Monday, October 12, 2009

Record albums have staying power

Vinyls are coming back in style

By Amanda Dovel

Walking down the stairs of “Albums on the Hill,” the store is a cluttered mess of fliers, CD’s, posters and of course an entire room full of LPs. The new Built to Spill album “Good Ol’ Boredom” was playing in the background of the store, unleashing a new part of the music world few are familiar with. This is the underground world of vinyl records.

Andy Schneidkraut has owned Albums on the Hill for 22 years. He sees a lot of young people buying and collecting vinyls and believes it’s about the sound quality and actually understanding the music.

“It’s about the experience, its more relational and intimate,” Schneidkraut said. “The music is not intended to be background noise, it’s about wanting to listen and having to actively get up and turn it over to listen to the other side.”

Recently, the top album sold at Albums is the limited edition 12” vinyl single from Thom Yorke of Radiohead. The record features “FeelingPulledApartbyHorses” and “The Hollow Earth.”

Classic rock albums such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and many more from the 60s and 70s are still topping the charts in record sales. Records were born in a time where rock and roll ruled the music scene and the young adults that listened to it.

The cultural influence of these albums is obvious as the demand for classic records continues to increase. Many students expressed their love for vinyl records that have been passed down to them from their parents who collected many albums.

Taylor Iverson, a 20-year-old double majoring in film and journalism, said he found a vintage Beatles album in his parent’s collection and has collected over fifty records since. Iverson said he believes the best sound quality is in LPs.

“With vinyl, you hear the music exactly the way the artists want you to hear it,” Iverson said. “It’s the most pristine sound possible.”

Sam Sacher, a 21-year-old junior ethnic studies major, said she too became interested in record collecting because of her family.

“My dad listened to a lot of bad music but also some cool jazz, funk and soul,” Sacher said.

Sacher said was hooked on “The Blues Brothers” when she was younger, and she believes records are a different, more involved way of listening that has been lost over time.

She said that if she knows she likes the whole album, she’ll buy the record. If she only wants one song she’ll just buy the MP3, although she agrees the sound quality of a record is much better than anything else. Her most recent purchase is Betty Davis’ “Nasty Gal” LP.

“The album is raunchy, sexually charged funk,” Sacher said.

Vinyl sales have helped encourage people to continue buying music, rather than getting it for free off the Internet. Modern LP releases often come in a package that enables the purchaser to walk away with tangible album art, a high quality sound recording and often a code to download the MP3 version of the album for free.

LP purchases always support that band, but also the artist who designed the album art.

Iverson said he just bought the vintage “Grand Funk Railroad,” double LP, and that it came with “an awesome poster.”

Sacher said that she hopes the increase in record sales will encourage bands to wait on releasing their album until it’s perfect. That way, people will want to purchase the entire album to listen to it all the way through and really appreciate it’s crackling sound on the record player.

Adam Ladwig is the director of Radio 1190 on campus and a 21-year-old broadcast news major. He said he collects records because he likes the feel of a record; by holding a record the collector is much more involved in the music, when compared to the impersonal action of Internet downloading.

“It’s much more fun to drop a needle on a record than it is to play a CD,” Ladwig said. “There is a more earthy sound coming off a record player.”

While portability is sacrificed with the use of a record player, an iPod or mp3 player will never get sound that “pops” and “hisses” like that of a record player.

John Martinez has been employed at Bart’s CD cellar for 12 years now and he works upstairs in the vinyl section. He describes how his love of music has connected him with vinyl records.

“I like being around records,” Martinez said. “I’ve had the vinyl bug since I was little and I have been at it so long I just cant imagine doing anything else.”

He believes vinyl records are an “all encompassing medium” with has visual, audio and sensual qualities about it. Martinez also said he believes records create the best sound possible and you can hear the entire audio spectrum.

“Music is a really good escape from reality, it’s a distraction,” Martinez explains. “Music takes you out of yourself, a good concert invigorates you for days. It allows you to tap into feelings you have trouble expressing whether they’re happy or sad.”


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