"Indie record stores were what we had to start with, and they're all we've got left." - James McMurtry
It takes a certain kind of person to truly thrive in a record store. You must enjoy the sound records make, flipping back and forth, as if a giant, slow hummingbird has descended next to you. The smell...you must love the smell. The mothball, plastic, stale aroma of memories and audible art combined in the form of packaging, synthetic ridges and anticipation. Second to last, you need to be a tactile and process oriented person. You must enjoy the chase and the touch. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, you must have a starting point. You cannot just go into a record store unarmed. I speak from experience. It can overwhelming, even in the smallest of places if you don't have that first name...that first band that will take you like a chain reaction through the rest of your musical desires.
Origami Vinyl in Echo Park is petite and shoebox shaped. It has Edison light bulbs (filament included) on black wire hanging from the ceiling. It has a loft stage that has the occasional concert. It has The Black Keys' single, it has Joan Jett and The Blackheart's Greatest Hits, it has the Pixies. It has my heart. As far as record stores go, I'm sold.
In the ever changing market where consumerism and music converge, I find comfort in independent record stores. Saturday was Record Store Day. Instead of talking about the festivities (which were abundant), I want to focus on why I prefer to buy a vinyl album instead of downloading mp3s from _________ (insert preferred internet music provider here).
The way I see it is...music is an art form. A fairly cheap (in terms of price) art form. Art has the power to move us, inspire us, and free us. Let's say a pristine print of our favorite Rothko was $15. Would you rather download a high resolution version and print it out on your shitty 1998 Cannon printer, or would you rather have the high quality print? In addition to that...I'm a designer. I see buying albums (which can include some kick ass album designs) as a way of giving back to my community...all those designers who are paid meager wages to impress the masses to buy that particular album.
Since I attempt to be an eco-conscious individual, I've been looking into other forms of buying albums (+ cover art) that may leave a better carbon footprint on the environment. Enter The Music Tee (www.themusictee.com). This site allows the buyer to purchase a t-shirt that contains the album art on the front and track listings on the back. It also contains a code to download the album in its entirety in mp3 format. Is this the perfect compromise for those who prefer to have something tangible in their hands without harming the environment? Probably not, but at least it's opening up the conversation to new ideas. As for me, I plan to continue buying albums...and trading them.
1.) Choose your art (and where you get it) wisely. Make buying an album an experience.
2.) If you missed out on Record Store Day this year, do your best to be a part of it next year.
3.) Wash yer hands. Who knows what they've touched?
Kaki King, Junior (2010)