Vinyl will never die. 8-tracks are a joke. Cassettes are just a trite novelty. Compact discs are on the way out. But, like an immortal watching ages pass and empires fall, vinyl has endured. During the arrogance of the entertainment technology boom of the late seventies, vinyl was briefly forgotten as new formats were paraded through record stores before becoming obsolete themselves. But time has been good to vinyl. The past ten years have seen a steady increase in vinyl sales. Even sites like Amazon.com and mega-stores like Best Buy have hopped into the vinyl market — a market once left to independent record stores.
While major labels may have abandoned vinyl in the 90’s, wax was still the vessel of choice for the underground indie, punk, hardcore and emo scenes. Most bands, especially before the Green Day/Nirvana explosion of the early 90’s were ignored by labels big enough to fund the pressing of 12-inch LPs. It was during this era that the 7-inch became god. Five or six, fast, hard and short punk rock songs could easily fit on a 7-inch, and a hard working band could easily afford the pressing themselves.
Even today, the 7-inch is the proving ground of any underground band. A 7-inch was how a band proved that they were for real. If the 7-inch did well, then an album was the next logical step…if not another 7-inch! At the turn of the millennium and the dawn of the Napster age, vinyl, and the colored 7-inch in particular, were standard for all punk, harcore and emo bands, no matter how big they got.
As the CD became an unwanted middleman in the digital music age, hardcore music fans still needed on outlet to feed their need to collect. Why collect 5-inch jewel cases when you can collect 12-inch vinyl. Big, beautiful 12-ince vinyl. And nowadays, most vinyl comes with a download card, or “drop card” packaged with it. Some labels, such as Paper and Plastik and Think Fast! don’t even bother pressing CDs anymore. Digital and vinyl is the way to go.
In addition to the credibility and collectability of vinyl, there is also something to be said about the sound. I love Rancid, but their fantastic song “Young Al Capone”, off of 2000’s Rancid never sounded as good as it did the day I opened the single and put it on my turn table. The opening guitar solo buzzed and crackled in a way that ripped through my ears and straight to my brain like iPod earbuds and CD players never could.
There are a few fine places in the city to score vinyl. VIBES, on 54th street, has a wide selection of older, used vinyl. It is best to give yourself a few hours to browse, however, because that’s how long it will take before you find something that you really want.
Both LUNA locations (Mass Ave and Mid-Town) have decent selections, but are often, like the rest of LUNA’s selection, a little too hip for their own good. Sure, they have tons of Bjork and Ryan Adams, but they are missing lots of classic punk albums that should be no-brainers for any record store. But if you want the newest Sufjan Stevens or The National, LUNA is the place to go.
The Dojo at 22nd and College is attempting to hold “Record Swap Days” on the first Saturday of every month. If this catches on, it will be a great way to score some rare, OOP (out of print) 7-inches and to satisfy any craving for hardcore and metal vinyl.
My recommendation for vinyl fans is the aptly named Indy CD and Vinyl. The Broad Ripple establishment has an awesome selection of new and used records that always surprises me. And, their punk selection is the best in the city. I recently picked up Against Me!’s As The Eternal Cowboy” and NOFX’s The Decline there during a surprise inspection of their inventory. Ordering vinyl online is fine, but there is nothing quite like the thrill of chasing down your dream wax at a local record store.