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365 for 365: The year of buying a record a day

The best epiphanies come at surprising moments, like when getting sprayed by an airborne beer up front at a show. It was New Year’s Eve 2012 at The Empty Bottle in Chicago, and on stage, The Marked Men were tearing through “Fix My Brain.” I’d been in a funk from the end of a relationship and a general feeling of detachment from the things that had come to define me, but at the end of 2012, I was trying to do everything to right myself. The Hamm’s still drying on me as I sang along with my friends, I was struck by how life-affirming music can be. I decided to make my first-ever new year’s resolution: In 2013, I would rebuild my connection to music by buying one record a day for the entire year.

Before I could really articulate it, the project had already begun. I made my way to the merch table and bought The Marked Men’s “The Other Side” 7-inch, as well as the Kings Of The Weekend LP from opening act Bad Sports. I walked home covered in sweat and beer, but experiencing a newfound sense of jubilation. Having solidified the goal in my head, I decided to give it a bit of legitimacy by opening my note-taking app and starting a list called “Records: 2013” with the band name, album title, and where I acquired it. Barely hours into the new year, I was riding high from the sense of fulfillment that had seemed missing for most of the preceding year.

The next morning I addressed the necessary pragmatics: Would it be only new records? If so, what would count as “new”? Would it be only new releases, or would used records I didn’t already own count? How often would I need to go to a record store? Should mail order be included? And, perhaps the biggest concern: How much money was I going to spend?

I decided to give myself as much leeway as possible. After all, the goal was to see if I could fall in love with music again, not to fret about rules. I rationalized that the more limitations I placed upon myself, the less I’d get out of it come the end of December, so the goal remained as simple as possible: Given stores would likely be closed on holidays, and the possibility of going to one and not finding anything that caught my eye, buy in batches but make trips as often as possible. I’d mail-order new records from bands and artists I actively followed and save trips to a record store for open-ended browsing. If I flipped through a bin and saw a 7-inch with gripping cover art, or a label I trusted released something by a long-forgotten band, I’d give it a shot. In high school, I would often skip eating in order to have money to buy records, so why not approach this with the same ravenous hunger (but without the malnourishment)?

Days later I attended a record fair that focused on punk and hardcore, and it became clear my project would yield the intended result. Flipping through boxes of obscure 7-inches, I’d bump into friends and discuss the merits of the Charles Bronson Youth Attack! 10-inch I bought before walking over to a table of baked goods with logos of punk bands frosted atop.

Sure, I could have streamed label catalogs and band discographies online, but there was something about the rush of finding a long-sought album in a pile of used records, or having a friend recommend something I never heard, that put any algorithm to shame. With increased frequency, I was reminded how music goes beyond songs pressed into plastic or compressed into computer files—a community and humanity lurks beneath all of that, allowing listeners to feel present with a work and connected to a larger whole at the same time.

As the project progressed, rarely would I leave my apartment without feeling compelled to stop into a record store. In the same way people buy a handful of groceries during a week, I’d stop at the Reckless Records near my apartment without a second thought. During these trips, I often felt the most at peace, flipping through a mass of covers with no discernible goal. With each flick of my fingers across the top of the albums, I’d wonder when something would grab me. In a way, it became therapeutic, disconnecting me from any of the day’s stresses while potentially connecting me to an album that, once I got it home and dropped the needle, would shake me to my core.

That happened repeatedly over the course of 2013. A frenetic, pummeling Water Torture 7-inch, the feedback of Sunn O))), some quality Hall & Oates deep cuts—they helped me shed my adult concerns and be taken with music the same way I was as a kid. It may have been regressive, but treating music with deference instead of an infinite list of clickable links was refreshing in ways I’d almost forgotten.

I hit my target goal in November, and it was alluring to stop at 365 precisely, but that seemed counter to the project’s true intent. So I pressed on with the same enthusiasm I had for those first 11 months, ending 2013 with 395 albums added to my collection: 125 7-inches, 264 12-inches, four 10-inches, one CD, one cassette. In the process I discovered lifelong listening staples (The Ambulars’ Dreamers Asleep At The Wheel) as well as albums I’ll likely revisit rarely (Taylor Swift’s Red), but I learned just how important each type of album is.

