Where to go on Record Store Day in Toronto
Hey buddy, if you’re spending your Record Store Day at HMV, you’re a massive tool. (I don’t really shop at HMV, I just wait for one of their stores to go out of business, then scoop stuff up for cheap.) The whole purpose of this non-statutory holiday is to support the local merchants who stock stuff that you won’t find at HMV — especially since they scaled down the Megastore on Yonge St. But hey, Five Guys Burgers and Fries is probably a better use of that space, anyways…
On the other hand, there are a coupla local record peddlers deserving of your attention on this most non-sacred of holidays. Me, I’ve been a regular at Rotate This ever since their Moving Two Blocks Sale, where I picked up half of the Man’s Ruin discography for a couple bucks a pop. Over time, I’ve witnessed its transformation from mostly CDs to strictly vinyl, and it’s still the place I go to buy 90 per cent of my concert tickets, as their service fees are much less painful than Ticketbastard. Put it this way: most of the people in that place know me by face, if not by name — as opposed to most of the internet, which knows me by name, if not by face. 😉
Suffice to say that if you’re looking for that hot indie limited-edition psychedelic RSD special, they’ve probably got it — but you might wanna get there early. Last year, I lined up for almost an hour in the snow — in the snow! — to score the lone copy of the Dust double LP reissue… which I subsequently saw on their shelves a couple months later. But hey, I did snag some other sweet finds, too!
Rotate is a rather small space, but if you’re slightly claustrophobic, might I suggest Sonic Boom at Bloor and Bathurst. The massive megastore is still one of the things I miss the most from my old neighbourhood, and my music collection has been growing at a much slower pace since I stopped living a couple blocks away. I’m sure they’ll have some pretty sweet bands playing on Record Store Day; I can remember watching Nadja darken the mood in their basement, and a Monotonix in-store performance that ended up in the middle of Bloor Street. Mind you, that was in their old location, before they moved, like, two inches to the left…
Of course, what with Honest Ed’s shutting down to make way for more condos, one has to wonder what fate will befall Sonic Boom. Hey, I think they’ve still got some retail space for lease in my building if they wanna move a little further downtown, though it’s probably not nearly enough room for all of their massive inventory. 🙁
Featured Toronto store/owner: interview with Neill of Pandemonium Books & Discs
By Danielle Griscti
Pandemonium Books & Discs
2920 Dundas St West, Toronto
“Pandemonium buys and sells quality books, CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, and even the occasional piece of music memorabilia.”
Pandemonium Books & Discs in the Junction neighbourhood (West end Toronto) is immediately striking for its combination of well-curated bookshelves and rows among rows of vinyl jewels. Neill’s concert photography was the icing on the cake the first time I walked into this place. Energetic, vibrant shots of classic rock legends caught my eye and didn’t let go.
According to the store’s website, they’re always on the lookout for more vinyl LPs to stock: “quality Jazz, Funk, Soul, Psyche, Rock, Metal, Punk, Blues, Avant-garde, etc. … Prices depend on condition and rarity of the individual LPs; but we will also buy entire collections.”
Is this Pandemonium’s first year participating in RSD?
Neill: We held a sale in 2013 and hosted a live performance. This year we’ll be having a show again, and everything is 20% off.
Do customers tend to come in looking just for the special RSD releases, or do they also go for your regular stock?
N: I’ve found that customers don’t really come looking for the special releases at our store, as we’re a bit off the beaten path. We’re a go-to store for our neighbourhood here in the west end. They tend to look to the bigger stores for the picture discs and those other special releases that are often instant collectibles. I have, however, had a few people asking for the Stranglers 45” as it’s one of those vintage items, and we have a lot of vintage in the selection.
Besides being a source of vintage vinyl, is there anything else that really makes the store stand out, or a specific niche that you cater to?
N: You can find genres here that you probably won’t be able to find anywhere else: dinosaur punk, vintage rock/pop, disco and R&B, and a ton of punk, psych and jazz. The difference is the breadth of stock on the floor.
So if you were going shopping on RSD yourself, what would you be looking for?
N: Oh definitely this Ramones 10” that I tried to order a while ago and couldn’t get my hands on. They’re my favourite band so that’s what I’d be looking for!
Where to go on Record Store Day in Hamilton Downtown
By Adam Wills and Laura Wiebe
Downtown Hamilton boasts three great independent record stores participating in Record Store Day, all within a few block radius.
Cheapies Records and Tapes
67 King E, Hamilton
cheapiesrecords.ca / @CheapiesRecords
Open since 1978 and located in their current space since 1988.
20 Wilson St., Hamilton
drdisc.ca / @DrDiscHamilton
“Dr. Disc sells new, used and imported CDs, LPs and DVDsand specializes in sales, rentals and repairs of DJ EQUIPMENT and related accessories.” Featuring a free afternoon live performance by B.A. Johnston.
Hammer City Records
228 James St N Basement @ Rear Off Robert St, Hamilton
Hammer City Records Facebook Page / @HammerCityRex
Independent punk, hardcore and metal record store carrying mostly vinyl titles from small independent labels. RSD features include deals, snacks, DJs, “funtimes!”and special releases, including some SCHIZclusive editions from Schizophrenic Records and a new Rammer release!