Photo: Rachel Eisley
Hello, Vinyl District! Sam of Mittenfields here, hoping you'll take a brief jaunt down record store memory lane with us. Thanks again to Jon for letting us chime in on the blog this week. We hope some of you readers can make it out to the show Friday at Velvet. Come for the three amazing acts going on before us, stay for the wash of pop and noise we call Mittenfields.
To begin with, I have a confession to make, which is that I just acquired a record player about 2 years ago after living a vinyl-free life for many years. I picked it up on freecycle from a guy who had decided that after packing up his record collection to move for the third time without having listened to any of them since moving in it was time to let it go. Unfortunately all of the actual records had been snagged by the time I got there for the player, except for a copy of CSNY's Deja Vu that had been forgotten since it was still sitting on the turntable. For a first (and free) record I could've done a lot worse.
Since then I've become a big fan of Som Records, largely because it's down the street from my apartment and next door to a bar and a pizza place and therefore handy for a quick drop-by. It's good to have at least one record store you go to often enough that you can stick to the "Just In" bin. I picked up a first pressing of 'Blonde on Blonde' there a few months back, and while the jacket has seen better days the full-length shot of Dylan on the cover still looks awesome, in all its weathered glory. And to think that if I'd only had the album in iTunes I would never have known there was a bottom half to that photo.
Current records in heavy rotation in our house:
James Brown - Hell
Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
Islands - Return to the Sea (the white vinyl looks so nice spinning round and round)
And yes, Deja Vu is still getting plenty of use.
Dan credits his dad for his musical foundations. "The large hall closet of my boyhood home contained not coats but his massive record collection, an extensive catalog of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Sunday mornings were spent picking out records and blasting them at or near full volume - Floyd, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, some early Tom Waits that had to grow on me, among many others. Though not everything stuck, I still hate Phil Collins. While in high school in North Philadelphia, I frequented the now defunct SpaceBoy Music on South Street in South Philly. It was there that I started to build a music arsenal of my own that today includes some gems like mint condition, still sealed Thriller and Purple Rain albums sprinkled among a lot of blues, rock, folk and punk."
Sadie grew up in Tampa Florida, and holds a special place in her heart for local record store Vinyl Fever. "The indie rock boys working at the counter were so adorable and unwashed. And they all wore tee-shirts that said, 'I like being cheap and used.'"
Dave's favorite record store memories dates back to when he lived in San Antonio, TX in 1995. "There was one record store in particular that I enjoyed going to and sadly it wasn't because of the records exclusively. I'm not sure how many musicians out there are familiar with trying to recruit others to start a band if it's not via Craigslist but Hogwild Records was home to many fliers I made for this very reason. If I remember right, all of the want ads were posted up above all of the local bands 7"'s so I was pretty familiar with what was being released from all of the local bands from San Antonio and Austin. I picked up quite a few 7"'s but the one's that stand out are The Big Drag, Magneto U.S.A. (now known as Fastball) and The Doozers. My favorite flier/want ad that I posted was a picture of Pee Wee Herman on his bike with verbage ("guitarist and bassist looking to start a band in the vein of Weezer, Superchunk, Pavement, etc.") all over the piece of paper. To be honest, it's a lot like the ads I have posted on Craigslist since, but without the Pee Wee Herman image."
Erik could not be reached for comment. We suspect that he's currently soundproofing his basement or modding effects pedals.
So... record stores: home of commodity art objects, adorably dirty indie folk, and band recruiting posters. What more could you possibly want?
PS - I wouldn't feel right not giving a shout-out to P-Rex. Their selection is ludicrous, and while the level of studied detachment/barely disguised animosity from the employees is pretty high even for an independent record store, I can't really blame them considering that they have to deal with a bunch of Princeton undergrads looking for Dave Matthews bootlegs every day.
Mittenfields - Natural Disasters (Mp3)
Mittenfields - Fog (Mp3)
Authorized for download!
(That voice you're hearing on 'Fog' belongs to Andy Ayers, who had to leave Mittenfields behind in a move last year. He's currently writing, recording and performing in Seattle with Maps on Fire and is mastering his new record as we speak. In the meantime, you can download an EP of some earlier MoF material for free.)