Merchants see vinyl revival

Merchants see vinyl revival
Saturday, June 20, 2009

 

Photo of

Photographer: Barry Sloan

Bruce Northrup tests out a vinyl record in his store, The Old Book Surfer, in Schenectady Friday afternoon.
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— Vinyl is making a comeback.

The foot-wide records, which had to be carefully handled and could only be played with precisely placed needles, were long ago replaced by cassettes and later smooth-sounding, hand-sized compact discs.

But now vinyl is back, embraced by teenagers who beg for a record player as a birthday present. Local vinyl store owners say their sales are so strong that they’ve kept pace even in the recession.

The resurgence led Niskayuna resident Bruce Northrup to open what may be Schenectady’s only vinyl record store. He sells used books and records at The Old Book Surfer at 2334 Guilderland Ave.

He’s aiming mostly for the adult crowd — “the collector population that are looking for memories of the past” — but other store owners say the real market is children.

“The big thing right now for kids on their 16th birthday is to get a turntable,” said Biff Bach, owner of Blue Note Record Shop in Albany.

Current artists, including Kanye West, Ne-Yo and 50 Cent, have released their latest albums on vinyl, recognizing the interest in the format.

Most artists now release on both vinyl and CD, except Miley Cyrus, who sticks to electronic formats, Bach said.

“I think it’s because they want the videos. With her, it’s the whole package,” he said.

He sells her CDs as well, but he’s loyal to vinyl.

“If you play a CD, it’s either too bright or too bass. You play the vinyl, it feels like they’re right next to you,” he said. “It has a warmer and richer sound. You hear a fuller song.”

Northrup, who is banking his retirement plans on the power of vinyl, thinks the unique sound will allow it to continue when CDs are long gone.

“The download frenzy will eat CDs, probably, before it eats records,” he said.

He decided to start selling records when his personal collection threatened to take over his entire home.

“The volume increased to the point where I had better sell them or I’d be surrounded and inundated by them,” he said.

He retired from the state last year and began plans for a used books and records store, which he opened inauspiciously the day after a blizzard, when National Grid crews were too busy to turn on his heat and lights.

Then the city learned that he had opened without first bringing his project to the planning commission. He finally got permission last month.

While he’s hoping to make a “post-career career” out of vinyl, the resurgence may also save the livelihoods of owners who started selling music before the first cassettes were made.

Bach has owned Blue Note Record Shop for 61 years, transitioning from records to casettes to CDs — and then weathering the storm when customers began buying and downloading songs from iTunes and other online stores.

But now he’s doing well.

“I’d say we’re in the upswing, especially with vinyl,” he said. “The biggest sellers are coming out on vinyl. And a lot of old things are being reissued. We’re seeing all age groups buying it.”

Many of his customers buy a record and then return with a dusty turntable that they can’t remember how to use. He’s teaching the old tricks and selling needles at a fast clip. The younger customers usually just need a turntable — no instructions required.

“Kids generally can figure it out. That’s the beauty of it — it is low tech,” he said. “You don’t have to have an instruction book in five languages to learn how to turn it on and off.”

When customers waiver between the same artist on vinyl and CD and are unconvinced of the sound quality, he argues that the defining difference is the artwork.

“All the artwork is large [on vinyl] so you can really see it,” he said. “And the liner notes are actually readable, so you don’t need an electron microscope.”

 

Merchants see vinyl revival
Saturday, June 20, 2009

 

Photo of

Photographer: Barry Sloan

Bruce Northrup tests out a vinyl record in his store, The Old Book Surfer, in Schenectady Friday afternoon.
Text Size: A | A | A

— Vinyl is making a comeback.

The foot-wide records, which had to be carefully handled and could only be played with precisely placed needles, were long ago replaced by cassettes and later smooth-sounding, hand-sized compact discs.

But now vinyl is back, embraced by teenagers who beg for a record player as a birthday present. Local vinyl store owners say their sales are so strong that they’ve kept pace even in the recession.

The resurgence led Niskayuna resident Bruce Northrup to open what may be Schenectady’s only vinyl record store. He sells used books and records at The Old Book Surfer at 2334 Guilderland Ave.

He’s aiming mostly for the adult crowd — “the collector population that are looking for memories of the past” — but other store owners say the real market is children.

“The big thing right now for kids on their 16th birthday is to get a turntable,” said Biff Bach, owner of Blue Note Record Shop in Albany.

Current artists, including Kanye West, Ne-Yo and 50 Cent, have released their latest albums on vinyl, recognizing the interest in the format.

Most artists now release on both vinyl and CD, except Miley Cyrus, who sticks to electronic formats, Bach said.

“I think it’s because they want the videos. With her, it’s the whole package,” he said.

He sells her CDs as well, but he’s loyal to vinyl.

“If you play a CD, it’s either too bright or too bass. You play the vinyl, it feels like they’re right next to you,” he said. “It has a warmer and richer sound. You hear a fuller song.”

Northrup, who is banking his retirement plans on the power of vinyl, thinks the unique sound will allow it to continue when CDs are long gone.

“The download frenzy will eat CDs, probably, before it eats records,” he said.

He decided to start selling records when his personal collection threatened to take over his entire home.

“The volume increased to the point where I had better sell them or I’d be surrounded and inundated by them,” he said.

