You remember cassettes? The cases always broke after you accidentally stepped on them. The actual tape caused you mental anguish as you attempted to manually rewind it with a pencil. Loading it in a tape deck made the best analog sounds known to mankind. Well, good news lovers of both music and obscure technology — cassettes are back, baby.
The third annual Cassette Store Day will be taking the world by storm this Saturday. The holiday was founded back in 2013 by UK indie labels Suplex Cassettes, Kissability, and Sexbeat. Burger Records has brought it to the US, and participating countries include UK, US, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, all celebrating the plastic medium often utilized by indie bands. Now, Cassette Store Day is finding a home in the music-loving city of Denver as Wax Trax and Twist & Shout are participating.
“We have so many tapes right now,” says Mike Buckley from Wax Trax. “About a year and a half ago we got a massive collection of sealed tapes from Recycled Records, we still have a ton of them.”
This is the first year that Wax Trax is participating, and Buckley says the store has ordered about half of the possible cassettes from the official Cassette Store Day site. While the store will carry many Cassette Store Day exclusive releases, it will also have some old Denver band cassettes.
“Tapes are a big thing, but it seems to be more of an internet thing than a record store thing,” Buckley says. “Wax Trax has been the best for tapes for a long time. but somehow people don’t know that. We’ve never stopped carrying a lot of tapes.”
Twist & Shout did stop carrying tapes when they went out of fashion, but thanks in part to former employee and Pizza Time frontman David Castillo, the Denver store is a happy participant in Cassette Store Day.
“We did back in the day, and then when they stopped being popular we got out of them completely,” says owner Paul Epstein. “Then three or four years ago we did a small selection of used and now we have a few hundred used and a small selection of new cassettes.”
Epstein said the store will have all the official releases for Cassette Store Day as well as plenty of obscure used and new cassettes Twist & Shout has collected over the years.
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Cassettes have seen a cultural resurgence in the past few years. Indie cassette-centric labels are popping up all over the country, including some in Colorado, such as Tinyamp Records. It’s also common nowadays for bands to record and release on tape, due to their cheap cost and durable nature.
"There's about a million cassette decks still in cars, so people can listen to them in cars," Epstein says of the resurgence. "It's convenient and they're super cheap."
This year, Cassette Store Day will feature releases from the Moondoggies, Green Day, Autre Ne Veut, Surfer Blood, STRFKR, and many more.
So head out to a local record store this Saturday, grab a copy of your favorite album on cassette, shove it in your old tape player and enjoy.