Ladies and gentlemen, Saturday is National Record Store Day and we urge you to get your ass off your couch and actually walk into a real live store, talk to a real live person working in it, and buy yourself a record. DO IT. Here is a list of participating DC stores:
- CD Warehouse
- Crooked Beat Records
- Politics & Prose Bookstore
- Red Onion Records & Books
- Smash! Records
- Som Records
For extra motivation and perusal inspiration, we asked some of our favorite bands around to tell us all about THE RECORD THAT CHANGED THEIR LIFE AND WHY. A lot of nice folks we love like Girl Talk, A Trak, Yacht etc responded and we love them and the records they love for it (+next time you try and stike up a post-show conversation with one of them, you’ll actually have a topic).
The survey, btw, is inspired by an old DC Record fair feature which in turn was inspired by my favorite column in this magazine called XYZ in Serbia that I used to read semi-religiously when I was but a twinkle in my music taste’s eye: “The Record that Changed My Life” where all sorts of smart people with smart music choices talked about what record just sort of “made music for them”, maybe not the best album they ever heard but the album that “did it for them”.
After it, they were goners.
Everyone has one.
Sometimes it is just a little scary to think about it.
There are no right or wrong answers, only revealing ones.
So, read your fan favorite choices below and then kids, this is what the comments were invented for: the stage, so to speak, is yours.
Nirvana – Nevermind– I saw “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV, and it was like nothing I ever heard before. It broke down what I expected of rock music. I was obsessed with this album immediately after the first listen. I remember thinking it was so weird: the attitude, noisy endings to songs, lyrics, everything. But it was still accessible; it had the hooks. This connected me into a whole new world of music. Nirvana led me to Sonic Youth and the Boredoms, which led to college radio, which led to experimental electronic music, which led to me starting my first bands when I was 14.
Khaela from The Blow:
When I was about 8 or 9, my brother and I found a cassette tape in the drawer under the stereo that had the words “BIG SCIENCE” handwritten on it in marker. My experience of music in the 1980’s was like living on a desert island. My parents didn’t have much music, and anything that managed to reach our home seemed to have washed up on the shore after crossing a great ocean of silence. Mom and dad had about 13 vinyl albums of 60’s and 70’s folk, like Peter Paul and Mary, and Simon And Garfunkel, and that was it. So this BIG SCIENCE cassette was a real mystery. For one thing, it was recorded at very low volume, so we had to lean up close to the speakers to be able to hear it at all. And what we were able to hear was completely confounding. There was a lady talking slowly in a spooky voice, and there was hypnotic and repetitive music. I remember my brother and I looking at each other and saying, “What IS this?” and then keeping on listening, mesmerized. What was so influential and inspiring about finding that album, Laurie Anderson’s Big Science, is that it was like witnessing a glimmer of light from another world, suggesting that there were universes that I would one day find and come to live in, that I just couldn’t see yet. As an adult, I met up with an old boyfriend of my mom’s, who is still a good family friend, and he mentioned that he had seen Laurie Anderson perform in a small club in LA in the 80’s, and he had though what she was doing was kind of cool, and had dubbed the cassette and sent it to my mom because he thought she might have been interested. It was the long awaited answer to the great mystery of how that music had come into my early realm. I am certain that my mother never listened to it.
The Beastie Boys — “Paul’s Boutique” and “Check Your Head”……both those albums were a huge influence on my life… probably still so today. It was the music which helped me to get into hip-hop—talking a lot about sampling. From a style/aesthetic standpoint it laid the blueprint for the white guy in hip-hop; those albums kind of set it off for me.
Photek’s debut album Modus Operandi. I was about 14 when I discovered this brilliant minimal drum ‘n bass album by the British producer, Photek. I spent the next few years producing jungle in my bedroom in North Carolina. Very few people ever heard that stuff. But Photek’s minimalism had an influence on me can still be heard in the music I make even now, 13 years later.
Jona: Nirvana, “Bleach”:
We both came of age in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s, surrounded by rain, salt, fog, wet undergrowth and tones of grey. A featureless world. The records that changed our lives were watershed events, shocking our consciousness from the monochromatic murk that perpetually surrounded us, radically detaching our egos from our bodies and hurling them into a higher place — a place of keen awareness about feeling and injustice, where the screams of young men could take on a riveting, mantra-esque quality. Much has been written about the records we choose to honor here, Weezer’s impossibly potent album of spiritual and sexual unease, “Pinkerton,” and “Bleach,” Nirvana’s dark opus against masculinity and small town oppression, but ultimately music affects us all individually. These albums fiercely and unapologetically broke us out of our safe environment, showed us the poetry of rage, and made us the people we are today.
Ryan Holladay of Bluebrain:
“A record that really effected me was the Twenty-Two’s/Positive State split 7 inch. (This was a DC band called the Twenty-Two’s…I think there may be another now but they are unrelated.) I was 15 at the time and a friend at my high school here gave me this record that his band had made. I was utterly amazed that a person I went to high school with, that was just four years older than I was at the time, could have his music pressed on actual vinyl. I was reminded of this when visiting Crooked Beat about a month ago and seeing a stack of these same records in the dollar bin. A sad fate, but at that age, seeing that they’d pressed their music to actual vinyl was mind blowing. We’re excited to have a 7 inch released this Saturday for Record Store Day here in DC and hope ours will one day grace
those same dollar bins.”
