Record Store Day 2018: A Field Guide to Shopping in Phoenix

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Vinyl-hoarding music fans are starting to feel a familiar twitch right about now. Record Store Day is upon us.
Whether you’re lusting after that huge 50th anniversary five-LP box set celebrating Johnny Cash ($79.99) or something more esoteric like the Lodestones by Richard Lloyd ($21.99), there’s a killer list of releases to search for as you travel the Valley’s record stores on Saturday, April 21. And several shops will host live music this year, too.

For those who want to kick off the weekend a bit early, the Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue, will host Arizona Label Fest on Friday, April 20, featuring live music from bands representing Phoenix-area record labels and a record swap. Rumor has it, participating labels like Fervor, President Gator, and Onus will offer extra-low prices on records during the event, which is the first of its kind. Tickets are $5 in advance via Crescent’s website.

The real star of RSD 2018 is the diverse and extensive list of exclusive releases. This is the 12th year for the event, and every year it seems to get better. While skeptical music fans may see RSD as an attempt by record labels to grab a little cash from record collectors after tax returns hit, the reality of the situation is that many of these releases are extremely limited (350 to 5,000) copies available with premium packaging. Which doesn’t necessarily equate to a ton of profit — except maybe for the evil mf’ers who snatch up the really popular records just to sell them for a tidy profit on eBay. Still, it’s a major day for independent record stores.

Depending on your location in the Phoenix area, there’s a good chance Zia has a store relatively close to you. You’ll find locations in Central and northwest Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, and Tempe. You can find exact addresses at ziarecords.com, or ask Siri to guide you to the closest megamart for independent music, DVDs, toys, and books. This year, Zia will offer not just one day of celebration, but an entire week of sales dedicated to the event. All the stores open at 9 a.m., which is one hour earlier than usual.

Historically, Zia carries a great selection of RSD titles — and a good amount of each. But if there’s something you are dying to have, make sure you get there early and are ready for a line. Take some water, queue up, and prepare to dig through a bunch of crates.

Here are a few recommendations for RSD exclusives to look for at Zia.

First, there’s Common’s Can I Borrow a Dollar? ($34.98), one of the formative records for ’90s hip-hop. Common is one of the most talented dudes in the biz. Then you’ve got Dr. Octagon’s Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation Deluxe ($25.98). If you wanted to use all the instrumental tracks from Dr. Octagon’s new record to practice your own MC chops, here’s your chance. Pick up a copy, which comes with the full album — including all the recorded lyrics on CD — and see if you got any game.

You need Ben Kweller’s Sha Sha ($23.98). It’s a goddamned masterpiece. (Author’s note: If you get a copy of this limited re-release of Ben Kweller’s 2002 pop and roll orgy for the ears before I do, I will cry.) Everyone who loves a well-crafted pop song should own this record. It’s almost as addictive as nicotine. And how could you not be curious about the legendary actor Bill Murray’s take on classic cabaret songs on New Worlds ($25.98). You know you want this. ($25.98)

All of the above titles are listed on Zia’s website, so take that as you will. Also, Zia typically does a killer sale on their used records on RSD. Take advantage of the savings and beef up your collection for pennies on the dollar.

Customers browsing at The 'In' Groove.

Customers browsing at The ‘In’ Groove.

Deegan Lemieux

For those in North Phoenix, we highly recommend stopping by The Record Room, 2601 Weset Dunlap, #21, which opens at 10 a.m. This year, they are getting a “chunk of cool record store releases,” according to their Facebook page, as well as a strong lineup of bands starting at 1 p.m. The live music culminates with a set from Tucson’s groovy garage-horror punks, The Mission Creeps, at 5.

But you should get there early to scope out records, including a killer selection of new and used punk, an awesome T-shirt selection, and good vibes. Also keep an eye out for two RSD exclusives in particular: The Lurker’s 1978 debut Fulham Fallout, which is fun and well worth your time if you love the late ’70s English post-punk sound (think early Jam, a bit of the Stranglers, and Eddie and the Hot Rods); and Public Squares’ 8-inch record NWR&P ($11.98) — for fans of quirky, odd, rockin’ new wave.

Moving toward Central Phoenix, there’s Revolver Records, which has two Phoenix locations. One’s at 918 North Second Street, and the other’s at 4747 East Thomas Road. Also make a stop at The ‘In’ Groove, 3420 East Thomas Road.

Revolver has a funky vibe and friendly staff. While the store doesn’t stock a ton of RSD releases, it is a killer spot for the collector of great rock ’n’ roll records and they always put out some special crates of rare used vinyl on Record Store Day. While you are there, look for Bert Jansch’s L.A. Turnaround ($30.98). It’s a must-have if you dig Jansch’s delicious guitar work and unique vocal stylings.

Just down the street from Revolver’s location on Thomas is The ‘In’ Groove, an underrated shop that always has cool bands and artists play on RSD. Don’t miss a show from locals Soft Deadlines at 2 p.m. You won’t regret it. While you are checking out the live bands, you should hunt down a copy of Robyn Hitchcock’s Robyn Hitchcock And His LA Squires ($9.99), a 7-inch of pure rock fun. Hitchcock and a full band recorded it in 2017, and it features a song from his Soft Boys days and one from his time with The Egyptians.

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention Stinkweeds, 12 West Camelback Road, as a great destination for spending some quality time on RSD. Doors open at 8 a.m., the food truck will arrive at 11, and live bands will play 30 minutes later. It’s not a huge place, so prepare to shop shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow music lovers.

While you’re there, pick up a copy of Brian Eno and Kevin Shields’ 12-inch “Weight of History” / “Only Come Away” ($15.99). Eno and the vocalist from My Bloody Valentine? Sign us up.

See the Record Store Day website for more event details and a full list of limited edition releases out on Saturday, April 21.

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