Last night the Atomic Records newsletter dropped the unfortunate news that the store would be closing its doors in February of 2009. Thus, the sad reality of 24 years of serving the Milwaukee community will only be ours for a few more months.
When I was making my decision to come to UWM for undergrad Atomic Records was one of the reasons. Pre-college I spent my summers driving into the city, especially during Summerfest, and would always find my way to the East Side for some new music discoveries.
When I got to school, my first house my sophomore year was on the 2900 block of Cramer. A mere four houses from Atomic Records. It became my second home, and the staff was always on the cutting edge of everything I hadn’t heard, but knew I wanted to. I purchased a black t-shirt, with gold Atomic logo, and wore that sucker with pride as I went to classes, concerts, and back in my hometown. I was proud of the store, they provided me the opportunity to be a taste maker amongst my friends. I would spend hours making lists of records just perusing the shelves. Slowly records would be crossed off, and new ones would be added. I remember purchasing a bootleg copy of Phish covering The Talking Heads Remain In The Light from Halloween 1996, which, at that point was my first introduction to The Talking Heads. I heard and purchased Calexico there for the first time, when I picked up Feast of Wire in 2003. I was introduced to My Morning Jacket, Yo La Tengo, and Will Oldham at Atomic Records.
On a late and cold October night in 2004, I packed up my Ford Explorer with all my worldly possessions. I had taken a job in Madison and made the reluctant decision to leave the city that felt like home. I made one last stop at Atomic Records to pick up my special order copy of Arcade Fire’s Funeral. It will always be the soundtrack of that transition in my life. The ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. The Funeral of my college years and birth of my new adult life. It’s a memory and listening experience that will never leave the caverns of my brain.
When I made the decision to move back to Milwaukee this August, one of the things I looked forward to the most was reestablishing my relationship with the store, who since beefed up their vinyl selection. My most recent purchase was Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Cardinology.
Atomic Records I’m sad to see you go. I know there are plenty of others who feel the same. I’ll cherish my remaining times seeing you and please know that despite this being a difficult decision, for 24 years you made a lot of people very happy. You gave the opportunity to share one of life’s greatest treasures, music. I thank you for being dedicated to Milwaukee and the music community. You’ll be missed and remembered long after you’ve closed the doors.
I urge everyone in Milwaukee to stop into the store and share your memories and support the ownership who is so graciously offering a 20% discount on everything in the store for the remainder of the month of December. For more details, please do visit their website for more information and what’s in store for the next three months.
Discuss: Feel free to share some of your past purchases and memories in the comments.