At some point, maybe in my late 20s, shopping for records became an activity that was perhaps 15% searching for records I’ve long wanted, 5% hoping to discover something totally new and unknown to me, and 80% indulging in nostalgia triggers. Strangely, I find the most delight in stumbling across 7″s I already own. Somehow seeing a record I’ve long owned in a record store with a bunch of different neighbors, not in its usual place in my own collection, brings back the strongest memories. And that’s how I experience most of my enthusiasm for subcultural music these days, through memory.
Over the weekend I went into a Disc Union in Tokyo and saw my early life flash before my eyes as I flipped through the “used emo” and “used 90s hardcore” 7″ racks. Two Frodus singles. I attended the record release events for both of them, both at the dearly missed Fairfax VA store Record Convergence.
Universal Order of Armageddon. The Make-Up. Chisel. Own it, own it, own it. Bought it in DC, in Richmond, on a trip to North Carolina. Overwhelmed with how un-hardcore I am now, I went down to the ‘indie’ floor and started flipping. Oh, a Black Tambourine single! This, I do want. It is 38 dollars. I have paid over thirty dollars for singles before, when I had some sort of ebay fever in 2003 and needed every screamo record I could find. Not so feverish these days, so I put the record back. Sorry Black Tambourine, may you plucked up soon by some Japanese indiepop connoisseur.
Pam, the singer of Black Tambourine, is also one-half of the zine Chickfactor. I read Chickfactor religiously in junior high school. I had heard of none of the bands but memorized all their names. Occasionally I mail ordered this or that and listened on my mom’s record player. Singles were only three dollars, plus postage. I got a little older. I got a boyfriend, he had a car. We could drive into Maryland, go to record stores like Vinyl Ink in Silver Spring, where I searched for Chickfactor-esque records, and Yesterday & Today, where I searched for dc hardcore.
Still flipping through “used indie new arrivals.” Ash, a single for their 1994 song “Petrol.” I saw them in October 1995, opening for Babes in Toyland. Also on the bill was a Minneapolis band called Dumpster Juice, who were burly midwest sludge slobs. I recall being kind of grossed out by them, which I think is exactly what they were going for. Then all of sudden comes Ash, who were whip-thin young Irish pretty boys and extremely pop. I liked them well enough and bought their tape, which had only one song that really struck me, but it struck me enough that I kept the tape in my car and just rewound back and back again to the one song I liked.
Yeah, this is some solid power pop right here.
I’ve just youtube’d Dumpster Juice and they are still at it! I’ve gotten a lot sludgier over the years, I get it now. I guess I have changed since the mid-90s, just a bit.