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Documentary an ode to the neighbourhood record store

There’s something about record stores that attracts a weird subsection of people. Which is probably why Sound It Out, an English documentary about Sound it Out Records, a tiny independent record shop in the North East of England, makes for such enjoyable viewing.

Director Jeanie Finlay grew up with shop owner Tom Butchart and would visit the store regularly when she’d make trips home, mostly just to catch up with her friend and to soak up the atmosphere. “The shop is a haven,” she says. ”I remember being in there and thinking this isn’t just a haven to me.”

Collectors are a strange breed to begin with, often cursed with the obsessive need to accumulate and complete sets of things. That, coupled with the let-your-freak-flag-fly nature of the last 50 years of popular music, basically guarantees that record shops are going to attract some real characters. Sound It Out is no exception.

From the super fan obsessed with the band Status Quo to the DJs looking for mákina (a hideous regional blend of UK hardcore dance and trance) records, Butchart caters to all his customers’ needs.

“I knew that there was this film there, the way that you listen to someone on the radio you just know you like them,” Finlay says.

She was right, and last year the doc was named The Official Film of Record Store Day in the U.K. The film makes its Toronto debut this weekend to coincide with Record Store Day 2012 on April 21, an annual celebration of indie record stores that’s quickly become a major X on any vinyl aficionado’s calendar. Many bands release special, limited edition material specifically for the day.

Finlay says she’s not much of a collector, but sees a lot of herself in the shy eccentrics that populate the store. “That was my reason for making it,” she says. “I think filmmakers make films about themselves.”

Sound It Out is screening April 20 to April 25 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. West.

Record Store Day releases

Due to their limited edition nature, not every Record Store Day release makes it to every record store, but keep your eyes peeled for these gems.

  • Arcade Fire — Sprawl II 12”. Montreal heroes give this Suburbs standout the remix treatment.
  • Mastodon/Feist — Commotion/Black Tongue 7”. Canadian indie-chanteuse covers Atlanta metal band and vice versa.
  • The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends LP. Oklahoma freaks get busy with a mess of collaborators including Yoko Ono, Ke$ha, Biz Markie and Bon Iver.

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