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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Tower Records Project Wants Your Help Remembering the Former Retail Giant

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 8:45 AM


See also:

* Top 8 Reasons to Pay For Music, Even If You're Young, Broke, Lazy, and Indifferent

If you're one of those music fans who actually buys recordings -- instead of, you know, downloading your entire library out of ignorance, stupidity, and/or laziness -- chances are you remember Tower Records, the iconic, Sacramento-based chain whose abandoned locations still haunt certain San Francisco corners. (We're looking at you, Bay and Columbus.)

We fondly remember unloading stupid-huge loads of cash -- most of it originally intended to be spent on food, rent, or college textbooks -- paying Tower's slightly too-high prices for stacks and stacks of CDs. And we loved it. Yes, kiddies, this was both before Spotify and Megaupload, when the only reliable way to acquire whole Gang of Four or Prince albums was to go to into a building and actually trade green pieces of paper for them.

Anyway, despite its bankrupting influence on our life, we were sad when Tower Records declared bankruptcy in 2006. Which is why we're excited to hear that the chain's founder, Russ Solomon, is launching the Tower Records Project, a museum-like archive that will aim to collect official records, objects, stories, memorabilia, and other ephemera from the "world's first music superstore."

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is There Something Ironic About Buying Vinyl Online?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM

We use our newest gadgets to buy some of our lowest-tech gear.
  • We use our newest gadgets to buy some of our lowest-tech gear.

A colleague today raised this question: Is it ironic, or weird, or even funny, to buy vinyl -- analog music -- online?

The issue was prompted by the news of Vinyl Dreams, a new online-only record store started by Michelangelo Battaglia (a former electronic/dance buyer for Amoeba Music in the Upper Haight) and Darren Davis, who used to own Tweekin' Records in the Lower Haight. The store will be online-only, and it will apparently only sell vinyl. Clearly it's not the first online record retailer -- but it may be the first online-only vinyl shop based in S.F.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

A Record Store in Space Is Back -- with Swarming Copies of R.E.M.'s Monster

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 12:24 PM


You will remember A Record Store in Space -- the video comedy project of a few mischievous San Francisco record store employees. We brought you the first chapter of this homemade space opera last year, and now the crew has finished Chapter 2. Among other things, it features an "irrational dying star" named Courtney, an assault by superfluous copies of R.E.M.'s Monster, and -- gasp! -- a real live customer (maaaybe). Check it out after the jump.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coming Soon: "Record Store in Space," Chapter 2: The Continuing Saga of Miserable, Hilarious S.F. Music Shop Employees

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 2:21 PM


Long ago in the year 2010, on a faraway place known as this blog, we told you about "Record Store in Space (A True Story)" -- the amateur video comedy project of a few rather hilarious S.F. record store employees. The first installment of the series (whose draft script was first written, of course, on a bar napkin) was a silly look at the absurdity of record store employees and the dying retail boxes that employ them... plus an added space-opera subplot for dramatic effect. We enjoyed it tremendously. And now there's another chapter in the series coming online next Saturday, April 16, in honor of Record Store Day. We don't know what will happen to our grouchy characters and their crumbling record-store-as-space-ship, but we do have a preview for you. Hint: It looks painful.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After 20 Years, the Vinyl Still Spins -- And Sells -- at Groove Merchant Records

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Groove Merchant owner Chris Veltri with a rare record. - IAN S. PORT
  • Ian S. Port
  • Groove Merchant owner Chris Veltri with a rare record.
Chris Veltri stands behind the cluttered wood counter at Groove Merchant record store. Dressed in a navy peacoat and Levis, with sandy blond bangs draped over his blue eyes, he watches three customers browse his small Lower Haight shop. "Not bad for a Tuesday night," he says casually, his tone suiting his nickname, "Cool Chris," as the customers browse bins filled with vintage jazz, rare soul, disco, hip-hop, and collectible Brazilian records.

