In rotation: 2/26/19

Plymouth, UK | Delight as Plymouth HMV staff get their jobs back. Surprise reopening is a boost for workers, shoppers and Plymouth city centre: Plymouth city centre has been given a major boost after the HMV store re-opened – leaving staff and customers delighted. The roller-shutter rolled up at 9am on Saturday, February 23, 2019, more than two weeks after the huge Drake Circus Shopping Centre outlet shut suddenly. It is understood the chain’s new Canadian owner has reached an agreement with mall bosses British Land Company PLC on rental for the vast unit. It meant the store, one of 27 that closed when music store mogul Doug Putman bought HMV out of administration, could start trading again. It is understood staff were only called the evening before and given the good news they could go back to their jobs.

Dundee, UK | SAVED: Iconic store in Dundee city centre​ to stay open: The iconic Groucho’s record store is to stay open, its owner has announced. It was announced in September last year that the landlord was selling the shop premises and subsequently the sale was completed at the end of November. It left owner Alastair Brodie considering retirement and the record store – a mainstay in Dundee for 42 years and at its current Nethergate location since 1999 – under threat. But Alastair has announced it will stay open in a Facebook post on Friday night. He wrote: “After months of speculation I am delighted to announce that Groucho’s will not be closing in the near future as feared. “Fortunately we have been able to strike a deal with the new landlord to extend our lease by five years which I’m sure will come as a great relief to our loyal customers.”

UK | Fopp: The rise and fall of a music store empire: It was the mothership of an independent record shop empire that grew from a one-man Glasgow market stall to 100 stores across the UK. Fopp on Byres Road helped shape the musical tastes of thousands of Scots and influenced some of the country‘s most popular musicians. But its doors have been closed for good after the chain‘s owner, HMV, was bought by Canadian firm Sunrise Records. The deal has also led to – but it is the loss of the Byres Road branch which has been most keenly felt. Members of bands like Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian and Arab Strap have all described how the Byres Road shop – situated in the heart of Glasgow‘s student area – was a key part of their musical education in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Des Moines, IA | Rock out, Merle Hay Mall: A store with 50,000 vinyl records is moving in: Get ready to rock, Merle Hay Mall. A record store is moving into the mall, complete with 50,000 vinyl records, cassette tapes, autographed pieces and live bands playing shows in the mall. Ratt’s Underground Records is moving into a 3,900 square-foot space at the mall on the lower level, next door to Expo and near Flix Brewhouse. Steve Ratcliff, the store’s owner, said he is moving his existing store at 617 Euclid Avenue and all of the vintage merchandise along with it. “I have a lot of opportunities going into the mall,” Ratcliff said. “I’ve been here in the Highland Park area for seven years and it’s a struggle.” The Merle Hay Mall store includes a poster and art gallery, heavy metal and punk rock patches and 1,600 band T-shirts. Ratcliff said his store will appeal to all genres of music lovers, “everything from punk rock to Hawaiian to barber shop quartet-type stuff.”

Spokane, WA | ‘Black Friday’ of vinyl record sales brings out collectors, resellers to benefit Spokane Public Radio: Cory McIntire calls himself a true collector of records. He grew up in Spokane and began collecting records when he was 14. Now at age 49, his collection totals about 8,000 or 9,000 records, he said. He was the first person in line at Spokane Public Radio’s annual record sale on Saturday at the Spokane Valley Events Center, 10514 E. Sprague Ave. The radio station sells thousands of donated vinyls, CDs, DVDs, electronics and more every year to raise money for the station. Each vinyl costs $3, admission is free and the sale continues through Sunday. In line behind McIntire stood Rob and Penny Byrd, a couple from Bend, Oregon, who traveled to Spokane Valley just for the sale. The duo travel around the Northwest to record sales to get bargains and then sell them on eBay, said Penny…“It’s kind of like Black Friday,” McIntire said. “Everybody is cutthroat.”

It’s cool to spool again as the cassette returns on a wave of nostalgia. Sales are soaring and current stars are releasing tracks on the format… but is anyone actually listening to them? Pause. Stop. Rewind! The cassette, long consigned to the bargain bin of musical history, is staging a humble comeback. Sales have soared in the last year – up 125% in 2018 on the year before – amounting to more than 50,000 cassette albums bought in the UK, the highest volume in 15 years. It’s quite a fall from the format’s peak in 1989 when 83 million cassettes were bought by British music fans, but when everyone from pop superstar Ariana Grande to punk duo Sleaford Mods are taking to tape, a mini revival seems afoot. But why? “It’s the tangibility of having this collectible format and a way to play music that isn’t just a stream or download,” says techno DJ Phin, who has just released her first EP on cassette as label boss of Theory of Yesterday. “I find them much more attractive than CDs. Tapes have a lifespan, and unlike digital music, there is decay and death. It’s like a living thing and that appeals to me.”

What’s up with millennials’ vinyl attraction? The Audiophiliac ponders the LP’s ongoing appeal to people who grew up with digital music. I love meeting young audiophiles who play LPs at home. They may stream music on their phone and in their cars, but at home they hunker down with their turntables and LP collections, and listen only to vinyl. For them music isn’t just something they play as background, music is in the foreground. They may have just bought an inexpensive ‘table or found one in the attic of their parents’ home, and one thing led to another, and they started their audio journey. They went on to buy an amp and speakers or headphones. They all found that listening to LPs was a very different, more satisfying experience than streaming music. Over at the Turntable Lab shop in New York’s East Village, most customers are in their 20s, with a smattering of folks in their 30s and 40s. The bulk of the turntable sales are walk-ins, and customers who already have one are buying phono cartridges.

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