He retired from the state last year and began plans for a used books and records store, which he opened inauspiciously the day after a blizzard, when National Grid crews were too busy to turn on his heat and lights.

Then the city learned that he had opened without first bringing his project to the planning commission. He finally got permission last month.

While he’s hoping to make a “post-career career” out of vinyl, the resurgence may also save the livelihoods of owners who started selling music before the first cassettes were made.

Bach has owned Blue Note Record Shop for 61 years, transitioning from records to casettes to CDs — and then weathering the storm when customers began buying and downloading songs from iTunes and other online stores.

But now he’s doing well.

“I’d say we’re in the upswing, especially with vinyl,” he said. “The biggest sellers are coming out on vinyl. And a lot of old things are being reissued. We’re seeing all age groups buying it.”

Many of his customers buy a record and then return with a dusty turntable that they can’t remember how to use. He’s teaching the old tricks and selling needles at a fast clip. The younger customers usually just need a turntable — no instructions required.

“Kids generally can figure it out. That’s the beauty of it — it is low tech,” he said. “You don’t have to have an instruction book in five languages to learn how to turn it on and off.”

When customers waiver between the same artist on vinyl and CD and are unconvinced of the sound quality, he argues that the defining difference is the artwork.

“All the artwork is large [on vinyl] so you can really see it,” he said. “And the liner notes are actually readable, so you don’t need an electron microscope.”

The Record Exchange: Still revolving after all these years

http://www.wickedlocal.com/salem/fun/entertainment/arts/x488812851/The-Record-Exchange-Still-revolving-after-all-these-years

 

The Record Exchange: Still revolving after all these years

By William Routhier/salem@cnc.com

Thu Jun 25, 2009, 02:25 PM EDT

Salem –  

It’s an unassuming storefront along Washington Street, just up from Starbucks and around the corner from the Lafayette Hotel.

A cardboard stand-up of Tom Waits skulks in the corner of the front window, as if waiting for someone walking by to kindly light his cigarette. Above the store there’s a carved plaque of Dizzy Gillespie cradled in a crescent moon, blowing his crazy horn up to the stars.

Step inside and you’ll find bins full of record albums, CDs, tapes, DVDs, posters and paintings of musicians, original 45s by Elvis and The Beatles and others displayed on the walls. You’ve stumbled onto a vast collection of musical history, rare vinyl treasures, and the most knowledgeable and friendly salespeople you could ever hope to meet. So it’s been for over 35 years, but any day you walk in is just another day at The Record Exchange.

 In the early 1970s, owner Ross Kolhonen had recently finished graduate school, traveled through India for while and was planning to get another degree in business school. Instead, he decided to try his hand at starting a business himself. With a small loan, some stock collateral and money he made that summer painting houses, Kolhonen opened up the first Record Exchange, in a storefront at Salem’s Lafayette Hotel.

“And now, here we are,” he says with a smile, “before you can blink an eye, coming up on 40 years later. It just sort of took on a life of its own.”

 At that time, used record stores were a relatively new idea. There was one or two in Boston, but none on the North Shore. Kolhonen, who grew up in Peabody and always felt at home in the area, decided to locate the store in Salem. His love of music and collecting records began in his childhood. He has memories of going to LeFavour’s Music store in Salem, around 1955, spinning Elvis 78s in the listening booths, where you could hear a record before buying it.

The Record Exchange took some time to establish itself, but soon found a steady clientele and continued to grow. It moved locations in 1989, from the Lafayette storefront to the current space. Paul Bazylinski, who’s been working at the store since 1984, remembers the day: “It was a Saturday, and we were opened until around four in the afternoon. We had seven or eight people who walked the entire store around the corner to this location.”

Kolhonen adds, “We had my little truck too, my 1949 Chevy. Some regular customers helped us. It was a battle. We moved all the bins, all the records, everything, in one day. Those customers who helped, they did it out the goodness of their hearts, just to contribute, but afterward I told them they had 10 percent off in the store for life. And it’s worked out good for them, they still come in, to this day, and get their 10 percent.”

The store’s collection has grown over the years to a staggering 250,000 vinyl records, including both LPs and 45s. Many are in storage, but all that vinyl, along with approximately 10,000 CDs, the cassette tapes and DVDs, comprises an inventory capable of satisfying the most discriminating customer.

The store has record dealers from around the world, including Switzerland, Germany, Japan and France, journeying to Salem to make purchases at the store, which they then resell in record shops in their own countries. The Record Exchange is also like a good Chinese restaurant that doesn’t always have everything listed on the menu. If there’s something that you don’t see in the bins, it’s definitely worth asking if they’ve got it out back.

The staff is a tight, practiced group who can address any request. Kolhonen and Bazylinski are the generalists who pretty much know the whole catalogue. Jim Beaudry, who’s worked at the store 12 years, is the 1960s and British invasion expert, with a strong memory for dates, such as when a particular record was issued or a concert took place.

Barrence Whitfield, well known in his own right as an R&B,roots and soul singer, specializes in R&B and blues.

Mike Boudreau covers “post Clash” punk and indie music, but everyone in the store has comprehensive, overlapping knowledge that can pinpoint answers to the most obscure musical questions imaginable.

