Record Store Day can be taken two ways. It's obviously a new-classic American Promotional Holiday; we are encouraged to visit our local record stores and buy, buy, buy. I am asking you to ignore this aspect of the day for the duration of the below piece of writing, and then think about it tomorrow, which is when the action would be required of you.
For now, we are treating Record Store Day like it was a classic Legitimate American Holiday, the kind where we reminisce about why it's important to us. Imagine Impose gathering a large amount of people from all over the country and planet and sitting these musicians, writers, radio DJs, and other music fans around a roaring fireplace. Everyone is kneeling on a nice carpet, or sitting in a comfortable chair. We are all looking at each other like we are best friends. Everyone is nursing a warm beverage and wearing a comfy sweater. Random happy sighing erupts in waves. Then, we ask a conversational question of the group: “What was your favorite record store when you were a kid? What is it now?”, and everyone smiles and starts to tell their story. —Ari Spool, Managing Editor
Case Mahan, Street Gnar
My first records store was Pop's Resale in Lexington Kentucky. Pop's was ran by a super goofy older guy who only wore overalls. Word is, he nicknamed himself Pop. Though it is mostly garbage, the new arrivals come out every Friday. Get there early! If you dig, you can find some awesome soul 45s too. Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach's “Money Jungle” was probably my most mind warping purchase.
Co-Op 87 Records is the best record store in Brookyn. They basically do all the work for you and there is new stuff out daily. I worked there while I was recording my last record.
I was the most stereotypical 90s grunge teen you could image. I went from being into bands like Firehouse to Nirvana overnight. Then I just started ordering 7-inches at random from the Sub Pop catalogue and trying to track down anything Kurt would mention in interviews. Then one day I stumbled into a record store called Piece of Mind in Santa Monica. It was the first time I'd been to a store with new punk vinyl. I bought an Oiler 7″ that I'd read about in Sonic Death (Sonic Youth's fanzine). Some sort of cosmic coincidence that Piece of Mind also were the ones that put this 7-inch out. In retrospect, I realize the store was just yet another small yuppy boutique in the overpriced Santa Monica area. At the time though, it was the secret escape portal from suburban banality that my spoiled white boy brain wanted so bad.
There are more and more small record stores in LA these past few years. I'm excited for the existence of each one, but Origami Vinyl has a really special place in my heart. They are the ones that kinda ushered in this new wave of stores, dedicated to selling nothing other than vinyl. It was a ballsy move that paid off. They run the store very well. I'm sure that is a huge part of their success. Shit is organized. They are really good about carrying local bands and tend to have most every little thing I've just heard about. This is where I bought my first Reading Rainbow 7″ before having even heard the band. Considering the internet and stuff, it takes quite a record store to put me in the mood to do blind buys these days.
Sean Stout, Terroreyes.tv
I think the first record store that I frequented was Tone Vendor in Sacramento when I was around 15. It was tiny, and specialized in more abstract indie/pop stuff. It was mostly vinyl. I tricked my high school into letting me intern there and miss two days of school each week to essentially just sit and put music on my computer, as they kept all of their CD's behind the counter out of their cases. It also had a Pac Man machine in the corner, and a cat. As a young 15 year old handsome man I was fairly content playing video games all day, listening to music and petting my tiny furry companion. They threw shows in that tiny space too, which was pretty awesome…
I think now my favorite record store is Vacation vinyl in Los Angeles… Vacation, or Mississippi Records in Portland. Okay, Vacation for punk or heavier stuff, and Mississippi for more weird world music and folky stuff… Vacation throws shows all the time which is awesome. Origami Vinyl in L.A. is pretty awesome as well, they also do shows and are right around the corner from my house. None of them have a Pac Man machine though, so, they are all sort of failing in that department…
Samuel Melancon, Debacle Records
My first record store was Soundsations (Though up until like 3 years ago I called it SoundSTATIONs) in Issaquah WA, a suburb of Seattle. It was a typical mom and pop 80s/90s style store with a focus on imports and used CDs. It served as the local “head shop” as well, with bongs, shirts and posters. It was the heart of “counter culture” in our suburban boring town. Looking back it was so 90’s it’s almost too funny. I used to go buy NOFX and Rancid stickers for my first car there. I remember buying up all the Chemical Brothers import-singles in eighth grade. I made a few long term friends with the various people that worked there off and on over the years. Like many of these local suburban CD shops, it closed a few years ago. As the years went on they needed the sales from used DVDs, shirts, porn, bongs, more and more. I am pretty sure at the end it was being supported by a diehard group of Juggalos who must not have understood the “miracle” of the internet.
