how about ‘record store century’ instead?

thora birch and steve buscemi in ghost world (2001).

I remember watching ghost world and feeling like the rest of the world was getting a little glimpse into the tribe. the record-squeezing, glasses-wearing nerd tribe. I’ve been accused of being an enid in the past, but I feel like a seymour when it comes to music (and god knows I’ve dated several). I sold my stereo when I moved to london, but I kept the turntable. I don’t have a digital camera (the one I want is too expensive); I still use real film. I’m a throwback. I know, I don’t care. I can’t deny that record stores have had a huge impact on me…
1. I remember going to plan 9 in richmond back in the 80s. the snooty goths who worked there (okay, they weren’t all) may have sneered when I bought those import everything but the girl singles, but at least they had them! and propaganda, etc. and when I occasionally bought something they approved of (like squirrel bait), they eyeballed me like I temporarily lost my new-wave mind.
2. I was in vinyl ink when I first heard the magnetic fields’ “100,000 fireflies” seven-inch and I was so startled. mike schulman worked there then and I’m sure played it for me, along with lots of east coast indie pop that was happening then. when he saw me buying the verlaines’ juvenilia, he would then suggest some other stuff that I might like. and he was usually right.
3. pam and I used to drive up to new york city in the early ’90s, but the main agenda was going to pier platters, having a snack and then seeing a show at maxwell’s — all in hoboken, new jersey. ah, those were the days.
4. once I moved to new york city, I spent all my hard-earned cash on 45s at kim’s underground on bleecker street, where josh, chris and jeff noticed what I bought and recommended lots of good stuff to me. I would usually see people there too, like thurston, pavement boy, ira robbins, etc. they had everything you’d want, and if they didn’t, they’d get it.
5. so it was no surprise that I started shopping at other music when those guys from kim’s opened it up in the mid-’90s. I took a decent amount of guff for overly promoting them when I worked at time out new york, but so be it! chris and josh are married to two of my best friends! and more important, the entire ‘decadanse’ section was laid out before me, filled with records screaming my name (gal, caetano, serge, saint etienne, momus).
6. the only other record store I adored shopping in as much in new york was footlight — this one is for the gay men and the wfmu crowd and, hey, even my parents! anyone who loves a crooner or a great record sleeve. sadly they are an online-only affair these days but at least they’re still there!
7. another super-fun place to shop if you’re in chicago is dusty groove. you just have to love a shop that has so many specialties that are right up your alley (brazil, france, soundtracks, singers).
8. carrie brownstein, whose record-store ruminations are here, took me to jackpot records and we both ended up at the cash register with shirley collins compact discs. well, great minds…
9. hard to imagine record shopping in san francisco without amoeba, which I find utterly overwhelming and impressive at the same time. it’s all very silly and old-fashioned, but you’ve gotta love it. they probably have what you need!
10. I found shopping for records in london to be un-satisfying (and I can feel a barrage of pro-london comments heading my way). I always *wanted* to enjoy rough trade more than I did. if only it could have been bigger and slightly more organized! be careful what you wish for. the new and improved, bigger better shinier rough trade shop has opened in shoreditch’s “hipster alley” (that is what lupe and I used to call it) and it is just awful. far more adorable is intoxica, or shopping in other countries where music costs less. there are many gems to be had when it comes to car boot sales and the like.
11. sometimes it is just easier to find something online, isn’t it — so head to yesterday and today, parasol, insound or darla.
12. I am a little out of the loop, having lived elsewhere for the past 4 years, but the east coast still has princeton record exchange, in your ear, newbury comics and crooked beat. my temporary hometown recently saw schoolkids records close down its chapel hill location.
13. and then there is the lovely, life-affirming wfmu record fair. see you there.
14. lastly, we’re not sure what “record store day” is all about but why not go to a record store? if not that day, another day. don’t give amazon all the money!
(readers, what did we miss? please guide us by adding a comment with your top record shopping destinations!)

5 Replies to “how about ‘record store century’ instead?”

  1. i feel similarly about rough trade in london, but LOVE honest jons, right around the corner!

  2. those of us old enough to remember it still have holes in our hearts for Philadelphia’s Third Street Jazz & Rock, where WKDU’s Jackie Zahn lined the walls with so much candy. I’d walk 31 blocks to get there every weekend, spend about 2 hours scrutinizing everything new, then walk all the way back with my new stuff. Sigh…

  3. In the first half of the 1990s, I used to like walking into Norwich on a damp Saturday morning and turning down the steep alley that held adjacently Lizard Records and Andy’s Records. The latter was a kind of local chain; the former an independent shop, whose back room was a strange trove of shifting material … I could never be quite sure what I’d find there. One instance, which naturally lingers still on my shelves: a coloured 12″ of the Primitives’ quite unsuccessful and unremembered Spells ep, its extravagant sleeve signed in silver felt pen by the band.

  4. one word : reporecordsbrynmawr! great instores back in the day. mark powell behind the counter. them were the days. xohpnf

  5. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Last Vestige up in Albany. The store that started in my SUNY days as a garage punk’s dream had 17 years later grown into a premium vinyl delight! Lots of great 45’s. Spent about an hour going through it and found some Walker Brothers and Sandie Shaw stuff that made me happy to no end.


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