New Year, New Vinyl

Records from Musical Youth, Detroit Grand Pubahs, Body of Light inside Going Underground Records in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles from "New Year, New Vinyl" by Liz Ohanesian
Records from Musical Youth, Detroit Grand Pubahs and Body of Light inside Going Underground Records (Pic: Liz O.)

My first quandary of 2024 occurred late in the afternoon on January 1 inside Going Underground Records as I quickly flipped through a crate of indie releases alphabetized by the letter F. There, I found Kate Fagan I Don’t Want to Be Too Cool and Future Islands As Long As You Are on vinyl, both of which I could use in my collection. But, when it comes to new vinyl, I need to exhibit some restraint. Which should I choose? 

In the end, I chose neither. 

I have lots of rules for record shopping, many more than I’ve previously shared here. The rules are arbitrary and sometimes made up on the spot. There are plenty of exceptions and, even then, I’ve managed to break them more times than I can recall. Sometimes, I think I make up rules solely so to break them. So, while I say that I only allow myself to buy one new (as in sealed, not always a new release) piece of vinyl when I’m at a record store, I should also admit that this is a rule that I’ve broken many times. I should also admit that I have left stores with a pile of used records that cost more than two new ones, so  there’s not a particularly smart reason for the new vinyl rule. 

This rule, like many others, is just a thing I tell myself so that I can pretend that I’m a disciplined person and, therefore, a good person. But, if discipline were an attribute I actually possessed, I would not be in a record store on New Year’s Day. Instead, I would have spent the first day of the year rehydrating myself before going to the gym and then posting a selfie with a caption about how I stay energized or whatever keyword-loaded self-help nonsense is expected of women on the internet this year. 

Instead, I watched the Rose Parade one-and-a-half times and spent too much time scrolling through New Year’s Eve party pics with “Murder on the Dance Floor” playing on repeat in my head. Then, when the hunger pangs hit hard, Carlos and I decided to get lunch in Little Tokyo, where I ran into multiple people I know from the club world, which somewhat delayed the actual consumption of food. We stopped by Spitz and lingered over lunch with drinks — despite not being much of a wine drinker, I like their rosé sangria— as The Smurfsplayed on one of the TV sets. Then we went to Going Underground. 

Rose sangria at Spitz in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles from "New Year, New Vinyl" by Liz Ohanesian (DJ Liz O.)
The rosé sangria at Spitz

At first, little piqued my interest. I feared the trip might be a bust. Then I came across the Kate Fagan and Future Islands records and felt a nagging, instinctive urge to get them. That’s the exact moment when I remembered the one new vinyl rule. Which one should I get? Future Islands seemed like the reasonable choice. After all, I’ve been playing “For Sure” in my DJ sets consistently since the L.A. clubs reopened, so maybe I should have a record on hand for the all-vinyl gigs. But, Future Islands also has a new album coming out at the end of the month. Shouldn’t I just wait for that?

I put both records back in the F section and kept looking. If nothing else grabbed my attention, I could come back to them. Shortly thereafter, though,  I noticed Detroit Grand Pubahs “Sandwiches” 12”. I loved that song back in the ‘00s and was fairly certain that I didn’t have it on vinyl. The cover, with a sandwich sitting on top of an orange turntable that looks as if it’s flying through space is too memorable. If I had it, I would recognize it immediately. Also, if I had it, I would still be playing “Sandwiches” in my vinyl sets. It’s Y2K electro-influenced techno with vocals, so it works with multiple styles of music that I play regularly. 

A record bin at Going Underground Records in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles with vinyl from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Khraungbin and more. From "New Year, New Vinyl" by Liz Ohanesian (DJ Liz O.)
Inside Going Underground Records in Little Tokyo

After that, I found Musical Youth’s debut album, The Youth of Today. That’s the album with “Pass the Dutchie,” something you would think was already in my early ‘80s-heavy stacks, but it’s not. The cover was worn, but the record itself remained in good shape and it was only $2.98. This was definitely a keeper. 

Soon after that, I noticed a new vinyl-heavy sale bin. Bitter Reflection, the Body of Light album that came out last year was one of the records in it. I had a digital copy of “Never Ever,” which I’ve played in my sets, but had yet to buy the full-length. Here it was, marked down to just under $15, download card included. With one purchase, I would have two formats handy for gigs when I want to play something current for crowds that usually request Depeche Mode and Interpol. Since that’s about 70% of my gigs,  I should get some good use out of it. 

I spent less than I would have if I bought two new records, but I don’t think that is necessarily because of the rule or if that’s even the point. What the one new vinyl rule did was force me to think about where I could play the records, whether they would be truly useful or if I just wanted them to have them. It also pushed me to be okay with putting records back into the bin. I don’t need to have all the music I enjoy on vinyl. 

Liz O. is an L.A.-based writer and DJ. Read her recently published work and check out her upcoming gigs.