Friday, June 14, 2013

The Argument For Vinyl

I am not a hipster. I don't have facial hair from the 1890's, I won't tell you how I discovered "that" years before you did, and I don't insist on artisanal mayonnaise. I do however, listen to records .....

Like most of you I ditched the pops and crackles of vinyl for the siren song of digital convenience long ago. I embraced CD's, then MP3's, and then streaming channels. I was content with this choice for quite some time. I never really loved MP3's, but having every piece of music I owned at my fingertips was hard to say no to, and Spotify..... Christ !! There was always something missing though, and I realized that my musical soul may have been sold in a Faustian bargain. I had lost the connection to my music.

There was no grand design in finding my way back to this ancient technology. My turntable had always been around and I still had a few select LP's from my youth. They never garnered much attention but they were here waiting for me to see the light. For a few years now I had been picking up some Record Store Day releases but that was it, just a once a year event to support a small business and hang with music geeks. Then last year it kinda stuck, the light bulb went on, I really missed this ....

No you can't drag your records to the gym or spin 'em in the car, but you can sit your ass down, pour your favorite adult beverage, and listen to some music. I mean REALLY listen. Now I'm not suggesting you torch that hard drive like Hendrix at Monterey. You wanna download that infectious Ke$ha tune or Spotify some one hit wonder, go right ahead. What I do suggest, is for those albums that you have a real connection to, the ones that helped you though that break-up, or demand your best "air guitar", or the ones you just plain love, deserve more. They deserve a place on the shelf and your undivided attention. Control your ADD tendencies, hide the smartphone, and experience a collective musical work in it's intended order instead of the random shuffle we have become all too comfortable with. Ogle that artwork, read those liner notes, let yourself drift into the bliss of a great album. Sure those records will require some care and upkeep, but you will have something you can hold, collect, and admire.

Article after article will tell you vinyl sounds better, the bass is tighter, it's analog man ..... I'm not going there. What I will tell you, is when the stylus rides that groove, it feels like I'm in the same room with the music .... It's alive, as if Jack and Meg White set up in my living room to entertain me and I'm a part of it. So if you have a turntable and can remember where you stashed it, dust it off and give it a spin. You may well be surprised by what you hear and feel.

Once you drag out those old records you may realize your collection isn't in the best shape and you want to pick some stuff up. As far as recommendations go, all that classic rock, funk, and jazz will be a great listening experience. In the event you would like some more recent titles that really sound great on vinyl, here are a few of my favorites from the last few years.

  1. Blunderbuss ~ Jack White 
  2. Brothers ~ The Black Keys
  3. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga ~ Spoon 
  4. Bad as Me ~ Tom Waits 
  5. Lungs ~ Florence and the Machine
  6. ... Like Clockwork ~ Queens of the Stone Age 
  7. Trouble Will Find Me ~ The National

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