Before we began, he gave me a brief rundown of his musical background and tastes. His first record, inherited from his sister, was The Mamas and the Papas’ If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, which spurred his fondness for sunshine-splashed folk and pop music, pitch-perfect vocal harmonies, finely-orchestrated arrangements, and psychedelic flavor. His formative music years in the 1970s and ‘80s added a love of power pop punch ala The Smithereens, college rock drive and New Wave jangle, while the ’90s further expanded his preferred sonic territories with grungy alt rock, dreamy indie pop and hazy shoegaze in the vein of My Bloody Valentine.
We satisfied Christopher’s sonic flavor profile over more than five hours of vinyl diving and six total stops. When he didn’t know the artists I suggested, he pulled out his smartphone and looked them up online, an ironic use of advanced technology to make a decision about an analog storage medium.
Then it was off to the next St. Pete stop, Daddy Kool; I hipped Christopher to the neo-psychedelic rock of The Warlocks (he ended up with 2011 fifth full-length The Mirror Explodes), while he discovered the pop-melodic folk of The Skygreen Leopards (and picked 2009’s Gorgeous Johnny) all on his own; both bands, coincidently, are from California. The grand spree finale took place less than two miles down Central Avenue at Planet Retro, a stop that yielded two more ’60s-era LPs and took us full circle back to the sonic terrain where we started — The Byrds, Younger Than Yesterday (1967) and The Beach Boys, Holland (1973). Planet Retro owner Rob Sexton also threw in a well-worn vintage cardboard record case (white with purple polka dots, hinged top and handle), so Christopher could carry his 11 new vinyl finds home in style.
Overall, it was a fruitful and satisfying spree, and I ended with a new friend in vinyl.