In southeast Michigan, April is the time of year to rub your blurry eyes, enjoy the strange sensation of sunlight, and once again walk among the living. For record nerds, it's the time of year to wait in line for a limited-edition, colored vinyl, original tape-sourced master of your favorite album. That's right, April 18 is Record Store Day.
Your vinyl junkie friend (everybody has one) has been eagerly awaiting this day like a kid counting the days until Christmas.
"But you don't understand. It's limited to 2,000 copies, comes with a 4-page facsimile of the original booklet, and...it's colored vinyl!"
All good-natured ribbing aside, Record Store Day is an opportunity for fans of music to celebrate the region's many great record stores. Since 2007, RSD is celebrated as a promotion for independent music stores around the world. Although the special RSD releases bring out the uber fans, plenty of stores also save up some of their more tempting used LPs for regulars.
Here's a list of stores in the area where you can find rare Record Store Day releases or just hang out and have a fun day shopping. Remember, independent stores need you. But don't harass the guy in front of you who just bought the last copy of the limited edition White Stripes record you wanted.
(This feature highlights a handful of record stores around the region. Check out our sister publication Model D's 2014 guide to record stores in the city of Detroit.)
/ 41 E. Fourteen Mile Road, Clawson, MI 48017 / 248-585-4090
Open in Clawson since 1983, Flipside is the type of store essential for any suburban neighborhood. Thanks to them, countless teens had a skateboarding destination, were exposed to the Dark Side of the Moon for the first time, and discovered punk rock and patchouli oil. Where would they be today without their favorite local store?
The store stocks lots of new vinyl, new remasters of classic rock titles, a decent indie rock selection, and good prices. Owner Todd Fundaro said that Record Store Day can be a bit intense for the fans, but that it's an essential time for them to find new customers and treat their loyal shoppers to a 20 percent discount.
"We're never sure exactly what we're going to get because the releases are so limited; it can be frustrating for customers who are excited about some special release."
Flipside's friendly staff are excited about the new Modest Mouse LP, a new RSD 7-inch release by Grand Rapids punk band the Lippies, and "Back Against the Wall," a new tribute album to Pink Floyd's "The Wall." The store opens at 10 a.m. on Record Store Day.
/ 22501 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48124 / 313-561-1000
You might say Brothers Rick and Kevin LeAnnais have a genetic predisposition to records. Their store, Dearborn Music, was founded by their father in 1956. The store's longevity is almost as impressive as its huge selection of vinyl and CDs. Many stores like this, fully stocked with new albums, have gone the way of the Dodo bird, so it's nice to see a place with this much music under one roof. Tons of jazz and blues, a large selection of new rock records, box sets, and much more. When was the last time your fingers got sore flipping through the M section of rock LPs?
Owner Rick LeAnnais says enjoyment of the physical aspect of the industry, records that can last a lifetime, is the point of Record Store Day. "We're here to help you expand your horizons," he says.
Quality is Dearbon Music's mantra. "When you buy a record from us, you know what condition it's in. You know the corners aren't bent or damaged," says LeAnnais.
One RSD release he's excited to hear is Vol. 2 of the Miles Davis Prestige box set. He says that customers have been talking about the White Stripes vinyl release of "Get Behind Me Satan" and a live Phish concert LP.
/ 13936 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48126 / 313-581-9322
Stormy Records is another great Dearborn record store. Owned by musicians Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren, Stormy shines thanks to its obscure electronic and experimental sections, as well as its selection of '90s indie rock and local records. They also have a strong section of jazz and blues LPs and lots of 45s in all genres. Their passion and knowledge of experimental music shows.
Weber said that by necessity they've shifted their focus as a store to used LPs and CDs as digital sales continue to slide. Weber mentions the store's role in the community and says that families and young people often come in together to shop for music. "We take our role in their listening lives very seriously. We're fostering a new generation of listeners. It's a big deal to us."
Stormy's owners were circumspect about Record Store Day and weren't planning on ordering as many RSD releases this year. "Unfortunately, RSD has turned into a day where people who would never come into our shop otherwise simply come in to try to find specialty items they can take home and sell for four times the price on eBay."
