my collection – mostly older records in less-than-stellar condition – in the storage beneath my stereo system. The remainder of my collection, including my most valuable records, is kept in a Kallax unit from Ikea. My 7″ records are kept in an Ikea box in the unit, and I put all my band and label stickers on it. I haven’t alphabetized my collection (yet), but I keep all my newest and rarest records stored together, organized by band.

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Where do you shop for your vinyl? Stores? Online? Yard sales?

I prefer to shop for vinyl in record stores. I love checking out new shops, and I like supporting small businesses. I also like to look through records at thrift stores to see what I can find, and I’ve found some gems sifting through dusty boxes. While I prefer to do my purchasing in person, sometimes I resort to online resources to get the hard-to-find items on my wantlist.

What is your favorite record store and why?

I have several favorites, but if I had to pick one, it would be Joe’s Albums in Worcester, MA. I love this shop for several reasons. My first excursion there was for Record Store Day a few years ago. I had scoured all the shops in New England that posted their RSD inventory online the night before, and Joe’s seemed to be the only place that had everything I wanted. The store is small, but incredibly neat and organized, and he places the album info and price on a sleeve sticker at the top of the album so you can flip through quickly without having to pull everything out. He has a great mix of new and used, and I’ve always found his prices incredibly fair. The store inventory is posted in a sort-friendly format online so you can determine right away if the shop has a record you’re looking for, and you can purchase directly online and have it shipped or pick it up in store. Best of all, Joe is a super nice guy. He started this store while working a full-time job because he loves music, and he felt his community didn’t have a shop where you could get fairly-priced records in good condition. I’ve always had nice conversations with him when I stop in to pick up some tunes. Bonus – in a recent article, he said that the majority of his clientele is female. Maybe the girls like going there because he treats all customers with respect and is genuinely interested in the music they’re buying.

Two other favorites – Redscroll Records in Wallingford, CT, and Brian’s Record Option in Kingston, Ontario. I never walk out of Redscroll without purchasing something, and I’ve bought from their online store too when I can’t make the two-hour trip to their shop. They have a killer selection, the only drawback being that it’s a pretty tight space and it’s usually crowded, so crouching to sift through those seven-inches or overflow boxes can be difficult. The bonus here is that there’s always a woman behind the counter, and I appreciate that. In fact, it’s the only woman I’ve encountered working at a record shop during all my travels.

Brian’s Record Option is a long-standing institution in the small city of Kingston in Ontario, Canada. Operating solely on word-of-mouth for nearly 30 years (a superfan just recently started a Twitter and FB page to promote them, though Brian has nothing to do with it), everyone in Kingston knows you go to Brian’s shop when you want something. The tiny store is floor-to-ceiling stacks of records, cassettes, CDs, posters, etc. It’s a literal maze that you need to navigate to get into the store. It seems like chaos, but if you ask him for something, he knows exactly where it is. That Sarah Harmer poster that hung in his window five years ago? Yeah, he can dig that up for you. And he’ll order you anything. Come for a record, but stay for the conversation, because he has a lot of stories to tell, especially about local musicians (and there are a lot in Kingston, the city having been home to a great number of Canadian artists).

What genres of music make up your vinyl collection?

My music tastes run from folk to punk to easy listening to hard rock. I have a little of everything, though a good bulk of my collection consists of bands from the Pacific Northwest and Canada (most of those are punk, post-punk, or indie).

What is your current favorite record on vinyl?

I would say it’s probably a tie between Weeping Tile’s “Cold Snap” and Sleater-Kinney’s “Dig Me Out.”  DMO is one of my favorite albums, period, and I own an original Kill Rock Stars pressing (complete with KRS order form inside), a Sub Pop repress, and the Sub Pop colored vinyl that came in the box set.  And “Cold Snap” is the only album Weeping Tile ever released on vinyl, so I’m glad to have that.

What is your most prized record?

My most prized record is a sealed copy of Weeping Tile’s “Cold Snap.” I have two other copies that are used (and are rare on their own), but I’ve never seen a sealed copy before.

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What white whales are you still looking for?

1)    I’m still looking for a copy of Weeping Tile’s “Cold Snap” on blue vinyl. My copies are all pressed on black vinyl.

2)    The Mugworts’ “Barbies Wedding.” The Mugworts were a Kingston, Ontario band from Luther Wright and his brother Geordie. The album was pressed on red vinyl and I’ve never seen a copy for sale.

What is your favorite album cover art in your collection?

I really like the cover art for the Villa Villakula Records compilation, “Move Into the Villa Villakula.”  The copy I own has the standard black and white cover, which is a drawing of the famous Pippi Longstocking house.  The design on the reverse is excellent as well.  I’m still on the lookout for a copy with the pink-on-silver or green-on-silver silkscreened cover.

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Do you have a favorite record label? If so, what is it and why?

My favorite record label is K Records. I love the DIY movement behind the label, and the tenacity of its founder, Calvin Johnson. Some of my favorite bands have recorded on this label – Gossip, the Spells, Beat Happening, Lois Maffeo, and performance artist Miranda July. I love the variety and affordability of the records, the mark they made on the history of music in the Pacific Northwest, and the fact that they’ve remained small and independent, despite pulling in artists from across the world. Recently they’ve made news for not always paying their artists, which kind of breaks my heart, but it seems that Calvin is attempting to right this by selling off a lot of his studio equipment and overstock to get that money into their hands.

Coming in at an extremely close second is Kill Rock Stars. I have so many records from KRS (probably more from this label than any other), and love so many of their artists. Like K, they’ve remained a smaller, independent label, and I love all the work they do. Plus, they’ve got a great social media presence.

How do you connect with other vinyl enthusiasts?

I connect with others through social media, mostly. Twitter and Instagram, and, more recently, YouTube. I also like to poke around the forums on various music sites.

Do you know a lot of other women who collect vinyl?

I didn’t until recently. As I started to connect with more music fans through Twitter and Instagram, I found that there were women out there with similar musical tastes who were really into vinyl. A lot of us met through a shared interest in one particular band, and while attending some of their shows in NYC, I listened to these women’s stories about their vinyl collections. My hope is that I can meet other women who are serious (or even casual) collectors, and help bring more visibility to female record collectors through my blog.

Do you have any advice for women or girls who are interested in starting a vinyl collection?

Jump in head first. It may seem overwhelming to go into a record store when you don’t know a lot about what you’re looking for, and sometimes it can feel slightly intimidating to be the only female in the room. But start small by going in and looking for a record by a band you love. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, chat with the store employees and ask if they have the record, or if they can order it for you. Ask them for recommendations. Don’t be self-conscious about your music interests, or worry about your selections not being “cool” enough. Be confident, even though you’re stepping into new territory. Being honest and open will help you navigate the sometimes male-dominated world of record collecting, and you’ll find that collecting records is totally addicting and fun.

One other piece of advice: Even though those Crosley turntables are adorable and affordable, spend a little more cash and invest in a better starter turntable. You can find something much better than Crosley for anywhere between $100 and $200. Vinyl can be an expensive hobby, but if you invest in a decent turntable, you’ll be protecting your vinyl investment. Playing your records on a Crosley or another cheap turntable will likely ruin them over time.