CDs are a thing of the past. Their fragile jewel cases, scratchable surfaces and often high prices simply don't fit in with our high-speed lives. But downloads, even with accompanying art and liner notes, are almost too disposable. It only takes a click and drag to trash an MP3 and there's nothing to show off to your friends unless you feel like scrolling through an iPod. But what if you could mix the convenience of the digital world with tangible signs fandom?
Local band Romak & the Space Pirates might have the answer. The electro-rock outfit released its full-length Attack of the Has-Been Androids last year and has been exploring different album formats ever since. Most recently, the four-piece stumbled upon an unusual concept, a wearable, multi-purpose album.
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The latest version of Attack of the Has-Been Androids is a USB flash drive bracelet, featuring the album, art and lyrics and a video. Keyboardist D. Bene Tleilax cites the decline in CD sales, an interest in "pure, digital data" and a friend who began importing USB jewelry as inspiration for the decision.
Romak & the Space Pirates aren't the first to flash their tunes. Last March, trend-setting Japanese pop star Ayumi Hamasaki released one version of her album Next Level on an intricately decorated flash drive that could double as a charm. Ringo Starr, of all people, experimented with USB on last year's Liverpool 8. The Space Pirates kept their approach simple: It's packaged as a black-and-white, logo-emblazoned wristband and holds 496 mb in comparison to Hamasaki's 2 gb release.
"People like the novelty of it," says Tleilax.
Will USB albums be the next big thing? It's possible. Unusual designs can grab the attention of potential fans the way album covers once did and the wearable art is a subtle way for fans to show their devotion. The Space Pirates' experiment has gone quite well, with their supply of "300 or 400" flash drive bracelets almost completely depleted. The band will have the remaining copies on hand at their LA Pride performance in West Hollywood this Sunday.