Arts & Culture

Mining for treasure at Taz Records

Vinyl records making subtle resurgence on music scene

written by Josh Healey
December 10, 2016 9:10 pm

Taz Records is packed with mountains of undiscovered vinyl that threaten to spill onto Grafton Street. Seamus Ryan, a vinyl enthusiast and patron of Halifax’s Taz Records, considers some of his past discoveries.

“There’s a great Elmore James album that I discovered there – a real blues artist. Honestly, there’s lots of treasures, even with the artists you know,” says Seamus Ryan, “You find these little known records that maybe aren’t being reissued anymore, but they’ve got them there.”

Many of Taz’s customers feel this way, says Skyler Macdonald, an employee at the record shop.

That feeling of discovery – of stumbling upon treasures – is what keeps Taz Records going for over 20 years. Now, they’re seeing and nurturing a resurgence of vinyl for a younger generation.

“You don’t get the same feeling streaming music online,” says Macdonald.

Taz Records is helping this younger generation connect to music in a way that streaming services can’t compete with.

“Being able to lay your hands on it – it is like touching the past, like you’re connecting to the roots of music.”

There’s a personal touch to the record shop; doing business face-to-face. This is the sense of community Taz Records strives for, not only with its customers but with the record industry in Halifax.

“We know all the local artists and all the projects we put out. We like to support everybody around the music community. And we have customers who come back every single week just to get different records and CDs,” says Macdonald.

Macdonald says by building a sense of community, it enables a positive and competitive atmosphere for the record industry in Halifax.

Customers are enthusiasts who want to build their collection. It fosters a sense of ownership.

“It’s just really nice to get your favourite album on a record,” Macdonald said.

This is a notion that Ryan agrees with. There’s a connection.

“When you buy that record, it is your edition, your copy. There may be five or six editions but this one is yours in particular,” says Ryan.

Dr. Steven Baur, a professor of musicology at Dalhousie University, says that he believes record shops are offering new generations something that was lost.

“I like vinyl. I like the album covers, I like the sound better, even though it wasn’t as pristine. The vinyl has a warmer sound,” says Baur. “I think that’s one of the things that this generation is rediscovering. There was a trade-off.”

There’s an attraction to the idea of the vinyl object itself. Enthusiasts want to build their collections and see it visibly grow, something Baur says isn’t offered by the digital recording and distribution industry.

“The size of an album is wonderful. It’s almost a ritual to take the LP out of the sleeve, to remove the inner sleeve, and to place it on the turntable. You sit down for an album experience.”

His favourite album?

Baur grins.

“Something by the Beatles—which album is always changing. Sometimes it’s Revolver, sometimes it’s Rubber Soul. It’s been a battle between the two.”

With the resurgence of vinyl, there’s a new generation to discover these treasures offered by stores like Taz Records.

The Greater Halifax area has an excellent selection of record stores to offer to the vinyl community. Taz Records has two locations; the main store is at 1521 Grafton St. and the second at 1270 Bedford Highway. Two other stores are: Obsolete Records at 2454 Agricola St. and Select Sounds at 1475 Bedford Highway. Collectively, these stores are helping to keep vinyl records available and are apart of a resurgence of LP seen in the last few years.