Albums, for those who don’t know, are released on Fridays now and you don’t go to the record store to buy them, but they magically appear in Spotify. This is the new record store.
The old record store was a physical place you had to actually go to, like drive or walk. All new releases came out on Tuesdays, and when I was a kid, you rarely bought records. CDs and cassettes were the formats.
Our little town of McHenry did have a record store, for a short period of time, The Platter Plus. This is where I bought NWA's Straight Outta Compton on CD, and several New Edition albums on cassette. As a side note, New Edition's Candy Girl was extremely hard to find. I pretty much searched the whole goddamn world to find it and eventually did; once we moved to South Carolina.
Once The Platter Plus closed down, we had to drive 25 minutes to the suburban sprawl of Crystal Lake, which had a mall, and several record stores. My favorite place was called The Flipside, and the main reason for liking it as much as I did was because of the manager, Debbie. A friendly woman who would show us the release dates for albums she thought we would like and for the coming months. Tuesdays were a big day in our lives, and we would plan accordingly.
Sometimes we'd drive the half hour to Flipside to pick up Morrissey's latest, only to find out the moron had changed the release date, or that the record store didn't get their shipment yet. So we go out to lunch, and hope by the time we were done with our hot dogs the CDs would be there. Sometimes we'd get lucky, other times we'd drive home empty handed and broken hearted.
A cumbersome process, but an exciting one. I haven't been this excited for a release in a long time, and when Hippo's new album hit my Release Radar, on Friday, all these great memories came rushing back. Which reminds me, CDs were expensive and I didn't have credit cards in my early teens. So, I had to bus tables to make sure I had that cold cash to make the purchase.
But, the investment meant you were going to listen to the CD, over and over, all the way through. Intro to outro, and everything in between.
The final step was seeing the band perform this record in concert. You'd drive hours to the city, and sing along to every song. When they played something we weren't familiar with, we'd talk with other fans about the nature of the song? Was it a cover, a B-side, or a new song?
I still think about Debbie and Flipside and how fun it would be to pick up the new Hippo Campus CD there. To break the cellophane, in the car, right outside of the store. To put the CD in the player, and listen on the way home. Taking the CD booklet out at stoplights, and hoping the lyrics to Bambi were included. Then, arriving home, transporting the CD to the house stereo, and reading the liner notes. That’s what records were. That’s what kids are missing, and that’s what makes music great. Not just the music itself, but the whole act of acquiring it. It’s a magical experience.
The new Hippo Campus album was released on Friday. I didn't go to the record store. I woke up to push alerts from Spotify saying, "Hippo Campus Bambi is out. Listen now?" Yes, please!
On first listen, "Honestly" stuck out. The second time through "Golden" blew my mind. We've had "Bambi" for a while now, and it's badass. Same goes for "Passenger," which is beautiful and moody. "Anxious" and "Doubt" are quickly growing on me, and I'm thinking "Bubbles" will take on a whole new life live? They are trying new things, and this is good. We want them to stick around for years to come.
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