Archive for ‘Record Stores’

January 16, 2013

HMV closure, nostalgia, memories and music

by sweetoblivion26


Photo by me

It feels like another lifetime, but in reality it has only been just over a decade since going to HMV (or Virgin Megastore, the other record store chain in Cork City when I was growing up) was a Big Thing for my peers and I (and, if you’re reading this, most likely you too) to do on a Saturday. I’ve so many memories of buying albums in there, browsing even when broke, learning about bands from friends, reading the backs of CDs to try and figure out if the album would be any good, buying singles on tape…

Today, HMV went into receivership, staff (with their families and homes and bills and lives that all depend in some way on their wages*) were told the doors to the stores were to be shut and are likely to remain so, and another nail seemed to have been hammered into the coffin containing the decaying corpse of what is known as ‘the music industry’.

Things have changed. We know that, and most of us don’t really know how things can get any better. One thing they can’t do is go back to where they were, now that the genie is out of the damned bottle and we have access to music in ways we only dreamt of 10 years ago. Had you said to me when I was 15 that when I was 25, trips to the record store could be replaced by buying records ‘off the internet’, I could choose to download album tracks instead of whole albums, and I could have any album I wanted, for free, in a few minutes, I’d have raised an over-plucked teenage eyebrow. How great does that sound?

But what has resulted from all of these changes in the way music can be sold, distributed, and accessed? An industry floundering. Had I also been told that in my 30th year, musicians would be questioning how much they are getting paid for their songs to be listened to on legal streaming sites, that independent record stores were few and far between (though, thankfully, those we do have are a joy to visit) and that the traditional model of selling and listening to music was sailing down the Swannee with just some driftwood left in its wake with which to cobble together a new model, I’d have been confused. Wouldn’t we have prepared for this?

Yes, some companies adapted and changed, but some stayed stagnant. Large music retailers wanted to – of course – keep the important position they had on the high street, and diversifying into selling books and DVDs (and even relegating the music section to the basement, as HMV on Grafton St, Dublin, did) seemed to be the answer for some. But it wasn’t enough for HMV. Or Virgin Megastores. Or Zaavi. (Or Road Records.) It seems the case that with the evolution of music consumption, no amount of diversifying could ever be enough for the larger chains in particular.

This was initially supposed to be a post about YouTube, about how stumbling across a Jeff Buckley video that I’d never seen before reminded me of the time when the only information you could get about musicians you liked was from music magazines, more knowledgeable friends or, occasionally, TV shows. We all know what has happened to music magazines, and how relevant they are to the average person. And MTV, for example, with its 24-hour rotation of reality TV shows of questionable content, isn’t the resource it once was either.

The past is a foreign country, one where the musical currency was tapes and mix-CDs, torn-out magazine articles and traded tidbits. The future of every facet of the music industry has yet to be written, but so far it is being scribbled on scraps of paper that end up getting tossed in bin.

I hope that in another 10 years we won’t have just nostalgia and rose-tinted memories to hold on to.

And yet, one small spark of hope: Vinyl sales are up


*Some HMV stores in Ireland, like the one in the Crescent in Limerick, are holding lock-ins to get the wages they are rightfully owed. More power to them, and I truly hope they get their money. It shouldn’t be the case that the very people who kept the shops going on a daily basis are left with nothing.

January 13, 2012

Pick n’ Mix: Choice Music Prize, Out on a Limb Records, Winged Victory for the Sullen

by sweetoblivion26

It’s Friday, so how about a little catch up on what’s been going on this week? Music, radio, juicing (!) and more are included here.

Choice Music Prize

By now, we all know that The Choice Music Prize nominees have been announced – was your pick in there? I have to say that I’m delighted to see Tieranniesaur and Patrick Kelleher and His Cold Dead Hands in there, and overall the list is really solid. It’s never going to satisfy everyone, and it’s nigh on impossible to put together a list of 10 nominees that every single person will be happy with.

I did have fears based on the new sponsors, Meteor, given how disconnected the old Meteor Awards were from the Irish independent music scene, but overall the decisions here are down to the judges, a very trustworthy and knowledgeable gang.

That said, it is perhaps inevitable that the music would all come from one corner of the Irish music scene – I wonder how this could be remedied, or should it be up to other awards ceremonies to reward the best albums in Irish hip hop, metal, trad, etc?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Free music: Out on a Limb Records

Out on a Limb Records have been giving away free downloads of albums from their back catalogue all during the week. So far, Owensie, Windings and Giveamanakick have been featured. Who is on offer today? Check out their website and twitter for more info.

Free music: Orcas

Orcas is the new musical project by duo Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below) and Benoit Pioulard. The first inklings that they were working together came when they released a haunting cover of the Broadcast song Until Then, in tribute to the late Broadcast musician Trish Keenan. Now they’re back with their first original release, which is available for free download (see below). Combining their ambient sensibilities and love for layered, ghostly sounds, Carrion is both stark and beautiful. Expect a full album later this year.

via Self-Titled Mag

Katie Kim

Fancy listening to some incredible old Katie Kim songs? Check out VAULTS Vol 1, which is only available to buy on tape during her forthcoming tour, and is on Bandcamp now for your listening pleasure.