Before cool record stores, downloading, and real live music.. Before records, period… Blockbuster Music. At the Brookwood Mall. In Birmingham, AL. My first spot. They had listening stations with the hot new releases (Chili Peppers' “One Hot Minute”, Alanis Morrisette's “Jagged Little Pill”). They had brand new tapes for $9.99 and huge Pink Floyd Division Bell posters. The store was blue and yellow and always very clean. It smelled so NOW. It smelled like popcorn! BLOCKBUSTER. From which The Who's “Who's Next” cd and the “Riverdance” soundtrack tape sprang forth, with them, an eternal wellspring of inspiration that flows to this day. Hallelujah! RIP BLOCKBUSTER 1996
Justin Frye, PC Worship
My mom took me to planet music in Virginia Beach when I was real young and I tried to buy “The Downward Spiral” but the weiner at the counter wouldn't sell it to me, so my mom came up and said “why won't you let my son buy this record” and he said “do you know what the lyrics are”, she replied “no, do you Justin” and bashfully I murmured “yea, I wanna fuck you like an animal” she said “see he already knows it anyways” and the dude called my mom irresponsible and she got pissed and set him straight. That night my friend Ryan came over and we qued up that phrase and prank called our girlfriends and played it over the phone…
That place had more of am Empire Records vibe, but lately my jam is Vinyl Daze in Virginia Beach, cigarette flavored CCR records for a buck, ask for Mattack…
My favorite record store of all time was Recycled Sounds in Kansas City. It was commonly known as 'dirt cheap.' They had cassette tapes, vinyl, posters, cd's (used & new), magazines, band t-shirts and beloved zines. There were 2 CD players with headphones attached and the employees would pull as many cd's as you wanted to listen to. Rob Lowe (Lichens) worked there a little while…I bought my first Big Black, descendents, and Sonic Youth tapes there, and I remember seeing the The Coctails play an in store in the back of the space. The store was medium-sized and cavernous, there was a case by the front register with new arrivals and rarities. I was totally mystified by this case. There was a section for local bands in with the cd's and tapes, there were xeroxed posters plastered on the store front windows announcing upcoming shows in KC and Lawrence. Recycled sounds was open from 1988 – 2006 on Main Street in Westport. It had everything a teenage girl could dream of.
My favorite record store lately is The Internet. It's open 24/7. It also has everything a girl could want. You can listen before you…well, you don't buy anything really…I still look at band artwork and if I hear a new band I like, I'll look to see if they're playing in Brussels anytime soon. But there's no local band section and nothing is alphabetized. And there are no zines. There are no t-shirts. There are blogs. The best ones sort of kind of remind me of zines. The store is infinitely huge, it has more to offer than any other record store EVER and I can go there in my underwear. But I still really miss the rarities case.
Shawn Reed, Night-People Records and Wet Hair
In the early days (mid to late 90s) I would drive from my hometown (after I got my license) which is about 45 min from Iowa City to record shop. The options back then where more numerous then now but my favorite store back then is the only one still kicking it, Iowa Cities the Record Collector. I frequent the store as much as I ever have checking it out a couple times a week usually. Its moved location a couple times but still hangs out in downtown Iowa City. They have a good selection of used CD's and DVD's but I of course only pay attention to the vinyl. Good finds can def. be found and the owner keeps up pretty well on all the new reissues and contemporary releases that are needed with even some good rare stuff getting on to the shelves. The digging has been really good lately, I usually can score a sneak peak at newly acquired collections and vintage hauls since I frequent the store so much and have a good friendship with the owner so prime scores come my way pretty often at a good price. Recently scored a good lot of rare Flying Nun 7inches and 90's stuff featuring bands like Spectrum, the Moles, Stereolab, 3d's, Dead C, Snapper, Tall Dwarfs etc.
I still love the Record Collector, I have to have luv for the local record store and only option when it does try to keep up and be good for us die hards hitting it up every week in a time when its really hard for small town record shops like it. Others around the USA that totally kill it in my opinion: Apop Records in St. Louis, getting better all the time and a recent visit showed the store on the top of its game with a good layout lots of options, books, tons of tapes etc. Exiled in Portland rules, run by killer people and has serious roots to some prime weirdo selections and deep good digging, pretty much everything in the store feels curated. Feeding Tube in North Hampton is always good for finding weirdo gems that you thought you might never see. I got a copy of this band called the Dogs there once the LP is called Teenage Slime, long lost small town Iowa proto punk, who knew Feeding Tube would be gripping a super rare midwest record like that? All Day Records in Carrboro NC has to be good, I've never been there but I see the lists of what they get in and it seems amazing.
