Category Archives: A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 4/23/21

Wimbledon, UK | The Sound Lounge makes comeback to Sutton and Merton: The Sound Lounge speaks on nerves, excitement, and preparation after one week of reopening their new venue. Founders of The Sound Lounge Hannah and Keiron share their experience of returning to the high street after entertainment was put to a halt due to the pandemic. The Sound Lounge not only provides a place for music fans to relax but, also several schemes to benefit the community as well as tasty food in both Merton and Sutton. On April 12, both the venues partially reopened for outdoor dining, which has been well-anticipated for Sutton after a stressful journey during the pandemic. The arts venue opened its doors for its official music launch on December 12 but was soon faced with closure after the Prime Minister announced the third lockdown. Despite a number of obstacles, The Sound Lounge continued to find ways to serve the community and most recently cooked over 100 meals for some of Sutton’s most vulnerable young people.

Brookeville, PA | Main Street Revolution; records, music, and more: Main Street Revolution is a recently opened record and music store on Main Street, also offering some extra treats for its customers. Main Street Revolution is the culmination of Michael Phillips’ dream to own a music store. He began collecting records two years ago to build up his inventory to eventually open a shop. Finding a space for the shop was the hard part. He finally found the opportunity in 2020, when the chance to start his own business presented itself as a positive out of the pandemic. This is his first time working in retail at all. “Music was more of a hobby, but I’ve bought and sold music since the 90s,” Phillips said. His main focus in the shop is on records, but there are also collections of tapes and CDs to choose from. The music ranges from vintage to modern starting as far back as the 50s, and covers all genres. “I like all types of music. There’s nothing that I don’t like. It’s like an outlet,” Phillips said.

IT | Vinyl record sales overtake CDs in Italy after 30 years: Revenues up 121% in first quarter with respect to a year ago. Sales of vinyl records surpassed those of CDs in value terms in Italy in the first quarter of this year for time since 1991, according to Deloitte data compiled for Italian music industry federation FIMI. It said revenues from record sales were up 121% compared to the first quarter of 2020, taking them slightly above earnings from CDs, which were down 6%. Vinyl records now account for around 11% of revenues on the Italian music market, which is dominated by sales via streaming, which have 80%. (ANSA).

Sorry, “Wrong Number.” Alana Shor’s heartbreaking 1965 anthem is still largely unknown even to diehard music collectors. …When the single came out as a 45 rpm 7” it was packaged in a pink/burgundy tinted picture sleeve. Its central image was a photo of the teenaged Shor sporting a semi-formal style similar to that of Leslie Gore, Patty Duke, and other early-1960s fashion icons. She’d yet to adapt the glammed-out flash that’d be her signature during the 1970s and 80s. The record’s connection to New York is also a big reason why it’s remained so elusive. Shor’s base of support has always been strongest in the Baltimore area, and other recording credits attributed to Satellite, Dismond, and Millstein reveal no association with any other Maryland artist. Years later, when unsold stock copies turned up in local record store bargain bins, fans of Maryland music probably thought this was some other random preppy “Alana Shor” from up north and not their flashy heroine from the Paper Cup. The dynamic intensity of “Wrong Number” could’ve come from any number of sources, but deciphering this element mostly requires a simple understanding of Shor’s character.

Carbondale, IL | Music Historicity: Cassette tape comeback? f you’re like me, you’re a music lover. You’re old school but always trying to keep up with the latest, and you’ve got a shoebox filled with old audio cassette tapes. In my case, I’ve got about eight shoeboxes of cassettes, most of them without a shell or album artwork label. You may have delayed throwing away those old tapes — if not to at least gain an empty shoebox — for sentimental reasons. But not so fast! In case you haven’t heard, the audio cassette tape format has been making a comeback of sorts over the past several years. In fact, cassettes never completely went away, as 8-track tapes did. According to the most recent industry data available, nearly 220,000 albums on cassette tape were sold in the U.S. in 2018. Purchases have increased exponentially in each subsequent year. Technical specifications prove that digital compact disks have better aural clarity than analog formats such as vinyl and cassette tape. For example, a CD has twice the signal to noise ratio of a cassette, which has inherent hiss.

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In rotation: 4/22/21

Ames, IA | Places to get coffee in Ames: Ames Vinyl Grind. The Vinyl Grind is a local cafe that doubles as a record store and is located seven steps below ground. After closing for a year due to COVID-19, the cafe has opened back up. Owner of The Vinyl Grind, Blake Delaney, describes the cafe as almost a speakeasy for vinyl and coffee that also feels like a secret club. He says once you find out about it, you just want to keep coming back. Delaney has owned The Vinyl Grind for seven years now after working in flooring and being a huge fan of the cafe. Delaney describes his job as a dream come true. When he was a kid, he was required for school to keep a journal in which he made several entries about owning a record store. Delaney credits his former mother-in-law — or, as he now calls her, his outlaw mother-in-law — for pushing him to chase his dream and buy The Vinyl Grind. There are typically about 1,000-1,500 records for sale at any given time while always looking for new records to sell. Delaney says due to COVID-19, he has found that more people have begun collecting and looking to purchase records, creating a huge demand for them.

Newtown, AU | Newtown record store trail for vinyl lovers: Over recent years, vinyl record sales have reached new heights with music lovers continuing to embrace the nostalgic and traditional medium of music listening. In the process, the re-emergence of record stores has continued to rise and whether on purpose or not, Newtown has become a gold mine for crate diggers. To celebrate the Sydney music communities strong support for vinyl records, we have compiled a fun record store trail, to help you find those musical gems of all genres. Halcyon Daze Records – 498a King St, Newtown NSW 2042: We recommend starting your walk on South King Street, away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of King streets thoroughfare. Locals will proudly proclaim this section of King St as still the truly local side of Newtown with a mix of coffee shops, antique stores, pubs and well establish local eats. Tucked in the middle of it all is Halycon Records who proclaim to ‘love the lost, the weird and the simply wonderful’. This is a record store you go to, to find something you’ll never hear on Spotify or Apple music and expand your ears through something old, that’ll be your personal something new.

La Quinta, CA | The Lucky 13: Sean Cox, New Owner of Finders Keepers Records in La Quinta: Local record store and thrift store Finders Thrift and Vinyl is undergoing a change. Owner Matt Lehman transitioned his brick-and-mortar record store into Spatula City Records, an online record store, a few months ago, and is now moving to Arizona—taking Spatula City with him. Finders Thrift and Vinyl will become Finders Keepers Records, and will open Saturday, May 8, under new owner Sean Cox. Cox is the latest to take The Lucky 13; here are his answers. “…Nomeansno was a band from Victoria, British Columbia. They fall into the “punk” category, but their music is so much more than that, with elements of jazz, prog and math rock, all with a wicked dark sense of humor. They were the first band for me whose music had so much going on that it forced me to actively listen, rather than just react. Active listening has sincerely changed how I listen to music.”