CHIPMUNK PUNK: Because it was one of the first times cartoons & “punk” (uh if you call Blondie & Linda Ronstadt punk) collided and became one. I think the Chipmunks have the best voices . Tiny Angels.
Adam from Times New Viking
nick drake “pink moon”– the story is simple. the olivia tremor control came through town and my brother got handed a copy of this disc from one of the members. being in a green case (ryko i believe) and with oil paintings of shoes and rockets, i instantly stole it. the next thing you know it was three days later and i had not stopped listening. the songs seem to have come from somewhere else, seamless and fragile. it was the opposite of everything i knew living in small town ohio at the time. you couldnt really tell when one song stopped and another started. pure beauty with seemingly one guitar and one mic. many years later i heard pink moon in that vw ad and for some reason i wanted to buy a car. it made perfect sense. nick drake is a singular voice and is due for a third (or fourth?) revival soon.
Martin Courtney IV, from Real Estate
“I knew the answer to this question the moment I read it. I can remember distinctly where and when I first heard The Glow Pt. 2 by the Microphones. It was at Alex Bleeker’s house on a weekday afternoon in the spring of our sophomore year of high school. Matt Mondanile was present. A certain haze hung in the air. At this point in our musical development we were kind of sponges for anything melodic, and starting to edge into “weirder” territory. Mostly traditional “band” bands like Built to Spill, Pixies, some Pavement, also (maybe I’ll speak for myself here) stuff like the Get Up Kids and Death Cab for Cutie. What amazed us about The Microphones, besides how beautiful the music is, was the fact that it was all recorded by one guy… at home no less! This singular revelation led us to start dabbling in home recording, the three of us starting a “band”/ recording project called Hey There Sexy. We made a 4 song EP, recorded using a cheap Tascam interface and a trial version of Cubase. The dream was always to record to tape though, like Phil Elvrum. Eventually we all ended up with four tracks and, later, 8 tracks. I think it’s safe to say there’s a definite line that runs from that afternoon in Bleeker’s bedroom to the formation of Real Estate.
Elvrum has also influenced my life in other ways. I heard that he went to some crazy college in the woods in a mythical place called Olympia, home of K Records. Eventually I ended up at Evergreen, too (chasing a girl out west, to be fair). I even drove up to Anacortes with my friend Dana to take a two day “recording class” from the man himself at the Department of Safety. Didn’t learn very much, but it was pretty cool nonetheless… like a pilgrimage or something.”
Jeremy from Shiny Toy Guns
My personal record that changed my life was Jesus Jones “Liquidizer” .. in 1989. There was no indie scene, there was no underground. Or at least not for me being a kid. I wasn’t even old enough to drive. But late at night on a small radio station a guy with a fake british accent played “info freako” and I tracked down the cassette. It actually scared the shit out of me…I thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard in my life. This is coming from childhood listening to either classical music or Motley Crue from the neighbors garage. But this music was completely different. It wasn’t rock. It wasn’t metal. It wasn’t bobby brown or bad r/b. it had this weird collage and mystery to it..and after I was able to listen to it without fear, I discovered this is clearly what I am supposed to be a part of in some way…even if it was just to be a rep..just a fan passing the word and the sound and the vision of what magical movement I had newly obsessed upon.
Anyway the record blended pop melodies with samples, drum machines, and standard rock riffs and sounds with a edgy feel doused with a little acid house. So up came the mohawk and the skateboard and I joined the 90’s re-clash of synth vs guitar. A battle that still goes on today, especially in my band. That tween night for me till this night actually. Its beautifully real. You know what sucks? I can’t buy it on itunes and I only have it on vinyl. I wish you could all find it because I think you would love it even now.
Justin from White Belt Yellow Tag.
Pixies – Surfer Rosa changed my life. Having two older brothers with an impeccable yet wide ranging music taste meant that i was exposed to IMAX proportions of good music when i was growing up. I remember my oldest brothers shifting taste as he went through art school. From Ministry’s ‘Psalm 69’ to Dead Kennedy’s to Lawnmower Death to The Breeders ‘Pod’ and everything in between. It was through this ever shifting taste that a few records kept popping up again and again, most notably anything that The Wedding Present had recorded (all absolute untouchable modern classics) as well as ‘The White Album’ by The Beatles and Pixies ‘Surfer Rosa’. I was 8 years old when Surfer Rosa came out, but by sheer repetition over many many years from either my brothers playing it on the one hi fi system in the house where we grew up to my listening to it on trains and planes and in automobiles, this record has soundtracked pretty much all of my life. I think that when a record becomes so engraved in your brain like Surfer Rosa is in mine that it becomes an imaginary friend, in this case a schizophrenic quasi spanish incantation of an imaginary amigo. One that i imagine to look like a tall nerdy spanish kid with curly hair and a weasel tash, wearing sweatbands, rollerskates and listening to mixtapes on a half broken Walkman with tape over the battery compartment. This record has changed my life because its been such a big part of my life, and no matter what mood / time or day / year it is wether its hearing the drums come crashing in on ‘Bone Machine’, or the opening chords to ‘Where si my mind?’ its always gonna make that day / year / time of day so much better on all levels. Absolute indisputable scientifically proven UN sanctioned NATO resolutioned fact.