Used record stores often have a reputation of being a place where only the hippest of the hip dare enter or ask a question, a description perpetuated by the movie “High Fidelity.” The Record Exchange staff, while being as encyclopedic as those kinds of stores, maintains a different, friendlier idea.

As Paul Bazylinski says, “Part of the philosophy here is to treat people like human beings. I like to say, this is where people and music matters. We’re into music, but the people are what it’s all about.”

FYI

The Record Exchange, 256 Washington St., can be reached at 978-745-0777. Hours are as follows:

Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

The day the music (store) died; Local shops hanging on

http://www.thevillager.com/villager_323/thedaythemusic.html

 

Villager photo by Amanda Peterka

Manager Karen Soskin recently setting up staff recommendations in Other Music. Her newest picks were obscure bands with names like Screaming Females, Magik Markers, Dera Doorian, Ponytail, Dirty Projectors and City Center.

The day the music (store) died; Local shops hanging on

By Amanda Peterka

About once or twice every two months, Talia Wray could be found at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square, browsing new CD’s. The 16-year-old from Brooklyn liked the big selection of music and the sheer size of the 57,000-square-foot store.

Now, she can be found at Kim’s Video and Music, on First Ave. between Seventh and Eighth Sts., scanning racks of old vinyl records. Like the rest of the customers of the defunct Virgin Megastore, Wray has had to make do without any large music chain being left in New York City.

“You don’t find as big a selection as they had. People don’t have a lot of stuff in stock,” Wray said. Virgin was “so big and on the corner,” she added, “and you always think about it being there, but it’s not there anymore.”

Local stores have been closing almost as rapidly as global CD sales have been falling. But for the stores that remain, managers say they’ve noticed an influx of a younger crowd — the last vestiges of Virgin, come to find their Hannah Montanas, Dave Matthews Bands and, in Wray’s case, new rock and jazz.

“I have noticed a change. People come in here asking for Virgin items, for more mainstream music and top-30 music,” said Karen Soskin, a manager at Other Music at 15 E. Fourth St.

Other Music has been in business 13 years and seen the fall of both Virgin and Tower Records, which hit its last note in 2006. Though the stretch of Fourth St. between Broadway and Lafayette St. is relatively dead, Soskin said hopeful customers still wander its length, looking for the Tower on Broadway that is still listed in New York City guidebooks.
“Once Tower closed, the block isn’t super-hopping anymore,” said Soskin, who has been a manager for two years. “But tourists still come in here and say, ‘Where is the Tower Records?’”

The close of Virgin is adding to those unlikely customers.

“A lot of people are coming in, people who have been Virgin shoppers for years, looking for new music,” Soskin said.

It’s hard, though, to gauge the amount of ex-Virgin customers who now shop at independent stores; most evidence is merely anecdotal.

But it’s something that is being repeated at independent stores, especially those found nearest to Union Square.

Kenny Mativey, manager at Kim’s, said some former Virgin customers wander in because “this is basically the only major music and video store now.”

While stores like Kim’s and Other Music still rely on a loyal base of regulars, they have become more open to catering to a younger generation to buoy sales. Other Music stocks copies of Green Day’s latest album, “21st Century Breakdown.” In the past few months, Academy Records at 12 W. 18th St. has started selling “pop vinyls,” or old-fashioned records of new, trendy music. Kim’s, known for selling hard-to-find items, added a new-release section last month.

Even Generation Records, a staple on Thompson St. known for metal and punk hardcore vinyls, is selling a few copies of the softer stuff that a mainstream crowd tends to go for, like new Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

Yet, local record stores are basically still sticking to the niches that made them a spot on New York City’s map in the first place. Academy continues to sell classical and jazz records, and places like Bleecker Bob’s and Bleecker Street Records haven’t budged from Led Zeppelin and John Coltrane.

An assistant manager at Bleecker Bob’s who goes by the name “Ski” said that the store has hardly changed in the 40 years it’s been in operation.

“If more people were to ask, we’d probably bring more in,” Ski said, regarding mainstream music. “If I had someone coming in every day for the new Britney Spears album, we’d probably carry it. But people don’t come in here looking for a pop section.”

For local places, their used, hard-to-find records and the small, often dingy but charming interiors are why they are still in business and larger retailers are not.

“The only reason they could continue and do continue to exist is the social experience of going out there,” said Steve Gordon, author of “The Future of the Music Business.”

Europeans and tourists make up a big part of the customers at Bleecker Bob’s, another staffer there said recently.

But some managers say finances are often handled off the books in smaller music shops, as CD’s and records are bought and sold from off the street.

Most Virgin customers will instead probably find their music online now, which, short of shopping at Best Buy and J&R, is the only alternative left with Virgin gone.

“It’s much cheaper online. If you just want to get the good stuff, why would you pay $19 when you can get it for free?” Gordon said of illegal downloading.

High rents are officially what killed Virgin, but the Internet obviously played a role. Virgin’s owners, The Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust, realized they could charge more rent to a store that makes a greater profit than a music store competing with online downloading and sales.  

The Union Square store was the last of two Virgin Megastores in North America; the other, in Hollywood, closed its doors the same day, June 15. Calls to Virgin about the closing met a discontinued customer-service line and a message that looped over and over again even after a recorded option was chosen.

High rent has been the blight of small stores, too. Local record havens Etherea, Rocks in Your Head and Vinylmania Records all foundered trying to keep up with rent in some of the city’s most prized and expensive real estate. Kim’s had to downscale in January from a large store on St. Mark’s Place for the new, smaller First Ave. location.