Denver, CO | A New Spin: Legacy Turntable Company Victrola Moves to Denver: Not long after taking over Victrola in October 2019, CEO Scott Hagen considered moving the headquarters of the century-old turntable company from Port Washington, New York, about twenty miles west to Brooklyn. But in early March 2020, just before COVID-19 lockdowns swept the country, he began exploring other options, ultimately deciding to move the headquarters to Denver. Hagen shut down operations in Port Washington, which is on Long Island, just outside of Queens, and his entire staff started working remotely. Over the past year, Victrola’s executive team has been based in different cities around the country, so shutting down headquarters didn’t impact business. “We started operating more productively,” Hagen says. “And then what happened was that we started thinking, ‘Hey, if we can work remote, why not look at all the potential locations that we want to be in the future, if we don’t think that we would lose our base by moving to another location?”

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In rotation: 4/21/21

Los Angeles, CA | In a Former Church Downtown, a New Record Shop Is Celebrating L.A.’s Party Scene: With nightlife on pause, Rolando Alvarez and Eddie Vela of Chapter One created a space where vinyl lovers and DJs can connect in a different way. Rolando Alvarez and Eddie Vela had been thinking about opening a record store ever since they began renovating a former church set against the warehouses of downtown some three years ago. Alvarez had even bought furniture for the dream shop, but it sat tucked away in the building for about a year-and-a-half as the multi-use space became in-demand for music events, art shows, and even a few weddings. With the COVID-19 shutdown, though, the two decided to reboot their headquarters. Today, it’s a live-streaming studio and the record shop they had long imagined is now a reality. Chapter One is open (by appointment only) for vinyl lovers who want to dig through the collections of L.A.’s underground DJs. “It’s the beginning of a new story, if you will,” Alvarez says on a recent video call. “It’s a rebirth.” And, it’s one that they’ve been carefully plotting since the onset of the pandemic. “Like with any story, the first chapter is so important,” says Alvarez. “It’s very important for us to get that first chapter right.”

Seattle, WA | Everyday Music will close on Capitol Hill in May — But Almost Everyday Music could live on in Lower Queen Anne: You have even less time than you thought to enjoy Capitol Hill’s Everyday Music but the heart and soul of the CD and record shop might live on in Lower Queen Anne. In February, CHS reported the sad news that the 10th Ave location of the Portland-based tiny chain of stores would close by June as challenges of COVID-19 coincided with founder Scott Kuzma’s hopes to downsize his business. We now have a date for the last planned day of business: May 16th. But before one of the last record stores on Capitol Hill shutters, two of the store’s vital music experts are hoping to pick up the mantle and are beginning a $25,000 fundraiser to back the Almost Everyday Music venture to create a new shop in Seattle: “Because we are starting a new business, it will be easy to see your donations reflected around the store. Every dollar will help us acquire what we need to start again, including fresh product, a new point of sale system with gift cards, stickers, shirts, totes bags, and supplies for your collection. It will take our store front to the web and bring new life to old infrastructure. And last but not least, it will support local artists and labels who need our help as we move out from the pandemic.”

San Francisco, CA | ‘Incredibly surprised’: San Francisco’s Amoeba Music is experiencing a record-shopping renaissance: A year ago, Amoeba Music was in trouble. Though the 25,000-square-foot bowling alley-turned-vinyl collectors’ paradise on Haight Street had managed to withstand an economic recession, shifting listening formats and the rise in music streaming services, it was the first time the store would face an entirely new beast: the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the shutdown of retail, the in-person transactions Amoeba heavily relied upon came to a standstill, and its once lively aisles filled with record enthusiasts digging through the bins and seeking out their latest auditory treasure grew eerily silent. The independent record store chain was forced to furlough most of its staff at all three locations, including its original storefront on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley as well as its outpost on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Their most popular event of the year, Record Store Day, came and went without the usual lines rounding the block in front of the store, and with no end in sight to the pandemic, co-founder Marc Weinstein started to worry. “We certainly had our dark days of wondering whether we would survive all of this,” he said. “There was a tremendous degree of uncertainty, especially not knowing what the government might be offering in terms of assistance or help.”

Shawnee, KS | How I Experience Music: Listening. Junior Avery Davis experiences music through listening to records. As soft notes created by just a small needle and grooves on a record form into the song “Vienna” by Billy Joel, junior Avery Davis experiences music through listening on her record player. Davis values the unique sound of a record player and believes it cannot be created by any other speaker or phone. “I use my record player because the music feels so real through it. I love how it makes the music crackle and imperfect,” Davis said. “Nothing compares to music from my record player.” With record players coming back in style, most stores have taken to selling records. However, Davis’ record player can only play old records, so she looks for albums in second-hand stores. “My favorite album is my Billy Joel album The Stranger because it has the song “Vienna” on it, which is one of my favorite songs. I got it at a used record store, so it works really good on my old record player and has a nice, vintage sound,” Davis said. “I love the unique sound that vinyl has; it’s really relaxing for me.”

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In rotation: 4/20/21

Manchester, UK | Man who set up second-hand CD business in garage is about to make £30 million: Steve Oliver, who co-founded MusicMagpie in 2007 initially to buy and sell secondhand CDs online, is due for a big pay out when the company lists on the stock exchange. A former record shop boss who started a business in his garage is to set to net a more than £30 million fortune. Steve Oliver, 50, co-founded MusicMagpie in 2007 initially to buy and sell secondhand CDs online. It has since grown to also become a leading reseller of mobile phones, other electronic gadgets and books. Mr Oliver will be one of the big winners under a planned stock market listing which could see the business valued at just under £210 million. As well as selling £12.2million in shares, he would retain a 9.5% stake worth nearly £20 million. Mr Oliver and co-founder Walter Gleeson set-up MusicMagpie from the garage of his home in Stockport, Greater Manchester. The pair worked together at high street chain Music Zone – where Mr Oliver was managing director – before its collapse.

Bristol, UK | The hidden gem record store tucked away behind busy Bristol shopping street: “Every day someone comes in and says, ‘I didn’t know this existed’” Pleasantly surprised at my own hipness, I correctly identify the punk rock pounding from Gastro Vinyl’s record player as a Savages album. My smugness dissipates, though, as store owner Alex Reed talks me through a section for vinyl releases from recent years, the names on the covers mostly alien to me. “Melvins had a big influence on grunge – this is their new one,” he says. “You’ve got Dälek here, who do really dark soundscapes. And this is from Les Claypool, an incredible bass player, really funky.” Getting recommendations from a music fan with encyclopaedic knowledge is one of the joys of visiting Park Row’s Gastro Vinyl, which reopened from lockdown on Monday. It is a small space, only a couple of metres wide and not much more in length, but it is crammed with a wonderfully eclectic music collection, covering everything from Bristol folk punk outfit Surfin’ Turnips to classics from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison. Alex, 44, reckons the shop is home to a couple of thousand records. It also sells music magazines going back to the 1970s, books, and cult DVDs and videos, with a coffee counter at the back.

South Bend, IN | South Bend Record Show back for another year amid pandemic: The largest one-day sale of recorded music in Michiana is back again, with something for all music lovers! The show has been going on for years in South Bend, and dealers tell ABC57 News it’s more than just selling records, it’s meeting the people that bring them back to the record show year after year. “I love interacting with the people. I’ve always been a people person, you know and it’s been great,” Rodney Branham, a record dealer from Michigan said. Sunday, over 30 dealers came from seven states to the South Bend Record Show, each bringing with them a large collection of records, vinyl, CDs, and memorabilia. For owner Jeremy Bonfiglio, the South Bend Record Show is an experience full of comradery with both the dealers and the customers and their shared love of music. “For us dealers, there’s nothing better than seeing somebody who has been looking for a long time, find something that they really want to play… It makes their day, it makes our day.

