Hoax Hunters/The Snowy Owls

HH:SO cover HQ

(This is the third [and probably final] post-Record Store Day open letter. To read the first, An Open Letter To The People Who Lined Up Outside BK Music On Record Store Dayclick here. To read the second, An Open Letter To The Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr Album That Made Me Bleed On Record Store Day, click here.)

An Open Letter To People Who Don’t Buy Records Regarding The Hoax Hunters/Snowy Owls Split 7-Inch That Was Released On Record Store Day

There’s something I want you to see. I want you to hear it too, but I want you to see it first.

Before we get to that, some quick background information… Record Store Day is an annual event that’s been held on the third Saturday of each April since 2008. Artists help independently owned music stores buoy bottom lines by releasing hundreds of limited-edition titles on vinyl all at once, generating anticipation, long lines and a subsequent buying frenzy that’s as beneficial for these locally owned businesses as it is retrospectively embarrassing for the (usually) mild-mannered folk who get swept up in the excitement and push and shove their way through crowds to grab at treasured items before they sell out. Think of it like a big game of musical chairs for record collectors, one that gives a shot of vitality to an industry that’s still in the process of reinventing itself after being hit hard by the advent of .mp3s, file sharing and iTunes.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Well damn. I like supporting local businesses and all, but I listen to all my music on my iPhone, and I’m pretty sure iPhones don’t play records.” If you said that, you’d be both correct and completely justified. Between iTunes, YouTube and Spotify, you can enjoy a lifetime’s worth of amazing music without ever leaving the warm glow of your favorite Apple device. Listening has never been more convenient, and I count that as a net win for society. But if you’ve completely given up on physical media, you’re missing out. Big time. And I’m not just talking about the free donuts Jay at Deep Groove hands out to the people waiting in line on Record Store Day.

I want to show you exactly what I mean, so I cleared off my coffee table, disassembled the split 7-inch that was released on RSD by Hoax Hunters and The Snowy Owls, and took pictures of each of its components. I want you to see the kind of stuff you’re missing out on by living your musical life solely in the digital realm…

The front cover (OK, so you’d get to see that regardless of the format, but it seems like a logical place to start):

HH/SO cover

The back cover, which notes in the bottom right corner that this is #23 of 40 that were made:

HH/SO back cover

The record, which is square and made of lathe-cut polycarbonate plastic. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s absolutely beautiful:

HH/SO disc

Insert #1, which is a photo taken by Hoax Hunters drummer James O’Neill:

HH/SO insert

Insert #2, which is a one-of-a-kind illustration drawn by Snowy Owls frontman Matt Klimas:

HH/SO Matt art

A download card, so you can enjoy the songs when you’re away from your record player:

HH/SO download card

The business card of the company that cut the record, because who knows? You might need it one day:

HH/SO card

A jukebox title strip for two ABBA songs. I have no idea why this was included, but finding it made me smile:

HH/SO jukebox

A pair of buttons featuring the bands’ names and split’s cover art (there was a third button, but I gave to a friend):

HH/SO buttons

Here’s everything together in one regrettably grainy photo:

HH/SO everything

Isn’t that incredible? Buttons, photos, one-of-a-kind illustrations… This record isn’t just an object that plays songs; it’s a collection of artifacts that gives you insight into the people who made them — into their talents outside of music, their sense of humor, their generosity, their dedication…

Musicians put a lot of themselves into writing and recording, and many of them care deeply about how songs are presented to you. Sure, bands are happy enough at the thought of you downloading their releases online and enjoying them, but they spend heaps of time on details like cover art and song order that, while still present in the world of iTunes and Spotify, are greatly deemphasized. Buying records is a great way for you to connect more completely with these people, and I have to tip my hat to this pair of Richmond groups and Cherub Records for showing just how beautiful and meaningful physical media can be.

Sadly, I believe it’s too late for you to get your own copy of the Hoax Hunters/Snowy Owls split. But I have good news! The Record Store Day folks organize a similar event on Black Friday, leaving plenty of time for you to buy a record player and start communing more closely with your favorite bands. Who knows — maybe you’ll be in front of me in the next line, pushing and shoving towards your own RSD treasure.

Check out “Orbit” and “Kerfuffle” below, and click here to buy both tracks over at Bandcamp.

Hoax Hunters — “Orbit” [Soundcloud/Bandcamp]

The Snowy Owls — “Kerfuffle” [Soundcloud/Bandcamp]

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