This year, you can make the music lovers on your holiday shopping list happy by scooping up some locally released vinyl. What’s more, there are several brick-and-mortar shops where you can buy vintage record players and stereo equipment.

Oh, and I checked with Santa, and he’s cool with you being on your own shopping list because we could all use a little more music in our lives.

The vinyl resurgence has been happening for years at this point with no signs of slowing down, although pandemic-induced supply-chain issues have certainly impacted wait times for artists to get their wax delivered.

Chris Brown, vice president of finance at Bull Moose, said that overall vinyl sales at the Maine record store chain and on a national and international level continue to soar. “Vinyl sales would be growing even faster if there were more pressing plants,” said Brown, adding that more presses are coming online, but it’s a slow process.

On the local front, Brown said things are exciting because more local and regional artists are releasing vinyl, and fans are buying it. “As more and more music fans realize that streaming revenue is pitiful, they turn to buying vinyl to make sure their favorite bands can continue to make music.”

Vinyl releases can range in price from $20 to around $35. But it’s always such a wonderful thing to have in your collection. The album cover art and liner notes are seen as they’re intended to be seen: full size in hold-in-your-hands living color. Then there’s the sound. Is it technically better? That’s hard to answer, but personally, listening to an album on vinyl always adds an emotional layer. It feels closer.

Advertisement

Now, let’s dig into some local vinyl releases and where you can scoop up vintage equipment.

Tiger Bomb’s “Sugar Buzz” album cover. Layout and design by Mort Todd

“Sugar Buzz” by Portland-based garage-pop all female quartet Tiger Bomb was released exclusively on vinyl on June 1. The band is Chris Horne (guitar and vocals), Lynda Mandolyn (rhythm guitar and vocals), Amanda Ayotte (bass) and Jessica Smith (drums). This one’s an absolute banger, and you can pick up a copy at a few places. Kick it old school by messaging the band on its Facebook page or sending an email to [email protected]. You can also order it via the Bandcamp page (tigerbomb2.bandcamp.com). Or visit the online store at Dionysus Records’ page (dionysusrecords.com). “Sugar Buzz” can also be found on Ebay, Amazon and Discogs. Should you find yourself at a local record shop, they should be able to order it from Independent Label Distributors. Go get it!

Cover of “Mourning Travels” by Myles Bullen. Art by Abbeth Russell

“Mourning Travels” by Portland rapper and poet Myles Bullen was released on Feb. 4 on the indie label Fake Four Inc. You can order it at fakefour.bandcamp.com/album/mourning-travels. Bullen speaks, sings and pours out every gram of his heart over the course of the album’s dozen tracks. You’ll hear ukulele, percussion, and assorted electronic sounds and beats that all make “Mourning Travels” so compelling. With a fearless approach to talking about death, mental health and other human complications, Bullen’s record is riveting.

The Ballroom Thieves is a nationally touring folk-rock duo comprised of Martin Earley (guitar, vocals) and Calin Peters (cello, bass, vocals). Us Mainers get bragging rights because they moved to our Midcoast a few years ago and have no plans to leave, other than for their frequent tours. Their latest album, “Clouds,” was released on July 15. Find it on vinyl at Bull Moose locations and ballroomthieves.com. Earley and Peters wrote the album during lockdown, and it speaks to their longing to be back on the road while also delving into other areas like the environment and mental health. There’s even a trippy tune called “Harry Styles,” which declares their mutual love for the British pop star.

Sony PS-333 for $135 at Electric Buddhas in Portland. Photo by Mike Breton

Several shops in Maine carry turntables and other components to get you, or that special someone on your shopping list, set up in style.

First off, if you’ve never been to New England Hi-Fi on Broadway in South Portland, you had best bring smelling salts and a friend to administer them with you. I nearly passed out when I walked in there this summer, as there’s a jaw dropping array of goodies. There’s plenty of new stuff, but also a ton of vintage systems to choose from.

Advertisement

Electric Buddhas at 556 Congress St. in Portland is a record shop that also sells tapes, CDs, T-shirts, posters, patches and stickers among other treasures. But that’s not all. You’ll also find an ever-changing selection of turntables, speakers and receivers. I don’t go in there very often because, frankly, I don’t trust myself not to part ways with piles of money because the place is like Candyland for music lovers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Vintage stereo equipment at The Merchant Company in Portland. Photo by Kit Flynn

The Merchant Company, at 656 Congress St., is a fabulous spot to scoop up tons of vinyl along with a huge selection of handmade and vintage items. You can also score used stereo equipment. Its inventory, like Electric Buddhas, changes depending on what comes in and how quickly it sells, but you can usually find something intriguing in the shop at any given moment when it comes to vintage stereo components.

I also checked in with Strange Maine at 587 Congress St. in Portland, and it too sells vintage stereo equipment (along with a massive amount of vinyl).

Vinyl Haven on Main Street in Brunswick is another can’t-miss spot. The place is like a time capsule with at least a gazillion records for as far as the eye can see. Dave Hunt has owned the shop for decades, and he’s a human encyclopedia when it comes to music on the vinyl format. I mention the shop because Finest Kind Electronics is the other part of Hunt’s business, housed under the same roof, and there you can find a bunch of vintage stereo equipment.

Happy holidays and happy shopping!


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.