Rare albums Illuminated under the Streetlight

By July 25, 2011

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It wasn’t the nicest looking — a bit disheveled and kinda sketchy with iron bars on the windows and doors. But the gems within the racks made Santa Cruz’s Streetlight Records my new favorite record store (sorry, Armadillo and Dimple, you’re runners-up.)

My girlfriend and I recently took a trip to Santa Cruz. A two-hour drive and we’re greeted with crisp, coastal air. The natural beauty, artistic spirit and wacky people are reminiscent of my alma mater, Humboldt State. Both are near the ocean and the forest, and both draw free-spirited, hippie types. We don’t fit that type per-se, but we are vegans. Lucky for us, Santa Cruz is very vegan-friendly (shout out to Saturn Cafe.)

She went thrift shopping while I went to Streetlight. We agreed to meet up in a half-hour. Without a deadline, I would have spent the whole afternoon.

Streetlight’s different in that the store arranges albums not only by genre but sub-genre. Metal breaks down into hardcore, metal-core, grindcore, death metal, doom, black metal, gothic/industrial. The title cards with hand-drawn metal logos were a nice touch!

A clerk told me that each employee was in charge of a section. His was punk. These employees know their stuff.

To narrow my scope and avoid bankruptcy, I only chose rare or out-of-print albums that were on my to-get list.

Sleep, “Volume 1”: Debut album by legendary doom/stoner metal band featuring Matt Pike of High on Fire. Not what I expected, but in a good way. Sounds A LOT like The Melvins with some Neurosis style post-hardcore thrown in. More accessible than Sleep’s epic, 40-minute long song, “Dopesmoker.”

Grief, “Come into Grief”: Underrated ‘90s doom from Boston. Ultra heavy, slow, repetitive riffs with screechy vocals. Love this style — similar to Louisiana’s Thou. Terrible album art- hand drawn skulls and monster faces. Reminds me of a middle school metal head’s notebook scrawl.

Mentallo and the Fixer, “No Rest for the Wicked”: The Dassing brothers 1992 debut. Electro-industrial (from Texas!) with synths, hard sequencer rhythms and snarling vocals. Harsh yet melodic, with biblical and apocalyptic imagery.

Bassnectar, “Underground Communication”: Santa Cruz bass music producer’s 2007 album. Much more hip-hop sounding than his current dubstep style. I dig the guest rappers and the bass rumbles but some of the beats sound cheesy.

oOoOO, EP- witch house/drag gets a lot of flak — dark synth-pop mixed with southern rap beats? Some of it’s terrible but San Francisco’s oOoOO is quite good. If you’re a fan of ‘90s trip-hop like Portishead, you’ll appreciate this.

I haven’t even browsed the rap, rock and reggae. Next stop, Streetlight Records in San Francisco!

Landon Christensen

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