A resurrection of the cassette? Frankly, I don’t get the odd nostalgia for this past-its-time technology. Maybe it was all those years hauling them about in my car, having them rattle around in the footwell on the passenger side, the tape jams, the broken hinges on the cases and the overall crappy sound–not to mention the tapes that melted on the dashboard during the summer. They were successful only because they were more convenient that vinyl records. And who’s got time to create a 90 minute mixtape in real time anymore?
So why are so many people intent on keeping the hateful things alive? Collectors Weekly takes a look.
Most of us old enough to have grown up with cassette tapes have fond memories of recording off the radio, copying albums, or making mix tapes. But we also recall that horrible moment when the tape you’re enjoying suddenly grinds to a halt. You press the eject button and try to pull out the cassette, only to find the machine is holding onto the tape. It takes some doing to set the tape free, while you curse your fat fingers and search for a pencil to dig the tape out. Once it’s released, you have to meticulously undo knots and attempt to smooth out the wrinkles in the tape before you wind it back up. But the cassette never quite plays the same, likely to get caught again in the exact same spot.
That’s why, at first glance, it’s baffling that millennial music lovers are embracing the cassette tape, as new indie cassette labels are popping up all over the country. Over the last decade, the retro format has gotten so hip that an annual event called Cassette Store Day launched in 2013 and big-name artists like the Flaming Lips, They Might Be Giants, Animal Collective, Madvillain, and Karen O have put out limited-edition tape-only releases for the celebration. With all the digital music you could dream about available at a click and new records being pressed on high-quality vinyl to provide analog warmth, why would you want to get tangled up with tape?