“The Village shows that the mom-and-pops are drying up, and so are the chains,” said Gordon, who fondly remembers Vinylmania on Carmine St.

Small stores, though, have the advantage of dealing with a more manageable amount of products. Dino, a manager from Bleecker Street Records who did not give a last name, said the reason Virgin went under was because it tried to please too many people with its huge selection. He said Bleecker Street Records will stick with a smaller, more rarefied selection.

“You don’t try to cater to new fads, because they are only out for a couple of years. No one remembers them 10 to 20 years from now. But everybody remembers Miles Davis,” Dino said.

Smaller stores that primarily sell records might have the upper hand in the changing music market. While CD sales continue to decrease, sales of vinyl records are at the highest level since 1990, bringing in $57 million in 2008, according to a year-end report from the Recording Industry Association of America.

“It’s kind of nice to walk by Virgin and see it empty. We’re incredibly thankful we’re still here,” Soskin said.

But the drying up of the industry is all too evident.

“It’ll come to where the customer comes up to us and asks where else they can go for a CD, and we have to say there isn’t actually anything more,” Soskin said

Void concept turntable

http://www.gizmag.com/void-player-lp-records/12135/picture/85345/

Void player puts a whole new spin on playing your old LPs

Other Images from this Gallery
Article Summary

Korean designer Rhea Jeong says she's been astounded by the amount of interest in her conceptual Void LP record player. One look at the design and you can see why it's made so much noise without even uttering a sound. Close your eyes and imagine a little red globe spinning around on top of a vinyl record emitting sound from speakers inside it. The record itself is suspended in mid-air above a simple black base unit – no strings attached, no wires holding it up and definitely no safety net. The imagery is quite simply jaw-dropping. But can such a thing really work?

Sony Walkman: Reflecting 30 years later on how it set the world on its ear

 

 http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/article1017416.ece

Sony Walkman: Reflecting 30 years later on how it set the world on its ear

By Sean Daly, Times Pop Music Critic
In Print: Sunday, July 12, 2009


Sony Corp. employee Rumi Yamaguchi looks at Sony Walkman products including the first Walkman, second from left on the top shelf, last week at the Sony Archive building in Tokyo.
Sony Corp. employee Rumi Yamaguchi looks at Sony Walkman products including the first Walkman, second from left on the top shelf, last week at the Sony Archive building in Tokyo.
 
[Associated Press]
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So there was this dad, a fed-up dad, a dad with a headache that could slay Godzilla. Night after night, this poor guy slogged home from work, a high-powered gig no less, and was slammed by REALLY LOUD MUSIC cranking from his kids' bedroom.

Turn it down, he cried.

Whaaat???

Turn it down.

But Akio Morita was no ordinary dad, and this was no ordinary head-splitter. Instead of sledgehammering the stereo or banning Black Sabbath, Morita, the co-founder of Sony Corp. along with Masaru Ibuka, consulted with his development team. Instead of shushing his kids, he wound up shushing the world.

In the summer of '79, the first Sony Walkman was sold.

Morita and Ibuka's cool invention would change not just the way we enjoyed —and eventually bought — music, movies and video games, but the way we would interact.

Still, you have to wonder: Did that infamous dad ever, just for a moment, miss the noise?

• • •

The SoundAbout, the Stowaway, the Freestyle. No, no, no. Sony tried all those names at first, but they weren't right.

The Walkman?

Click! Less talk, more walk!

Forget about such clunky predecessors as transistor radios that played static and leviathan boom boxes that crippled shoulders faster than you could say Kool Moe Dee. You could snap this paperback-sized gizmo on your Levis, pop in a cassette, pull on those foamy orange headphones and disappear into a world only you could hear.

How dramatic!

"It wasn't just a technology breakthrough," Paul Colley, a Sony technology communications manager, recently told the Daily Telegraph. "It was a change in people's behavior."

No longer did we have to go to the music, the music came to us. To the beach, the backseat, the bus, wherever, whenever we went. Road trips with the 'rents were no longer spent just playing Punch Buggie Blue or talking away the miles; now there didn't have to be any talking at all.

"The Walkman had a tremendous influence on people's idea of carrying your music with you," says Doug Allen, owner of St. Petersburg's Bananas Music, one of the largest vinyl record emporiums in the country. "The whole idea was portability."

Somehow there was more noise and less noise all at once, simultaneous alienation and joy. This was music for you picked by you that only you could hear: Motley Crue as you scoped beauties in the gulf, the Police as you curled brokenhearted on your bed. It wasn't only Indiana Jones who had a killer soundtrack; now you did, too. Suddenly, we were all so much more interesting.

How vainglorious!

Over the course of its 30 years, the venerable Walkman turned us into a Head Down society, one world in a world of our own.

• • •

So there was this boy, an only child, a 10-year-old with warring parents. With money made mowing Old Mr. Monahan's lawn — "Make it a checkboard pattern this week!" Monahan would bark, waving his cane — this Massachusetts preteen and future pop music critic would buy his first Walkman.

And his next.

And his next.

