In rotation: 7/9/20

Cub Sport, Denzel Curry, Alex Lahey announced for Australia Record Store Day August releases: The event takes place August 29. The 2020 Australian Record Store Day has revealed the staggering list of vinyl releases available to purchase as part of its August event. Record Store Day was initially scheduled for April 18, before being postponed to June 20 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “This decision comes at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and the health and safety of the general public must come first,” RSD organisers said in a statement at the time. “This was absolutely not an easy decision to make as hundreds of independent shops and labels have been working hard towards this year’s celebrations.” Finally, it was announced the event would be spread across three days in August 29, September 26 and October 24. Notable Australian artists included in next month’s drop of releases include Alex Lahey, Angus & Julia Stone, Cub Sport, Ocean Alley, The Teskey Brothers, Vance Joy and Flume.

CN | Record buyers get back in vinyl groove: Turntables spin as format witnesses revival. Since launching his debut album Jay in 2000, Mandarin pop star Jay Chou has built a massive fan base in Asia. To mark his 20th anniversary in the music industry, the singer will release a set of vinyl records, Chou’s record company Sony Music announced on June 30. Featuring 150 songs from his 14 albums during the past 20 years, the set will include a blank vinyl disc to promote Chou’s upcoming album. “This is the first time I have released on vinyl. My first album was released on Nov 6, 2000, and it’s meaningful for me to celebrate my career with a set of such discs,” Chou said. Vinyl plays a small but vital part in China’s music industry. Rather than disappearing, the format is making an impressive comeback amid competition from digitalized music. The resurgence of interest in vinyl also underscores the fact that the country has become a dynamic force in recorded music.

Lawton, OK | Wannabe wired: Analog audio in the 21st century: Vinyl records were a thing of the past by the time I was old enough to develop my own taste in music. The world had transitioned to CDs and that was the future—until it wasn’t. I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD, or, for that matter, the last time I bought a digital album. These days my casual musical listening is done through streaming. That’s what I like to call “filling the silence” listening. When I’m just trying to pass the time on my commute or fill my head with sound while I’m writing, I stream music. But for true audio felicity, I turn to vinyl. If you haven’t heard the news, vinyl has made a big comeback in recent years. Last year, vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time since 1986 (which happens to be the year I was born). On a side note, while researching this column I found out that CDs first became available commercially in 1982. A fact that absolutely blows my mind because I 100 percent believed they were a product of the 90s.

Cut your own vinyl record with this nifty toy: Unless you’re a real music nerd, cutting records is a pretty mysterious process – especially for those of us who grew up with CDs and streaming services. If you want to do some hands-on learning, though, you could try the Gakken Toy Record Maker. Created in partnership with Japanese designer Yuri Suzuki, the nifty gadget lets you record digital tracks onto real-deal vinyl records by simply plugging in your phone or computer and letting the machine do its thing. As the music plays, the cutting arm engraves sound waves onto your vinyl disc in real time, which is exactly how small-run records are made. With that said, it’s not quite as easy as unboxing and pressing play. (As this video shows us, there’s the small matter of assembling all the machine’s bits and pieces, too.) The final record is not going to blow your mind with commercial-quality sound, but you will get some cool, old-timey effects, and learn a thing or two about records in the process.

Forest Park, IL | Relearning how to listen: Urban Art House will bring music, art to Madison Street. It was after 2 in the morning on July 1. A group of artists had just finished painting a rainbow street mural in front of Urban Pioneer Group, a project organized in part by Trevor Toppen. Toppen is easy to talk to, intelligent and humble. As he spoke about the mural, it was clear this project was important to him. But he was also excited to discuss Tom Kunkel’s new Urban Art House, which will host art shows and classes and, with Toppen driving it, music. Toppen’s commitment to, and love for, music was shown when he bailed out Oak Park music store Val’s halla in November 2019 to keep it from going out of business. A loyal customer for years, it was Toppen who gave the store its new lease on life. General Manager Shayne Blakely called him a “guardian angel.” Toppen is still involved in the music scene at Val’s halla, but he wants to bring a new/old way to experience music in Forest Park. New because there’s nothing quite like it. Old because it focuses on vinyl.

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