Record Stores Revinylize OC

The vinyl boom is fueling a resurgence of record retailers

"Just trying to keep up with it all is something I'm working to be disciplined about," he says.

Macy, whose father was a non-denominational Christian pastor, grew up in a strict household that frowned on rock & roll music, though he does remember his dad having an LP of Led Zeppelin IV, which Macy keeps on a shelf at home. "I treasure that," he says, "my dad's fucked-up sin." He estimates he has around 5,000 LPs in his personal collection and a penchant for vintage records featuring trumpet players posed next to sultry, curvaceous women. As a kid, he remembers wanting to own a record store: "I wanted a store with velvet bins."

*     *     *

Dorris, left, and Melanie Lynn Thompson browse Creme Tangerine's selection of records inside 
its trailer
Miguel Vasconcellos
Dorris, left, and Melanie Lynn Thompson browse Creme Tangerine's selection of records inside its trailer
Creme Tangerine co-owners Parker Macy, top, and Jonathon Staph turned a refurbished vintage trailer into a record store at The Lab
Miguel Vasconcellos
Creme Tangerine co-owners Parker Macy, top, and Jonathon Staph turned a refurbished vintage trailer into a record store at The Lab

Rand Foster opened Fingerprints Music in Long Beach 19 years ago, and he continues to run it today. His store represents the epitome of hi-fidelity cool: hip digs, well-stocked, knowledgeable staff.

An open space that lets in a flood of natural light through skylights, the high ceilings sport criss-crossed two-by-fours; an assemblage of autographed posters signed by bands who have played in the store adorns the exposed-brick walls. Though the aisles are full of new and used CDs, LPs and kitschy rock & roll action figures, the space more closely resembles a trendy SoHo loft than a music retailer.

This past Record Store Day, the Foo Fighters played here for a small crowd of fans granted access after pre-ordering the band's new LP through the store. And though he's riding the current wave of interest in vinyl, it's clear from Foster's store's history, even after the format was eclipsed by other options, it never completely went away.

"About 10 years ago, my staff came to me, thinking about getting rid of all the records, that it would give us so much more room for CDs," he explains. "I said, 'But then we can't say we're a record store.'"

Both Foster and Factory Records' Dave James have their own theories on the resurgence of vinyl.

James—who ran Costa Mesa's Noise, Noise, Noise until 2005—says the rise of the CD occurred at a unique time in music history. "I opened up Noise, Noise, Noise in 1991, and right after that, the rave movement came around, which really brought vinyl back in a big way. The DJ got really popular again, the underground hip-hop movement exploded, and the third wave of punk kind of brought vinyl back. Vinyl's really been a punk-rock thing also."

Foster attributes the boom of vinyl to the digital age. "We've entered an age when so much music is consumed digitally. If you don't want to consume music digitally, the LP makes so much more sense. It's a much better experience from what you hold in your hand to the sound experience to the larger artwork."

*     *     *

Other experts attribute the phenomenon to a mixture of factors.

In Los Angeles, Infrasonic Sound Mastering co-owner/mastering engineer Pete Lyman has worked with numerous indie artists who've released albums and EPs on vinyl for the past 10 years. He has worked on recordings for Matt and Kim, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, and People Under the Stairs, among others. He admits there's an element of novelty at play—but, he adds, going the vinyl route has a lot to do with artistic control.

"When we're mastering the record, artists are pretty specific about how they want the tracks to flow—the order, the spacing between the tracks. A lot of that gets lost when people are just putting their iPods on shuffle," he says.

And then there's selling the LP. "For a band on tour, it's another way to make money," Lyman says. "It's something to sell at the merch table unless you're selling a tiny drop card for MP3s, which is a great thing to do—it's just not as exciting as leaving with a slab of vinyl."

Christina Rentz, publicist for Arcade Fire's label, Merge Records, says it's usually the artists who insist on releasing records on vinyl. Still, it's been beneficial for the company. Vinyl releases by Mountain Goats, Telekinesis and Wye Oak were all very successful. "We're excited as music fans in the resurgence of vinyl," says Rentz. "It gives you more satisfaction to hold. Especially with the free digital download you get. You're still getting your iPod fix."

Exciting as it may be, new vinyl sales make up less than 1 percent of today's music market. If you look at graphs produced by the Recording Industry Association of America going back to 1973, the visual representation from vinyl at its peak to the current day fell sharply after 1982. That's when Sony Phillips developed the compact disc, effectively smashing the LP's supremacy. But for more than a century leading up to the year when Abba's The Visitors was mass-pressed on a 16-bit rainbow-infused disc, records were the bee's knees.

*     *     *

According to the Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound In the United States, the earliest device capable of recording and replaying audio was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The machine featured a brass, grooved cylinder around which metallic tinfoil containing audio information was placed. Though there's some discussion regarding the first audio recording to be played, many agree it was Edison's warbled voice singing the words "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

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15 comments
Adler Bloom
Adler Bloom

It is amazing to see how vinyl records popularity is growing steadily and it make perfect sense. As ever thing seems to be more virtual from friends to literature to music I feel that the audiophiles who are gravitating to vinyl's are seeking a more emotional connection to art and music. And with an emotional connection comes a tactile connection, we humans are simply built that way, we are made of flesh and bones after all and our discovery of the world from birth is built on touching things. Just watch any toddler discovering his or her world and you will see what I mean.

