By Tyler Fox (@TylerFox585)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know that vinyl records have, for whatever reason, made a comeback. For nearly 20 years the medium was virtually dead, but has since become the preferred method for both listening and releasing music. Why? What made musicians decide to revert back to an “antiquated” form of releasing music and, more importantly, what made us fans eat it up?
What got me thinking about this was the other day a friend asked me what I thought about vinyl and if it I thought it was worth the hype. Lucky (or unlucky) for her, the day before I had bought a new record player — so I had plenty to say about the topic. For me, it was a quick, “Yes! Absolutely!”, but after our conversation, I began to wonder about why I love records so much. Easy answer is I’m actually a flannel clad, craft beer drinking, taco and vinyl loving hipster — but I started buying and listening to vinyl well before the flannel and beer made their way into my life, so this runs deeper. And I think I figured it out.
I think the argument that most people lean on is there is something “sonically superior” with records. While I don’t know that I would say across the board all records sound better than their digital counterparts, I think that some genres and eras of music lend themselves to vinyl. The best examples of this are classic country, early jazz, and hardcore/punk music. Think about it. Whenever you hear a George Jones or a Miles Davis song, don’t you almost automatically start to hear those pops of the record? It is just something that was so synonymous with the music you almost consider it a part of the song. When it comes to hardcore and punk, I feel like the rawness and passion that drives those styles becomes more pronounced with the raw sound that is associated with records. Obviously this doesn’t work for all styles. I can’t imagine “Lemonade” would sound purer on vinyl, but that’s just me.
Another big part of why I love vinyl has to do with what the bands do with the physical records. Many bands will create a piece of art with the actual record by running limited colors or putting album artwork on the vinyl, making many albums completely unique and sometimes collectible. It really involves the fans and makes them feel like they are a part of the band and the culture behind it. The best example I have of this is my favorite record in my collection, From Ashes Rise’s “Nightmares.” This is far from the best album I own. Don’t get me wrong, I love From Ashes Rise and this is a great album, but it isn’t the end all be all for even hardcore albums. However, the copy of the record I purchased is a transparent, blood red record with light black splattered throughout the record. Each copy that has this same color scheme was different in how the black was used to splatter the record, making each copy unique. This was the first record I ever bough that was colored in a cool way and I just fell in love with the concept of owning a record made by a band I love that was completely my own.
For me, as stupid as it sounds, the best part about vinyl’s are actually buying them. There are few things I love more than going with friends to some dark, dank record store and rummaging through records until you find that one you never thought you’d find; taking a swing at something new and ending up falling in love with (or totally hating) a new band; or being at a show, hitting the merch table, and finding some local kid has a distro set up. Then the conversations start and you begin talking music with a stranger who has the same passion you do.
There is just something about music and the niche culture of vinyl that brings people together. It is one of those things where you feel like you can let your guard down and your geek flag fly. I will be a lifelong buyer and listener to vinyl and I highly suggest you give it a try. So to my friend, “Yes! Absolutely!”, buy, collect, and listen to as much vinyl as you can. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Record Theater to find a copy of “Sky Blue Sky.”