July 10, 1997–the day I became an indie rocker?
Yesterday when I wanted to buy the Dark was the Night compilation, the big decision was weather to buy it on emusic or walk down the street to Aquarius and pick it up. (I ended up buying the CD version.)
It wasn’t always like this. There were times before the mp3 (or before we knew about it); times in suburban bubbles, far from well-stocked record stores; times when discovering music meant recommendations from friends and scouring obscure catalogs; times when I listened to one or two new albums a month rather than dozens of bands and albums and each new band had to count.
The news this week (that was later revised to be a little less severe) that Touch and Go/ Quarterstick (wikipedia) was cutting its distribution, jobs and, it seems, new signings for now (rather than forever, as initially reported) hit me really hard. I felt my heart drop.
This isn’t just some label. Touch and Go is, for me, perhaps the most important record label in my development as a music fan, only equaled by Merge. Among the first indie albums I got was Touch and Go’s Lounge Ax Relocation and Defense Fund compilation; the receipt’s above. It introduced me to bands that I later grew up on like the Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Seam, and Rachel’s and it had great tracks by Sebadoh, Coctails and others. Seam and Rachel’s records were among my most listened to in my teen years. I’ll tell people I grew up on Chicago indie rock, but what I mean is these and other Touch and Go bands. These were bands I listened to in good times and bad, that I put on mixtapes for girls and that I emoted to friends about while they were shaping my ideas of music.
They’re bands I still go back to now both for nostalgia and for the music. Today, they’re still signing bands that I still listen to and respect: Ted Leo, the New Year, and Pinback among them.