Monday, December 08, 2003

For the past eleven years or so, Holy Cow has managed to remain somewhat under the radar despite being possibly the best record store in New York City. Part of this is due to their location in Park Slope, which stopped being a hip neighborhood quite some time ago. Part of it has to do with the store's idiosyncrasies. Kenny, who used to work at the counter (he once won a Village Voice award as Best Sidekick), loved discussing his poodles but didn't want to hear a word about that cool new CD you were buying. There seemed to be hiding places all over the store: boxes that were off-limits, stacks of records that weren't for sale. Holy Cow didn't push any particular musical genre. Its collection of new releases could seem completely random, with Opeth sitting next to Madonna, which surely confused casual shoppers.

There are two reasons why Holy Cow is great. One, its owner is older and used to work in the music business way back when, and has an astoundingly deep knowledge of a truly wide variety of music (and a tendency to be thankfully ignorant about the kind of ephemeral crap that Other Music gets all ga-ga over). I've really learned a lot from talking with the guy. Two, there are a ton of semi-poor musicians living in (or gradually being gentrified out of) Park Slope and Holy Cow has been the only viable place for them to sell their records. You might not notice this after one or two visits, but I used to work nearby and would check in every day at lunch. And, over time, pretty much every cool CD/Record you could imagine would eventually show up there. Metal Box? Yes. Slapp Happy's "Sort Of" (long before the CD reissue)? Yup. Wombles albums? He had 'em. And usually at non-collector prices, since he wanted to be a "neighborhood" store. Several times I made him raise his price when he was seriously undercharging. He knew what things were worth, but couldn't be bothered to gouge people. And that is truly rare these days.

The reason I mention all this is that Holy Cow will be closing in early January, which is very sad. I believe that they'll still be doing mail order via Gemm, but the store was a real oasis in Park Slope and will be missed. Right now, a major sale is going on as they try to reduce stock before the move. So here's some of what I found in the fifty-cent bin. First, Paris Green is on John Cunningham's lovely CD Bringing In The Blue. His newer stuff is very Paul McCartneyish, but he seems to have had a dreamy Pink Floyd influence way back when. Sorry for the large download size, but this is such a wonderful, floaty song! To counteract its mellowness, here's The New Potatoes by Denim, one of the more interesting irritating songs I've ever heard. Kind of amazing to think that Lawrence, the prime mover behind Denim, used to be in Felt. The album it's from Novelty Rock, manages to be annoying in so many different ways...I'm just loving it! Here's Tampax Advert from the same CD.

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