After over three years of releasing records, I can safely say I still have absolutely no idea what makes this vinyl market tick. Sure, at first glance it seems straightforward enough: distributor pushes record, store buys some stock, puts it in the 'just in' bin, label does promotion and sales commence. But that's where things gets tricky. Why do some records get showered with attention and hype, while others completely fly under the radar? You'd assume it's the really exceptional ones that get the special treatment. But as much as I like stores like Phonica, Piccadilly, Juno and Rush Hour and websites like RA, some of the twelves they pick as 'record of the week' are simply not that great and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I'm in a bit of a foul mood today, but take that recent W+L Black release (Silent Partners Edits) for example. I bought a whole bunch of those W+L Black records over the years but this is just really really mediocre and uninspired, yet it's pick of the week over at Piccadilly AND at Phonica? Seriously? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills over here.
Sure, personal preferences of members of staff can really make a record store's selection stand out. As much as it disappoints me when Rush Hour doesn't stock our own releases (support your local labels, you bastards) there's no denying their quality control is excellent, which means they have to be picky and cater for their specific crowd (so there, I forgive you). And yes, obviously shops benefit from a bit of hype and 'big records' help them to stay afloat. Yet somehow I think vested interests, subtle sycophancy and the 'politics of cool' at shops, blogs and music magazines make today's industry somewhat unfair and particularly hard to survive in. It might have always been like this, but over the past months I've noticed quite a few really good records get very little to no coverage and go out like a candle.
It also seems to be happening to the latest release on Kolour Recordings, 'Slow Down' by Klic & Lokiboi. Klic (one of Medlar's alter ego's) teamed up with Lokiboi for a pair of bloody marvelous tracks which got picked up by the classy American imprint. Title track Slow Down is a prime beatdown chugger, with vintage keys, choppy vocals and moody pads. Soul Twist on the B follows roughly the same pattern with loose claps and subtle drums, untill a classic female vocal cuts in halfway through the track and things really take off. Both tracks are the kind of mesmerizing stuff that's made for early hours or those 7 am moments in small, sweaty basements. And while Ethyl's techy rub of Slow Down doesn't really do much for me (stripped the track off its soul), Frank Booker's chunky, bassheavy version of the same track is a strong contender of remix of the year for us. It should come as no surprise that we're a bit partial to whatever our friend Mr Booker turns his hands too, but we've roadtested this quite intensively and it NEVER fails to make people squint their eyes (in a good way) and mouth "this is gooooooooooooood" to us over at the booth.
Which brings me back to the argument I was trying to make. This came out a little over two weeks ago. Did it get a mention in any of the newsletters that the big stores send out? Nope. Record of the week? Nope. Exposure on a blog or site? Nope. Review on Juno? Nope. Nothing of the kind. And with the million records that come out every day, it's just a matter of days before a release snows under and is forgotten. Which would be a damn shame, as this is a GREAT record, which deserves much, much better.
Pick up a copy here