Noisy songs for a crunchy season…

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The cover art for my November 2020 mixtape.

A few months ago I started making mixtapes again. I don’t mean just making a Spotify playlist, but rather recording songs to cassette tapes, making cover art for the cases and filing them away to play again at a later date on my cassette deck.

I love cassettes and making mixtapes again takes me back to my youth, often making tapes at home when there was nothing else to do. Most of my favorite mixtapes were made in college where I met my wife and spent hours recording my favorite songs for her. …


Do they really sound that bad?

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Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

What do you think of cassettes?

Most people write them off as an inferior form of media, remembering the days of warbled sound, too much hiss or your tape being eaten by your Walkman or boombox.

But are all of these memories accurate? Was the format really that bad?

I love collecting vinyl records but I grew up with cassettes. Born in 1978, I came into the world just before the official release of the CD format in 1982. When I was young, I would take a portable cassette deck outside to the swing set, press play and then proceed to sing and swing. Cassettes were affordable and you could copy songs off the radio when money wouldn’t allow you to purchase new music. I remember recording Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown radio show which would allow me to playback all the current hits at once. …


By A Guy Who Bought Mostly Used Records.

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Photo by Natalie Cardona on Unsplash

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I didn’t buy a lot of new music this year. I bought a lot of records, don’t get me wrong, but most were used records, instead of new music released this year. I always thought of myself as the guy who was hip to the newest music trends and buying things as they were released, but not this year. This means, of course, that putting together a “Best Of” list for 2019 is challenging, but I’m going to take a shot and cheat a little with my picks by including reissues.

I don’t know if it’s worth analyzing my music consumption habits for others but I think I can sum it pretty quickly. This year I switched from Spotify to Apple Music after Spotify repealed the increased royalties to be paid to songwriters set forth in the new MMA legislation and Apple Music did not. So I want to support Apple Music and know when I stream music they are paying songwriters properly. Overall this led to a general downturn in online music consumption for me and I found myself digging more for older records in thrift stores, record shops and record shows. In April I started a bi-monthly DJ residency at my friend’s record store, Vinyl Tap, and found that in order to DJ a four hour set twice a month, I needed more music and used records were more affordable and easier to spin because I knew what songs would work in my sets. So my record budget went to used records and I spent more time listening to those instead of new ones or streaming music in general. …


Using John Prine to decrease my social media consumption…

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I found the above John Prine cassette this weekend at a church garage sale for 50 cents. While playing it at home, I was reminded of his song, Spanish Pipedream, from his debut self-titled LP, the chorus of which proposes a kind of life hack from an exotic dancer in a bar:

Blow up your TV, throw away your paper
Go to the country, build you a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try an find Jesus on your own

The implication here seems to be advice on how to live a simple life. By blowing up my TV and throwing away my paper, I can have time to build a home in the country, plant a garden, eat peaches and find Jesus. …


Working through some personal issues with paper and glue…

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Things have been a little weird in life lately so I’ve been looking for a distraction to keep feelings in check and hopefully keep me from mouthing off or doing something stupid.

“Sometimes we are so confused and sad that all we can do is glue one thing to another. Use white glue and paper from the trash, glue paper onto paper, glue scraps and bits of fabric, have a tragic movie playing in the background, have a comforting drink nearby, let the thing you are doing be nothing, you are making nothing at all, you are just keeping your hands in motion, putting one thing down and then the next thing down and sometimes crying in between.” …


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Robert Dean Lurie’s new book, Begin the Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years, is a wonderful look back at the band’s early career pre-1987, as well as a reminder of just how vibrant the Athens, GA, music scene was during the same period.

This isn’t the first book written about R.E.M.’s early career and selfishly speaking, I’m ready for an in-depth look at their career post I.R.S. Records that spends more time on their years with Warner Bros and eventual break up.

Until that book arrives, I enjoyed reading Begin the Begin as Lurie does an excellent job recalling all of the great bands that existed during that period of time that I’ve forgotten about. Bands like Pylon and the B-52’s are often in my musical playlists so those come as no surprise. What I enjoyed the most was rediscovering the great music by artists that co-existed in the Georgia and North Carolina scenes, bands like Love Tractor, Oh-OK, Sneakers, Chris Stamey, etc. …


Two long time friends talk about music, records and more…

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I started a podcast with one of my best friends, Aaron Ford. Since we’re both named Aaron we decided to dub it, Aaron Calling.

What’s it about? Ford and I met over twenty years ago as freshman in college. We spent most nights in the dorm talking music and still do so today. Because we live in different cities, we usually text our finds to each other. We decided it would be fun to call each other weekly to discuss our finds and record it for a podcast.

Because we’re both busy dads, we decided to simply record our phone call and publish easily without over producing the podcast. It keeps things simple and allows for us to keep recording week after week. …


Would you admit an affair or die keeping it a secret?

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It’s 5:00 am and I’m lying in bed, wide awake, thinking about what I would do if I were accused of murder and sentenced to die, all because my only alibi would place me having an affair with my best friend’s wife.

Huh?

It all started this past Sunday when I stopped by the local thrift store to see if they had put out any vinyl or CDs since I had last been there earlier in the week. If possible, I stop in every weekend to see what treasures I might find.

My last few trips to the thrift store have brought me a few interesting LPs and this visit did the same. Buried underneath a stack of dusty classical LPs was a very clean mono pressing of Bobby Bare’s 1966 album, Talk Me Some Sense, still in the original shrink wrap. I happily paid $1 and brought it home excited to give it a spin, mostly interested in hearing his take on Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe.


Another radio saved from the rummage pile…

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This a General Electric T-104A AM tube radio manufactured in 1960. The radio arrived in great physical condition (no cracks, chips or missing pieces) although it did need a thorough cleaning both inside and out. The radio was not operational, all it did was make a loud humming noise when operating. See below video of how she sounded before repair:

This constant humming is a sign of a faulty filter capacitor. In the photo below, the large red capacitor is the one that will need to be replaced.

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The large red capacitor is replaced with two ones in the photo…


I love bringing these little radios back to life…

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Buy this radio from my new Etsy store!

I recently received the above cute little Sears solid state AM radio for repair. This radio is a solid state model and was manufactured between 1968–70. As you can hear in the video below, when she first arrived all she did was produce a very low hum. I knew this was due to a bad filter capacitor that needed to be replaced.

In the photo below you will see the faulty, old capacitor. The trickiest part was installing new capacitors that would allow for the chassis to properly fit back into the case due to the rather small size of the radio. …

About

Aaron Hartley

Music Business professional in Nashville. Vinyl Nerd. Vintage Audio Addict. Father of twin boys. NBA fan. Cubs fan.

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