By: Taylor Bailey
In Wuxtry Records, which makes its home in the congenial streets of Athens’ downtown scene, a variety of people can be found browsing boxes of vinyl LPs arranged collectively by year and genre. In a tie dyed T-shirt displaying the colorful marching bears known to represent 1960s American rock band The Grateful Dead, Tessa Higdon, a millennial, stated that she enjoys seeing others in record stores like Wuxtry because it means they “are listening to music the way it should be heard.”
For music sticklers such as Higdon, a phenomenal feat has been tackled in the form of sales statistics, as vinyl has surged back to popularity and revitalized music in its purest form. According to Nielsen’s 2015 U.S. year-end report, CD sales, since their prime, have continued to fall which presents vinyls with the opportunity to rise to power. In 2015, vinyl sales were up by 30 percent from the previous year, and have steadily increased since 2005, with independent locations contributing roughly 45 percent of these sales. The record that landed in slot number one on charts in 2014 belonged to none other than Pink Floyd: The progressive musical deity that spanned approximately four decades. The band’s fifteenth and final album “The Endless River” was released in November and showcased an ambient tone.
The question is now posed as to the cause of such an increase and can be answered simply: The revival of retro and vintage culture has taken over the minds of millennials. Suddenly, being old school is trendy, from musical influence to the style of clothing worn by the baby boomers. With distressed and vintage items becoming more popular within retail stores such as Etsy and Urban Outfitters, it is only fit for the musical influences of these time periods to arrive alongside style and these stores marketing on modernized record players only confirms such a theory. A cultural movement propelled by grunge clothing and thrift shopping has begun to place (arguably) the most stereotypically popular of classic rock albums into the hands of trendy teenagers across America, as “Abbey Road” and “The Dark Side of the Moon” end 2015 as third and fourth on the vinyls sales charts. These are, unsurprisingly, preceded by none other than Adele’s “25” and Taylor Swift’s “1989,” as listed by Nielsen’s 2015 U.S. year-end report.
“I like this [vintage] trend because it’s different. In my town especially it’s something that not a lot of people have conformed to, and it’s even more alluring now that these old 90’s things are coming back like the music and clothes and [television] shows,” said Isabel Vicens, a 16-year-old senior at Statesboro High School. “Urban Outfitters has a lot of that merchandise and it’s expensive. So the appeal is that not a lot of people have it.”
On the contrary, Edie Grace Grice, sophomore at Statesboro High, feels differently about why she’s interested in the retro movement. She says that she considers herself to be “an old soul” and says she “agrees with how things were in the 70’s more than I agree with how things are now.”
Urban Outfitters’ Athens location, located on East Clayton street amongst mostly quirky locally owned storefronts, houses a more extensive collection of vinyl than some other store locations. A selection of pastel polaroid cameras and visually appealing record players are on display upon entrance, and in the far left corner of the store, you’ll find aesthetically organized shelves of vinyl, arranged seemingly by popularity, with an indie playlist making its’ way into your ears in the background. A new copy of Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” is priced at $39.98.
“While most baby boomers likely remember records as being in the $10-20 range, a new copy of Bruce Springsteens’s ‘Born in the USA’ today will run you nearly $40,” said Chris Morris, writer for Fortune Magazine.