Vinyl Revival

Vinyl is not dead, but records can die.

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These busted, moldy, scratched, and warped records have taken their last spin on the turntable. Such sorry LPs inhabit thrift stores, garages, basements, attics, flea markets, and bargain bins. They’re often wearing vintage jackets much too groovy for the grave.

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On a good day, we’re just in time to save a stack of played out LPs from the dump. Our Upcycled CD/DVD Holder Books breathe new life into discarded record albums while adding analogue charm to any digital media collection. Take a tour through past CD/DVD Cases handmade from salvaged album covers, accompanied by a tune played on a vintage Commodore 64 computer.

So Close and Yet So Noir…

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Over 5 years ago, we challenged ourselves to track down and watch every film noir made back in the day when noir was noir. It’s been a fun yet bumpy ride mapping our way through cross referenced lists to find rare cinematic gems and plain old lemons. We’ve scoured public libraries, the internet, local video stores, and film noir fests. Now we’re closing in on completing the list.

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But thankfully, there’s always unexpected noirs popping up like weeds wanting their day in the sun. So the challenge continues. At this point, it would be heartbreaking to take a powder on the nightly noir habit.

Luckily, we’ve amassed quite a DVD collection for the dry spells. It was that tippy stack of DVDs that inspired the making of a worthy home for them. We found a couple discarded noir-ish LP covers and worked up a plan for a dapper homemade DVD Case. Over time, we perfected the construction and began selling the one-of-a-kind Upcycled DVD Holder Books.

Recently, we came across this album cover which inspired the making of our latest 52 DVD Holder Book to hit the Etsy shop.

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Inside pocket pages are sewn from repurposed card stock printed with original photography, street art imagery and graphics in keeping with the noir theme.

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Now you too can stylishly tote your film noir library through life’s mean streets.

Meanwhile, we’re hoping to cross a couple more noirs off the list at the San Francisco Noir City 2016, taking us one step closer to wrapping up our challenge… or maybe just a couple films deeper into the shadows.

Lost in the Past Century – Century Records

Before School of Rock there was Century Records. Nothing against the 6-year-old guitar prodigy or the teen wonderkid singer songwriter, but who doesn’t love a creaky out of tune cover song played by a run-of-the-mill middle school band?

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Century Records was largely a franchise operation. Local recording companies across USA peddled Century’s LP Packages then sent their school recordings to Saugus, California to be pressed and printed. Century was the brain child of a guy named Keyser who was deep into plastics and vinyl.  In fact, Century eventually became a strictly plastics operation and stopped its franchising of school records all together.  But not before creating a library of unique no-frills LPs for amateur tin-ear archeologists to unearth and revive.

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In our unrelenting mission to rescue junked albums, we first ran into these LPs in thrift store bargain bins. They usually have a pretty generic cover with a distinctive sketch of the Century Records Building on the back. Some of the tracks are are pretty good, though we prefer the cuts with plenty of rough around the edges. These numbers illustrate the beauty of the Century Record concept: everyone can get a shot at being a recording artist and have the LP to prove it!

Such dillies include Alameda High School Band’s version of Greensleeves on yellow vinyl, the Byrd Junior High 1964 Band’s medley of hits from West Side Story, and the Wilson Junior High School Chorus’ 1967 rendition of the Impossible Dream. Standards like these become instant entertainment in a way that karaoke never could be.

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A few years ago, it dawned on us that we might be able to find the Century building as sketched on the back of the LPs– after all, Saugus is practically in our own backyard. Armed with a map, some Century LPs, and a camera, we headed north on Highway 5. We were certain this distinctive looking building would be easy to spot. No such luck.

We showed the LP to the owners of a local coffee shop, several gas station attendants, and even the woman on duty at the historical society.  No one had heard of the place let alone seen this building. Everyone was really nice though, and the historical society lady even thanked us for educating her about her own town. Alas Century Records was obsolete– erased from the local memory and urban landscape. We’ll just have to turn to the turntable for solace in Wilson Junior High’s The Impossible Dream.