Music Features

The Singles Bar - Record Store Day special

This year's Record Store Day on April 21 sees more than 400 releases being made available in hundreds of independent record stores, all around the world. Artists, vendors and record enthusiasts will unite in a celebration of music and a shared love of the crackling of vinyl. The event itself, now in its sixth year (in the US, at least), needs little in the way of introduction. This feature, on the other hand, does require a few explanatory notes, which follow at the end of the article.

For now though, sit back, relax and let us guide you through a selection of the releases that will be made available this coming Saturday...

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Remix by Damian Taylor & Arcade Fire)
Released as an LP with Ready to Start (Remix by Damian Taylor & Arcade Fire) in both the UK and US

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), arguably the greatest track from Arcade Fire's 2010 LP The Suburbs, has experienced something of a renaissance in recent months, initially through an interactive website launched by the band and, more recently, courtesy of a remix from those cheeky Belgian Dewaele brothers, Soulwax. And now Arcade Fire have decided to release their own remix – a collaboration between themselves and fellow countryman, the Grammy-nominated Damian Taylor.

Unfortunately, it's a little disappointing. Aside from a longer introduction and outro, the remix offers little more than the original – it's more of an alternate version than a complete rework. The general structure of the song is untouched, the vocals are the same, the instrumentation almost identical. There was always going to be a question mark over whether tampering with such a fan favourite was a good idea, but since Arcade Fire made the decision to do it, it's a shame that the remix doesn't take more risks.  5/10

Bat for Lashes – Strangelove
Released on 7” in the UK

Listening to this track, it's hard to believe that Natasha Khan (a.k.a. Bat for Lashes) could have found herself a more suitable track to cover than Depeche Mode's Strangelove. Everything about this track lends itself to Natasha's style of music; from the haunting vocals to the dark, stripped back sound. Quite simply, it's a fantastic cover and comes highly recommended.  8/10

Beach House – Lazuli
Released on 7” in the UK and US

You know those bands that your friends rave about but somehow always seem to escape your radar? I'm ashamed to admit that Beach House fall into that category for me. However, I'm pleased to report that listening to Lazuli a few times over may have just prompted the Eureka moment that will finally lead me to explore their back catalogue. A track that is blissful and euphoric when it starts, Lazuli soon develops into a beautifully melodic song, before layering fantastic harmonies to create an epic finale.  7/10

Katy Perry – Part of Me (Thin White Duke Remix)
Released on 12” in the US

I find it hard to imagine that there are many independent record store fans who will walk into a store this coming Saturday and walk out armed with a Katy Perry record. In so far as this particular release is concerned, at least, that is a great shame. For Stuart Price, also known as the Thin White Duke (amongst his many other monikers), has created something really rather special in his remix of Katy Perry's Part of Me.

The beauty of this remix is that the track comes across as rather plain on first listen. But a catchy riff, house beats and careful sampling has resulted in a track that, with repeated listens, turns into something that is beyond infectious. It may not quite match the standard of his remix of Röyksopp's What Else Is There? but then, in my eyes, that's a standard that's impossible to maintain.  8/10

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Penguin Prison Remix)
Released on 7” in the US with a Damon Albarn remix of Born To Die

I really don't understand why New Yorker Chris Glover, who releases music under the name of Penguin Prison, isn't more famous than he currently is. Whilst his music hasn't hit the sweet spot on every occasion, he's had several blindingly good tracks over the past couple of years (most notably Don't Fuck With My Money), many of which could easily have crossed his appeal over to the mainstream.  In addition, he's also landed several releases through über-cool fashion-cum-music label Kitsuné. We can but hope that releasing a remix of a track by one of the most talked-about pop stars of recent years will help to raise his profile a little.

The remix of Lana Del Rey's Blue Jeans isn't a huge departure from Glover's other Penguin Prison material – distinctly funky and driven by disco, it's fun, and an interesting take on the original. It may not be the strongest remix to be released on RSD, but it's certainly not the weakest. Which, unfortunately, is more than can be said than for the remix on the flipside (cough, Damon Albarn, cough).  6/10

Laura Marling – Flicker and Fail
Released on 7” in the UK and US

Originally released as a iTunes bonus track to Marling's latest album A Creature I Don't Know, Flicker and Fail now gets its own release, with the previously unreleased To Be A Woman also featuring.  Flicker and Fail is a typical Marling affair, and (pleasingly) a little more upbeat than much of her recent material. It's folk. It's got a catchy riff. And it's pleasant enough, but it's clear to see why it didn't make the cut to the main album. For starters, the song doesn't really go anywhere. There are also a few ill-chosen chords and irritating harmonies. And maybe it's just me, but does anyone else recognise that riff from somewhere else?  4/10

Public Image Ltd – One Drop
Released as part of an EP on 12” in the UK and US

This is a difficult one. One Drop is Public Image Ltd's first new material in over twenty years, and, to be honest, it sounds as though it could easily have been written well over twenty years ago. It's the sort of music that doesn't really get played that much any more on the radio, combining elements of ska, punk and reggae. It's also the sort of music that, whilst it still has its own audience, doesn't appeal too much to me. Having said that, however, One Drop does have an exciting feeling of rebellion running throughout that I like. It's honest music, and it's fun.

Ska and punk fans are likely to lap this up. Those who aren't so keen on the genre would be advised to choose a different release (there are several hundred, after all).  6/10

The Vaccines – Why Should I Love You?
Released as a 7” in the UK with an R. Stevie Moore cover of the Vaccines' Post Break Up Sex

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be giving the award of best 2012 RSD release to The Vaccines, I would have fetched you a white coat and have offered to help prepare you for life inside an institution. For together with Glasvegas, Chapel Club and Beady Eye, the Vaccines sit proudly on my list of the most over-hyped English indie bands of all time.

But it appears as though I may have been a little too quick to judge. For this release, at least, the Vaccines seem to have hit the nail on the head. The band have taken R. Stevie Moore's Why Should I Love You? and made it their own. The result is genius - a bouncy number somewhere between British mod-rock and the Beach Boys that makes it sound as though it was R. Stevie Moore that covered the Vaccines, rather than the other way round. If one thing's for sure, it's that this is most certainly not what I expected from the Vaccines (sorry).  9/10 – BEST RSD RELEASE OF 2012

Well, there we go. I think it's fair to call the Vaccines' win mildly surprising, if not downright shocking. You may agree with the decision to award Vaccines the best RSD release of 2012, you may vehemently disagree. Either way, your comments are welcomed in the Disqus section below.

Of course, the main objective of this feature is to remind us all that there is a wealth of exciting, unusual and rare releases being released this Record Store Day. Bands and record labels have made the effort to support independent record stores in producing a wealth of material for the occasion, so now it's time for us all to do our bit and support our local independent stores. Here's hoping all No Ripcord readers manage to find copies of their desired releases this RSD.

Notes about the article

With so many releases being made available, it would be a huge task to review them all. So instead, we've focused our efforts on releases where the music has not previously been made available by the artist, as according to or

We're not suggesting that the records reviewed in this article are the cream of the Record Store Day releases. It's intentional that not all of the high-profile releases have been reviewed.

This article has been written in the days leading up to Record Store Day, and consequently, the reviews are not of the actual vinyl releases, they are reviews are of recordings. However, only studio recordings have been used to form the basis of the reviews - live recordings and demos have not been used.

Not all Record Store Day releases are available in all countries.