Ten years ago, vinyl sales in the United States struggled to get to a million. Last year about 9.2 million vinyl LPs were sold in the U.S., up 52 percent from the previous year. America’s few vinyl record factories are unable to keep up with the swelling demand.
A means of listening to music essentially invented in the 19th century and long since presumed to be dead, the phonograph has made a comeback over the last decade that rivals those of Robert Downey Jr., Betty White, and Lazarus. Surely, it’s only a matter of time before the wax cylinder makes a return.
Many audiophiles and “crackle heads” praise the medium’s revival, celebrating the authenticity of the sound, the artwork, liner notes and lyrics that are big enough to actually read, even the physical act of cueing up the record. The convenience of ITunes and Spotify seem soulless and sterile by comparison. Vinyl forces us to play albums in their entirety, a nice change from constant hopping between favorite tracks, or God forbid, just pressing “Shuffle.” MP3s are just heard, the mantra might go, vinyl is listened to.
This Saturday, the music-loving world will again enjoy its ritual celebration of vinyl, and the places where we can buy it, with the eighth-annual Record Store Day. The independent shop, once thought as bygone as the internet café, hyper color t-shirts, and moderate Republican presidential candidates, will take center stage on April 18.
RSD allows record buyers to flock to these bastions of alternative culture and get their hands on extra-special, limited-edition vinyl releases. From a rare picture disc of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” to a much sought-after copy of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels on purple vinyl, there’s a plethora of paraphernalia coming out, with aural delights to suit all tastes. (There are 592 exclusive releases at last count.) Once more, Broward has a bunch of independent record stores worth checking out any day of the year to indulge your collection: Radio-Active Records, We Got the Beats, Record Rack, Top Five Records, Confusion Records, VP Records.
It’s probably worth planning ahead, though. Record stores are likely to be brimming come Saturday. Here are nine releases worth waking up at dawn to buy on RSD 2015
This Aussie songstress can flit between hauntingly sparse folk warblings, and gloriously shambolic punk tinged indie rock, seemingly at whim. Recent album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit runs the full spectrum, but is woven together tightly with carefully crafted lyrics that are both beautifully neurotic and acerbically self deprecating. A-Side “Kim Caravan” is one of the album’s more reflective moments, while the B-side is a cover of John Cale’s “Close Watch.” Get on this bandwagon now.
J Dilla’s fragmented output, from the countless records he produced, the all too few Slum Village records he appears on, and his criminally overlooked solo output, make him well suited to the kind of nerdish collecting of vinyl hunters. His distinctive melodic loops dotted with stuttering breakbeats, gurgling synths and vocal samples music make almost any project this musical mixologist put his mind to interesting. Record Store Day sees the release of 2001’s “Cop Killer”, with Jay’s original mixdown for the vocal a-side and an instrumental b-side. The track has been out of print for well over a decade, and the RSD release will come pressed as a 9? picture disc shaped like a policeman’s badge.
The Family Way: Original Soundtrack Recording
Beatles and Macca aficionados might be eager to get their paws on this long out of print soundtrack to the otherwise forgotten 1966 British comedy-drama of the same name (though The Smiths did use stills from the movie as covers for a couple of their singles). Sandwiched somewhere between the recording of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s, this is far from an essential purchase, but should be an interesting one nonetheless.
Run The Jewels
Bust No Moves E.P.
Rappers El-P and Killer Mike are basking in the glow of a purple patch at the moment. 2014’s Run the Jewels 2 frequented many end of year best albums lists. Their political fury, impish playfulness and incendiary live performances make Kanye West seem as relevant to contemporary America as Cole Porter. The Bust No Moves E.P. includes “Pew Pew Pew", from the European edition of their first album, "Love Again" from Run the Jewels 2, "Blockbuster Night Pt. 2" from the last album, and a never-before-released track "Bust No Moves," featuring an assist by rapper SL Jones.
The Violent Femmes
Happy New Year
On RSD, gods return to earth. Last year’s Pixies’ release allowed lovers of the alt rock titans a chance to hear the first new music in yonks. This year the Violent Femmes are back, with their first new offering in 15 years. No repacked, rehashed, re-release here, but 4 resplendent new tracks. Reunions can be a let down, but if the reviews for the Femme’s shows last year are anything to go by, this could be fantastic.
My Squelchy Life
For some reason, 1991’s My Squelchy Life was shelved by the sonic wizard behind Roxy Music’s best stuff, some of Bowie’s greatest work and frequent pioneer of new soundscapes in his own discography. The hipster crowd might be tussling with dedicated Eno journeymen to get their hands on this, like brides to be on Black Friday. You may be paying through the bloody nose for this.
No Life Til Leather
Many die hard metal fans feel the genre’s biggest act have lost their way in recent times. Their last few releases have received decidedly mixed receptions, they’ve played mainstream rock festivals, and some believe that Ulrich and Hetfield disappeared up their own posteriors a decade ago. However, the release of No Life Til Leather, an early demo tape from 1982, could serve as a reminder of the quality of the band’s early back catalogue and the impact and influence they’ve had on the genre.
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Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear E.P.
Joshua Tillman’s aka, Father John Misty release I Love You, Honeybear is already penciled in to many journalists end of year best albums lists. His country-soul croonings on love and marriage are candid and elegant, dour and funny. His RSD release includes an acoustic version of the title track of the album; and an exclusive B-side "Never Been a Woman"; Topping it off, it comes on red heart shaped vinyl.
Sun Records Curated by Record Store Day Vol. 2
Sun Records, the Memphis studio operated by Sam Phillips, was perhaps more instrumental in the shaping of rock n’ roll than any other label. In essence, this collection of some of the label’s superstars, as well as some of its lesser known artists, acts as a crucial chapter one to modern music as we know it; Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Howlin’ Wolf all appear. This will be one of the more exclusive releases, with only 4,000 released worldwide.
We Got the Beats’ Record Store Day 2015. 8 a.m. Saturday, April 18, at We Got the Beats, 5130 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-671-9482; wegotthebeats.biz. Entry is free.
Radio-Active Records’ Record Store Day 2015. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-762-9488; radio-active-records.tumblr.com. Entry is free.