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7-inch Renaissance

A pop music icon, the 7-inch single has endured the test of time. The cave-dwelling ancestor to the MP3, the old-fashioned format refuses to go away despite the efficiency and portability of compact discs and file-sharing software. Technological advances aside, these other formats don't possess the personable qualities of a vinyl single, and having crystal-clear sound quality sacrifices the crackle and warm analog buzz of a record. Over the course of the summer a slew of local labels and musicians have rediscovered the appeal of the single.

Since July, local labels, including garage punk stalwart Die Slaughterhaus, hardcore bastion Stickfigure and goth-tinged post-punk imprint Luminal Records, as well as one-man fuzz punk act Derek Lyn Plastic have issued a flux of 7-inches. And in doing so, the timeless format has added depth to their respective catalogues.

"Anybody can put out a CD these days," says Stickfigure Records owner Gavin Frederick. "Seven inches are just cooler than CD singles. You can get them in different colors of vinyl, there's a bigger piece of art to look at and they're cheaper than CDs."

According to Luminal Records owner Douglas Rivera the appeal exists in something much deeper than collectibility. "I think CDs are going to become obsolete, like what happened to records when CDs first hit the market," says Rivera. "With the rise of things like MP3s and i-Pods, CDs are becoming less important, and we're seeing a backlash to it with 7-inches.

"The music is permanent and releasing a 7-inch gives you a chance to carry a physical aesthetic all the way through with presentation which is, after all, part of the music."