Five Best Record of the Month Clubs: a Lazy Way to Start Your Vinyl Collection
If it were socially acceptable and hygienic in the most foolproof manner, I'd lick records when I'm out hunting. There is nothing more exciting than going out to buy some wax. Whether you have an idea of what you want or are just riding a wave of exploration as it comes, vinyl-hunting is one of the most exciting and personal activities music lovers have. I once had a fairly large record collection that had taken over a decade to amass. But due to personal reasons, I was forced to part ways with a rather significant portion of it.
I usually refer to that dark moment in time as The Great Purge of 2006, which is my own way of controlling the innate pedantic nature of record collectors. In fact, I've always agreed with Poison Idea's masterpiece Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes LP and the joke on Tom "Pig Champion" Roberts' extensive record collection sprawled out for all to gawk at. We are a fastidious and annoying bunch. It's because we are passionate and obsessive. It's because for a large majority of us, we are not doctors or lawyers or CFOs of anything but in this, our chosen field, we are experts.
We record collectors have been many things, some flattering, many not. One thing record collectors have never been, even if just sitting at home on their laptops, is lazy. Well, until now anyways. Behold, the "record of the month" club.
This relatively new phenomenon is the equivalent of those "wine of the month" deals where you make a reasonable expectation that another human, somewhere else in the world, understands the nuances and interests of your discerning palate. These, and there are a few, come in different sizes and economic restrictions, but they all proclaim keeping you in the loop of awesomeness as your collection slowly swells over a 12-month period.
That just sounds lazy to me. When I want a good garnacha, I pop on down to the liquor store and examine the bottle myself. When I want a record, I go out and I touch them, I read the inserts, I run my fingernails on the small scratches to determine if it'll crackle and pop correctly.
Mostly, I refrain myself from licking the damned things. Records are not food in the corporeal sense, but the music within certainly is for the soul.
Here are a few "club" options for you to consider if you want to add a different approach to your buying prowess, are trapped inside your home, or are just plain slothful.
5. Insound Record Club
Insound is a pretty cool one-stop internet shop for vinyl-related equipment, with varying prices to fit most budgets. Their "club" offering is a little steep, in my opinion; with a three-month package worth 75 bucks, you get three albums (that's $25 a pop) but with vinyl's resurgence and some prices I've seen out there, at least you know you're getting new stuff, hopefully in the 180-gram weight class. I drive a conservative hatchback; I go for bargain bins. This is for the Tesla-driving indie jet set, I guess.
4. That Special Record
If house and techno are your thing, and you like them in the format they were designed to be enjoyed in, then That Special Record is the exact niche operation you're looking for. It does one-month, three-month, and yearly subscriptions ranging from roughly $30 to $160, but you'll have to check with the site, as this is an overseas operation.
Feedbands seems like the most grassroots operation out there and operates on a crowdsourcing model. Its subscriptions start at $15 and, just like drugs or that storage facility down the street, your first month is free! There is an interesting level of participation from both listener and musician in this company, as it is a "club" and nontraditional label all at once.
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Trans-Siberian Orchestra Presented by Hallmark Channel
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2. Record Friends
Record Friends is a musically curated arm of Good City Records, and it aims at the middle-of-the-road hipster who wants to play it safe. There are some good discount perks as a member for non-club-related material, and it has good s/h options. Membership starts at the $20 mark, and I can see these guys doing great buffer work for existing collections.
1. Vinyl Me, Please
I can't help but think for some bizarre reason that the folks behind Color Me Mine are behind Vinyl Me, Please. I'm wrong, I'm sure of that, but this is another operation that goes for the "boutique" feel. Not quite sure what to expect from these guys without signing up, but the packages range from $27 to $274 with art, cocktail suggestions, and periodicals thrown in to make it interesting.
In whatever way you choose to build your collection, I guess these are not bad options and are worthy of some degree of exploration, as they can assist a preexisting situation or jump-start your way into record collecting. Regardless of which, I can only suggest that whatever you decide, be sure to at least get out there -- garage sales, brick-and-mortar stores like Radio-Active, Sweat, and Y&T, to name few. There are estate sales, thrift shops, the internet, whatever. Touch some records. Hell, give them a bite even. Vinyl is delicious.
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