Record Store Day 2018


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Maribou says:

    I forget what it was now, but the other day I saw an exclusive release from a pretty mainstream artist that I really like … “vinyl-first!” — but you also get a digital download.

    I was honestly tempted to buy it and put the record up on my wall, as art… but I didn’t. Felt like that would be sacrilegious to my vast host of record-playing memories in some way, to buy one I know I won’t actually play….. but it was a close call.Report

    • Vinyl had pretty much given way to tapes by the time I was growing up, and then CD’s of course. But my dad still had the old record stereo system down in the basement that works. It say on top of this old dresser, and the drawers were full of records: early rock-n-roll, lots of the vocal groups like Temptations, Platters, Spinners, a ton of 70’s R&B music with some country thrown in. It contrasted so much to the music I was hearing in the late 80’s and through the 90s it made an impression. I know the vinyl enthusiast long insisted the records sounded better, and that no doubt was true with early 8-track/cassett tapes, but these days with the quality of streaming my philistine ear cannot tell a difference. So like you if I got a record it would mostly be decoration or collection.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    My son is a record store haunter. Will always search them out to increase his collection of vinyl. For he loves all things music, being a former music director of his college radio station, KCPR. Vinyl is the hight of recorded music, hitting aficionados in the sweet spot of being active in the listening (dropping the needle, flipping the disc) with being closer to the artists’ complete vision of the album, with sides and cover art.

    It’s similar to stick shifts and hardback books, two things I enjoy.Report

    • I enjoy stick shifts and hardback books, I just generationally missed having that same connection to records as I was tape and then CD’s in my teens. Streaming has all but killed album covers and booklet work, so it is a good point to raise there. Pre-internet that was about the extent of information on an album you were going to get.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        The covers, records as well as hardbacks, are such defining aspects of the work that gets missed in the age of downloads and streaming. I don’t know how old you are, but as a 47yo I did grow up in the change over time, vinyl being diminished as tapes and then CD’s becoming the norm. I missed the download era of Napster and all that, but I do enjoy streaming music.

        But I do feel that something is lost in that. Patton Oswalt had a good piece years ago in Wired, and the gist of it was that if you were into a bit of culture subscene, you had to go deep to find the bits and pieces of it, and in the process you really became part of that community. It took a lifetime to put together all of Lovecraft’s stories, now all of them are on one website. If you wanted the latest punk records, you subscribed to Maximum Rock and Roll and bought 7″ from the back pages, taking a huge risk it was crap, but maybe it was groundbreaking and fresh.

        Something is lost in the streaming and ability to try anything, and that might be a bigger issue than we think.Report

        • I’m roughly ten years younger than you. I agree that something is lost, but the flip side is there is also a positive. Streaming opens up a lot of music I would have otherwise never been exposed too. My children fall in love with the most amazing array of music since a Pandora or Spotify will throw out random stuff. Its gratifying to me, anyway, when like all kids that age they are singing along to whatever pop hit is popular but then they are like “Oh I like this” to some Chi-lites and start singing along to “oh, girl” or a GunsNRoses song. It isn’t all bad, just different.Report

        • Avatar jason says:

          @aaron-david I’m a year younger than you. My first album was Kiss Alive 2 (I was in first grade I think–it was the make up and costumes). By the time I was in middle school and starting to like music on my own, cassette tapes were in, and everyone was buying walkmans or knockoffs (it was knockoffs for me; Sony’s cost too much).

          The sound argument for vinyl always makes me chuckle a bit because I remember how we (my friends and I) were all amazed by the quality of CD sound. The sales folks at Circuit City would always play the start of Pink Floyd’s “Money” to potential customers. And you could play the same three songs a thousand times and the sound wouldn’t change! Progress, man.

          I do like how easy it is to make “mix-tapes” with I-tunes. And I’m gonna cry when my old school ipod dies because I’m not getting an iphone.Report

          • My metal cased I-pod mini that I got for a deployment in ’05 still works just fine, just cant update or interface with it any longer. It is almost like my own little music time machine in some ways, frozen in that period of my life since I cannot alter the music on it. I’m not a huge fan or member of the Apple cult, but that thing did two long tours to Iraq, lots of other travel, and has been darn near bullet-proof.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

            I still use my Ipod. When the last one died a few years ago, I went into a Mac Store. This was after they stopped production. I was able to buy one (they had them for sale but not display) and there is no Apple Care. I wonder if that is still true.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      It’s interesting that you are discussing the “complete vision of the album” and note sides and cover art but make no mention of music videos and live shows.Report

