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.