Vinyl records may seem as ancient as the Pyramids in the evolutionary chain of audio technology -- the phonograph record, the eight-track tape, the cassette tape, the CD, the MP3 -- but yet they've somehow survived even while cassettes and eight-tracks went tits up. Before shareware programs like Napster and Kazaa, buying records was the best way to get your hands on rare cuts by your favorite band. Even in the digital age, records provide some perks that CDs just can't: the nostalgic charm of dropping the needle down on the vinyl and hearing the crackling before each song; bigger and better cover art; freebie inserts like posters; "subliminal messages" when played backward. And even though the number of people who own turntables has decreased, bands are still putting out records, whether they're mainstream acts like System of a Down (which released a limited-edition, double-picture disc LP for the Mezmerize/Hypnotize albums), or the local indies we scope in the accompanying reviews: Big Vinny & the Cattle Thieves Jawa Secret Life of Painters
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