Vinyl

Small Dog, Big Bark.

Unlike all the hipsters out there that are discovering vinyl and record players for the first time, I’ve been there and done that. I grew up on vinyl, and spent years working in record stores. As a DJ on the radio, I’ve spent countless hours spinning records and have a massive record collection that stopped growing and converted to high quality digital a decade ago. Yes I stopped buying vinyl and CD’s and started buying hard drives. It doesn’t mean I don’t buy music, it means vinyl and CD’s take up way to much space. Seriously, thousands of records and CD’s take up a lot of room, as does the equipment to play them back.

Then there is the convenience of having tens of thousands of tracks at my disposal in digital format that I can call up and playback from multiple devices in any room in my house. (no I’m not streaming anything through Spotify or a like service.) With all that said, it doesn’t mean I don’t want quality sound, and playback. I don’t have any over compressed MP3’s in my collection, and everything is set up to playback with as much dynamic range as my “went to to many loud rock concerts in my youth, damaged hearing can make out” ears can handle. So I am always on the lookout for decent audio tech that is designed to maximize sound quality from digital music on my computer, phone, tablet, AppleTV etc.

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Jerry Cmehil is the founder of Well Rounded Sound, an audio company that has made it its mission to bring audiophiles the best quality equipment housed within beautiful, eco-friendly designs since 2011. Like most of us Cmehil was frustrated with finding an affordable, good sounding system so he set out to build high quality speakers that deliver a naturally crisp sound in a package around the size of an old school pencil sharpener. The speaker line up is named after compact and feisty small dog breeds, “Yorkie”, “Jack Russel”, “Corgi”, and the larger “Boxer”. Each set of speakers utilizes conical geometry which is paired with full range HD drivers that are housed in a cylindrical enclosure. The housing is finished in premium wood, that is helps play a key role in providing the best sound possible. Even the integrated solid wood stands help to reduce bass energy transfer and are designed to give you a perfect near-field listening angle. Each speaker features a patented cylinder sealed enclosure eliminates distortion from port noise.

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When paired with the WRS C5i amplifier you begin to have a solid foundation on which to build a solid and affordable audio set-up for your home. The C5i is a hybrid speaker and headphone amplifier with a blend of classic and modern features. Audiophiles will love the vacuum tube input stage combined with a solid state amplifier. People like myself, will love the integrated USB DAC, so you can connect it directly to your computer or other digital music device. I personally love the design that brings together retro vibes, modern accents and trending industrial chic in a balanced product that stands out from the crowd.

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Predominant.ly Searching for Music.

I used to spend hours in record store sifting through stacks of new and used vinyl searching for something new and unique. Just like book stores, record stores were a place to discover old favorites and new gems. A place to find music that you could share with your friends and so much more. there was something about the experience that will never be captured by an online experience, no matter what your source is, be it iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, eMusic, etc.

Predominant.ly designed and built by Open Work wants to change that. They want to bring to the online world the spontaneity of stumbling across a new find or an old favorite while searching for music.  The concept is really pretty clever. Based on color choices Predominant.ly  serves up groups of albums where the covers match your color choices. The data is pulled from iTunes which makes the entire catalog available.  The experience definitely lends itself to the concept of exploration in the digital space.

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Record Collecting Dust, a film by Jason Blackmore.

One of the ways I helped pay my way through college both times was working at Streetside Records, and working at the college radio station KJHK. This was back in the day when the radio station had stacks of vinyl  and archives of thousands of records. I would say 80 percent of the music I played was spun on a turn table, and more than half of what sold at Streetside was not a CD. I used to spend hours going through the stacks of records discovering new artist, reading liner notes, pouring over cover art, really discovering the music and musicians.

The video below is the trailer for “Records Collecting Dust” by San Diego based musician and filmmaker Jason Blackmore. It documents the record collections of 30 plus underground and alternative music icons, and based on the trailer it looks like it is going to be epic. Below the trailer is a list of all the musicians interviewed.

The film is set for a theater release, winter 2014 via Riot House Pictures. No word on which cities will get it first, but there will probably be updates on the official Facebook page here.

