Talking About Horrible Things with Portland's Foremost Tonya Harding Expert
[Please welcome the Mercury's new apprentice and resident English person Alex Ross, as he reflects on last Saturday's retail bonanza, Record Store Day.]
At 7 am on April 18 last year, I was standing outside the only record store in a small British city. Tired and disorientated by the mix of late night hangers-on and eager early risers, I became fearful that I was unprepared for Record Store Day. These people had lists and goals. When the doors flung open an hour later, they would charge into the tiny room. It would be each man for himself, full on warfare, bleary eyes meeting only to give death stares when elbowing someone out of the way wouldn’t do. They wanted that Sigur Ros 7-inch that played from the inside out and nothing was going to stop them.
This year as I stare at my spoils from Record Store Day 2013, a common theme seems to be developing. Being hopelessly disorganized, I’ve again ended up with a bunch of records that had nothing to do with the day itself. As always, I’ve got a load of vinyl that I could have bought at any time of the year and I’ve spent a load of money that I didn’t have.
Yet there’s one record that peers out at me, telling me that, even if I haven’t got my shit together, I’m in Portland. Portland has got my shit together for me, and everything will be okay. It’s a copy of American Gong by Quasi that Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes signed for me on Saturday and I’m trying not to drool on it as I type this.
There are a number of reasons for this over-salivation. First of all, Janet Weiss is my favorite drummer. Everything she does is perfect. Try listening to "The Fox" by Sleater-Kinney and not air-drumming. You can’t. Second, Quasi sum up everything that is great about the early '90s indie rock that we’re all so faithfully trying to rip off at the moment. Exuberant and melancholy all at once, they tread a line between sarcasm and sincerity that most people still fail to match, and American Gong, released in 2010, is one of their best. On top of this, Sam Coomes played bass for Heatmiser and toured with Elliott Smith. This is an awful lot of stuff I like.
So whilst the eager and over-caffeinated were scouring the special releases on Saturday, I was wearing my Kill Rock Stars T-shirt and sheepishly handing over my copy of American Gong to Janet Weiss, staring at my shoes and mumbling something about “favorite ever love you amazing.” I looked like a tourist and sounded like a 12-year-old and felt decidedly like I had my shit together on Record Store Day. For once.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!