Before I could fully process it, both the year and my project were over. On New Year’s Eve, I found myself in another venue (Chicago’s new Concord Music Hall) watching yet another punk band (The Lawrence Arms). I ended 2013 in almost the exact same way as I started it, but not in a stagnant way. During the year I had consumed music voraciously, losing about $4,600 and a lot of valuable shelf space. It was never a chore, but a reminder of the importance of continually engaging with art instead of simply consuming it.

Maybe nothing was missing in the first place, and my willingness to buy an album a day for a year showed I never lost my love of music. But even if I didn’t get very far, seeing as how I was lost in another crowd and getting soaked with another stranger’s beer, I had nearly 400 ways to remember exactly where I’d been.

1. The Marked Men, “On”/“The Other Side” 7-inch
2. Bad Sports, Kings Of The Weekend
3. Trust Fall, Work Hard, Play Weird, Stay Kvlt 7-inch
4. American Nightmare The Sun Isn’t Getting Any Brighter 7-inch
5. Broken Prayer, “Wow”/”Pull A Kaczynski” 7-inch
6. Shoppers/Panzram, split 7-inch
7. The Promise Ring, “Watertown Plank”/“Mineral Point” 7-inch
8. Braid, Please Drive Faster 7-inch
9. Ruination, Let The Motherfucker Burn 7-inch shaped like the United States
10. Charles Bronson, Youth Attack! 10-inch
11. Articles Of Faith, Complete, Volume Two: 1983-1985
12. Various Artists, The Decline Of Western Civilization
13. Dag Nasty, Can I Say
14. Hot Water Music, No Division
15. Articles Of Faith, Core
16. Lifetime, Jersey’s Best Dancers
17. Unbroken, Life. Love. Regret.
18. Cap’n Jazz, Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports, Cards In The Spokes, Automatic Biographies, Kites, Kung Fu, Trophies, Banana Peels We’ve Slipped On And Egg Shells We’ve Tippy Toed Over
19. Texas Is The Reason, Texas Is The Reason
20. Gorilla Biscuits, Gorilla Biscuits
21. Youth Of Today, Disengage
22. Into Another, Poison Fingers 
23. Big Eyes, Back From The Moon
24. Jawbreaker, Bivouac
25. Jawbreaker, Chesterfield King
26. Swearin’, Swearin’ 
27. Big Eyes, Hard Life  
28. Yo Man Go, Life Lessons 7-inch 
29. The Get Up Kids, Woodson 7-inch
30. The Get Up Kids, Four Minute Mile
31. Gaza, He Is Never Coming Back
32. Dad Punchers, Dad Punchers 
33. Pianos Become The Teeth/Touché Amoré, split 7-inch
34. Mineral, The Power Of Failing 
35. Congenital Death, From My Hands 7-inch 
36. Spazz/Öpstand, split 7-inch 
37. John Vanderslice, Pixel Revolt
38. Coliseum, No Salvation
39. Various Artists, We Are The World 
40. Big Eyes/Mean Jeans, split 7-inch
41. The Potential Johns, The Potential Johns 7-inch 
42. Chinese Telephones, Democracy
43. Engineer, The Dregs
44. Nathan Ellis, Nathan Ellis 7-inch 
45. High Tension Wires, Welcome New Machine
46. Ruination/They Live, split 7-inch
47. Voxtrot, Blood Red Blood 7-inch
48. Jowls, Cursed
49. Run Forever, Settling
50. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
51. Texas Is The Reason, Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection
52. Bongripper, The Great Barrier Reefer
53. Low Culture, Screens
54. White Lung, Sorry
55. Shoppers, Silver Year
56. Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
57. Bongripper/Hate, split  
58. Cloud Rat, Moksha
