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I Need That Record
The struggle of local indie record stores (like Mystery Train in Amherst, Mass.) is chronicled in the documentary “I Need That Record!”

Amid the various goodies offered for sale at last weekend's Record Store Day was a documentary about the state of the record store industry called "I Need That Record!"

I got the feeling that copies of the doc weren't flying off the shelves at Mad City Music Exchange and B-Side Records the way that Wilco's "Kicking Television" vinyl boxed set or the new Weezer EP were. But fans of those stores should get themselves a copy of Brenden Toller's documentary, if only to remind themselves why they shop there in the first place.

Music fans know the situation is grim, as indie record stores (and seemingly eternal record store chains like Tower Records and Virgin Megastore) have gone under in droves in the last few years. Still, it's a little shocking to watch Toller's camera move through a store crammed to the gills with vinyl and refer to indie record stores in the past tense.

Toller lists the usual culprits -- record labels that charge $18.98 for a CD, big-box stores that can strong-arm labels into giving them exclusives, and, of course, that pesky Internet. Not much new there, although Toller lays it out in an easily understandable way for newbies.

What's more satisfying about "I Need That Record!" is the personalities, the record store owners and customers that love record stores and are trying to figure out a way to save them, and the ones that lose their favorite stores. (Record store nerds look a lot like other nerds, except they have better T-shirts.)

Toller spends time with one record store owner in Connecticut who gets ousted from his strip mall location, replaced by a tanning salon. At the end of the film, when he holds up his Trader Joe's employee badge to the camera, it's kind of heartbreaking.

There's also lots of interviews with musicians who love record stores, from Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers to Mike Watt of the Minutemen. And Toller includes lots of playful collage animation and old found footage to give the documentary an irreverent attitude.

"I Need That Record!" gets a wide release on July 27, but until then it's only available at indie record stores, like Exclusive Company, Strictly Discs, Mad City Music Exchange and B-Side Records. If you support their stores, it would be a good idea to get out there and pick up a copy, unless you want to see a tanning salon there the next time you go.

 

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