In reading about iTunes and why it’s a disease, I was reminded that mp3 compression is an abomination of sound quality. Inspired, and looking for a place to get tickets for The Grog Shop‘s Minus Story show, I bought Destroyer’s This Night on CD at Music Saves, a tiny and tidy little record store next to The Beachland Ballroom (15801 Waterloo Rd., (216) 481-1875). Small as it is, their vinyl selection includes The Unicorns and Panda Bear, which is enough to suggest how perfectly suited they are for me. How it took me so long to hear about this place is a mystery.
Arriving home I wanted to experience my new favorite album in its intended fidelity, but that proved impossible with a generic laptop soundcard and a $25 pair of Sony headphones. I quickly decided I needed a real CD player and better headphones, before realizing that I was overlooking a huge disparity, asking myself, “Why did I buy this CD?” Well, to support Dan Bejar, to possess the album’s elegant artwork in physical form, and for the pristine, shiny, reflective transcription of sound. “And how will I use the CD?” Well, I’ll shelve it…sometimes it’ll be in my car I guess, playing out of broken speakers…it’s already on my iPod at 160kbps, but I guess I might rip it if someone needs it…and if I’m really in the mood, yeah, I’ll pull out my CD player and my new headphones if I ever get any.
All these reasons point to buying vinyl. CDs are only superior in terms of portability, but mp3s make them laughable on that front. Records are usually only a few dollars more than CDs and are offered by most labels on their website. The album art is larger and, if properly cared for, the sound quality is better. Not to mention the obvious psychological advantages. And this makes you wonder more…
Why don’t they include CDs with vinyl? The discs themselves can’t cost more than a dollar to make. At the very least, how about a password to download high-bitrate mp3s for burning or iPodding?
Even without these conveniences, I can’t think of many reasons to spend money on CDs again. They now occupy this awkward middle ground that cassettes did when CDs were introduced. So while in Chicago this weekend, I picked up Destroyer’s City of Daughters, Notorious Lightning and Other Works, and Mogwai’s Government Commissions (2xLP), all for $36 at Reckless Records, the single best place for new vinyl I’ve ever been (the latter two records being displayed on the wall alongside Silver Mt. Zion, M. Ward, Dead Meadow, Black Dice, Six Organs of Admittance, etc., etc.). On Broadway near Belmont. Highly recommended.