He called himself "a Walkman baby," born to wear the 'phones. He'd eventually go through one Walkman a year for the next decade; not just Sonys, but cheap-o knockoffs, good-enoughers scrounged at flea markets and Kmart. When the door was hanging off, and the silver paint was scratched, and sand had gummed up the motor, and Springsteen sounded wobbly even with new AAs, it was time to buy a new one. Immediately. After all, Monahan's massive lawn was handled while listening to Red Sox games and mix tapes on a Walkman; it was the only way to get through.

Well, that and other things.

As the kid's mother and father fought downstairs — on their way to divorce after 21 years of marriage — his Walkman would be salvation. Sure, he could have cranked his stereo: to make it stop, to make a point. But the Walkman was more effective, strangely comforting, like an astronaut pulling on his helmet and hearing only his own breath.

• • •

More than one million Walkmans (Walkmen? Walkmi?) were sold in its first year of release. The first model was the TPS-L2; it retailed for $200. Needless to say, they got cheaper. Two million were moved in 1981. And more than two hundred million units — including the Discman, which launched in '84 and played CDs — have been sold since.

Do you still have yours?

Didn't think so.

Besides selling records, Doug Allen has a museum's-worth of audio equipment for sale at his sprawling Bananas store: turntables, 8-tracks, reel-to-reels, plus curious whatzits that barely touched store shelves before they were extinct.

But what Allen, 61, doesn't have is a Walkman. Not a single one, anywhere in his two warehouses.

"The Walkman was a disposable item," Allen says, something to be bought again and again, new models, new gadgets, new buttons to push.

Sound familiar?

In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod. The digital music player was in essence a faster, easier, slicker Walkman, another disposable treasure we can't live without. Just press play.

• • •

So there's this dad, a music-loving dad, a dad who spins vinyl records for his two young daughters every night after dinner.

They sing and have dance contests and look at the pretty album art of Duran Duran and AC/DC.

This dad — a music critic, no less, a fate he credits to his early days as a "Walkman baby" — is an iPod devotee, and as he goes through one iPod after the other, he gives his old ones to his girls.

And when this dad takes his daughters out to dinner, and they get restless and whiny, he pulls out their iPods to calm them, to turn them down. Like a drug. And his daughters, once so noisy, pull on the headphones and get very quiet. Does the dad miss the noise? Not yet. But it's early.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at http://blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic/

Gobi Dust Grooves

 

 http://shproto.urbanatomy.com/index.php/entertainment/1615-gobi-dust-grooves

Gobi Dust Grooves
Entertainment
Written by Leo Messias   
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 11:46
Onra comes crate-digging in China

Pop music from the late 60s to mid 70s – genres such as mambo, cha cha, traditional, western music, opera, musical, folk, pop, ballads and a bit of soul.” Believe it or not, that’s just a sample of the old Chinese records that French producer extraordinaire Onra (aka Arnaud Bertrand) has in his collection. But, he says with a laugh, “I don’t read Chinese, so I don’t know what I bought!”

A global crate-digger, Onra searches out old vinyl records anywhere he travels. On a motorbike-backpacking trip to Vietnam – where his grandparents are from – he set out walking aimlessly on the streets of Saigon asking around for records. In a stroke of luck, he bumped into a willing taxi driver who took him to a flea market where he could finally get his fingers dusty. “It was like one of those ‘Eureka’ moments,” he says. “Like a spiritual experience travelers sometimes say they have when visiting another country.” The trip yielded over 30 records, which upon his return to his Paris home, led to the creation of his first solo album, entitled Chinoiserie (released in February 2008 under his artist moniker – which incidentally, is his French nickname ‘Arno’ spelled backwards).

“As soon as I came back, I listened to this music, and it really blew my mind,” says Onra. “It was an introduction to a new kind of music, new sounds, new melodies.” The album was an underground sensation, eventually making it onto Gilles Peterson’s taste-making BBC Radio 1 show. “A lot of people understood the concept as I wanted it to be,” says Onra. “It’s not just hip-hop beats with Asian music samples. There’s a whole story behind it, and that’s what the people loved. I’m really proud of that.”

The album also netted Onra some commercial success – in the form of a Coca-Cola ad. Drawn to the cross-cultural potential of Chinoiserie’s single ‘The Anthem,’ an advertising agency contacted Onra about using the song for a special commercial to be aired during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and featuring animated versions of Yao Ming and Lebron James.

Slightly shy about his brush with consumer culture, Onra dismisses the exposure the ad has brought him as the type of nonsense only relevant in the world of marketing. “The song you hear in the commercial is not mine, just a copy,” he says, clearly preferring to speak more about a more personal project: the follow-up to Chinoiserie, 1.0.8., this time inspired by a vinyl-digging trip to India.

Unlike Chinoiserie, the Indian samples (primarily from Bollywood soundtracks) aren’t the main protagonists in 1.0.8. – instead, the Bollywood sounds play a background role under heavy use of synths and reconstructed beats. Onra admits being heavily influenced by the late, revered hip-hop producer J Dilla, taking notes from his organic production style and soulful mixes. “Jay Dee was a musical genius to me,” he says. “He kept on evolving in his time and was always dope. When I found out about him I was like ‘This is it!’ – this was [the style] I was looking for, but couldn’t put a name on it.”