Like the vinyl rarities that fill the shop, Groove Merchant is rare survivor -- dozens of old San Francisco record retailers have either closed for good or retreated to largely online sales. But Groove Merchant celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a compilation album on Ubiquity Records and a whole lot of memories -- not all of them good. Staff members have been robbed at gunpoint, thieves have stolen merchandise, and lean times make the business a barely profitable endeavor. Yet Veltri says he can't complain: People are still buying records.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Aquarius Records Celebrates 40 years of Weirdness on Monday

Posted By on Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Aquarius Records' co-owner Andee Connors - JAMIE SOJA
  • Jamie Soja
  • Aquarius Records' co-owner Andee Connors

Aquarius Records, that delightful retailer of uncommon music on Valencia street, is celebrating its 40th birthday party on Monday with a show at Cafe Du Nord.

Not, mind you, because that's actually 40 years to the day of the store's founding. After several ownership changes, no one still working at the store remembers the actual date in 1970 when Aquarius was born.

But Monday will have to suffice, and likely it will more than: the lineup includes such fine locals as fuzz-pop practitioners the Mantles, electro-mind-benders Lumerians, and a host of other handpicked sound producers, all which will be capped off with the sunbaked girl-group-stoner-punk of buzzy Best Coast. The lineup is so fine, in fact, that all the tickets are gone. (You may also blame the promise of birthday cake.)

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Meet Local Guitar God Joe Satriani in S.F. This Sunday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Satriani: Not the first to shave his head after balding set in.
  • Satriani: Not the first to shave his head after balding set in.

Nowadays, with Guitar Hero turning everyday basement dwellers into rock gods, and electronica granting everyone with a laptop the ability to make impossible masterpieces, a skilled technician like Joe Satriani must feel left behind.

How could one of the Bay Area's most influential guitar heroes and teachers -- mentor of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet and famous wanker Steve Vai -- adapt to a listening public that probably couldn't care less about actual musicianship?

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Things We Learned From This Vid of Groove Armada's Trip to Amoeba

Posted By on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Andy Cato of Groove Armada in Amoeba SF
  • Andy Cato of Groove Armada in Amoeba SF
You learn a lot about a person by following them around a record store -- especially one as big as Amoeba San Francisco. The mother of all local disc dealers just posted this video of the pleasant chaps from British electronic duo Groove Armada cruising the shelves, which we found especially educational. 

So thank you, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay, for teaching us the following things:

1) At least in certain British accents "Bowie" (as in, David Bowie) is pronounced something like "bow-y" -- like it means to describe Japanese greeting etiquette.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Local Record Labels Selling Goods with 'Absurd Discounts' This Sunday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 9:00 AM

This is sure to be one of those gatherings of the Bay Area music scene for which we should all be grateful: This Sunday morning at 11, more than a dozen local labels -- including Absolutely Kosher, Alternative Tentacles, Slumberland, and Porto Franco -- will assemble for a bagel brunch/record sale/party. Yeah, "Ye Olde Record Label Faire" is in Emeryville (at the headquarters of Absolutely Kosher), but look at this list of sellers and then try to tell us it's not worth making a dash across the big 'ol bay. The labels are even selling their records at "absurd discounts." Musicians, bring your demos. Everyone else, bring your cash and your hangovers.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yours Truly Video Shoot/Live Show with Gold Panda Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 8:54 AM

Back Home from gold panda on Vimeo.

San Francisco video production outfit Yours Truly has shot Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino buying records in Rooky Ricardo's, Seattle folk-rockers Moondoggies jamming in the women's bathroom at the Independent, and Scottish indie pop band Camera Obscura performing in the sun at Ocean Beach. Tomorrow, Yours Truly is holding its first video-shoot-as-live show in the Lower Haight's Robotspeak electronic music store, capturing a set from the wildly creative British electronic musician Gold Panda. Catch the show around 5 p.m., before Gold Panda goes off to open for Health at Slim's, and you might even find yourself on Pitchfork's Tunnelvision

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