      • Avatar jason says:

        I remember music videos–I think I stayed up at a family friend’s house to watch MTV start. I say “I think” because my memory may not be correct; maybe we were just watching it the first day. I miss music videos sometimes; that kind of channel would be good background while working or doing chores around the house.

        re: Blockbuster–I remember before blockbuster, every convenience store had a video section. My friend and I would rent a different horror movie every weekend. Blockbuster was great at first, before it started stockpiling new releases and skimping on the selection of other movies.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Artists are still making music videos. They’re not on MTV but they are out there. Some (Kanye immediately springs to mind) clearly treat them as an essential part of his art.Report

          • If anything, I think music videos and more interactive mediums like that have improved. MTV was the initial platform, but also was a chokepoint and arbiter of what was acceptable and going to be seen. No doubt the Artist that treasure their expression and freedom now would have chaffed at the days when negotiating with Viacom about what they would/would not show on air was part of the creative process.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @kazzy And not just song-by-song, either, but even the concept of an album is coming back through video throughline – the videos tying the songs together (cf Beyonce’s Lemonade).Report

            • Avatar jason says:

              Yeah, and now that I’ve thought about it a bit more, I guess YouTube is the venue for music videos (as I’ve watched a bunch myself).Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              I mentioned below that this seems concentrated in rap and hip-hop but also conceded that that’s my preferred genre so there may be some selection bias at work.

              Then again, when I think of who is doing this… Beyonce, Kanye, and Kendrick all spring to mind so maybe it is less about the genre and more about phenomenal artists tend to do phenomenal things.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        Hrrmm, I had meant to put in something about the recorded sound, not the live sound (the best way to hear music) but that part of my thought process got left on the cutting room floor. As far as video goes, that isn’t a part of the genre that I personally am interested in and tend to ignore that aspect of an artists oeuvre. And maybe that puts me in the same place as those who don’t care about covers. I don’t know. But thinking about it, most of the music I am listening to that is contemporaneous doesn’t really have much in the way of video attached to it. More likely it is a simple recording (and one of many) shot live. A point of time, more or less.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Yea, I got to wondering… when I think of the artists who seem to be doing most with video and live performance, it seems predominantly rap and hip-hop. That could be because of a number of things (if it is even true… that also tends to be the music I most listen to)… but it makes me think that vinyl might have been the height of recorded music for a particular genre but far from universal.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            I would go with that. I think different genres lend themselves to different recording/performing types, which is something when generalizing as I did to keep in account.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              Current artists also grew up with the visual medium as part of their music consumption so may have a very differently relationship with it.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @kazzy EDM/electronica, also, is doing really interesting visual stuff. Have you seen Grimes’ new video? (The one ft Janelle Monae, that Grimes directed herself.)Report

            • That Grimes video got some attention this past week just for the screen shot of the costumes, though few provided context of the music.
              Few EDM videos that come to mind (mild content warning on a few of these):
              First of the Year-Skrillex which is creepy but utilizes synching the beat as part of the story, something that drives me crazy when not done right and the video and song isnt synched.
              DJ Snake does a Indian Firefighers-meets Magical Mystery tour type thing, stick with it to the drop at 2:25 when it goes surreal and the visuals become movie-quality
              And Avicii, who just died over the weekend, consistently had some out-there video concepts, like this one, that never would have ran on MTV of old.Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @andrew-donaldson I’d be curious to see more about the Grimes video if you happen to have the links handy – I know that Monae’s video PYNK (ft Grimes) got a ton of costume attention, but hadn’t heard the reverse…

                Great EDM examples. (I won’t even blame you for me just this second learning that Skrillex is now involved in producing K-Pop singles… must. avoid. the. rabbithole. of. k-pop.)Report

              • It is the PYNK video I flipped the artist/Ft my apologies. Skrillex is an interesting guy, he actually started out in a metal band, and has worked with everyone from the remaining members of The Doors, to Korn several times, to Junior Gong Marley.
                And I avoid k-pop quite easily; much like when they open the Ark of the Covenant, just close your eyes and don’t look, no matter what happens…Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:


    We’re about the same age it seems (I turn 35 this summer). What I’d love to see is Blockbuster Night. I was just talking with a friend about the joy we all shared spending more time wandering the aisles of Blockbuster as teenagers arguing over what movie to pick than we did actually watching the film. That was such an experience. Coupled with the inevitable candy fight in the check-out line after you THOUGHT the hard part was over.

