Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
RECORD STORES OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST, VOLUME ONE : SINGLES GOING STEADY......In this, our first and only edition of RSOTGN, we take a close look at Seattle, Washington's SINGLES GOING STEADY, a "punk rock" record store near the banks of the tranquil and inviting Puget Sound. Why, it was literally only yesterday that I spent an hour in the store's welcoming environs whilst vacationing in Western Washington, though I regret to inform that I walked out with nothing so much as a copy of a couple of free music magazines, both of which were in the trash -- nay, the recycle bins -- within 10 minutes. See, I lived in Seattle for a couple of years not so long ago, and when I wanted a "punk rock" record (or even a compact disc!), I went to FALLOUT, which my peers tells me has fallen by the wayside (I didn't even check, lest I find a gaping, empty hole where a large chunk of my wallet once lay). Fallout, faults though it had, was run by garage, punk and 60s surf fiends and stocked with merchandise to match, with a comics and skateboards (!) section to boot. If they didn't have it, it wasn't out yet. My Northwest peeps tell me that Singles Going Steady is Fallout's nearest replacement circa 2004, so I ventured, debit card in hand, accordingly. I tried to forget that last time I'd been in the store, right before I moved from town in 1999, I'd been none too impressed.

None too impressed I remain. SGS is good on vinyl, in fact they put a high premium on new records as opposed to new CDs, and had new reissues from CRIME and other 70s punk luminaries up on the wall. I also dug their prices; used CDs were typically $8, and the selection of used garage and raw punk stuff was plentiful and pretty ace (is Seattle in the midst of a great punk sell-off??? Could be a leading indicator...hmm...). But for a young man with pedestrian tastes such as myself, multiple sections of music called "crust" can only lead to utter bafflement. Crust? Is that a new movement in future-facing avant garde musics? Or, as the covers of said "crust" releases might indicate, a pseudo-speed metal knock-off circa CombatCore records' awesome 1986 lineup? Anyway, Singles Going Steady is big on the Crust, as they are on the Oi, the "Street Punk" and something called "Peace Punk" (what the hell is that?). These new genres are crowding out the tried and the true, and thus I found nothing worth bringing home, framing & putting up on the mantle the way I used to during my long, long days spent foraging at Fallout. If you're on 2nd Avenue in Seattle anytime soon, maybe take a peek inside SGS for a couple of minutes -- you might even meet a real peace punk! Then head to the Virginia Inn and settle in with a Mac & Jack's African Amber -- a $3.50 that'll pay dividends well beyond what you'd get from the latest crust-punk 45.