Ladies and gentlemen, Record Store Day is only one week away, and ever since attending the event last year, it has become a duty of mine to report to you the purchases I’ll be making. This article isn’t simply meant to be a shopping guide, though. Record Store Day gives bands and their labels a chance to go all out, and it offers music fans an opportunity to unite at their local record stores and give them the support they need to stick around for another 30 or 40 years.

The selections below are made with love, and they define what makes Record Store Day such a wonderful event to begin with: these unique colored waxings or exclusive releases symbolize the amount of effort these guys put into making their already great music stand out from the crowd to the delight of music fans like myself.

So here are five of the many releases I’ll be picking up on April 20th at my local record store. (Note: Some of these releases may not be available at all record stores on Record Store Day. Go to the Record Store Day website to find out which stores will carry the items you want.)

1. The Flaming Lips – Zaireeka

Zaireeka Record Store Day Release

Jack White might be this year’s Record Store Day ambassador, but it looks like Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips are aiming to be Record Store Day’s true ambassadors every year. Last year, the band released the exclusive-to-vinyl collaborative album The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, a release that epitomized what Record Store Day is all about. It’s also the perfect example of why waiting in line at your local record store for two wacky-colored discs with waveforms on them is totally worth the time and effort.

This year, the band plans to rerelease their game-changing opus, Zaireeka, for Record Store Day. Originally released as a four-disc CD set in 1997, Zaireeka was an experimental album that hinted at a change in direction for the band that ultimately flourished when they refined the sound for their following album, the now-classic The Soft Bulletin. But there was a catch to this release — each disc only contained one section of audio, meaning the only way to play the album was to utilize four different CD players and to sync each disc so you could hear the track as it was intended.

So for this year’s Record Store Day, the band will now require you to play the album on four record players. Good luck! The reissue might not be played very often, but this curious conversation starter will fit well in any Lips fan’s collection and further proves why the Lips rule Record Store Day with unique and exclusive releases. Here’s a video demonstration by Mr. Coyne himself on what you should expect right out of the box when you pick up Zaireeka this Record Store Day.

2. Brian Eno x Nicolas Jaar x Grizzly Bear

enoxjaarxbear

Amongst all the interesting releases for Record Store Day, it’s almost impossible for this one to not land on your radar. Nicolas Jaar — the Chilean/American electronic house producer who made waves with the stellar 2011 independent release Space Is Only Noise — has taken Grizzly Bear’s “Sleeping Ute” from last year’s Shields and Brian Eno’s “LUX 2” from last year’s ambient collection Lux and remixed them. Yeah, it’s even more awesome than you could imagine.

Jaar had been testing the waters with these remixes at some of his live shows over the past few months, and now we’ll finally get full studio renditions of them in all of their digital/analog glory. Expect this 12-inch to sell out quickly, as it will probably only see purchase as an Record Store Day exclusive!

3. Deep Purple / Type O Negative – Side By Side: “Highway Star”

Highway Star Record Store Day Release

Record Store Day will have a slew of new releases courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, whose emphasis on “because sound matters” has enlivened the re-buying of music on vinyl. Every year they release new additions to their “Side By Side” series — colorful special-edition double-sided 7-inch vinyls that contain a remastered previously released track on one side and a remastered cover of said single on the other side. A few good ones are being released this year: The Doors’ early psychedelic track “Soul Kitchen” backed with X’s speedy punk rendition; Dio’s classic “Holy Diver” backed with Killswitch Engage’s metalcore version; and The Stooges’ “No Fun” backed with The Black Keys’ backyard antics.

But the best of these releases occur when an original is backed with a completely transformed and re-envisioned rendering, such as last year’s The Flaming Lips/Mastodon mash-up for “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton.” My pick for this year’s Side By Side release is Deep Purple’s iconic road rocker “Highway Star,” which is backed with the gothic doom remake from Type-O Negative. Purchase the disc to have Deep Purple’s classic track from their influential 1972 album Machine Head on (you guessed it) purple-splattered vinyl, but mostly get it for Type-O Negative’s gnarly cover, which streamlines the original’s solos and riffs but with a louder and meatier edge and just enough devilish soul to allow you to listen to the track while making the sign of the horns.

4. MGMT – “Alien Days”

MGMT - Alien Days Cassette Tape

We haven’t heard much about the new MGMT full-length other than it’s supposed to come out this summer, but it appears the band will release “Alien Days,” a new track from the record, on Record Store Day in the cassette tape format.

Labels and tech purists thought it was odd when vinyl began making its comeback, but now, for whatever reason, cassettes are weirdly making their way back into the public consciousness after being practically phased out completely by CDs. MGMT is going to be releasing the new single exclusively on this format, and I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the band intending for their redefined sound and tantalizing textures to be heard on cassette tape (or if I’m just looking WAY too much into this). For those of you worried you’ll have to dig through your dusty boxes of ’90s belongings to find a boombox or upset that your car lacks a tape deck, the release will also come with a digital download card so you can have “Alien Days” as an MP3.

Either way, not only will you get to hear new material from MGMT’s upcoming album, you’ll also have a highly collectable item, so “Alien Days” on cassette is a must-have for this year’s Record Store Day purchases.

5. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die

Ready To Die

Of the many reissues that will be released on Record Store Day this year, there’s only one that has stood the test of time to become a classic of its genre: Biggie’s first album, Ready To Die. The album — featuring the hits “Big Poppa,” “Juicy,” and “One More Chance” — was released back in 1994 to critical acclaim and remastered in 2004, but interestingly, the vinyl version has been out of print ever since. For those of you who, like myself, were looking to pick this up on the format, Record Store Day is your best bet.

Each copy of the album is numbered and supposedly recorded to white wax, making this release a true exclusive even for fans who may already own the album. Though I do miss seeing the iconic baby and his ‘fro on the front cover, I’ll be satisfied knowing the album will finally have a place in my home. As an album that changed the face of East Coast hip hop, it’s an essential addition to any die-hard music lover’s collection.

And that’s it! I hope this list gave you some idea as to why you must attend this year’s Record Store Day. I’ll be hanging around Hollywood at some record stores to pick up these and more, and be sure to visit the Record Store Day website to see the full list of releases to print out and bring with you to your local record store. The day will be filled with other activities as well, including exclusive in-store sets and giveaways, so I’m sure there’s something for you!

For more info:

Record Store Day Website