Local bands ditch CDs, go vinyl as musical nostalgia grows


Even though they formed during the digital music revolution of MP3s, file sharing and MySpace, the Strawmen knew from day one they wanted to put out their first release on vinyl.

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Eric Daigle of Spin It shows off some vinyl records by local bands.

"We knew from the get-go that we wanted to make a proper single," said Jordan Dugas, rhythm guitarist for the Riverview-based folk-rock trio. "We're all big vinyl fans, and we wanted to make a single we took our time with, that would be something tangible, worth having, because there's thousands of MySpace bands that only exist online, on MySpace."

The Strawmen are set to release their single "Jack Rabbit" on June 12 at the Paramount.

Frontman Tom Martin said there's something permanent about holding a record, reading its linear notes, and gazing at sizable cover art that isn't there when he looks at a diminutive CD — and he prefers the sound, too.

"I can remember the first record I bought, but I couldn't tell you the first CD I bought," he said. "Personally, I find it a more comfortable sound. I even enjoy the cracks and the pops."

A number of other local acts have ditched recording onto CD, even though it's a lot cheaper to produce and more accessible for mainstream audiences (because you can't take your record player with you on a run or in the car).

The Varsity Weirdos, Elevator, Fear of Lipstick, East Coast Music Award-winning rapper Hotbox, the now-defunct Damnsels and Bad Luck #13 are a few Moncton-area recording artists who have opted to release albums on vinyl.

Spin-It Records owner Partick Parisé said some music fans say vinyl records carry a "warmer," higher-quality sound than a CD or an MP3.

Aside from quality, he said bands are making a statement when they release an album on vinyl.

"For some reason, vinyl has always been kind of cool," said Parisé, who has noticed an increase in vinyl record sales at his store over the past few years, "and it's making a resurgence now. But overall if you're a punk band, it's cooler to have a record on vinyl than it is to have it on CD; you're kind of going against the grain."

According to Nielsen SoundScan, a data information system that tracks music sales, U.S. vinyl record sales nearly doubled in 2008, up to 1.88 million from 990,000 sold in 2007.

The news is music to record collector Ray Auffrey's ears.

"I'm happy to announce there's a bit of resurgence," said Auffrey, 40. "I love seeing it, when a youngster grabs a record for the first time. You'll often see kids come by and see a forty-five (7-inch record) for the first time and say, 'look dad, a big CD.' I can't say it's surprising but it is heart-warming when I see it."

A rock n' roll fan at heart, Auffrey estimates he's collected over 4,000 vinyl records since he started in Grade 3.

In that time, he's seen the demise of the 8-track and the rise and fall of the cassette tape.

He's also watched vinyl records be pushed to the brink of extinction by the emergence of the CD in the late 1980s.

But CDs, he predicts, are now going the way of the cassette tape.

"It's almost disposable," he said of CDs, despite production costs being a fraction of that of a vinyl record,

For example, pressing an LP (12-inch record) with the Vinyl Record Guru, a British Columbia-based brokerage company, would cost a band approximately $5.40 per record.

Conversely, Auffrey said the cost of releasing a CD is much cheaper, at a buck or two per disc.

Live Wire Music Emporium owner Marty LeBlanc said his store carries close to 10,000 vinyl records.

While he hasn't noticed a significant hike in vinyl sales, he has noticed a decline in CD sales.

"I find that kids are inheriting their parents' collections and they're coming in and buying more vinyl as opposed to CDs," said LeBlanc, organizer of the Record Expo held in Moncton every six months. "I find CD sales did drop for us. They're still there, as long as they're affordable. But records, we've never dropped our price and they're sill going."

Mainstream acts like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have shared in an effort to keep records alive by offering incentives to customers who buy their albums on vinyl.

"They'll throw in a CD or an MP3 code where you can go online and download the album," said Auffrey. "They're making less profit and even rewarding you for buying the format of their preference."

Parisé said the hoopla about a vinyl comeback is cyclical. The format hasn't really ever gone away, he said, and he doesn't think it will anytime soon.

"Vinyl has outlasted every other format out there, you know, 8-tracks, cassette tapes are long gone, CDs aren't selling as well as they used to be, and vinyl still sells quite well," he said. "I think vinyl will stick around for a long time, without a doubt. And myself, I think there's a certain warmth to listening to a song on vinyl."

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