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By on April 23, 2008

The record store is a dying breed, everything from the complete absence of Tower Records to the closing of hundreds of indies. What are the reasons? There is a wide variety: the turn to digital music, increased sales in department stores (Wal*Mart is the largest supplier of music in the United States and the number of CDs for $9.99 or less at places like Best Buy is unbelievable) certainly don’t help.

However trends are starting to change slightly. A newfound interest in vinyl has helped indies, which often specialize in selling vinyl as well as CDs.

Thanks to new trends such as digital download cards and a growing dissatisfaction by consumers with the poor quality of iTunes low kpbs mp3s (never mind the whole DRM controversy). The sudden surge of interest in vinyl has been written about by a variety of outlets including Time magazine and the Matador Records blog, and it makes this year’s Record Store Day seem like an appropriate celebration, given the resurgence of a once thought to be dead format.

The celebration, which took place on April 19, featured performances and appearances by a wide variety of bands and artists including Metallica, Black Rebel Motorcyle, Thrice, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Peanut Butter Wolf, comedian Patton Oswalt and more.

According to the Record Store Day Web site, the mission is for all “[record] stores to simultaneously link and act as one with the purpose of celebrating the culture and unique place that they occupy both in their local communities and nationally.” Many stores are also offering specials on CDs, including local Connecticut indies, Redscroll Records in Wallingford and Phoenix Records, with two locations in Litchfield and Waterford.

Redscroll, the closest of the venues to Hamden, celebrated with live performances by a number of artists including Haunted Continents (aka James Downes of Call It Arson) as well as gave away free t-shirts and a $25 gift certificate to the first person to beat Bubble Bobble.

A wide variety of artists have come out of the woodwork expressing the importance of the indie record store to the music industry, including author Nick Hornby, who has written several music themed novels including “High Fidelity.”

“Yes, yes, I know. It’s easier to download music, and probably cheaper. But what’s playing on your favorite download store when you walk into it? Nothing, that’s what,” Hornby said.

“Who are you going to meet in there? Nobody. Where are the notice boards offering flatshares and vacant slots in bands destined for superstardom? Who’s going to tell you to stop listening to that and start listening to this? Go ahead and save yourself a couple of quid. The saving will cost you a career, a set of cool friends, musical taste and eventually, your soul. Record stores can’t save your life. But they can give you a better one.”


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