The last time I went to my two favorite record stores, I left feeling a little bit depressed. After a few hours of shifting through countless CDs, many of them used at a low price, I ended my day taking home only one.
Years ago, that would be unthinkable. Long ago I could walk into a record store and have a wanted piece of music on plastic in my sweaty hand within five minutes. Usually I would have to pick between four or five CDs that I would want, sadly putting most back on the shelves due to budgetary restraints (light wallet).
Now, it's a miracle for me to find anything. Have you ever looked in a refrigerator full of food and not find anything to eat? That's me in a record store.
One reason is that I already have a TON of CDs, so when it comes to the well known thrash and metal bands, I already own it or was never too interested. "Never too interested" means that although I might like a band, I am okay not owning all of their albums. If I see one on a store shelf, I could leave it and not feel incomplete.
However, one of the main reasons that I leave record stores empty handed and a little depressed is that the stores cannot support where my listening habits have ventured.
Will the record store here in middle America carry Mentally Defiled, Hyades, Injury, National Suicide, Evildead, or Evil Army? This may seem like an ancient argument - about how record stores won't carry underground metal, but back in the 90's, I could find the sickest and craziest death metal available on the shelf next to…I dunno, Tom Petty. Sure, I couldn't find the hard stuff at the neighborhood Walmart, but the actual record stores, both local and national, had plenty (along with Tom Petty).
Also, back in the day, I had some built-in bias against demos. Back then, I was never a demo collector, and rarely gave unsigned bands the time of day, so it didn't matter if you could find it on the shelf or not. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now that I know better, I have discovered some of my favorite music is being cranked out by fans who pour their blood and sweat into a three or four song self-released EP.
Also, now that I am writing for this blog and spending time with all sorts of new thrash bands from all over the world, a big chunk of my music listening time is dedicated to bands who self-release or are tied with "very" independent labels. When I go to the record store here, will I find Bio-Cancer, Lich King, Which Witch, Hellbrain, or Impalers? Of course not (especially the self-released demos), and I don't fault the record stores one bit for that. However, those bands are where my musical tastes play, so it's no wonder I leave two of my favorite record stores with one lonely CD in my hand.
I don't want to seem like I'm knocking record stores. They have to make money to stay open (and they definitely get my online business), but with less thrash and traditional metal taking up shelf room, and killer demos available online, it's my own musical preferences that have stifled my in-store buying experience.
I still wish the brick and mortar stores luck in finding a foothold within the online world. I will visit them when I make the trip out of town in hopes of finding a couple treasures. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your own view, I probably have already found it online.
By the way - the one CD I bought that day was R.D.P.'s Anarkophobia, found at Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, KS. If I collected vinyl instead of CDs, Love Garden would be an absolute paradise for me.