Keynsham, UK | Longwell Records to open new Bristol shop in Wapping Wharf: The owner of the Keynsham business is hoping its new home can host performances from some “big names.” An independent record shop that has brought artists including Razorlight to Somerset for performances at its store in Keynsham is opening a second shop in Bristol. Longwell Records’ new store will be based in retail hub Cargo 2, a series of converted shipping containers in the harbourside neighbourhood of Wapping Wharf. The business will occupy the unit formerly home to ethical clothing shop Found Hea, which has moved after three years to focus on its new joint venture with another independent retailer Fig 1 at Quakers Friars within Cabot Circus. Set to open within the next few weeks, the shop will stock new and used vinyl records and t-shirts with designs by local artists including Oli T and Inkie. …“I’m really looking forward to becoming part of Wapping Wharf’s very supportive independent community and bringing some added spice to an area that is already a fantastic location. I am hoping to bring some quite big names to our new home, making the most of the great relationships we have with many record labels.”

Pete Townshend claims The Beatles copied The Who: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ was inspired by ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away,’ he claims. “…Come on. The Beatles copied us! Paul McCartney came up to me at the Bag O’Nails (gig venue), which we mention in the album artwork. “He was always very, very sweet to me. I should say that first. But he said to me that he really loved our mini opera, which was called “A Quick One, While He’s Away.” That was on the album that preceded The Who Sell Out (1966’s ‘A Quick One’). And he told me they were thinking about doing similar things. “I think anybody that was even a little bit art school back then, a little bit adventurous — and, of course, the Beatles were encouraged to experiment to the max in the studio — would have thought about doing something which was a concept.” Going on to lavish ‘Sgt. Pepper’ with praise, Townshend continued: “There isn’t much of a concept to that record but to this day, whenever I sit down and get the vinyl out, stick it on, something always leaps out that I’ve never noticed before. “I think the same is true with (The Beach Boys’) Pet Sounds. Those two albums are seminal changes in what we all believed was going to be possible if you were in a band making records, just extraordinary leaps of faith that the audience would accept it.”

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In rotation: 4/19/21

UK | Wonder Woman, Lana Del Rey and Ariana Grande boost sales as HMV reports strong performance after reopening: HMV has seen re-opening footfall more than double this week versus the exit from the first lockdown on June 15 last year. According to the entertainment retailer, footfall on April 12 and April 13, 2021 was up by 150% in comparison to the first two days after non-essential retailers were allowed to reopen in 2020. All 93 HMV stores in England and Wales reopened on Monday, with strong sales being fuelled by fans buying the latest latest vinyl releases. Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club and Ariana Grande’s Positions proved the most popular on vinyl. Chemtrails Over The Country Club has already broken vinyl records. Other popular titles included Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and the latest season of A Discovery Of Witches. Doug Putman, owner of HMV, said: “This week proved that for millions of people across the UK, online shopping will never fully replace the experience of going into stores and browsing.

Watford, UK | The LP Cafe in Watford shows resilience to challenges of pandemic: Shops are open once again and the Watford Observer has joined forces with Watford Borough Council to encourage people to shop local and support businesses that have been through such a challenging time in the past 12 months. The connection to Watford and the community is what has made the LP Café a “success to us.” That’s the opinion of Leila Simpson, who opened the doors to the speciality coffee shop that sells records with her partner Paul Terris in November 2013. The idea for the café, which is at 173 The Parade, had been born on a holiday to Italy the previous year. Leila said: “Wherever my partner Paul and I would go on holiday he would insist on doing two things, go to a local sporting event and visit a local record store. These two things he believes are ingredients to really get to know a place. “A trip to Naples in 2012 took us to Fonoteca, a record shop which also housed a bar. Having a long history of working in music retail, opening a record store was always the goal for Paul, and while drinking at the bar in Italy a dream for both of us was born.

Terre Haute, IN | New business looks to hit a musical high note in the 12 Points area: Music fans will love this new business coming to town. It’s the latest addition to the “Year of 12” initiative, where the community hopes to bring 12 new businesses in 12 months to the 12 Points neighborhood. The initiative is part of a greater effort to revitalize the 12 Points community. The sixth business to make its announcement is the Local Vinyl, a record store for people of all ages to enjoy. Eleanor Jones is the founder of Local Vinyl. She is an avid music lover who turned her passion for music into her own business! “The Local Vinyl is setting up to be an atmosphere for people to be able to embrace local music embrace music history and listen to it through the medium of vinyl records,” she said. From a young age, Jones wanted to share her passion with the community. She started collecting vinyl records at just 15 years old. In December 2018, Jones started the Local Vinyl as a pop-up shop at community events and farmers’ markets. Now she has her very own storefront opening its doors sometime this summer.

Phoenix, AZ | Johnny D’s Record Sales Are About More Than Buying Vinyl: A man holds up a 45 RPM record and calls out to his friend, who’s shopping on the other side of John Dixon’s garage. “Hey, it’s ‘Purple People Eater!’” he shouts, placing the single on a stack of other records he’s found today. “I know it’s a novelty record,” he mutters to himself, “but what the heck.” Nearby, a teenager squints at the cover of an LP. “Who’s Janis Ian?” she asks her father, who’s reading the liner notes on a Jan and Dean album. “Folk singer,” he grunts without looking up. “Late ’60s.” Next to him, a skinny guy with a gray ponytail flips quickly through a box of albums marked “Minty!”, record-collector slang for old vinyl in especially good shape. My friend John sits quietly in the corner, watching all this. “I had a customer this morning who bought a record player for his kid for Christmas,” he tells me with a chuckle. “And he was trying to get the kid to buy old Journey albums Dad had owned in high school.”

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In rotation: 4/16/21

Denton, TX | Denton businesses find new life after pandemic closures: Mad World Records. …Mad World Records, which operated a storefront on the Denton Square for nine years, closed its doors in June and moved its inventory to an online store that has been operating since, owner Mark Burke said. One factor in Burke’s decision to close the store was that his family was impacted personally by the pandemic early on. Burke’s brother — a former employee at the record store who now lives in New York City — contracted a particularly bad case of COVID-19 through his work with people who have special needs. Now, about a year after getting sick, he still suffers from complications, including fevers and lung trouble, though Mark Burke said his brother was healthy and athletic before contracting the virus. “We had no desire to be any kind of source where people are going to go in and touch everything and breathe on everything and be in this enclosed space,” Burke said. “We were always so busy with so many people, even if they weren’t buying stuff. There are so many people on the Square all the time that it was just a germ trap, and my wife and I both decided there’s no way we’re going to put money over lives.”

