NEW ORLEANS — Music lovers are spinning records again.
According to the Recording Industry Association Of America, last year (2022), vinyl albums outsold CDs for the first time since 1987.
New Orleans musician David Torkanowsky called the record revival an exciting nod to the past and a more deliberate way to listen to music.
“There is something beautifully intentional of taking out an album from its jacket, placing it on the turntable, putting the tonearm on the record,” Torkanowsky said. “It’s like you’re preparing yourself. I’m going to listen to music now.”
Tulane English professor T.R. Johnson has a passion for vinyl.
He proudly displays his record collection at his home in the Marigny.
“There’s a new enthusiasm for records going on, but it’s probably more properly called a mania because people are bonkers about this stuff,” Johnson said. “The sound of the records, the richness of the sound, and just the physical artifact itself.”
Artists are also excited about the resurgence.
We ran into Michael Girardot and Andrew Campanelli from the New Orleans-based alt-rock band The Revivalists, shopping for vinyl at Euclid Records in the Bywater.
"As a listener, when I pick up a vinyl record, I get to listen to the whole thing, start to finish,” Girardo said. “It’s an experience. You get to experience the artist fully as just that artist.”
“You feel this,” Campanelli said. “The grooves are the left and right of the waveform. It’s a physical thing that’s not being translated into some digital world and then recreated back to you.”
Some claim vinyl albums have a warmer, more differentiated sound than digital music.
“Digital formats start to thin out or get kind of crushed together in ways that are less nuanced and less resonate, particularly at the really high end or the really low end,” Johnson said.
Euclid owner Lefty Parker’s fondness for vinyl isn’t just about the fidelity.
“Every time I put on a record, I’m hoping to hear something I haven’t heard before, and records give me that because it’s an option that CDs don’t always give me,” Parker said.
Local artists don’t have to go far to stamp out an album.
Owners Scott Borne and Remi Foulon at the New Orleans Music Press in the St. Claude neighborhood say business is booming.
“I really do see this having staying power,” Borne said. “This is the new normal as far as what physical music will look like.”
Records are made by pressing a grooved stencil onto a sheet of vinyl.
The vinyl is then cut, packaged, and boxed.
“We press probably, 5000-7000 records a week, now maybe more than that,” Foulon said. “We started to grow, got more presses, and got more volume going on.”
When customers buy a vinyl record, they get more than just the physical album.
“The pictures are bigger, I can write liner notes. Essentially, it’s a bigger canvas,” Torkanowsky said. “It’s a more substantial product.”
“We went through this phase when you put all this work into a record, and we were asking each other when we were in college and stuff, what is the point of making a record anymore when people just want one song,” Campanelli said.
Speaking of which, we got a sneak peek at the Revivalists’ new album due out next month.
"Pour It Out into the Night, The Revivalists, June 2, go to your local record store, and if they don’t have it, demand that they get it,” Campanelli said.
In a city like New Orleans, which has such a rich musical history, vinyl records are truly an example of what was old is new again.
According to Michael Girardot, vinyl is pretty cool.
"It’s usually room temperature,” he joked. “Don’t leave it in your car. It’s supposed to stay cool.”
According to the Record Industry Association of America, people purchased 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of records in 2022.
That’s a 20% jump from the previous year.
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