Walpurgis Family

I achieved one of my dreams a few months ago when I got to sing as part of a small ‘choir’ for a song on the Walpurgis Family album. The album, Dawn, is released this month and it has already gotten a rave review from Patrick Freyne in Hotpress, who really knows his stuff.  Here’s Let’s Go Camping from the album – listen closely and you might hear me (ha!). Congrats to Jeroen and Popical Island on the release!

Accessible venues

Is your favourite venue fully accessible to all people of all abilities? You might be surprised to hear the truth about whether wheelchair-users can get to gigs in their favourite haunts, as this fantastic article by Louise Bruton in The Ticket in the Irish Times shows today. Good on Louise for highlighting this!

Many venues tick the boxes but do not go further than the token requirements. The wheelchair area often has a restricted view or limits you to having one mate with you, even if you’re with a gaggle of mates.

First Fortnight

This great event, which aims to challenge mental health prejudice through creative arts, brings Royseven, Cashier No9, Le Galaxie and dREA together at The Button Factory at 8.30pm on Saturday night. More info here.

Whelan’s: Ones to Watch

What homegrown acts should you be listening to in 2012? Whelan’s have put on a showcase aiming to tell you just that. The gigs have been going since Wednesday, and run until tomorrow (Saturday), when the following bands play:






Dying Seconds


Holy Roman Army

The Gandhis

Come On Live Long

Nanu Nanu

Trap Door

Futures Apart


Gypsies OnThe Autobahn

Hush War Cry

My tips are Nanu Nanu, Depravations, Alarmist, Bouts, and Come On Live Long – but heck, it’s a bloody great list of bands.


I love Radiolab in a big way – it’s like the younger, more rambunctious sibling of This American Life. Its latest show is about the bad things that people do, like, er, commit murder. Expect to feel very informed (and a bit wary of humanity) after listening to this.

Elastic Witch

Gib from the independent record store Elastic Witch had a chat with me for this week’s Sweet Oblivion. You can listen to it by following the link here.

Gig of the Week

My gig of the week next week is definitely going to be A Winged Victory for the Sullen. They play the Sugar Club on Thursday 19 January and it’s going to be a guddun’. Tickets are just €13.50 and you can find out more here.

Drink yr Juice

Courtesy of the great Home Organics, a blog post about juicing for all you vegaholics out there.

Instant Love

This looks great – it’s a book about taking photos with Polaroid cameras, and it comes out in May. I’m doing one of Susannah Conway‘s photography e-courses at the moment and loving it.  It’s really changing the way I see things, even if I’ll never be the next Cartier-Bresson ;)

Jon Cohen interview

Montreal-based musician Jon Cohen is playing Ireland next week – Dublin’s Grand Social on Friday 20 January to be exact. If you’re a fan of Brendan Benson, The Dears, and Broken Social Scene, I think you’ll really dig his stuff.

Here’s a link to the interview I did with him for Thumped.

Dirty Beaches

Finally, I’ll leave you with this video from Dirty Beaches. I really love his stuff and so does Cohen – we had a chat about how he really wears his influences on his shirt sleeve, and yet manages to maintain his own originality.

His album Badlands and other releases can be found on Bandcamp.

Here’s the video for his song True Blue:

What have you been enjoying this week?

January 12, 2012

Sweet Oblivion on 2XM interview: Elastic Witch

by sweetoblivion26

The world needs more independent record stores, but it’s an extremely hard time to open one. That’s why the latest bunch of Irish indie record stores – Elastic Witch in Dublin and Wingnut in Galway, and now Waterford – are taking a new approach to selling records in  Ireland.

Instead of focusing on being stand-alone entities, they are harnessing the power of an existing business in which to root themselves, showing that in recession times it’s good for people to come together to make things work.

February 9, 2011

New Independent Record Store: Wingnut Records, Galway

by sweetoblivion26

If you’re in Galway and in the mood to buy some records, you now have a new independent record store to visit – following the closure of Redlight Records a few years back, and the recent liquidation of the Zhivago Records chain , Wingnut Records is the newest local record store on the block. (There is also HMV, but that’s not an independent store).

Wingnut is based in Bell Book & Candle, which is a treasure trove with lots classic books and old VHS tapes – I’d highly recommend a visit there. I used to go to Bell, Book & Candle on Sundays for a leisurely browse – you could spend hours in there. Here at Sweet Oblivion we’re all about independent stores because they offer a service you just can’t mess with, especially as they really support Irish independent music.

It’s clear from Ray’s interview that he is a huge supporter of the independent music scene in Ireland, and this shop came about because he wanted to show that support. In turn, Paul Deacy from Bell Book & Candle was supportive to Ray in opening his store within his shop.