New York, NY | New record store brings hard wax to Industry City: A new record store in Industry City promises to be a haven for crate-digging Brooklynites. HiFi Provisions, a passion project from collector Matthew Coluccio, opens its doors in Industry City to wax-spinners this week — making the owner’s hobby official, after ten years of obsessive collecting. “It was kind of a hobby gone awry,” said Coluccio. “Records are kind of like cockroaches, more and more of them just keep showing up.” Throughout his years of collecting, Coluccio often sold records and stereo equipment at the yearly Carroll Park flea market in Carroll Gardens, but never had plans to open up a brick-and-mortar store. Yet, after a conversation at a birthday party with an Industry City executive, he decided to turn his side project into a full-blown business. Now, he’s set up a space in the sprawling waterfront complex and filled with records and other collectibles, including objects like a vintage fly-fishing rod and piles of old stereo equipment. The collector says he envisions the shop filling to the brim with records and other items, creating a space where collectors can dig for hours in hopes of finding a hidden gem.

San Diego, CA | San Diego’s vinyl records surge, but why? A talk with owners of Re-animated, Folk Arts, Lou’s, Beat Box. Nicholas Friesen is a 38-year-old native San Diegan – he grew up in Southeast – who has been working in used record stores all his life. “I’ve got this 10,000-hour thing going for me,” he says. “I started working at Music Trader in downtown when I was a senior in high school, and I’ve been loving it ever since. It’s about the only thing I’m good at.” For years, the CD was the lifeblood of San Diego’s independent record stores, but as digital downloading and then streaming caught on, CD sales shrank, as did the number of local record stores. But then, about a decade ago, a funny thing happened. The 12-inch vinyl LP, snuffed out by the CD back in the middle 1980s, began a dramatic comeback. It was spurred by nostalgic Boomers who started collecting the albums they had discarded decades earlier, and by a new generation of music lovers who saw the vinyl LP as something cool. “The first time I heard a record on a turntable, at a friend’s house, I was hooked,” says Jacob Lange, a 19-year-old Carlsbad local who received his first record player this past Christmas as a gift.

Los Angeles, CA | There’s a new ‘rare vinyl” record shop opening in Los Angeles: The shop in downtown LA is run by the promoters behind the city’s Dialogue and Midnight Lovers events. A new record shop is opening in downtown Los Angeles, run by Rolando Alvarez and Eddie Vela, the duo behind the city’s Dialogue and Midnight Lovers parties. The pair launch Chapter One Records — a store they say specialises in “rare vinyl” — alongside their new vinyl-only record label, Dialogue Records. Artists connected to Dialogue and Midnight Lovers will play a part in curating the wax on sale at Chapter One Records, with SONN’s of Making Shapes, the west coast’s TK Disco, Dublab’s esteemed vinyl purist Daddy Differently, and Club Tularosa all involved. Resident labels include Stones Throw, Visionquest, and Let’s Play House. According to the press release announcing the news, “Chapter One aims to fuel what its founders see as a cultural renaissance aimed to revitalize Los Angeles’ nightlife in the wake of shutdowns. “This new creative hub will also offer their community a range of in-store gatherings and services including release listening parties, live stream production, and media creation.”

Sioux City, IA | Morningside College’s student-run radio station hosting all-day vinylthon: On a Friday afternoon, station manager Matthew O’Connell thumbed his way through a batch of vinyl records that may soon find their way onto the playlist of KMSC 92.9 F.M., Morningside College’s campus radio station. So, what will Mustang music aficionados be listening to? Perhaps, the soundtrack from “The Sound of Music,” a Christmas album courtesy of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and, even, the mellow melodies of Mr. Perry Como. Wait, what!?! That doesn’t sound like very college-radio-y. According to O’Connell, this is a misconception many people have about radio stations run by students. “As KMSC’s station manager, it is my job to play a wide variety of music,” the Morningside mass communications senior explained, while pulling albums featuring Aretha Franklin, John Denver and Chet Atkins. And for a large portion of the day on Saturday, all of KMSC’s music won’t be alternative fare coming from CDs or off MP3s. Instead, they’ll be quirkier stuff, all on vinyl.

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In rotation: 4/15/21

UK | The Official Top 40 best-selling vinyl releases of 2021 so far: Records from Lana Del Rey, Bicep and Arlo Parks are among the most popular on vinyl so far in 2021. The UK’s biggest vinyl album of 2021 so far is Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over The Country Club, OfficialCharts.com can reveal. Released last month, the record has sold over 17,300 copies on wax to top the UK’s Official year-to-date vinyl albums chart. 16,700 of those were bought in its first week, earning Lana the title of having the fastest-selling vinyl album of the century for a female act. Sales of vinyl records continue to climb in the UK, with nearly 5 million vinyl albums purchased last year, up 11.5% on the previous 12 months. The upward trend looks set to continue this year, with many fans supporting their favourite acts by purchasing vinyl in the absence of gigs and touring as the UK slowly eases out of lockdown. The second best-seller on vinyl is Foo Fighters’ chart-topping Medicine At Midnight, the UK’s overall biggest album of 2021 released this year, while Isles by electronic duo Bicep rounds out the Top 3. British singer-songwriter Celeste lands at Number 4 with her debut album Not Your Muse, which recently had an expanded edition on vinyl, while another debut album, Collapsed In Sunbeams by Arlo Parks, completes the Top 5.

London, UK | Gothport shop reopening “feels like Christmas” for vinyl record shop owners: It seems that optimism has arrived on Gosport High Street following the reopening of non-essential retail stores. Shoppers were seen perusing High Street all day long, and entrepreneurs wanted small businesses to spend the day in the sun without so many large retailers. One of those business owners is Keelon Howes, who runs the Slice of Vinyl Record Shop on South Street. Angela Albray, 59, from Blockhurst, made her first haircut since the launch of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. “I wouldn’t mind if no one appeared, but fortunately there are really loyal customers who are very supportive of our work.” Kieron wants the people of Gosport to shop locally and help independent retailers during these times of distress. “Currently, especially in Gosport, there seems to be a lot of love for independent shops,” he said. “This year, we have a lot of space for major brands to jump in, so I think we can often see the revival of independents here.

John Prine is gone but the music is still going strong at his record label: It took a decade – the entirety of the 1970s, to be exact – for John Prine to discover he wasn’t cut out for the majors. After releasing eight albums that showcased his plain-speaking and often wryly human brand of songcraft for two major record labels (Atlantic and Asylum), Prine set out to be his own boss. Along with manager Al Bunetta, he formed a label. It wasn’t a subsidiary venture of a major or a home industry that catered exclusively to his own work, but a company that viewed music-making as more than a hit driven, commercially motivated enterprise. It was a mission only an artist who had been around the block with the major labels could implement. Prine was the artist and, with the 1981 release of a red vinyl holiday single that had him singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” on one side and “Silver Bells” on the other, Oh Boy Records became the label. This year, Oh Boy and Prine’s lasting vision of what a record company should be, turn 40 years old.

A Pressing Issue: How ‘the vinyl revival’ has caught out the music industry during the pandemic: Release dates going back and back. Box sets getting postponed by a year. Physical albums arriving months after their digital release. Rumours of pressing plant meltdowns… COVID-19 was bound to have an effect on the release of albums. But the pandemic has brought home a crisis in the music industry, and that is, quite simply, the fact that there aren’t enough pressing plants to cope with the demand for vinyl. On the surface, the figures for the so-called vinyl revival are healthy: even with the high street shut for most of the year, vinyl sales in the UK rose by nearly 10 percent to 4.8 million in 2020. It’s the 13th consecutive year that vinyl sales have risen. Sales of turntables grew too, as music fans who had previously resisted the headlines about ‘The Vinyl Revival’ finally succumbed and began rediscovering love for the black stuff. Despite the rise in popularity, there has been no serious initiative, since vinyl sales picked up, to increase vinyl production. No new pressing plants of any significant size built in the past decade, coupled with an ever-increasing rise in sales, means a crisis point has been reached.