With plans to hit as many countries as possible in 2009, Onra’s own thirst for the next experience is far from quenched, though. A second Chinoiserie album is in the works (as well as two other releases), and the crate-digger is eager to see what fruits his debut China visit might yield, even despite China’s lack of pre-opening music options. “That’s an interesting challenge right there,” he says laughing. “I don’t know how I am gonna do it yet… but I’m sure there’s some stuff somewhere!” // Onra performs at The Shelter on July 25, RMB50, 9pm (6437 0400) www.myspace.com/onra 

Vinyl LPs selling at a record-setting pace

http://www.dfw.com/entertainment/story/151535.html

 

Vinyl LPs selling at a record-setting pace

Vinyl LPs haven’t lost their groove. In fact, albums still are selling at a record-setting pace.

dfw.com

 Sumter Bruton owns Record Town, which is in the TCU area of Fort Worth.   S-T Archives/Rodger Mallison

S-T Archives/Rodger Mallison

Sumter Bruton owns Record Town, which is in the TCU area of Fort Worth. S-T Archives/Rodger Mallison

 

Everywhere you turn, traditional media are dying.

Yet against all odds, a cumbersome, fussy and pricey method of consuming recorded music isn’t just surviving — it’s thriving.

Vinyl LPs, as has been breathlessly touted for months, are surprisingly resurgent in the midst of this analog twilight and the ascent of portable, digital technology.

Looking at the most complete sales data available (for 2008), the sales of vinyl LPs jumped an eye-popping 89 percent, from 990,000 units sold to 1.88 million units sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan’s year-end report.

The top-selling LP of 2008? Radiohead’s In Rainbows, which moved a little over 25,000 copies. Nothing to sneeze at, but by comparison, the top-selling nonvinyl album of the year, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III, moved nearly 3 million copies.

LPs were just a fraction of the year’s total music sales (less than 1 percent overall), but they nevertheless offer a flicker of hope — or a brief delay of the inevitable — for an industry that has seen nothing but bad news for years. Indeed, according to Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl LP sales are on course to top out at a record-setting 2.8 million units sold in 2009, a 50 percent increase from 2008’s total.

"People are truly embracing the warmth of the sound," says Chris Penn, manager of Dallas’ Good Records. "It’s becoming a 'Saturday night, I’m going to listen to records [thing].’ It’s kind of an event — that’s what I’m excited about. [The format] has a little more longevity with that kind of listening."

Vinyl may be enjoying a resurgence, but most record stores point out that the format never completely died. Customers simply were more taken with the cutting-edge formats like CD and MP3.

"Everything kind of goes around — no pun intended," says Record Town owner Sumter Bruton. "A lot of people never stopped buying albums."

Many industry analysts credit the rediscovery of vinyl as a boon to independent record stores like Record Town and Good Records. In fact, the vinyl renaissance helped spawn the nationwide "Record Store Day," a yearly event that features special singles and hard-to-find LPs in order to boost traffic for the mom-and-pop retailers.

"Vinyl never went away . . . the labels wanted you to believe it was dead so they could push another format," Penn says. "Now that the MP3 is the dominant thing, they’re trying to embrace anything that sells."

Indeed, major labels like Warner Brothers and Capitol are quietly offering major releases, along with high-quality archival re-releases, in the format (acts like Green Day, Metallica and Coldplay have all issued new albums on vinyl). The real action can be found on indie labels like Matador, Merge and Sub Pop, as well as local imprints like Denton’s Nova Posta Vinyl. Many of the smaller labels acknowledge the realities of consumer habits and often include coupons for free digital downloads of the album with each LP.

As vinyl’s availability increases — some Best Buy stores carry a limited stock of new and re-issued LPs — and the number of artists releasing music on vinyl also rises, how can you get into the game if you don’t know where to start? The proliferation of turntables alone — not to mention advice from hobbyists on message boards and blogs — is staggering and might be enough to entirely dissuade potential vinyl fanatics from taking the plunge.

With the help of some area experts, here are five tips to help the uninitiated take their first steps into the wonderfully retro world of gatefold covers, phonograph needles and endless bins of bargain vinyl.

Go analog

Before you can spin the black circle, you have to find the right equipment. While some vinyl newbies might luck into a family-owned turntable or stumble across a fortunate find on Craigslist, others often find themselves facing a plethora of decisions complicated by the fact that there’s really no right answer to the question "What’s the best turntable?" Certain brands — Technics, Numark, Audio-Technica — are preferred by the hard-core LP lovers and professional DJs who need heavy-duty equipment to mix and scratch, but since price tags can range from $100 to north of $100,000, it’s merely a matter of budget. Most music-oriented brick-and-mortar stores carry at least a few turntables, and Internet retailers often stock a variety of decks.

Record Town owner Bruton says it’s "real easy to find turntables" and suggests checking garage sales for bargains. Even if you end up with a partially functioning unit, Bruton says his store, among others, carries components like replacement needles. Bill’s Records owner Bill Wisener points to the Technics SL-1200 MK2 as a sturdy entry point (it retails for about $450), but many might be tempted by the USB port-augmented turntables, like the Ion brand, offered by some record stores. "The turntable will sound as good as the sound system you’re plugging into," says Good Records’ Penn. "The more money you invest, the better it’s going to sound."

Older turntables may also need an amplifier (more commonly found in home theater receivers these days) and external speakers.