Drew Pearson, Twin Steps
My first record store was scooters records in hermosa beach california. it was smaller than the room i live in now and one side of the room was black people music (blues and jazz records) and the other side was weird punk and hippie type records. i dont know where i would be or what id be doing if i didnt have a skateboard or that record store growing up as a child. the owner (uncle tim) showed me bands like dead kennedys, fugazi, and the make-up. what i learned and experienced from the records i got from this record store is invaluable.
Now I use mediafire.com or a bands merch table at a show. sadly, all the record stores around me are nowhere near the precious quality i had taken for granted growing up in southern california.
Cyrus Lubin, Famous Class
I use to go to a place called Looney Tunes in Cambridge, a huge basement record shop that had an incredible selection. I was really a cassette man until high school but I have a clear memory of getting Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by the Dead Kennedys in 1999 and getting my mind blown. For a brief moment there was an Other Music in Harvard Square and I hit that place up a lot. They had a dog which was a big plus and they recommended some albums that ended up being all time favorites like Ultramagnetic MCs-The Four Horsemen and Company Flow–Funcrusher Plus. The fucked up thing is that when I looked up links to credit these stores they’ve all gone out of business, even Twisted Village which was the best weird record shop ever.
Right now Other Music is my jam, it might be in part because the Boston store had a dog, but really the people that work there are super nice and I’ve had a lot of success picking up records based on their recommendation. I usually go in with a list of new records I’m looking for but I like gambling on random 7”s and they have such a good selection of new ones that I usually pick something up. Plus they were the first NYC store to start carrying Famous Class releases so I have a pretty real soft spot for them…
OF COURSE GONER IS THE BEST #1 U.S.A. PUNK ROCK 4 LIFE
But my first record store experience came about out of boredom during a family vacation in Seaside, FL when I was 11 or 12. While waiting for a table at Margaritaville, I was wandering around the booming downtown Seaside area and came across the record store / book store called Central Square Records. What a breath of fresh air! No Jimmy Buffett to be found! I don't recall actually buying anything on that trip, but for summers to come, I looked forward to visiting a place my parents had no interest in going to. Have you ever seen The Truman Show? It was filmed in this town so it looked pretty much just like Pleasantville. I haven't been down there in quite some time but I know its still around so stop in on your next family vacation!
George Corona III – Owner/Publicist, Terrorbird Media
My first record store was technically Tower Records in Sacramento, CA. But in high school my friends and I would drive to Amoeba in Berkeley to pick up the good stuff. Back in those days, listening booths were the ultimate gateway. Tower on Watt Avenue had a listening both in their indie/punk section, and I discovered tons of music that way. A notable purchase I remember making too, was the Slayer double live album 'Decade of Agression' on cassette — all in quarters and change. They had to count that shit for a minute. I was probably like in 7th grade.
Now, ironically, my favorite is Amoeba in San Francisco. It has the best selection of electronic music, 12″s, vinyl, etc. Personally I think it's better than the Berkeley one, and even better than the LA one too. The LA one is much too big for it's own good. Like you go in there and it's super overwhelming, and you forget what you wanted in the first place because there's so much shit everywhere. The SF one has a similar layout but, and it's large, but it's not over the top like the LA one, so you're able to execute your shopping agenda pretty successfully. Amoeba SF also happens to be by my favorite bar in SF too, called The Alembic. Nothing like doing some record shopping after you're liquored up on some strong ass bourbon cocktails.
Maggie Lee, Photographer
I liked Soundstation in Westfield, NJ, because I could ride my bike there after school in 7th grade and get used hardcore records, and cds that older people in my small town once had in their collection. for some reason I thought older people had great music taste, when I was a kid. It looked like your cool older brother's bedroom. there were binders of pins and stickers. the store was pretty small and I don't remember them carrying any other music than alternative. I got a Minor Threat pin, an I.D.K. cd, and Weezer Blue Record.
Academy Records I think is my fav, now, I just like the vibe. Last time I was there, I got a Tangerine Dream record and Ornette Coleman. What I want to get is the new Nude Beach record and the soundtrack to Suspiria or Cannibal Holocaust. It looks cool, I like the layout and what records they choose to display.