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In rotation: 4/14/21

Bozeman, MT | Best Record Shops in Montana: Music will never go away, it helps people get excited, pumped up or soothe their soul and the best part there are several different ways to listen to music but the best way is definitely by vinyl. The thing is, finding a great vinyl record store is hard to come by in Montana but great news, the few record stores we have in Montana are fantastic and can get you whatever you need. Here are our Top Six Record Stores in Montana. Cactus Records and Gifts: A icon of downtown Bozeman, Cactus Records has something for every music lover. You want to look through all their new vinyl, you got it! You want to check out their quality used vinyl, they got it too! Cactus Records is a place you could spend a lot of time and a lot of money. Cameron Records: Cameron Records in Billings might not be as popular as some of these other spots but they have a great selection of good vinyl…

UK | Bouncing back? UK businesses’ views mixed as Covid lockdown eases: Banquet Records. …Banquet Records, an independent record shop, sometimes boasts queues of music lovers round the block. But even before the first lockdown, the owners chose to shut its doors. They have not opened since. Jon Tolley, the shop’s co-founder, said they want to wait until all social contact resumes. “Record shops will always be about the charm and the cult of browsing in person. We are not an Argos. We need to be fully immersed in the tactile experience, or not bother doing it at all.” The store’s resilience stems from running a varied business: putting on gigs, selling vinyl over the counter and online, and owning its own record label. Government high street grants and the furlough scheme helped it through during the initial slump. Banquet quickly adapted to online-only sales, which are now double the pre-pandemic levels, and organised virtual gigs. “People have nothing to do apart from sit at home and listen to records,” Tolley said. “The biggest challenge is just not knowing where we are going to be.”

UK | Record shops reopen their doors after lockdown: “We’re back!” Record shops celebrate as they reopen their doors after months of lockdown. After multiple lockdowns over the past year, today (April 12) sees UK record shops along with other non-essential retailers finally reopen their doors to the public. Many record shops have faced an uncertain future over the past 12 months, with many adapting their trading models to survive, offering online ordering and home delivery for the first time. The move has helped keep physical music sales strong in 2021, with all but one of the 15 Number 1s on the Official Albums Chart this year being powered to the top spot by a majority of physical sales. Last week, physical sales accounted for 16.3% of the albums market, according to Official Charts Company data. All of HMV’s 93 shops across England and Wales and most independent record stores are back open for buyers to snap up the latest release or crate dig for hidden gems – though social distancing and other safety measures continue to be in place.

UK | HMV welcomes back ‘regulars’ as stores reopen after lockdown: Store manager Terry Boyle said it had been a ‘tough, challenging time.’ Shoppers have been hunting out hidden nuggets at HMV stores as the retailer welcomed back “all the usual faces” following the easing of lockdown restrictions. The entertainment giant reopened all 93 stores across England and Wales and was expecting to see in-store shopping return to pre-lockdown levels amid strong demand for vinyls and original CDs. One customer took the week off work to make the most of the easing of restrictions, and was looking to add to his vinyl collection at HMV in Manchester’s Arndale Centre on Monday morning. Ben Milner, from Lancashire said: “I just love music, I have got my record collection at home but it’s just not the same going on the internet and ordering stuff, it’s been another thing that I have missed so coming in and having a look around the records and stuff and seeing what I can find, why not.” Store manager Terry Boyle said it had been a “tough, challenging time”, but added: “It has been great this morning to see our regular customer base and all the usual faces back in the store.”

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In rotation: 4/13/21

UK | Record stores celebrate reopening as UK lockdown restrictions ease: “Come for an unvirtual browse and an undigital chat!” Record stores across the UK have reopened for in-person trading this morning (April 12) as a number of coronavirus-enforced restrictions have been lifted. Non-essential businesses in England can reopen today as part of the third phase of easing lockdown restrictions, which came into force on January 6. In addition, Northern Ireland’s “stay-at-home” order has ended, while further measures have been relaxed in Scotland and Wales. A number of record shops across England and the UK have resumed in-person trading today, with the likes of Leeds’ Crash Records, Manchester’s Piccadilly Records and London’s Sister Ray Records all celebrating the significant development on social media. Tim Burgess’ ‘Twitter Listening Parties’ website has an interactive list of independent record stores in the UK which you can check out here.

Nottingham, UK | Nottingham city centre store owners ‘overwhelmed’ by huge numbers as shops reopen: “We were not expecting to see it this busy.” Nottingham’s independent stores were busy today with shoppers returning to the city centre’s high streets. Queues were seen outside Zara, Primark, H&M and New Look by Nottinghamshire Live reporters this morning (April 12). Many of those shoppers chose to frequent the city’s independent stores to support their favourite Nottingham brands. Business owners said they were overwhelmed by the turnout, and did not expect to see so many customers entering their stores on a Monday. They said they were preparing for the upcoming weekend, but were taken by surprise on the first day non-essential shops officially reopened. Popular Lace Market book and record store Rough Trade is one place that has finally opened its doors after a long wait. Shop supervisor Sophie Diver, 30, said: “It’s nice to be back – people are so excited to come into the store and have a browse. “We were relying on artists to keep releasing music during the pandemic and we had a few ordering online.

Cornwall, UK | Shops, pubs, restaurants, gyms and more reopen across Cornwall: Pubs, shops, hairdressers, gyms and non-essential shops are reopening in Cornwall as lockdown measures are eased in England today, Monday, April 12 Outdoor attractions and public buildings now reopen, funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees and weddings can have up to 15 attendees. Most hospitality and leisure venues have been closed since the country was plunged into a third national lockdown on January 6, and business owners and staff are thrilled to get back to work, while customers are chomping at the bit to get back to the pub or get a haircut. Among the most popular businesses opening today are expected to be hairdressers and barbers with everyone desperate for a haircut! Among those reopening will be the Chapel Street Boutique in Chapel Street, Camborne, a Cornish family run business stocking many exciting brands in Camborne. They told the Packet: “We have many years experience in the fashion and accessory retail business and look forward to welcoming everyone.”

