Nothing lasts forever. We’ve all sat idly by as some of our favorite media slip into irrelevance and obscurity. VHS tapes sit on shelves, unused, but not unloved. Yet, despite the death sentence marketing executives gave it over 30 years ago, musicians and audiophiles alike stay loyal to vinyl. When it comes to music, it’s not about the newest medium available, it’s about the right one. While the general public may be easily swayed by the powers that be, musicians are not, and they have increasingly declared vinyl their medium of choice. They’ve patiently watched us shove music into increasingly tinier devices, but if we want to hear their music as it was meant to be heard, today, it’s vinyl or bust.
Vinyl releases aren’t nostalgia, they are new material for a new generation of music lovers. Recording studios across the country are popping up with vinyl-only manifestos. Daptone, Third Man, Light In The Attic and others continue the work of Hi, Muscle Shoals Sound, FAME and countless renowned recording houses who haven’t given up on the power of vinyl. When it comes to the full listening experience and warmth of sound, independent record labels and studios are steadfastly committed to vinyl. As true music fans, we should be too.
Even more than labels, artists themselves demand that their music be recorded on tape then cut into vinyl. Eli “Paperboy” Reed signed his career over to Capitol Records and when he demanded that his new album be released on vinyl, there were no questions asked. Cat Power, the Black Keys, the Strokes, Phoenix, Weezer, I could go on all day. Pretty soon, pressing vinyl won’t be the exception, it will be the rule again, and artists who don’t issue their music on the music-lover’s format will do themselves a disservice. It’s a little too soon to throw your CDs out the window, and the portability of iPods proves too convenient to ignore, but there is a place for vinyl in this new format-crazy world, a place where real music fanatics get to use every inch of their ear space in the listening experience.
Anyone who has heard me sing knows the tunes I can carry are few and far between, but still, I hear the world of difference between vinyl and, well, everything else. If you’re a veteran vinyl collector, stubbornly hanging onto records someone tried to convince you were wildly out-of-date, know that at age 25, vinyl collecting is my biggest hobby, claiming most of my monthly income, and I’m not the only one. In a capitalist system, demand dictates supply and with young fans demanding vinyl, it will never go out of style. For some of the newest vinyl releases turning me on, see this issue’s Pet Sounds.