For any music-lover, vinyl is an essential part to the musical experience, and in the Raleigh area, there are many ways that a music-lover can thrive. For this week’s article, we decided to take a deep dive into vinyl itself, how to get into collecting, our favorite local finds, the unique qualities of each local store, and finally, our own collecting experiences.
History of Vinyl:
The idea of putting music onto physical devices came from German-American inventor Emile Berliner in the year 1887. He created a lateral flat-disk, similar to the ones we have today, to be played on the gramophone. These disks tended to be about 10-12 inches, and could only have about 3-5 minutes on each side. The name 78’s came along, due to 78 rotations per minute (rpm). Unfortunately, during the time when this form of music was really starting to break through, the Great Depression hit, leaving millions struggling and in no place of luxury for music. During World War 2, the material being used for records started to become scarce which led to the pressing of vinyl instead. One of the main record sellers of the time, RCA Victor, created the world’s first long-playing 33⅓ rpm speed vinyl with 12” inches in diameter. This brought war from their biggest competitor, Columbia Records, who, following the LP, created a 12”-inch microgroove record. In return, RCA released a 7” inch 45 rpm extended-play vinyl, which plays one song on each side. These came to good use for artists releasing singles. The rise of records boomed as this became the main form of music entertainment. This continued up until 1979 with the release of the Walkmen. The Walkmen consisted of magnetic technology that used cassette tapes and batteries for on-the-go music. It wasn’t long before cassette tapes started to outsell records. The end of vinyl records was beginning, or was it?
The Rise Of Vinyl
The influx in vinyl and its collector’s have only risen over the years–arise which began in the early 2000s. After its launch in 2007, Tumblr, the unique morph of a social media app with elements pulled right out of Pinterest, Instagram, and the recently deceased MySpace, attracted millions of users. In the niche outlets that translated from that created the insurgence of “hipster” culture with bands like Arctic Monkeys and The 1975 taking over Tumblr blogs. With “hipster culture” coming to the forefront, vinyl and its collecting would begin its revival, one in which had no future of slowing down. As musicians–ranging from the deepest depths of the punk scene to mainstream pop –began pressing their latest albums into vinyl and releasing dozens of variants per album, it made this once outdated route of digesting music into hobbies for millions. Almost like Pokemon for music lovers,you want to collect them all! Even with newer advancements in how we hear and receive music such as CD’s and streaming coming into play, vinyl held its prominent place in the hearts of music lovers everywhere. However, its rise didn’t stop there. Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where vinyl’s most recent revival took place, it’s safe to assume that at some point within the last 5 years, Generation Z took a liking to vinyl collecting, only relighting the ever-burning fire for vinyl even 5 or 6 years after Tumblr’s revival. With the accessibility to vinyl being made more common by big-box retailers like Target, Walmart, and Urban Outfitters, collecting became more popular than ever. However, while corporate America was busy dominating the vinyl world, the local record stores that for decades had always hosted a home for vinyl and music-lovers alike began to suffer the consequences of the globalization of vinyl. Although we at the herald don’t condone big-business shopping for vinyl, here are our local recommendations for vinyl collecting in the Raleigh/Wake Forest Area.
Heritage Herald’s Local Guide to Record Shopping
The Raleigh music scene may be small, but it is mighty–that is– if you know where to look. In our ever-growing search for the best local stores in the area, we have found that these are our favorite local spots for music lovers and vinyl collectors alike:
Located within a mile from the NC State University campus, Schoolkids Records is a great place for all of your vinyl needs. I (JoAnn) visited Schoolkids for the first time last spring during Record Store Day (RSD) I went in search of the Singles RSD Exclusive by Wallows, and, although that search was painfully unsuccessful, I did leave with a new favorite store.With a unique mix of vintage and new albums, and their uniquely exciting blind bags, there’s something for everyone to find. If that wasn’t interesting enough, they also happen to run their own in-house record label. Hosting musicians like Buffalo Tom, Declan O’Rourke, The Veldt, and many more, Schoolkids is living proof of the vibrant music scene in the heart of downtown Raleigh.
