Cassette tapes, vinyl, CDs — oh my! Sure, we could just text a Spotify link to share our favorite song or album in this day-n'-age, but I'm sure I'm not the only one in this town who remembers that one record that one person gave you that one time as a gift — that moment sticks with us over time! It makes me laugh thinking of all the times I hear the Gen. Xers and Baby Boomers who say, "Well, you're too young to remember..." and, "In my time we only had one record or one tape we had to play over and over...blah blah."
Oh, this streaming luxury! Well, I'm a loud and proud Millennial telling you that my 2002 Subaru Outback's floors are usually covered with CDs (probably scratched) because seeing the cover of "The Soft Bulletin" by The Flaming Lips in my hands versus seeing it in all of its blue-light glory (that was sarcastic) on my iPhone screen, just like everyone else with a smartphone, is often just the little bit of joy and validation I needed that day, whether I lived in the year it was released or not.
So, where my fellow music fanatics at?! It's now December (holy sh*t) and Christmas is in three weeks! So I'm here to preach to you — whatever year you were born or however old the one you need to get a gift for is — that you should give the gift of music and hop on this physical media comeback. What better way than to shop local at what might just be the coolest spot in town; Smith Rock Records.
P.S. according to a 2020 Business Insider report, artists earn as little as $0.0033 per stream on Spotify. So if you thought by streaming is helping your favorite band go on tour and blow up on the 'Gram... buying their CDs (yes bands are making them again!) and records probably funds them more.
I got to chat with owner Patrick Smith (Smith Rock Records, get it?) who once said hilariously, "I'm Owner, Operator. . . I'm also the janitor. . ." in a video interview I did earlier this year for BendFilm's annual fundraiser. We got to touch base again recently on the shop's Christmas themed goodies, such as "Xmas themed Punk Psycho-Rock" — which I assume to be the shiny new LP that sat prominently in the Xmas section (located on the right side of the checkout area when you walk in) also pictured here — a limited edition Xmas mashup with 45 Grave, Unwritten Law, Smash Mouth and other sorts of wild creatures. Pretty wild. That section is indeed for those who want to deck the halls with Christmas music that's come into the shop. There is also a little holiday treat they are offering: an anonymous mystery box with 10 Christmas CDs for $30. No peeking!
Smith and I also chatted about why he thinks giving music is a great gift in general. Giving music can be like a different language—one that we share with someone or one that we want to teach someone. Smith thinks, "It's a chance for one to expose others to their style of music or opinion of what music should be or sound like." And we both agreed, that even if they're too complicated to shop for, there's ways the good ol' fashioned gift card. There are also tons of stocking stuffer options at the shop. Like stickers! Ween stickers. Nirvana stickers. Blondie stickers. Devo stickers! You could even fit in a cute little cassette tape in a stocking. I've found everything from Enya to Berlin's Greatest Hits, from Digital Underground to Peter Gabriel.
Also, Smith Rock Records remains one of my favorite cassette stashes in Oregon. The ongoing rotation lives in the back of the shop next to the stereos and, "Tapes are on the rise," stated Smith. In the back visitors can also find DVDs, speakers, plus turntables! If you really want to get someone into records, you can get a record player there, too (average of about $300 including self-powered speakers).
Other gift options include Black Friday's Record Store Day leftovers, band posters, band merch and also newly released and very hard to obtain bootlegs of Mac Miller and Frank Ocean. Did you know the shop also sells Midtown Ballroom and Domino Room tickets? Yep! All year long. (Next up: Ivy Lab next Friday, Dec. 9). Happy hunting!