Interviews with:

Chuck Dukowski (Black Flag, SWA, Wurm, SST Records),

Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys, Alternative Tentacles),

Lisa Fancher (Frontier Records),

Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Off!),

Justin Pearson (31G Records, The Locust, Retox),

Greg Anderson (Southern Lord Records, Goatsnake, Engine Kid),

David Markey (We Got Power, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, Sin 34),

Mario Rubalcaba (Off!, Hot Snakes, Earthless),

Sonny Kay (Artist, Owner of Gold Standard Laboratories, Angel hair),

Scott Martin (Big Business, 400 Blows),

Thaddeus Robles (Cave Punk, Heartaches),

Craig Oliver (Volar Records),

Edward Colver (Photographer, Blight At The End Of The Funnel),

Matt Anderson (Gravity Records, Heroin)

Roger Lane (DJ “Records With Roger”, Record Collector),

Bryan Ray Turcotte (Fucked Up + Photocopied, Beta Petrol),

Howie Pyro ( D Generation, Danzig)

Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession, Three Mile Pilot),

Pat Thomas (4 Men With Beards, Listen Whitey! The Sights And Sounds Of Black Power),

Clay Tarver (Bullet LaVolta, Chavez),

Steve Stanley (Now Sounds Records),

Danny Benair (The Weirdos, The Three O’ Clock),

Carlos “Cake” Nunez (Flipside Magazine, Dicktit)

Bob Barley (Neighborhood Watch, Tit Wrench, Vinyl Communications),

Matt Pike (Sleep, High On Fire),

Kira Roessler (Black Flag, Dos),

David Yow (Scratch Acid, Jesus Lizard),

Matt Caughthran (The Bronx, The Drips),

John Reis (Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, RFTC),

Larry Boothroyd (Victims Family, Triclops),

Tom Flynn (Fang, Boner Records),

Steve Tupper (Subterranean Records).

Mike Neider (Bl’ast!)

Clifford Dinsmore (Bl’ast!, Spaceboy)

Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Bl’ast!)

Joey Castillo (Wasted Youth, Danzig, Queens Of The Stone Age, Bl’ast!)

Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose, Dos, The Stooges)

Creme Cycles

I’m a little late to the party on National Bike Month, but like they say “Better late than never”.  Yesterday I posted a little thing about “Bikes By Me” and today I want to extend that with a post about the way cool bikes from Creme Cycles.

These bikes look so amazing, and the range of products is fantastic with everything from fixed gear performance bikes to retro styled cruisers. Three of my favorites that Creme makes are Vinyl, the fixed gear minimalist racer, HolyMoly the European styled street bike that looks like it just rolled off the streets of Amsterdam, and Glider, a retro styled beach cruiser.

Vinyl features a high performance cromoly frame with lost wax dropouts and lugs. The frame is built using double butted Tange tube, sand is equipped with a San Marco Rolls leather saddle, polished high profile rims, sealed bearing Novatec hubs and forged cranks. Vinyl also features Dia Compe stainless steel cable guides that you can mount when using brakes, but will leave the frame completely clean when the bike is built brakeless.

Holymoly’s design is influenced by classic Dutch bikes, with a lugged frame and great care to details giving this bike a decisive retro feel. The bike has a completely upright position, that gives you an excellent field of vision and unobstructed view of the road and your surroundings.

Glider is a comfortable, bike that like a clean rugged look. This is a bike for people who use a bike for casual riding on a bike path or around the neighborhood. The bike has no fenders which means it is easy to transport in a car and easier to carry up and down stairs. Glider is available as a single speed or 3 speed.

Third Man Records. Jack White’s Rolling Record Store.

When I was 21 I landed a coveted job at the newly opened Streetside records in suburban Kansas City. This was a dream job. I got to be immersed in all sorts of music 30 hours a week, and someone paid me to push my musical taste on people that came through the doors. I worked part time at Street Side off and on for 5 years. This was what seemed like the golden age of the record store. Vinyl was still popular even though CD’s were slowly taking over the business. Import albums were readily available, and being able to purchase a record with alternate tracks, or mixes on them was fantastic.

Today I read that today 97% of high school aged kids have never been to a record store. I can see that being 100% correct. Look at the landscape today. Everything is digital, and you don’t need to go. You can buy one off singles, or full albums right on your phone and download the tracks as you go about your business. I have to admit, I am a guilty participant when it comes to this behavior. When I got my first iPod (first generation click wheel) I ripped all my CD’s and took the leap to all digital all the time.

Thank god we have Jack White though.At SXSW this year, White launched his rolling record store. Think of it as a bookmobile for records. Yes I know I just dated myself even more with that reference. The store is called Third Man Rolling Record Store, and is designed to bring the record store experience to the people, since the people won’t go to record stores. I love the idea of this. White is bringing the allure of discovery, of browsing to find an unknown gem, of records. When I think back about vinyl, and the physicality of having to actually get involved with a record beyond a swipe and a tap, it makes me wish I had kept all my records and bought that 1960’s Braun, Dieter Rams turntable when I had the chance.