Growing up, I didn't have or go to record stores in nyc. i went to tower records, hmv, the virgin megastore, etc, and i bought lots and lots of CDs, all of which are now basically useless thanks to THE INTERNETS. Eventually my friends and I all made lists of all the CDs we had and traded CDR copies of everything with each other. Those mega chains all sucked big time, we all hated them, and all of them have since gone out of business, which I consider a victory for the Rebellion.
I was especially psyched about Tower records going out of business because as I got older and more daring in my teenage years I would steal from them occasionally, and the last time I went in I got caught with some merchandise in my shoulder bag. They threatened to get me arrested and scared me into signing a piece of paper which basically entitled them to compensation from me to the tune of 4x the dollar amount of what I was trying to steal (if I remember correctly, a Fantomas Melvins Big Band CD, two Residents DVDs, the directors cut of Akira on DVD, and some other weird stuff the security guards could not make any sense of). In the following years I dodged their many legal action threatening letters, and then they went out of business.
I later found out that if you get caught shoplifting and are manhandled in any way before leaving a store, you are free and clear because you technically didn't steal anything – and they are the ones who have broken the law by “assaulting” you. Those threats to call the police were as empty as that whole chain was completely soulless. If only I knew then what I know now…
Actually, what I really lament is that I didn't discover or start collecting vinyl until i was 18 or so, shortly before I started a label of my own. From a very early age I was a vacuum for music of all kinds, and I patronized those stores very frequently for years. I wish I had been introduced to records at an earlier age. In my early youth there were some amazing record stores in nyc… If only I had had a clue back then…
Academy Records Annex
My current favorite record store is Academy on north 6th, which is many people's favorite record store. I used to work at the computer store next door and i would spend a lot of my lunch breaks in there, listening to records and hoping that one day soon I would be able to stop working at that dumb store and play music all the time. Academy was also the only record store that would buy the records I was putting out when I started Infinite Limbs records, which I very greatly appreciated.
My favorite place to buy records, however, is no record store. It is at the merch table, directly from the bands, at the show. No purchasing experience beats putting money directly into the hand of the artist, in my opinion.
Ty Ziskis, CMRTYZ
Growing up in Fresno, CA, my favorite record store was Tower Records. We only had one other record store I can think of that wasn't Best Buy. I always went to the punk/indie section. Corporate vibes.
I used to like Sonic Boom (in Seattle) when Ruben worked there but after he left, the buying wasn't as good. They opened the Melrose Vinyl Market, though, which has some great stuff in it, but I think my favorite is Wall Of Sound. I like it because they have really great taste in music, even if their 7″ selection is pretty weak, and the records they have there are really well curated. Last thing I bought there was a Catatonic Youth record. I really wanted this Mummies record but it was too much for me. It's got black paint outside with big windows. Kinda tall ceilings, records on all the walls, and bins against them. In the center there are cd racks, they sell out-of-print CDs too, and at the register, rare tapes behind the counter. Pretty sweet. They're tearing down that whole block though for condos so I only have so much time left with the place.
Hannah Lew, Grass Widow
I used to buy CDs at the Wherehouse, but when my little sister and her friends kept stealing my CDs, I decided to start collecting something more substantial that they wouldn't be able to get away with. There was a small dusty record store called Flat Plastic Sound on Clement st. in my neighborhood in SF. It had a giant record as the sign. As a kid- I had a record player in my room and had a bunch of Beatles,Velvet Underground from my folks, and also some weird stuff like Dukes Of Stratosphere that my big brother gave me. But as a 14 or 15 year old I remember buying Descendants Milo Goes to College. That was the first record I ever bought on my own.
I think my favorite store now is Mississippi Records in Portland. It's a small shop-but it's packed with quality. Also-Eric -one of the owners puts out his own cassette comps and they are all golden.
Edan Wilber, Death by Audio
My first Record Store was Daddy Kool, well the first independent one anyway. I had been buying tapes and cds from the music stores in the mall but I dont even remember what those stores were called, at one point we had a Blockbuster Music. but the first indie i frequented was Daddy Kool Records in St. Pete,Fl. I liked it because there were only a few record stores in town and this place had the best stuff, a nice staff, and they were a few blocks away from the 2 main music venues I frequented in town. I bought alot of my early record collection there, all my pop punk classics. I started buying vinyl actively in highschool because i had one of those combo stereo units that had everything. Definitely got some MXPX, Alkaline Trio, Rancid and NOFX records there. It was a pretty plain storefront, they eventually designed a big logo decal to go in the front window, they have moved 3-4 times in the last decade but always on that same block, just a different store front, I went back recently and everything is overpriced, they still have a great selection and staff, but I'm sure the rent on that block has skyrocketed and these guys have been forced to raise prices to stay open.
