(video found via State.ie review of the recent Bats album fundraiser at the Lower Deck, Dublin)
The above video is of Ireland's best hardcore band of the moment (and by 'hardcore', I mean prog-metalcore/death disco punk, genres I wouldn't normally like if played by other bands, so I'll just call it hardcore), Bats, performing a track from the soon-to-be-recorded album with Kurt Ballou of Converge. Their sound has developed a good deal from the excellent 2007/2008 EP Cruel Sea Scientist, less schizophrenic (notwithstanding that I enjoyed that quality of Cruel Sea Scientist) and more rounded, though still heavy and hard-rocking.
Also picked up here, this is Analogue Magazine writer and fellow Bats fan Karl's list of suggestion for how Road Records could improve their sales of music in Dublin. This is following on from the sold-out and, by all accounts, successful One for the Road benefit gig in Andrew's Lane. What some people seem exercised about is the suggestion of a gap between the headliners of that gig (Jape, the Jimmy Cake and Si Schroeder) and the generation of artists which should be connecting the record-buying youth - such as there are, and those who don't are mostly beyond the reach of any store - with a shop like Road Records.
It's a fair point that established acts are the ones to headline such a gig, which moreover was organised by the artists themselves, or at least that section of the musical community - but that in itself points to a gap between the ideals of the past, however sincere, and the realities of the present and future. A band such as Fight Like Apes - for example - is also restrained by touring commitments (specifically, SXSW) but again it's likely that they have achieved their success by more contemporary, i.e. internet-based methods (based even more on very physical gigging, though), beyond the willing and recognised support of somewhere like Road.
What it seems to me to come down to, as a somewhat similarly placed "average 20 year old who for one reason or another likes to buy a CD or a 7" every now and then", is a sort of ambivalence as to whether a physical local record store is totally necessary as well as merely valuable. I've enjoyed what I've found and bought in Road, but I'm still largely too young to have a real affection for the 'record store' experience much beyond a more immediate version of mailorder.
There are other issues there, such as the difference between Road and the generally very well stocked Tower Records a few streets away, and the availability of releases by small Irish bands (which could however be ably handled by an online distro, such as Bats' Richter Collective), but most of all I'm not totally convinced that a phsyical Road Records is absolutely needed by me, or even more importantly, by someone five years younger than me (i.e., a 16-year old) now and in the future.