101 Musicians Discuss Their Favorite Record Stores

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61. David Gedge
The Wedding Present

Store: Amoeba Records
Location: Hollywood, Calif.

This is my favorite store, essentially because of the size! Whenever you browse in Amoeba you find stuff you didn’t even know you wanted. It’s hard to walk out of there without spending $80 beforehand.

62. Julie Ann Baenziger
Sea of Bees

Store: Rough Trade East (London)
Location: Shoreditch in London, United Kingdom

Seeing Edwyn Collins play a live in-store before his last album was released. I like that song “Losing Sleep” and he played it. It was my first trip to London and I’d performed an in-store at the original Rough Trade shop in West London, Notting Hill area, but that store was much smaller. I had no idea how big the East Store was and it was all neat independent and vintage music. I was excited to see that a record by Ganglians, a band from my hometown, was there. There was so much cool art on the walls and it just blew my mind, it was like eye candy, I just loved it. It just made my worlds smaller in a really neat way. It made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to if you just worked hard at it.

63. Kyle Wilson

Store: Rare Bear
Location: Santa Fe, N.M. It closed right around the time Borders moved into our small town.

When I was a kid I would go to Rare Bear, where the local record store dudes became my mentors. One of them in particular played a big role in me becoming a musician. His name was Tom, he played in a rad punk band and he seemed to me to know everything there was to know about rock ‘n’ roll. He started simple, turning me on to The Ramones and The Velvet Underground, but by the time I was in junior high, Tom had me listening to early albums by Pavement, Sonic Youth, Blues Explosion and even some crazier stuff like Roky Erikson and Nick Cave. By the time I’d started my own band, Tom was my biggest supporter, braving the crowds of nerdy teenagers almost every time we could get a gig. Once he pulled me aside after a show, grabbed both my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “Man, YOU FUCKING ROCK!” I honestly don’t think I would have been able to make music through those incredibly awkward years had it not been for his education and encouragement, and I’ll bet you I wasn’t the only one. I know there were other kids who went to him for their musical advice too. I don’t think you find many people like him in the big-box stores that have taken over most of the US, and you certainly don’t find them in the MP3 store either.

64. Lizzie Ellison
Radiation City

Store: Misissippi Records
Location: 4007 North Mississippi Avenue, Portland, Ore.

We had a record player of ours repaired there recently and though it took twice as long as it ought to have taken, they did twice the work we asked for, and for half the price. In searching for where it had been stowed away, I had the chance to see the basement, which is about twice as big as the shop itself, a veritable treasure trove of record players and records, stacked floor to ceiling both. It’s a carefully curated collection in the shop, and as such we love the steady supply of rare gems, and their continual pursuit of finding and releasing even rarer, gemier jams (the store also has its own imprint).

65. Hardy Morris
Dead Confederate, Diamond Rugs

Store: Twist & Shout Records
Location: Denver, Colo.

HUGE place that you could easily spend a few days in. I bought a Dead Moon record there that didn’t have a sleeve, so I don’t know what album it is, but it’s good. There is also a great bookstore next door where I bought Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms. Amazing.

66. Rusty Matyas
Imaginary Cities

Store: Music Trader
Location: 97 Osborne St, Winnipeg, Manitoba

This is a true independent music store, like the one in High Fidelity. The big difference is you won’t find any condescending attitudes or be made to feel silly for searching for an out of print guilty pleasure. It’s more like the Cheers of music stores, a neighborhood hangout. They support local music with a big rack right by the entrance, and always greet with a smile. Also, they can and will special-order anything you’re looking for, and have a wide selection of new and old releases on vinyl. Favorite recent vinyl purchase: Travelers in Space and Time by Apples in Stereo.

67. AJ Molyneaux
Wheeler Brothers

Store: Cheapo’s Discs
Location: Austin, Texas

Great place to get used CDs, huge selection for cheap and open late. You can get a really good deal if you look through the pile of unsorted discs. It’s a great way to stumble upon something you didn’t know or just couldn’t pass up because it was only four dollars.

68. Luke Wyland

Store: Turn It Up! Records
Location: Keene, N.H.

I spent high school with my best friend Nick meandering through this little used record store off of Main St. in Keene, N.H., weekly. Most often times we’d walk in after already having been stoned and dazedly searching through their selections of used CDs and records hoping to stumble across some hidden gem—maybe not the best state of mind to be procuring a high percentage of albums that would be lasting articles in my collection, but nonetheless expansive. We’d sort through the stacks picking out several records each and both recede into the land of headphones monopolizing the few listening stations they had. To be honest (and I’m sure it was the combination of things), outside of an actual venue I haven’t had such ecstatic and expansive public listening experiences since. One distinctly hazy day, I recall finding some fusion album produced by Bill Laswell and almost overflowing with pubescent glee.