My favorite record store now of course is the Academy Annex in Williamsburg. They have an amazing selection, pretty cheap pricing and the best staff ever! I get alot of new records there as well as tons of old stuff, things im looking for to complete a collection. I go there at least once a week, last week i picked up a bunch of dollar bin 7 inches because i had heard the band name or the label name, just wanted to see if there were any hidden jems, which their often are, i also picked up Nation of Ulysses -13 Point Program, The Void Reissue on Dischord, and Party Platter, a comp on Floridas Dying. Academy has a great look, its nice and open, they have a lot of records but its not too packed in there, you can breath and it doesnt have that old record smell too bad.
I also need to give a shout out to CO-OP 87, Mike and Mike have started something really great up on Guernsey street and i feel like they its only going to get better! Considering both of those dudes worked at Academy for a long time.
Runners Up: Record Grouch, Permanent Records & Hot Topic
Sebastian Cowan, Arbutus Records
I went to Zulu Records, in Vancouver, BC. It had a used CD section in its loft. You could get CDs for less than $5. Sometimes I'd switch the price tags around, too. I bought every Warp Records release there. It was probably summer 2003 and someone unloaded, periodically over a two week period, the entire Autechre catalogue. It was dark green and black. 1970s avocado.
My favorite record store now is Phonopolis, in Montreal, Quebec. It has great instores, it's the closest one to my house, and it's run by my friends. I buy my friends cassettes there. To be honest, it's pretty indistinguishable – but there's a tiny little room in the back where the shrink-wrapper is. They let me go in there to shrink wrap the Tonstartssbandht records 🙂
Zach Staggers, the So So Glos
Moon Ska records on 10th street in the East Village was our spot in the era before the internet. They were more than just a record store, they were a label too. When you walked down those steps you entered a clubhouse complete with checkerboard floors, gas station t-shirts, patches & chain wallets. All the bands they put out, or repped, were part of an underground community and there were a million compilations named for ska puns that got passed through our group of friends. Really, thats how we learned about independent music. Ska was a phenomenon. A lot of people look over the whole culture as unimportant – especially after some bands broke into the mainstream, and others became kind of novelty – but, as kids, at like, 13,14 years old, we would tramp the city day and night looking for music that, frankly, rocked. Ska had the energy, the roots, the ethos and the lightheartedness to catch us at such a young age. Moon Ska Records was at the center. R.I.P. Moon Ska.
Jacob Severn, Impose
My first record store was Second Time Around in Seattle, WA. It's closed now, I think. It was the grimey kind with, in addition to records, a bunch of broken guitars and used video game controllers for sale. Their racks of used CDs and records went on forever, but the best part was their collection of 7 inches, most of which were from local bands. I'd bus there from the suburbs and stock up every weekend. The first thing I remember buying there was the single for 'Sick and Wrong' by Built to Spill.
Wall of Sound
My favorite record store is Wall of Sound in Seattle, WA. I live in NYC now, but haven't been able to find anything quite like it here. Maybe the closest equivalent would be Other Music, but I've never felt the same warmth from there emloyees, plus once they sold something I put on hold to someone else. Wall Of Sound has an entire section of Japanese noise, and they know what weirdos like. They also let you listen to almost anything, and have just about any small music related publication you could want. It's a litte shop, but you can spend a whole day in there, and walk out $250 poorer. And you should.
Maria Sherman, WNYU
The first record store I ever went to was called Guerrilla Music in Trier, Germany. Located mere blocks from the childhood home of Karl Marx, Guerrilla Music specialized in little more than Industrial and local German punk bands. They also sold Sigmund Freud shaped lollipops that tasted like ass.
Because, at the time, there were no malls in Germany, Guerrilla sort of acted like a more alternative “Hot Topic” of downtown. It was a little bit off the beaten path–not too far, more like one false turn would land you in front of it's large, tinted glass doors on Fleisch Strasse (Flesh Street.) The interior was mainly black, with tons of Test Department and Black Sabbath paraphernalia lining the walls. The front room was dedicated more to graphic tees with pornographic images than records, but once deep enough inside the store; you'd stumble upon the stacks and stacks of LPs.
The first time I went there I bought Joy Division's “Unknown Pleasures” largely to impress a boy I had no shot with. I mean, dude, if you're listening to JD in 7th Grade you're way out of everyone's league. Or you're in 7th grade now and are really good at the Internet.
