It's no secret that the method by which we consume music is a non-static, ever-evolving thing. At one time, gramophones were the staple. Then came the Victrola, vinyl records, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, and compact discs—I may be missing one or two in there somewhere. Nowadays, most people listen to their music as digital files through a computer or MP3 player.
I'm not an elitist when it comes to this sort of thing. As long as I can hear music that I like, it doesn't really matter how it gets into my ears. However, there is something to be said for having something tangible when it comes to your favorite songs. With records or CD's, it takes a lot to lose your entire collection, but when it comes to MP3 files, all it takes is a misplaced click of a button—gone.
Like most of my peers, I use this latter means more often than not. I sacrifice the peace of mind that comes with walls of tapes, and discs, and records for a relative effortlessness.
While this may be the norm, there are many who find solace in browsing row after row of artists and leafing through musty records to find that “gem” they've been searching for. , tucked away in the back of Dulaney Plaza, offers a much needed oasis for those so inclined.
When you walk in, there is an overwhelming feeling of relaxation. The staff seemed pleasant and mellow, giving the sense that almost any question would be fielded with some level of expertise—depending on the question, of course.
During my visit, Marvin Gaye's “Let's Get It On” played over the stereo. This allowed me to mouth along and slightly sway when no one was looking, something I wouldn't be able to do if they were playing some vapid Top 40 single from Justin Bieber et. al.
What really stands out, though, is the collection that Record & Tape Traders has. Row after row of classical, rock, pop, jazz, R&B, and blues CD's assert themselves with an almost intimidating presence. I know I always feel a bit like a kid in a candy store when I'm there. What's more, the back wall contains a pretty respectable volume of vinyl; some new artists, some old, some mint condition, some used. For the avid collector or even the curious patron, the selection is wide and the prices are reasonable. I, myself, picked up three albums: ZZ Top's “Tres Hombres,” and Steely Dan's “Pretzel Logic,” and “Katy Lied” for my haphazard and very small array of records. I spent less than four dollars.
The point here is that one day, your kids are going to ask you how you and the generation before you listened to music. Being that they'll probably have microchips in their heads that can play any song with just a thought, they'll be amazed that music was once played from circles of plastic and vinyl. Record & Tape Traders is a great place to go to either browse or prepare for this inevitability.