I lived in Galway for a year and it’s a really cool place – laidback, relaxed and with a great music scene. Working in Redlight Records for a little while was a great education for me and an introduction to the movers and shakers in the local scene. Though I don’t get back there often enough, I really love visiting Galway. It’s a special place and the people there are, as we say in Cork, ‘sound, biy’.

Ray from Wingnut Records got in contact with me a while back about his store so I decided to ask him a few questions about what makes him tick.

Best of luck to Ray and Wingnut Records – next time I’m up in Galway I’ll be heading straight there!

Here’s a hilarious video that Ray made about his shop – rock on!

Interview – Ray from Wingnut Records

Hey Ray – why did you decided to open the shop?

Well, I guess because I really felt that it was something that Galway needed and it could work also to support Irish artists, labels and collectives. Wingnut is a very DIY job, done for the right reasons and supported by brilliant people, in my humble opinion! It is supported and made possible by fans, musicians, labels and the legend Paul Deacy, owner of The Bell, Book & Candle.
The Bell, Book &Candle is essentially a 2nd hand book shop, but also sells old comic books and old Hi-8 and super-8 video cameras, as well as supporting local bands.
So anyway, after Road Records shut, and Plugd was closed temporarily, my favourite records were not available anymore! And they were never available in Galway. So one day I was moaning to Paul about this fact and we were both expressing worry about the importance of Independent Music Outlets or lack of, in Ireland. He said that he had space and CD shelves in the store that were not really doing much, so if I could source the music, we could retail from there! Brilliant!!! Could never have wished for a better premises or a friendlier spot to work from!
So, I contacted the Main Man, Albert Twomey and he was very enthusiastic and mad to help. Bands and labels were very encouraging and then I knew we could make it work!
Doors opened last September, like I say, only down to the support of everyone.

What sort of genres do you stock in Wingnut?

Whatever you have, really! Its totally open access forall artists to stock their wares. We are lucky in the sense that we are providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for ALL genres. So you have labels like Randal Records stocking Hardcore/Punk/Metal. Or you have Subtle Audio stocking Drum’n’Bass vinyls. Popical Island stock their mad array of punk/pop/DIY stuff. Bluestack Records stock their indie bands. Richter Collective with their crazy lineup,and the new wave of Out On A Limb stuff. And then you have self released titles like Melodica Deathship or RíRá calling in and leaving a handful of Hip Hop! Anything goes. Delighted to have it!

What is your favourite thing about running the shop?

My favourite thing is having access to all my favourite music. I buy a rake of it myself! And I’m constantly getting blown away by new stuff, it’s the best craic ever!

It has been a difficult year for record stores in Ireland – what do you think that independent record stores have to do to keep hold of customers?

Well, because Wingnut deals with independently released Irish music, for now we thrive on good-natured support from Irish music fans. We don’t go over the top for promo and have depended mainly on word of mouth. It was never meant to be run for a major profit or anything like that. If Wingnut can help Paul keep The Bell, Book & Candle’s doors open, then that would be great.
It is important to acknowledge that with a small industry like this, each and every fan and supporter is a great contributor to a sustainable music scene. Don’t be a gowl and copy a Redneck Manifesto album, be true to the cause!

What is your earliest musical memory?

I was massive into MC Hammer! No joke! Strange how The Hammer spoke to a kid in the middle of the countryside in North Cork!
I think the biggest influences on me since then has been No Disco and a lot of late night radio. I’ll never forget the very first issue of FoggyNotions magazine. They gave away a free CD with it. The first track was ‘Ger Canning’ by Giveamanakick. Straight away I realised that the greatest band in the world was from Limerick!

What is the music scene in Galway like? What are your favourite bands?

The Galway scene is BRILLIANT! Lots of people would be in disagreement but I reckon that’s because they are too spoiled.  Galway has two of the best live pub-venues in Ireland in Kelly’s and The Roisin Dubh. These venues bring quality on a regular basis.
Monroe’s is a massive brand new venue, The Crane Bar has a legacy of Trad Music, you have The Black Box. You have showcase night Citóg which s vital to new and young bands. Áras na nGael can be a mad spot!
So much goes on underground as well. Drum’n’bass nights can pop up out of nowhere, or a rave, or a quiet gig in someone’s living room!!! The UsVsThem collective bring hardcore/punk gigs to town all the time. There are DJ bars that have guests and all that good shit! Remember that Galway is not that big, but there are a lot of very active people! After hour spots and house – parties!
My favourite group is Vince Mack Mahon, turntable crew that transcend everything. Mastered their craft and create something really unique. Also they curate The Community Skratch event, very active lads as well!

What are your favourite Irish bands?

Well, personally I lean towards the hard rock and punk side of things. My faves are I’ll Eat Your Face, Hope Is Noise, Jogging, LaFaro… and The Vinny Club!

Thanks Ray! You can find more info on Wingnut Records here and Bell, Book & Candle is located at the Small Crane, Galway – a minute or two’s walk from the fantastic Roisín Dubh venue.

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