Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

A new spin on old records

Megan Smith

They may hang out in the basement, but that doesn’t mean the New College Listening Library Syndicate doesn’t know how to raise the roof.

“We’re starting off small,” said Matt Hussong, a New College junior and member of the club. “You could even say below basement level, but we’ve got big plans to get this thing off the ground.”

Hussong’s basement analogy serves just as effectively as a description of the group’s physical location as it does a metaphor for the club’s newness to the campus organization scene. Every Friday afternoon from 3 to 5, the NCLLS meets in Lloyd Room 001, a cozy storage closet in the building’s basement, to listen to their collection of approximately 3,000 vinyl records.

“We’ve got a whole lot of records, so we just come and put them on and chill out,” Hussong said. “This is hangout time.”

The NCLLS officially formed this semester, but the club has its origins in the 2010-2011 school year, when New College senior Jake Smith, president and founder of the organization, was enrolled in a songwriting class taught by religious studies department chair Ted Trost. When Smith expressed an interest in founding a listening group, Trost donated more 800 records from his personal collection to get the club’s library started.

“Records take up a lot of room, and the students were interested in doing something with them, so I wanted to give them to the students for them to use,” Trost said.

Since then, members’ and professors’ donated additions to Trost’s seed records have given the group an extensive and diverse collection.

“We’ve got some of everything,” Smith said. “Lots of rock and roll, some jazz and even some country.”

With so much to choose from, one would expect disagreements to arise between listeners regarding what to play. The club keeps it laid back, though, with members browsing through the boxes of vinyl stacked throughout the room and placing selections in an informal queue. Last Friday’s music selection meandered from Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto to David Bowie to Lionel Richie to Led Zeppelin.

“This is a huge selection,” said Melissa Lockhart, a sophomore and first-time NCLLS visitor. “I think the only records my family owns are a few by Fleetwood Mac and Queen.”

Both Smith and Trost emphasized the club’s mission of preserving the experience of listening to records in a time when Lockart’s minimal home vinyl library places her in the overwhelming majority.

“The experience is different when you are listening to a record,” Trost said. “You have to physically grapple with the disc and put it on the turntable. Also, you tend to listen to the whole record through, because you risk scratching it up if you try to skip. You have to respect the structural importance of the album that the artist originally intended.”

Smith also stressed the value of the organization’s social aspect. Though the club is called the New College Listening Library Syndicate, membership is not exclusive to New College students. Smith encouraged anyone interested to come check it out.

“Our main goal, other than the appreciation of analog technology, is to bring people together,” he said. “You see all these people walking around listening to iPods, when there are thousands of other people doing the same thing – listening to music. We want everybody to come and enjoy listening together.”



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