I don't normally expect to feel like I'm at home when I'm abroad. Sure there are little reminders of the Rose City from time to time—be it walking by a show poster advertising a Nurses gig or just the fact that Berlin has a very similar and affordable creative scene—but typically it's a cluster of foreign words and food, new sights and new sounds, regardless of the country.
However, if you wander down Rue Folie Méricourt in Paris and stop in at Fargo Records, you might start to wonder if you really did just cross the Atlantic, because it's gonna remind you of home. Big time.
The boutique carries both CDs and vinyl as well a small collection of other merchandise. A great majority of it seems to be dedicated to Portland acts. And we're not talking just the biggies like the Decemberists and Elliott Smith (though they're there too); there's also vinyl offerings from Horse Feathers, Akron/Family, Laura Viers and more. In fact, when I walked in, not only was I surrounded by Stumptown stock, but the Thermals were being played overhead.
Fargo operates as both a record shop and a record label. It's home to such acts as Deer Tick, Andrew Bird and Ron Sexsmith. And wouldn't you know, it's the French label home to some Portlanders too like Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Dolorean and formerly Alela Diane. Crazy, right?
Of course I had to talk to label owner and shop buyer Michel Pampelune a little about his thoughts on Portland. I asked him whether he thought there was a cohesive sound to the scene. While I don't personally hear it, I was curious what someone from outside might think who is clearly well versed on Portland music. And versed he was. He said he didn't find there to be one, but perhaps if you stretched back to the Type Foundry days with M. Ward and Co., then yes.
Before departing the boutique I took photos of the various Portland music on display, evidence if you will. Alongside our current bands like Blitzen Trapper and Wild Flag, I also included some shots baring the names of former Portland residents (Cat Power, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement and Brian Jonestown Massacre, which has at least one former member here). I hear not too long after my visit copies of both Typhoon releases arrived on vinyl.