San Francisco Trip, Pt. 3: The Calling

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

aquarius records

07.15.15 — 10:10PM Pacific — Wed. night — Hotel California (yes, really)

It occurred to me this evening that I’ve had about two and a half hours of “free time” on this trip and I’ve spent it all record shopping. That’s not a complaint, but I’ve had people offer to meet up and stuff and I haven’t quite had the time I anticipated for such things between work obligations and writing at night. Again, I’m not complaining. I’ve worked for a company for less than two months that’s willing to fly my ass quite literally across a continent and trust me to represent them to the best of my admittedly limited ability at a meeting of potential clients and professional cohorts. I’m remarkably fortunate to be here. I’m also very, very tired.

Still, when it came to it, and I had that little bit of time to spare today, I jumped in the first cab that I saw with its light on and told the dude to make for Aquarius Records. It was payday and I had an itch that only another round of record shopping was going to scratch. I probably could have gone back to Amoeba Music and found more stuff in that giant space, but the smaller, curated vibe of Aquarius was just my speed this evening.

I took my time, thumbed through the CD racks of the San Francisco section, the rock/pop, the metal sections both new and used, eyed up some stuff in the boxes under the used section — two albums by Mammoth Volume there, but I have them already — and reminded myself that between yesterday and today, this has kind of become my celebration of returning to the working world, so yeah, I splurged a bit. I picked up a thing or two that on some other days I might have let go, decided to let it ride and be what it is. The fact that it was also payday might have been a factor. That’s a question for hindsight and I don’t have the proper distance to evaluate.

The haul? Here it is, once more alphabetically:

Aarni, Bathos
Across Tundras, Old World Wanderer
Bedemon, Child of Darkness
Carlton Melton, Out to Sea
Children of Doom, Ride over the Green Valley
Elder, Spires Burn/Release
Elder, Lore
Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy
Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent
Pyramido, Sand
Pyramido, Saga
Slough Feg, Made in Poland
The Warlocks, The Warlocks
White Hills, So You Are… so You’ll Be

aqurius records haulOnce again, all CDs. I know it’s not as cool as vinyl, but fuck it. If any of you vinyl hounds want to sell me your CD collection, let me know. I’ll buy that shit. I’ll be the last dude on earth buying CDs for all I care. Whatever. They’re still making them for the most part, so yeah, I’ll still buy them.

The find of the bunch is probably that self-titled EP by The Warlocks, which came out in 2000 on Bomp! Records and was their debut. It was used and cheap, so that was cool. Two of the bunch I already own, but the Across Tundras was also about $5 and the Bedemon is the newer Relapse Records version, so I figured what the hell. True, I was here last year and stopped by the shop when I was out on tour with the Kings Destroy guys — SF resident Jim Pitts included, while I’m thinking of good people I haven’t had the chance to see — but it’s not something I do every day. I pick up things here and there, mostly online at this point, so to actually be in a store and have the chance to browse and enjoy the process, I wanted to do precisely that.

I know Carlton Melton are local to NorCal, so I grabbed that seeing it on the counter by the register, and Evil Acidhead was one of the staff recommendations — if you ever go to Aquarius Records, pay attention; these people know what they’re talking about — and since I knew it’s a reissue of old recordings by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy) it seemed like one to grab. Both of those Elder discs I have on vinyl, but I wanted the CDs, and while it would make the most sense to go to Armageddon Shop one of the apparently multiple times of a week I drive past Providence on I-95 and pick them up there, I haven’t actually managed to make that happen. Seeing an opportunity, I took it.

Slough Feg‘s 2011 live record, Made in Poland, was used, so that was a no-brainer, and I ran into both Pyramido albums — their first, Sand, used and a buck, their third, 2013’s Saga, new — on opposite sides of the store and picked them up almost independently of each other, hesitating but ultimately nabbing the recently-reviewed self-titled from Holy Serpent because, fuck it, it’s a RidingEasy release and I don’t see that every day in a store. The White Hills was used and I grabbed it thinking of their set at Roadburn this year and how underappreciated they are generally — not that my buying a disc makes up for that, but you know what I mean.

