Tag Archives: Criminal Records

Criminal Records

Dear Criminal Records,
When you first opened, there wasn’t any gap in the Toronto record store scene. We had Rotate This, Soundscapes, Sonic Boom, we might have even had Sam’s still. Toronto’s music nerds were happy. Then you opened, I remember seeing your sign on Queen Street and being excited for this new record store, even though I had no use for ANOTHER one. Then one day, I went in, I was greeted with incredible prices, fantastic selection, wonderful staff/owners, and a lot of vinyl. Though we didn’t need another record store, we learned we needed a great record store, and you showed Toronto how amazing one can be.

It’s been years now, and today you close your doors for good. As I entered the store I immediately saw friends, all gathering around with their purchases saying goodbye to a Toronto institution. It was bittersweet flipping through the racks, seeing many albums that I wanted, it reminded me of the first time Sam The Record Man closed.

Some good did come out of today’s sad affair, I did walk away with a handful of records. I’m now going to listen to them and weep.



For those interested, records acquired are:

  • Paul McCartney – “We All Stand Together” 7″
  • Fran Healy – “Wreckorder”
  • Little Scream – “The Golden Record”
  • Lady Gaga – “Born This Way”
  • Mount Eerie – “Black Wooden”
  • Papercuts – “Fading Parade”
  • R.E.M. – “Chronic Town”
  • Stereolab – “Not Music”

Isobel(le, sans Sebastian)

Isobel Campbell seems to hate Toronto. In 1999, her then-band Belle & Sebastian were scheduled to play a show here, but she got sick, and the band had to cancel what was to be their first Toronto show. The next time they came around to Toronto, they played at one of the city’s worst venues, The Kool Haus. She didn’t seem to be too happy up on stage, and lo and behold, she left the band the next day. Since then Belle & Sebastian have been without a cellist1 and they seem happy about it.

A few years later, Campbell was on tour supporting her new record, an album she made with Mark Lanegan called The Ballad of Broken Seas.She was starting this tour in Toronto at a venue called The Revival. I showed up at the venue, only to find out that the show had been cancelled. She was sick. Now after two Gentle Waves albums, two solo records, and three albums with Mark Lanegan, she’s come to Toronto.

So here I was, en route to Criminal Records, with my old 1999 Gentle Waves 7″ tucked into my jacket pocket, half in doubt that she’d arrive. The time clicked on, as the small crowd assembled, waiting for her to arrive, waiting for her to join the rest of her band. We were told that she’d be there just shortly after 6, I doubted.

Suddenly, the doors swung open, and in walked Isobel Campbell. She made her triumphant return to Toronto, it actually happened. She played about five songs. They were really good. Then she signed by 7″, and I departed for home, where I left my ticket. Seeing as I had some time. I took some time to write this, but now, alas, I must leave for Lee’s Palace, where she will be joined by Mark Lanegan.

See you soon… with more pictures2

Opening was Willy Mason, who sings on the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album, Hawk. His “down home” country voice is absolutely gorgeous, and he sets out some beautiful songs. It was quite a great opening act.

Then came out Campbell and Lanegan performing the soft and beautiful “We Die And See Beauty Reign” from their latest collaboration from which the immediately transitioned into the rocker “You Won’t Let Me Down Again” which I think was probably the cue to hit the stage lights, but they didn’t go on, and they stayed off the entire night. I was confused.

The set list was almost exclusively songs from the three Campbell & Lanegan albums, which appeased the many Mark Lanegan fans in the audience. I was slightly confused by that notion, as why would a Mark Lanegan fan be at an Isobel Campbell show. I always saw Lanegan as simply a hired hand to provide vocals, seeing as Campbell is the songwriter. It seems however, that Lanegan fans are not only fond of his beautiful deep voice, but as well fond of high quality Scottish songwriting.

That’s one of the most important points of this. Isobel Campbell has grown as a songwriter. To listen from her early Gentle Waves albums to her current output, you’ll certainly see a steady progression, and while the twee, beautiful, soft songs of those early records have a warm place in my heart, her songwriting on Hawk is by far better.

Kinda wished she’d played “Weathershow,” but I never expected it… oh and “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”

  1. Who’s a member of the band, not a backing member. []
  2. I’m making the assumption that I’ll add pictures from the in-store. []