Top 5 Favorite Record Stores

My CD collection: good for liner note perusal, road-trip soundtracks, disc-man powered jogs, and holier-than-thou anti-downloading speeches. Where would I be without it? Probably not at any of these fine music-purchasing locations, set to stock CPR releases just as soon as we start mass-producing them.


5. CUTLER'S RECORDS & TAPES: New Haven, CT

Their website banner makes them seem like a much larger presence in Yale City than they really are -- Cutler's has majorly downsized, and is now about a third of the size it used to be. This means a lot less vinyl, a lot less used CDs, and a lot more knick-knacky crap. No, they don't do in-stores, and yes, they severely overprice their wares. But they do stock a helluva lot of great (new, full price) CDs, which is more than you can say for most Connecticut music retailers (see: Walmart, Best Buy, FYE... does FYE even still exist?).  Cutler's is sort of like the King Lear of New Haven small businesses. It's reigned for a long-ass time (founded in 1948 with the help of Mr. Sam Goody himself, it's now a third-generation family business). It's possibly gone a little crazy (who the hell is buying gum shaped like cigarettes?). It may have inadvertently caused the death of its most virtuous daughter (the long-gone expanded vinyl section, may it and Cordelia rest in peace). Not really sure where I'm going with this metaphor. Point (vaguely) is, if Cutler's died forever, Yale kids would have to download all their new music, and then the school would have to police downloading, and then how would everyone get the AwEsOmE new WAVVES record?!?!

4. NEWBURY COMICS, Boston, MA etc.

Okay, okay, hate on Newbury all you want for inventing the "selling crap to make up for lagging CD sales" format. Three reasons why this Massachusetts chain still rocks:

A) A lot of new mainstream releases get sold for $10 (look for the pink sticker). Best you can find those for on Amazon.com is ~ $7, and with s/h it'll put you over $10. Plus, sometimes Newbury has signed booklets with special releases. SO if you don't feel like waiting for cheaper used copies of, like, Bon Iver to show up in stores, hit up Newbz and look for a pink sticker. You can feel good about supporting the (sort of) little guy.

B) In-store performances! Sometimes they're really good. Sometimes they're not. Either way, they somehow make live shows sound pretty darn good, at least at the Newbury St. location. Even Elliott Smith knew that.


C) POSTERS. Not sure why, but Newbury stocks some awesome prints of your favorite band's random show in Seattle, numbered and signed by the artist. Even if you can't get to Boston, they sell many of these posters online.

3. NORMAN'S SOUND & VISION, Manhattan


In the bargain basement, everything is half off. Many items in the bargain basement are priced at $1.99.

You do the math.

2. WATERLOO RECORDS, ATX


I worked at their video annex, so of coures I'm partial. But their used section is king of the jungle. Tons of rare singles at good prices, pretty much anything you want from Matador's 90s roster, and you can listen to whatever you find on their (nice) headphones, no purchase necessary. A great way to kill an afternoon. Plus, they're selective about the used items they take in, so rather than wading through a sea of crap (like at Norman's) you're marveling at a large cavern of jewels (like that pyramid in Disney's Aladdin). They've also got a large local music collection (actually, it's just under the "Texas" heading, but it's good for finding new things) and some solid staff recommendation listening iPods.  And again, good in-stores.

1. CHEAPO, Austin


Name says it all. Cream-your-pants-sized space full of used discs. Some of them suck, some of them are super difficult to find. It's like a treasure hunt. Most of it's treasure. If you spent three days there you STILL wouldn't get through all of their stock, and they get tons of new things in every day (there are racks dedicated just to the new additions of the past week). This is where music-loving slackers go to die, because they get so excited about how many CDs there are and forget to eat for days. Maybe that's just me. They're also really nice about returns/exchanges -- if you don't like a CD, even if it plays fine, they'll take it as a return and let you swap it out for something more your liking.

Honorable mentions: New England's Bull Moose, NYC's Other Music, Bird Man, that weird jazz place on 3rd ave., Chapel Hill's CD Alley. Other ideas? Comment about 'em.

Y'all can thank spirit-crushing insomnia for inspiring me to bring this fantastic list to you. And aside from other lazy CPR bloggers forgetting to log out of my gmail account, this is my inaugural post. I'd eat a chocolate soy pudding to toast that, but I already ate the whole six pack. Boo.

1 comments:

Spencer | April 7, 2009 at 3:43 PM

This is awesome. I'd like to add two to this list.

Firstly, and representing the O-Town posse, it's gotta be Park Avenue CDs in Central Florida. If Newbury's a chain, then maybe PA qualifies too, but there are actually just two links. The Corrine Drive location in Winter Park is the main hub, complete with in-stores that get professional recording jobs. Some highlights from the past: GBV, Interpol, Jose Gonzalez, Porcupine Tree, Stereolab, Trail of Dead, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

http://www.parkavecds.com/

The other is Amoeba Records Hollywood. This place is INSANE. It's an incredible warehouse full of CDs and like, outstanding natural light. In-stores anyone? Here's a link to one SM & the Jicks did last year.

http://www.amoeba.com/live-shows/videos/stephen-malkmus-and-the-jicks.html

Sweet, right? If only the video would load faster...