59. Christian Death, Only Theatre Of Pain
60. Braid/Balance And Composure, split 7-inch
61. The Wonder Years, Manton Street 7-inch
62. Crime In Stereo, Love 7-inch
63. Captain, We’re Sinking, Montreal 7-inch
64. Cursed, Two
65. Slapstick/Tommyrot, split 7-inch 
66. Cupid Car Club, Werewolves! 7-inch
67. C-Clamp, Passing 7-inch 
68. Brave Bird, Maybe You, No One Else Worth It
69. Dikembe/Jet Set Sail/Monument/Hightide Hotel, split 7-inch
70. Low Culture, Low Culture 7-inch
71. Laura Stevenson, Runner 7-inch
72. Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt 
73. The Swarm, Parasitic Skies
74. Acrid, Sea Of Shit
75. Hall & Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette
76. Autre Ne Veut, Anxiety 
77. Primitive Man, Scorn
78. Off With Their Heads, Home
79. Wire, 154
80. Tom Waits, Small Change
81. Sam Cooke, The Best Of Sam Cooke
82. Hall & Oates, Voices
83. The Ambulars, Dreamers Asleep At The Wheel
84. Masked Intruder, Masked Intruder
85. Avail, Front Porch Stories
86. Masked Intruder, First Offense 7-inch
87. Tenement, “Ice Pick”/“Summer Street” 7-inch
88. Tenement, Taking Everything 7-inch
89. Hall & Oates, H2O
90. Hall & Oates, Big Bam Boom
91. Water Torture, Shell Fire
92. Adolescents. Brats In Battalions  
93. New Order, Low-Life
94. Jesu, Heart Ache & Dethroned
95. Jesu, Lifeline
96. The Jealous Sound, A Gentle Reminder
97. Archers Of Loaf, All The Nation’s Airports
98. Archers Of Loaf, White Trash Heroes 
99. Shores/Creepoid, split 7-inch
100. Acrid/Bombs Of Death, split 7-inch
101. Gunmoll/Annalise, split 7-inch
102. AssholeParade, Say Goodbye 7-inch
103. The Holy Mountain, Wrath 7-inch
104. Cheap Tragedies, Cheap Tragedies 7-inch
105. Stop Breathing, Stop Breathing
106. Gatorface, Wasted Monuments
107. The Holy Mountain, Here Is No Exit
108. Regents, Antietam Afterparty
109. Big Eyes, Demo 7-inch 
110. Whirr, Pipe Dreams
111. Jesu, Jesu
112. Los Crudos/Spitboy, split LP
113. Army Of Ponch, So Many You Could Never Win
114. Army Of Ponch, Versus The Curse 7-inch
115. Hall & Oates, Private Eyes
116. Hall & Oates, Whole Oates
117. Iron Maiden, Somewhere In Time
118. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Damn The Torpedoes
119. The Jazz June, Breakdance Suburbia 7-inch
120. Restorations, LP 2
121. Tigers Jaw, Two World
122. Tigers Jaw, Tigers Jaw
123. The Postal Service, Give Up
124. Iron Lung, White Glove Test
125. Paint It Black, Invisible 7-inch 
126. Purity Control, Adjusting 7-inch
127. Mind Spiders, Sister Series 7-inch
128. Condominium, Warm Home
129. Weezer, Pinkerton
130. Manipulation, 2 7-inch 
131. Nails, Abandon All Life
132. Sweet Cobra, Mercy
133. Superchunk, “Void”/“Faith” 7-inch
134. The Repos, “Rejoice In Ruin”/“Haunted Peace” 7-inch 
135. Hüsker Dü, Amusement double 7-inch  
136. Condominium, Pupils 7-inch 
137. Condominium, Barricade 7-inch 
138. Kittyhawk, Kittyhawk
139. Their / They’re / There, Their / They’re / There
140. Samiam, Clumsy
141. The Repos, Live Munitions  
142. At The Drive-In, Relationship Of Command
143. Botch, American Nervoso  
144. Braid, Frame And Canvas  
145. Wide Angles, Smile More
146. Hesitation Wounds, Hesitation Wounds 7-inch
147. Cold Cave, Oceans With No End 7-inch 
148. Coliseum, Sister Faith
149. Coliseum, Sister Chance 7-inch
