Rule #1 among the indie record-label folks I know: don’t talk about Record Store Day at social gatherings. The annual event — this Saturday marks its eighth year — has been known to inspire bouts of industry anxiety starting in January and lasting ‘til nearly May. And the fact that factions of the music industry are questioning a holiday meant to bolster the primary brick-and-mortar institution of music culture is proof that it is damn near impossible for an industry in upheaval to execute solutions that will satisfy everyone. What is in theory a straightforward, hugely positive event to sell records has become, well… it’s complicated and depends on who you ask. So we asked a few people on both sides of the debate. As it turns out, some of the downfalls of Record Store Day are less apparent to music fans than others, which may help to illuminate the recent… Read More
How the Music Industry Capitalized on Foodie Culture — and Why the Culinary World Is Turning the Tables
A few months ago, in a foreign city I’d never visited before, I found myself fondling raw steak in a pitch-black room. Despite the disconcerting situation, all I could focus on was the conversation taking place several tables away: an argument between two men over a friendly bet. It sounded like they were wearing lapel mics. When one or more of the five senses is impaired, our remaining abilities overcompensate — a fact that sits at the heart of Montreal restaurant O.Noir’s light-free concept — but I hadn’t imagined my hearing would be the sense to take over when I sat down to… Read More
We’ve heard it all before: “Vinyl is BACK!” Vinyl sales in 2013 were the highest they’d been in 22 years, with 6.1 million new LPs sold last year — a 33 percent increase from 2012 alone. Jack White sold nearly as many copies — 40,000 to be exact — of his new album in vinyl form as he did on CD during Lazaretto‘s release week back in June. And yet, we can’t stop lamenting the death of the indie record store. We carry on with the well-meaning Record Store Day each April, even as the major labels have overtaken the exclusive offerings with ~*qUiRkY*~ pop novelties and reissue city. Music nerds can attribute RSD’s ubiquity and vinyl’s well-documented resurgence as “wins for the little guy,” but here’s a figure that bursts their indie-loving bubble: Urban Outfitters supposedly sells more vinyl in the world than any other single retailer.
… Read More
The fine folks at Boo-Hooray and Milk Gallery have partnered for an exhibition of DIY record cover art in New York City. The focus of DIY OR DIE! is geared toward the ‘70s punk scene in the US, UK, and Australia, as well as the Jamaican Dub/Ska/Rocksteady movement. The original paste-ups of punk fanzines from the collections of John Ingham (the music journalist who first interviewed The Sex Pistols), Geoffrey Weiss (whose record collection would make a grown person weep), and Bruce Griffiths (of Aberrant Records fame) are also on display, along with hand-printed punk posters created between 1976 and 1983. As if this treasure trove weren’t enough, Milk will also feature original stencils from the Crass archive. As the gallery explains: “These stencils are the ground zero of recent urban wall art. They were hand cut and utilized to full effect for the détournement of advertising billboards on the London Underground. They were also the origin for the backs of tens of thousands of punker leather motorcycle jackets.” If handmade silkscreens, stencils, and angsty collages on 12 and 7-inch vinyl sleeves are your happy place, stop by the gallery through August 10 to check out DIY OR DIE!. Here’s a teaser — highlighting covers for The Residents, Sun Ra, and more — to whet your appetite.
… Read More
The black and yellow paint, the tin ceilings, the interior archway with a phonograph for a keystone, the taxidermied elephant head in the blue room and full-sized bongo stalking the kitchen, the offices lined up as seedy motel rooms above a factory floor bathed in barely-not-nauseating yellow light, the lab coats the engineers wear while they’re cutting, probably even the bidet that hangs bat-like from the ceiling of one bathroom stall… everything in Third Man Records’ Nashville headquarters was born in Jack White’s head. Established in 2001, Third Man has put out a seemingly endless stream of vinyl releases, from Americana and country acts to scuzz punks to comedians to Neil freaking Young since opening this high-profile Nashville hub in ’09. If you’re a music lover, it’s nothing short of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in here.
… Read More
Using Rolling Stone‘s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time as a resource, photographer Kai Schäfer has catalogued landmark records in music history and the vintage turntables that first played them in his World Records series. Photos of famous vinyl — including albums by Bowie, Elvis, and Joy Division — recall a time when collecting music was a tactile and perhaps more intimate experience. “It is also a private time machine to the spectator: music as an impulse to remember bits and pieces of one’s personal history, a release of former thoughts and feelings. The soundtrack of your life,” the artist writes. Schäfer is celebrating his first solo exhibition at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, which runs until July 13. Visit the gallery’s website to find out how you can see over 100 photos of your favorite albums. Click through for a preview.
… Read More
What’s the best thing to do when you’re not digging for vinyl? Look at photos of musicians digging for vinyl, of course. Voices of East Anglia featured a few great pictures of stars during the 1960s hanging out at record emporiums, and we wanted to add our own contribution to the collection. Click through to see your favorite musicians in the wild, with… Read More
We’ve admired the work of Robert Penney (Penney Design) and his pixilated reimaginings of The Beatles’ Abbey Road before. His latest project recently caught our attention on Retronaut. The designer took modern singles — like Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and “What A Waster” from English band The Libertines — and gave them a retro makeover à la 1957 and 1965. The creases, LP impressions, and faded 7″ artwork add to the effect, and we wish there were about a dozen more of these to gawk at. Penney wins bonus points for creating a 1980s-era Thom Yorke and new The Eraser cover, which looks appropriately Bowie-riffic.
… Read More
We recently explored a photo survey of video stores that have faded to black since the digital marketplace takeover, which got us thinking about other ephemeral media. Just a few weeks ago it was reported that Times Square record haven Colony Music — founded in 1948, and with an inventory of more than one million LPs — would be closing its doors. Colony is one of many large chain music stores and indie record shops that have called it quits since the rise of high def formats, web retailers, and the popularity of digital downloading. It’s a phenomenon that’s being explored in documentaries like Last Shop Standing — about the rise, fall, and rebirth of indie record shops in the UK — which hits DVD today. (The filmmakers are encouraging audiences to purchase the movie locally.)
If you grew up ritualistically hunting for vinyl or cassettes and relied on knowledgeable record store employees for recommendations à la High Fidelity, you’ve definitely been feeling the pangs of loss as these stores quickly collapse around us. Click through our gallery of abandoned record shops — including several landmark stores — to remember the fine art of crate digging and the passionate music communities that made them awesome.
… Read More
Today at Flavorpill, we got the scoop on Mantyhose, which are exactly what you think they are. We found out why Chartbeat is an “addictive, sanity-ruining stats tool.” We said goodbye to Austin icon, Leslie. We watched last night’s Shins show. We saw an Eyptian prosthetic… Read More