The average attention span is now eight seconds, according to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft. This presents a real challenge for the modern music listener! How does one create a space in which they can listen to a song—or, dare I say, an entire album—without getting distracted? This is where vinyl records come in.
Not only is vinyl the best-sounding format, it's also the one that encourages you to stop whatever else you're doing, relax, and focus on listening. Just what the modern citizen needs.
Here's a rundown on the quick, easy way to start listening to vinyl.
1. Vinyl Made Easy
Rokblok, $79, rokblok.co.
The Rokblok, a new portable record player, is an exciting innovation because it removes any barrier of entry into vinyl listening. The internal speaker is capable, sure, but with its bluetooth connectivity, you can listen to your records with the added power of any bluetooth speaker. Like, say, this one, for example:
Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker, $130, bose.com.
The Rokblok isn't set to ship out until this fall, so if you don't feel like waiting till then, this turntable by Pyle Pro is an affordable alternative.
Pyle Pro Portable Turntable, $70, bhphotovideo.com.
2. Let the Records Come to You
With a refreshed enthusiasm around records these days, there are all kinds of subscription services offered by music aficionados who want to turn you on to music you would maybe never have otherwise heard.
Here are a few to consider joining.
Polyvinyl Singles Series
This series from Illinois-based record label Polyvinyl has a great premise: they sent a 4-track recorder to an artist, asked them to record two songs, and then send the device along to the next artist on the list. The result is a batch of original recordings, all made using the same mobile studio, all for your listening pleasure. Join, and each month you'll receive a limited-edition record of exclusive music, delivered right to your door in a custom designed box. polyvinylrecords.com.
This service provides both music and coffee, so it's basically the ideal one-stop shop.turntablekitchen.com.
Wax and Stamp
The good people at Wax and Stamp will send you two records a month: one of their favorites, and one chosen by a guest curator. Expect anything from hip-hop to house to indie to funk to who-knows-what. waxandstamp.com
3. Enjoy the Hunt!
Subscription services are a lot of fun, but so is doing the digging yourself. Beyond searching your local Goodwill, online shopping is actually an excellent—and often very affordable—way to find rad records. Etsy and eBay are also both great resources. Search for one record you wouldn't mind buying, and then start exploring the catalog of the stores offering it.
One of the best things about getting into records is that it turns any thrift store visit into a treasure hunt.
One of the best things about getting into records is that it turns any thrift store visit into a treasure hunt. It's easy to get lost, but just remember to keep an eye out for the condition of the record (no scratches).
4. Trust the Great Record Labels
Light in the Attic
When you find a record you like, feel free to trace it back to the source to see what other good music you might find. That tactic led me to Light in the Attic, the incredible reissue label that has been re-releasing classic albums by the likes of Lee Hazlewood, D'Angelo, and the Grateful Dead.
Soul Jazz Records
Exploring the website of London's Soul Jazz Records is another wonderful way to discover new music. Their catalog ranges from punk to reggae to soul to dub, and everything in between. If something looks cool, buy it—these guys have taste you can trust.
Domino Sound Records
Domino Sound Records is the name of both the coolest record store in New Orleans and the label they own. Domino Sound scours the globe—from Ethiopia to Colombia to Mississippi—for the music you need to hear now. Dropping the needle onto any of their releases is probably the closest thing to time travel we've got.