Animal Collective Vinyl — Yes, Vinyl — Could Hit The Billboard Albums Chart

The album the Chicago Tribune and have already dubbed one of the best of the week-old year, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, could make some serious news next week when the Nielsen SoundScan numbers come out.

Why? The album, which won’t get released on CD until January 20, dropped on January 6 in a deluxe double-LP 180-gram gatefold vinyl format accompanied by a full album download. And thanks to a series of listening parties across the country, it just might break into the albums chart next week, thanks to vinyl sales only. Yeah, that’s right, vinyl sales only (and, oh man, do Web sites loooooove to write about this wacky anachronism).

In an age when downloads are routinely trouncing physical sales, the prospect of one of those old-school albums crashing the party is as quaint as, well, having a bandleader named Panda Bear (as Animal Collective does). Based on the low-hanging-fruit figures on the most recent Nielsen SoundScan tally — which represents the typical early-January dead zone in sales — Merriweather could chart in the mid-160s thanks to the immediate sellout of all 4,500 copies of the initial run.

But because so many of those albums were sold in independent stores that don’t report to SoundScan, it’s impossible to know until Wednesday if the official figures will put the band on the charts. At press time, an unofficial tally on SoundScan put sales at less than 200 copies. To put this feat in perspective, though, Domino Recording Company spokesperson Peter Berard said that Merriweather sold almost as many vinyl copies in one day (including preorders) as the band’s September 2007 album, Strawberry Jam, has sold to date on vinyl.

For now, one of the only places you can get Merriweather is, but Berard said a second press run is under way and another 5,000 vinyl editions should be available within the next three to five weeks.