I just purchased my very first record player a little over two weeks ago. A sleek, modern Audio Technica model that just happened to fit on a shelving unit that was laying around. It’s awesome! I hope nothing breaks on it as I have no clue how to fix anything, but hey, that’s what YouTube’s for!
Everyone should buy a record player for sale for this very reason: Your appreciation for music as a WHOLE comes together in a much more logical and tangible way. I grew up in the cd era coming right out of the tape era and even back then, buying a cd for $9.99 was the equivalent of buying a car to me. Every new album was a whole new experience. Say No More by House of Heroes was the first album I bought that I feel really opened my eyes to the now familiar world of alternative rock. Tim’s vocals on it really inspired me to start singing and, though they were far from perfect, they left me wanting more. More came in the form of Cities by Anberlin. Undeniably their best album, Anberlin made me realize I wanted to play this type of heavy, rock-based, soaring vocal kind of music for the rest of my life. But it wasn’t just a song or two from that album that opened my eyes, it was the experience I had while listening to it. Their first track on it is simply titled “Intro” and it sounds like something you would hear right before the band takes the stage at a rock festival. Epic, grand, soaring guitar tones and a rhythmic pattern lead the listener to the second track “Godspeed” which breaks the mold the first song was cast in by hitting the listener with an intense guitar driven intro followed by a chorus of melodies over the course of the 3 or so minutes of intensity.
That’s how the whole album is, really. A flow of songs that work together in an order carefully thought out by the artist. It’s one of the more recent examples of an album that actually makes you WANT to listen to the whole album. Though their songs were different in songwriting structure, their feel carried through in every second of that album. It’s a hard thing to do. Comprise an album in a world full of singles. We live and die by the single. Singles were originally marketed to PROMOTE an album. To get the market hyped for what was coming the next month. Now, they feel like the selling point. Write a good single or two or have somebody else write one for you and sell that as the thing you’re band is most proud of- not the actual album that the single is on. Anyone remember any songs from fun.’s multiplatinum album besides “We are Young” and “Some Nights”? If you’re lucky you’ll get someone who knows the title “Carry On” as well, but good luck finding someone else who has knowledge about anything else on that album. Not all people are like that and, if you aren’t, be my best friend. But we are being raised in a musical culture that belittles albums as a whole for the sake of the quick-selling single.
But back to records. Here’s the beauty of these magical things. Obviously there’s the superior audio quality. Invest in some decent speakers and hear your music come alive. But more importantly, records FORCE YOU to listen to an album because it’s an album. It has an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ side. You have to physically turn it over to hear the other half of the album. It is also a pain in the butt to play a song manually. You just don’t really “play a song” when you listen to records. Not as easily as your iPhone makes it anyways. You have to find the big groove in a bunch of lil grooves and pop that needle in there like you’re sewing with your grandma.
What’s the result? You end up listening to a record for the sake of the record. You don’t want to hear only a song because that’s not the point of it. But why? What’s the big deal about getting an “album experience”? Here’s the big deal. I purchased Jeff Buckley’s Grace album on vinyl when I bought my player. Now, I only knew by heart his cover of “Hallelujah” but I didn’t really have too much exposure to his originals besides “Lilac Wine.” I dropped the needle and was just overwhelmed with what I heard. Buckley was an artist who used haunting chords and vocals to create this beautiful, atmospheric sound that was alternative rock in its infant form. He reminded me of a softer Kurt Cobain. Just raw emotion in every song he wrote. Ever haunting, ever melodic. But this isn’t a review. It’s my point. After hearing this record and THEN listening once again to “Hallelujah” I had so much more respect for his cover. You hear it and you HEAR Buckley. You HEAR his creativity and musical style seep through into the song. You hear “Mojo Pin” in the intro notes. You understand why he uses those weird modes in the beginning that give that song that dark feel until he opens it up with the major chord during the verse. It’s his style. It’s Buckley being Buckley. It’s a good song on its own, but once you hear the record as a whole it makes a whole lot more sense.