Vinyl is Cool Again: Hot Picks for the Season and more!

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AS SEEN IN GUITAR GIRL MAGAZINE ISSUE 6

If you haven’t heard, vinyl is spinning like it’s 1970-something. Walk into any Barnes & Noble, and you’ll see bins of freshly sealed vinyl albums alongside best-selling books and iPhone accessories. Last year, new vinyl sales reached 16 million units sold ($395 million in revenue), and that’s not including used albums, which has a large chunk of the market as well. As you can imagine, audio companies followed suit concocting new and updated turntables to spin the records on.

Still, listening to albums may seem like a strange concept for some music lovers. But it goes a little something like this…

You buy your favorite band’s music on vinyl. It’s a large, thin slab of black plastic nestled inside an attractive cardboard casing. You rip off the clear wrapping and marvel at the beautiful cover-art or band photograph. Next, you pull the vinyl from its interior sleeve and place it on a turntable. Ever so gently you drop the needle on the record letting it gain traction into a groove. While the first song plays, you might kick back and read the lyric sheet, liner notes, and then check out the band photos or artwork.

The track sounds warm and full, maybe there are some rumbling bass lines, bluesy or crunching guitar riffs, deep or lofty vocals, but whatever the musical style, the sound is just a bit richer and rawer. That’s what it’s like. A way more visceral experience than listening to digital downloads (or streaming music that may cut out because of a glitch here or there).

For some consumers, the appeal of vinyl is the packaging and artwork (and the chance to add something cool and tangible into their collections). But for many, it’s the long-standing opinion that vinyl has superior audio quality over other musical formats like CDs.

Nowadays, large consumer retailers and sites have backed the format in a big way. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, and Best Buy all sell newly pressed vinyl records; some offering bundles and accessories to support the format. You can even find portable and stationary turntables from retail stores and online vendors.

According to a Forbes Magazine article “Vinyl Is Bigger Than We Thought. Much Bigger” [September 2018] written by Bill Rosenblatt, sales of vinyl records go way beyond new releases: “Both Discogs and eBay have very large catalogs of used vinyl…Discogs lists 5.7 million used vinyl items in its marketplace from U.S. sellers. eBay lists 2.3 million used vinyl items from U.S. sellers. Amazon is the third-largest player in this space; it lists about 900,000 used vinyl records on its U.S. site.”

All in all, people are passionate about albums and, especially during the holiday season, vinyl is the perfect gift for a music lover. New, as well as reissued albums, are on the market, so it’s very likely that your favorite artist will have music on vinyl. At Barnes & Noble’s online vinyl store, classic albums by The Beatles, Heart, and Joan Baez are sold alongside Gwen Stefani, Taylor Swift, and the latest movie soundtracks.

Record storage and accessories are abundant, too. So, if you want to display your vinyl or stow it in a cool way, many configurations are out there. You can find wall displays, shelves, and updated floor crates and cabinets that are perfect for keeping records handy and organized.

Overall, vinyl is going strong and evolving. Let’s see what the future holds for this revisited format.

Our Top Vinyl Picks This Season
Standout favorites…

Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been rocking their fiery holiday stage show for 20 years, which includes a host of supreme guitar players, vocalists, and electric violinists. A special treat this season is The Christmas Attic 20th Anniversary Edition vinyl LP. It’s the perfect way to relive the early history of TSO and enjoy this take on a modern “rock opera.”

Ingrid Michaelson’s Songs for The Season offers a new take on the Christmas classics. What better gift for the holidays than this cheerful vinyl edition! The album also includes guest appearances by Christina Perri, Grace VanderWaal, and Leslie Odom Jr.

Star-studded vinyl is everywhere…Mama Mia! Here We Go Again: The Movie Soundtrack features the many songs of Abba. A Star is Born Soundtrack with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper is a perfect way to commemorate this classic remake. Cher started her career with songs like “I Got You Babe” on vinyl, and she’s at it again with her 26th studio album Dancing Queen – and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

 

In the guitar chops category…check out the vinyl gem from classic blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt, Dig in Deep. The double LP on her independent label, Redwing Records, includes a voucher for free digital downloads; adding a modern twist on things. Loaded-with-riffs is the much-anticipated solo album from Nita Strauss, Controlled Chaos. This limited-edition red with black splatter (signed) 12” is an appropriate offering from the Alice Cooper guitarist.

For purchase information, visit the individual artists’ websites or Barnes & Noble the Vinyl Store.

 

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