In rotation: 11/11/21

US | The 11 coolest record stores in America for the rarest and most beautiful vinyl: Vinyl has been making a steady comeback since 2015 when Billboard magazine reported a 53 percent increase in physical album sales during the first quarter of that year. And, in the first six months of 2021 alone, 17 million vinyl records were sold in the US, showing the trend has no signs of slowing. As fans seek to show their loyalty to their favorite musicians and want something tangible to connect with the artists and their music, the local record store has returned as a place to shop and share music culture. Whether you’re a serious collector or you just like exploring unique spaces, you can’t go wrong with an hour or two at an independent record store . Not only are you likely to find a cool and quirky space with tons of memorabilia and artwork, but there’s also the great music — current favorites, special rarities, and new artists — to fall in love with. Take a look at 11 of the coolest record stores in America.

Syracuse, NY | Vinyl lovers rally behind local record businesses: Music shops in Syracuse are thriving due to a resurgence in the popularity of albums. A group of Syracuse vinyl enthusiasts gather in front of Syracuse Vintage Vinyl on a rainy Sunday to sift through a boxful of dusty 45 rpm records. There’s laughter, a hum of music coming from inside the doors and chatter about old memories, the records scenting the air with nostalgia. The group gathers at the store every Sunday, come rain or shine. “They keep me going; they’re my bread and butter,” said Syracuse Vintage Vinyl owner, Tom Little. The store, located on 205 W. Manlius St. in East Syracuse, collects and trades vintage collectors’ items, including vinyls, cassette tapes, comic books, VHS tapes and more. The Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) is responsible for 85% of all legitimate recorded music consumption in the United States. According to their data, vinyl first reached peak popularity in 1973, when there were 228 million units were sold in the United States.

No, Adele Didn’t Single-Handedly Cause Vinyl Manufacturing Delays: The singer is pressing an estimated 500,000 copies of her new album, ’30,’ to wax — but overall demand for the medium has been slowing production times for over a year. Six years ago, Sterling Sound mastering engineer Ryan Smith was tasked with what he calls a career highlight: cutting the master lacquer for Adele’s blockbuster release 25. Smith cut five sets of the master for 25, which at the time was a historic number of lacquer sets for production of one album at once — and an early indication of the explosive growth vinyl would see over the coming years. Now, as vinyl sales could cross $1 billion this year, cutting five lacquer sets for an album is no longer a shock. It is, however, eye-popping that when it came time for Smith to cut the lacquer for Adele’s upcoming album 30 — which he was tasked with doing several months ago — he cut more than 20 sets of lacquers (each with four sides to account for the double LP).

UK | Opinion: The vinyl issue: Delays, costs, pandemic, booked up pressing plants, and Brexit: Following Brexit and then a pandemic, independent labels and artists were already being crippled by the costs and delays to their vinyl releases, now they have been compounded by major artists block booking pressing plants. Last week Variety reported Sony insiders discussing the vinyl run of Adele‘s new album 30, which includes a 500,000 strong initial pressing in the run-up to release. Demand for vinyl LPs is now far outstripping supply with the UK’s small capacity vinyl pressing plants with just six in this country and one hundred worldwide, unable to turn out records fast enough. Most of the vinyl sold in the UK is shipped from Germany. Vinyl records have also seen their average price spiral. Ed Sheeran‘s smug boasts to Australian radio last week, discussing his own ‘=’ album, back up the news of block booking of scarce pressing plants by major label name acts. “There’s like three vinyl factories in the world… so you have to do it like really upfront — and Adele had basically booked out all the vinyl factories, so we had to get a slot and get our album in there…”

Cleveland, OH | Cleveland archival label Smog Veil Records to close after 30 years: A record label founded in Euclid is closing its doors after 30 years of issuing music from some of Northeast Ohio’s most eclectic artists. Smog Veil Records has issued numerous albums and books delving into rare and previously unreleased material from artists such as Pere Ubu and The Rubber City Rebels. Founder Frank Mauceri has been running the company from Chicago for many years and recently moved to the West Coast. He says he’s closing because he accomplished what he set out to do: highlighting some of the history of Northeast Ohio’s music scene. “There’s certainly numerous recordings out there that are yet to be discovered. And I’m hoping that someone with a Cleveland connection steps in and takes up the mantle,” Mauceri said. “Since we’ve reached a plateau, we decided it’s time to move on to new horizons and new challenges.”

Denver, CO | Vinyl City: Victrola move highlights booming sector in Denver: Denver’s “love of music” helped in the company’s relocation from New York in early 2021. Victrola CEO Scott Hagen is still getting settled in Denver after the manufacturer of record players relocated from New York in early 2021. “We’re discovering every day that it’s a great fit culturally,” he says. The city’s “love of music” is a starting point: The office is often half-empty when a big concert hits Denver. “That’s a good sign that we’re in the right spot,” Hagen laughs. He also points to a vibrant ecosystem with fans, companies like VMP (formerly Vinyl Me, Please), and record stores all elevating vinyl in the Mile High City, and notes, “I don’t think you’re going to find many other cities – or any other city – that have such passion for the format.” The parent company – officially Innovative Technology – acquired the century-old Victrola brand in 2016 and adopted it as its primary moniker. “Previous to that, the brand was pretty much sitting on the shelf,” Hagen says. “It wasn’t being utilized.”

Albany, OR | Beyond the grave: Vinyl collectors find touching notes from Philomath mom: Vinyl collectors all share a love of music, but a select few are finding that they have something else in common — a touching note from a Philomath woman named Sabine Miner explaining why she sold her deceased son’s vinyl collection, one record at a time. In 2016, a Reddit user with the screen name Muctur posted a photo of a typed note found tucked into a record. Now five years later, people are still finding these notes and learning about the loving relationship between Miner and her son, Mark Miner. The note explains how Mark Miner died of a heart attack at 39 years old while running in the Oregon coastal mountains in 2002. Years before he died, he told his mother that if anything ever happened to him, he wanted her to listen to his record collection. Sabine Miner listened for a couple of years and then decided to share them with the world. “It is good therapy for me to see this music being shared all over the world,” she included in the note. “When you play it, play it loud for Mark!

Rihanna Unveils Limited Edition Vinyl Reissues of Her 8 Albums, Exclusive Merch Sets: Navy rejoice, because Rihanna has just announced she’s selling limited edition vinyl reissues, cleverly stylized as “Rih-issue,” of all eight of her studio albums. The mogul shared the news on her Twitter with a creative visualizer teasing each of the new vinyl records in unique colors that correlate to their respective album covers. Going back to Rihanna’s first album Music of the Sun, which dropped in 2005, right the way up to her 2016 classic Anti, fans can go back in time and listen to the singer’s most classic tracks in a new way. Each limited edition vinyl will also come with an exclusive t-shirt that connects back to the album. Pre-order for the Rih-issue is available here. Aside from this new endeavour, Rihanna has also starred in the campaign shots for her brand Fenty’s Tagged by Savage collection. The collection offers fans a three-piece set and a variety of different pieces from the popular brand.

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