150. Laura Stevenson, Wheel
151. Coliseum/Doomriders, Not Of This World
152. Coliseum, “True Quiet”/“Last Wave” 7-inch
153. Mid Carson July, Turn The Radio Down 7-inch
154. Mid Carson July/The Jazz June, split 7-inch
155. The Replacements, Songs For Slim
156. Shellac, 1000 Hurts
157. Joie De Vivre, The North End  
158. Joie De Vivre, We’re All Better Than This  
159. Astronautalis/Rickolus, split 7-inch 
160. Loma Prieta/Raein, split 7-inch
161. Cursed, One
162. Signals Midwest/Worship This!, split 7-inch
163. The Exploding Hearts, Guitar Romantic
164. I Spy/…But Alive, split 7-inch
165. Ghostlimb, Ghostlimb
166. Daylight Robbery, Through The Confusion
167. Grey Area, Fanbelt Algebra
168. Built To Spill, Perfect From Now On
169. Career Suicide, Cherry Beach 7-inch
170. The Specials, The Specials
171. Giant Henry, Big Baby
172. Various Artists, Stay Sweet Fest Split
173. Scoundrel, Freak Flag
174. Pet Symmetry/Dikembe, split 7-inch
175. Noumenon/Loose Lips Sink Ships, split LP
176. The Moms, Viva! 7-inch
177. Pet Symmetry, Two Songs About Cars. Two Songs With Long Titles. 7-inch
178. Carcass, Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious
179. Condominium, Carl 7-inch
180. Angry Gods, “Greyed Delay”/“The Swell” 7-inch
181. Highness, Hold
182. Big Eyes, Almost Famous
183. Red Dons, Ausländer 7-inch
184. Red Dons, A Forced Turning Point 7-inch
185. Red Dons, Pariah 7-inch
186. Red Dons, Fake Meets Failure
187. Red Dons, Death To Idealism
188. Manipulation, 1 7-inch
189. Manipulation, Manipulation
190. The Get Up Kids, Loveteller 7-inch 
191. Cloud Mouth/Cougar Den, split 7-inch 
192. Water Torture/Sea Of Shit, split 7-inch 
193. Astpai, Efforts And Means
194. Astpai, Heart To Grow
195. The Novice, The Novice 7-inch
196. OBN IIIs, OBN IIIs 7-inch 
197. Park, No Signal
198. Park, It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going
199. Lifted Bells, Lifted Bells
200. The National, Trouble Will Find Me
201. Big Black, Songs About Fucking
202. Watain, Lawless Darkness
203. Deafheaven, Demo
204. Songs: Ohia, Hecla & Griper
205. Converge, Caring And Killing
206. Small Brown Bike, Recollected
207. Deafheaven, Sunbather
208. Knapsack/Stuntman, split 7-inch
209. Knapsack, True To Form 7-inch
210. Chalk Talk, The Food Chain 7-inch  
211. The Holy Mountain/Cobra Noir, split 7-inch 
212. Shellac, At Action Park  
213. Shellac, Excellent Italian Greyhound  
214. Sunn O))), Monoliths & Dimensions  
215. Sunn O))) Meets Nurse With Wound, The Iron Soul Of Nothing 
216. Dikembe, Chicago Bowls 
217. Portrait, Portrait 10-inch 
218. Pet Symmetry, Five Songs On A Homemade Compact Disc (For A Summer Tour In 2013)
219. Sundials, When I Couldn’t Breathe
220. The Exquisites. The Exquisites 
221. Deafheaven/Bosse-De-Nage, split LP
222. Adventures, Clear My Head With You 7-inch
223. Maguma Taishi, Maguma Taishi 7-inch
224. Classics Of Love, Art Of The Underground 7-inch
225. Sundials, Art Of The Underground 7-inch
226. Dad Punchers, These Times Weren’t Made For You 7-inch
227. Drug Church, “Party At Dead Man’s”/“Selling Drugs From You Mom’s Condo” 7-inch
228. Cold Cave, “Black Boots”/“Meaningful Life” 7-inch
229. Cold Cave, A Little Death To Laugh 7-inch
230. Technicolor Teeth, Sage 7-inch 
231. Godflesh, Godflesh  
