Over the past two decades, with consumers increasingly choosing to purchase their music via digital outlets, countless independent records stores across the globe have been forced to throw up their shutters. Leslie Feist however, has a plan to stop this chain of events. "I'll wear armor and hold up a sword and stand out front of the independent record shops and just protect them," the Canadian singer/songwriter, 36, tells Rolling Stone.
Feist is hardly alone in her passion for independent record stores. Since the inception of Record Store Day in 2007, artists of all genres and backgrounds, from Paul McCartney to Wilco, and Phish to Pearl Jam, have helped contribute to the event – an international holiday that encourages music fans to visit their local brick-and-mortar music retailer – by dropping limited-edition, one-day-only releases made available exclusively at independent retailers. Record Store Day co-founder, Michael Kurtz, estimates that for this year’s celebration, on April 21st, more than 300 limited-edition releases will be offered worldwide, and approximately four to five million dollars worth of vinyl records have been produced for the occasion. Detailed information on participating stores and releases can be found at the event's website.
Most exciting for fans and collectors is that many prominent artists have begun to view Record Store Day as an excuse to indulge in their most wild musical fantasies. For RSD 2012, acts from The Flaming Lips to Mastodon and Feist have recorded and will release never-before-heard material. The Flaming Lips will drop The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, a massive collaborative double-vinyl that finds the psychedelic rockers teaming up with the likes of Ke$ha, Bon Iver, Erykah Badu and Coldplay's Chris Martin, while Feist and Mastodon have joined forces for an unexpected, split-single covers project.
In fact, Lips frontman Wayne Coyne himself is still baffled by the group of artists he reined in for Heady Fwends. "Sometimes I look at the lineup and I'm like 'Fuck, who did all this?'' he says. "It's like a dream." The album was a cross-country expedition: The Lips joined the Plastic Ono Band last November for an upstate New York session; in February, on a whim, Coyne drove to Badudio, Badu’s Dallas studio, to record a cover of Roberta Flack’s "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." ("Wayne is the Willy Wonka of music," says Badu.) Later in the month, Coyne headed to Nashville and tapped Ke$ha and rapper Biz Markie for the doomsday-inspired track "2012." Hectic schedules forced other tracks to be remotely created: For the swampy Lips/Bon Iver cut, "Ashes In The Air," Justin Vernon and Coyne digitally swapped tracks and lyrical ideas; Coyne and Chris Martin worked in similar fashion on the piano-based track "I Don’t Want To Die." "(Chris) sent me this little track and we went back and forth probably 15, 16 different times," Coyne says. "All the time he's playing shows and doing all these ridiculous things. It's a beautiful thing."
No release however, is perhaps as unexpected as the Feist/Mastodon split-single covers collaboration for which both artists covered a song from the other’s newest album: Feist takes a swipe at "Black Tongue" from last fall’s The Hunter, while the Georgia sludge-rockers put their spin on Metals’ "A Commotion." The project, which first came together after the two bands impressed one another while performing on the UK talk show Later…with Jools Holland, was spontaneously created. "We didn't really know how or what was going to happen," says Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher. "We just thought 'oh, lets cover one of their songs. They'll cover one of ours. And we'll go from there.'"
Both bands gave the other free reign of their catalog. Lyrics however, would serve as a guide: Feist says she chose to cover the rumbling "Black Tongue" for its "elemental language" ("It's all in a language that I already speak lyrically"); Mastodon, comparatively, went with the ethereal "A Commotion," Kelliher says, for its simplistic, open-book quality. ("We did as much stuff on it as we could to make it very Mastodon-esque – throwing open high-notes in there, low guitars and heavy drums," he explains.) Both are impressed with the other’s interpretation of their work. "I don't want to say they prettied it up, but they definitely put some ghosts in there," Kelliher says of Feist’s "Black Tongue." Adds Feist of Mastodon's "A Commotion," "It’s super massive. It's a wet dream to have Mastodon take one of my songs and put it into their massive machine."
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