Monday, December 15, 2008

LAist Independent Music Store Guide

LAist Indie Record Shop PicksPhoto by FourthFloor via Flickr

We all know Amoeba and mourn the passing of terrific indie record shops like Aron’s and Sea Level, but what about the great stores we still have that continue bringing us back to discover old and new music alike? LAist has compiled a list of record stores from our vast area for the holidays (and a handy Google map) in support of these local businesses that help us remember what it’s like spending an afternoon going through bins, talking shit with store clerks and going home with a song you can’t wait to play.

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Did we miss your favorite music shop? Let us know in the comments and why you love the place.

Atomic Records
3812 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank CA 91505

Located down the street from Portos bakery, Atomic Records carries a lot of rare vinyl, including LPs, 7- and 10-inches. The quality is at its highest here and the prices can reflect that. From LAist writer Bob Thompson:

“Atomic has all used stuff, vinyl and CD, at reasonable prices, and is one of those shops clearly run by collectors for collectors. [My wife] was once fawning over an autographed Beach Boys album in his private collection behind the counter, trying to convince him to sell it to her for my birthday present. In order to decide if I was ‘worthy’ of owning it, he had her call me up and ask trivia questions. I eventually passed the test and am now the proud owner of an autographed 280 gram vinyl pressing of Surf's Up. That was an unusual case but they're just those kind of guys. We have far too few shops like this in town anymore, and should support the few that are left.”

Canterbury Records

805 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena CA 91101

“I'm really into Canterbury Records in Pasadena right now,” says LAist contributor Dan Collins. “They're mostly focused on CDs, but also have a lot of hidden vinyl singles under the racks of music as well as newly pressed vinyl, CD box sets, and used everything on the cheap. They also have smoking hot collections of the best classical music, from Ligeti to hurdy gurdy recordings to Glenn Gould and Yo Yo Ma. They have tons of soundtracks, lots of ethno-cultural oddities from every country in the world, great collections of spoken word, and tons of dead stock cassettes and video tapes for those looking for cheap thrills! They also have a complete collection of public domain films to buy on DVD for about seven bucks a piece. This is where I do all my Christmas shopping.”

Don's Music
4871 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90041

Blink as you’re driving by and you might miss Don’s Music in Eagle Rock, but take the time to seek out this tiny storefront and you’ll unearth a treasure trove of goodies. Offering records, CDs, toys, collectibles, books and zines, the jam-packed shop is a warm, welcoming destination. Owner Don and his feline friend Thirteen will keep you company with cheerful conversation and inspired musical suggestions.

4612 E. 2nd Street
Long Beach CA 90803

Fingerprints is located in the Belmont Shore district of Long Beach. Besides selling new and used CDs, vinyl, books, DVDs toys and gifts, the store schedules great, live (and free) performances. Various jam sessions for The Kooks, The Whigs, Rivers Cuomo, The Delta Spirit and The Submarines took place in store just this year.

Freakbeat Records
13616 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks CA 91423

Boasting a huge section of rock music, Freakbeat Records is also known for great jazz and soul finds too, along with many other genres. The meticulously kept store is filled with new and used vinyl, and turntables are furnished for those who’d like to test drive a used album before buying. A whole room is devoted to LPs and CDs priced at 99 cents a piece.

Poo-Bah Record Shop

2636 Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena CA 91107

What many claim a music store should be, Poo-Bah takes eccentricity, a comfy atmosphere and a sense of adventure for those wanting new and used LPs. It’s the place to go if you want to get a little more left field in your music selection with reasonable prices. They also have their very own in-house label dedicated to putting songs on vinyl. Artists like Kutmah, Dennis Duck, Ras G, Black Monk and The Antarcticans have been pressed for 7-, 10- and 12-inch releases.

Rhino Records
235 Yale Avenue
Claremont CA 91711

Says Joshua Pressman, LAist Music Editor, “Rhino Records in Claremont is just about the best record store in the Southern California region.” Make the drive 40 minutes east from downtown LA and you won’t be sorry upon entering the 6000 square foot space that’s filled with a huge inventory of vinyl, CDs, DVDs and games. Originally opened in 1976 by the Rhino label, this music store has a stage inside for performances. Also there are tons of kitschy toys and items that harken back to the clever Rhino design and packaging of the past that music lovers will appreciate. The location near the Claremont Colleges makes an ideal spot to scavenge for music sold by starving students.

Rockaway Records
2395 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90039

Before there was a yoga studio, before Silverlake Wine, before the designer tween clothing store, there was simply Rockaway Records which opened in 1992. These days, the record store takes up one section of the huge space they used to solely occupy but the same great service and prices are still there. The $1.99 CD and sale LP racks are worth sorting through for one of the most diverse assemblages of music in the city. The store walls and shelves also sport music memorabilia and collectibles for sale. It’s a great place to just walk into and find some happy surprises without worrying about your bank account.

Record Surplus
11609 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90064

“Record Surplus on Pico has tons of really cheap stuff. Every now and again you find something really great,” notes another LAist writer, Molly Bergen. When she says tons of cheap stuff, she isn’t exaggerating. Record Surplus has a whole attic of sale items priced at 92 cents. They carry over 100,000 items in their stock of used CD and vinyl records, DVD, VHS, video games, books and even cassette tapes and laser discs. Listening stations allow you to check out used selections before buying. The place is super dusty and has that thrift store smell, but dive in and you’ll easily emerge with some music you didn’t know you needed or a nice gift for that special someone.

Turntable Lab

424 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles CA 90036

Not for those searching for what’s been used, Turntable Lab offers brand spanking new items, keeping a fairly consistent stock of new arrivals and back catalog reissues. Record players allow you to sample before purchasing and the staff is helpful and friendly. Turntable Lab also has an outlet in New York’s East Village. Here, the store is bigger with clean lines, and in addition offers all kinds of tools for actually making music like DJ equipment, software, synth controllers, mics, mixers and exceptionally curated lines of clothing, books and gifts. The vibe here is definitely street chic, with an emphasis on dance, electro and hip hop.


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