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Joey Ayala at ang Bagong Lumad Karaniwang Tao from Mga Awit Ng Tanod-Lupa (WEA) Add to Collection
by Eddie Satyago
Music is one of a few things that can be both disposable and irreplaceable. Think about how often you listen to music without giving it much thought, like when you’re shopping, going out to eat or drink, or driving in your car with the radio on.
I used to work for a radio station where we would give away CD samplers with one or two good songs and 6 or 7 bland rock songs that only appeared on there thanks to pay—I mean the station really believed in that singer-songwriter who happened to be related to or blackmailed the head of A&R at The Big Record Company owned by The Bigger Media Company. Leftover samplers were used as coasters in the office or we’d stuff them into prizes that would be shipped out to winners every week.
When I left commercial radio, I decided that I needed to appreciate music more. Even that mediocre singer-songwriter on the sampler didn’t deserve their life’s work to turn into a coaster for a soda made by a sponsor of the station.
Here are six albums (5 on CDs and 1 on vinyl) that I found while crate digging through various record stores, secondhand shops, garage sales, and other places where forgotten music has collected dust.
My favorite song is on this album. It’s “One Pure Thought.” It was love at first sound when I heard it in the spring of 2008. I was living in Orlando, working at Walt Disney World thanks to their college program. I was in my apartment cleaning the kitchen when the song appeared on an iTunes station I had on for background noise. I stopped wiping the kitchen counters to listen to this song. I downloaded the song as soon as it finished.
By the time I upgraded to a new laptop the following year, “One Pure Thought” was played almost 500 times, according to my iTunes library. In 2018, a full decade after its release, Made In The Dark was in the back room at Open Books Pilsen, in a row of movie soundtracks and other electronic music. At the time, CDs were $2 each and they were strongly suggesting cash.
I walked back to the car, pulled out the quarters I would use for toll roads and played the album in its entirety while enjoying a late afternoon summer drive. I miss both having a working CD player in my car AND to be able to just drive for awhile without breaking the bank.
Okay, hear me out. What’s a cool, independent outfit like CHIRP doing getting involved with a mainstream arena rock band with a gorgeous lead singer who somehow is a normal human being (married to his high school sweetheart and has three sons) and has regularly given to charities and become an AIDS activist and ally?
“Somebody Told Me” was the first song I thought I discovered before anyone else. I’ll admit it, I used to be that snob who would “brag” that they knew about this band or artist before anyone else. This song was both new and retro, a fusion of what happens when a glitzy dance club and a legit new wave concert got together and created this song—the entire album.
I bought the album the week it came out and eventually wore out the CD (which then became damaged thanks to a flash flood that ruined nearly everything—including my music collection—I had owned in 2010). My second copy of Hot Fuss, undeniably one of the best debut albums of the 21st century, was at the Brown Elephant a few months back. They had a flash sale (awww, no, not a flashback to the flood!) where all CDs were 50 cents each.
I swear I didn’t plan on buying music that day. I was only window shopping with a friend of mine, who I think was looking for something else (he bought a painting). I bought 18 CDs, including Hot Fuss. The Killers are one of a handful of bands that could unite a whole room and get them to sign along to their songs without fail. Every time I play “Mr. Brightside” at a trivia show or a party, people end up signing. When I saw them at Lollapalooza in 2009, it was a magical experience for everyone there, and definitely one of the best sets I’ve ever seen.
In February 2021, my mom, younger sibling, and I drove down to Springfield to receive our vaccine for the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad COVID-19 that had struck me a couple of months before (and would strike me again in a much more serious matter later that summer). Twenty minutes after our jabs, we were taking pictures in front of the state capital building when we decided to walk around.
We entered a record store that had three different rooms filled with vinyl, CDs, tapes, and some books and movies. There was a cat that my sibling was getting acquainted with, which was probably a ploy to get them to buy stuff. (It worked.) In the first aisle, right in front, was the ‘New Arrivals’ section, and right in front was Rumours. “This is ours,” I said, running over to pick it up. It was $10 and my first record purchase in almost six months.