    Once a year we should all gather with our high school friends and visit a pop-up Blockbuster and relive that experience.Report

    • We didn’t rate a blockbuster in our little town, but had locally owned so you had to behave or you folks got a straight phone call. I distinctly remember my father renting a VCR and bringing it along with movies home to watch, the first time I ever saw one. Top loading VCR, with westerns for the folks and Lucky Luke in Daisy Town for me. How in the world I remember that I don’t know, but I do. Brought it home in a padded bag that looked like the pizza delivery bags do now. Few times of that he finally bought our own.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I am an interesting generation here. I was born in 1980. My parents had (and still have) a record player but almost all of the music I ever bought was on CD. The only exception is some tapes during the late 1980s. But I do remember record stores. I remember Tower Records, Sam Goody, and Virgin Megastore. i remember the dearly departed Kim’s on the Lower East Side.

    Amoeba Music and Rasputin seem to still thrive. Or at least they survive. I haven’t been in for a while but I do love the jam-packed nature of Amoeba Music at the end of Haight Street in SF.Report

    • I was born in 80 as well. I did buy tapes but it was because they were so much cheaper as CD’s were taking over, then all CD’s of course. A few of the “chain” record stores came and went but nothing that really captured the imagination. Nothing in my hometown like Budget Tapes & Records, which still is stereotypical of the classic record store, so it was always a treat to get to go there.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Tower Records was probably the only decent chain because they went out of their way to higher knowledgeable staff. Most other places did not care. Tower was always respected. But they never got a handle on e-commerce and streaming and eventually went bust.

        Interestingly they still have a presence in Japan but apparently Japan never went for streaming like Americans did. I was in college when Napster busted onto the scene.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          According to Brandon, Japan’s copyright laws regarding music are such a hash that streaming is next to legally impossible. The Japanese love their hi-tech gadgets. My first really portable music player, a minidisc, was purchased during my junior year abroad in Japan. They would love to stream music. They just have a bunch of lawyers to work around first.Report

  5. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    It must have been ’76 or ’77, I had a friend in high school who was the class oddball. He used to go to these little clubs in Hollywood and sneak in to watch the new bands.
    At the time, I was busy buying 8-tracks of John Denver, Neil Diamond, and the Eagles.

    The mid-70s was that period after the war, when the veterans of the 60s would give us young’uns lectures about how the Real Authentic Stuff all happened before our time, like how Real Music was Cream and Hendrix and the Stones, not this imitation crap we had like AC/DC or Foghat.

    One day my friend had me listen to a bootleg 45 that someone had managed to press, of a group he saw playing a song called “Beat On The Brat With a Baseball Bat”. It was like being jacked into a portal to some alien planet, something weird and wonderful and scary. It was different and Real, not like some guys pretending to be Jimmy Page or Clapton but being something else. I was instantly hooked and as soon as I could find them, bought 8-tracks of Blondie, The Clash, and The Ramones.

    I finally tossed those 8-tracks 2 years ago when we moved. Apparently tech-nostalgia didn’t include 8-tracks.Report

    • 8-tracks did go down the memory hole, but I did see a rather creative DIY youtube video where someone had figured out how to rewire the old 8-track cassette converters so they could play their IPhones through their super ’70s car audio systems. Ingenuity is an amazing thing.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      I finally tossed those 8-tracks 2 years ago when we moved. Apparently tech-nostalgia didn’t include 8-tracks.

      Never bought 8-tracks, probably because I didn’t own a car during their heyday.

      A few summers ago I spent a bunch of time and ripped every piece of vinyl and every cassette I could find in the house to CD. The tapes went to the large used books/records/tapes/CDs store nearby. The vinyl is back in the basement. I pointed them out to my son once; at least he didn’t laugh when I told him, “Someday these will all be yours, the turntable’s on the shelf over there.”Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Part of the nostalgia for record stores is about the loss of the commons and common spaces. Record stores used to be where you hung out and occasionally bought records. Human beings need spaces like that and the retail chains are generally opposed to hanging out. Here in Hamilton, Ontario, we have at least ten record stores that I can think of and none of them are retail chains, but they seem to do well. My hangout is Hammer City Records. I buy most of my records there but also spend a few afternoons a week on a stool there drinking the occasional beer and discussing local politics. My grandparents used to own a hardware store where men stood around drinking coffee and talking and occasionally bought hammers and nails. These places are the backbone of local communities, something that can’t be replicated online.Report