The 17 Coolest Record Stores in America
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MUSIC MILLENNIUM PORTLAND, ORE.
Best Place to Buy the Latest Shins Disc While Watching Them Play a Live Set Overhead
Owner and Weird Al doppelganger Terry Currier has watched his franchise ebb and flow with the fortunes of the industry, but Music Millennium—founded in 1969—can rightly claim its place as the Pacific Northwest’s longest-running music store. This low-key “place where the music and people still matter” has long provided rabid musos with both impossibly rare finds and in-store appearances from acts ranging from the late Elliott Smith to Randy Newman to Maureen McCormick (whom most people know as “Marcia Brady”).
[3158 E. Burnside, MusicMillennium.com]
SHANGRI-LA RECORDS MEMPHIS, TENN.
Best Place To Pick Up Hot Buttered Soul on Vinyl and Then Walk Two Blocks For Some Hot Barbecue
Kickass music in a building that looks like a country shack: Southern hospitality and vintage Memphis soul, from Stax and Hi to gritty, homegrown garage-rock like The Oblivians and Viva L’American Death Ray Music. Grab a Kreature Komforts Lowlife Guide to Memphis for a hipster’s-eye view of the Bluff City.
[1916 Madison Ave., Shangri.com]
EAR X-TACY LOUISVILLE, KY.
Best Place to Find Cool Bumper Stickers for the Outside of Your Car, and CDs for the Inside
At a time when indie record stores were dropping off the map, John Timmons decided he needed to move into a building big enough to need its own map. Ear X-tacy grew from the 500-square-foot store it was in 1985 into the 10,000-square-foot music wonderland it is today. With countless listening stations and riveting in-store performances, the shop puts a high premium on musical discovery.
[1534 Bardstown Rd., EarX-tacy.com]
LOUISIANA MUSIC FACTORY NEW ORLEANS
Best Place To Run Into A Neville Brother At The Register
A roots-lover’s dream with no Top 40 to be found. Instead, racks and racks of Gulf South blues, gospel, soul, Cajun/zydeco, R&B and swamp pop, plus obscure local bands’ CDs on consignment. Browsing the “New Orleans Music” section, which takes up half the square footage by itself, is equivalent to a graduate-level education on the origins of American music. In true NOLA style, in-stores with free beer most weekends.
[210 Decatur St., LouisianaMusicFactory.com]
NEWBURY COMICS BOSTON
The Most Likely Spot to Find Your Boxing Nun, Motörhead T-Shirt, and Sheila Divine Exclusive Under One Roof
For nearly 30 years, Newbury Comics has tastefully housed an expansive collection of music alongside all the toys, trinkets and über-geeky McFarlane replicas you can shake a lightsaber at. With great local-music compilations and live discs from nearby venues, the store offers an accessible window into the world of indie culture.
[332 Newbury St., NewburyComics.com]
TURNTABLE LAB NEW YORK
Best Record Joint at Which to Score Super-DL Mixes
Mostly stocked with DJ equipment, the storefront also carries a small, extraordinary range of CDs. Get the latest Ghostface mix, or grey-market bootlegs filled with everything from superfans’ multi-disc tributes to Brazilian master Jorge Ben, to DJ Soul Punk’s CD-Rs devoted to Denim, Leather and Breakbeats.
[120 E. 7th St., TurntableLab.com]
GRIMEY’S NEW + PRE-LOVED MUSIC NASHVILLE
Best Place To See Black Rebel Motorcycle Club From Two Feet Away While Sipping A Cold Miller Lite
Grimey’s is a community record store in the truest sense of the word. The Southeast’s premier vinyl emporium regularly brings Nashville together with intimate in-store performances (the likes of BRMC and Matisyahu have graced its tiny alcove stage) and weekly “Beer Thirty” listening parties, all carefully planned by a friendly and approachable staff.
[1604 8th Ave. S., Grimeys.com]
THE ELECTRIC FETUS MINNEAPOLIS
Best Place To Get Staggered By Musical Options And Terrified By The Giant Cardboard Pink Robot Previously Fought By Yoshimi
Smelling of incense, the original Electric Fetus (others exist in Duluth and St. Cloud) at 4th and Franklin Avenues sports a staggering selection and an intense staff to back it up. From a substantial local section to a listening station dedicated solely to metal, the Fetus thoroughly covers every genre imaginable. There’s a reason this place is celebrating 40 years in 2008.
[2000 4th Ave. S., ElectricFetus.com]
JERRY’S RECORDS PITTSBURGH
Best Place To Spot World-Renowned Crate Diggers—And Nab a Bargain At The Same Time
With millions of records in stock (no CDs, thanks), Jerry’s is a must-see on the crate-digger’s itinerary—whether you’re a bedroom sampler or DJ Jazzy Jeff. While you’re filling out your collection of Dirtbombs or R.E.M. albums ($4 each!), someone else is searching for samples or a mint rarity to reissue: Specialty labels like Jazzman and Rhino scour Jerry’s stable for both business and pleasure.
[2136 Murray Ave., JerrysRecords.com]
[CONTRIBUTING: Andy Beta, Corey duBrowa, Alison Fensterstock, Justin Hopper, Brian Howe, Josh Jackson, Jesse Jarnow, Jason Killingsworth, Steve LaBate, Jeff Leven, Nick Marino, David Mead, Matt Price, Austin L. Ray, Jaan Uhelszki, Douglas Wolk]
Go to "The Physical Artifact"
(Kurt B. Reighley examines the "digital vs. tangible" argument, revealing what it says about music consumers as people.)
Go to "The Golden Age of Retail"
(Brian Howe discusses Wal-Mart, Mad Max, Pearl Jam, automotive exhaust and Proust. In under 400 words!)
Go to "A Place to Hear and Be Heard"
(Jaan Uhelszki reminisces on the Motor City during a time when Iggy Pop was known as James Osterberg.)