Kids stuck on music; labels stuck on can

Staff WriterApril 11, 2006 

Sticky CD labels cover the top of a garbage can outside Schoolkids Records on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Avid listeners peel the labels off as they leave the store.

STAFF PHOTO BY JULI LEONARD

It may be the world's coolest trash can.

Each day, a dozen hipsters rush out of Schoolkids Records, rip the sticky label off the new CD by Neutral Milk Hotel or Les Claypool's Frog Brigade and slap it on the can -- marking their indie territory.

There is no better spot in Raleigh to gauge what pleases the cool kids.

The humble can on Hillsborough Street is a monument to CD buyers whose fandom is so ardent they need to crank their precious purchases on the car ride home.

For a glimpse into the world of ultra-with-it, just approach the can and check out the stickers flapping in the wind.

Killswitch Engage.

Deicide.

Rob Zombie.

It's safe to say someone with a tongue stud and pet iguana has just passed by.

Babyshambles.

New Pornographers.

Bloc Party.

That's what's blaring on the iPod of the green-haired students walking past. Back in the day, when you were wearing your Styx T-shirt, they hadn't even been born.

Dr. Dre.

The Knack.

Now that sounds familiar. Check it out! Somebody out there likes The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!

Schoolkids is the type of store where edginess gets sized up at the cash register. Buy the wrong CD, and the cashier might let a giggle or a wince slip.

The store's Web site advertises the new Calexico release coming out today, not to mention Lambchop and the Eagles of Death Metal.

But only the most avid fans stop at the can. Whatever the man in the pink Oxford shirt just bought, it can wait until after the drive home.

Then up walks Greg Joyner, a 31-year-old salesman with sideburns, sunglasses and a sonic itch burning his ear.

He just heard Andrew Bird's "The Mysterious Production of Eggs" on the Internet, and he dashed out for a noontime purchase.

"It's just ... um ... elaborate," he says, explaining his affinity for Bird and his mysterious eggs. "Very well thought out. Very well put together."

He lovingly unwraps it at the can, then affixes the label on the lid. As he walks away, reading the liner notes on the way to the car, it's as if he just carved his lover's initials on the backyard tree.

Staff writer Josh Shaffer can be reached at 829-4818 or jshaffer@newsobserver.com.

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