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A “Sound” Way to Celebrate Record Store Day in New York, Chicago & St. Louis

A “Sound” Way to Celebrate Record Store Day in New York, Chicago & St. Louis (photo)

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With her flame-red locks and a weeklong international tour, you would be forgiven for thinking Jeanie Finlay was picking up where Santa Claus left off. However, the occasion isn’t Christmas, but another annual tradition worthy of merrymaking and good cheer — Record Store Day, which Finlay is celebrating this week with a whirlwind tour of England and America, including stops at the CIMM Fest in Chicago on April 16th and the Webster Film Series in St. Louis (April 22-24), and the centerpiece of her Stateside appearances, a screening at the Walter Reade Theater in New York on Saturday evening, to show her latest film, “Sound It Out,” a documentary about the last record store in the small North East England town of Teesside that our own Matt Singer wrote after its premiere at SXSW “isn’t just good – it’s important.”

As with most things that carry such weight, “Sound It Out” was born out of humble origins, a personal film that Finlay shot herself in the cramped confines of a store with far more albums (over 70,000) than square feet of floor space where the customers range from dapper older fellows who consider record collecting to be a “pursuit for a gentleman” to black leather-clad metalheads. In a conversation before Finlay embarked on her cross-continental screening tour, she told me she would often target “the shiest person in the room because often they’re the most interesting,” which made it convenient for the director since arguably the film’s most bashful participant is the store’s owner Tom Butchart, a fountain of knowledge of everything pressed on vinyl and a hysterically funny dry wit. (His observation that “Eight of 10 men would turn gay for Morrissey” is a show stopper.)

04142011_SoundItOut3.jpgWhile it took some convincing on Finlay’s part to get him on camera, it wasn’t for a lack of familiarity — the two went to school together and when his store became the last one standing, Finlay took it upon herself to start filming and eventually picked up the support of over a hundred donors on the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo to continue on a 19-month shoot. Although plenty happens within the store, most notably enjoyable in-store performances from the likes of chanteuse Saint Saviour, it was actually the film’s executive producer Dunstan Bruce, the former lead singer of Chumbawamba, who suggested Finlay step outside the record store to capture the town where both culture and the countryside as a whole have been hit hard by the recession, though the Sound It Out shop still functions as a safe haven for all.

“Vinyl isn’t dead,” Finlay says now, despite the fact she confessed at SXSW that she had to part with her record collection two years ago to finance part of her wedding. As she told the crowd then, the film reaffirmed her belief that “Records are much more than blank discs — they’re laden with memories. I don’t think I’ll feel the same way about Mp3s.”

Still, even after “Sound It Out” got the documentarian readdicted to record buying, she won’t have much time to spend with them in the months ahead. Finlay is currently at work on two more exciting music-related documentaries: one, “Orion,” about Jimmy Ellis, a contemporary of Elvis who used his vocal and physical similarities to the King to ride his coattails and simultaneously wore a mask to separate himself and carve out his own niche, and “The Great Hip Hop Hoax,” a film she says “is about lying basically” as it tells the story of two British rappers who remade themselves into a faux California hip-hop act when their music was met with indifference in England.

Surely, no such fate awaits “Sound It Out,” which like the albums coveted by the customers of the Teesside shop captures a particular time and place in a lovely way that will be music to the ears of vinyl collectors and film fans alike, making it a can’t miss proposition as Finlay accompanies it across the U.S. this weekend and rest assured, when she gets back, Tom has already set aside a new pressing of Belle & Sebastian waiting just for her.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…