Brother Moses,
The TVD First Date

“My dad thinks listening to music on vinyl in the 21st century is hilarious. It’s a conversation we’ve had every Christmas since I was a teenager and my sister and I started getting records in flat Amazon-mailer packages under the tree.”

“He laughs at the absurdity of packing up a box of records that would take up less than 1% of the available space on his iPod. And sure, the fact that my dad still listens to music on an iPod in 2020 is much funnier than anything he could ever say about record collecting, but he does have a point. Vinyl is heavy. It breaks and warps. It’s peddled and collected by an often obnoxious and snobby corner of the music-loving world. It also must be enjoyed at home, which to be honest isn’t really where I most enjoy listening to music. A record, while it might look and sound great, can’t be enjoyed on a walk through the park or on a long drive through the middle of nowhere. So what is so great about it?

The first turntable I ever bought was some Sony USB-powered thing that I got at Best Buy in ninth or tenth grade, and my only impetus for buying it was that my girlfriend gave me The Beatles’ blue album on vinyl and I had no way to listen to it. I brought home the record player and looked for a headphone jack. Couldn’t find one. I tried Googling “how to use turntable” and was immediately overwhelmed with talk of preamps, speakers, cables, needles, and no one even once mentioned just plugging in your headphones. I’d just spent like a hundred bucks on this complicated looking machine that was going to play this record, and now everyone on the internet was telling me I needed to spend more money? No thank you. The turntable, and the record, sat on the back burner up until the summer before I left for college.

Somewhere in the meantime, I started making music. My best friend Moses and I started a band and had our first experiences recording songs in a studio. We learned the magic feeling of performing a song you wrote, piece by piece, and listening back to it. It was magic, but it made sense. As little as we knew then about recording, we understood that the microphone picked up my voice or his guitar and sent it into the computer, where we could see little waveforms on the screen representing the sounds we made. We’d take that collection of waveforms and convert them into an audio file that would get uploaded to the internet, where anybody could listen. It was immediate, uncomplicated, accessible – everything that’s great about the way that most people listen to music today.

But as we got deeper into recording our own music, we also got deeper into listening to music, and I would hear time and again the opinion that the “best” way to experience music was on vinyl, so towards the end of my senior year in high school I made a trip to Hastings and made my first official vinyl purchase, Wilco’s preeminent Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. At the time I thought this was the finest album ever made (I still kind of do) and I took it home, hacked together some kind of setup involving some cables that I think I stole from my youth group and a pair of cheap computer speakers that I plugged my headphones into, and I let it rip.

I will truly never forget the first track swelling to life with that warm, uniquely vinyl texture, and I just stared at the black disc spinning away in front of me while I sat on the floor, completely awestruck that what appeared to be an inanimate piece of gummy plastic could deliver such an incredible sounding product. It made absolutely no sense to me. An mp3, that made perfect sense. I’d put one of those together myself. But this, this was something completely foreign. And while I could have been doing anything else, I was glued to the rug, bound by the physical limitation of the medium, forced to live within the record.

I think the mystery of such a tangible and mechanical piece of antiquated equipment will forever be what makes vinyl great. It doesn’t matter how well the system of engraved vibrations and electronic amplification is explained to me, I will never truly understand how it works, and I don’t want to. It’s the reason I’m sitting here seven years later with a hundred of my favorite records that I’ve moved from apartment to apartment, from state to state.

The first time that I had the opportunity to hear a song that I made with my friends on vinyl was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. We gathered around the same cheap turntable I bought in high school, plugged it into a setup that definitely would offend even the most open-minded vinyl heads, and just laughed and high-fived over the sheer impossibility of our goofy song being picked up off of this rotating enigma that cost our record label thousands of dollars to produce. In just a few weeks, our second LP as Brother Moses, Desperation Pop, will be on our doorstep in heavy boxes, pressed to shimmering red vinyl, improbable as ever.

I think it’s totally for the better that the way most people come to find music today is through self-discovery that doesn’t rely on owning bulky and expensive equipment. But vinyl is special to me because of the way it seems to physically represent the improbable power that music has. I hope this corner of the music listening world always exists, where music is heavy, fragile, complicated, and amazing.”
James Lockhart

Desperation Pop, the new full-length releases from Brother Moses is available for pre-order now—on red vinyl.

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PHOTO: LOWNDES COMMANDER

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