Frisbees: A Black and Blue editorial

I find it funny that the majority of self-defined music aficionados (read: hipster pricks) I come across these days claim that records (as in vinyl) are the end all, be all when it comes to a means of listening to music. This backwards-assed mentality is akin to insisting that a 12 inch black and white television set is better than a 42 inch high definition flat screen with surround sound. Sure the retro wistfulness is cute, but don’t try to pass that bullshit off on me. The advantages of iPods (and MP3 players in general) clearly far outweigh any nostalgia factor that “the wheels of steel” have to offer.

The most common argument I hear is that the sound quality of a phonograph is superior to that of an iPod. Usually the myopic party in question will say something to the extent of “Dude, analog is where it’s at. Music isn’t meant to be converted and compressed into a bunch of 1s and 0s.” Frankly, I don’t see it. All the buzzes, sizzles and pops of a record are charming and they do awaken long forgotten memories of my childhood and all, but one would have to be high to argue that the fidelity of a piece of vinyl is better than that of high quality digital media (that’s 320 kbps for those that are picking up what I’m laying down).  After all, when you go to see a live concert, does the artist crackle and hiss when they’re performing?

When I want to listen to some music, I just pop some ear phones into my noggin, navigate to what I feel like listening to through a short series of pointing and clicking, and push play. In my opinion, those poor souls afflicted with the vinyl virus may as well be uncloseted masochists as they willingly endure what I would describe as a pain in the ass every time they want to jam out to their favorite tunes. I imagine the majority of their day is spent hunting through huge stacks of records, cleaning and loading their desired disc, slapping the needle in a specific (unlabeled) groove then flipping the record over halfway through the album only to end up repeating the process every fifty minutes (max). When it comes to convenience, the iPod wins hands down.

Those of us not fortunate enough to be endowed with a trust fund are on a budget, especially these days. Who doesn’t like saving money?  A quick check of for a price comparison of the two mediums finds Rise Against’s Endgame at $7.99 for a digital copy and $13.97 for a slab of vinyl. One should consider this album is damn near brand new; the price of out-of-print and rarified pieces of wax shoots through the roof. This essentially takes an artist’s music out of the hands of their fans leaving it only accessible to well-to-do collectors (read: rich assholes). How cool is that?

When I think of rare music I often wonder how many albums I would have missed out on in the last few years if the digital media revolution hadn’t come about. I reminisce about how hard it was for me as a kid to come by Youth Brigade’s work. How much time did I waste searching record store after record store? Then I think about how it was only recently that I downloaded their album Dividing Line (released under the moniker of The Brigade), which has scarcely seen the light of day and had eluded me thus far. How many years had I sat around yearning to hear this fabled album only to have it blossom into a huge disappointment? Since digital music has come to be, shopping for music has become as simple as a search on one’s internet search engine. Those who choose the vinyl kick are bound to dig up a few real obscure artifacts every now and again while excavating their local record stores, but I’d rather spend all that time jamming out to the 25,000 songs they didn’t find on my 160 GB iPod, all the while continuing to live the rest of my life.

Apparently hipsters only enjoy music in the confines of their own home. I mean, imagine hauling a record player around town as you go about your business or perhaps mounting one on the dashboard of your car. And then, what are you going to listen to on that thing? That’s right; you’re going to have the carry around a bunch of records too. Multiply two-hundred grams (the weight of one record) times the number of albums you want access to at any given time, then add in the skipping that will occur anytime the turntable is even slightly jostled, now, factor in the reality that leaving said records in your car will turn them into a worthless warped pile of rubbish and you’ll have an idea of how unfeasible and futile the vinyl enthusiast’s plight truly is.  We won’t even touch on where you’re going to get a battery operated turntable or how difficult wiring one into your car’s electrical system would be; nor will we go into the fact that these noodly armed , skinny jean wearing trendys would have to tote a Red Flyer wagon behind them to  bring their music around town. But, I will say most MP3 players are so small and light you can literally wear them on your sleeve (duct tape it there if you must).

I’ll give them this, the vinyl enthusiast has one legitimate argument and that’s when it comes to an album’s artwork. The purveyors of digital media have yet to popularize a means to view the cover art conveniently. And let’s face it; you can’t hang your iPod on the wall in a manner that looks tasteful, artistic or cool. However, I haven’t bought an album because the picture on the sleeve was interesting since I was 12 years old. As an adult, if I want art I’ll go buy some (preferably while listening to my iPod).

            When someone tells me of their affinity for vinyl and denounces iPods in the same breath I can’t help but smirk. I try not to, but I always envision them sitting indian style in front of a turn table, a little drool dripping from the side of their mouth, motionless as they stare blankly at the text and tiny pictures in the center of the record  as it spins around and around, not noticing quite what’s coming out of the speakers. I think it’s time we dropped the pretension, embrace technology and admit the iPod has ruled supreme over vinyl, compact discs, tapes and 8 tracks ever since it hit the market.

Maybe another "demolition" night is in order this summer?

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1 comment:

  1. dude, love the use of the word "rubbish" in this article. and all things considered, iPod's are cool and taking a shot at the hipsters is even cooler!