Saturday, May 28, 2005

Memorable record stores:
Wax 'N' Facts

Wax 'N' Facts
432 Moreland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307-1423
(404) 525-2275

We've all been witnessing the slow demise of the brick and mortar record store. Here in Minneapolis, the surprise announcement of Let it Be's closing was felt by many of us. I'm no businessman, but I think there will continue to be a place for a few styles of record stores:
  • Ye Olde Head Shoppe near the university
  • DJs R Us
  • The Collector's Pit
  • The used bookstore that also sells records

That's what worries me about the prospects for Atlanta's ultra-cool Wax 'N' Facts record store. They don't make the above list because like Minneapolis' Let It Be, they're more of the classic indie/hipster store trying to cater a little to the collector; a little to the youth skate kids or ravers; and a little to the poster-hanging, used-CD-buying college kids. Online offerings will continue to eat into these markets. But so far, Wax 'N' Facts keeps plugging along. As one-by-one these indie record stores are knocked off, look to location to predict which ones will stick around. Atlanta's Little Five Points area has been a hang-out spot for nouveau hippies, punks, the transient, and the curious for many years. Though the flavor has changed somewhat over the years, it still serves as Atlanta's most reliable destination for the bohemian crowd looking to browse the aisle, get a bite to eat, or enjoy some music. For record-buyers in the south, there's nowhere in a multi-state radius that can compete with Wax 'N' Facts for the right combination of cool finds and reasonable price for used records.

While in college, I used to visit Atlanta 2-3 times a year because my sister lived there, graciously granting me a free place to stay. Wax 'N' Facts was my main mission while in town, typically combined with lunch at The Varsity. The finds that stick out in my mind are all 12" singles: New Order, Tones on Tail, and The Cocteau Twins to name a few. Several years later, after I had moved out of convenient driving distance to Atlanta, I was visiting my buddy Malcolm in Georgia. It was just like old times as we made the pilgrimage into the city and stopped by the familiar shops. I walked away with a fresh pair of sneaks from Abbadabba's shoe shop, and the Electric Prunes s/t from Wax 'N' Facts. Start forging your own memories and check out Wax 'N' Facts yourself before they turn into an e-Bay storefront.

Jetzt schalten wir das Radio an....

Artist: The Radio

Album: Whatever's on the radio.

I learned about it...: through trial and error.

Comments: Not much interesting happens on the radio around here.  The two college radio stations usually limit themselves to disco-punk or whatever the indie scene dictates.  I've caught decent programming once or twice, but I've pretty much given up trying.  Once bitten twice shy and all that.  I just don't dig indie-rock radio.

On the sunny side, I can sometimes pick up WNCU, the radio station of North Carolina Central University in Durham.  Its flagship show, as far as I'm concerned, is 8 Track Flashback, which features doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul, etc.  WNCU broadcasts over the web, too, so give it a try on a Saturday afternoon; you won't be disappointed.

Another point on the dial I enjoy visiting is WIST out of High Point, North Carolina.  WIST plays the absolute unhippest music one can find on the airwaves today.  They used to call it MOR, or middle of the road, but now it goes by Adult Standards.  Imagine a mixture of 101 Strings, Herb Alpert, ABBA, Mantovanni, the Beatles, Hugo Montenegro, etc., and you'll get a good idea of the musical vein that WIST mines.  Best of all, WIST plays it without a trace of irony.  WIST rules, ok?

Last of all, I'd like to take this opprotunity to call Ira Glass, of NPR's This American Life, a nebbish.  Ira, you are a nebbish.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, look it up.

Contest: The title to this post comes from a song.  Be the first to name that song and I'll send you something.  Leave your answer in the comments, along with a spam-proof email (like

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Just got the new Sleater-Kinney, and it's good

Artist: Sleater-Kinney

Album: The Woods

I learned about it...: I always keep one eye open for new Sleater-Kinney

Comments: In my current mood, I'd have to declare that this is the best release to date from this trio from Portland. From the first chords of the opener, I thought, "They finally got a really good producer!" And so I leafed through the liner notes to discover that Dave Fridmann deserves the credit. Many of us know him from The Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin as well as Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs. But don't expect a third sibling mimicking those identical twins. With Sleater-Kinney he maintains everything that makes them what they are but bumps the quality up several notches; just what a good producer should do. Additionally, I'm glad they finally added a bass guitar on an album. Even if they decide not to tour with one, this instrument is not gratuitous. I think its inclusion is the main reason the album sounds so much more full. Meanwhile the song-writing is a departure from the pop-leaning direction I was afraid they were moving towards. This album rocks with heavy rhythm, wailing vocals, and some psychedelic guitar breaks.

I've become a fan of the bonus DVD packaging a lot of labels are including to keep you buying objects rather than just downloadable data. This album comes with the 5 live songs recorded in Portland. Thanks, Sub Pop.

Sound clip: Entertain