Monthly Archives: January 2013

Nodding Dog Doesn’t Understand The Question…

So it comes with no great surprise that HMV has finally had to call in the administrators after a number of difficult years buffeted by music’s move online and its own mistakes. I am not particularly saddened by this as the chain has long since lost relevance for me (despite it being the main destination for my teenage cash in Belfast and providing probably the first 150 or so CDs I bought); their stock was weak, too expensive and, in many cases, shoddy: broken jewel cases, ancient and heavily pawed books and dvds that have been stickered and re-stickered. Bleurgh.

It seems inconceivable that it won’t survive in some new, leaner format (as it has in Canada) but to succeed there are some things it really needs to address. Stock is one, there should be no difficulty picking up the classics of the rock, hip-hop, soul and pop canons and not having to pay £15+ for them nor should it focus on the stuff supermarkets kill them on i.e. Adele, Rihanna, the Mumfords etc. Offer some specialty and diversity. Secondly, the shops  desperately need a refit to go from looking like a unmaintained B&Q to something resembling a nice place to visit and browse in – why can’t HMV have seating, coffee or even seize the vibe for all things vintage and bring back the listening booth? The people that want to spend money on physical product always will, if they can get want they want and, if the environment is right, they can stumble upon something they’ve been searching for or, gasp, discover a new artist altogether. They could do this in an reconfigured HMV. Rough Trade East in London could be a decent template or, closer to home, FOPP – both are chains that appeal to record collector types and ordinary punters – there’s nothing intimidating about them and they sell quality without a feckin’ Mars Bar in sight. Finally, staff could be freed up from whatever it is they do now to contribute esoteric records to playlists and ordering or organise in-store appearances to provide some variation from shop-to-shop with their own tastes and engage with customers…just a thought.

It would be a shame if record shops completely disappear from the high streets and became solely the preserve of hardcore enthusiasts existing in back streets. After all, music is the most immediate and democratic artform so it would be good if the retailers of recorded music could be visible and prominent. Yes it can be cheaply sold online (in both physical and download form) and in supermarkets by the bucketload but it deserves to be celebrated. In my opinion, no amount of phone shops, identikit chain cafes and bookies can really replace the enjoyment of frittering away a morning or afternoon through racks of albums and films in your own town centre. HMV could still be the place to do it.

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Favourite not ‘best’ of 2012

Photo of CDs, LPs

I think the best records of 2012 have been sufficiently covered elsewhere and whilst I’m certainly down with most of the recurring Top 20 artists such as Sharon Van Etten, Bill Fay, First Aid Kit, Meshuggah, Pallbearer and on and on it seems more appropriate given that this is a personal blog to mention the ones I loved rather than just respected no matter how they are perceived more widely.

This also means I’ll be leaving out some of my most loved bands given their established credentials so no Neurosis, Earth, Deftones, Converge, High on Fire, Isis, Torche, Soundgarden, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Led Zeppelin most of which have all been reviewed here in the past anyway.

These are the records I bought, streamed and reviewed in 2012, which may not have come out in the last year, that I can really stand behind. So, first…

Prosperina – Faith In Sleep

Dolphins – From Pickerel to Flipper

Unsane – Wreck

Negative Pegasus – Looming


Black Breath – Sentenced to Life

Melvins (Lite) – Freak Puke

Sleep – Dopesmoker (Reissue)

Nuclear Death Terror – Chaos Reigns

In 2013 ‘ll be looking forward to Uncle Acid and the dead beats, High On Fire and Ghost live and new records from QOTSA, Kverlertak and Mastodon and maybe just maybe new music from Jimmy Page as well as hearing a whole batch of new shit.

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