At the end of the year, I like to look back, and as the John Lennon lyric goes, “So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”
What have you done? Hmm, what have you done… A check to see if you have been squeezing as much orange juice out of being alive as you can. E v e r y l a s t
d r o p.
We’ve had a really good year. Each year I think that the VoxBox shop is building and getting a wee bit better. The music industry is in a state of flux and I’ve been actually surprised that records are being made in such big numbers again. Every new release is getting a run of vinyl apart from the X Factor stuff. It is a strange place to be on the periphery of this as a wee shop open just twenty-five and a half hours per week.
It has meant that we have to work more. Heaven forbid! By work I mean we need to order more of the new stuff in order to keep our shelves topped up and stay relevant. The vinyl revival does also mean that pre-owned records get a little harder to source. Don’t worry though, we have some contacts. Wink wink. We can now sell back catalogue items that you never see originals of. This pleases both George, who now can sell his favourite album (Forever Changes) and me (probably The Stooges) quite a bit.
Some of the re-issues do seem crazy as they are often plentiful on the pre-owned market (eg Paul Simon’s Graceland) and the quality of some of the new pressings is a bit dubious (The 4 Men With Beards label) but it would be churlish of me to complain. Edinburgh sold out of turntables in the run up to Christmas! This is great news for our record shops.
The year highlight of 2013 was celebrating our 2nd Record Store Day back in April. Wounded Knee singing his Anti Fascist Rant on our steps was a joy.
All of the bands were incredible and St Stephen Street was buzzing all day. In fact I was buzzing so much, I couldn’t sleep for three days afterwards. An incredible experience! Other things we have been proud of are starting our open turntable DJ night and our new Fresh Air Radio show, both of which will return in the new year. In-stores from SuperMarioNation’s Steve (for the hell of it) and Black International on Cassette Store Day was great fun. Oh, and the Phillip Taylor (PAWS) new album preview in-store was pretty special too.
The biggest musical disappointment for me was that Iggy and the Stooges new album Ready to Die was so ordinary. Iggy redeemed himself a bit last week with his superb Christmas Day radio show on Radio 6. He’s on again with a new show on New Year’s Day at 1300. I won’t be tuning in live though as it clashes with this Scot:Lands thing which looks too good to miss. Local and Scottish music, Dance & Theatre and it’s FREE. You should come too.
So, at the end of this fine year, what would be the VoxBox album of the year?
Erm, as usual, I haven’t done a list. The MOJO magazine tends to write for the record collector market. Their top 50 albums are here and it’d be hard for me to argue as I’ve not heard anywhere near them all.
There have been some notable albums by big Scottish bands too. Primal Scream, Mogwai, Nina Nesbitt, Texas, Boards of Canada, Biffy Clyro, Frightened Rabbit, Chvrches and indeed one by Edwyn Collins.
I would have added in some of our local bands too although it’s hard to be objective as I’m either friends or on friendly nodding terms with many of the folk below who all released albums this year.
Song by Toad label: Adam Stafford, The Leg, Sparrow and the Workshop
Fence/Lost Map: Kid Canaveral, The Pictish Trail, eagleowl, Monoganon
Chemikal Underground: RM Hubbert, Rick Redbeard
Olive Grove: Randolph’s Leap
Comets and Cartwheels: Quickbeam, There Will Be Fireworks
Soft Power: The Rosy Crucifiction
Other folk that brought their albums/EPs in include: Spook School, The Little Kicks, Delta Mainline, Ziggy Campbell, Book Group.
And there are loads more! So I’d say Scottish music is thriving the noo.
My favourite of those? All are really solid. I’ll try to make up my mind for sure before the Scottish Album of the Year Award next year where we might even get a vote…
So I’ll keep my powder dry until then. I will say that the favourite things I’ve heard this year and have been listening to a lot weren’t even released this year. Glorified Demons by (the mysterious) Siobhan Wilson and Weald by Rob St John. You should check them out.
For what it’s worth, the biggest sellers in the shop over the past year, I think can be broken down like this:
Out of 2013 albums, it’s the Les Revenants soundtrack by Mogwai which is also a contender for VoxBox George’s favourite.
The best-selling new re-issues? That’ll be Love’s Forever Changes.
Out of local stuff, eagleowl’s debut album, This Silent Year I think has sold most. Well done Bart and co.
As to pre-owned stuff, selling by the landslide, it has been and will probably forever be, Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac.
Who’s counting anyway? It’s not a competition. I hope you’ve found something old or new that you really love and listen to it without fear of music snobbery. Make up your own mind and go yer own way.
VoxBox George and I would like to thank all of our customers for coming in and making the work such fun and we wish you all a Happy New Year!
Here’s to 2014.
Hip Hip Hooray!