Ever think you could be listening to more new music? Recommending albums by Parquet Courts, Soundwalk Collective, Los Campesinos!, Pissed Jeans and RAYS, Mike Pinington revels in his New Year’s resolution to buy more vinyl…
It has occurred to me that lately, certainly the last twelve months, I have been less open to new music. My taste had somehow become fixed, a definite thing, no longer penetrable by influxes of “hot new sounds”. Or even lukewarm ones. When I think about how this might have happened, there are a number of possibilities. The most likely is that I’m getting older – while hardly ancient, I am certainly no longer what you’d call a spring chicken. I have a career of sorts, I’m married, and tend to go out less; all possible factors in my declining search for new music.
Yes, I mused sadly, it’s all true – you get set in your ways and are doomed past the age of 35 to listen to all the same records by all the same artists, ad nauseam. Closely related to this possibility is the the fear that I am just no longer able to relate to what is considered good now. Certainly, nothing had grabbed me aurally for some time, but neither was I prepared to step into “all new music is rubbish” territory. I’m not my Dad. Not yet. It’s bad enough that I’ve let it come to this. I always said I would not succumb to being that guy.
So with this spirit I came to make probably the best – and most achievable – resolution I have ever made. I’m going to stop the rot, I decided, and reacquaint and re-educate myself in the ways of buying and listening to new music; seeking out and maybe even discovering new morsels for what I thought were long-jaded taste-buds. This may sound odd in the age of the digital download, when we’ve never had greater access to new music. But I don’t want to download. I don’t want to have more music on my computer than I could reasonably listen to – even if it was something I devoted the rest of my life to, or (dream!) made my full time occupation. But given I was effectively starting from scratch, inevitably, certain criteria formed my plan of action.
Every month I would buy a new piece of vinyl. Not so much a resolution, then, as a monthly present to myself. Ideally, it would come with a download code so I could listen to it across different media, but it would always be analogue in the first instance. There would also need to be rules to prevent myself from slipping into old habits (reissues with bonus tracks by bands I was already au fait with wouldt cut it). Therefore, each purchase would have to be either by a band or artist I had never previously been a fan of/bought before, or, it would have to be a record of all new material released on the given calendar year. The plan would be to assess, review if you like, one album per month; though this would be more a means of tracking my progress than any serious endeavour – I don’t, it should be noted, consider myself a music critic.
My choices over the first few months of 2017 have been resoundingly good ones (to my ears at least), and a nice bonus has been a wide variety of coloured vinyl… Inevitably, things got off to a cosy start. Let’s say I didn’t make a leap into absolute darkness with Parquet Courts’ Human Performance (released last year on Rough Trade), having already come highly recommended and been compared to Pavement – a band I’ve loved for a long time. Subsequent finds include a tribute to Nico by Soundwalk Collective (featuring vocals by Patti Smith), Los Campesinos!’ latest Sick Scenes. (pictured), and Pissed Jeans’ Why Love Now (above). Most recently (so recent in fact that I haven’t listened to the record in its entirety yet), I picked up RAYS’ self-titled debut.
Given that it’s Record Store Day tomorrow, “when over 200 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture”, it seemed a good time to take stock. A good time also to note that you are allowed to buy records at any time, not just on the day when you’ll have to queue for them the most. Immersing myself (however gently) back into music has been good, with a few rewards that I hadn’t really counted on: time spent in record shops, sifting through new releases, reading more music press than I probably ever have (discovering – and reacquainting myself with – some great writers along the way) and I’m enjoying the process. I take pleasure, too, in analogue’s refusal to die; and that, at least once a month, I’m a very small part of the reason why it’s increasingly flourishing.
Record Store Day is tomorrow, Saturday 22 April 2017. Find your participating local shops here
Follow along on social media with #RSD17
Main image: Sick Scenes. by Los Campesinos!, detail, courtesy the artists