Have a care

Once you start accumulating LPs and singles, the music can quickly pile up. While leaving records scattered about is OK if you’re listening to them, don’t leave your copy of Led Zeppelin II lying around long-term without a sleeve on. If your turntable doesn’t come with one, find an anti-static vinyl LP brush and/or a record cleaning kit ( Amazon.com, among other online and brick-and-mortar retailers, carries them). The brush helps cut down on debris and dust that can work its way into the record’s grooves, leading to skips, pops and warbles. Records should be stored vertically, with the LPs preferably in paper sleeves.

Bookshelves and stand-alone shelving (Penn recommended products from Ikea) are fine, but many like to store LPs in crates for easy transport. Although garden-variety milk crates will suffice, the Container Store offers a crate (the "Supreme" crate, $12.99) that’s tailored to the height, width and depth of full-size LPs. "They do last like cockroaches, if you take care of ’em," Penn says.

Whip out your wallet

iTunes has a little flexibility in pricing and everyone is comfortable shelling out $12-$15 for a new CD, but when it comes to LPs, all bets are off. The pricing of used, as well as new, vinyl can vary from store to store and state to state (case in point: the Flaming Lips’ 2006 record At War With the Mystics is a double LP that cost nearly $10 more in a Metroplex shop than it did at an Oklahoma City retailer), which has everything to do with the whims of the local marketplace and less to do with the demands of the market. "You can spend anywhere from a dollar on a used copy of Frampton Comes Alive or upwards of $40-$50 on a really good pressing," says Penn. "It can turn into an expensive hobby."

The prices of used vinyl can fluctuate greatly — the death of Michael Jackson sent fans scrambling to get their hands on old copies of Off the Wall and Thriller, which in turn spiked prices on eBay — but Wisener says it’s sites such as eBay that give consumers greater power than ever before. "I have people call me thinking they have a record that’s worth something," Wisener says. "So I have to just tell them in a way that’s not raining on their parade: 'Go to eBay and go to the completed side; [that’s] what things actually sell for.’ "

Hear that?

Those used to CDs and MP3s might be in for a bit of a shock the first time they drop the needle on a LP — the immersive warmth and rich detail of vinyl can border on revelatory for a generation raised on digital portability. "A lot of people think it sounds better [and] it does have a bass-y sound to it, a different sound than a CD does," says Record Town’s Bruton. "If you’re used to those small things you put in your ears, you’re missing out on a lot."

All but the hardest of hearing would deny the quick comparisons to, say, Elton John’s classic hit Someone Saved My Life Tonight. The MP3 is hushed and somewhat thin, while the vinyl Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (the album that includes Tonight) envelopes the listener with John’s plaintive vocals and provides an "oomph" the digital incarnations lack. But remember, the records will only sound as good as the equipment playing them, so if little money is spent, don’t expect the results to sound like a million bucks.

Buy what you love

The hipster crowd might sneer if you pass up that Jesus & Mary Chain singles box, but if it’s not something you’re prepared to sit with and truly absorb — remember, no skip or shuffle feature here! — then think twice before plunking down the cash to acquire an album on vinyl.

"I always say for people to get what they like, rather than think about good investments," says Wisener.

Most die-hard vinyl addicts will tell you it’s all about the thrill of the hunt, diving into bin after bin of used records in hopes of unearthing a gem. As with most great things in life, the journey is more important than the destination.

"LPs are more of an art piece, a gallery item," says Penn. "For some people, it’s a little bit of the novelty of it. It’s just something a little different. It’s not for everybody."

Wisener, who has been in the retail business for more than 40 years, says he feels that records are something to be treasured, discussed and, most importantly, enjoyed. "To me, it’s more of a personal thing," he says. "It’s like music itself; it’s a means to communicate."


Where to go Bill’s Records

 

1317 S. Lamar St., Dallas

214-421-1500; www.billsrecords.com

Doc’s Records & Vintage

2111 Montgomery St.

Fort Worth, TX

817-732-5455; www.myspace.com/docsrecordsandvintage

Forever Young Records

2955 Texas 360 S, Grand Prairie

972-352-6299; www.foreveryoungrecords.com

Good Records

1808 Greenville Ave., Dallas

214-752-4663

www.goodrecords.com

Record Town

3025 S. University Drive, Fort Worth

817-926-1331

Zero.1 is a record player that hides CDs in its belly

 http://dvice.com/archives/2009/05/zero1-is-a-reco.php

Zero.1 is a record player that hides CDs in its belly

Zero.1 is a record player that hides CDs in its belly

Vinyl records, despite being a relatively ancient media format, still has its fans, which is why albums are still released on the format. And CDs, while on the way out, are still the main way music is sold. The Zero.1 is a way to play both formats on the same device.

The clever player has a space for a CD right below where a record would sit, allowing you to choose which format to listen to. And in order to keep it a bit more relevant to these times, it also plays MP3s. Of course.