I think I enjoyed Guerrilla as much as I did because a.) It was the closest record store to my tiny village (though the hour long train ride did seem to take forever) and b.) It was the
Last time I was in Trier, in 2010 or so, I went back to Guerrilla Music, which, sadly, has been converted to the Deutsch version of a Pac Sun. The backroom has converted into the front. They have some records, of course, but the only thing even vaguely of note was a Hot Water Music LP. I digress.
Although I live in New York, where there are countless amazing record stores (I told myself when I was 15 I would move to the city and work at Other Music one day–it could still happen,) I think my favorite record store right now is Trailer Space in Austin, Texas.
Trailer Space has everything the ideal record store should: tons of old out-of-print releases, regular in-store performances, a pizza truck next door, a strong BYOB policy.
The product of an uncomplacent childhood (I moved every two to three years) the biggest draw of the independent record store (other than, you know, music and stuff) was the focus on community. Regardless of the town I drifted to, the record store was always a place best served for those in the scene.
Trailer Space has taken this to a new level. Local punk label 12XU recently released a compilation LP (appropriately titled “Bring Beer”) benefiting the store, Austin bands time and time again pledge their allegiance to TS, and I'm pretty sure during SXSW last year they posted a sign that read “LOCALS ONLY” on their indoor bathroom, forcing all of us out-of-towners to use the port-a-johns outside.
For whatever reason, ever time I go to Trailer Space I hit the Homestead Records jackpot. I've picked up a couple albums by My Dad is Dead and the Frogs–basically, if I can't find it, it's American and more or less shreds, it' at Trailer Space.
It might also be the last/first/only stateside record store where all the staff is mad friendly. Like unnecessarily friendly. BRING YO CHILDREN BRING YO BEER
Taraka Larson, Prince Rama
My first record store I went to in high school was Sundance in San Marcos, Texas. It smelled like dust, mold, and nag champa and the walls were covered with flyers from shows that happened six years ago mixed with day glo posters of Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. I kinda had a crush on one of the guys that worked there, which was a big factor in my fidelity to the place. He looked like a redneck Rivers Cuomo. I remember the day we realized we both shared a Weezer obsession he sold me a bootleg cd-r of Weezer b-sides that I must have listened to non-stop for a year afterwards. What a babe.
My favorite record store now would probably be Mississippi Records in Portland. Every time I walk in there, I always walk away with a thick stack of bollywood tapes from the dollar bin… every one of them SOLID GOLD. One of my favorite parts about the place is probably the people that frequent the listening stations. There's this one gentleman in particular that seems to magically be there every time we go (maybe twice a year) jamming old soul records on the headphones like he's the last man alive and feeling it SO HARD… getting up out of his chair every couple minutes to pump his arms and let out a primal wail as loud as he can.
Marty McSorely, WFMU
Vinyl Solution was my first record store. Where up in LA the 90s were blowing up with a killer Hip-Hop and an amazing Punk/DIY scene, the burb I came up in was busy being declared The Skinhead Capital of the Country by the LA Times. As a result the only place me or the only other 2 brown kids that were into music in our area had to weed though not so occasional Skrewdriver records in a store named after a plan to exterminate us if we wanted to pick up any Dischord, Epitaph releases or At the Drive-In records. Far as I know it's still there, with its bootleg PBR logo, stuck in a strip mall between a Play It Again Sports and a Coco’s, but I haven’t been back since I grew up a bit and made my escape to Aaron’s Records in Hollywood. I’d say about a 5th of my records still have Aaron’s price tags on them and the prices were totally unbelievable. It's where I first was put on to all kinds of out-there stuff from a staff that was a who’s-who of the LA underground, punk, experimental, and hip hop scenes. I could name names but it’s not about that. It’s about $6 Coil records, forgotten Kid Frost 12’’s in the dollar bin and every GSL, Three One G, and SST record I could get my hands on. I am still bummed that Wal-Mart of record stores Amoeba opened a few blocks away and Aaron’s was forced to shut its doors after almost 40 years of business. As Rough Trade announces their plans to open a store in Williamsburg in the fall, I can’t help but worry about some of our local truly indie record shops might suffer the same fate as Aaron’s.