Two purchases I went into completely blind: the Aarni and Children of Doom. Aarni is a one-man Finnish outfit for whom Bathos served as a debut full-length in 2004, and knowing nothing about it, I saw the cover was all mushrooms and that it was on the Firedoom Music label — actually it’s the first release on the label; catalog number FDOOM001 — so I assumed I would be getting something Finnish, strange and doomed, and sure enough that’s how it’s played out so far. French trio Children of Doom‘s self-released 2009 debut EP, Ride over the Green Valley, won me over both for its cover art and for the written-out description of the album, which rightly compared its tones to namesake act Saint Vitus. I hear a bit of Ice Dragon‘s swaggering fuckall in there as well. No complaints. The band’s debut LP, Doom, Be Doomed, ör Fuck Off, came out in 2011, but if Aquarius had it, it wasn’t in my line of sight.

Back to the hotel after to start writing and get my head around the day. I ate the same thing I had for dinner last night — flautas from the taqueria across the street — while checking email to try and keep up on that. As one might expect, it didn’t really work. Still, at least if I have to be behind on absolutely everything, at least I managed to pick up some good records in the process.

I fly out tomorrow night late on a redeye to Boston that gets in Friday morning. The only way to travel. Maybe it’ll also be five hours delayed and turn into a morning flight. Haven’t slept at an airport in a while anyway.

Children of Doom, “Hangover”

Aquarius Records website

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Buried Treasure: The Cali-Frag, Part III

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 7th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Okay, so I never called it “The Cali-Frag” before. If I’d thought about it, I would have, so that makes this part three. End of explanation.

It is currently 1:16AM local time, which makes it 4:16AM back east. My plan is essentially to keep myself awake until I have to get on the plane back to Newark, then to conk out. I don’t know whether it will work. The Patient Mrs. and I have acquired a room at the Super 8 for the next several hours, so here I am. How this is all going to pan out, I don’t know, but at least I’ll get to shower before tomorrow night.

Today was a long day. Aside from driving back from Napa (a valley to humble my own) to return a rental car, catching the BART to the airport to pick up another so we’d have a place to stow our stuff, going to the park, seeing the ocean and catching the Snail/Flood show at Kimo’s, I also revisited Aquarius Records, Shaxul Records and Amoeba Music San Francisco today. As far as days go, it was long enough.

Purely on a record-rundown level, I wanted to pick up some stuff that I had seen but not grabbed already. Bong‘s triple-CD Novum Castellum at Aquarius was especially on my mind, given its limited run. While there, I also grabbed Exit 13‘s 1995 full-length, …Just a Few More Hits, from the used bin, just for the hell of it. I was in and out, but didn’t at all regret stopping. Gotta get it in while I can.

It should be noted that, on the way to Napa Valley yesterday, for an afternoon of tasting and spending entirely too much money on wine (everywhere except the Robert Sinskey vineyard, where the guy was such an unreasonably, unwarranted rude asshole I didn’t even bother to tip him — which, if you’ve ever seen me in a tipping situation, you know means something), I stopped in at the Vallejo store of Rasputin Music and grabbed Daredevil by Fu Manchu. It was the 2003 Cube Farm reissue, but I wanted to get something from the store, and it was $14.99, where everywhere else I’d seen it, it had been at least a dollar more. Record rules anyway, so no regrets.

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San Francisco Buried Treasure Gold Rush, Pt. 2: Aquarius, Amoeba and Rasputin

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 4th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Just how hip is San Francisco‘s Aquarius Records? Well, I knew going into it yesterday that it was gonna be some hip shit, but if you’d like a real-life example, Aquarius Records is so hip that, in the metal section, there is a section devoted to one-man black metal act Leviathan and not one for Black Sabbath. To be fair, there may have been a Sabbath section under the “Rock” heading, but I didn’t see one. Doesn’t mean it’s not there.

In any case, damn that’s hip.

Being a fan of Aquarius‘ regularly-updated website reviews but never having seen the inside of the store before (unlike either of the two Amoeba Musics around here), I didn’t know what was coming in terms of size. It’s a mid-size store, more on the side of organized than not, with a really good selection of stuff you won’t see everywhere else. Hip is a specialty, but it’s not like it was all girl jeans and swoopy hair in there either. I found some killer discs in a decent environment for doing so. It wasn’t as dream-fulfilling as Amoeba San Francisco was, but it was also roughly one-fifth the size, so I’m not about to complain.

Here’s the full report:

Bong, Gilgamesh Lives
Lord Vicar, Fear No Pain
Planet Gemini, SuperGod DevilMan
Primordial, Spirit the Earth Aflame
Thumlock, Emerald Liquid Odyssey
Unearthly Trance, In the Red
Various Artists, Listen Without Distraction: A Tribute to Kyuss
Yearning, Frore Meadow

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