Record store collaboration Double Nickels Collective opens in Tempe

dubnix opening

Double Nickels Collective, a new record store selling music and more from multiple Valley vendors, celebrated its grand opening in Tempe on Saturday, Oct. 5. The grand opening brought many collectors to Southern and Mill avenues to look at what the store offered, and, like any proper music fan does, make immediate and uninformed predictions about what its success would be.

Thankfully for the store, those initial impressions, especially for this reviewer, were nothing but positive. The variety of music, vendors, gear and price made for a truly expansive experience, all under one roof.

Vinyl

Double Nickels Collective was actually the successor to another store, Eastside Records, in collaboration with other businesses. Eastside, which was also based in Tempe, sold both popular and rare records with everything ranging from hardcore punk to pop, rock to jazz, spoken word to soundtracks. The store closed down earlier this year to revamp at this other location. Now, the door of Double Nickels Collective features a label of a small ghost next to the words “The Ghost of Eastside Records.”

dubnix sign

However, this is not so much a ghost of the previous store as it is its blazing phoenix, rising from ashes into great heights. Eastside Records’ collection looks much more organized in a larger space, with the Collective exposing the same great finds that hid in the previous location. This collector found a “hard-to-find” (so proclaimed the sticker) copy of Stars of the Lid’s And Their Refinement of the Decline (albeit missing one record), which was definitely unexpected.

dubnix inside

But the best thing about Double Nickels Collective is that dedicated collectors/sellers can occupy a space in the store to sell their records. Record High, Stereophonic High Fidelity, Redfield Records and King of the Monsters were some of the vendors stacking booths at the store, and each one had something special to offer. While King of the Monsters offered an assortment of metal records, Record High amassed a group of rare, hard-to-find and pricy Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab vinyl.

Stereophonic in particular got the Miggy “nod of approval” for having cheap and critically acclaimed vinyl. And of course, the Stinkweeds crates of new and used vinyl were a comforting touch.

Gear, Books, Clothes and More

In addition to a pleasing smorgasbord of vinyl in all shapes, sizes and colors, Double Nickels Collective stocked a decently priced selection of amplifiers and turntables. There were also plenty of CDs and cassettes, including a pristine tape of post-punk band Wire’s seminal album Pink Flag (spoiler: it has a pink flag on the cover).

Finally, the store carried several books and comics, both fiction and non-fiction, and a rack with women’s and men’s clothing from Meat Market Vintage Clothing. However, since this is a music blog, I am not properly qualified to review these items. Sorry. (Except for that rad leather jacket with Joy Division emblazoned on the shoulders).

dubnix joy division

Michael Pawlicki, owner of Double Nickels Collective, said the whole premise of the store was very quickly arranged and that empty plots on the floor would later be filled with more booths and items. We all can thank him for his quick thinking and instinct, since inside the walls of this building is a store were both the large and small collector can live in harmony. Double Nickels Collective will hopefully take its place among the best record stores in the Valley.

dubnix dog

Photos by Miguel Otárola/DD

Two independent record stores: Stinkweeds and Revolver

Phoenix suffers in comparison to some other major American cities in certain categories. It isn’t a Los Angeles, San Francisco or Portland (no one’s a Portland) when it comes to record store proliferation. But that’s all the more reason to spotlight the fighters out here who make Phoenix a place worth living for avid music fans.

In Phoenix, Stinkweeds and Revolver Records are two of the very best music spots around. Here’s why each holds its own.

Stinkweeds is a venerable independently owned record store that ought to be ranked with some of the best nationally. It’s not downtown, but it’s just off the light rail station at Camelback and Central Avenue, making it a worthy stop for music lovers from anywhere in Phoenix.

stinkweeds

Stinkweeds has a remarkable selection of new records and CDs, which is its strength, while it also reps racks and racks of used stuff. Stinkweeds is notable for its events and in-store concerts. It’s also a great location to pick up music books and magazines — it’s the only place I know of to buy 33 percent books, the series that covers classic albums — or to buy tickets to concerts around the Valley. Stinkweeds is likely the best one-stop shop for any Phoenician music lover.

