You've read the trend pieces, and maybe you've been dubious. But it's official: turntables, which for much of the past 20 years have served as a niche oddity and hipster accoutrement, are now a full-blown phenomenon. According to Billboard, sales of vinyl LPs have skyrocketed by 400 percent since 2008, and are on pace to have another record-breaking year in 2012.
What this means is that you likely know someone with a turntable, either in his bedroom or on this year's Christmas list. While more and more mainstream albums are being pressed on vinyl, local bands have always kept the format alive. Why not hip the record-loving music fan to great local music they can see down the street for five bucks by gifting a local band's album on vinyl?
The debut self-titled release by Trebuchet may be the most accessible of the bunch this year, with melodic songwriting and four-part harmonies. Instruments like piano, cello, ukulele, banjo and mandolin round out the sound, and though the young band is a mainstay of the indie-rock set, they'd fit right in at a KRSH backyard concert.
Less accessible—or rather the opposite of accessible—is 'SF Dissonance,' a compilation released by Santa Rosa noise duo Narph/Nader. If names like Merzbow titillate your aural nerves, look no further for harsh frequencies from a roundup of local white-noise makers to transport your imagination and freak out the cat. It comes with a spray-painted cover that smells lovely.
You could download Darwin Meiners' solo album Starfishing for free, sure, but the heavy aqua-blue vinyl, thick lyric insert and cover photo taken in Bodega Bay can't be matched in mp3 form. Produced by David J from Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, the album's full of delicate hooks, memorable lyrics and familiar local musicians like Emily Jane White, Judah Nagler and Henry Nagle.
When he's not busy playing in HugeLarge, Robert Malta plays in side project Paleophone, whose "Like Stars" / "All I Ever" 45 captures a dreamy, fuzzed-out sound with local references in the lyrics, and even comes with a jukebox strip.
Petaluma punk trio the Connies come correct on Full Round Roger, with blistering songs like "Mr. Marin" and "My Lament Against Apathy." Hand-numbered, with 100 copies on pink vinyl, the record's a perfect fit for high-powered rock 'n' roll fans.
Last but not least, "Bodega Babe" is just one song title from Starskate's Goodnight Nobody, a guitar-drenched slice of loud 'n' fast California reverb bliss that's equal parts Wavves and Roy Orbison. Comes with a hand-silkscreened cover and multicolored vinyl.
All these releases can be found at the Last Record Store, which is starting to live up to its name. 1899-A Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707.525.1963.