Record Store Day is a holy day. There are worship places throughout our city, but imagine if we weren’t so lucky. Imagine that there’s only one place to go to express your religion in an entire part of a country.
That’s what record store Sound it Out is to the Teesside area of North East England, as the only one left (“we don’t really count HMV.”) But not just on Record Store Day. People show up almost every day to get their satisfaction and pray (that it won’t close). They can easily talk with their leaders who stand to the obvious but nicer High Fidelity character comparison, Tom and David, about anything. Sound it Out is the place to be. (Unless you like Dubstep, which they cleared out, seemingly the only music Tom really can’t understand throughout the doc.)
Director Jeanie Finlay, who grew up a few miles away from the shop, obviously saw this when she decided to make a documentary on the place and its characters. We’re welcomed inside not just the store but also their homes right from the start. There’s nothing to hide or doubt about this religion, in fact, this is something to show off. We see how collectors are dedicated and emotionally attached to their craft and the fascinating mental capacity of those who run stores such as this and are devoted to knowing everything that is inside of it. It’s incredibly impressive, but it’s hard to deny that the documentary shows that these qualities come from a somewhat sad and lonely place. Each man here – and yes, it’s a film made by women with an underlying aspect of how record collecting is a man’s sport – has something that brings them to music, whether it be health issues, mental issues or simply the fact that they can’t leave their poor, industrial town of Stockton.
From the battle jackets to the DJ booths in sheds, Stockton is shown that it’s full of shy, curious and creative people who turn to music and a local worship place when there’s nothing else. “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink and I don’t have a woman,” quipped customer and Status Quo superfan Shane when he explained why he loves collecting records and memorabilia.
It’s a good film for any music or record store enthusiast to see. It doesn’t offer anything mind-blowing to the table, but its simplicity is enjoyable and there are plenty of heartwarming and quirky moments. You feel like a fly on the wall just watching people filter in and out and listen to the conversations they have.
If you’re the kind of person who would light a candle for a record store and feel soothed to breathe in the store’s dusty aroma, you’ll feel right at home watching this while celebrating your holiday and hoping nobody ever takes it away from you.