inside stink

Revolver Records, on Second and Roosevelt streets, is one of the most bustling stores in the Valley. With a mind-boggling collection of used records and frequent turnover of recent arrivals, Revolver is the best location for the avid crate-digger. It also wins for its specialization in genres like metal and jazz (bring back the psych rock section!).

rev recs

For those not prone to search for a diamond in the rough among dusty classic rock, First Fridays is the best time to visit. In addition to hosting art, food and live music on its lawn, Revolver always whips out their best findings from the previous month on First Fridays, so the cream of the crop is readily apparent to any visitor.

inside rev

In related news: the Ghost of Eastside Records, in a Tempe location last year just outside the ASU campus, is currently in limbo. An August email from the owner announcing that a new location was forthcoming has yet to be followed up. Hopefully, Eastside chooses to set a permanent brick-and-mortar home somewhere in the Valley, instead of relegating its remarkable collection to the reliable but ephemeral online station of eBay.

Five essential picks from ’90s Phoenix alternative rock

The ’90s is the decade that punk splintered into alternative, achieving a mainstream visibility as the spirit of the original punk diffused into an incredible diversity of styles across the world. Similarly, Phoenix punk transformed from the familiar punk sound of the ’80s into new sounds.

Forbidden Places (1991) – Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets hopped onto a major label for Forbidden Places — the ultimate gesture of ’90s alt-rock opportunism — with a successful elaboration of their country-punk fusion. They kick it off with “Sam,” which runs at about quadruple tempo to their earlier material, country at the breakneck pace of hardcore. “Open Wide” also buckles the band into a turned-up hard-rock speed with virtuoso guitar showmanship that comes as a surprise from the previously lackadaisical band. Other songs like “This Day” slow things down to a jangly, laid-back speed with an eye for the wide-open desert sky. Despite the major label bump, the band never quite took off in the age of grunge, even with the endorsement of superstar fan Kurt Cobain.

Sacrifice (For Love) (1991) – Greg Sage

Greg Sage is the driving force behind experimental punks The Wipers, a legendary Portland act whose first three albums are still recognized as pioneering examples of hypermodern, sleek post-punk. Sage was the undeniable auteur of these records and even envisioned The Wipers as a band that would only exist in the recording studio without any touring presence — a dream that was deflated by fans clamoring for live shows. Few that come to The Wipers’ original albums today know that Sage left Portland for Phoenix in the late 1980s. Sage’s solo album from the period, Sacrifice (For Love), completely embraces the mood of his new locale, from the cacti and smiling skeletons decking the cover to the sun-scorched, rootsy sound contained within. In Arizona, Sage left behind his previously uber-tight modernist aesthetic for swingier, open pop arrangements. Hearing Sage adopt the persona of a lonesome, western cowboy, equipped with only a drum machine, should be an exciting experience for both committed Wipers fans and newcomers.

330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda (1996) – Sun City Girls

This is where it gets weird. Avant-garde band Sun City Girls released two double-album opuses in the decade, 1995′s Dante’s Disneyland Inferno and 1996′s bafflingly titled 330,003 Crossdressers from Beyond the Rig Veda. On Crossdressers, the Girls indulged in their impressions of Southeast Asian and Indian folk sounds, free-form improvisation and psycho bugged-out jams for more than two hours. If this sounds daunting, well… it is. But the album is also one of the most rewarding experiments in rock music history, a frenetic display of what a band that is at once totally in control of their direction and yet completely off-the-wall unhinged can come up with.

A Fascination with Heights (1996) – Half String

Half String is one of a handful of shoegaze southwestern rock bands who adapted the British genre to the desert. Shoegaze, most associated with My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Ride, is a mix of dreamy pop and crushing layers of distortion, reverb and echo. A Fascination with Heights backs soaring guitar lines and mumbled vocals with powerful, propelled drumming. The band’s best-known alumna is Kimber Lanning, who owns Stinkweeds record store and Modified Arts and runs Local First Arizona. If you see her at Stinkweeds and want to make her day, pick up this album.

