"Is it wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection?" asks Rob Fleming in Nick Hornby's classic novel High Fidelity. "There's a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colorful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music."
Fleming, literature's most noteworthy failed romantic and record-store owner, may have been talking about his vinyl collection as an escape into further misanthropy. But he's right about one key thing: Records — and the dedicated record-store clerks who sell them to us — can lead us places we wouldn't otherwise take ourselves.
To honor these music sherpas and celebrate their knowledge, The Pitch here debuts a monthly list, taken from a couple of our favorite record stores: Kansas City's Mills Record Co. and Lawrence's Love Garden Sounds. For December, the subject seems obvious: In the midst of holiday feuding, drunkenness and general annoyance, what music will take us to a different place?
Mills Record Co.
314 Westport Road millsrecordcompany.com
Top Five Albums You Can Play Instead of Listening to Your Family
— Compiled by Judy Mills
1. Naked City, by John Zorn: "Even this music makes more sense than your relatives."
2. Christmas Time Is Here, by Vince Guaraldi: "Because someone, somewhere, is having a perfect made-for-TV holiday, and you should share that joy."
3. Castration, by Eunuch: "Trust me, your dad is wishing he had one right now."
4. Any of the recent reissues by Boards of Canada: "Extra-large glass of whiskey in hand, these will soothe your jangled nerves, and we ordered enough for everyone in midtown to own at least one."
5. "Fuck Christmas" off The Record, by Fear: "Need we say more?"
Love Garden Sounds
822 Massachusetts, Lawrence, lovegardensounds.com
Top Five Albums That May Shut Your Family Up for Five Holy Minutes
— Compiled by Kelly Corcoran
1. Tusk, by Fleetwood Mac: "It's like a Christmas parade of soft rock."
2. In Case of an Emergency You Can Shit on a Puerto Rican Whore, by Harry Pussy: "This album is also known as Self-Titled, obviously."
3. Fly, by Yoko Ono: "Yeah, she probably broke the Beatles up. But this record had no bearing on the Beatles' breaking up. And it probably won't break your family up, either. Unless that's what you want. We aren't making promises."
4. Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, by Sonic Youth: "See also: 'Exponential yelling of crap, trash and our only hit.'"
5. Bend Sinister, by the Fall: "Mark E. Smith is so rude, he'll make you look like the best kid ever. Extra eggnog for you. Maybe."