Record shopping is a lot different in New York than in LA. So much less space to spread out and try to cover every genre. Some stores do it all right, but I still find myself going to different stores for different things and extra personality wins out. And the one that wins out for me, I don’t know even know if it has a name. It is a basement spot in crown heights with no other sign other than a suit of armor placed on the sidewalk with the word “RECORDS” painted on it. After ducking down the stairs and trying your best not knock your head you’ll meet Israel, a Black Hebrew Israelite of about 50 with a killer selection of funk, disco, soul, jazz, boogie, hip-hop and R&B used LPs and a few tapes. This is just a section of his personal collection. He’s been open for 16 years and if you asked him what Record Store Day was he’d probably have no idea. Or maybe he’ll just tell you Record Store Day is pretty much every day and that he’s open till around 8 unless someone is chillin then he'll stick around. Only about half of the stock has been priced, there is cash register but I have never seen him use it, no computer, no price guides, no inventory lists. You can dig the whole store in about an hour and pull out a decent stack from his ever-rotating stock (I can’t even imagine what the back room looks like) bring it up and Israel will inspect each record as you find another corner of his record store that you missed in your first pass. Haggle a little, exchange some stories, and leave with some great new old records at a great price. Israel knows his shit and I always try to get him to come on my radio show, but he always turn me down saying “I don’t know. . . I don’t know what I’d say. . . and I have a lot of . . . . well you know . . .kinda controversial options on some topics.” I tell him I don’t care and that he can say and play whatever he wants, but he only assures me he is not worried about me but worried about who is listening, the man is everywhere. Real deal record store, real deal character, and consistently my favorite record shopping experience in New York. 1118 Fulton Street. In the basement. Closed on Saturdays. Look for the suit of armor.
Possibly unnamed record store.
My first record store experience was at the Strawberries in Manchester, New Hampshire circa 1985. (It was located next to Chuck E. Cheese's which I frequented more often at that age. So much fun diving into that pool of colorful balls and coming up with someone else's band aid in your hair.) I went with my friend Derek and his father. I bought Led Zeppelin IV on tape. It impressed Derek's dad and that made me feel cool. I think that tape scared me. I was about 10 years old
Embla Karidottir Dahleng, Razika
The first record store we used to buy our records at, here in Bergen, when we were kids, is called Platekompaniet (“The Record Company”). It's the biggest record store chain in Norway and we liked it because the people who worked there knew their stuff. At first we bought singles every Friday, such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Eminem and so on. But then we became teenagers and discovered another record store…
Our favorite record store now is called Apollon. It is an independent record store, and is only here in Bergen, and it's been that since its opening in 1976. Here the poeple really know their stuff, and they'll tell you (in a good way) what they think about what you buy – which record you should by instead and so on. The owner is called Engelen (The angel) and is also a music reporter. Very important guy in the music scene here in Bergen. We shop at Apollon because we want to support the place where we could get all the music we want, and if they don't have it, they know where they could get it and order it for you. They also sell concert tickets and now they're opening a bar inside the store! It actually just burned down, so now it looks a bit dark inside, but they've been working hard to renovate it, so now it's bigger and even cooler. What record store could be better than this? We cant' wait to take our first beer at the best record store we know!
John Yingling, Gonzo Chicago
My first record store was The Exclusive Company in Appleton, WI. It's still open. That area had a great music scene at the time. It looked and felt like any other record store I guess, with it's own snarky staff and shitty posters all over the walls. It broke my rock n' roll cherry on a ton of stuff, mostly due to a rad older brother. Punk rock kids worked there, so it was stocked with all the 90's indie goodies, from Brainiac to Bluetip. I remember buying a Rocket From the Tombs record thinking it was a Rocket From the Crypt record.
Current favorite in Chicago is Permanent Records. Not only are the owners fucking phenomenal people, the warm blue walls meld nicely with unbelievably loud in-stores over the years from Chicago and beyond, including, not but limited to Running, Marnie Stern, Obits, Dead Ghosts, and Human Eye. A really nice cat hangs out, unphased by it all. They run a record label that puts out the abrasive and spectacular. I love them. They just opened up shop in L.A., too!
