Tag Archives: Local music

BACK IN BLACK 

And every other colour under the sun now. Vinyl is back and it could well be here to stay. With Record Store Day just around the corner thousands of eager vinyl collectors will be waiting outside record shops all across U.K in the hope of bagging themselves one of the prized, rare, limited edition pressings, released exclusively for Record Store Day.

The point of the event is to get people to visit their local, independent record store, and to promote the comeback of vinyl records. With 2017 being the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day, there could well be some very special and sought after releases indeed.

Some of the records rumored to be released for the event include;

Alice In Chains – What The Hell Have I/Get Born Again [2×7”] (gatefold, limited to 4000, indie-retail exclusive) 7″,

Buddy Guy – Sick With Love / She Got It Together [10”] (two brand new songs, limited to 1500, indie-retail exclusive) 10″,

Motorhead – Clean Your Clock [2LP] (Picture Disc, limited to 1500, indie-retail exclusive) LP, and Toto – Africa [12”] (Picture Disc, die cut, limited to 2500, indie-retail exclusive) 12″.

Not only does the event draw crowds of genuine collectors who want the release for themselves, but it also draws in people who want to buy the rare pressing because they know they can quickly turn a profit by selling them online.

Vinyl Records are becoming increasingly popular with sales overtaking downloads in December 2016.

2016 saw vinyl sales at their highest in 25 years. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association, in one week alone in December vinyl sales actually made £2.4m and overtook downloads which made £2.1m.

Many people think the reason download sales are declining could be due to the increase in popularity of streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora. With these services, you don’t actually own the music, rather you pay your subscription to the service and the music is then ‘rented’ to you.

Spotify offers a family package for £14.99 per month which allows up to six different user accounts. This means that between six people, you can have the service for £2.50 per month so it’s easy to see why people are moving towards services such as this. However, a lot of people still want to own their music and a hard copy of it too. This is one of the reasons that vinyl records have seen a revival over the past decade.

This isn’t the first time vinyl has made a comeback however. The first vinyl revival was largely due to teenage bedroom DJs in the 90s, who wanted to play in the top night clubs in Ibiza. They would buy their turntables and mixers and then all the latest records to use in their own mixes. This came to an end however, with the popularity of digital music on the rise. DJs were able to take their whole record collection with them without having to carry boxes of heavy vinyl around with them. Go to any night club today and you’ll most likely see a DJ using little more than a laptop and a mixer. Vinyl sets are more of a gimmick these days, played in more ‘alternative’ clubs or on ‘Old School’ nights.

What is the appeal of vinyl? 

Whether it’s a trendy youngster who is following the latest craze, a housewife who wants something to spin while she does the cleaning, or a middle aged man trying to rebuild his collection that the wife made him get rid of when we all thought vinyl was dead and buried, it seems that vinyl could be here be stay this time.

Just what is it everybody seems to love about vinyl though? Maybe it’s the ritual of browsing through the pile of records, taking it out of its sleeve and placing it on the turntable. Maybe it’s the initial sound of the needle dropping or the smell of old records. It could be the perfect imperfections in an old record that give it a sense of character.  Maybe it’s just about nostalgia for many people.

To find out more, I spoke to Connor Booth, an avid vinyl collector who has been adding to his collection for the past 7 or 8 years. He has traveled all over the country buying, selling and swapping records and audio equipment.

I then wanted to get some more opinions, so I took to social media to see just what it is about vinyl that means it won’t go away.

I asked the question, “Vinyl Collectors:- What is it about vinyl that you like so much compared to other formats?”

Some responses from Facebook included;

I then asked the same question on the ‘Metal Amino’ app. This is an app where you can interact with other users and talk about music.

A user by the name of Steven said, “To me vinyl has a raw sound to it compared to CD’s, the artwork is much bigger, the boxsets are usually filled with more goodies than most CD boxsets and you usually get a poster with the vinyl too.”

Another user by the name ‘Br00tal’ replied to this comment saying, “Don’t forget that almost all vinyl records now come with a free code for digital download too, so now you can have two formats!”

“Nostalgia, better packaging, good investment and the sound quality is superior to digital formats” said user, ‘GreyMatterSplatter’.

‘Lony’ agrees with the previous comments but adds, “I also enjoy the crackling sound my record player makes sometimes.”

‘Derek Wayne Buckner’ says, “It’s more collectable. It’s bigger. It sounds different. It can’t be pirated easily or copied. I feel like you get more of a product for the money. The artwork and stuff included is bigger and seems nicer.”

‘GreyMatterSplatter’ mentioned that vinyl is a good investment. This is actually a very good point. If you buy your music digitally, then it’s yours, but you can’t sell it. (Not legally anyway.) However if you buy vinyl records, you can usually sell them on for close to what you paid for it if it’s a new release. Of course some records also go up in value if they are limited edition. This also means that if you buy a record and you decide you don’t really like it, you can simply sell it on or swap it for a different one.

Independent Shops 

Track Records is an independent record store in Ballymena

There are quite a few independent record shops opening up across the country now. This is almost hard to believe as just a few years ago, big chain stores were closing down. In February 2013, HMV announced that they would be closing 66 stores throughout the UK. 9 of these stores were in Northern Ireland including one in Ballymena where a small independent shop is now open. This was a time where it was thought to be the death of physical media. Everything was being downloaded; not just music but also films, games and even books and magazines.

