The future is unwritten, but if Anna and Chris Brozek have anything to do about it, 2010 will not mark the end of an era for independent record stores. As owners of Salt Lake City’s Slowtrain (221 E. Broadway), the personable small-business owners offer music lovers a gateway to new artists, local artists and musicians you might have missed. We checked in with the Brozeks to recap the year and decade in sound as part of our ongoing series, Record Store Roundup.
City Weekly: Did you have fun with your End of Year Best-ofs?
Chris Brozek: I love doing it but it’s hard; I’m not a writer.
Anna Brozek: It’s hard to remember. Our customers are exposed to a lot through the Internet, but we’re inundated with it every day.
CB: Records that I fell in love with at the start of the year, I don’t know if they’re overplayed, or if I just lose interest. A good example is Animal Collective. Love that record [Merriweather Post Pavillion] but it just …
AB: Lost its charm …
CB: It kind of faded out. If I did this list in June it would have been in the top, but now, it didn’t make it. I think after five years, we’ll have to do our favorite albums since we’ve been open.
CW: Speaking of, what are your top five albums of 2009?
AB: Cass McCombs, Catacombs; David Williams, Western Interior Seaway; Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon; Laura Gibson, Beasts of Seasons; Here We Go Magic, Here We Go Magic.
CB: David Williams, Western Interior Seaway; Laura Gibson, Beasts of Seasons; Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Elvis Perkins in Dearland; Cotton Jones, Paranoid Cocoon; Cass McCombs, Catacombs.
CW: You both put David Williams in your top picks.
CB: He’s one of my favorite songwriters. He happens to be a local guy. I haven’t listened to anything I haven’t liked from him. This record, it’s the best record of the year, but I don’t think it’s the best record he’ll ever do.
AB: There’s some magic about David Williams and his songs. He has a really broad range that’s a little unheard-of these days in singer/songwriters. David can play rock songs and country songs and mellow songs and dirty songs.
CB: And it all seems effortless.
AB: And that’s the magic part, it just flows out of him. He can go from one of his own to a beautiful blues standard he makes his own. He’s just incredible. The fact he is unknown blows my mind. That’s part of the charm. We know a secret no one else knows.
CW: How did Slowtrain fare in this year’s strapped-for-cash environment?
AB: It’s been the hardest year since we opened just ’cause it’s hard on everyone right now. It’s also been really positive in that sense, too, because we can still pay our bills and keep afloat.
CW: How did your opinion of operating a record shop change in 2009?
AB: I feel like it’s more important now than ever. Because of the economy, it’s so easy for people to cut a music budget and switch to downloading illegally or downloading a song at a time. I don’t think people realize what it will be like when we’re gone. I don’t want to live in a world without record stores. I feel like now it’s created a sense of urgency and lit a fire under us: We have to do this; we have to stick around.