>Julie Doiron

>I had this moment today where I thought – “Julie Doiron is not very good.” I was listening to the tune “Banjo” off of Goodnight Nobody, a really odd album.

She kind of has an odd sound. Very odd.
I have sort of taken to the album I Woke Myself Up. Gorgeous.
You should own this album some way, some how. Anyway, anyhow.

>A comment on Sunrise Records’ new attempt to keep up

>

I stumbled upon this article today, an interesting expansion on Sunrise Records’ part.
I was employed by Sunrise Records for a solid five years. It was my first job that I felt excited to say I worked at. Through that job, I met a ton of interesting people and learned much more than I would have just folding clothes. But after a long overdue leave, I told myself I wouldn’t buy a single thing from this record chain again.
Although their breadth only extends throughout Ontario, they are a large chain store. This store prides themselves on being called independent, I suppose in some respect they are but in mind mine, they certainly are not. I was most appalled by their horrible treatment and lousy pay to their staff.
For the first time after reading this article, I’d say they’re taking a step into the right direction. Although, I wouldn’t trust the cleanness of any of the Sunrise stores. They are, without a doubt the dirtiest record stores I’ve ever been to.
I spent year after year offending Jazz and Blues artists telling them we slap together Jazz and Blues. Pathetic. I did spend most of my time working at the outlet store, so on occasion you’d find some good picks that are completely obsolete now. Like Saves the Day’s first release, I’m Sorry, I’m Leaving:

So, Sunrise, you have moved into the right idea – specialisation has always worked for you. But really, I don’t think I’d buy a record in their if I had the choice. I always try to buy local when I can, but your record store just doesn’t do it for me.
I’ve always said Sunrise has been able to compete with HMV because they have a Ticketmaster in shop. Have you ever thought of just how many people walk into an HMV asking where the Ticketmaster outlet is? Amazing.
One more thing, Tom Plewman sounds like a pretentious guy. I keep harping on the fact that working in a record store doesn’t mean you know everything. The thing I really love about music is that it is so eclectic, different things attract different people.
Please read the subsequent post for a word on my favourite record stores in the city. This is well overdue. His comment really got me:
The young salespeople at the labels no longer know anything about the music
The young salespeople simply have different taste than you do. I will be the first to admit I pass extreme judgement on anyone who likes the Canadian band whose lead singer’s first name is Chad, but beyond that, everyone is free to like as they do. Plewman’s comment just comes off as close minded.

A rare sight: record store expansion

Published On Sat Feb 19 2011

Tom Plewman with his labour of love, the new classics and jazz floor at Sunrise Records.

Tom Plewman with his labour of love, the new classics and jazz floor at Sunrise Records.

AARON HARRIS/FOR THE TORONTO STAR

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By John TeraudsEntertainment Reporter

Just north of Yonge-Dundas Square — an area that was one a record store mecca — there’s a guy trying to sell old-school classical and jazz CDs, the kind that come in a clear-plastic case wrapped in impossible-to-open plastic. Is this an act of rabid nostalgia, or is there something he knows that the rest of us don’t?

The new department at Sunrise Records — an Ontario chain best known for pop, rock and DVD sales — has been masterminded by Tom Plewman, a vigorous, smooth-talking, music-loving, 60-something veteran of radio and music retailing. Where others have faced retail ruin, Plewman sees opportunity.

“I spent my youth here buying records at A&A and Sam’s,” Plewman recalls of Yonge’s erstwhile flagship record stores. “I think this can still be a destination, if people become aware that we’re here.”

A renovated second floor at Sunrise shows off a substantial cross-section of new releases and catalogue titles in classical, jazz and blues, all hand-picked by Plewman and Frederick Harrison, a veteran of the now-demolished Sam’s store across the street.

Plewman says Sunrise owner Malcolm Perlman is keen to wring some revenue from the unused second floor of the Yonge-and-Dundas store.