Track Records started out life when Joe Rocks was working for free in a café which also sold vintage clothes.  Some vinyl was then brought in to sell alongside the clothes and there seemed to be quite a demand for it. Joe, along with a 5-a-side friend then opened a small stall at a market on Saturdays selling vinyl. This led to the birth of Track Records which has changed location 3 times but has been in business for the past 5 years – quite an achievement for a small independent shop in a town where so many other businesses are having to close their doors.

 

I went along to Track Records, to speak with the owner, Joe Rocks about the vinyl revival and the impact Record Store Day has on small, independent record shops.

 

Owner, Joe Rocks is also a singer/songwriter

So whether it’s the big artwork and inserts, the little crackles you get from the needle, or just simply the collectability of it, it would seem that vinyl certainly has a place in our hearts and it may be here for the long run this time.

 

World Record Store day is happening on 22nd April and participating stores in Northern Ireland are; Head – Belfast, Sick Records – Belfast, Armagh Music – Armagh, Cool Discs Music – Londonderry.
But don’t forget to look in other independent stores too- you may find a great bargain or hidden gem!

For a full list of official releases check out RSD’s website here.

In Review: Anno Stamm – No One Else EP

http://www.allcityrecordlabel.com/
Image by All-City Records http://www.allcityrecordlabel.com/

Dublin based record label All City Records are not known for releasing conventional music. In fact, they have acquired a reputation for being purveyors of the eclectic and the extraordinary. For anyone who is familiar with the abnormal sounds of Berlin native Anno Stamm, it comes as no surprise to see him release his No One Else EP on All City.

On an aesthetic level you could easily overlook this record, but it would be to your detriment. A generic black record sleeve, familiar black vinyl, and an unassuming piece of record art could easily mask this peculiar auditory delight. Despite being a three track EP, it perfectly showcases Anno Stamm’s versatility as he blurs the lines between techno, house, and deep house. The eponymous first track “No One Else” is probably the obvious pick of the bunch for most DJ’s. Powerful sub-bass, catchy chopped vocals, and accentuated snare patterns combine to create a cleverly nostalgic, retro style floor filler.

Listen to and but the No One Else EP at: https://annostamm.bandcamp.com/album/anno-stamm-no-one-else
Image by Lars Stöwe. Listen to, and buy the No One Else EP at: https://annostamm.bandcamp.com/album/anno-stamm-no-one-else

 

Of all the tracks on this record the A-side will probably get the most plays, but it is on the B-Side that things get really interesting. Think of the melody of your favourite childhood nursery rhyme, or the melody of a music box. Now imagine that someone has warped the pleasant sounds and jingles, and layered them with a distorted kick drum, creating a track so sinister, that it would not seem out of place in a nightmare. If you can imagine what the might sound like, you might understand what the second track of the EP, “Charge It Up To My Account”, sounds like. Far from being a typical techno affair of relentless beats, the drum loops merely set the pace for this off-kilter melodic masterpiece. It is a pity that this track was selected as the B1 on the record, because although it is by far the most intriguing and creative track of the release, it is likely to be overshadowed by the A-side, as often is the case with many vinyl releases.

As we put the turntable needle down on the final track, the artist takes us in another direction completely. He rounds of the release with a blissful and relaxed deep house offering. “Sensing Social Sirens” changes the mood with its beautiful string and pad sounds, proverbially transporting us to a much different place from the previous tracks. Each track could have been produced by a different artist. Each track has a different sound. All tracks were created by Anno Stamm, a man who epitomises ingenuity. Given the fact that many EP’s have four productions, the consumer in me notices one problem with this EP, one that could also be attributed to the quality of the music; there are not enough tracks.

For more information about Anno Stamm and his music see: http://www.anstam.com/

 

Silhouette see off songwriters’ festival

cropped-silhouette-banner21

Portstewart Songwriters’ Festival concluded on Sunday night with an intimate gig from Silhouette.

The Anchor Bar was the venue for the charismatic Shauna Tohill to showcase her talents with her band. The small bar quickly filled up as the band grabbed the crowd’s attention with slow rocker ‘Running Against The Wall’. Shauna’s voice shines on the catchy chorus and a driving bass line had heads nodding.

The funky ‘Volume Destroyed’ displayed the vocal harmonies the band is capable of with a perfect pop swagger. ‘Precious Time’ followed, a bluesy number with an epic outro that showed just how tight the band are.

The crowd settled down once the opening vocal harmonies of ‘Little Voices’ worked their magic with a sense of longing and desperation, but the room was immediately picked up with what the band called their wild card, ‘Rip Up My Heart’. A fun rocky number, it differs from the usual Silhouette style but it served its purpose as a great bit of fun to pick the crowd up with some chunky riff work from the band.

Shauna grabbed the spotlight with ‘Put The Silence on Hold’ and ‘Foxes’, which both served to show just how special her voice and song-writing talents are. The former is a great ballroom ballad off their debut EP and shined in the set. After getting the crowd laughing saying ‘Foxes’ came from a time when she genuinely considered running away and living with a pack of foxes, Shauna delivers some powerful vocals, full of introspection with an emotive chorus.

New song ‘Can You Feel It?’ showed the maturity in Shauna’s song-writing with some powerful lyrics and vocal work building up to an eye-widening breakdown in the bridge.

Naturally, the set finished with the famous ‘Can’t Keep Up’. Shauna joked that we were all probably sick of it by now, but that definitely wasn’t the case as the crowd joined in with the infectious intro and ended the night on a high.