The great Vinyl Holiday is upon us! The most sanctified of listening formats, the flat, black, circular disc of signature spiral grooves made of stamped polyvinyl chloride, was considered, in the early 2000s, to be hanging on life support, as a merchandise item. Independent Record Stores across the country started closing up from a lack of demand – as the mainstream of consumers had either embraced jewel-cased CDs or perhaps pilfered most of their tunes via MP3s off of the internet. Ten years ago, this month, a group of indie record store owners and managers decided to stir up an advocacy campaign that could inject new profitable life back into the vinyl department of retail sales.
The thing is, our veneration of vinyl never went away – even if we may have neglected it into dormancy while we sort of lazily embraced more convenient formats. While it came close, maybe just a little close, to extinction, a modest movement to re-embrace the collection of vinyl had quietly begun in college towns across the country, leading up to 2007 – when the very first Record Store Day was instituted. Within a couple years, it was fair to deem it a “revolution” as the craze caught on. Now sales have hit a 25-year high, with more than three million wax LPs sold in 2016. The impetus? Returning to a tangible listening experience in an otherwise plasticized or ephemeral age of apps, social media, streaming services and amorphous MP3s.
Ann Arbor music mavens – you’ll want to stop in at Encore Records, Wazoo Records, PJ’s Used Records and Underground Sounds. Wherever you can find the nearest vinyl record store, JUST GO! Enter, shop, take it all in… You’ll find lots of special Record Store Day exclusive releases that aren’t available on any other day of the year (and often sell out swiftly because of limited pressings).
But we’re here to tell you that after you spend your day (and spend some of your cash) at one of our local record stores, you should stop in at the library! The Ann Arbor District Library is going to be hosting its own RSD event, with a pop-up vinyl record bazaar, plus a special screening of “Last Shop Standing,” a documentary about the 50-year history of record stores.
Come sift through a few crates of vinyl inside the August ambiance of a public library, with DJ Chuck Sipperly spinning a soundtrack throughout the day. You can even experiment with some of the musical materials that the library loans out from their instrument/tools collection. The documentary starts at 2pm – and you can find more info here.
Ann Arbor District Library ~ 343 S. Fifth Ave
While you’re here…, I’d like to spotlight a live local show. I mean, that’s kinda what we usually do here, week-in and week-out…
Wraiths, Modern Lady Fitness, LVRS and Harison Zamperla are performing on Friday night at Crossroads Pub in Ypsilanti. Modern Lady Fitness is frenetic cartwheel-post-punk, LVRS is a jangly bit of post-rock and ragged-pop shuffles, and Harison Zamperala is a groovy, minimalist dance/electro/funk-pop hybrid. But we’re going to listen to some Wraiths… Wraiths are gorgeous, haunting, noise-massaging welders of lush and wiry tones swelling into subdued strains of melody and adventurous musicality – conjuring shoegaze, dreamy drones and ambient drifters, ideal for late night contemplation, moonlit drives, or pre-dawn meditation.
Wraiths just released a new album, Music For Aging
More info on the show at Crossroads, Friday night, here.
Happy Record Store Day Weekend, everyone.