“I suppose our earliest memories of music actually come from cassette. I remember jumping around the living room together listening to “Space Man” by Babylon Zoo on cassette with a homemade tinfoil space helmet on (far out lyrics for a 3 and 4-year-old to absorb!)”
“However Dad did have a good vinyl collection which he occasionally sat us down to listen to. This was our introduction to John Coltrane, Erik Sate, Bartok, as well as the Hawkwinds, Led Zeppelins and Syd Barrets of the world. At this early stage though, most of our interaction with music was being in the middle of live jams, travelling nomads in France, or hijacking the instruments during soundcheck at Dad’s shows. It wasn’t until we were 12 and 13 when our formal introduction to vinyl properly happened.
It was our sister’s new boyfriend. He drove an old-school Mini Cooper and had a hefty vinyl collection. His first offerings to us were Jurassic 5’s Concrete School Yard and Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. Yes sister; we approve. They are still together today and Kevin actually does all of our artwork including that of the upcoming release, “In Flight.”
“My first record is a terribly cringe worthy confession to me now. I must have been 10 or so and my Mum bought me a second-hand recording of John Rutter’s “Gloria.” As this probably isn’t the norm for this site, a bit of background is probably needed.”
“I began my music education aged around 7 when I was entered by my mother into the Dunblane Cathedral choir. This was really the glory period of my music life as I was very lucky to have an excellent Treble voice that took me to sing at such hallowed classical music venues as Kings College in Cambridge and even once as a soloist for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
My Dad as always had a very extensive classical music collection on vinyl which made up the majority of my childhood relationship with vinyl. I remember the exciting pregnant pause between placing the needle and the soft noise before the first notes of a piece. I think that sense of anticipation and the feeling of listening to music at home being an event is something that’s sadly not a part of many people’s lives in the MP3 age. As with most things in life easy access tends to lead to a lack of reverence, and I think music is suffering from that now.
“I distinctly remember the smell of trawling through my parents’ record collection throughout my childhood—the slightly musty, old paper flavour of discovery.”
“I thought Howlin’ Wolf must be the coolest guy to have a record cover that just said ‘This is Howlin’ Wolf’s new album. He doesn’t like it. He didn’t like his electric guitar at first either’. Who is this guy??—my 10 year old brain asked.
Growing up in Australia, so many of my favourite records were by artists who came from so far away and seemed so exotic and there was no internet for me to go find out every damn last thing about them and ruin the mystery. I love vinyl for that mysterious quality it embodies. It’s like the music and the artist live inside the wax, but you can never quite get a hold of them. You can have your moment with the needle but once the album ends, where does the music go?
“Music was my first true friend and my longest running.”
“I was always a little kid who felt different and had a lot of trouble getting along at school. Maybe first grade I found my friend in a stack of wooden fruit crates that held a collection of what looked like a whole library of little golden books showing their worn spines to curious eyes. I pulled them out one at a time and looked at how they were made. Some opened and even had pages, just like the little books I knew. Some had bizarre images, some were just pictures of people.
The black disc was obvious, I’d seen them in old Betty Boop cartoons. I put one on I was sure was a kids record. The band had bright-colored coats, there were flowers all over the cover. It was Sgt. Pepper. I found all the power buttons and put the needle on the album. It sounded like madness. There was screaming, words that confused me and weird different things coming from each side of the headphones.
It scared me but I had questions. I wanted to know how things work and had a history of taking things apart and this music thing was no different. I tried to imagine how they made these sounds, what instruments could possibly sound like this. I kept pulling records and trying to figure out what made the music tick. I’d do this anytime I thought I could get away with it.
Eventually I grew older and I would share what I found on these records with my parents, as if they had never heard their own records before. I felt like this music belonged to me. I didn’t hear it at school and I didn’t hear it on the radio. I’d go to thrift stores and record shops and buy things if I recognized a label or band member’s name, or if it had a cool cover and go home and discover something new all over again. Tapes were not cool at school anymore. I needed a CD player to avoid peer ridicule, but at least there were a lot of cool re-releases I could find easier now.
“There is something romantic in obsessing over the obsolete. Giving new meaning to the ancient, disused, and forgotten.”
“There is little practical reason why we should still be listening to vinyl an entire century after its invention, but the LP is still here, having resisted wave after wave of technologies created specifically to bury it. There are much more convenient and efficient ways to deliver music, and you can now digitally possess pretty much any piece of recorded music in existence for free and in seconds. But maybe that’s not the point. By giving us everything we say we wanted, something is devalued. And maybe that’s why we keep coming back to vinyl. Back to these artifacts of the 20th century.
I’ve always collected records, but somehow it means more now. It goes beyond the nostalgia of listening to my Mom’s Monkees’ LPs as I built forts and fought imaginary wars when I was 6, or trying to make sense of the Axis: Bold as Love cover art that used to freak me out. Now, the simple act of putting needle to wax is a small “Fuck You” to the glowing screens that dominate our lives. The antithesis to all the shuffles and the million numbing clicks to the next. A listening experience freed from the drudgery of digital distraction.
