Discovering music as a teenager has to be one of the greatest joys in the world. During this phase of youthful discovery you somehow get the idea that, swear-to-God, YOU found all this music by yourself, and you're the only one who knows about it. Nice one ego.
The difference between yesteryear and today is this one significant fact: most of the music, from the uber commercial to most obscure independent releases, is readily available to preview, snatch, and access from most of our digital devices. Talk about taking the adventure out of discovering gems (or buying up a lot of duds in my case). Much of my music knowledge came from my buds who were all self-proclaimed aficionados of sound. Or rather, they were DJs with a lot of time and money on their hands to buy up tons of vinyl.
But when I didn't have their expertise on hand, or someone to bounce off recommendations with (some of the employees at my old record store haunts scared me) I based my purchases on the best possible variable, off the cover design. I had an early love for great packaging and design from the old NES cartridges I played as a youth (boxes by Hudson Soft, Capcom, and Konami always pulled me in), naturally this crossed-over to my obsession with music. As my sound palette grew from Atmosphere to Aphex Twin, my appreciation for experiencing a complete package grew ever more steadily.
Most of the releases from Warp Records always won favor with me, from their futuristic designs to their artist roster, which often sounded like a science fair checklist that talent pool. Yet it was always the artwork and branding of Richard D. James that caught my eye. The unique "A" encapsulated in a circle, and the bizarre imagery that graced his albums (and music videos) always had a way of stopping me in my tracks, and pulling my gaze from whatever I was trying to focus on. Hypnotic. Haunting. So f*cking cool.