There was a time in the '90s, at the advent of widespread CDs taking over our homes and cars, when the vinyl record suddenly became the least important physical media on Earth. Or so it seemed, anyway. In Vinyl Nation from filmmakers Christopher Boone and Kevin Smokler, however, we learn that while the rise of digital formats placed vinyl firmly in the ICU for a decade and change, the audiophiles, record store geeks, artists, businesspeople and young folks looking for a more meaningful experience somehow managed to keep it on life support long enough for a resurgence, and we're now smack-dab in the middle of a real-life renaissance.
With the help of collectors, musicians, producers and craftspeople, Boone and Smokler argue that vinyl holds a magical and superior place amongst the true believers in the pantheon of recorded sound. As one subject succinctly puts it, some folks are just drawn to its inconvenience. We learn that the size and shape were marketing ploys that unwittingly cast a spell on those who wished to hold something tangible, how liner notes were and still are important and who's making the beefy 180-gram records and creatively fascinating packaging of today.
This means interviews with everyone from Gen Z noobs and Record Store Day founders to Urban Outfitters buyers and Instagram recreationists. We learn how the stuff is made, how it's a shareable media across generations; we meet precocious pre-teens and certified snobs—all of whom tell the same story: Vinyl can and does change lives.
Thankfully, Boone and Smokler also tackle the concepts of misogyny and racism, though a slightly deeper look would have been a welcome extra few minutes in an already fairly short running time. Still, the notion of ponytailed weirdo spinning records like some Hornby-esque unappreciated scholar is thankfully diminished in place of music lovers at every end of the spectrum. If nothing else, you'll wanna flesh out (or start) that collection after watching this film. Luckily, local shop Lost Padre Records (905 1/2 Alameda St., 310-6389) is in on the Record Store Day celebrations this Friday, Aug. 28 and the Jean Cocteau and Violet Crown both have this doc online.
+Full of cool information; inspiring
-Stones left unturned; we'd have watched more!