The hiss of revolving vinyl is one of life’s great pleasures that genuinely seems to get better with age. That’s both our ages (ours and the record!): in the wake of mass streaming, physical LPs have seen a huge spike in popularity, because owning a physical hard copy in such a nostalgically large but slick form (often with cool photos and a lyrics sleeve!) allows us to treasure our favourite artists forever. Besides, what if Apple, Spotify, Napster and the like accidentally and permanently delete their servers and their backups?! (its been done before). Shock, horror… and a nice refund. Still, we’d rather have the best of both worlds- a world where digital and vinyl co-exist.
As we celebrate the return of International Record Store Day on the 16th April, let’s take a look at the origins of this event, and the booming popularity of records that has once again grabbed the world by storm. But first, a ‘Did you know?’ – Vinyl LP Sales in 2014 topped 1 million; its highest level since 1996 and better than it was in some areas since the 80’s! Any guesses as to what band holds the top UK spot for Vinyl sales in the last 20 years? Its Oasis’s ‘Whats the Story Morning Glory’. ‘Abbey Road’ by the Beatles held the Top Spot in the US from 2009 – 2011 (3 years) selling over 110 000 copies. Adele popped over the pond last year (2015) and topped the charts with 116 000 Vinyls sold! And we’re talking Vinyls here.
The Sound of Nostalgia
Music lovers have changed their tune from the heyday of the CD – if you’re going to cherish the artists you love, you’re likely searching for the rawest distillation of their sound. Record players can give you that wonderful feeling that you are in the same room as a band striking its very first chord.
Authenticity has become hard to find which is why the vinyl revival is proving such a hit with the masses. Owning a record collection and retro record player is seen by many as the epimone of muscial authenticity. What may surprise you is that this retrophilia is alive and screaming on the third Saturday of every April. International Record Store Day, far from being the one-off love-in some predicted back in 2007, has blossomed into an institution, encouraging record collectors around the world to queue up for limited edition releases and generally shout about their hobby as much as they can.
The Rise of International Record Store Day
Founded at a brainstorming session in Baltimore, the annual event is a lifeline for small record stores fighting for their place on the high street. Michael Kurtz, the architect of the original meeting for International Record Store Day was determined to fight the crippling effects of piracy and streaming services on his business, which had recently forced the closure of the once famous Tower Records in California.
Michael envisioned a day that could rescue the humble record shop from decline – a community driven day, where people can share decades of music knowledge across generations. Today, each store chooses how to celebrate, with special guest appearances, competitions and (of course) a continuum of great tunes to soundtrack the madness.
Metallica, oddly enough, were the first band to officially promote the day. Their huge profile in the U.S sparked around 300 participant businesses for the first go-round, while the UK responded modestly with stores in Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Leeds catching the party bug. Over the years, Record Store Day has gotten bigger and more diverse, with artists like R.E.M and Wilco rubbing shoulders with Vampire Weekend and Boards of Canada, bridging all tastes, creeds, and hairstyles in the quest for vinyl heaven. There is a real sense of communion that speaks volumes for how much people want to explore the past and the future of recorded music.
Retro Music Essentials
Kurtz’s original dream has created a retro storm amoungst newly emerging artists; although music is still thriving online, small-town bands once again have the goal of publishing a 7inch single as a badge of honour. Here at Cuckooland, we are the official home of retro gifts and we have plenty of options to get your ears prepped for April 16th and beyond. GPO has a brilliant range of record players to choose from: bound in leather, their Attache Record Player is built into a suitcase for a portable spin on a classic. They come with the now-standard USB transfer port, with a free USB stick that allows you to enjoy your favourite vinyl at home and on the go. The twin stereo output will bring you the warmest sounds in full, panoramic clarity; a must for any music hound. And even better, you can plug your favourite speakers in and boom blast that beautiful scratchy original sound.
Looking for a more substantial record player that will be the highlight of your retro-themed lounge or dining room? Go back to basics with a 60’s-inspired turntable; we love the GPO Bermuda Record Player in red and cream, a superb gift for any self-respecting nostalgist keen to have a talking point in their home.
As your music library grows, you’ll need a storage case befitting your collection. Here, GPO again comes up trumps, with a Vinyl Storage Case available in black, blue or brown that can comfortably hold up to 45 records. The elegant box design will protect your albums while giving them that touch of obsessive professionalism that makes great geeks of us all.
Turn Up The Volume
In the spirit of International Record Store Day, remember that you shouldn’t limit yourself to one way of listening. Discovery is in the blood of everything our local record retailers want to accomplish; celebrate that with a vintage-style Rydell Four-Band Radio, and you can leap into the airwaves with style, surfing to your heart’s content on this striking black and cream device.
For retro lovers who still like to incorporate digital clarity, the VIFA’s Copenhagen Wireless Speakers have a minimalist, artful texture. They’re fully wi-fi compatible and extremely loud for their size: two low-frequency woofers ensure you’ll feel every tremble of bass, every soaring note escaping from the fine fibre finish.
Don’t miss out on one of the most important dates in the audiophile calendar by getting in tune in time. You can take a gander at our full catalogue of retro record players and audio accessories to inspire your search for music essentials. After all, the thrill of hunting and finding a hidden gem is part and parcel of the International Record Store Day’s ethos, as it is with browsing the Web or searching through our wacky little site!