David Browne for this week’s Rolling Stone (RS 1054) writes about the return of vinyl as a desirable (and, increasingly, profitable) medium for listening to music both old and new. According to the article ‘Vinyl Returns in the Age of MP3‘, the groovy format has jumped 15 per cent in sales from 2006 to 2007, and could double in sales to 1.6 million pressings retailed by the end of 2008. Recently spurred by creative marketing strategies (Radiohead’s release of In Rainbows in special discbox pushed 13,000 copies, Elvis Costello’s April release of Momofuku was available only on LP for the first few weeks), people realizing how shitty MP3s actually sound, and a good bit of nostalgia, vinyl is staging a definitive comeback.
I can certainly agree. This past year I purchased at least ten copies of both favorite albums and new releases on vinyl. The sound is irreplaceable, even compared to ripping CDs with Apple Lossless or AIFF. Plus, I really enjoy listening to entire albums; I love the ritual associated with appreciating album art, taking the time to set the needle and turn the disc, as well as appreciating the warmth vinyl innately brings to the house. That, and I can empathize with Browne’s state of mind:
There’s also something less technical lurking behind vinyl’s mini-renaissance. Whether it’s inspecting a needle for dust or flipping the record over at the end of a side, LPs demand attention. And for a small but growing group, those demands aren’t a nuisance. “There’s nothing like putting the needle into the groove of a record,” says country singer Shelby Lynne. “it’s about as real as you can get. You got your vinyl, your weed, your friends, and while you’re rollin’ they’re pickin’ out another record. We’re all taking music for granted because it’s so easy to push a button. I mean, come on, music should be fun.”
Check out the San Francisco duo The Dodos. I up and bought a 12″ of their new album Visiter this morning, after hearing just a couple bars of the opener. They’re incredible–at most songs, it feels as though Donovan Frankenreiter or Sufjan Stevens hooked up with Rodrigo Y Gabriela to create some amazing rhythms. With his Weakerthans-like boyish voice and love for fingerpicking guitar strides, singer Meric Long brings both atmosphere and placement to his counterpart, Logan Kroeber. And Kroeber is what launches this band up and outwards. The way he so easily slips throughout time signatures and backbeats slams the album with thunderous percussion, but his control keeps a bouncy taste of quirk. ‘Fools’ is definitely on my morning playlist now–it’s totally happy, kind of if Jeff Tweedy were to remake some ELO slasa-style (and had John Bonzo Bonham’s reincarnation on drums). Have a listen to ‘Paint The Rust,’ to get a White Stripes-esque grunge with pure psychedelic bang (there’s Bela Fleck love peeking through Long’s plucking on that one too!).
Kroeber’s stomping tambourine bangarang really recalls The Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker, and her ass-kicking violence towards instruments; he embraces his progressive metal background, and meshes it with Meric Long’s trippy bluegrass attitude.
Yes! One the bands I was introduced to while living in the UK, Jim Noir, are releasing their new album April 8! Their first album, Tower of Love, is an incredible feast of psychedelic happy music. When my friend Ryn had me listen, it felt like someone had wired a jukebox to ‘summer afternoon’. Jim Noir channels a mellow-pop electronic sound that’s rife with the sonic repertoire of Cat Stevens, The Beatles, Beta Band, Heart (total guilty pleasure), and Mama Cass. Noir makes all the music himself except at live shows where he brings in some mates. Plus he wears a bowler hat constantly. *swoon* For this new album, self-titled Jim Noir, I’m grabbing a copy in 12″ vinyl as soon as they press it because there are no copies available anymore for their first album, and I expect this one to do the same.
His Manchester-based label, My Dads Recordings, has a terrible website, but pop by their State-side distributor Barsuk Records to download the single ‘Don’t You Worry‘ from the new album (also available at Spinner.com). Or you can check out a few of the songs streaming from their MySpace page. One of the things I love most about Jim Noir is how well he unexpectedly layers the sampled grooves and builds the tracks as a DJ might–including the ‘break-downs’–yet still retains a folky/Help!-era Beatles atmosphere. It’s a stunning surreal instrumental timbre, and yet it sounds effortless–as if you had just happened to pluck out a sweet radio station. With only a cursory listen to what’s available from the new album, I’m elated that there doesn’t seem to be any sophomoric ego infusion on his part. It’s truly light-hearted mood-lifting music. Full review when I get my hands on a copy for sure!
I love the video of ‘My Patch’ from the original album (ARISE Chicken!):