Record Store Day has most definitely busted out of its britches. Since its first installment in 2008, this homage to independently owned brick-and-mortar record stores has grown from a small underground phenomenon into an ocean-straddling monster. It's just about impossible to keep up with all the discounts, promotions, and in-store performances, and because the number of special releases has nearly reached 300—many of them gimmicky or extravagant in the extreme and pressed in tiny editions—some shops are sure to begin the day with lines stretching down the sidewalk outside.
This year's Record Store Day is Saturday, April 21, so you've still got time to plan. The PDF of all the special releases is now practically a novella, and because of its ballooning size it's been broken down into three categories. (Miles Raymer has some advice on navigating the list.) Record Store Day Exclusive Releases are available only on Record Store Day, and at no later time and at no other stores—once they're gone, they're gone. They're usually pressed by the thousands and tend to feature artists more likely to play an auditorium than a dive bar. Highlights include Genesis's 1977 Spot the Pigeon EP on blue vinyl, a reissue of Mclusky's 2002 full-length Mclusky Do Dallas, a vinyl release of Leonard Cohen's recent Live in Fredericton EP, and three colored versions of the Misfits' 1982 album Walk Among Us.
Record Store Day Limited Run/Regional Focus Releases all come out in editions of fewer than 1,000—some may require the swift guidance of the hand of God to ensure a purchase. This category is mostly where you'll find Chicago labels: Trouble in Mind with a four-way cover-song split by Mikal Cronin, Apache Dropout, the Paperhead, and the Limiñanas; Bloodshot with a Lydia Loveless seven-inch; Permanent with 100 hand-assembled copies of a Pows retrospective LP; and Thrill Jockey with the Black Twig Pickers seven-inch "Yellow Cat" (the label is also doing larger runs of a Tortoise double seven-inch and Freakwater's 1993 LP Feels Like the Third Time).
The final category, "Record Store Day First" Releases, is the result of labels trying to use the popularity of Record Store Day to get sales bumps on releases that will later be distributed more widely (that is, through chain and online retailers). Notables include double LPs of Iggy & the Stooges' Raw Power and Odd Future's The OF Tape Vol. 2.
In Chicago, two pop-up shops will augment the festivities at record stores that pay rent year-round: the Numero Group is bringing back its shop, this time at the Empty Bottle, and Metro will host a shop selling back stock from defunct south-side store Hot Jams. (Peter Margasak has more on both.) Just in case you aren't bled dry by the end of the day, Three Floyds and Reckless Records are throwing a postparty upstairs at Bottom Lounge that includes the release of a rye pale ale with possibly the best beer name ever—Rye'd da Lightning—and a metal show headlined by Sweet Cobra. Doors are at 10 PM, music at 11 PM; admission is $10, $5 with a Reckless receipt.
The Reader's list of the participating stores in the city and near suburbs includes info on the sales, giveaways, promotions, and performances at each one. Of course, late changes and additions are possible—double-check with the stores themselves. —Kevin Warwick
About those special releases . . .
A little practical guidance for choosing among the nearly 300 special Record Store Day releases
The pros and cons of pop-up shops
This year's RSD pop-up shops: the Numero Group at the Empty Bottle and Hot Jams at Metro
RSD deals and in-stores
A directory of stores participating in Record Store Day, with sales, promotions, giveaways, and in-store performances
Where to shop
We made you a map of all the Record Store Day deals. You're welcome!