Retro and vintage vibes have conquered the student populations in recent years. Even here in our little Durham bubble, it seems you can’t walk even ten feet without seeing someone clad in vintage classics. Jumpers, dresses, jackets…oversized, overrated, overkilled; the vintage fad has well and truly taken off.
But what about the music industry?
In 2014, it was reported that vinyl sales had increased by 38%, an 18 year high in the industry. Gone are the days of searching for backstreet businesses stocking the oldies. Brands such as HMV and Urban Outfitters successfully jumped on the bandwagon and promoted sales even more. The UO brand – which aims to bridge the gap between modern edge and classic vintage – stocks vinyl records online and in-store, as well as Crosley and Lenco record players themselves. Unlimited and accessible on the high street, vinyl is making a comeback and it seems that no one is safe.
Indeed, in an era of iPods and iPhones, it might seem like a step back to even consider a reversion to the retro days. So is the sentiment really all that? Well, I think so. As much as I love my house music echoing from water speakers, that connection just isn’t there. There really is something about playing a record that gives you complete and utter musical satisfaction.
With trends like these, however, comes a lack of originality. Notorious amongst the ‘indie kids’ of our generation, it seems that having a record player has suddenly become something of a personal statement – a declaration of alternativeness, a supposed break from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, and the ultimate indie symbol. But in my opinion, that’s not what vinyl is about, and it mustn’t be conflated with an unnecessary hipster agenda.
First things first when it comes to vinyl collecting – think. This isn’t a cheap hobby and building a collection takes both dedication and devotion. Start by finding a record player. The ‘Crosley Record Player’ is a great little buy. It’s compact, portable, and offers a great sound. I managed to get one off Ebay for about £85.
Then you need to buy some records that you know you absolutely love. And yes, I’m talking an ‘every song speaks to you on a personal note’ kind of love. If you’re not sure where to start, my recommendation is AM by Arctic Monkeys as I think you can really hear the sound difference on a vinyl player. For other records, try scouting around your local vintage and charity shops for some lucky finds – those one off, cheaper purchases.
Coming from Manchester, with a far bigger music scene than in Durham, record shops are rife – the Northern Quarter boast some of the best in my opinion. Last year, I was determined to track down a copy of Mental As Anything’s ‘Live It Up’ as a Christmas present for my Dad, a man not easy to buy for and exceptionally difficult to propose a ‘personal’ gift. After being reintroduced to his Vinyl collection after me resurrecting the trend within the family. While some may consider my perseverance an utter waste of time, I can safely say that when I did find it – the ultimate gift -, it was so much better than giving someone a measly pair of socks or a meaningless voucher. Admittedly, in Durham, you may have a harder time tracking down obscure records, so I would recommend starting off with a few charity shops, or perhaps considering a big trip out to Newcastle. The more time you invest in the vinyl search, the better the investment.
If you are thinking of investing in a record collection, I would highly recommend consulting relatives and parents and taking their old records off their hands for some new-age resurrection. Not only will it save you oodles of money (record collecting is, sadly, an expensive hobby), but it is also likely that you and your Dad both have a mutual love for that same anthemic, old school classic that he happens to own on vinyl. It’s either that, or, like me, you’ll just end up with three copies of The Stone Roses between your household…
Starting your own record collection requires dedication. It is by no means an easy mission, nor is it a cheap hobby! My biggest piece of advice is: be selective. The records you own should be your ultimate favourites, and anything less should not make the cut. This is not your iTunes Library, this is so much more than that – this is your vinyl library.
When you experience music the vinyl way, listening to songs will never sound the same again through your earphones. The effect is sensational and will completely change your perspective on the melody and lyrics. It is a different sound – and one that no speaker or earphone can ever do suitable justice. Without a doubt, it will bring you as close to the raw exposure created at a live performance as possible.
To me, vinyls are so much more than a hipster fad.
My personal recommendations: The Stone Roses – self titled (£14.99 HMV); Arctic Monkeys – AM (£16.99 Amazon); Foster the People- Torches (£13.99 Amazon); INXS- KICK (£20.99 Amazon); The 1975- self titled (£19.10 Amazon).