Since its 2007 inception, Record Store Day has revitalized crate-digging culture and shifted interest from cloistered geeks and tiny, independent imprints to the general public and major-label releases. On Saturday, well over a hundred albums will be released—full lengths, singles, 12" and 7" records. What follows is a curated list of a few discs we think are worth a listen.
Nirvana "Pennyroyal Tea" b/w "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" (Geffen, 2014)
Nirvana is now installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside some of the dinosaurs the band sought to disrupt during its run from the late 1980s through Kurt Cobain's death in April 1994. This 7" includes an album version of "Pennyroyal Tea," one of the more melodic offerings from the band's last studio effort, 1993's In Utero. It's a reasonably sedate composition, opening with Cobain strumming an acoustic guitar before the band bursts in and the whole thing goes electric. Even during that electric portion, though, the singer sounds contented while discussing his inability to sleep and sipping tea to calm himself. The disc was initially planned to coincide with the release of In Utero, but got scratched after Cobain's suicide. Twenty years later, the 7" represents a unique piece of American history, lending perspective on a surprising blossoming of underground culture in a very real, mainstream way.
Velvet Underground Loaded (Cotillion, 1970)
Lou Reed's final album as a member of the Velvet Underground is a vibrant collection of could-have-been pop hits. The ensemble's previous three recordings dripped shambolic noise, interspersed with tuneful compositions. Loaded, though, sounds like Reed taking a final crack at success with the band jamming on the most direct pop structures he could summon. The guitarist and frontman stepped back from the mic, allowing Doug Yule, a bassist replacing John Cale when the original member couldn't stomach Reed's company any longer, to take the vocal lead on almost half of the album's tracks. As if a recognition that this would be the end of his time with the band, Reed stuck "Oh Sweet Nothin'" at the end of the disc, all tempered and direct in its repetitious melodic motif. Yule sings it, but the lyrics are easy to attribute to Reed's literary mode of writing. Loaded has been reissued a dozen times since 1970—and once with a hologram cover—but the Record Store Day release comes on pink, black and white splattered vinyl. Reissued by Rhino.
Various Artists Dunedin Double (Flying Nun, 1982)
Only in the age of the reissue can fans wax intellectual about the development of New Zealand's underground rock scene. Chronicled by the Flying Nun imprint, the island nation's rock scene encompassed everything from '60s retreads to free improv noise bands like the Dead C. The range on the Dunedin Double isn't quite that extreme, as each of the four bands here—The Chills, Sneaky Feelings, The Stones and The Verlaines—lean on the primordial jangle of guitar as respective singers croon in and out of tune about boredom, love, being bored of love and loving love. As much as the Dunedin Double functions as a quick Polaroid of what was going on in New Zealand during the early '80s, it also presages bands that would follow (The Clean, Tall Dwarfs) and more broadly influence the international pop underground. Reissued by Captured Tracks and Flying Nun.
Bend's lucky enough to count a pair of vinyl emporiums that will both celebrate Record Store Day with live music.
Ranch Records, 831 NW Wall St.
Recycle Music, 3 NW Bond St.