If two years ago someone had told me we'd be buying music on tape in 2016, I would've laughed at them and slapped a Spotify sticker on their forehead. But cassettes are back, people, and we have a choice. Do we embrace the tape deck nostalgia or call those who do 90s scum?
Cassettes may've seen their heyday in the 80s and 90s, but the small and sturdy medium never went fully extinct. Amongst underground, hardcore, and lo-fi punk and rock scenes, recording to tape has been a consistently popular, reliable, and affordable way to share music.
While the reemergence of tape production and consumption seems unexpectedly obscure, it has been a long time coming. Like the 12 inch pieces of wax that made their way back into our lives with the help of Urban Outfitters, cassettes are a standard of the past, made trendy by a generation of music kids struggling to find authenticity in the industry inventions of today. Raiding local Half Price Books and parents' old collections, these kids seek out rarities and classics for their own enjoyment and education.
But it isn't all about the early Duran Duran and dreamy Al Green tapes. More and more popular artists are releasing music on tape. Now, you can own Justin Bieber's Purpose and Lana Del Rey's Honeymoon in perhaps their most impractical formats (both Lana and Justin have great records, but Diplo was never meant to come out of my Sony Tcm-929).
Trends aside, I like cassettes. When the music I buy on cassette sounds like it should be played on cassette, listening is a charming, fulfilling experience. The last album I bought was Boyscott's "Goosebumps," released by Pizza Tapes, a tape label based in Nashville (see page xyz for a q&a with noah of pizza tapes!!) To me, this indie-surf rock collection of magic and mystery sounds its best coming from the tape deck of my friend's deteriorating '97 Jeep Cherokee; windows down, dBs up.
Is it annoying that this underground medium is making its way to the forefront again? Let's be honest, to the indie kids who actually care, everything in this stupid WORLD is annoying. Styles come and go, leaving us with facepalm reactions to photographs of bad hair. Rolling our eyes, we say "whatever."
But, before you hop on the tape bandwagon and hit the local record store, ask yourself two questions:
1. "Do I have anything to listen to this out of?"
If the answer is yes, think long and hard and then ask,
2. "Will I actually listen to this or do I just like how small and 90s it seems??"
The Wigwam © 2019