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Let’s Get Physical (Copies)!!!

Tuesday is easily my favorite day of the week. On most Tuesday’s you can find me at a record store, picking up the week’s new releases, usually along with a few items that I find in the used bins. This coming Tuesday is no exception to that rule. In fact, this week is going to be a little more intense than most. There are several albums coming out that I’m interested in, so rest assured that Twist & Shout is gonna grab a big chunk of my paycheck tomorrow. That’s OK, cause I like CD’s and they like my money. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

Anyone who knows me personally (or reads this blog) knows how much I love buying albums from the record store. I love picking up a new album and listening to it with my headphones while reading through the liner notes. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon in November.

One of the albums that I am looking forward to getting tomorrow is the new How To Destroy Angels record. HTDA is the new band from Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), his wife and a couple of other dorks. The problem is, I won’t be able to buy it tomorrow. The EP is not being released on CD format. Only vinyl and digital download. So an antiquated dinosaur like myself, who prefers an out of date format is in essence…..shit out of luck.

Now look, I’m not gonna sit here (in this post) and bellyache about the changing climate of commercially released music. Everybody knows that CD sales are and have been on the decline for some time. Myself included. I always knew that I would be forced to make the choice of going fully digital or buying vinyl (which I have never been convinced sounds better. Fuck you hipsters). I guess I just wasn’t expecting to have to make that choice so soon.

The decision of artists or record labels (or maybe both) to exclude the CD format pisses me off for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, I’m a completest. If I find an artist or band that I really truly love, I buy everything they put out. It’s a pretty rare occasion when I find an artist that strikes me enough to dump a shitload of money on them, but it has happened a few times throughout my life. Trent Reznor just happens to be one of those artists. Check out this picture to see what I mean:

That’s a ton of CD’s for just one artist (chill out all you NIN fanboys. I’m sure I’m missing the second printing of the Australian version of Year Zero. I’m OK without it). This doesn’t include all of the concert tickets, DVD’s T-shirts, etc. etc. that I have bought throughout the years. I’d like to think that when it comes to NIN and other Trent related bands, I have a pretty solid collection. Until tomorrow, when I can’t get the new EP on CD. I guess that’s when the physical collection will finally see it’s incomplete demise. Sigh…..The way I see it, when you love an artist and purchase all of their work, it’s like completing a puzzle. Get everything and the puzzle is complete. Miss a release and you end up with a puzzle that looks like this:

OK, OK…..That’s a little melodramatic, but you see my point.

On top of struggling with the reality that my complete collections may soon be a thing of the past, I also grapple with the absolute uninspiring presentation of digital formats. Sure, many of the larger digital releases are getting a digital booklet released with the album, but it’s completely impractical. It cannot be looked at on an Ipod and I have had trouble accessing them on my phone and tablet. Because of that, they are difficult to share and difficult to utilize. What if I want to read the album jacket to Led Zepplin IV when I’m taking a shit? I can’t drag my desktop into the bathroom (although that could be kind of awesome).

The presentation of an album is just another reason to continue purchasing a physical product instead of having just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s tucked away on a hard drive. The presentation of a product can illicit emotion, curiosity and interest in a band, all without even hearing a single note. Take Young God Records for example. This label is mostly notable for having artists such as Swans and Devandra Banhart on the roster (at some point). Michael Gira, the label’s founder also decided to create a very uniform approach for all of the releases to come out on his label. While each release is unique, they all follow (mostly) the same visual setup. Rick Rubin’s American Recordings follows in a similar fashion. KMFDM has been (in essence) releasing the same album format for the last 25 years!!

American Recordings

Young God Records: Lisa Germano & Swans

KMFDM Albums: Naive ’90, Symbols ’97, WTF?! ’11

Now I’m sure you might be asking why that is important. Truth is, aside from a handful of music nerds like me, I’m not too sure that it is. Maybe I’m just OCD, but I love the presentation and organization that the aforementioned artists and labels provide, something that an MP3 can never give me.  To me, it makes having the actual product that much more exciting. But who knows, maybe I’m just like that crazy dude in “Sleeping With The Enemy” where everything needs to be facing straight……


I’m still going to continue to go to the record store on Tuesday. I’ll probably continue that practice as long as record stores are still open. Completing a discography and the visual elements of a CD collection are just too appealing for me to turn my back on, Although I fear that many artists and labels have already turned heel and are marching away, back turned on me first. 

Do you enjoy buying and collecting a physical copy of music, or do you just say “fuck it” and download that shit? What do you look for in a physical package?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below, or you can connect with Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter and shout it out there!

Twitter: @Gutter_Bubbles

About the author:
Has 290 Articles

I am absolutely and unabashedly in love with music. If I could eat a huge bowl of songs for breakfast every morning, I totally would. I'm obsessive about categorization (don't mess with my chronological or alphabetical) and can't stand an unorganized iTunes library. Outside of music and writing, I love baseball (go Rockies), coffee, corgi's and going on fun trips with my girlfriend!


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