Hopefully, Perlman is a patient man when it comes to a return on his investment. In the first weekend the new department was open, back in October, Plewman says he rang up three sales — all to out-of-town visitors. Over the course of a 45-minute visit just before lunch one day earlier this week, one customer came in — not to browse, but to ask a specific question.

“Getting this place off the ground has been frustratingly slow,” Plewman admits.

Circumstances haven’t exactly helped. Demolition work and the former Empress Hotel burning down across the street haven’t been good for pedestrian traffic on this stretch of Toronto’s Main St.

There’s no money for advertising, so Plewman has to wait for word-of-mouth referrals. He is certain these will come, because he can offer people product that they can’t easily find somewhere else.

Plewman walks me over to a CD of the original 1965 album by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

“This is mind-blowing stuff, and you’re not going to find this at any other store in Toronto,” he asserts.

Like a proud father, the retailer points to a set of Mozart piano concertos played by late piano legend Alicia de Larrocha. “These are sublime. They’re the best recordings ever,” he gushes.

Welcome to an old-fashioned, customer-focused shopping experience that Plewman describes as “the thrill of discovery” — of coming in to browse and being open to surprise finds.

It’s an experience Harmik Grigorian relies on at L’Atelier Grigorian, Toronto’s last remaining independent classical and jazz record store.

Grigorian has carefully tended his Oakville and Yorkville stores and built a website filled with advice for would-be customers.

Like Plewman, Grigorian prides himself on being able to source difficult-to-find CDs and DVDs.

Grigorian and Plewman tout their personal love of music and knowledge of the market. It allows them to make recommendations to store visitors — and also allows them to identify the real gems in each label’s catalogue.

“The young salespeople at the labels no longer know anything about the music,” Grigorian explains, so he has to take each month’s catalogue and make his own choices.

For him, as well as people who walk through the door of his store, the enduring thrill is “in feeling the wealth of music,” he beams.

For him, that wealth still needs to come in a clear-plastic case wrapped in impossible-to-open plastic.

>Mixtape Wednesday February 23, 2011

>Five CDs on random.

The Fray How to Save a Life
Music from the OC Mix 1
Iron and Wine Kiss Each Other Clean
Fat Boy Slim You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
Bob Dylan The Freewheelin’
  1. “Gangster Tripping” – Fat Boy Slim
  2. “Big Burned Hand” – Iron and Wine
  3. “Hundred” – The Fray (Skipped)
  4. “Honey and the Moon” – Joseph Arthur (OC)
  5. “Praise You” – Fat Boy Slim
  6. “Godless Brother in Love” – Iron and Wine
  7. “Bob Dylan’s Blues” – Bob Dylan
  8. “How Good It Can Be” – The 88
  9. “Blowin’ in the Wind” – Bob Dylan
  10. “Love Island” – Fat Boy Slim (Skipped)
  11. “Walking Far From Home” – Iron and Wine
  12. “Monkeys” – Iron and Wine
  13. “Look After You” – The Fray
  14. “Dead Wrong” – The Fray
  15. “Honey, Allow Me Just One More Chance” – Bob Dylan
  16. “All At Once” – The Fray
  17. “How to Save a Life” – The Fray
  18. “Vienna” – The Fray (Skipped)
  19. “Orange Sky” – Alexi Murdoch (the first cut)
  20. “Heaven Forbid” – The Fray (skipped)
  21. “Glad Man Singin'” – Iron and Wine
  22. “I Shall Be Free” – Bob Dylan

>The Black Keys Summer Tour

>I’ll certainly be seeing them in California this spring, but they’ll also be playing the Molson Amphitheater this July.

Molson Amp? Really!?
Mind you, the key to the Amp, because you can’t see anything anyways unless you’re in the GA section is to just hang out outside of the venue and listen.

>Jenn Grant, Bon Iver

>I forgot to mention that Jenn Grant actually wrote the song “Paradise Mountain” after being completely moved by the use of the Bon Iver song “Re: Stacks” in an episode of House. She very cutely joked that her tune was to be called “Re: Re: Stacks,” rather it’s called “Paradise Mountain.”

Check it out on her Myspace.