Archive for January, 2014

Last Shop Standing 6th edition‏ – What has changed for Avalanche since the book came out in 2009 ?

I was recently asked the question “What has changed for Avalanche since the book came out in 2009 ?” for the 6th edition of the Graham Jones book Last Shop Standing. It is as concise as I could muster and will come as no surprise to many of you. 

Since 2009 the biggest change for Avalanche has been the propping up of HMV/FOPP by record companies, labels and often landlords. Avalanche has been used to competing with shops in prime locations and getting better deals because of their size for over two decades but to now have to compete with a company often paying little or no rent and not paying for stock until sold is simply not feasible leading us more than ever in 2014 to pursue areas where we are not in direct competition such as posters and second hand vinyl. 

Since 2009 the “old skool” indies with new stock as their focus and supporting new music their aim have continued to decline the length of the country from One Up in Aberdeen to Rounder in Brighton while any new shops tend to be second hand in focus, concentrating on reissues when stocking new product and with little interest in the rewarding but far less profitable matter of breaking new artists. 
Of course this is compounded by the artists themselves selling directly to their fanbase making it ever harder for shops to grow support for a new artist organically. At the other end of the spectrum with major artists also adept at selling “direct to customer” shops are left with nothing but the crumbs which is not a sustainable position. While in the US some large retailers did make a stand over the Beyonce album release schedule it has yet to happen in the UK though Hilco/HMV CEO Paul McGowan did express disapproval on twitter. 

10 Things That Need To Change To Save Independent Record Shops

Coming soon !

Meanwhile – 10 Things That Need To Change To Save Independent Venues

Saturday March 1st

So a month later than expected but I’ve set a date with the landlord for leaving. There have been several attempts to persuade me to stay and it is not impossible that I could still choose to stay in the Grassmarket but it is unlikely. Still too many permutations to say anything further but fear not Avalanche will be somewhere and in good time for Record Store Day. As soon as the options become manageable I promise to say more. There are a lot of positive options and I just have to make sure I make the right choices. Barely a couple of days pass without something else being thrown in the mix so I’m not set on any particular path yet.

I’m being asked lots of questions and apologies for not answering individually but I will address them all via the blog as and when I have time. I’m well aware and to be honest touched by the genuine concern shown by our many loyal customers. Thank you.  

Short update

RecordStore11GTStill amazed at how many people refer to the blog and/or twitter when in the shop but hopefully at least that means it is a good way to let people know what is happening. There are too many ifs and buts at the moment to make too clear a statement but I’m receiving offers all the time.

I’ve had an offer to resurrect the Avalanche label by both licensing old albums and releasing new ones in what would be a worldwide deal. There has been a huge amount of interest from Aberdeen and some firm offers so I would be very disappointed not to have something in place in time for Record Store Day. Our first promotion with Cake Shop NYC is in place in conjunction with Rock Action and the first five “Avalanche Recommends” albums are being finalised. You will also see posters fairly soon in Edinburgh and Glasgow promoting one of our favourite albums thanks to the support of the UK’s leading poster company.

So all well and good and there are plenty of other things in the pipeline too but what we really need to do is take money especially over the next two weeks so we can pay our bills/rent/rates etc. This will at least be helped by the release of the Springsteen and Mogwai albums but it will take more than that. The weekend was good and thanks to everybody who came along. Having said that it was a few key large sales that really helped boost the takings. It really can be precarious and it only takes ten people shopping for vinyl to decide to shop in town rather than come to the Grassmarket and at a couple of LPs each £300 is knocked off the potential takings. Add in other factors and just 20 people can make a huge difference.

We should have been able to catch up to some extent over Christmas and New Year but bar a couple of days we were always way below last year. This year Edinburgh Council’s insistence on driving people towards Princes Street and St Andrew Square left the Grassmarket deserted even days before Christmas and surprisingly even before New Year. Of course some of our competitors not paying rent or for stock has had a big impact too. There is a possibility that Avalanche could remain in the Grassmarket elsewhere but it is hard to have confidence things will get better even after I had a positive meeting with the Grassmarket BID coordinator on Friday.

Given just how poor footfall is currently there is a strong argument for having somewhere far cheaper that regulars and all our international customers can find easy enough and just not pay for footfall. What took me by surprise was several people suggesting we should look for investors and given all the potential things we had in place go bigger ! To be honest these last three years have often been enjoyable but hard work and I would really need good people in place to contemplate such a thing.

A lot of people have asked how they can help but for now at least the answer has to be to buy stuff. We are not short of stock and in a way it sums up the problem that the kind of money we need to take over the next couple of weeks is no more than we take around Record Store Day weekend. We need to be busy every day so this week will really be make or break in seeing if that is possible. I will also add more to the online shop as people have been very supportive ordering online. 

Again many thanks for all the good wishes it is greatly appreciated.

