Weekly Wax was an idea for a blog born in Denton by Lumberjack Fest creator Harlin Anderson and his buddy and debt collector, Richard Oram. One night after tailgating at a UNT game, the two went back to Anderson's house and started listening to records.
"We decided that we would endeavor to buy one record a week, all 52 weeks of the year," Anderson explained. "But we would give ourselves a budget of 350 bucks [each] for the year. So you have to keep track of what you buy and what you pay for it." Anderson and Oram added local librarian and poet Katey Margolis to their lineup of writers, and after beefing up their content, Weeklywax.com, went live in February of this year.
The only requirement, besides the fact that the albums they review have to be vinyl, is that each writer must write at least one post per week reviewing a record. After that, they can write about pretty much anything they want, and they do.
"It's not really Denton-centric," adds Margolis. "I mean, the music selection, it could be anything." As an example, Oram recently reviewed a record of the Aristocats soundtrack. And it's not meant to be generation Y irony-for-the-sake-of-irony. These cats really do love music, and they want to introduce perhaps more obscure records or just something that people might not have heard or thought to listen to before to their readership.
Another way to look at their site is at an angle of applying a defibrillator to dying vinyl sales. While they jokingly say that they have no goals about this project, the true face of their collective ambition and general need to listen to records shows in a telling anecdote by Anderson.
"I think we've all lived through times in this town when Denton didn't have a record store," he said. "When I first moved here, there was the X on Fry Street and CD Warehouse. Then those were gone and there was Seasick over there by campus. So we love music and records and we remember not having them in town, so now that we have them, we'd like to try to support them as much as possible." Though Recycled has been selling records in Denton since 1983 and Books N More has been selling records at its current location since 2002, it's natural to feel that a town most known for the music it produces should have more than one or two record stores.
That being said, there are no limitations on where they get the vinyl they review. Records can be purchased at a garage sale in Denton, or at a vinyl depot in Vermont (should such a thing as a vinyl depot actually exist, in Vermont or otherwise). They also purchased records on EBAY.
Weekly Wax also does inventive things with their posts as well. While searching for deals on EBAY one payday, Anderson found someone selling a box of 45s for $25. He purchased it and it turned out to be all old R&B and soul records,so he and Oram decided to do a draft with it
, similar to a fantasy (or real) football draft.
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"When I got the records, I made a list of everything that was in there," Anderson explained. "I sent that list to Richard and then we both spent a couple days researching. We got together on a Saturday, and I made some ribs (Anderson is known by many local musicians for his grilling prowess under the pseudonym Meat Guns) and some mac & cheese, and we went back and forth for about 20 rounds. So Richard got the first pick and he took Atomic Dog, and then I took Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, which was scratched on one side, but the other side plays beautifully as we discovered last night. But we just kind of went back and forth."
The Weekly Wax team realizes that this type of blog concept -- 52 reviews a piece for an entire year -- requires stamina, not only for maintaining the pace of a review per week per writer, but also in consistently keeping the review styles fresh and not monotonous. The site is still in its infancy, so the Weekly Wax database is not gargantuan yet, but all of the writers have their favorite records they've reviewed so far. Anderson's baby is Johnny Jenkins, Ton-Ton Macoute! http://weeklywax.com/?p=107 (he also emphatically mentions his Mandy Patinkin record he found for $1. Yes, the Mandy Patinkin, and when he tells you that he has a "monomaniacal obsession" with Mr. Patinkin, you can believe him. http://weeklywax.com/?p=81 ), while Margolis lists one of her favorite record reviews as the newest EP from Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers II http://weeklywax.com/?p=69 , and Oram says that one of his favorites to review was The Archers of Loaf classic Icky Mettle.
As interviews conclude with the threesome in the plush and comfortable windowed end of Paschall Bar, they are all laughing and jovial, joking around with each other about records and the general minutiae of life. Hopefully this enthusiasm will last and carry them home to the end of the 52 week stretch, at which point they can pause, evaluate where they are where they want to be. So far, Weekly Wax is establishing a reputation for being informative, smart, poignant and funny, and I, for one, look forward to seeing where this group of talented music lovers takes it.