TVD Premiere: The River Monks, “I Am A Lake”

“Vinyl is your special music.”

“You’ve got thousands upon thousands of songs in your iTunes, and you can pretty much queue up anything imaginable on Spotify or Grooveshark or Rdio right now. But vinyl is what you want to grow old with. It’s the music you want to share with the next generation, with your kids and grandkids. The sounds you hope will continue existing after you’ve willed them to someone you know will appreciate your collection.

Computers crash, files are lost, CDs fall between the seat cracks (and we all try them once when we find them but they’re usually goners). There’s no iPod Shuffle function with your vinyl collection. When you remove that disc from its jacket, you intend on listening to that album from start to finish, the way the artist intended you to hear it.

A vinyl collection is a deep look into who we are.

My vinyl collection is kind of a journey through time. I studied music as an undergraduate, where I developed an affinity for classical music. Thanks to the wealth of thrift stores in Central Iowa, my collection begins (in time) with virtuosos like Julian Bream delicately strumming Renaissance Lute pieces, Beethoven’s 9 Symphonies, Chopin and Liszt, Carmina Burana, Ravel, and recordings of Andres Segovia quietly making history as he lead the resurgance of classical guitar in the 20th century.

In many cases, vinyl collections are speckled with (or in my case heavily loaded with) old records inherited from your family. For me, my grandparents. Ahhhhh… Sinatra, Martin, Herb Alpert, Robert Goulet. How else could you possibly listen to these legends? (This huge collection of records also came with a record player—my first.)

The Absolute Classics. Everyone’s got some Absolute Classics. Pink Floyd, John Denver, Steve Miller, Hall & Oates, Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel are a few of my favorites in this category. Basically anything that reminds me of my parents’ generation.

Then there are the really special ones. The records you buy for a reason. Sometimes out of your price range but you go for it anyway. Because you know they’ll stick with you. The first time I listened to Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs was on vinyl. I specifically remember flipping through all 4 sides, in a trance, reading through the lyrics printed onto the cardboard sleeves and knowing exactly what they were talking about (being a suburbs kid growing up). Wilco…. I still put on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot often, because it was captured at such a tumultuous time of Tweedy’s life. You can hear it in his voice! Which makes that album so beautiful. Junip and Dawes, Feist and Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes. My generation’s music that I can’t wait to share with the next generations, possibly after some of it has been forgotten. I haven’t picked up Beck’s new album, but I can’t wait to own it—Morning Phase is one of those albums that hit me like a timeless wall. Same with Father John Misty. My list of “You Must Own This Before You Die” is far too long.

One final and crucial part of my vinyl collection indicates what shows I’ve been to. How many times have you been so sweetly enveloped by a band’s live set that you couldn’t imagine NOT buying their vinyl? Putting on these records immediately sends me back to that live show (which usually causes me to up the volume a hair extra). This category delightfully adds a lot of local and up-and-coming music. Music that feels a little more unique to each collection. Some of these records were made by good friends! What better way to celebrate your friendship than to listen to their hard work and beautiful sounds?

I guess you could say collecting vinyl feels like putting together a big time capsule. I was recently watching Cosmos when NDT mentions we Earthlings have sent only one satellite (Voyager 1) beyond our solar system’s boundaries. What did we send with it as our first form of communication to who or whatever finds it? A collection of Earth’s music.

Music is its own language, one we humans should be very proud of, and vinyl is one dang good way of experiencing that language! Cheers!

My all-time most played records: The Best of Sam Cooke (good any time), and my girlfriend’s copy of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Rock ’N Soul Part 1 (also good any time, but really good when you’re cleaning the house).”
Ryan Stier, vocals, guitar, banjo, ukulele, percussion

The River Monks’ Home is the House arrives in stores on May 20. On vinyl.

The River Monks Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp

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