Okay, kids, take a deep breath: on your mark, get set, GO… to your local thrift store, to scoop up all those dusty tape decks you have ignored for the past decade while you hunted for turntables…
By Fred Mills
Those of us who have one foot in music journalism and at least one claw in the indie record store business saw this coming: the hipster-cum-retro-centric fetish for cassettes. Small runs of tapes for a number of artists are already the norm – say, the most recent releases by She & Him and The Sword – while other intriguing twists, such as those set in motion by indie labels like Stones Throw and Leaving, have been sending a message of sorts.
Message received: the 2013 Cassette Store Day has been announced for September 7, as spearheaded by UK tape labels Sexbeat, Kissability, and Suplex Cassettes. Yes, it is modeled after the wildly successful annual Record Store Day, and its kissing cousin Black Friday. No, it is not a sure thing, longevity-wise. But hey, neither was RSD when it launched back in 2008, and look at the insanity that surrounded this year’s event in April. (I know of what I write, since I work at an indie record store, Schoolkids Records of Raleigh, NC; we had a line of people halfway down the block this year at 6 a.m., a full two hours before opening. And it was nuts all day long.)
According to the CSD organizers, “No longer the inadequate, younger sibling of vinyl and CD, the humble cassette has been making a resurgence. International Cassette Store Day 2013 is a celebration of a physical product that is accessible, fun, cheap and still going strong in the turbulent current musical climate.”
Full details are to be tba., but plans are for all sorts of in-store parties at various stores in London, and apparently stores throughout the UK, US and EU are slated to sign on as well to participate. Limited edition titles are due from the Flaming Lips, Deerhunter, the Pastels and At the Drive-In, and labels preparing to weigh in include Jade Tree, Burger, Mirror Universe, Tie Dye Tapes, Faux Discx and more.
Our suggestion? How about an official teeshirt with technical specs for acceptable wow and flutter deviations? Look it up, kiddos. Meanwhile, let’s all hit that rewind button and celebrate the once-lowly, now-on-the-verge-of-resuscitated, cassette.
Incidentally, upon receiving the news of CSD, Britain’s ever-populist The Guardian duly reported some of the facts, then offered this somewhat snarky riposte: “Whereas CDs are all but disappearing, vinyl records have been unlikely beneficiaries of the digital music era. Fans are falling back in love with the tactile, lossy audio format, leading to five straight years of rising vinyl sales. Cassettes aren’t as popular as vinyl, but they too have gained a hip, analogue cachet. Manufacturers are producing more tapes than they have in years, and the UK’s cassingle sales trebled in 2012. Then again, “trebling” doesn’t add up to much: according to the Official Charts Company, 604 cassingles were sold last year, most of which were copies of the Feeder song Borders.”
Cassingles? Oh, please. That’s so, like, 1989…