UK | ERA’s Kim Bayley on the return of music retail: Despite multiple lockdowns, record shops have kept physical music alive during the pandemic as they switched to new trading models, including collection and online orders. April 12 is the key date in the calendar for the return of non-essential retail, though social distancing and other safety measures continue to be in place. It means indie retailers and HMV can open their doors once again, although the prospect on an in-store gig is still some way off based on government guidelines. Record Store Day is set to return for its first drop on June 12. It follows a continuing vinyl boom and speculation that the format has been more widely adopted during the pandemic as fans were unable to spend money on gigs. Here, Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA, looks at how the return of retail could deliver another boost to music sales

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In rotation: 4/12/21

Miles Davis, The Clash among 2021 Record Store Day releases: The full list of RSD releases is out, here’s the highlights… The full list of Record Store Day 2021 releases has been announced – and it’s packed with rare and exclusive vinyl featuring The Clash, Miles Davis, Elton John, Amy Winehouse and Prince, to name but a few. Taking place over two days – Saturday 12th June and Saturday 17th July – RSD 2021 will offer music fans the chance to get their hands on no fewer than 538 limited edition releases (mainly vinyl but also some CDs and cassettes). Among the artists set for special releases on 12th June are Wolf Alice (limited edition of their forthcoming album Blue Weekend), Fatboy Slim (20th Anniversary edition of Weapon of Choice), Prince (little-known acoustic album The Truth) and The Rolling Stones (two LP coloured vinyl edition of the 1971 album Hot Rocks). There’s also a collection of remixes of Amy Winehouse tracks, including Jay-Z’s take on Rehab, and Elton John’s 1967 album Regimental Sgt Zippo, which was originally slated to be Reg’s debut album. Six of the songs were released last year but this is the first time the complete album has been made available.

Brooklyn, NY | Park Slope Record Store Changes Owners, Bets On Vinyl: In an era where any song is just a few taps away on your preferred streaming app, independent record stores feel like a relic. So when Jason Figel decided to retire after running Music Matters in Park Slope for 22 years, he was prepared to simply shutter the neighborhood mainstay. Then Chris Lentz walked in and changed the tune. In an era where any song is just a few taps away on your preferred streaming app, independent record stores feel like a relic. So when Jason Figel decided to retire after running Music Matters in Park Slope for 22 years, he was prepared to simply shutter the neighborhood mainstay. Then Chris Lentz walked in and changed the tune. Lentz, 45, was a regular customer who was looking for a new project. Originally from Hicksville, Long Island—Billy Joel’s hometown—Lentz moved with his family but returned to New York to attend Columbia University, studying art history. A career in art installation for the fashion industry was abandoned when he became a stay-at-home dad eight years ago. After a brief stint in Los Angeles for his wife’s job in advertising, the family moved back to New York in 2015. “New York always seemed like home,” Lentz said in an interview with Bklyner, shortly after taking over Music Matters on April 1st. “Like a boomerang, I’ve always come back here.”

Middlesbrough, UK | A new vinyl pressing plant in Middlesbrough is aiming to create 30 new jobs: “Not many towns or cities across the world have access to their own local vinyl pressing plant, so it’s a real win for the area.” Start-up company Press On Vinyl Production will open their plant at Middlesbrough’s new Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TeesAMP). The company’s website is currently hosting a countdown to what appears to be the official launch of the business in 49 days’ time (May 28). The opening of this new vinyl record manufacturing plant is being spearheaded by Press On Vinyl Production’s Teesside-based founding directors Danny Lowe, David Todd and David Hyne. All three have been part of the local music scene for the past 20 years, according to a press release from TeesAMP. It’s hoped that 100,000 records will be produced each month at the plant, with priority being given to smaller independent music labels. The Press On Vinyl Production team currently has a workforce of 10 employees, which is expected to expand to 30 by the end of the year.

Stamford, UK | Rutland business in lockdown – Oakham music agency’s café launch and boom year for Uppingham web business: Diversification has helped many businesses out of a dire scenario the pandemic had thrust them into. For Dave Graham, director of Rutland music agency, DG Music, lockdown persuaded him to add another revenue stream. With festivals and gigs, the lifeblood of his business, cancelled or postponed almost overnight, he brought forward plans to open the Piano Café, in South Street, Oakham. “Everything went south immediately,” he said. “Hundreds, if not thousands of events have been moved numerous times, from summer to autumn, into 2021 and then into 2022. “We wanted to help people so we have done that for free, but obviously we are not getting paid.” Having opened a base in South Street in 2015, he decided to merge his existing record store with his café idea. “I’d never intended to open it here because it’s a fairly small shop, but we rebranded the shop as a café and increased our vinyl stock…”

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In rotation: 4/9/21

Flipping Alone: An Oral History of Record Stores During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Owners of several of the coolest record stores on the planet explain how they’ve adapted during a global health crisis. …Faced with those headwinds, plus a once-a-century pandemic, many shops simply folded. The list of post-COVID record store casualties includes brick-and-mortar mainstays like Seattle’s Bop Street Records and Everyday Music, Record Alley in Palm Springs, and New York’s Record Mart, the shop in the Times Square subway station that was, until its closure in June, the oldest continually operating record store in Manhattan. For the rest of America’s record stores, time moves in fits and starts, with signs of hopeful normalcy mixed with the uncertainty of a March that, in many ways, never ended. This month, I stopped worrying and started talking, as I reached out to shop owners around the country to find out how they (and their stores) coped with this unprecedented year.

Here’s the full list of Record Store Day 2021 releases: What’s on your shopping list? Amy Winehouse, Wolf Alice, Rage Against The Machine, St. Vincent, Elastica, Lady Gaga, The Cure, Rolling Stones and AC/DC are among the artists with special releases due for this year’s Record Store Day. Check out the full list of releases below. Following on from last year’s triple event spread out due to coronavirus concerns, RSD will return for two dates this summer and see hundreds of vinyl, CD and cassette releases sold exclusively through independent record shops – with over 250 stores from every corner of the UK and thousands around the world taking part in the celebrations. Following yesterday’s announcement of special War Child charity releases from the likes of The Clash and The Cranberries, now the full list has been revealed of limited releases coming on the two ‘drop’ dates on Saturday June 12 and Saturday July 17. “We cannot wait for RSD this year! After the rollercoaster of a year everyone has had, it’s so refreshing to be able to look forward to such a successful and fun event,” said Louise Jackson from Wax & Beans Records.

Tampa Bay, FL | Vinyl Record Sales Spike During Pandemic: Micheal Stutz knows and loves music. And as a DJ he loves sharing music with others. “I love it. It’s almost like music performance, which is something I miss too now,” Stutz said. The last time he DJ’d for a large crowd was in February of 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic has not kept him away from his vinyl records or the turntable. Just 6 months ago, he and his wife, Marie, opened The Current Year, a record shop in Parma. “There’s about, I don’t know, maybe a half a dozen record stores in Cuyahoga County, but no, none of them are competing with each other, they’re all very different beasts,” Stutz said. When you walk into The Current Year, you may feel like you’ve traveled to the past. The vinyl records that fill the crates are easy listening, groovy 60s, 70s, luxuria and classical music. Covid has caused many to put off opening new businesses, but Stutz and his wife said it’s prime time for record shops.

UK | The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival preview: ‘Vinyl Nation’ …In the 1980s, sales of vinyl records plunged when compact discs arrived on the scene, and thousands of record shops, once the bastion of the record industry, were shuttered. The arrival of the Sony Walkman replaced the turntable as the preferred method of listening to music. CDs were small and easily stored, and the Walkman and others like it made music portable. The iPod, which came along in 2001, appeared to be the kiss of death for vinyl records. But, as one vinyl fan says in the film, “The thrill of what might be behind the door of that little shop — you know — I’ve never been stunned to find an MP3.” Director and producer Smokler emphasized that “Vinyl Nation” isn’t just for record collectors. “We made a movie about records that ended up being a movie about how music is the universal human language that connects us all,” he said. Smokler said everyone from hardcore collectors to those with a passing interest will find a lot to like about “Vinyl Nation.” “Really, we hope anyone who sees our movies realizes that if they like records or are even curious about records, they probably have a lot of friends out there they haven’t met yet,” he said. “And you’ll hear some great music, too.”

