Written by Mikey Sibson

It's no secret - ask anyone with even a passing interest in culture and they'll tell you that Leeds has always been the artistic beacon of the North, boasting - along with iconic galleries and museums - one of the most expansive music scenes in the country. You'd be hard pressed to find as much musical endearment in such concentration outside of the capital. So it'll come as no surprise to the previously enlightened among you that Leeds embraces Record Store Day with open arms, hosting events, giveaways and general muso-loving all across the city each year.

The two main 'traditional' record shops - Crash Records on the Headrow and Jumbo Records in the St. John's Centre are both stocking the full list of exclusive Record Store Day releases, opening from 9am on April 21st on a first-come, first-serve basis. No pre-orders or reservations permitted. Stores up and down the country are employing this method of trading, in-keeping with the traditional procedure of Record Store Days and trying to re-capture the spirit of years gone by, before the internet, mp3s and globalization. It can be argued that vinyl is the 'true' and 'proper' form that music should be listened to on, and debate rages over the authenticity of compressed, virtual music. The day is a chance for audiophiles to indulge themselves; both modern releases and reissues of classic albums have made the cut. Last year saw queues of people from 7am outside the St. Johns Centre to get into Jumbo, stretching back to the Headrow. The event has captured the imagination of music buyers like no other, and the Leeds record stores expect the same this year.

Both Crash and Jumbo Records have come into possession of an extremely rare, white-label vinyl pressing of Jack White's much-anticipated solo album Blunderbuss, of which there are only twenty in existence. All those who pre-order the LP will be entered into a draw to win the exclusive pressing, with the winner being announced in-store on Record Store Day. The nationwide organizer of the event, Spencer Hickman, said: 'The whole point of Record Store Day is to show that indie record shops offer music fans something you can't get online or in a supermarket." This is a prime example of what Hickman is talking about, an impetus for those with an interest in music in any of it's forms to get out for a day and appreciate their local independent record stores.

Jumbo Records are continuing their annual tradition of hosting live bands in the shop this year, with big names such as Britpop veterans Dodgy and London's Still Corners, the latter of whose album Creatures Of An Hour was voted by Jumbo staff as their favorite record of 2011, performing sets in-store. I had a chat with the staff at Jumbo about what Record Store Day means to them on a personal level, as well as how they think it benefits the industry on a national scale.

"I think Record Store Day is a much needed shout out, organized with a lot of love by independent record shops," said Jack who works at Jumbo. “We get a lot of autonomy to do this and it shows as the day has grown and grown, with record shops all over the world hooking up with labels and bands and other businesses to show there actually is a much needed antidote to the rather homogenous vision of music and shopping being forced upon people."

"Shops like us just do what we do normally but with a wider audience, so we've got a great line-up of bands playing the day who we love and a whole heap of surprises too. We've got BBC Introducing down for the day, Layne Espresso are doing a very special coffee blend for those bleary eyed music freaks, we got together with Revolutions Brewing Company to make a RSD beer (which will be onsale at Beer Ritz, North Bar and the Brudenell); in fact, we've got loads of great things happening and it's great to be able to reach a bigger audience."

"The overall message is that shops like ours are part of a musical eco-system, one important part that supports indie labels, bands, producers, promoters, fanzines, bloggers etc, but that also hasn't been polluted by the ugly oil-slicks from big bland business who can't really offer an alternative that anyone cares about. It's an important step to not only showing how positive and varied the music scene can be, but also how you can actually make it better by choosing to support people who are madly passionate about music too."

Jack sums up the aesthetic of Record Store Day nicely: "After all, I'd much rather listen to something like Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service and discover new amazing things than a cheesy drive-time show hearing the same old played out tunes.. wouldn't you?"

So if you're thinking of spending Record Store Day outside of London this year, you know where to go. It might be a bit of a trek, but Leeds will satisfy even the most subaqueous musical yearnings. Get your groove on.


For more information on Record Store Day head to www.recordstoreday.co.uk/