03 August 2013

Musical delights: Local shops and local delights

It has been awhile so I am combining a few things.  The survival of local, independent music shops is a topic close to many an audiophile. I was lucky enough to spend Record Store Day 2013 in Soho taking in the sun,sights, and sounds of a busy day for the local music shops I have found myself recently browsing through. The survival of local record stores has been a topic of discussion for many people.  I have taken part in it myself since I do have an audiophile and record consumer for an older sibling.  Ok, I admit it. I buy music from iTunes and listen to an iPod, but there are things that you can find in your local, small record store that you can't on iTunes or in the big chain music stores (that also seem to be taking a hit from online sales). That would be knowledge and interaction.  Through those two things I made a delightful discovery in both music and a place to buy music (that's not online).  

I certainly wouldn't describe myself as an audiophile, but when I do find a group or genre I like, I stick with it. Indie folk, Americana...whatever one wants to call it, it's a good fit for the new mellower tastes I find myself seeking.  So when I found myself wandering in the lovely town of Lewes in Sussex, I stopped in the local independent music store, called Union Music Store, and had a singular experience that has just made me an even bigger advocate for their survival: a real conversation with someone who knew their shit; by giving examples of two bands, I was recommended a third that I have come to appreciate, enjoy, and find delightful.

Record store seekers in Soho on
Record Store Day 2013

A crowd outside Union Music Store in Lewes
Another unique aspect that made my experience at Union stand apart was the opportunity to hear some new music...live! Every weekend there was well-and maybe lesser known acts that would spend half an hour treating shoppers to a free concert.  A great introduction to a new band, or an amazing opportunities to see a newly discovered gem.  I got to see one of my favourites outside before a festival...it was probably one of the best bands I saw all weekend.
The band--The Self Help Group--is difficult for me to describe, as I have never been one for putting the music I enjoy into genres, but listening to Self Help just relaxes my soul.  They are the go-to for a sunny day outside, or the respite from the stresses of the daily grind.  Over the past few months, I have seen them go from an in-store recommendation to a highly-reviewed, rising band. I will be happy to say I have been a listener early on.  Don't believe me?!  Reviews can't be wrong: The Maverick, an independent country magazine in the UK, gave it a four-star rating.  And, when another review mentioned the US West Coast in the same paragraph, I was completely hooked.  One of the best concerts I saw during the Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road festival was Self Help. I pass along my high recommendation as I continue in the delights of the local music stores like Union Music and bands such as The Self Help Group.
Introduction of The Self Help Group during a free gig in Lewes

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