Hillcrest is For Record Shopping

 

Vinyl records are a medium that is, technologically, considered outdated. Even so, they have been making a comeback in the last few years, and are now trendy. There is something about owning a physical copy of one’s favorite music that seems to make it more personal and meaningful, a feeling that a person can’t really get with streaming or digital platforms. Sure, records can be pricey, and aren’t convenient if you’re on the go, but that might be a positive. It’s a positive because records force you to spend quality time with them. Listening to music becomes a process; you have to open the sleeve, pull the record out while being mindful of not touching the grooves (which can compromise the sound), place it on the mat, find the right RPM, and finally, place the needle, sit back and listen. That is certainly more involved than just clicking play, right? In any case, if you’re new to records or already have a well rounded collection, here is a short list of great record shops in Hillcrest for you to enjoy. If you stop by, I’m sure you could get the shop owners to tell you why they think vinyl is better. 

Record City

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Record City is my go to place for records, especially on Record Store Day. They have a large collection that is pretty neat and is organized by genre. They have plenty of records in every catagory, and you can find some pretty rare gems for as little as a buck. This store has a great oldies/blues selection that you can browse through for hours, but they stay current too. They also have a pretty big selection of CDs and DVDs. Record City is right on 6th Avenue, waiting for you to check it out. 

 

M-Theory

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This store is located on the main street (Washington St.) that connects Hillcrest to Mission Hills. M-Theory has a really good collection of indie favorites, and they carry new music from underground bands that you may not be able to find at any other record store. But, like Record City, they have a great selection in all genres. Plus, they occasionally have in-store performances.

Taang!

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Click image to view source.

Unlike the rest, Taang! is actually its own record label, operating in San Diego. Located on 5th Avenue in Hillcrest, Taang! is much smaller than the other two shops. It’s usually not as organized, however, this makes you dig around, which can lead to surprising (and fun) discoveries. Taang!’s specialty is definitely punk, but they also have a large selection of rap and hip-hop. 

A Moment with the Artist: Elvis Depressedly

Mathew Lee Cothran has been writing and releasing music for almost a decade as Coma Cinema, but he’s about to embark on a brief tour with his band Elvis Depressedly to preface the release of their upcoming album, New Alhambra. Shortly before the start of this tour, I caught up with Cothran to talk about moving across states, touring, and his mindset looking forward.

Joey Bautista: You’re about to spend a good part of December touring the Northeast and Midwest (including a few shows in Canada) with Told Slant. The last couple of months have been pretty hectic with your move from Columbia to Asheville. Now that you seem to have settled in, how would you compare your pre-tour sentiments to those of your cross-country tour with Alex G this past summer?

Mat Cothran: Hectic is a good way to put it for sure. Delaney and I hated Columbia and South Carolina in general. It’s where we grew up, but the state’s anti-art mentality challenged us forever and we just got sick of it. It was wearing us down and we had enough, so we moved to North Carolina which isn’t that far away, but it’s a different world out here. We love it so much and we’re excited to be a part of the art scene here because there are so many talented, hungry people.

Our tour with Alex G was fucking awesome because Delaney and I are big fans of Alex’s music and have been repping him for so long now, and just seeing people respond to his music was phenomenal. We’re also big into Told Slant, so we’re looking forward to this tour in a similar fashion. We live to turn people on to cool art and we’ve always wanted that to be our focus no matter what, be it our music or our friends’ music.

I can be kind of a dick and kind of negative about touring because there is so much work involved that I feel sometimes takes away from what I’m best at (recording albums), so I usually go into the shit with a negative attitude, but that fades away pretty quickly. I’m excited to see Told Slant play and to share them with an audience that might not be familiar. Everyone involved in that band is hard working and kind as fuck and deserves every shot they can get.

Delaney is the brains behind our operation and she always gets me motivated before touring, but sometimes I’m very hesitant and uncertain about going out on the road. So much can go wrong, but I try to keep in mind how wild and crazy it is that we show up in cities we’ve never been to, and people are out there and excited to see us play. That shit definitely keeps me going and means so much to me. It’s a weird life, but I don’t know what else I’d be doing.

Mathew Lee Cothran and Delaney Mills (photo by Sam Ray)

Mat Cothran and Delaney Mills (photo by Sam Ray)

JBIt’s really uplifting whenever you speak so fondly about your peers and listeners. One show on your upcoming tour that’s been getting a lot of attention is the one at The Cave in Toronto which is listed as 19+. You’re a very vocal advocate of all-ages shows, and you’ve said that you’re willing to play an early show outside the venue if that’s what it takes. It’s reassuring to hear you say that, because 21+ shows have kept me from seeing several of my favorite artists here in San Diego. What’s your opinion on age-restricted shows/venues?

MC: I get why venues do age-restricted shows to an extent. I understand that the venues we typically play are between 150-500 capacity and you want to get as many money spending (drinking) motherfuckers in there as you can, but our audience is the youth and we want to be a positive and cool thing for kids to come out and see. So there is sometimes a dispute between venues and us about what kind of audience we’re bringing in.

What needs to happen is there to be more youth oriented spots. Why the fuck do bands always have to play in bars? I mean, I’m a drinker and I’m a grown man, but I have no shame in playing a straight edge spot if people are going to be there and be excited about our art. The world needs more accepting spaces in general. Every space should be a safe space. I think venues miss the fucking cue when they deny the youth a show. I mean fuck, if you have to charge a buck for a Coke or something, do it. I’ll tell anyone to their face I have a drinking problem, but I’m willing to put all that shit aside if we’re playing a space that is anti-drinking and open to the youth.

