Record Store Day at Grimey's and The Groove, 4/21/12

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The unpredictable Nashville weather had turned raw and wet overnight, and the wind cut into The Spin's out-of-season clothes as we manipulated our way around side streets to park within reasonable distance of the Record Store Day action at Grimey's and The Basement. We can’t for the life of us figure out why nearly every year on this one particular weekend in April — the weekend on which the Nashville Film Festival, Vanderbilt’s Rites of Spring festival and Record Store Day always fall — the weather is completely dreary and terrible. Perhaps the God of Solid Entertainment wants us to earn it. But the line snaking down the street seemed full of placid people, glad to be standing around in the drizzle in hope of scoring something cool. Big groups of music junkies were out in force, blowing on their hands in the dampness.

Of course, The Spin is among those hordes of insatiable music lovers, every day. There was plenty of cheap and deep vinyl on sale in the parking lot, where there were also some bands playing. Up first was the raspy-voiced troubadour — the man wears a stylish hat and sings his heart out — the world knows as Langhorne Slim. Slim played tunes from his forthcoming full-length, The Way We Move, and rocked out with solo acoustic on "Song for Sid," one of the autobiographical numbers he's been writing lately. "My hands are numb, and so is my heart," Langhorne said in between songs, as the wind grew mean and cold.

JEFF the Brotherhood
Alcohol Stuntband frontman Chris Crofton — America's most genuinely humble comedian — played a nice DJ set for the crowd that mixed John Denver and Jerry Reed, and did his first of two Record Store Day stand-up performances — a cockamamie and genuinely weird offering. We'd heard good things about The Grenadines, an Alabama group specializing in concise, glammy tunes with neo-psychedelic guitars that bridge the gap between Mick Ronson and, oh, Sonic Youth. Fronted by Michael and Lauren Shackelford, the band played a great set that featured the boogie-licious finesse of their rhythm section and yes, the neo-psych thing we mentioned earlier. Their sound evokes the style of neo-psychedelic pioneers Pylon, among many others. The Grenadines proved themselves a taut, disciplined band with a judicious mixture of pop and avant-skronk.

Blouse followed, and The Spin felt it was a perfect segue — their sound is a bit more melancholy that of The Grenadines. Very good for a cold, wet day, and then we took a break and glommed onto vinyl treasures that included some Italian prog-jazz and a bizarre late Motown concept album. JEFF the Brotherhood came out next and did their motorik-down-South thing, but as a five-piece — in addition to the two brothers Orrall, their lineup was augmented by William Tyler on guitar, Loney Hutchins on keys and Karl Bergman on bass — and they did the cover of Hawkwind's "Master of the Universe" that was on their Upstairs at United special RSD release. Their minimalist grooves took the crowd — by now well fed courtesy Mas Tacos and Yazoo Beer — to a place where The Fall, Can and Golden Earring live in perfect harmony.

We ducked into The Basement for a refreshment and to catch some of their video offerings — the Andrew Bird concert film, Fever Year, and Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost), a documentary about Bobby Bare Jr. Caitlin Rose, that sweet-voiced alt-country angel played with a perfect blend of steel guitar and lead from William Tyler and some ace ivory tickledge from indefatigable keyboardist at large Matt Rowland. Pulling a double-header, Cato & Co. went offstage and on their way to serenade Wiz Khalifa and Sleigh Bells fans (i.e., Vandy undergrads) at Rites of Spring, while we stuck it out to throw down with PUJOL.

Latecomers who missed their chance to nab a copy of PUJOL's to-MEEMAW-dedicated Record Store Day 7-inch still got to join a sizable crowd in shaking fist and stretching vocal chords to its A-side, "Reverse Vampire." Appearing in increasingly consistent power-trio form, the band warmed up the shivering crowd with that, along with a familiar host of life-full, hypersonic, melodically sanguine power-punk rousers like "Black Rabbit," "Butterfly Knife," "Keeper of Atlantis" and "DIY2K." The latter of which we can say is, hands down, PUJOL's best song to date — an infectious, feel-good rallying call that would pair nicely between "Born To Run" and "Bastards of Young" on a mixtape of anthems. As for what we brought away from Record Store Day, all the albums fit into The Spin's trunk perfectly, and with a carne molida taco to go, we left smiling.

The Spin decided to keep it pretty laid-back on the East Side, showing up for The Groove’s RSD festivities around mid-afternoon. We turned up just in time to hear Uncle Skeleton warming up, the sound of horns and strings bouncing down Cleveland Street. We ventured around back, where we found hot dogs, free beer and a buzzing crowd populated by a few dozen audiophiles, members of the local rock set and bundle-up little ones. The stage was positioned in the corner of the yard under a canopy — the nicest set-up we’ve seen at The Groove yet — as the 11 members of Uncle Skeleton (we think it was 11 this time, but it’s entirely possible that we miscounted the men) delivered their intricate, busy strain of symphonic pop.

We noticed some live graffiti action going down in the alley behind The Groove — an in-progress mural featuring the visage of Mr. Johnny Cash, among other things — so we ventured back there to check out the haps. Turns out a crew called Concrete615 was doing the mural on the fence outside Barista Parlor, a brand-new, legit-looking coffee spot that has its grand opening on May 4 — the same day, we hear, as Uncle Skeleton’s album release show, though we’re not yet sure where that will be.

Uncle Skeleton
What with their roughly one dozen members and all, Uncle Skeleton takes a little while to tear down their gear and load out, so we spent most of that time digging through the outdoor one-dollar crates with numb fingers, chatting about The Last Waltz and cocaine benders with comic Chris Crofton before his second set of the day. And it was a record-centric set, with wisecracks about mistaking Boz Scaggs albums for Captain Beefheart albums, special-issue “Killing in the Name Of” singles and a reunion of the band Live, plus a few plugs for his brand-new comedy album Pearls Before Swine, which was recorded at the Springwater. The crowd remained in that all-too-common semicircle pattern — a 15-foot radius surrounding Crofton’s comedic blast zone — even if he didn’t decimate any particular targets as relentlessly as he’s been known to in the past.

Now, while we showed up far too late to get our hands on any of the special RSD releases, any excuse to look through records is a good one. We ended up purchasing a pretty substantial little pile of vinyl — Guided by Voices, The Pretty Things, ELO, The Searchers and Jerry Lee Lewis — before cutting ourselves off and heading back outside for the familiar blooze-boogie rock ’n’ roll of Denney and the Jets. Funny, we didn’t realize these swampy so-and-sos existed in the daytime hours, but here they were, getting down in the light of day with lyrics about getting fucked up in the dead of night.

We drifted over to No. 308 to warm our bones with a bit of liquor, scooting back just in time to catch the full set of throbbing, relentless garage rock from Memphis’ Tiger High. Featuring dudes who have played with Jack Oblivian and Reigning Sound — Reigning Sound being, for our money, probably the finest garage-rock band to ever come out of the South — Tiger High slaughtered a loud set of psychedelic soul-garage that was dipped in just the right amount of Costello-y organ. Seriously, Tiger High dudes, come back through town any time you like.

Oh, and do you remember Spinal Tap’s early “Gimme Some Money” phase? That’s pretty much what Ranch Ghost reminds us of — bobbing, smiley, far-out, groovin’, '60s-centric rock ’n’ roll. We can dig it. And that’s how we decided to end our Record Store Day, heading back to the Spin Fortress to spin some of our newly acquired wax.

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