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In rotation: 4/8/21

Record Store Day Announces RSD Drops Lists: Titles To Be Released At Record Stores On July 12 and July 17. As announced earlier, Record Store Day, as it has come to be known, will not be celebrated in 2021… While we’d all love nothing more than a party at our local record stores, large groups still aren’t the thing right now. However, in our eyes, those independently-owned community businesses remain essential and may still need the revenue brought in by the sales of those sought-after Record Store Day titles. So, this year, we will celebrate and support indie record stores– the importance of their culture and their unyielding tenacity– as we did last year, with two events, but with one list of releases, which we are proud to announce today. At press time, the Record Store Day website has launched an RSD Drops List for both dates, detailing which of the titles will be coming to record stores on June 12, the previously announced date, and July 17, the newly added date. RSD organizers have worked tirelessly with artists, labels and distribution to assign dates to the titles on the Record Store Day 2021 List. A PDF shopping/wish list can be downloaded and printed, and titles can be viewed on the website along with artwork and more detail.

Columbus, OH | The Needle Exchange finds its niche in a crowded record store scene: In addition to used LPs and cassettes, Ian Graham will partner with Harm Reduction Ohio to offer literature and free Narcan on-site at his new North Clintonville shop. As a record collector, I often feel blessed to live in Columbus. Save a few major metropolitan areas, our city has to have one of the finest concentrations of quality record stores anywhere in the nation. What’s one more going to hurt? That certainly had to be a question local musician, radio personality and record clerk Ian Graham asked during his pursuit to open the newly christened Needle Exchange Records & Tapes in North Clintonville. He’s spent the last five years behind the counter at Lost Weekend Records, and has learned a thing or two about the ins and outs of keeping a store afloat from owner and mentor Kyle Siegrist. “A piece of record store philosophy that Kyle passed on is that stores aren’t really in competition here…”

Lansing, MI | Loud dispatches from Lansing’s music scene: How to sell used vinyl records in Lansing. Whether you’re a casual vinyl buyer, or a serious record collector, the need to unload some unwanted wax arises every once in a while. Sure, there are profitable online selling options, like Discogs and eBay, but that requires some tedious vinyl-grading wisdom, and the time it takes to ship records at the often-crowded post office. Hauling in a box to local record shops is often the easiest option, plus you leave with a few bucks in your pocket. Of course, not all vinyl is valuable, so learning the ropes before you head out is a good idea. Vinyl experts Heather Frarey (owner of The Record Lounge in REO Town) and Jon Howard (manager of Flat, Black & Circular in downtown East Lansing), offered up some friendly advice to consider before you lug those heavy crates of LPs over to their respective stores. Here’s what they had to say.

Nederland, CO | Boogie Records Celebrates Two Year Anniversary: Arthur DeVitalis, Nederland. Ryan Blackwell has continued the tradition of hits, one-offs and B sides with Boogie Records. He’s looking forward to a big celebration of the shop’s second anniversary. Blackwell just finished remodeling the store just in time for the two-year birthday this April 4. The shop has been buying and selling vinyl records, record players and more in Ned since April 2019. “Business is good. I’d like to invite people to come down and check it out if they haven’t been before,” he said. The store looks out onto the community garden, which features a grassy area and picnic tables. He’s been in talks with the owner of the building, and they’ve envisioned Friday night concerts starting in the summertime, provided Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease up over time.

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In rotation: 4/7/21

Vinyl sales prop up independent music: Even with the popularity of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, last year saw a resurgence in sales of vinyl records—for the first time since 1986, there were more vinyl sold than CDs. The boost in sales couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as some indie musicians and companies are struggling through the pandemic. For the first time since 1986, there were more vinyl records sold last year than CDs. Mac McCaughan is the cofounder of North Carolina-based independent label Merge Records as well as the frontman for the band Superchunk. For over 30 years, Merge has released some of the most seminal recordings in indie rock, bands like the Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire, and the Magnetic Fields. Despite the pandemic, 2020 turned out to be a good year for the label. “Pressing plants have had trouble keeping up with the volume of records that people have bought over the last year…”

Toronto, CA | Toronto record store that supported local music scene to close doors by June: Soundscapes, in business for 22 years, drew lineups on Saturday and Sunday for closing sale. A much-loved Toronto record store that supported the local independent music scene will close by June 1. Soundscapes, located at 572 College Street, drew lineups on Saturday and Sunday for its closing sale, which began on Wednesday and will continue until the store closes its doors. It has been in business for 22 years. Owner Greg Davis opened the store in 1999. “A big thank you to all of our loyal customers through the years! You have made it all worthwhile and we so appreciate your support for us through the good times and lean times,” a note on the store window reads. “We are all lucky to be living in a golden age for musical discovery. The past twenty years produced musical riches aplenty, both from new artists, as well as the discovery of archival releases from the past. We hope you have enjoyed the music we were lucky enough to recommend and sell to you over the years.”

South Africa: Shifting Vinyl With My Grandfather’s Records: The older generation collected music, whereas today’s aficionados collect records. Vinyl has become an art object, and fanatics scratch through family albums for that next gem. I have a thread of memories of sitting outside the scorching heat of my grandmother’s house in Durban, catching some shade under the mango trees with my grandfather. I would sit next to him, watching his slow, coarse fingers roll tobacco. At times he would sprinkle some marijuana in, smoking this with head bobbing as if he were chasing a particular groove only he could hear. Vinyl records were playing. None of our conversations ever touched on vinyl as a medium. He would only ever dwell on the sounds, places, eras and communities of people who shared his affinity for music. We would have our first conversation about vinyl when I started collecting records. It then dawned on me that we entered this exchange from very different perspectives.

Mornington Peninsula, AU | Vinyl store on the foreshore: Record collectors will find plenty of albums to get their hands on in Frankston this month. The Frankston Foreshore Pop Up Record Fair will take place on 17 April. Event organiser Leif van den Dungen, of Melbourne Record Club, said “I’m really looking forward to being by the water with this one. There’s going to be marquees over about 12 tables and I’ve got some bunting for some colour – it’s going to be an old-school type of fair.” “People talk fondly of the crackle, hiss and pop. You’ve got to interact with a record – getting up to turn it over – and you’re not inclined to skip through tracks so you’re listening to more music than you might otherwise. “Any mainstream band pressed on vinyl is going to go up in value. I recall purchasing The Rolling Stones or David Bowie LPs from second hand stores like Dixons only 10 years back for under $15 each. Now you’d be lucky to find an original pressing for under $50.” The event will run from 10am – 4pm. It will be run in partnership with Frankston Council.