Dale Eisinger, Impose
My first record store is a place in Boise called The Record Exchange. I would drive there every day after high school my senior year, when I finally had a license. I was the last one to be able to drive a car. By the time I was ready to cruise around the city, all my friends had part-time jobs after school. I just went to the record store. Not only was it a safe place for weirdos to hang, in Boise, Idaho it was basically the only source of valid cultural currency in the city. As I would tear myself from school and swear to myself how misbegotten and misunderstood I was (I was 16) and do anything to never go home for whatever reason, The Record Exchange was the perfect excuse. I would listen to CDs in my white Ford Escort wagon–it could hold my drums–and probably smoke cigarettes as I drove from West Boise, down the neon-littered fairway that is Chinden and roll across The Connector, down into the city. That's the best view of our skyline and also the memory I have associated strongest with going to the record store: the khaki, dune foothills giving way to the Rockies, forgrounded by the snake of trees lining the river and the modest, stout structural campus of Boise, a lemon sun cast through the opaque mountain air. I was making money mowing lawns and washing dishes and it's amazing to think how seriously I took CD collecting then–every cent was for gas and discs. The first CD I ever bought there was As The Sun Sets – “7744”, a record I still love and my gateway to things nosier and heavier than the inundation of brocore that I had been wading through. I think As The Sun Sets turned into Daughters, another record I bought at The Record Exchange. It's really the only place I still buy records, except for at shows. I can never resist. Their collection of 7″s are amazing and the last thing real great purchase I made was a Tears For Fears single, paired with a Pyramids/Horseback dual 12″/7″. My man Brion Rushton (B-Rush) said I was the first one to buy it, which I found surprising. I think someone told me to get a job at The Record Exchange you have do things like apply in crayon. I'll ask B-Rush next time.
My first obsession with record stores started in my hometown, Edmonton. There were two sister stores that I frequented, Southside Sound and Sound Connection. I went to Southside Sound more often because it was closer to my house. At this time I was mostly buying cassettes of punk stuff like Crass and the Misfits, and pretty much every local demo tape, as well as 7″ records by whatever few local bands were pressing vinyl, anything that had a cool cover, bands I had heard in skateboard videos, or stuff I had read about in maximumrocknroll. The internet didn't exist yet (I'm kinda old), so finding out about new music really depended on what the local record stores brought in, what the staff would recommend, and a lot of trial and error. Back then, Southside Sound was a pretty small store with a few big racks of cassettes by the till, and record bins lining the walls and in an island in the middle of the store. I grew up going to All Ages hall shows, and the day after pretty much every show I went to, I would be in the record store hounding the staff for a tape or 7″ by whatever bands played the night before (the answer was usually something along the lines of “uh, that was their first show, they don't have anything out yet”… I must have been so annoying). Sound Connection was a much bigger store, with a bigger variety of LPs, and they also carried a lot of t-shirts, which is what I often went there for.
My favorite record store now is Blackbyrd Myoozik in Edmonton. Jason from our band works there, my wife used to work there, my best friend used to work there, I've pulled the odd shift here and there over the years. It is a comfortable local shop, with CD racks lining the walls and record bins filling the middle and back of the store, they manage to pack a lot of product in there without feeling cluttered. Blackbyrd carries both new and used vinyl and CDs, which is great for digging. The staff are all huge music fans, and are always bringing in something cool that I haven't heard or wouldn't expect, and I can trust their recommendations. I'm mostly buying vinyl these days, LPs and 12″ singles (although I still buy a lot of rap on CD, since I like listening to it in my car). I still prefer going to the record store and flipping through the crates to find something new, it's been a huge part of my life since I was a kid. I would say that the reason I started DJing (and in part why I started playing electronic music) was because I was already buying and collecting the records, and it made sense to learn how to play them out. Edmonton is lucky enough to still have a serious grip of independent record stores, in addition to Blackbyrd, I'd like to give a shout to Listen Records, Treehouse Records, Freecloud Records, Permanent Records, and the current incarnation of Sound Connection.
Crawford Philleo, Tome to the Weather Machine
When I find myself with an extra chunk of change and and an itch to hear something different, I take my hard earned cash to Wax Trax on 13th & Washington in Denver. A quaint CD store with an extra separated room for vinyl one space down 13th, I generally step foot through the latter's door and head straight for the new arrivals section where I can spend an easy hour or two flipping through discs and learning. Here you'll not only find the latest in 33s of the fringe, but Wax Trax also always takes care to stock excellent reissues from crazy bands I've never heard of. The real sales come from the little write-ups they so eloquently tape to the front of the plastic sleeves—brief but informative descriptions on where whatever it is came from and why it's worth your time and money. I always gravitate towards the stuff I've never heard of, and these records never fail to please. Recent gems include J.T. IV's Cosmic Lightning, Glands of Eternal Secretion's recent double album and a fantastic live record from Columbus, Ohio's legendary Cheater Slicks. They have great electronic, hip hop and jazz sections too. Wax Trax also hosts excellent in-store performances on the regular, like Flipper(!) just a couple of weeks ago. A knowledgable staff, friendly clientele, records up the wazzoo and a small, cozy atmosphere. What more could I ask for in a record store?