69. Andrew Elstner

Store: Vintage Vinyl
Location: St Louis, Mo.

Being from St. Louis originally, and having worked at Streetside, Now Playing and even Camelot back in the day, AND not to discount great stores like Euclid Records and Record Exchange among many other hardy survivors… I still have to pick Vintage Vinyl as my favorite.

While I worked there, I saw in-store performances from Brant Bjork and the Bros, Blowfly, Har Mar Superstar, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age—whose in-store performance was immortalized on the two-disc Songs For The Deaf—and a squillion other artists I’m drawing a blank on at the moment.

They cater to a seriously mixed crowd which is awesome and made most days there a trip. The store isn’t short on accolades, so I’m not going to retell what everyone already knows. The store is great and though they’ve had to make some tough decisions over the years, that they’ve managed to survive and continue to kick ass speaks volumes.

70. Jenks Miller
Mount Moriah

Store: CD Alley
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

I work here, making memories every day.

Heather McEntire

Store: Bull City Records
Location: Durham, N.C.

Sweet shop dog, Rothko. Chaz, the owner, is really one of the best folks around. The store is intimate and not pretentious. There are occasional free shows there too. You can even buy screen-printing ink, and the local sections are always prominently featured.

71. Dante Schwebel

Store: Grimey’s*
Location: Nashville, Tenn.

It’s going to sound very cliché most likely, but I have to say Grimey’s Preloved Records in Nashville. I’m sure it’s been selected a bazillion times but there’s a reason for that.

Great in-store performances (Natural Child, The Greenhornes) and if they don’t have something, they’ll get it quick. I’ve bought hard-to-find stuff there before like Floating Action and Pete Molinari. And hell, our best tour manager even works there too (Mia!!!). The staff there know more than you, but they don’t make you feel like a dick about it. It’s the joint! Big up!!!

*Honorable mention: The Record Exchange in Boise, Idaho of all places. Mega!

72. Jim White

Store: Euclid Records
Location: New Orleans, La.

I’m older than most of you, so I remember the mom-and-pop record stores that used to populate the South before the chains came in and washed them to oblivion. Colorful places. Most are gone.

In New Orleans, I once spoke with a store owner who claimed he had a chance to sign Elvis Presley before he hit it big. The taciturn man said he passed, as “that kid had no talent.” I asked him if he regretted his decision, but he held firm, “Nope. Kid had no talent.”

My favorite record store presently is also located in New Orleans. Euclid Records. There’s a hand-lettered sign on the bathroom door that reads, “Do not shoot heroin in the bathroom.” You can’t buy that kind of character.

73. David Krohn
Kopecky Family Band

Store: Twist and Shout
Location: Denver, Colo.

My favorite memory of Twist and Shout is buying my first LP. It doesn’t matter how rare or expensive those additions to my record collection have been, no additions beat the excitement of getting my first record. The second I walked into Twist and Shout I felt like a kid in a candy store. I perused all of the classics The Beatles and The Stones before I settled on my choice: a copy of the first print of Combat Rock by The Clash. The record was only $1.99, but it still remains one of my favorite possessions because it signifies the start of a new era for me, an era where I can physically hold and admire the album artwork, where each scratch in the record has a story to tell and most importantly, an era where skipping from favorite song to song is nearly impossible.

74. Allyson Baker
Dirty Ghosts

Store: Rotate This
Location: Toronto, Ontario

Rotate was legendary when I was in high school. The first time I went there was a big deal. I went alone and I was super intimidated. After flipping through everything in sight, I stumbled across The Mummies LP Never Been Caught. I had no idea what it was but judging by the cover (five grown men wrapped in mummy costumes standing on a hearse), it had to be amazing. I nervously brought it up to the counter. The guy took the record out of my hand and sized me up and down—your classic record store clerk behavior. I probably started sweating at this point. He leaned in and said “Hey, wanna tip? This record is for sale used down the street for about $4 less.” I had been so excited to buy a record on my first trip to Rotate that it kind of took the wind out of my sails. I became conflicted. I didn’t want to go buy the other copy, but I felt like I should obey the record store guy and do what he had commanded (suggested) I do. I skiddishly made up a bunch of excuses not to go to the other store. He seemed disappointed, yet accepting. However, had it been four years later, I woulda’ been outta’ there runnin’ for that cheaper copy faster than you could say “free fudge samples.” A few summers and several thousands of visits later they actually let me work there and to this day it was my favorite job, even though it lasted two months.