Nice Price Used Books and Records
Hidden on the bustling Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh, Nice Price Used Books & Records has a variety of used and new vinyl that accommodates all music tastes. Like the title, the prices are surely great and reasonable for the product. It’s the perfect place to find any popular or underground artist or even that holy grail you’ve failed to find to add to your collection. The deals are great as well. Every $10 spent at the store, you get a stamp. At 8 stamps you get a free t-shirt–and they have sick t-shirts. At10 stamps, $10 is taken off your final price. All in all,Nice Price is a very welcoming store that succeeds in recreating the vintage vibe.
Pour House is a unique take on the music experience. Being a record store that provides a wide range of vinyl by day to being a premiere local venue for up-and-coming musicians by nightt is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that may be hard to find anywhere else. Not only are they the heart of the music scene in Raleigh, they also participate in local events such as Hopscotch Festival which took place this past weekend . Pour House hosted day fests that included dozens of local musicians for short, but sweet sets. Our full-length review on the Hopscotch shows will be included later. (Update: due to age restrictions after 6:00pm, we were unable to attend)
This little store has an interior that blows you away. It’s lined wall-to-wall with records of every genre and artist. Some of the most exclusive albums can be found inside this glorious store. The outside of the store is hard to find, considering the entire street looks pretty much the same , but walking by the glass filled up with posters screams to a wannabe indie kid with the intention of spending all their money on music. We say this as wannabe indie kids. We also say this because we were able to score an interview with the owner of Sorry State himself.
Sorry State Records Exclusive Interview:
We had the pleasure of meeting with Sorry State’s owner Daniel and his 2 employees–Angela and Dominic. What went from an outlined interview turned into the most fun conversation all about music and our journey’s associated with it. We’re here to tell the story that is Sorry State Records.
Sorry State started as a record label, beginning in 2005. It began when Daniel decided to release an album for his friend’s band–Direct Control. Daniel sees the experience in a creative way stating, “Selling stuff is cool, but creating something from scratch and bringing it into the world is something special.” A few years later in 2013, they officially opened their brick and mortar store in the heart of downtown Raleigh. The space is organized by used vinyls, new, punk rock, indie/alternative rock…pretty much everything. As Daniel says, “Music casts such a wide net in general, and we try to have as much of it as we can.”7
The record store conforms to every genre, but Daniel designed Sorry State with hopes of selling the punk vibe, which he successfully did. Posters, rare vinyls, and upcoming concerts line the walls of the eccentric store. Walking in and exploring is more than just shopping, it’s an experience. Not only that, but you can have the best conversations with any employee on site.
Daniel has an interesting background of his own. Growing up, he played a part in multiple bands, including his present role in Scarecrow as their bassist, which just got back from their European tour. Daniel describes, “The tour of Europe [as] just crazy.” He also toured with punk band Logic Problems in Europe around 10 years ago. Angela mentioned to us that Daniel is, “too humble to brag on himself… He’s kind of a big deal in the (punk) scene, so he has had tons of coverage from different punk outlets.” Daniel’s story is truly fascinating, seeing as all artists Sorry State’s record label produces come to him first, many of those being people he’s met through his own journey. Plus, not many people can say they’ve toured Europe with their band.
When asked what music means to him as someone who creates music, runs a label, and owns a store, Daniel laughs, “It’s what I think about from the minute I wake up to when I fall asleep at night. It’s all I do.” Later in the conversation, Angela articulates, “It’s so much more than music.” Obviously collecting vinyl is fun, but listening to music is so much more than a hobby. Music’s a lifestyle and just one example of that is seen from Daniel’s success. He goes on to say, “I don’t necessarily think that vinyl is integral to the listening experience, like you need to have it on vinyl to experience it differently.” There may not be any drastic sound changes, but having physical copies of music is something exciting. In total, Daniel said he has around 4-5k records. Another Sorry State employee, Dominic,has around 10k. Looking at these numbers just goes to show you can never collect too much music.
