In rotation: 10/3/22

Phoenix, AZ | Best Record Store: The ‘In’ Groove. We were fans of the shop Mike Esposito founded in 2015 well before his name spread far and wide beyond Phoenix this summer, even making it into the Washington Post. We’ve always appreciated his record drops and videos, and the way he leans into authenticity and absolute passion for vinyl culture. But that respect got ramped up after he took to YouTube to share a tip he surely knew would leave heads exploding. He’d been told that a company renowned for using original master tapes to make its costly reissues of vinyl records was actually using digital files. He took a lot of heat, but the company eventually confirmed it was true. So now we can add another layer to our hometown pride, and keep on digging both the store’s impressive vinyl offerings and Esposito’s expertise.

Why Is Opening a New Vinyl Pressing Plant So Hard? Growth in vinyl demand that’s overwhelmed production presents a business opportunity for new manufacturers—they just have to open first. As vinyl sales started turning around in the past decade, Doug Chappell, vp of sales & technical service at press manufacturer Viryl Technologies, says everybody was “worried that the house of cards [was] going to implode on itself at some point.” As such, no one wanted to invest in new equipment. Now that modest growth has turned into a boom, with sales up over 60% between 2020 and 2021 and up another 22% at the 2022 midyear raking in $570 million, according to the RIAA, and vinyl plants are running at full capacity across the country. And as appetite for vinyl far outstrips the infrastructure’s capacity to supply, that lack of investment is now coming back to bite the industry. Alec Hanley Bemis, managing partner at the Brassland record label, the indie label he co-founded with The National’s Dessner brothers, says that plants are so busy that they have quoted him lead times of nine to 18 months to press a record.

Washington, DC | Does the perfect sound exist? Vinyl records rebound in digital music age: Tom Port is a 68-year-old man who spends his days in an office park outside Los Angeles where he takes it upon himself to determine which records are the best-sounding in the world. This is a task for which he considers himself uniquely qualified. Port is a true audio iconoclast. He delights in telling you that the slab of vinyl you’re listening to isn’t worthy of his ears and the only thing more pathetic is the audio setup you’re using to listen to it. Port developed his self-proclaimed skills over decades of scouring used LP bins, gathering up multiple copies of the same album and comparing them side by side — listening sessions he calls “shootouts.” That’s what I’m here today to observe. It’s just one stop on my year-long search for the perfect sound, an attempt to take a lifelong passion for music and find out if I’ve really been hearing it.

Teenage Engineering’s Tiny Record Player Also Makes Custom Vinyl Records: One of the company’s weirdest collaborations to date can make and play custom five-inch vinyl records. If you asked fans of Teenage Engineering’s musical toys and instruments what the company’s next creation would be, they probably assumed it would be a new Pocket Operator, another speaker, or maybe an update to the OP-Z. In reality, it’s the company’s first device that wholeheartedly embraces analog audio: a portable record cutter. Analog audio formats once thought to be extinct are enjoying a surprising renaissance. Cassette tapes are finding their way back into stores and vinyl records are once again a booming business, despite the fact that most of us carry a device in our pockets with access to literally millions of songs. Does analog audio sound better than digital? That may be a debate that’s never resolved, but records do have a distinct sound that many prefer over the exacting perfection of a digital file, and now Teenage Engineering wants everyone to be able to make their own.

Jamiroquai Announce Vinyl Album Reissue Series for 30th Anniversary: Wax copies of ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’, ‘A Funk Odyssey’ and more will hit shops between now and Christmas. Jamiroquai have announced a series of album reissues on vinyl to mark the band’s 30th anniversary. Kicking off on 14th October with their debut LP, ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’, the outfit will also re-release album five, ‘A Funk Odyssey’, on 4th November, 2005’s ‘Dynamite’ on 11th November, and ‘High Times’ on 2nd December. The latter, a greatest hits collection spanning 1992 to 2006, will also be available on multiple formats. Often credited with bringing jazz and funk back into the mainstream charts, the group — fronted by the iconic and usually hat-clad Jay Kay — were also responsible for pushing an environmental agenda well ahead of its time, with the title of the 1993 debut album a clear reference to the climate crisis. Going on to sell more than 3million units globally, ‘A Funk Odyssey’ reached similar sales figures when it arrived in 2001. Pre-orders for all reissues are now available.

Slade announce official deluxe vinyl album reissue ‘Sladest’ on Splatter Vinyl: On 4th November BMG Records is proud to present a limited edition splatter vinyl edition and an expanded deluxe CD reissue of the compilation album Sladest from Slade. These beautifully presented reissues will see Sladest released on limited edition blue and white splatter vinyl. While the CD is housed in a deluxe mediabook and includes the original extended essay. Sladest originally released on 28th September 1973 topped the UK charts and was a success in Europe and beyond too. In Sladest’s first week of release the album was awarded a UK Silver Disc and in November, it received a UK Gold Disc. Having remained at No.1 for its first three weeks of release, Sladest later returned to the top spot in mid-January 1974, following the success of “Merry Xmas Everybody”. When first released Sladest featured fourteen songs, including the band’s eight hit singles up to that time. The new expanded CD version now includes 20 songs, including two additional bonus tracks Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me (USA 7” Edit) and Merry Xmas Everybody.

Woman Makes Coolest Shelves Out Of Vintage Records: We’re loving this upcycle. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about items that no longer serve the purpose they were intended to serve is the moment you find another beneficial use for it and can keep it around for longer. For some people, it’s difficult to throw certain items away when they no longer work, so when you’re able to transform a potential trash item into a treasured upcycle, you seize the opportunity. And such is the case with TikTok content creator @janelrheaumeee. Rather than throwing away her old vinyl records, she repurposed them and made the coolest shelves! In the quick video, she gathered an iron, ironing board and what appears to be parchment paper and started her DIY upcycle. Placing a sheet of parchment paper over the vinyl, she took her hot iron and carefully ironed over the parchment paper and vinyl record. Once the vinyl record became warm enough to bend, she used a book to create her desired shape of the shelf.

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