75. John Cafiero
Osaka Popstar

Store: Kim’s Video & Music, (the original Mondo Kim’s location on St. Marks Place in NYC)
Location: Formerly at 6 St. Marks Place in NYC, but since moved and downsized to 124 1st Avenue, New York, N.Y.

At Kim’s in NYC (the original location on St. Marks before it was moved & downsized), running into prolific director Jim Jarmusch shortly after directing my first feature film—which was a low-budget ‘70s exploitation homage. We stopped and talked for a bit. It felt ironically reminiscent (and in retrospect still does) to the scene in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, when Ed Wood meets Orson Welles and they have a casual exchange of mutual disgust for the system—despite being on projects that would be perceived as worlds apart in the eye’s of the public—but not necessarily in the hearts and minds of their creators.

76. Mlny Parsonz
Royal Thunder

Store: Criminal Records
Location: Atlanta, Ga.

Seeing Withered play live in the comic book section of Criminal Records, back when Criminal was to the right of Junkman’s. Couldn’t see shit (it was packed!), but you could hear it. They sounded fucking great.

77. Nick Krill
The Spinto Band

Store: Tie between Rainbow Records and Bert’s
Location: Wilmington, Del.; Newark, Del.

Bert’s probably had the best selection of independent music before it shut down. I remember being real young and spending hours looking at album covers and band names… just getting a sense of what was cooking. Rainbow holds a special place in my inner ear though. I remember listening to Zaireeka by The Flaming Lips the day it was released over at my bandmate Thomas’ house. He had gotten just about the only copy that made its way to Delaware. Right after we finished listening to it (four boomboxes and all), I convinced my mom to drive me over to Rainbow to order a copy. While I was there I also picked up Clouds Taste Metallic on vinyl. When I got home and opened up the record I was amazed to see it was pressed on translucent green vinyl! I didn’t even listen to it right away… I just sat there thinking how cool this artifact was. This is a special memory because both Zaireeka and Clouds Taste Metallic really opened up my ears. They were some of the first records that made me stop and think about sound recording and record production.

Another funny story was when a kid on my block asked for a Green Day CD for his birthday. I remember being embarrassed to buy it and making a point to the clerk that, “Oh yeah, this is for my buddy. I can’t really stand these guys.” All youngsters should have a judgmental record store clerk in their life to rough ‘em up a bit. Some less fortunate kids these days may only have judgmental blogs… which doesn’t seem as fun.

78. John Michael Rouchell

Store: Grimey’s
Location: Nashville, Tenn.

As of recent, I’ve spent a great deal of time in Nashville. My home is in New Orleans and there are some great record stores here. Nonetheless, Grimey’s has become my favorite record store. Your favorite record store is like your favorite bar, in that, they know what you want when you walk in. Of course, this takes time. I had gone to Grimey’s several times before we created a bond. It took our band playing The Basement for the real connection to take place. It feels great to go to a place where they know what you’re looking for and aren’t judgemental about your taste. The strangest thing is that I have found more weird New Orleans R&B records there than in New Orleans. Crazy. It always feels like home. You should go. They’re amazing people.

79. Owen Ashworth
Advance Base, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Store: Aquarius Records
Location: San Francisco, Calif.

Back when I was a college student in the late ‘90s, I shared an apartment at 24th and Valencia, right down the street from Aquarius Records. Thanks to them, most of the money that I should have been spending on books and groceries was spent on albums by mysterious bands like the Supreme Dicks, Harvey Milk and the Dead C. Music was exciting and strange back then, and Aquarius lead me into new worlds of weirdness. I couldn’t imagine a friendlier record store staff, and I’ll always be grateful of how supportive they were of my first band, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Aquarius is forever my favorite record store.

80. Jamison
Teen Daze

Store: Champion Jack’s Emporium
Location: Abbotsford, British Columbia

Abbotsford is the town I live in (just an hour outside of Vancouver), and Champion Jack’s is our only record store. It has an amazing collection of new/used records, as well as vintage clothing and accessories. Jason and Amelia, who run it, are so supportive of local art and invited me to play the first show they hosted. It’s really great to see some arts and culture formulating in a smaller, more rural town like Abbotsford, and Champion Jack’s is becoming a very important part of that. Plus, Jason has asked me to curate the electronic section of the records, so I basically have a record store at my disposal.

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