In a time when most music listeners have no real concept of music labels (why in the fuck would they care who put out Katy Perry’s latest single?), one might get the impression that the involved label has fallen by the wayside. Record labels exist to live behind the curtain and inaccessible to the listener, right?
The same could be said for the art of putting some tunes on vinyl and releasing it to the masses. Today’s home doesn’t typically bear a turntable and if it does, its sat in the garage since Grandma died, gathering dust. For the most part, people seem to have forgotten about the art of vinyl and how much more fulfilling it is to listen to your favorite musicians while they crackle away under a needle. Turntables are cumbersome and unless you’re a DJ these days, they’re not on your radar.
When my own Granny died the only thing I asked to be given was her beloved turntable. In her latter years the radio got more use than the record player did but the fact that this piece of Hitachi furniture had sat in her home, whether it was the farm or her old restaurant, for the last fifty years meant a lot to me. And I’ve got a vinyl obsession, so that helped. What surprised me was that even her grandchildren, who’d grown up under the magical spell of vinyl, had no interest in it. Now it sits in the corner of our living room, still plugging away and still bearing the shrink-wrap plastic on its metal parts that she never removed, presumably because it was expensive in its day and it wasn’t her way to
The uneducated and those who prefer their music from iTunes might not have any idea that music labels still exist today that press vinyl and not only that, but record labels exist that view doing just that as an art form. That’s how it should be, in my opinion. While it can be said that quite a few of the artists that live on those labels wouldn’t be there if not for the accessibility of their music because of iTunes and computers and music at our fingertips, at the touch of a button, it can also be said that they wouldn’t be the artists they are without vinyl. While there is certainly magic in our ability to discover new music often through the internet that doesn’t negate the beauty and the wonder of actually listening to that music on a 45. It feels different — it’s personal and it’s homey and it’s spectral. Like a fucking unicorn. And everyone loves a unicorn.
Thus, let’s talk about some labels. Or rather, A label. We’ve made our love for bands like Megafaun and Breathe Owl Breathe common knowledge on this here blog and while I’m sure that I’d love these bands if my only listening option involved my cheap Dell computer speakers, I’m sure I wouldn’t love them as much as I do if I weren’t able to simply give their amazing label, Hometapes, a mere 15 bucks — little more than the cost of a disc and yet, with a much bigger return than one gets from a CD — for some sweet vinyl, conveniently shipped to my home. And these things from Hometapes are not just records and music and tunes, mind you. They are the epitome of works of art — the new Breathe Owl Breathe record, Magic Central, contains a newsprint poster featuring the prints of the half the band, Micah. That ain’t just music people, that’s fucking art in it’s most awesome form. The most recent release from Bear in Heaven is multi-colored vinyl. The Segni EP from All Tiny Creatures is pressed on white vinyl with concept packaging by the formidable in more area than one, Thomas Wincek (seriously, when was the last time you saw a stark white piece of vinyl?).
This is all to say that perhaps we’d be a better people — a better country, too? — if more people were invested in things as simple as vinyl records. And that’s not me being facetious. I’m fucking serious. If people took more of an interest in their music perhaps we’d all move away from mass produced to something that takes time and delivers the listener a product that gives the impression that those who made it care about us, their humble listeners, just as much as they do themselves. It’s not about money and it’s not about MTV, it’s about giving someone they can hold and feel the weight of. It better represents the work and care put into making music for fans of music. When it’s done right, it’s heaven. And Hometapes sure as shit does it right.
BUY from Hometapes.
Bear in Heaven :: Bag of Bags[MP3]
Brad Laner :: Eyes Close [MP3]
Slaraffenland :: Polaroids [MP3]