“Like many kids, my first experience with vinyl was raiding my parents’ record collection. They had much more commercial tastes and it being the ’80s, there were some shockers in there, but there were also some gems. Hunting through and finding these little sonic nuggets was one of the most exciting times listening to music.”
“Not having any preconceived idea on what’s cool to listen to or what’s not, you just make a total unbiased opinion. I loved things like Cat Stevens and The Rolling Stones—just playing these records and checking out the artwork trying to discover more about the bands.
Finding those records was my magical entry into listening to music, and making that bond with records just sets up a relationship that lasts. The album that really got me in those early stages was the Rolling Stones’ live album Got Live if You Want It. “Gimme Shelter” is just the most amazing song ever written. I can’t say I listen to them much these days, but I loved them. I’d take tapes into school and play these tracks on my Walkman. Nobody was listening to that stuff at my age.
My love of raiding people’s record collections didn’t stop at home. My uncle had a huge collection and it was where I found Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This, to me, was a revelation and part of my musical evolution that is with me today. It was the start of becoming a big Floyd fan—I just went a bought every record of they ever made. Each week I would save my school dinner money and hit the record store. I’d love the crazy experimental shit like Ummagumma. It’s almost unlistenable now, but it was such a discovery—these experimental albums—just so out there and fit where my head space was as a kid.
“Like the majority of people I know who are enthusiastic about music, most of my earliest musical memories were created by my parents. My dad is a huge music fan—he was the person who introduced me to bands like Mogwai, Nirvana, and anything that wasn’t Take That (sorry mum). He was also the person who introduced me to vinyl.”
“I always remember the huge music system sitting in our living room with an equally large shelving unit housing a mass amount of records ranging from early ’70s jazz to Simple Minds’ entire discography.
When my dad thought I was old enough to be shown the ropes of playing records the first thing I did was try to scratch it, like some sort of aspiring DJ Lethal. Safe to say this privilege was taken away quickly.
Fast forward a few years and I’m at a Frightened Rabbit gig. The only thing I thought was worth buying at the merch stand was The Midnight Organ Fight on record. I remember getting home after the gig and asking my dad for permission to use the record player (which by this point had been relegated to the spare room). I sat down, put the record on and listened to the entire thing from start to finish.
ROXANNE GALLO FOR TVD | On their third full length and major label debut, Orphan, the evolution of Empires‘ sound is apparent. On single “How Good Does It Feel,” vocalist Sean Van Vleet entones “It’s emerging, a new version of you.” And while they may not be talking about themselves as a band, it’s clear from the first song, “Silverfire” to the last, “Journey Kid,” a new version of Empires’ sound has emerged.
Formed in Chicago in 2007 by friends Sean Van Vleet (vocals) and Tom Conrad (guitar), the duo spent a year writing songs together before the group achieved its current lineup with the addition of Max Steger (guitar), Mike Robinson (drums).
Though they’ve been recording and releasing music since 2008, they didn’t receive their first taste of mainstream attention until 2011 while competing in Rolling Stones’ “Choose Your Cover” contest and landing in the final four. Fast forward to this summer’s release of the “How Good Does It Feel” EP, their network television debut on Late Night with David Letterman, to their performances at Bonnaroo and Hangout Music Festival, the band has expanded their fan base exponentially. This growth will only continue as they prepare to play AV Fest and Austin City Limits, along with a slew of other festivals.
PETER LARSSON FOR TVD | Scottish alt-rockers Alburn have started to make a name for themselves on the bustling Scottish music scene with some fine live performances and impressive support slots. Songs such as the title track from their sophomore EP, “Mouthful Of Glass” really showcase an abrasive, in your face sound and endearing rawness reminiscent of the US underground of the late ’90s early noughties.
Their EP, “Mouthful Of Glass” is out now via Spilt Lies Records and the band has been compared to the likes of Texas Is The Reason and The Appleseed Cast which, in our book, is no bad thing!
Alburn exhibit an ability to write technically impressive songs but with the added bonus of addictive hooks and memorable choruses which mark the band out as ones to watch in the future. We will certainly be looking forward to a full length offering from them in the not to distant future.
“I’ll be honest, I feel I was little late to the game in terms of the resurgence of vinyl love over the last couple of years. My formative high school years we’re spent hunched over racks of used CDs, because that was the future right?”
“Now, some of my earliest memories involved digging through my Dad’s vinyl collection, Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and the like, however my high school years were in the golden age of the CD. Throughout university it actually was my younger brother who was amassing a fairly impressive vinyl collection while working at one of the best record stores in Edmonton, Blackbyrd Myoozik. Somehow he managed to work several nights a week, take advantage of a fairly impressive employee discount, and still ended up owing a sizable fortune to the owner when he eventually graduated.
But look at me now. I’m currently banging these words out on a keyboard while a big black, dusty IKEA shelf full of CDs that I haven’t touched in years is lording over me. The only reason I probably haven’t boxed them up by now is because I already have two equally embarrassing boxes of CDs squirreled away in a closet and I’d rather not even think about it.
At the end of the day, I think we know who is on the winning side of history here, right? So, what changed?