After our trip to Sorry State, we walked out with a bunch of different posters, stickers, vinyl, and a newfound passion and interest in the power of music (not to mention some super sick records recommended by the amazing staff at Sorry State). With records, our taste in music never dies. It’s carried on through the generations that hold onto our albums and it has to be one of the coolest things about collecting music.
Sorry State’s Owner’s Top Albums:
- Pink Flag – The Wire
- Hex Enduction Hour – The Fall
- The complete discography of Minor Threat
- Snap! – The Jam
- Mush – Leatherface
Vinyl Collecting: Marlee’s Story
Growing up, I scolded my father for making me listen to his music. Currently I still scold him, but I’m justified for it. He put me on to the 80’s classic rock dad music (as one does) instead of today’s top hits. This greatly influenced my interest in old fashioned things, and I eventually developed my own interests in music, as well as collecting records. My music taste ultimately ended up being superior seeing as he doesn’t even like Nirvana or really anything outside of Journey and Def Leppard. I asked for a record player for two years before I actually got one. I was 14, and it was the best gift I have ever received. I went through all of his old records, but a majority were so messed up they weren’t worth playing, despite the authenticity of it all. The first album he got me was Elton John’s ‘Diamonds’. I didn’t start looking to buy my own records until about a year ago when my mom got me a super nice record player at her house. She got me ‘Dude Ranch’ by Blink-182 because I had been obsessed with them for a while at that point. It took me a few months to get into buying records as I had absolutely no income up until a few months ago, but the first one I did buy was ‘Ten’ by Pearl Jam in fall of 2021. I got my first ever paycheck at the end of June 2022, and the first thing I did was order my favorite album, ‘Turn On the Bright Lights’ by Interpol. I’ve been collecting non-stop since then. A few months ago, I went to downtown Raleigh to explore the vinyl scene. Now it’s become almost a weekly adventure. It’s amazing how quickly I fell in love with being in the city, exploring my passion, looking for physical pieces of music in the 21st century as if vinyl was made now and not 60 years ago. I now have about 34 records and my collection is still growing, follow my discogs: marleebilliter.
Vinyl Collecting: JoAnn’s Story
I began collecting vinyl 5 years ago at the ripe age of 12. I had always been obsessed with all things 70s, so collecting vinyl fit in naturally for me. After 2 years of begging for a record player, I finally got the player that would jumpstart my journey into the world of vinyl. That little old suitcase player arguably changed my life. It was most definitely a bad player; I mean I went through 3 suitcase players over the past 5 years until I finally made the commitment to spend a few hundred dollars on a quality set up a few months ago. The first vinyl I ever got was Khalid’s 2017 record ‘American Teen’. I remember exactly where I bought it and the entire experience so vividly, even though I hardly spin it nowadays. Dragging my mom into the record store to buy that LP was a core memory that I will always cherish. From that moment on, I would spiral deeper into the music world. I became obsessed with lyricism and learning to play instruments, and the next obvious step was live music, and I wasn’t stopping anytime soon. I was hooked and music became my passion and, by extension, so did writing about it. It’s so crazy to think that American Teen by Khalid would be life-changing, and maybe it wasn’t, and I’m just dramatic, but I genuinely have no idea what I’d be doing if I never begged for my little old suitcase player for Christmas when I was 12 . I know that I definitely wouldn’t be writing this article. I’d be writing about F1 or possibly Cartoon Network (as our other staffers are this week).]After many of my paychecks and hours of flipping through records, I am proud to have collected 80+ vinyl with a mix of vintage records from the 60s/70s that I got when I raided my dad’s larger-than-life collection. and then the addition of my favorite modern releases/pressings that have come out. The thrill that comes from finding an album you love or even one you’ve always wanted to hear on vinyl is something no feeling can match. Completing entire discographies of your favorite musicians (so far, I’ve only gotten Wallows and Arctic Monkeys) is a journey I aim to never stop because music is life changing, or at least music changed my life. Finally, a quick plug if you’re interested in learning more about my collection, check out my discogs: jsnavely.
