I like LPs. I like CDs. I like all of the wasteful, superfluous junk that keeps music from being truly free of corporate commerce. I'm not particularly proud of this, but I long ago came to terms with the fact that, for me, music can often be more about its tangible product than its essence.

Because of my obsession, I initially approached the MP3 format with more than a little distrust, but have since come to see its gradual takeover as a tremendous opportunity for fetishists everywhere. With the necessity of the product-based music essentially eliminated, the longevity of music's existing formats seems to depend primarily on the desirability of the product's packaging.

Which is to say that if you want me to buy your record, regardless of the quality of music digitally Xeroxed upon it, it sure as shit better look pretty. And if it isn't? Well then you've relinquished any and all rights to complain when your lazy, aesthetically illiterate ass goes broke at the hands of file-trading. It is officially YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT. And for Christ's sake, pick up a fucking typography book!

Likewise, there are certain musicians whose records will somehow always be saved from the promo bin--regardless of how boring or terrible the music becomes--based solely on their consistently beautiful artwork. Case in point: Bjork. Sure, her records are alright--but Christ knows no one actually needs the 10" club mix of "Venus As Boy" or whatever (and whether you choose to admit it or not, Medulla looks a hell of a lot cooler than it sounds). Another prime example of this phenomenon comes from our friends at the Constellation label of Montreal. Home to deserving folks like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, Fly Pan Am, and a million other instrumental bands you've never heard of, Constellation packages nearly everything in beautifully printed and letterpressed cardboard sleeves that are often infinitely more interesting than the music they contain. And I've got about two dozen of the pretty sons of bitches taking up valuable space on my CD shelf.

So next time your band's out out on tour with a table full of merch that nobody seems to want, ask yourself: would I buy this ugly-as-sin record were I faced with it?