What I care about most is the art, and what I care about almost as much is our listeners, and a lot of them are young and I’m grateful for that. So whatever I have to do to give these kids a show, I’m going to fucking do. If the venue says they can’t have these kids who have supported me and paid my bills by buying t-shirts and records, then fuck that, I’m going to do a show outside because I care more about our listeners than I do some building with a sound system.

Elvis Depressedly @ The Dial in Murrieta, CA (8/1/2014)

Elvis Depressedly @ The Dial in Murrieta, CA (photo by Anthony Vincent)

Toronto might be a little weird and we’re still working with our booker (who is fucking great by the way, a true blue motherfucker) to try and get around this 19+ bullshit. We’re going to do what’s best for our listeners because at the end of the day, these people are supporting the hell out of us and we give a shit about that. We’re not going to ignore them because of a venue or a law or some other shit. We’re making art and art is for everybody, not just people who are old enough to drink.

JB: This is going to be your last tour before the release of the new Elvis Depressedly album, New Alhambra. It was originally slated to be out this month, but you’ve pushed it back to early next year for a wider, more opportune release. I can speak for the rest of your listeners when I say I couldn’t be more excited for what you have in store. You’ve said multiple times that this is the best work you’ve done to date–do you feel anxious sitting on this for so long?

MC: I do, because I know it’s our best work ever, and as lame as it sounds, I’m a little worried as to what our listeners will think. While Delaney was responsible for a lot of the music, I was responsible for a lot of the lyrical shit. I’m not sure if people who got into us via Holo Pleasures will fuck with it, but I can’t really let that get to us because I know in my heart this is the greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of. The songs are the best I’ve written, the best Delaney has arranged, and then we had the best bass player in the world Mike Roberts and the best cello player in the world Amy Cuthbertson on this album. I’m so happy with it, and it makes me sick that I have to wait to let people hear it, but there’s still some fear in there that I might let people down and that’s just something I gotta deal with.

We have such an intense relationship with our listeners that sometimes it can be too much and I don’t know who I’m writing for, but on this album I put everything aside and wrote nine songs that I feel truly define who I am. Delaney came in and orchestrated them perfectly because she’s a fucking music genius, and Mike Roberts, our good friend and touring bassist, came in and made the songs real and purposeful.

It’s scary to go from a record like Holo Pleasures that I kind of orchestrated purposefully to be hip and funny to something that is deeply personal to me and bares all without hesitation. At this point, I’ve been at this shit for nearly ten years and I felt like the time was right to make what I thought was the best album I could make. I didn’t hold back, so it’s scary to be that out there and know people are gonna hear it and judge it based on what I’ve done before.

But I think people will vibe with it and understand where we’re coming from. I’m so proud of this record and of the stuff we’re doing right now.


Elvis Depressedly will be on tour with Told Slant this December, more info on it here.
New Alhambra will be released in Spring 2015 by Run For Cover Records.

Vinyl of the Week – Introduction

I don’t know if you know this, but KCR is kind of a big deal. It’s been around since 1969, and was one of the premiere college radio stations in the nation. In its heyday, roughly 1975-1990, KCR received record service from dozens of major labels, as well as vinyl submissions from countless local bands. The albums would arrive at the station, DJs would listen to them, pick what they liked, and play it on their show. Some of it was music that eventually got picked up by mainstream stations and is still known and loved today, but much of it has faded away, never breaking the college radio circuit or simply going out of style.

When music shifted to primarily digital format, promotional records became promotional CDs. At KCR, like other radio stations, decades of vinyl albums got locked up and forgotten and clunky turntables put in storage to make room for new, more user-friendly methods of playing music on air.

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

(image via kcralumni.org)

What this means for us at KCR in 2014 is that there are a whole lot of vinyl records stored away, many virtually untouched since the year they were released. And I’ve been possessed by the Spirit of DJs Past to catalogue it all, making me KCR’s Head of Inventory.

There are over 15,000 vinyl albums in the collection. I’ve only scratched the surface cataloging them so far, but I’ve already found so much mind-blowingly amazing music that I can’t bear to keep it to myself. I want to tell you about it! But writing about music is like dancing about architecture, as the saying goes – it’s nearly impossible to evoke the characteristics of one form of art through another. So I’m not gonna try! What I’m gonna do in this weekly column, Vinyl of the Week, is tell you about the neat albums that I find and why they’re so neat. I’m not a critic, I’m just a fan of old music and appreciator of vinyl. You can judge them for yourself – I’ll be linking a recording of each album I write about.

This column will be incredibly biased. I’m picking whatever albums I find and fall in love with to write about, so they’ll be specific to my taste. Lucky for you, I have good taste! Right now I’m mostly into ‘70s and ‘80s punk, so expect a lot of that. Albums that stand out to me from the collection are local records, rare records, valuable records, underrated records, records by bands that only released one album, and records that look particularly beat up (meaning well-loved!). Also, most of the records have comments from KCR DJs written on them from when they were first released. I’ll listen to anything that’s highly praised or fawned over (there were some ‘80s girls with a SERIOUS thing for Nick Cave). Some albums I choose will be somewhat well-known. Others may only have 100 copies in existence. Everything will be good.

I can’t wait to share all this great music with you! Check back every Wednesday for a new post.

Photo by Danielle Quinones

Photo by Danielle Quinones