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101 Musicians Discuss Their Favorite Record Stores

April 21, 2012  |  10:40am

For almost any music fan, record store memories are unforgettable. Personally, I remember Evanston’s Second Hand Tunes being my first. I started my vinyl record collection with a purchase from Reckless Records in Chicago (TV on the Radio’s Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes). Decatur CD has been my home record store for the past six years. It’s these kind of moments that make our experience with the music we consume all the more meaningful. Record Store Day attempts to perserve those traditions, ones which have become threatened over the years.

To celebrate the fifth annual Record Store Day, we spoke with 101 musicians about their beloved record stores and what these institutions mean to them. Hear what members of The Black Keys, Superchunk, My Morning Jacket and others remember the most about their favorite music retailers.

1. Damien Jurado
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Store: Second Time Around
Location: Seattle, Wash.

My favorite record store was a place located in the University District of Seattle called Second Time Around. The first records I bought there were The Cramps’ Bad Music For Bad People, Dead Kennedys’ In God We Trust, Inc., Black Flag’ Damaged, and Crass’ Yes Sir, I Will.

I was 15 years old and had just purchased a used record player from a thrift store not far from my house. Having never bought punk records before, I asked a friend’s older brother where he bought his records at, and he suggested Second Time Around. So, I boarded a bus and made an intimidating adventure to what would be my first outing looking for punk-rock albums. Not knowing really what to get, I solely bought albums based on band names and album covers I found interesting. The record store itself was, “p u n k r o c k” to a T. Used leather jackets hung from the ceiling already covered in spikes and white, hand painted logos of bands I’ve never ever heard of. They also had t-shirts and albums I assumed were collectors items based on the price tags and hard-to-reach distance. The staff was also very friendly and helpful, making suggestions and even throwing in a free Misfits pin. I pinned it to my shirt immediately even though I had not even heard a Misfits song. After my first trip there would be many more visits throughout the years. As time went on Second Time Around went on to carry used movies and video games. The store itself would go through many different owners and would eventually change its name.

2. Brett Nelson
Built To Spill, The Electronic Anthology Project
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Store: The Record Exchange
Location: Boise, Idaho

I grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho (120 miles east of Boise) where there wasn’t an independent record store, only chains full of Top 40 music. I was a sophomore in High School, so 15 or 16 years old, when I discovered The Record Exchange in Boise. It was the first record store I ever went to where I could buy music like Dinosaur Jr., fIREHOSE, Bad Brains and The Replacements without having to special order them. I remember making lists of the records I wanted because I’d get into The Record Exchange and be so overwhelmed by the amount of records I’d browse for hours and forget what I wanted in the first place.

3. Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel
Mates of State
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Store: Love Garden Sounds
Location: Lawrence, Kan.

[I remember] walking up the steep, creaky wooden stairs, petting the two friendly cats, seeing everyone from every local or passing-through-town-band picking out records. The old Love Garden (new location now) was a frequented, beloved place for us. I remember once handing over change, pennies included, for a Helium record and a Blonde Redhead record after seeing them the night before at the Replay lounge. I knew the only place to even look for the records I wanted was the Love Garden.

4. Jim James
My Morning Jacket
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Store: ear X-tacy
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Too many great memories to even begin to mention… played a really fun in-store there once, and bought pretty much every single record of my formative years and beyond there until they closed recently sadly. God bless ‘em.

Patrick Hallahan

Store: ear X-tacy
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Aside from the obvious “I bought pretty much every album I own there” answer, I love looking back on that store as a social haven. In its prime, the gravity of ear X-tacy was immense. Within its walls or outside of the store, minds were met, friendships were forged, plans were made. Many, many memories were made on that property.

5. Jana Hunter
Lower Dens
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Store: Sound Exchange
Location: Houston, Texas

It was really my first record store I spent any amount of time in at all. There weren’t record stores in the town that I grew up in and I never got to go to the big cities nearby where they had record stores. I moved to Houston and I had this very long, amazing relationship with this record store. In conjunction with working at a college radio station, this record store taught me everything about what I know about great, weird music and also filled me in about what was going on around town.

It definitely still exists and I imagine it’s one of those record stores that be around for a while because a whole lot of people have the same debt and gratitude towards them. They tend to bring great music toward to the area and have a great selection of music in their store.

6. Langhorne Slim
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Store: Princeton Record Exchange, Grimey’s
Location: Princeton, N.J.; Nashville, Tenn.

My favorite two record stores are Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton N.J. (the closest and coolest independent record store to where I grew up) and Grimey’s in Nashville.

Best memory would be taking a ride with my brother Jon to Princeton Record Exchange when I was about 15. I remember being blown away by the fact that I had never heard of so many of the bands that were in there, and that the ones I did know had so much more music available then what was being sold at The Wall or Sam Goodies in the Oxford Valley Mall. Nirvana was my favorite at the time and they had at least two full rows. I bought a Japanese import called Mañana that had a song “Dimension 7” on it and a killer live version of “Aneurysm.” I did a lot of dancing alone in my mom’s basement to that record and I still have it!

7. Patrick Carney
The Black Keys
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Store: Amoeba Records (Haight-Ashbury)
Location: San Francisco, Calif.

Record I purchased: I bought The Shaggs album Philosophy of the World there. :(

8. Adam Cohen
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Store: Tower Records on Sunset Blvd.
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.

Tower Records on Sunset Blvd—now closed of course. I once waited in line for a record with Elvis Costello behind me. And as I walked out was told by the doorman to stay; a minute later Bruce Springsteen did an in-store with an acoustic guitar. It was midnight.

9. David Baker
Mercury Rev
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Store: Laurie’s Planet of Sound
Location: Chicago, Ill.

For my fifth birthday, my mom had every friend I knew come over for a wild-screaming-kid-and-cake party. After the usual games and chaos everyone calmed down long enough so I could open my presents. There among the toys and coloring books was a gift which came courtesy of one friend’s Dad who worked at a local record store. An album!

It changed my little life. I was baffled by The Union Gap staring at me from the cover in Civil War attire, and yet from there I was hooked. I needed and wanted to go to that record store. The place’s long-haired music elite tripped out on cool big-kid psychedelic music, and of course The Beatles and The Doors just had to hang out there.

Through the years and hundreds of stores, I have always felt at home at record shops more so than any kind of store. Pre-Internet, the cool record store clerk was your info source, your search engine and even social network friend. I love record stores. I even chose Chicago as my hometown because it had and still has the coolest variety of independent stores anywhere.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound is my hometown favorite amongst favorites because they were always kind and nice and knowledgeable, and John the owner actually even let me work there on Sundays for a while.

This store has vinyl and CDs and pins and DVDs and books and collectibles and toys and is filled with joy and well…it’s my fifth birthday every time I go there.

10. Jesse Elliott
These United States
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Store: Rediscover Records
Location: 207 E. Chicago St, downtown Elgin, Ill.

I grew up mostly in a Midwestern industrial river town called Elgin. Great buildings thick with brick, parks, libraries, VFW halls, church steeples, ancient dive bars, the Fox River flowing right through the middle of it all. The mega-mall moved in 15 miles down the road just before I was born and killed off downtown Elgin, so I knew mostly Sam Goodies and Best Buys as a kid. It was amazing to pass back through Elgin a few years ago and see one of many flowers springing back up through the rubble: Rediscover Records. In-stores, community events, old music memorabilia galore—best of all, the owner Rich takes the time to personally review all the new vinyl that comes in. A miracle of modern sonic and city rebirth.

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