Starting Your Own Collection? Here’s Our Tips:
Hopefully we’ve inspired you enough to start or continue your collection. If you are starting your vinyl journey for the first time, there’s many variables to consider like: What type of player should you get? How to care for your collection? What is the general pricing of vinyl? We’re here to divulge all of our secrets.
Buying A Player/Record Set Up:
The first step for any vinyl collecting journey is purchasing a player or set-up. Luckily, there are many options ranging amongst many different price ranges. If you want to start at the most basic level of players, then get a suitcase player. There are many amazing brands like the Victorola or Crosley players, and they start as cheap as $40 and they come included with speakers. However, if you want to step it up a bit, you can find more advanced players. A good beginner-friendly player I would recommend is the Audio Technica LP60X. A very chic player that is still on the more affordable side of vinyl players. The only downside is that it needs a speaker set-up, but it can be really easy to manage. You can easily find the Audio Technica LP60X beginning as low as $200 (if not less).
How To Care For Records:
Making sure you take care of your records is extremely important because it can be extremely easy to scratch your records which can render them unplayable. Some easy steps to care for them is to store them upright, avoid directly touching the vinyl as much as possible, and learn how to clean your records in a safe and efficient way (look into cleaning kits). Most importantly, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR VINYL IN HEAT, they will warp and become unplayable.
The Fun Part:
Once you have your set-up prepared, it’s time to begin the fun part of vinyl collecting. Look for your favorite artists’ albums (that range anywhere from $15-30) from your new, favorite local stores or even on the artists’ online web stores. Figure out your grail albums and enjoy the perks of playing your favorite albums on those glorious 12 (or 7) inch records. If you need help finding albums to kick-start your collection, next we will discuss the necessities for the ultimate record collection!
Top Vinyl’s We’d Recommend:
Now that you’ve heard about everything vinyl, here are some of our recommendations for 10 albums you need on vinyl to help you build the ultimate collection (from our collection)!
- Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not – Arctic Monkeys (2006). The debut album by Arctic Monkeys features hits like When The Sun Goes Down and I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor. The entire record is an essential record for getting into Arctic Monkeys, but it is also one that,when played on vinyl, can feel like an out of body experience. The vocals and exuberant instrumentalism are something 13 year old me could’ve only dreamed about, and because of that, I have without a doubt spun this record at least 50 times and I can never, ever get tired of it. Its median price on Discogs is $19.99, so it is a considerably affordable album to purchase.
- Live At Third Man Records – Wallows (2019). One thing about me is I am a huge Wallows fan. This record was only ever released via vinyl and is one of my favorite live albums I’ve ever heard–With Arctic Monkeys’ 2020 Live At Royal Albert Hall album being a close second. Not only does it feature some of my all time favorite songs like Pulling Leaves Off Trees and Pleaser, the sound is so unique and differs from the recorded album in so many ways and is one of the coolest ways to bring music to life through vinyl, especially in this album. Wallows makes such amazing music with instrumentalism so upbeat and literally uplifting –I swear, I levitate whenever they play– that it shields the absolutely earth-shattering lyrics. And it doesn’t hurt that their live music is better than the studio. After seeing them 2 times live, I can attest. Although Wallows is still on their Tell Me That It’s Over Tour for the next few months, if you’re unable to catch them on tour, this will without a doubt meet that need. Its median price is $80.00 on Discogs, so it is a bit of a pricier album, but it is possible to find it for an affordable price!
