Best Medium

Cassette
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
If these days, music consumption is all about either abandoning the object or fetishizing it, I’m standing with cassette tapes. For artists and labels, they’re win-win: Cassettes are cheap and quick to manufacture, whereas vinyl can take more than a month to press and often means a thin profit margin. Tapes also have cachet—especially if you’re into outsider genres—and they’re becoming more common in straight-ahead indie rock. In D.C., my favorite recent cassettes come from Black Telephone—cute, noisy indie pop that owes a lot to Black Tambourine—and Phonic Riot, which with its banshee wails and rusted-machinery riffs really ought to be opening for, say, New York art-abusers Swans. Phonic Riot’s recent three-song recording is the inaugural release of 2,632 Tapes, a new cassette-only label from Fan Death Records’ Sean Gray. And D.C.’s Sockets Records is releasing a “Tape Club” series this year; the first item is a cassette of children’s songs from electro-glam mystery Edie Sedgwick. I haven’t said it yet, and I know you’re wondering: Yes, these tapes tend to come with download codes.
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