 

up coming LP releases Part 1

Upcoming major releases

CHICAGO/CHICAGO II 2LP April 21, 2009  WEA LP* (2LP)

RAMONES/IT'S ALIVE 180g 2LP March 3, 2009  AUDIO FIDELITY 180g LP* (2LP)

U2/NO LINE ON THE HORIZON 180g 2LP Limited to 7500 copies March 3, 2009  UNIVERSAL 180g LP* (2LP)

PEARL JAM/TEN 180g 2LP March 24, 2009  SONY 180g LP* (2LP)

THE BEE GEES/ODESSA 180g 2LP Limited to Only 3,000 Copies Worldwide!  March 24, 2009  WEA 180g LP*

BLACK SABBATH/DEHUMANIZER 180g LP February 24, 2009  WB/RHINO 180g LP

BLACK SABBATH/MOB RULES 180g LP  February 24, 2009  WB/RHINO 180g LP

BLACK SABBATH/HEAVEN AND HELL 180g LP  February 24, 2009  WB/RHINO 180g LP

BLACK SABBATH/LIVE EVIL 180g 2LP February 24, 2009  WB/RHINO 180g LP* (2LP

CARLY SIMON/NO SECRETS 180g LP March 2009 1/2 Speed Mastered at Friday Music Studios

 RAY CHARLES/WHAT'D I SAY 180g LP  May 2009 half-speed mastered  WEA/FRIDAY MUSIC 180g LP

ALICE COOPER/SCHOOL'S OUT 180g LP  1/2 Mastered  May 2009  WEA/FRIDAY MUSIC 180g LP

SEALS & CROFTS/SUMMER BREEZE 180g LP May 2009  WEA/FRIDAY MUSIC 180g LP

Jewish America on Vinyl

http://www.jewishjournal.com/music/article/collectors_recover_lost_era_of_jewish_america_on_vinyl_20081203/

 

Collectors recover lost era of Jewish America on vinyl

Born into the traditions of both Modern Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism, Josh Kun grew up on the streets of Pico-Robertson trying hard not to stand out.

Still, Kun (who today calls himself a typical "dysfunctioning Los Angeles Jew") admits he was one of the few teenage boys to coast the neighborhood wearing hip-hop gear.

"That tug-of-war between secularism and the expectation of religiosity or the expectation of tradition, that tug was a big one in my life," Kun said in a recent interview.

Now a journalism professor at USC, Kun has found a way to meld his passion for music with the traditions with which he was raised. Namely, by discovering lost pieces of Jewish history through — of all things — vinyl records.

While other music fanatics visit Hollywood's nightclubs to discover groundbreaking music, Kun rummages through countless bins at places like the National Council of Jewish Women's thrift shop looking for Jewish records of the past. But he hasn't done it alone.

Roger Bennett, a lawyer from England and co-author of their new book, "And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost" (Crown, $24.95), is also guilty of giving in to record-collecting pleasures.

Kun insists that putting together the 11-chapter book filled with hundreds of little-known album covers has been serious business.

"We realized we had this collection of stories that collectively added up to a whole other history," Kun said.

Specifically, Kun believes these albums can help listeners understand the three dominant narratives of postwar Jewish life — assimilation, the birth of Israel and the Holocaust — and also help to create new ones.

With chapters titled, "The Yiddish Are Coming: How Vinyl Kept a Dying Language Alive" and "Me Llamo Steinberg: The Jewish Latin Craze," it's not difficult to imagine the new tales these records may have in store for audiences.

But Kun says there are also plenty of questions he and Bennett are still asking.

"Who runs out to the store and says, 'Oh, I can't wait to get home, pour myself a drink, sit back, finish dinner with the family and listen to "Six-Day War,"'?" Kun asks.

In addition to including lavish album covers from the 1950s, '60s and beyond, Kun and Bennett also asked the likes of music critic Ann Powers, actress Sandra Bernhard, TV pioneer Norman Lear and others to write for the book about what they hear when they listen to the music.

Whether it involves forgotten Jewish artists like the Barry Sisters, who belted out a Yiddish version of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"; Johnny Yune, a Korean immigrant who got caught up in New York's Israeli club scene and learned how to sing Hebrew and Yiddish songs, eventually putting out a record; or Nat King Cole's rendition of "Nature Boy," a song that takes its melodic riff from an old Yiddish tune, friends, critics and music geeks chime in.

And Kun himself admits to having become a sincere fan of the old albums he has discovered.

"There are those that are kinda the research tools, and then there are those that bleed over to gotta get them on the iPod," he said.

Three Web sites, Reboot Stereophonic, And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl and Idelsounds, also offer fans of the records an opportunity to explore the music further.

Reboot Stereophonic, whose motto is "history sounds different when you know where to start listening," is a nonprofit record label that reissues the records featured in the book in CD format. Idelsounds offers a discussion forum that allows new conversations about the music to happen. Eventually, the three sites will become one, offering fans a one-stop hub on the Web, streaming the music online, in addition to combining the other features of the sites.

Kun and Bennett are also in the process of tracking down the artists who are still alive to talk about the music they once made.

All in all, Kun said, the project is about capturing a piece of history.

"We want to have these stories preserved before they go away," he said.

Still, it's impossible to separate Kun's and Bennett's boyhood passion for music from their current endeavor.

"If they played this at synagogue, we never would have left," they write in the book.

Josh Kun will be participating in a game of "Name That Tune" with Leonard Nimoy at a book signing on Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

For more information, visit
http://www.trailofourvinylbook.blogspot.com/
http://www.rebootstereophonic.com and
http://www.idelsounds.com

ALTTEXT

http://www.jewishjournal.com/music/article/collectors_recover_lost_era_of_jewish_america_on_vinyl_20081203/