Avalanche Sale starts Sunday 5th January

SALEWe have to clear a mountain of stock to get down to sensible levels before we leave. None of this buying in crap to sell or 10% discounts on overpriced goods. There will be new deals all the time but tomorrow will see some very special deals indeed.

1,000s of 7″s + CD singles reduced to 30p (5 for £1)

1,000s of 12″s at 10 for £5 including all the dance promos

1,000s of LPs £1 each

100s of DVDs at £1 including box sets

1,000s of posters £2 or less including many 60″ x 40″ fly posters (everything from Arctic Monkeys to Pink Floyd)

New vinyl sale at up to 50% off (boxes will be on the counter)

Many new CDs reduced to £5.99 (3 for £15)

100s of CDs reduced and added to £3.99 (3 for £10)

1,000s of CDs reduced to £1 or 6 for £5

All the second hand vinyl in the £5 to £10 boxes half price

This is one occasion when we need folk in the shop to actually buy the stuff rather than just “like” the idea we are having a sale.

Very grateful if everybody can spread the word. There is a lot of great stuff.

Many thanks


My favourite albums of last year

Most people appreciate that I sell customers the albums I think they will like not the albums I think they should like. Obviously over time my own taste has influenced the shop but also our customers have influenced me ! I will as part of our 30th anniversary make up some compilations of my favourite songs (I have no idea why they get called mixtapes) but for now here is a rare personal review of the last year and at a later date the last 30 years.

For me what makes an album memorable is the gap between expectation and reality. Consequently it is often a band’s first album that has the greatest impact with expectation low or sometimes non-existent. Now with everything so much more up front that feeling of listening for the first time as a new release came out of the box has been lost and I doubted if ever again I’d be as astonished as I was when I put on the first Godspeed album. 

FRabbits - Pedestrian Verse banner


So what were my favourite albums of the year ? Well February contrived to have not only our two biggest sellers but two artists I really hoped would produce the goods for different reasons. Signing to a major is always a tricky path to negotiate so Frightened Rabbit could have been forgiven for taking time to bed in but as soon as songs started to emerge it was clear that Scott and the guys were on top form and it was with good reason it became our best selling album of the year.


Nick Cave - Push The Sky Away


Nick Cave I’d feared might just be on the cusp of going through the motions though he seemed revitalised after Glastonbury. Going down the “own label” let’s see how much money I can make with an expensive box set and announce it all on twitter route didn’t bode well but again he didn’t let us down and the album is one of his best which with his catalogue is really saying something.





Public Service Broadcasting were a band of whom I knew little except they were fans of the shop and had given us copies of their first 10″ to give away for free to people we thought might like them. The second I heard it I knew this would be an album we would play and people would buy. Old skool in the best possible way and a really pleasant surprise. 






For some reason I still can not explain I had for a long time thought the National were good but not as good as people made out. I was of course completely wrong and everything they have done has been consistently brilliant and the new album just continued the line.

“I should leave it alone but you’re not right




Quickbeam album cover


I’d been playing an advance copy of the Quickbeam album which I thought was very good. Customers were rushing to the counter and telling me it was brilliant. I got how “epic” the music was but gradually the odd lyric started to embed

“When this is all over and done we will remember them”.

Finally I met Monika and she told me she was a huge Conor Oberst fan and it all started to make sense. A stunning debut.




A slight lull in June and then came the Waxahatchee album. This was a tip off from a customer @edinburgh_man for those of you on twitter. It came with the first album which is also brilliant and as a double pack it is simply outstanding. A female Withered Hand and I can pay no higher compliment.




TWBF - DDBThen the long wait set in. There would definitely be a new There Will Be Fireworks album this year I had been promised. After four years I was happy to settle for it not being shit. If it was good it certainly could not have been worth the wait. In this case expectation had gone off the scale. I was sent a digtal download and it didn’t work. I took it as an omen. Then a CDR arrived and after only a few listens it was clear. They had achieved the impossible and made an album possibly even better than the first. This is maybe the best second album to follow a brilliant first album ever !



Dead Flowers - MidnightSo with the year virtually at an end who comes in the shop but Ed Jupp of 17 Seconds claiming he has heard an album I will love. He’s a lovely guy but claiming to have an album I haven’t heard of that could be one of my albums of the year ……… Anyway I went home that night and intrigued read his blog and listened to the stream he had made available. He was right ! A cross between The Savings and Loan and Star Wheel Press with a vocal part Leonard Cohen, part Tom Waits the back story with songwriter and vocalist Ian Williams starting writing in the winter of 2011 underneath Coney Island’s Wonderwheel and working his way up the east coast eventually reaching Montreal where he spent long nights at The Wheel Club “until the spring came and the snow melted” was the icing on the cake. It was indeed a “Godspeed” moment. 