- Leftoverture – Kansas (1976). I am lucky enough to have an original pressing of this album. One of my favorite things to do is listen to albums for the first time on vinyl, and this was one of those albums for me. After sorting through my dad’s record collection in 2019, this one caught my eye. From the opening of Carry on Wayward Son to the closing of Cheyenne Anthem, this album is so utterly captivating that it’s hard to stop listening. It’s most definitely one of my favorite albums that came out of the 60s/70s behind Pearl by Janis Joplin, Talking Heads: 77 by Talking Heads, Year of The Cat by Al Stewart, and a few others. It is an extremely easy album to purchase with a median price of $15.00 on Discogs.
- Weezer – Weezer (1994). In my humble opinion, this is one of the most iconic albums of the 90s. Whether in an ironic or unironic sense, it is one of the greatest albums to own on vinyl. I mean you didn’t hear it from me, but it’s the album of main characters (maybe side characters in denial but, who knows).With a tracklist featuring Buddy Holly, Undone (the Sweater Song), Holiday, and many more, this album is perfect for any collection, and I will not be taking criticism. You can find the album for sale on Discogs ranging anywhere from $20-30 in price.
- Summer’s Over – TV Girl, Jordana (2021). This album is one I generally don’t see talked about enough, not to mention on vinyl. This collaborative album was made by TV Girl who has produced hits like Not Allowed and Lover’s Rock and shared with Jordana who has produced one of my favorite albums of all time: Face The Wall. As an album, it is a beautifully produced piece with a flare. Some of my favorites from the album are songs like Jump The Turnstile and Summer’s Over. On top of the musical genius that is shown in this album, it is one of the most beautiful vinyl arguably of all time. It is this gorgeous splatter colored album with renaissance style art etched onto the vinyl. However, this is also another grail album, with it costing on average $90 on Discogs. It is worth it nonetheless, but if you can’t shell out that much, go with Wet Leg’s self-titled album for a similar sound.
- Turn On the Bright Lights – Interpol (2002). Easily my favorite album to ever exist, Interpol keeps a steady melancholy vibe throughout, while including some of the most breathtaking pick-ups. Every song comes with a different feeling of heartbreak, but they’re disguised by Paul Banks’ almost monotone voice. This album is one of the best indie rock albums released in the early 2000s, and ever since I heard it in the beginning of 2022, I’ve been listening to it nonstop.
- In Rainbows – Radiohead (2007). I may be a tad bit biased with every word I use for this album, but Radiohead is objectively perfect, and I’m just being honest. It includes some of Radiohead’s top songs including Nude and Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. Lead singer Thom Yorke, in his own words, says lyrics are based on, “that anonymous fear thing, sitting in traffic, thinking, ‘I’m sure I’m supposed to be doing something else.’” It’s truly one of the most interesting albums, each song different yet somehow relating to the last. Not only is Thom Yorke’s voice beautiful, the instrumentals behind every song are extremely incredible.
- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel (1998). This is a very experimental album that’s struck me as brilliant. Neutral Milk Hotel is an indie, almost psychedelic band that only released two albums in their time together. The album’s inspired by Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, expressing multiple themes of love and loss. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is about a young man who knows he’s going to die and accepts it. What stuck out to me the most was the almost Irish sound they created. It has a very, ‘I’m in Scotland back in the 1800’s-type vibe which only made the album better and more unique.
- So Tonight That I Might See – Mazzy Star (1993). All I have to say is Hope Sandoval. Hope Sandoval. Mazzy Star is an alternative rock band with the most beautifully voiced singer. I believe Sandoval carries the band with her voice–obviously being subjective here. The music and instrumental are of course good as well, but nothing compares to her voice. It’s so angelic, fragile, yet sometimes it comes off as strong and independent. This album produced one of the most known shoegaze rock songs, Fade Into You. Genuinely the saddest thing to ever listen to, and yet it’s beautiful. The feeling this album creates is simply beautiful.
Satisfaction – Narrow Head (2020). A small indie rock band from Texas blew my mind with this album. Every song is consistent; alternative rock that gives an almost shoegaze vibe. The difference being more, more rock, more yelling. The actual vinyl pressing is sold as either blue or purple which is actually sick. I fell in love with this album very quickly, and I believe any other indie-rock lover will too.