Cassette Store Day Provokes A Mixed Reaction in Phoenix

Cassette Store Day Provokes A Mixed Reaction in Phoenix
Photo by Troy Farah

Sure, you know about Record Store Day, but some people don't have $15 to drop on a 7" single and maybe some people are just a little bit nostalgic for lo-fi. If that sounds like you, then get ready for Cassette Store Day, coming to you worldwide this Saturday September 27.

Although this is only the second year for Cassette Store Day, the event seems to be gaining steam as analogue becomes vogue again. For many DIY musicians, the cost to produce cassettes is far cheaper than CDs or vinyl, making it easier to give their fans something besides an MP3. Like its predecessors Record Store Day and Free Comic Book Day, CSD serves as a great way for people to get excited about music again.

"They provide a real tangible experience that is sorely lacking in today's massively digital culture," says Robbie Pfeffer, co-founder of local cassette label Rubber Brother Records and frontman for the weird punk-funk band Playboy Manbaby. "They're fun, they're inexpensive and they're hand-made. They're little pieces of art that hold art. Also, they include digital downloads, so you don't suffer for the medium."

See also: 4 Locally Released Tapes of 2014 You Should Hear

Rubber Brother Records has worked with dozens of local (and some not-so-local) bands, putting out literally thousands of cassettes with bands as diverse as Samuel L Cool J, Diners, and Emby Alexander. The label has served as an important outlet for music in the Valley that might not otherwise be possible.

Naturally, Rubber Brother will be releasing an official Cassette Store Day Mix-Tape coming out on Friday at The Trunk Space and will also have copies at Revolver Records in downtown Phoenix. It will feature tons of neat music from a buncha artists, including locals like Thin Bloods, Leonardo DiCapricorn, Instructions but also Couches from California and Sun Replica from Poland.

Rubber Brother isn't alone in celebrating: Zia Record Exchange, the music surplus store with five Valley locations, plus two each in Tucson and Las Vegas, will be doing their own Cassette Store Day celebrations. In addition to tapes from Julian Cassablancas, Karen O, Andrew Jackson Jihad, They Might Be Giants, Immortal, and others, Zia is releasing a comp featuring locals such as The Maine, Zero Zero, The Holy Coast, French Girls and The Otte Demos. They'll also be handing out "official Zia Records cassette rewinders" as gifts to customers.

We spoke to Jason Woodbury, part of Zia's social media team (and occasional Up On The Sun contributor and former editor of the blog), who told us that Zia sells CDs and records than tapes, but participating is a lot of fun for the stores. But are cassettes just a phase?

"It's hard to say," Woodbury says. "I think people like creating 'art objects' to house their music. There's something aesthetically pleasing about cool packaging. Digital files have their place, for sure, but record stores are there for the kind of people that want to hold something in their hands, be it a CD, tape, record, Blu-Ray, DVD, VHS, or a book, you know?"  

Ryan Avery, who founded and runs Related Records, is no stranger to releasing cassettes, but he isn't doing anything especially cassette focused this year. However,

Space Alien Donald

is releasing his cassette

Must Be Funny

on Related this Saturday. Avery says CSD is both good and stupid.

"There are no cassette stores. The record stores that sell tapes these days only have a shelf or two," Avery says. "It's great that tapes are getting some publicity, but it's also so silly. I also think it's kind of demeaning to all forms of media to do a special day celebrating it."

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"I hope the different record stores that sell tapes have better sales because of it. And if it helps out different labels/artists that are releasing tapes that's good too," Avery adds. "But it still seems silly doesn't it? Now me saying that shouldn't insinuate that I am anti silly things. I hope if your questions are for some sort of article you don't make me seem anti-silly things."

At the same time, Avery says "It's promoted too much like these things are a novelty. Like 'Whoa, isn't that neat? A REAL cassette tape!? A REAL record! Wow!"

The track list on Zia's Cassette Store Day compilation follows:

SIDE A: The Maine, "Run" [Phoenix] Brian Lopez, "Modern Man" [Tucson] The Dirty Hooks "Moonshine Hustle" [Las Vegas] Zero Zero, "You Know What To Do" (live) [Phoenix] Prom Body, "Money (I Hate You)" [Tucson]

SIDE B: Jesse Pino, "The Burn" [Las Vegas] Chicha Dust, "Como Un Ave" [Tucson] The Otte Demos, "Fears Seem Fair" [Phoenix] The Holy Coast, "Fighting" [Phoenix] French Girls, "Summertime" [Phoenix]

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