New record for a new record: I finally got around to picking up Radiohead's In Rainbows. I still consider CDs to be cool new technology, so that whole pay-what-you-want download thing totally passed me by. Actually, I guess the release of the physical album was just a couple weeks ago, so this is somewhat unprecedented for me. I usually wait until a band has long since broken up or 10 years has passed since their heyday until I decide to get around to listening to them. I also picked up the latest from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which has only been out since '06.
I would like to point out that both purchases, besides being actual disc-shaped physical manifestations of recorded music, were also purchased at the Disc Exchange, the local kick-ass record store. This is noteworthy for two reasons: record stores, especially the quirky, locally owned variety, are an endangered species; they are also the places in the world were I feel the least cool. I'll tackle the former first.
I refuse to mention the movie High Fidelity in this post. Dammit, I guess it was unavoidable. At least I got it out of the way early. Moving on, the epicenter of cool in any town, much more so than the yuppie-filled coffee shops, has always been the hipster-frequented record store. If you have any kind of good taste in music, you will never be able to find what you need at Wal-Mart. If for some crazy reason you do, it'll probably be the family-friendly censored version and if that's the case, your band has obviously sold out the souls of its unborn children and you shouldn't be listening to them anymore anyway. What the hell are you doing in Wal-Mart to begin with, NASCAR fan?
Independent record stores, like independent bookstores, are on the verge of extinction due to our insistence on buying our shit from the corporations that are already doing a bang-up business selling iPods and printer cartridges. In the meantime the Disc Exchange, which is devoted to providing a varied selection of both mainstream and hard-to-find music, will in a few weeks close its only other location due to a drop in business. Sure, Best Buy has a decent selection and pretty good prices, but how many Husker Du albums do you think they have in stock? That's another band I haven't yet gotten around to. It's only been 20 years.
Yeah, maybe it's inevitable that independent stores won't be able to compete with online downloads, but plenty of people still buy CDs. It would be nice if we could buy less of them from the big box stores and more from our super-hip neighborhood record shop. The same record shop, and this is point #2, that always makes me feel like such a complete square with their techno beats and their aromatic incense and their clerks wearing such perfectly worn out jeans and funky piercings. Heaven forbid I should ever walk into such a place wearing a polo shirt and some khakis. The universe might implode. And then I would have to kick myself in the nuts for wearing a polo shirt and some khakis. (Actually, you should see just how preppy I'm dressed today in my new button-down collared shirt tucked into some somewhat fashionable blue jeans. I'm such a friggin' sell-out. At least I listen to decent music.)