Vinyl is over. Again.
There's a reason it became uncool the first time around, in the '80s—it was bulky, fragile and technologically inferior to the then-new format of compact discs. After a brief resurgence caused by the impressionability of hipsters and their insatiable thirst for inconvenient trinkets, it looks as though we've reached Peak Vinyl. Collectors cherish Record Store Day and the opportunity it presents to snatch up rare, one-off pressings made specifically for the event, but the annual logjam such releases create for vinyl pressing plants is a well-documented source of frustration.
There is a better way, as it turns out, and it's been rotting in the budget bin of your favorite record store since the late '90s. While the industry has deemed vinyl and streaming to be the commercial future of recorded music, CDs have been devalued to the point of absurdity. But the same cycle of nostalgia that made vinyl cool again is bound to come back around and whisk the sonically superior CD back into public consciousness, turning those piles of discarded Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray albums you purchased 20 years ago for $18.99 to hear the one song you liked into plastic gold.
Rather than spend your money on this year's ketchup-scented, confetti-infused RSD exclusive 7-inch from Jack White, we believe this Record Store Day is the perfect time to reassess the bevy of records you're all but guaranteed to find collecting dust at your local record store. Here's the best of what we found on a recent afternoon combing the CD bins in search of gold.
Filter, Title of Record
Former Nine Inch Nails touring guitarist Richard Patrick struck gold with his splinter group's 1995 hit "Hey Man Nice Shot," but the rest of Filter's debut, Short Bus, was forgettable NIN-lite filler. Lots of teenage girls bought the band's 1999 follow-up to hear the bongo-heavy New Age ballad "Take a Picture," but deep cuts like "Welcome to the Fold" and "It's Gonna Kill Me" are near-perfect aggro-electro with just enough crunchy guitars to nominally qualify as rock 'n' roll. Also of note is "The Best Things," a spiritual cousin to Republica's essential jock jam "Ready to Go" that perfectly demonstrates just how much justice the CD format did for over-compressed late-'90s alt-rock.
Orbit, Libido Speedway
Hailing from Boston, Orbit's sound was too blatant a Pixies ripoff to garner any sort of buzz beyond moderate radio play of this 1997 album's single "Medicine." After repeated listens of "Wake Up" and "Paper Bag," it's irritating that Sponge became a household name and Orbit didn't.
Sponge, Wax Ecstatic
Speaking of Sponge, this post-butt-rock outfit from Detroit apparently had a lot more fuel left in the tank once the dust from the Empire Records soundtrack cleared and radio programmers forgot about the band's hit single "Plowed." Skip the lukewarm, Live-esque single "Have You Seen Mary" and go straight to the title track, which is the glorious sound of middle-aged men in embellished denim making a go of providing soundtrack filler for Vin Diesel movies.
Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets
This is the last DMB album to net the legendary frat-rock group considerable radio play before it became the PG-rated jam band of choice for dudes with entry-level marketing jobs and one-too-many Patagonia jackets. "Halloween" and "The Stone" are good songs on record, and probably sound even better when you're a little stoned on the grassy hill of an amphitheater with your very average significant other.
Tori Amos, From the Choirgirl Hotel
We found Tori Amos' entire discography at the Everyday Music on Northeast Sandy for under $10, which is a perfect gift for that person in your life who'd rather strategically place feminist ephemera around his or her apartment than actually engage in any of sort of activism.
Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind
Stephen Jenkins is doing a commendable job chipping away at the heap of goodwill the hot-take economy has created for this recently canonized pop-rock classic since he doot-doot-dooted his way into our hearts 20 years ago, but no amount of pseudo-wokeness and celeb-rag shit-talking can ever take away just how good the last three songs on this record are.
Natalie Merchant, Tigerlily
Aspiring ingenues two decades her junior get a pass for making midtempo alt-country because it's what their daddy raised them on, yet the former frontwoman of 10,000 Maniacs remains forever unforgiven because you still hear "Carnival" every other time you wander the aisles of Safeway. It's not her fault. If making tender, accessible folk rock for adults is so wrong, why would Merchant ever want to be right?
Creeper Lagoon, Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday
Dreamworks released this album in hopes of scoring a hit with Counting Crows and Wallflowers fans, but no one gave a shit about either of those bands in 2001. So the sophomore effort of this San Francisco bar band tanked. It's a shame, because the massive guitars on lead single "Wrecking Ball" and the heady, slow-burning closer "Keep From Moving" are '90s alt-rock at its absolute finest—a few years too late to get made fun of by Beavis and Butt-head, yet a few years too early for the "blog rock" boom. Sigh.
White Town, Women in Technology
The music industry was bloated and rife with iniquity in the late '90s, and few records are as exemplary of how bad it felt to plunk down almost $20 for just one good song than Women in Technology. File sharing and streaming services have since rendered this idea preposterous, which allows a neutral ear to finally be applied to what is, in actuality, a well-rounded lo-fi electro-pop record. It's too pleasant to write off just because the impossibly catchy single "Your Woman" is so obviously the best track—if only we hadn't had to learn the hard and expensive way the first time around.
Chris Isaak, Speak of the Devil
There's an inordinate number of Chris Isaak CDs taking up space in the bargain bins of Portland record stores. What prompted such an about-face in perceptions of this impeccably coiffed crooner's talents is anyone's guess, but damn, can this guy sing. Slap some reverb and tape hiss on this record's best tracks, and you're basically looking at a glossier version of early Kurt Vile. It's cause to believe that Isaak has much to gain by growing a beard and adopting an alter ego not too far afield from a burnout Chris Gaines.
GET IT: Record Store Day is Saturday, April 22.
1313 W Burnside, 503-274-0961, and 1931 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-239-7610, everydaymusic.com
Opening: 8 am
Events, Burnside location:
11 am: bed.
11:30 am: Plastic Cactus
12 pm: Wild Ones (DJ set)
1 pm: Weezy Ford
1:30 pm: Shy Girls (DJ set)
2:45 pm: Vanity Project
3:15 pm: Laura Palmers Death Parade
3:45 pm: Blake Hicks
Events, Sandy location:
2 pm: And And And
4 pm: Phone Call
4628 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 503-232-0751, exiledrecords.com
Opening: 11 am
Deals: $1 mystery grab-bags.
3574 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 503-239-7561, jackpotrecords.com
Opens: 10 am
10 am: DJ Dolla Bin
12 pm: Derek Smith from KMHD's The Morning Show
2 pm: DJ Lance Bangs
Deals: Free Courier Coffee for people waiting in line and free Monster Energy drinks inside.
3746 NE 42nd Ave.,503- 320-3656, littleaxerecords.com
Deals: All $1 records are free.
3158 E Burnside St. 503-231-8926, musicmillennium.com
Opening: 10 am
3 pm: Meet the Ohio Players
5 pm: Book signing, Susana Millman, Alive with the Dead
7 pm: Joel Rafael & John Trudell's Bad Dog
9 pm: Portugal. The Man
Deals: Gift bags while supplies last, free coffee and muffins, sales up to 50 percent off older titles.
TENDER LOVING EMPIRE
3541 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-548-2927, tenderlovingempire.com
1 pm: DJ Dijon Mustard
2 pm: DJ a.me
3-5 pm: DJ Honest John
Deals: Giveaways, record bundles, and complimentary adult beverages.