When we finally got home, Rumours went on the record player and we basked in the glory of being both a bit safer thanks to a vaccine and finding a forty-plus year old album in great condition.
Okay, back to the CD finds. And not just any old CD that you stumble upon while browsing but an actual find that I was on the hunt for who knows how long.
Sometime in 1998 I heard Garbage for the first time when this album and the singles “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “When I Grow Up” were on MTV, the radio and in almost every commercial and movie (“When I Grow Up” was featured prominently in the comedy Big Daddy, a movie I’d seen a dozen two dozen times growing up).
I’m not sure why I didn’t get the album when it first came out but by the time I realized I wanted the actual album and not just a ripped CD off Limewire, Version 2.0 was no longer readily available in stores, well without breaking the bank (I’ve never bought a CD at the full price, which was anywhere from $17.99 to $19.99 at non-defunct shops like Virgin and Coconut Records).
It took almost a decade to find it at various yard sales, record stores, Goodwill, and even online. One Saturday morning I walked into Reckless Records, back when it was on Broadway, to browse before meeting friends for brunch when I saw Version 2.0 sitting in the front row of the 99 cents section. I ran over and picked it up, opening the case to make sure the CD was in there and in good condition.
One of the first times I went crate digging was in the early summer of 2002.
We were at a yard sale out in Orland Park, a suburb about 20 miles southwest of Chicago. This yard sale, which my mom found by chance, was tucked away from the long stretch of strip malls and big-box retailers that lined Harlem Ave.
An older couple was running it and they wanted to move stuff fast. I came across a box of CDs underneath a table that was filled with cheap trophies honoring JV sports. I assumed the music was left behind by their kid who went off to college. The real prize was MTV Party To Go Platinum Mix.
Throughout the 1990s, MTV would release a Party To Go album annually, highlighting the most popular songs that were airing on MTV at the time (or at least the ones they were able to grab from their sister companies or license for dirt cheap). Platinum Mix included a who’s who of ‘90s party hits remixed such Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love”, Busta Bhymes’ “Woo Ha! Got You All In Check”, Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s “Shoop” and others.
I asked how much for the album and the old guy asked what I had. I took out two singles and he said, “Here you go, all yours”, and took my money. It was one of the last compilation albums I listened to on repeat before fully converting to downloading everything audible for the next decade.
Did The Shins actually change anyone’s life, or was that just a coy marketing ploy inserted in that meet cute between Natalie Portman and Zach Graff in Garden State? (If the band did change your life, let me know! I wanna know your story!)
The 2004 comedy-drama was my first introduction to The Shins, which I wasn’t initially impressed with. “New Slang” was too quiet and chill for my liking at the time. I wanted my rock music to, well you know, rock. The second half of 2004 was a hotbed of loud, catchy rock music, with Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Interpol, Kaiser Chiefs, Taking Back Sunday and the aforementioned The Killers all releasing albums and songs that would dominate the airwaves and my headphones. (And U2 released an album! I forgot about that!)
I didn’t wanna be mellow with The Shins. About three summers later, The Shins had a new album out and a friend of a friend was getting rid of stuff while preparing to move for school. He gave me a box of CDs filled with all the music we enjoyed in high school. As I was ripping most of the CDs onto my laptop, Oh, Inverted World! was in the pile, and for the first time, I took a listen to the whole thing.
My music tastes had changed and I liked The Shins now. (I still do.) The song that changed my mind was “Know Your Onion!”, with the line “Lucked out finding my favorite records” making them very relatable. In the few joys I could have nowadays in this uncertain world, finding my favorite song playing on the radio or playing a beloved album from start to finish while lounging around with a snack or book is definitely in my Top 5.
BTW: Stop by Burning Bush Brewery this Sunday (May 15) and do some crate digging of your own at CHIRP Radio's CD Blowout Sale!
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