That would seemingly make Steve Holland's stacks of wax the preserved fossils of indie label history, but vinyl's place in this tale hasn't been relegated to the museum quite yet. For more than half a decade, vinyl sales have been on the rise thanks to a renewed push for vinyl releases and demand for reissues like those from The Beatles' catalog that topped the vinyl sales charts two years ago. Last year, Jack White's Blunderbuss, released on his independent Third Man Records label, was the best-selling LP of the year. He was joined in vinyl's Top 10 by independent-label releases from Mumford & Sons, Beach House and Alabama Shakes, with Billboard pointing out that 67% of all vinyl albums were sold at independent record stores.
The 7-inch single pitches in too, with scores of them making their way onto shelves on Record Store Day each April. When David Bowie, Dan Deacon, Best Coast, GZA, The Hold Steady and Public Image Ltd. all care enough about the format to release singles on it this year, it's clear that at least a few folks want to keep them around for a few more spins.
I'll admit I've added a couple to Steve Holland's boxes over the last year or so, setting aside empty sleeves for new Titus Andronicus, Sharon Van Etten and Husker Du singles. Just as people keep adding tracks to iTunes to keep the Genius function honest and keep giving artists the thumb's up on Pandora (P - Get Report) to smooth out playlists, I'm going to keep melding my old I.R.S. version of The Go-Gos' We Got The Beat and with found copies of Desmond Dekker's Israelites and The Walker Bros. The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore). In the record bins that fill in the gaps, SST and Black Flag, TwinTone and Husker Du, Dischord and Minor Threat blend with Priority and N.W.A. and Nas and Get On Down.
Those little labels that Steve Holland spent so much time compiling and that my mom spent so much time hiding meant something. They wove together a colorful pattern that crossed time and genre and helped young music fan push back and consume beyond what they were spoon fed.If Steve reads this and decides he wants the records back, I'll understand. It's just comforting to know that the legacy of the labels that produced them has held up as well as the records themselves, and that the labels that followed are still creating a sizable singles stash of their own. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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