Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spin cities: This year's Holiday Auction Vinyl Shopping Spree winner gets his records

Posted By and on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Christopher Littell screens potential buys on his smartphone
  • Phil Bardi
  • Christopher Littell screens potential buys on his smartphone
On a mild, cloudy Saturday in January, CL Holiday Auction Christopher Littell and I convened at Mojo Books and Music in North Tampa to begin our day-long musical expedition. As the winning bidder for the Vinyl Shopping Spree, a perennially popular item in our annual Holiday Auction, Christopher got to pick out LPs at the most well-regarded indie record shops in Tampa Bay, accompanied by moi, professional music enthusiast. [Words by Leilani, photos by Phil]

Before we began, he gave me a brief rundown of his musical background and tastes. His first record, inherited from his sister, was The Mamas and the Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, which spurred his fondness for sunshine-splashed folk and pop music, pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, finely-orchestrated arrangements, and psychedelic flavor. His formative music years in the 1970s and ‘80s added a love of power pop punch ala The Smithereens, college rock drive and New Wave jangle, while the ’90s further expanded his preferred sonic territories with grungy alt rock, dreamy indie pop and hazy shoegaze in the vein of My Bloody Valentine.

We satisfied Christopher’s sonic flavor profile over more than five hours of vinyl diving and six total stops. When he didn’t know the artists I suggested, he pulled out his smartphone and looked them up online, an ironic use of advanced technology to make a decision about an analog storage medium.

A successful stop at Daddy Kool
At Mojo, his first find was The Beach Boys’ 1965 album Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!), and per my suggestion, Fleet Foxes’ self-titled 2008 debut. Next, it was on to Microgroove in Seminole Heights, where our search turned up Present Tense, a 1979 album by under-known Midwestern power pop band Shoes (his pick) and Beach House’s 2010 third full-length, Teen Dream (one of mine). Across the bridge in St. Petersburg, we landed at Bananas Music, first at the retail shop (where I successfully pushed him toward Bon Iver’s Grammy-winning eponymous sophomore album from 2011), and then over to Bananas’ vinyl warehouse, his two selections steeped in nostalgia — R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) and a 12” single by Hall & Oates from 1984, “Some Things are Better Left Unsaid.”

Then it was off to the next St. Pete stop, Daddy Kool; I hipped Christopher to the neo-psychedelic rock of The Warlocks (he ended up with 2011 fifth full-length The Mirror Explodes), while he discovered the pop-melodic folk of The Skygreen Leopards (and picked 2009’s Gorgeous Johnny) all on his own; both bands, coincidently, are from California. The grand spree finale took place less than two miles down Central Avenue at Planet Retro, a stop that yielded two more ’60s-era LPs and took us full circle back to the sonic terrain where we started — The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Beach Boys, Holland (1973). Planet Retro owner Rob Sexton also threw in a well-worn vintage cardboard record case (white with purple polka dots, hinged top and handle), so Christopher could carry his 11 new vinyl finds home in style.

Overall, it was a fruitful and satisfying spree, and I ended with a new friend in vinyl.

Chris and I getting our groove on a week after the spree.
  • Phil Bardi
  • Chris and I getting our groove on a week after the spree.

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