Finding something new at the record store

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"I will now sell four copies of Cats & Dogs by the Royal Trux."

One of the best scenes from the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, High Fidelity. Championship Vinyl owner Rob Fleming (John Cusack) puts on the record and confidently folds his arms across his chest. Seconds later an intrigued customer asks, “Who is this?”

"It's the Royal Trux."

"It's great."

"I know."

I've never worked in a record store, but I might be willing to work for free if only to assume the title of Master Controller of the In-Store Stereo. I can’t imagine there's a more satisfying or enjoyable part of the job. Now, if I get good and start moving product like it’s a new swine flu vaccine, I might talk to the owner about a commission structure.

Many of you have been there. You’re flipping through records or CDs and your train of thought is not-so-rudely interrupted by whatever brilliance is echoing through the store’s audio system. This was me a few weeks ago, on National Record Store Day. I was at Manifest Discs & Tapes and completely blindsided by a deep, almost Joplin-esque female voice supported by an eerie pedal steel guitar. Perhaps too embarrassed to utter the obvious, I approached a store clerk and simply pointed to the ceiling.

“The Heartless Bastards,” he said, apparently fluent in body language. The song is the title track and opener to the Ohioans’ fantastic third album, The Mountain, released in February. Direct me to the ‘H’ aisle, please.

That’s not the first time this has happened, either. It was in a Gainesville, Fla., shop where I was introduced to the blissful, panoramic sounds of the Polyphonic Spree, and I have Richmond’s Plan 9 Music to thank for my Editors obsession. Lunchbox Records here in town recently took things a step further, inviting the hardcore – and borderline psychotic – Canadian band, Fucked Up, to perform inside its tiny store for a blistering afternoon set. I stumbled upon the show unknowingly, the first and only time I’ve ever feared for my safety while shopping for music. The new disc is great, though.

So, the next time you’re at the record store and like what you hear, just ask. They want you to. You might just make their day – and your album collection a little stronger.

In the spirit of Rob Fleming and the boys at Championship Vinyl, here’s my current list (may change tomorrow) of Top Five records to feature as Master Controller of the In-Store Stereo:

Frightened Rabbit The Midnight Organ Fight

The Heartless Bastards Stairs and Elevators

M. Ward Hold Time

Titus Andronicus The Airing of Grievances

Ian Love Ian Love

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