In the final battle between CD's and vinyl- the vinyl record will win out because there is absolutely no reason for CD's. Smart phones or Ipods hold music that can be listened to on the go or interfaced with car stereos. Those same kinds of media are docked into home stereo systems so why even have a CD. The vinyl record holds an entirely different place in people's hearts and minds. With vinyl the who process is reveled in like it was back when vinyl was the only music medium. Back in "the day' the vinyl LP served as a bridge of art, information and music. There was a concerted effort in the design aspect of the LP, of presenting the lyrics or other information just so. It also felt more personal, as young people tucked away in their bedroom and played their LP while reading liner notes and viewing the album art itself. For at least a moment, the LP felt like it was only theirs and in a sense it was. Nowadays, with a mouse click parents or whom ever can access the music but back in "the day" it just felt more special and maybe even more rebellious.

So as CD's become obsolete in the coming years and vinyl continues to gain popularity it is an ironic fact that vinyl will end of saving the Music Store. In fact, some day, you will see record stores again in neighborhoods all across the country with nary a CD in them but brimming with the glorious vinyl.

Spinningcollective
Spinningcollective

dear Miguel Ferguson,

thank you for mentioning in the very first paragraph that records are, in fact, polyvinyl chloride (PVC plastic), the bane of ecological and environmental conservationalists everywhere. Like many, I am a huge fan of vinyl records, but the effects of exposure to the extremely harmful chemicals (namely dioxin) used in the making of this coveted delivery device make me want to reconsider shellac, a natural polymer (and predecessor of PVC plastic) which was widely used in many manufacturing processes back in the day...

unless anyone has a better idea? did I mention PVC is also made from petroleum?-yeah, that too.

ps Elvis Costello recently released a very limited edition 78rpm on shellac via lupe-o-tone.

Excholo
Excholo

You Jerkoffs forgot about Dizzy's on Vinyl whose been at it for the past 15 motherfucking years on 7th st. in the LBC!!!

Lyndsey Lefebvre
Lyndsey Lefebvre

How do you not mention Pepperland Music in Orange in this article? They have been in OC forever...

Edimana
Edimana

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Soulhustlers
Soulhustlers

Good, people behind the decks with real knowledge again. MP3's don't tell the full story. My favorite Record Store thank god wasn't featured in this article. One word.... Bagatelle

metal_it_up
metal_it_up

Doesn't anyone know by now that anti-malls are for the pretty much wealthy to rich, why would you want to spend an extra $20 bucks on a t-shirt when you can go to Ebay and buy one thru the mail by dealing with the seller, I just bought a perfectly good Motorhead t-shirt for $10 bucks and they're selling them elsewhere for $30 bucks or more in some cases. It's rediculous that they're asking so much for the very same things because of the so called markups, I've seen some of these/those classic albums go for $30 bucks or more in those small record shops, so I go to places like Secondspin.com to get my stuff on CD, it doesn't have to be on a vinyl record. There are some albums that you can't get on vinyl, I also just bought a Steppenwolf 3 record set on CD (all three on 2 cd's) for 12 bucks and it would have cost me 40 bucks or more just to get 1 of them on a vinyl record. I also bought a 2 cd set of Amon Amarth (death metal) at SS for $10 bucks and it's some excellent stuff.

TKO Records
TKO Records

For sure vinyl's not for everyone, and I don't know where you've been shopping. BUT if you come on over and see us, we've got some Steppenwolf vinyl in KILLER condition that starts at $6.99- that's cheaper than a CD and cheaper than eBay prices, plus you don't have to mess around with shipping, and you can check out the condition before you buy!! Hope to see you - TKO Records, one of "those small record shops"

Sputnik
Sputnik

I have 78's produced in the 50's that sound as good now as they did back then. Time will tell, but the CD format has'nt yet been challenged to stand that test of time. Plus, where are all the cool labels that used to be, Dial, Okeh, etc. But, let's not argue over format; as FZ said so well - "Music is the Best."

Adler Bloom
Adler Bloom

Most experts acknowledge that data of any sort burned into CD's start to deteriorate in 10 years and all of us know how sketchy hard-drives are at standing the tests of time. As you say, vinyl (as long as it is not broken or severely marred) stands the test of time.

ginny
ginny

Love the cover.

TKO Records
TKO Records

Let's try that again.... Nice to see our friends at the OC Weekly continuing their support for the county's new independent Record Stores!! While all of the stores, new and old, mentioned in the article are noteworthy for sure, here are a few more to check out:

Mass Media Records in Costa Mesa- opened 2010

Left Of The Dial in Seal Beach- opened 2010

...and of course, US!!- TKO Records in Fountain Valley- opened 2007

MayhemInTheHood
MayhemInTheHood

A good old "vinyl is back" story, resurfacing again.

 
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