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In rotation: 4/6/21

Toronto, CA | Toronto record store Soundscapes to close after 22 years: The shift to streaming services was already hurting the indie music institution’s bottom line when the pandemic hit. Toronto record store Soundscapes will close this spring after 22 years in business. “The last 20 years have seen a golden age in access to the world’s recorded music history both in physical media and online,” a statement on the shop’s website reads. “We were happy to be a part of sharing our knowledge of some of that great music with you. We hope you enjoyed most of what we sold & recommended to you over the years and hope you will continue to seek out the music that matters.” Soundscapes staffer Phil Liberbaum tells NOW a lot of “soul searching and number crunching” went into the decision to close. “Ever since the pandemic hit we were on shakier ground,” he says, explaining that the shift in music formats from physical media to streaming led to steady decline in business over the past 10 years. The store’s biggest sellers nowadays are legacy artists, Liberbaum says, and steep prices for vinyl albums mean the pool of shoppers tends to be limited to older, collector types.

Boulder, CO | Paradise Found: With new space on Pearl Street, Bart’s Records becomes Paradise Found. When Paradise Found Records & Music opens on April 1 at the corner of 17th and Pearl, it’ll be a homecoming of sorts. Pearl Street — albeit the West End — was where Bart’s Records started in the early ’90s; it’s the street where Bart’s bounced around for several years before finding its most iconic home where Ozo’s downtown store is today. All of that is to say: there would be no Paradise Found without Bart’s. “Not only is Bart a friend of ours, but he’s an inspiration,” says Paradise Found owner Will Paradise, who bought Bart’s Records from Bart Stinchcomb in 2016. After running the store for five years under the original moniker at cramped digs on Folsom Street, Paradise is taking the little record store that could back to Pearl for more spacious accommodations and a gentle makeover. “It’s a new day in a new location and I’m going to change the name, but the Bart’s sign is going to be hanging at the desk [at the new store],” Paradise says from the new space on Pearl, where a dozen or so empty racks wait for the thousands of records to be moved from the old location.

Memphis, TN | Malaco Records: An inside look at ‘The Last Soul Company’ For over half a century Jackson, Mississippi-based label Malaco Records has been an undeniable force in Black music. With a roster of R&B kings (Little Milton, Bobby “Blue” Bland), soul-blues masters (Johnnie Taylor, Denise LaSalle) and gospel greats (The Jackson Southernaires, The Soul Stirrers), Malaco’s catalog has been an essential repository of African American musical history — and continues to connect with contemporary audiences via high-profile hip-hop samples by artists like Drake and Kanye West. And yet, outside of a small fiercely loyal fanbase and a handful of music aficionados, the label remains relatively unknown in the wider world. A new illustrated book, titled “The Last Soul Company: The Story of Malaco Records,” seeks to give the label its proper due. “When I tell people Malaco has been around for 50 years, when I tell them it’s the longest-running independent label in American music history, and it’s the world’s biggest Black gospel label, they’re like, ‘Really?’” says Rob Bowman, author of “The Last Soul Company.”

Bolton, UK | How X-Records Bolton has kept going in coronavirus lockdown: The owner of Bolton’s only dedicated record shop has given an insight into how the store has managed to keep going throughout lockdown – as well as calling on people to support independent businesses. X-Records in Bridge Street has been trading for more than 30 years and is a staple of independent record shops in the wider area. However, with stores forcibly closed due to coronavirus restrictions, many businesses have felt the sharp bite of falling trade. Steve Meekings, owner of X-Records, said that “we intend to still be here for a while to come” as he praised the “art” of new record releases that have kept the store running. He said: “It has been a very strange time and we could never have expected something like this happening – but we are still here and we intend to be here for a while to come. We haven’t got any amount of great plans for the future but we’re just hoping.”

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In rotation: 4/5/21

San Fernando, CA | Vinyl Lovers in the Valley Can Find Everything from Hardcore Punk, Soul, Cumbia & More at This Cool New Record Shop: The Midnight Hour has landed in San Fernando — and it’s headed to the SGV next. If your vinyl collection could use more Misfits, Thelonious Monk, Mana, or Mötorhead (and everything in between), then make your way over to the Valley’s namesake town. The city of San Fernando has scored The Midnight Hour, a cool new mom-and-pop record shop that debuted in the 818 back in September. That’s not all: Its owners are bringing their curation of music to West Covina, where their second L.A.-area outpost officially opens today. Located on low-key North Maclay Avenue, the boutique stocks new and used vinyl, cassettes, handmade gifts, and more. Expect to find albums and rare international pressings in nearly every format across every music category and subgenre, including funk, garage rock, grunge, hardcore, hip-hop, Latin, metal, New Wave, psychobilly, rap, soul, and beyond. You’ll also find “mom and dad jams” (rather, grandma and grandpa tunes?) from classic rock acts like Fleetwood Mac and Alamaba (to name a few) alongside original mixtapes.

Duncan, BC | Business notes: Full Bug Records opens in Duncan: What’s going on in the Cowichan business community. Vinyl records are making a comeback, and Matt Hewlett has gotten on the bandwagon. Hewlett, a former restaurateur from Vancouver, recently moved to Duncan and opened up Full Bug Records at 171 Jubilee St. in Duncan. He said many of those who sold their record collections in the 1990s are looking to revive them, and a new and younger generation of listeners have begun taking to vinyl records as well. He said that while some believe the sound from vinyl records is better quality than CDs and the music that is downloaded from the internet, many of his customers just like the more interactive format that records, many of which have large 12-inch by 12-inch jackets, come in as they are typically covered in interesting information about the band and may even have posters. “People also want a physical copy of the music, instead of just downloading it,” Hewlett said.

Los Angeles, CA | Lines around the block at Ameoba Music’s grand reopening in Hollywood: More than a year after the pandemic forced it to shutter, and just shy of its 20th anniversary as a Hollywood fixture, music retailer Amoeba Music reopened in its new location Thursday morning. The moment, marked by the requisite jumbo-scissored ribbon cutting, occurred just before 11 a.m. at Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue. A line of giddy, young, mostly masked shoppers, many of whom had been waiting since early morning to enter the music Valhalla, stretched south down Argyle and around the block. The queue remained that way for hours. “The pandemic’s been hard on everyone, so I feel like this is going to boost morale, bring joy again,” said Alonzo Vasquez, who had driven in from the Central Valley with friends to go shopping. His mission: tracking down anything on LP by L.A.-based psych-punk band Osees. “I feel like this will make times normal. We’re getting spots back,” he said, the lower half of his face obscured by his face mask. “We’ve been waiting for a year,” said Silver Lake resident Kerri Barta, who was near the entrance on the cusp of access. Until COVID-19, a visit to Amoeba was part of the weekly ritual for her and companion Jason Yates. “It’s been a big hole in our life.”

Orillia, ON | Passion helps owner ensure record store is a hit: ‘Orillia has a lot to offer, and we feel like we are a part of that,’ says owner of Alleycats Music & Art. Believe it or not, Alleycats Music & Art owner Mike Rothwell isn’t a huge music guy. But his passion for being a key player in the community has prompted him to collect more than 10,000 records which he sells at his 95 Mississaga St. E. location in downtown Orillia. The Kitchener native formerly worked as a health, safety, and environmental professional for most of his life after studying science at the University of Toronto. In 2007, Rothwell and his wife Krista decided to move up north to start a new chapter of their life. “It’s my wife’s hometown, so we wanted to re-locate and move up here; we’ve always liked it here,” Rothwell said. In 2012, Rothwell and his wife opened up Alleycats as a hobby business to give them something to keep them busy. “I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so this is the first time I really got to do anything with my own business concept,” Rothwell said.

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