232. Godflesh, Streetcleaner
233. Raw Nerve, Raw Nerve
234. Andrew Thomson, Honesty Is A Confidence Problem cassette
235. Young Light, Great White Arc
236. Warren Franklin And The Founding Fathers, Every Letter And Souvenir
237. Crusades, Parables 7-inch
238. Crusades, The Sun Is Down And The Night Is Riding In
239. Jahbreaker, Bad Weed, Dealer’s Fault 7-inch
240. Aye Nako, Unleash Yourself
241. Hall & Oates, Ooh Yeah
242. Bad Sports, Self-Titled
243. Various Artists, New Kids On The Block Compilation 7-inch
244. Sundials, First Three Songs 7-inch
245. Sundials, Always Whatever: A Collection Of Songs From 2009-2012
246. The Promise Ring, Very Emergency
247. Shellac, The Rude Gesture (A Pictorial History) 7-inch 
248. Shellac, Uranus 7-inch 
249. New Order, Movement
250. New Order, Brotherhood
251. Texas Is The Reason, Do You Know Who You Are?
252. New Order, 1981-1982
253. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Whenever, If Ever
254. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die /Self Defense Family/Code Orange Kids/Tigers Jaw, split 7-inch
255. Comadre, Comadre
256. Loma Prieta, Dark Mountain
257. The Replacements, Hootenanny
258. Scratch Acid, Berserker
260. Swans, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
261. Built To Spill, There Is No Enemy
262. True Widow, Circumambulation
263. Old Gray, An Autobiography
264. I Kill Giants, We Can Live In The Exact Same Place 7-inch
265. Iron Chic, Spooky Action 7-inch
266. Pity Sex, Dark World
267. Pity Sex, Feast Of Love
268. Cloakroom, Infinity
269. Various Artists, Mixed Singles 7-inch
270. Carcass, Heartwork
271. Karp/Rye Coalition, split LP
271. Nausea, Extinction
272. Left For Dead, Left For Dead
273. The Sisters Of Mercy, Floodland
274. At The Drive-In/Sunshine, split LP
275. The Replacements, Don’t Tell A Soul
276. Whirr, Around
277. Now, Now, Threads
278. The Lemonheads, It’s A Shame About Ray
279. American War, Rhetoric
280. P.S. Eliot, Introverted Romance In Our Troubled Minds
281. Taylor Swift, Red
282. June Of 44, Anahata
283. Earth, Phase 3: Thrones And Dominions
284. Watain, The Wild Hunt
285. Altar Of Plagues, Teethed Glory & Injury
286. Mk-Ultra, Discography
287. Superchunk, I Hate Music
288. Lemuria, The Distance Is So Big
289. Modern Life Is War, Fever Hunting
290. Dowsing, I Don’t Even Care Anymore
291. Little Big League, These Are Good People
292. State Lines, For The Boats
293. Springtime, South Hill 7-inch 
294. Death Cab For Cutie, Transatlanticism
295. The Anniversary, Designing A Nervous Breakdown
296. The Anniversary, Your Majesty
297. Treepeople/Archers Of Loaf, split 7-inch
298. Tenement/Screaming Females, split 7-inch
299. Old Flings/Break-Ups, split 7-inch
300. Panzram, A New Mental Disorder For Youth In Disapproval 7-inch
301. Panzram, Reform 10-inch
302. The Ropes, Demo II 7-inch
303. Gods Reflex, Shifting 7-inch
304. Swing Kids, Situations On Mars 7-inch
305. Radiator Hospital, Something Wild
306. P.S. Eliot, Sadie
307. Cleveland Bound Death Sentence, Cleveland Bound Death Sentence
308. Bad Sports, Bras
309. Technicolor Teeth, Teenage Pagans
310. Toe, The Book About My Idle Plot On A Vague Anxiety
311. Mephiskapheles, God Bless Satan
312. Emperor, In The Nightside Eclipse
