This Friday, November 28 (a.k.a. the day after Thanksgiving), retail stores across the country will be deluged by rabid Christmas shoppers and sale-hunters in a phenomenon that has come to be known as somewhat affectionately as “Black Friday.” Independent record shops, once immune to such commerce-driven chaos, are now solidly in the fray thanks to the expansion of something called Record Store Day (www.recordstoreday.com).
For those who don’t know, Record Store Day is a coordinated, one-day sale/event (as well as a loose collective) that seeks to promote indie record stores in the United States to the masses by offering exclusive and/or limited-edition releases (mostly on vinyl) by well-known artists only at those stores. Originally, it was just a once-a-year happening, usually in mid-April. But in recent years, Record Store Day has added Black Friday to its calendar.
Both Record Store day proper and the Black Friday sale tend to do big business for the participating shops in the Memphis area, like Goner Records, Shangri-La Records, and End of All Music in Oxford, MS. In turn, local artists and labels have started to take notice and get in on the action. One such label making its debut on Black Friday is Misspent Records
Misspent is the brainchild of a pair of longtime Memphis-music advocates, John Miller and Chaney Nichols.
“We both love working with independent artists who are creating original music that we like and think will grab people when they hear it,” says Miller, who has served time with local music institutions such as the Memphis Music Foundation, Archer Records, and Shangri-La. “I'm from Memphis and Chaney is originally from Mississippi, so we're really rooted to the music of this region and want to be part of sharing that.”
For their label’s first offering, Miller and Nichols (who for his part ran a successful label in Jackson, MS called Esperanza Plantation for over a decade) partnered with the very much on-the-rise local garage/psych outfit James and the Ultrasounds for a new single, "Robot Love."
“We both really liked what James (Godwin) was doing with his band and how they were developing since the Lovers and Ghosts
EP that James had recorded by himself,” says Miller. “He's got a great feel for crafting a rock and roll tune and with that rhythm section driving everything behind him it really is a perfect fit. ‘Robot Love’ has a great shout-a-long type chorus that gets stuck in my head and the whole thing is wrapped in a 0-to-60 package that the band blasts through. The B-side is a fun one too, a crunching tribute to the Alex Chilton-produced ‘Songs the Lord Taught Us’ by The Cramps.”
The single will be released to local independent stores on Black Friday, and will also be available at a release-party on Saturday, November 29 at 10 p.m. at Bar DKDC.
As for what’s next for Misspent Records, Miller remains light-lipped on specifics, but promises more is to come.
“We've got ideas for a number of projects with artists and label friends for this next year. We're pretty open stylistically, so it'll be fun to see what opportunities arise,” he says.
For more information on Misspent Records or Robot Love, visit www.misspentrecords.com.
Another exclusive Black Friday Record Store Day release with local ties will drop this week – a deluxe, triple-LP re-issue of The Afghan Whigs’ classic 1993 album Gentlemen
Recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios with local producer/engineer Jeff Powell, the album was the band’s major label debut for Elektra Records, and by far the its biggest commercial and critical success. Gentlemen
yielded two hit singles – “Debonair” and the title track – on both alt-rock radio and MTV in a prime era of both. The record also helped set The Afghan Whigs apart from the group’s heavier “grunge” contemporaries by incorporating a hefty dose of soul, R&B and ‘60s garage influences into its sound.
“I feel lucky to have been a part of such a great record,” says Powell. “I probably got more work from doing that record than any other I have worked on. It really kind of put me on the map when I was a young engineer and gave me a lot of opportunities to show what I could do in the studio.”
Last month, Rhino Entertainment re-released the record as Gentlemen at 21
in both CD and LP formats. But for the Record Store Day vinyl exclusive box set, a bevy of B-sides, demos, and live tracks that were previously only available on the CD-version, as well a host of other collectible photographs and knick-knacks, have been included in the package.
Additionally - at the band’s insistence, Powell was once again brought in to work on the project.
“I cut the master vinyl lacquers,” he says. “I haven’t heard the CD version, but the vinyl version I cut is pretty much the same as I remember it. It sounds great. It brought back memories.”
For more information on Gentlemen at 21
, visit www.theafghanwhigs.com.