So this year it starts all over again though where and how is yet to be decided. Is it possible Dan can get even close to his amazing first album, Avalanche’s biggest ever seller from a local artist and again four years in the making. Will we really need “New Gods” ? I think we will.

Scottish 7″ singles for sale

jesse garon - rain£10 
Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes ‎– The Rain Fell Down
Narodnik ‎– NRK-002
Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM

Hook ‘N’ Pull Gang, The ‎– Pour It Down Yer Throat / Gasoline
Bitch Hog Records ‎– BITCH 1
Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM
headboys - shape£5 (record mint, sleeve very good)
Headboys, The ‎– The Shape Of Things To Come 
RSO ‎– RSO 40, RSO ‎– 2090 386
Vinyl, 7″, Single, 45 RPM
Dragsters – Albino SNICK 1  £6
Dragsters – I’m Not An American SNICK 2 (poster sleeve)  £6
WIN – Super Popoid Groove 2×7″  £5 (records mint , sleeve good but shows a little wear)
TV21 – Playing With Fire  £8 (record mint, poster sleeve has ringwear)

Avalanche label stock

13 first fridays


I’ll gradually list these online but any questions feel free to ask. I’ve also been asked if I will sell wholesale and so long as I have quantity the answer is yes.

13 First Fridays – 88 Lines about 44 Women 12″  (featuring Andrew from Jesse Garon)

Riverhead – Alpharetta  12″  (toured with Jesse Garon)     
We Free Kings – Howl and Other Songs  12″    
Gargleblud  LP 
Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes – Nixon LP
Jesse Garon – Hold Me Now 12″
Jesse Garon – Never Be That Young Again 12″  
Jesse Garon – Cabinet of Curiosities LP  
Pralines -Trains (indie pop from Galashiels)   
Riverhead – Haddit 12″ (cover artwork done by Professor of Art in Athens, Georgia who did some of the REM artwork)     
Groovy Little Numbers mini LP red vinyl (both 12″s on one LP)
Fun While It Lasted 53rd & 3rd pic disc LP 
53 and 3rd – Agarr Retro LP (red vinyl)
BMX Bandits  53rd & 3rd Years  (yellow vinyl) LP
Shop Assistants – Here It Comes 12″ 
Shop Assistants – Big E Power 12″        
Snapper – Buddy 12″
Vaselines – All The Stuff And More picture disc LP (only a handful)
DoubleHappys – How Much Time Left, Please ? vinyl EP
Xpressway Pile=Up cassette   
Shop Assistants  Here It Comes 7″
Shop assistants – Big E Power 7″  
Snapper – Dark Sensation / Snapper and the Ocean 7″            
Groovy Little Numbers CD  
Snapper – Shotgun Blossom  CD + cassette
Agarr Retro  CD

Desperate Bicycles, TV Personalities, Pychic TV and Wire 7″s

Desperate Bicycles – Smokescreen   Mono RR1 
Vinyl looks mint. Sleeve is best I’ve ever seen as it is so flimsy but not perfect. The date 28 8 91 has been written in pencil inside the sleeve I would guess by a shop selling it. Doesn’t detract and I didn’t want to try rubbing it out !   £40    
TV Personalities – Where’s Bill Grundy Now ?  RT033  
New though as often with white sleeves the sleeve isn’t absolutely perfect. From my own collection and was one of several copies I acquired new a long time ago.   
£30 each    2 copies
Pychic TV – Good Vibrations + bonus single Godstar / Je t’Aime gatefold sleeve TOPYD25
Again new with just very slight sleeve wear as was common with new records then. £15 each    2 copies
Wire – I Am the Fly HAR5151 
Picture sleeve I bought my copy the week it came out and didn’t get a picture sleeve.
11 copies listed on discogs at the moment and not one in a picture sleeve. Record looks mint and has been kept in a PVC all its life so not perfect but very close. This is the only copy I’ve ever seen. I kept it for myself but I’ve decided that I won’t part with my original copy and having two seems a little selfish ! £35
Add £2 for p+p in the UK (£4 outside the UK) or collect from the shop.

Payment by PayPal using or email to reserve and collect from the shop

I’ll remove listing as soon as payment received or reserved

PJ Harvey 7″ singles and rare b-sides CDs for sale

All mint

Josh Homme & PJ Harvey / Desert Sessions – Crawl Home   £18

PJ Harvey – The Glorious Land   £12

PJ Harvey – When Under Ether   £8

PJ Harvey – You Come Through   £6

PJ Harvey – The Letter   £5

PJ Harvey – The Piano   £5

Add £2 for p+p in the UK (£4 outside the UK) or collect from the shop.

Payment by PayPal using or email to reserve and collect from the shop

I’ll remove listing as soon as payment received or reserved 

PJ Harvey ‎– The B Sides

Island Records ‎– 524 178-2
UK CD Limited Edition Promo (1995)
£30 (p+p as above)