313. Chvrches, The Bones Of What You Believe
314. Unwound, Kid Is Gone
315. Curmudgeon, Amygdala
316. Dads, Pretty Good 7-inch
317. Drug Church, Paul Walker
318. Great Apes, Threads
319. Self Defense Family, The Corrections Officer In Me
320. Doomriders, Grand Blood
321. Radiator Hospital, Can You Feel My Heart Beating? 7-inch
322. Sandy City, Nice Hat 7-inch
323. Envy, Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs And Flows
324. Dessa Sons, Dessa Sons 7-inch
325. Toe, For Long Tomorrow
326. Mind Spiders, Inhumanistic
327. Swing Kids, Discography
328. Four Fists , Four Fists 7-inch
329. J Dilla, Donuts
330. Aus Rotten, The System Works For Them
331. Kevin Devine, Bulldozer
332. Kevin Devine, Bubblegum
333. Drug Church, Drug Church 7-inch
334. Into It. Over It., Intersections
335. Kevin Devine, Split The Country, Split The Street
336. The Repos/Spine, split 7-inch 
337. Red Dons, Notes On The Underground 7-inch 
338. Jesu, Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came 
339. The Cure, Three Imaginary Boys
340. Depeche Mode, Music For The Masses
341. Signals Midwest, Light On The Lake
342. Save Ends, Warm Hearts, Cold Hands
343. Radioactivity, Radioactivity
344. Pelican, Forever Becoming
345. Cloud Rat/Xtra Vomit, split LP 
346. Alcest, Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde 
347. A Wilhelm Scream, Partycrasher
348. Crusades, Perhaps You Deliver This Judgment With Greater Fear Than I Receive It
349. Bars Of Gold, Wheels
350. Tiny Empires, Tiny Empires 7-inch
351. Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves, “How Much Shit Can You Take?”/“Aliens” 7-inch
352. Old Flings/The Fake Boys, split 7-inch
353. Old Flings/Late Bloomer, split 7-inch
354. The Draft, “Stop Wastin’ My Time”/“Up All Night” 7-inch
355. The Jealous Sound, Kill Them With Kindness
356. Swearin’, Surfing Strange
357. Various Artists, Guided By Voices Tribute 7-inch
358. Kittyhawk/Cherry Cola Champions, split 7-inch
359. Unwound, Kid Is Gone 7-inch 
360. Born Against, Battle Hymns Of The Race War 
361. Cloud Rat, Cloud Rat
362. Bhopal Stiffs, E.P.A.
363. Fake Problems, How Far Our Bodies Go
364. Reggie And The Full Effect, Greatest Hits ’84-’87
365. Tancred, Tancred
366. Their / They’re / There, Analog Weekend
367. Iron Chic, The Constant One
368. Los Crudos, Canciones Para Liberar Nuestras Fronteras
369. The Swarm A.K.A. Knee Deep In The Dead/Force Fed Glass, split 7-inch
370. Affront, Fallen Stars 7-inch
372. Bad Banana, Cry About It
373. Car Vs. Driver, Out Of A Silent Sky
374. Football, etc., The Draft
375. Football, etc., Audible
376. Penfold, Amateurs & Professionals
377. The Reds, It’s About Time
378. Dropdead, Dropdead
379. Dropdead, Discography
380. Slayer, Reign In Blood
381. Slayer, South Of Heaven
382. Slayer, Seasons In The Abyss
383. Atmosphere, Seven’s Travels
384. Self Defense Family, Try Me
385. Self Defense Family, You Are Beneath Her 7-inch
386. Shook Ones/Death Is Not Glamorous, split 7-inch
387. Acme, …To Reduce The Choir To One Soloist
388. Limp Wrist, Limp Wrist
389. The One Up Downstairs, The One Up Downstairs 7-inch 
390. Touché Amoré, Is Survived By
391. Tenement/Culo, split 7-inch
392. Iron Chic, Split N’ Shit 7-inch
393. Jawbox, Jawbox
394. Canadian Rifle, Deep Ends
395. Sundowner, Four One Five Two