Weber is excited about the English group Broadcast's re-issues on vinyl. She also says that dogs are welcome in their store if they are on a leash. Talk about a friendly neighborhood store.
Street Corner Music
/ 26020 Greenfield Rd, Oak Park, MI 48237 / 248-967-0777
Street Corner Music, located in the Oak Park's Lincoln Shopping Center, is a fun place where you're certain to find something you need (even if you didn't know you needed it) at a great price. It's one of the best stores in the metro area for digging for used soul and jazz LPs. Owners Chris Flannagan and Mike Rome have been at the record game a long time (the store has been open for over 20 years), and they run a tight ship.
RSD is an important day for Street Corner and employee Aaron Anderson had great suggestions for unusual sounds to look for: "The Master Musicians of Joujouka - Into the Ahi Srif," two new live Sun Ra albums, a new Bardo Bond release that is part of a trilogy that has been released on Record Store Days in the past, and The Wibbley Brothers "Go Weird" reissue.
"I have to say that Record Store Day really has something for everyone, from the weirdest metal kid to the old guys looking for classic rock," says Anderson.
Street Corner opens at 9 a.m. on RSD and tries to keep the line moving quickly to avoid any bottlenecks. They'll also be putting out a lot of good used titles, so don't forget to check the wall and the used bins. And if you get there early enough, you might be able to get your hands on a free donut!
/ 512 S Washington Ave., Royal Oak, MI 48067 / 248-545-5955
UHF is one of metro Detroit's largest stores for new releases. Rock releases, particularly indie and metal, are well-represented. They also have a lot of Italian soundtrack LPs from the label Death Waltz.
Manager Scott Hagen said UHF's customers have been very excited about the vinyl release of the White Stripes' "Get Behind Me Satan." They will be having a spinning wheel for customers to get free Third Man Records gifts and promotional material. They are hosting live music from The Muggs, Danny Kroha, and The Moonwalks during the afternoon.
Customers can find the RSD releases that UHF will be selling on their facebook
page the day before, but there are no guarantees about stock quantity. The store will open at 9 a.m.
/ 234 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220 / 248-565-8775
Ferndale's Found Sound has been open over two years on downtown Ferndale's 9 Mile business strip and provides a good mixture of used and new vinyl with an emphasis on punk rock and plenty of jazz and soul. The store occasionally hosts live performances and will showcase four bands on Record Store Day: The Beggars, Duende, Deadly Vipers, and The Scrappers. Found Sound opens at 10 a.m. that Saturday and will be open until midnight with bands starting around 8 p.m.
Employee Marianna Vermiglio is personally excited about the release of a record by Polaris, a band famous from the '90s TV show "The Adventures of Pete and Pete." She says customers have been buzzing about Metallica's "Mixtape."
"Even if you aren't interested in the Record Store Day releases, you can still come in and support the store. We'll be putting out good used stuff before Saturday, and even if you just shop for dollar records we're excited to see you," says Vermiglio.
Found Sound will also have a promo box of goodies available to shoppers.
Melodies and Memories / 23013 Gratiot Ave Eastpointe, MI / 586-774-8480
Eastpointe's Melodies and Memories could be described as a record warren. Walk to the left through the main vinyl room and you can find two whole separate rooms, one devoted to dance 12-inches and another devoted to dollar records. Amazing. But that's just the start. There are also several other rooms devoted to jazz and R&B, hip hop, and rock.
For Record Store Day, manager Gary Koral is most excited about a release by Detroit rocker Kenny Tudrick on a label run by his 16-year-old son, Jarrett Koral
. Tudrick will be playing at 1 p.m. at the store to promote his Jett Plastic Recordings
Koral said his son's RSD release for Macaulay Culkin's band, the infamous Pizza Underground
, is limited to 550 copies and getting lots of buzz. Thirteen of those copies include a golden ticket good for one free pepperoni pizza.
"We'll have tons of RSD releases," says Koral. We're really stepping up to the plate for RSD this year so please stop by and also check out Kenny's show. I feel he's the most talented guy in Detroit."
Record Store Day is happening Saturday, April 18. For a rundown of essential record stores in the city of Detroit, check out this story from our sister publication Model D. Happy digging!
All photos by David Lewinski Photography.