Sound Carrier Snobbery
We have a 1960s stereogram in our house, mocked by some in the vinyl wilderness years when CD was their god – but now an impressive feature or so I’m told, because vinyl is so flipping trendy again. A wooden coffin on legs, with a lid like Arkwright’s till, you have to watch your fingers, it cost ten pounds nearly twenty years ago, going strong in 2015 (and for £375 in some shops – get us).
Vinyl is fashionable now and the ultimate sound carrier.
Only it isn’t.
Sound carrier snobbery is an odd little hobby to have, one I don’t have time for. Life is too short.
I like a vinyl record because I know it will be there forever. When I buy an LP it will live in my house with me. There is no subsequent home for records I buy. They’re a love match, always. They won’t break if I handle them with careful fingers, which I do.
I like the other sound carriers too. CDs are as cheap as chips now because no one else loves them anymore. It’s tragic. Ok, the cases crack and grey with age, the booklets crease, they’re awkward to store and my friends are deserting me, one by one, ditching their CDs and going digital but I get goose bumps at the thought. To me it’s a joy to close my eyes, run my fingers along a shelf of CDs and pluck one to play, without checking what it is. Like a lucky dip, but I know it’s going to be boss because I bought the thing in the first place. It’s sad to see people offloading their CDs; heart breaking; MP3s are nice but they give me nothing to hold.
Cassettes are hated by everybody, and yet earn grudging love too. I hear love and hate are pretty close together, each makes one’s pulse race in the wrist, but still; how can anyone get emotional about a box of plastic? No? You don’t? Only me, then. Take everything annoying about CDs and duplicate it by a thousand, the artwork is tiny, you need a magnifying glass to make out the track listing, and the tapes tangle. And yet…I can’t quit them. Cassettes are making a comeback. I was at Sofar Sounds http://www.sofarsounds.com/liverpool in June, singer songwriter Emilio Pinchi brandishing cassette tapes left over from Sound City. Tapes are the new vinyl. Why not, though? Embrace the DIY aesthetic, keep it cheap. Be powered by post punk. You know it’s the right thing to do.
Each sound carrier is problematic; and so much to complain about with each one, which we do, often; we enjoy the moan. But there’s so much to love. The sound quality of one is no better than the others, vinyl included, not for at home listening anyway. If it’s just you and the tunes, even with cassettes the quality is negligible. If you care for them properly, that is. Rewind that cassette after every play or you’re asking for trouble. Give your CDs a kiss and say good night, please. Pray or issue a courtly nod to your vinyl LPs or we’ll have hurt feelings on our hands.
Whoever says one sound carrier is king is wrong, selling you a hipster authenticity lie. Don’t listen to them, these people are drinking home brew from jam jars and eschewing plates in favour of slate or a shovel. They know nothing. Ignore them; you’ll feel all the better for it.
Cassette Store Day is on Saturday 18th October. The largest collection of cassette tape albums on Merseyside is held at Skeleton Records, Birkenhead.
October’s Vinyl Station takes place on at Metal at Edge Hill station on 12th October; this month’s listen is Fading Frontiers by Deerhunter. Free tickets: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/vinyl-station-deerhunters-fading-frontiers-tickets-18652313572
Book of the Fortnight – This is my tip on what I think you should read!
Blood Salt Water, by Denise Mina. Mina won Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year two years running, in 2013 and 2014, and many thought she’d complete the hat trick with Blood Salt Water. She came close, but no cigar. However this tremendous book – all of her novels hit the spot – contains everything you want in crime fiction, deception, lies and power; and a deep black Scottish loch to hide a body in.
What I’m listening to, and you should as well…
Charlemagne by Blossoms.
Psychedelic-pop five piece Blossoms are from Stockport, but with James Skelly ex of The Coral producing and recording them at our very own Parr St studios, I reckon we can take these as our own. Honorary Scousers at the very least, Blossoms played The Kazimier earlier in the year to a full house and quite right too. They keep releasing the best pop tunes – Blow, Cut Me And I’ll Bleed, Blown Rose, You Pulled A Gun On Me; so resistance really is futile.
The new EP Charlemagne is pre-orderable on iTunes, out on 30th Oct; you can hear the title track on Spotify now. Blossoms play Liverpool O2 Academy on Friday (9th Oct).