Clarity (1999) – Jimmy Eat World

Simply put, Jimmy Eat World reinvented the possibilities of emo for the 21st century on Clarity. Though its commercial failure would result in the band getting dropped from Capitol Records, Jimmy Eat World set the stage for their triumph on 2001′s Bleed American while simultaneously growing the scope and ambition possible on an emo record. Countless “third wave” emo took direct inspiration from the expansive palette of the album, which includes electronic beats and lush orchestration. Its position as a predecessor to emo’s popular breakthrough certainly warrants attention, but the album holds up as a classic across genre lines.

So, there it is: Proof that some interesting things were actually going on in 1990s Phoenix rock.

Record Store Day celebrates classic vinyl

If there’s one thing the young and old can agree on, it’s that vinyl is pretty cool. Even in today’s world of instant music downloads and Internet streams, something is just better about having a huge disc of plastic to play music through.

Record Store Day, held on Saturday, April 20, is an international event celebrating the continuing existence of records and the stores that sell them. Record Store Day features a list of exclusive releases that range from classic rock (Bob Dylan, King Crimson) to modern metal (Between the Buried and Me, All That Remains) to indie mainstays (Phoenix, Titus Andronicus).

The full list of releases is available here. It should be noted that stores don’t know exactly what records they’ll be getting until they arrive – they can put in requests, but they won’t get everything they want.

Thankfully, the light rail gives downtown Phoenix residents access to some excellent record stores for Record Store Day.

(Marianna Hauglie/DD)

(Marianna Hauglie/DD)

STINKWEEDS

The Place: 12 W. Camelback Road. From the light rail, it’s just off Camelback and Central. Stinkweeds feels like home for many of downtown’s record enthusiasts for good reason – they combine the sense of community of a local shop with impressive selections.

The Event: Stinkweeds has an impressive list of local acts along with national headliner FIDDLAR. Food truck favorites Short Leash Hot Dogs, Mama Toledo’s Pies and Pizza People will all be there providing their services.

The Verdict: With quality local bands like Playboy Manbaby joining FIDDLAR and a variety of food trucks, Stinkweeds is probably worth a quick trip down the light rail. They’ve also ordered every single RSD release. While they certainly won’t get all of them, their dedication is impressive.

(Madeline Pado/DD)

(Madeline Pado/DD)

REVOLVER

The Place: 918 N. Second St. Set on Roosevelt and 2nd streets, Revolver is the closest record store to ASU’s Downtown campus and the only one accessible without the light rail. With the beautiful mural on its outside wall and the quirky personalities sure to be inside, it fits in well with the rest of Roosevelt Row.

The Event: Popular local act Dogbreth and the incredibly interesting Minibosses (they play prog metal covers of video game music) highlight a lineup of local bands. For food needs, Revolver is surrounded by RoRo coffee shops and restaurants.

The Verdict: Revolver occasionally gets criticized for only having an impressive selection during First Fridays – they’re likely to pull out all the stops for RSD as well. While it’s unknown what exactly they’ve ordered or are getting, Revolver has posted pictures on their Facebook page with lots of boxes, so there should be something nice.

(Thomas Hawthorne/DD)

(Thomas Hawthorne/DD)

ZIA

The Place: 1850 W. Camelback Road. There are a few Zia Record Exchanges throughout Arizona and Nevada, but this one – just off the light rail at Camelback Road and 19th Avenue – is large, new and nice.

The Event: Zia hosts a big name headliner for Record Store Day this year in Wavves. The very successful beach punk will be performing there at 3 p.m. and signing autographs. Emerson Fry Bread will be there selling food, but only for the early risers – they’ll be there from 8 to 10 a.m.

The Verdict: A chain like Zia may not have the personality of a more local shop, but it’s hard to argue against seeing Wavves before he performs at Crescent Ballroom that night. Imagining Zia’s huge store full of Record Store Day releases should also be enough to make vinyl fans take a ride to the second-to-last stop on the light rail to check it out.

Record Store Day celebrates Black Friday: Miguel’s 10 Picks

record-store-day-black-friday

If you thought that the indie music industry would have no hand in Black Friday, you’re wrong! The morning after Thanksgiving, Record Store Day participating stores will be offering exclusive releases of vinyl and CDs for the money-guzzling holiday. Get … Continue reading