In rotation: 3/24/21

Los Angeles, CA | After a yearlong hiatus, Amoeba Music announces April reopening in new location: Hear that drum rhythm echoing at the horizon? That’s the sound of Amoeba Music in Hollywood sound-checking its stereo system in a new spot. On Monday, the California music retailer announced that it would open its new 23,000-square-feet Hollywood Boulevard location on April 1. Located across the street from the Frolic Room and the Pantages Theatre, and a block west of concert venue the Fonda, the new Amoeba is situated within the El Centro residential and retail development at the corner of Argyle Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. The move to a new space has been years in the making. Last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amoeba abandoned a planned farewell concert for its previous home on Sunset Boulevard, speeded up construction at the new address and hauled the store’s thousands of records earlier than originally planned. It had hoped to open in November, but the surge in COVID-19 negated that possibility.

Why Is Tower Records Coming Back Now, of All Times? It’s trying to offer something Amazon and Spotify can’t. In 1965, Heidi Cotler got a job at Tower Records. She worked in the books department, which had opened not long after the record store did. The job suited her countercultural style. “There was no dress code. There was no hair code. As long as you didn’t smell and your butt wasn’t hanging out, you were pretty much good to go. You had to wear shoes, most of the time.” Cotler says the vibe at Tower—what we’d now call its corporate culture—all came from its founder, Russ Solomon. He was cool, he was free-spirited, and he hired lots of cool and free-spirited young people to create the kind of company he wanted. He didn’t care much about rules as long as the job got done. “We ran on basically just sheer idiocy for a long time,” Cotler says, “and it worked because we adored Russ. He had respect for us, and in a business where you’re being paid $1.25 an hour, to be respected at 19 or 20 years old is a pretty heady thing. You really have to respect that and not screw it up.”

Record Roundup Volume 8: Record Store Day(s) 2021 Announced: It’s been a few months since my last Record Roundup was published. If you’re interested, you can catch up on Volume 7 from last October. What’s on tap for this edition? We have the dates for Record Store Day 2021, heads-up on forthcoming reviews that will be of interest to turntable and vinyl fans, and a hands-on review of a Beatles-themed turntable from Pro-Ject. Record Store Day(s) 2021: In 2020, we saw Record Store Day — the international, one-day celebration of local record shops and vinyl collecting — split into three separate days. The move was necessary given the pandemic and the need for social distancing. In 2020, we are making progress with vaccination, but aren’t quite there yet. So Record Store Day will be two separate days in 2021. Mark the dates in your calendar: June 12 and July 17. The list of record titles for the RSD drops has yet to be announced and stores will have different operating procedures depending on the local Covid-19 situation. However, record collectors have a lot to look forward to this summer.

Audio cassettes: despite being ‘a bit rubbish’, sales have doubled during the pandemic – here’s why: Described by some as “Europe’s biggest tech show”, the Berlin Radio Show has long been famous for exhibiting the next big thing in consumer electronics. In 1963, that was the compact audio cassette, introduced at the time by its creator, the late Dutch engineer Lou Ottens, who died in early March. Over the course of Ottens’ lifetime, cassette tapes came to redefine listening habits, which until then had been limited to the much more unwieldy vinyl record. Car stereos and the iconic Sony Walkman suddenly made individual listening experiences possible outside of the home. The re-recordable nature of the format, meanwhile, helped music fans collate and circulate their own mixtapes. At its peak in 1989, the cassette tape was shifting 83 million units per year in the UK alone. Despite having been superseded in functionality first by the compact disc (CD) and then the digital file (mp3 and mp4), the audio cassette retains a special place in the history of audio technology, with mixtapes a precursor to playlists, and the Walkman the precursor to the iPod.

The Offspring announces stripped-back UK record store sets: The Offspring have announced a pair of U.K. in-store performances. Frontman Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles will play stripped-down sets at Crash Records in Leeds on December 2, and Banquet Records in Kingston on December 3. Each show will also feature a Q&A session. For any Offspring fans outside the U.K., hopefully we’ll be able to travel by then. In the meantime, you can visit Offspring.com for ticket info. Last month, The Offspring finally announced the details of their long-in-the-works new album, Let the Bad Times Roll. The record is due out April 16, but you can listen to the title track now.

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