Posts Tagged ‘Record Stores’

Buying Music…At An Actual Record Store!

December 4, 2011

Yes, it is still possible to buy music without the use of a computer.  I had heard that LA’s Amoeba Music was worth checking out, so I snapped up a Groupon for their store.  I finally cashed it in a few weeks ago.

On their website, Amoeba dubs its Hollywood store as the world’s largest independent record store.  That’s no joke, walking in I was struck by the size of the store.  It reminded me of some of the old Tower Records locations (RIP).  Rows and rows of bins with CDs confront you after you get past the cash registers.  They sell both new and used CDs, as well as records, cassettes (!), DVDs, books and magazines.  The rock section dominates the main floor, including smaller areas for rock subgenres (you’re not going to find a death metal section at Best Buy).  Toward the back of the store is another whole section with jazz, blues, classical and soundtracks.

That back section, which played jazz selections over a PA, offered some respite from the frenzy of the main floor.  Their CDs being encased in plastic guards, there was a steady CLACK CLACK CLACK as patrons shuffled through CDs.  While we were there, the main PA was playing Aphex Twin (again not something you’d hear at Best Buy), which I thought was very cool.  The people watching was good too, skate kids, goths, hippies all milled around each other, searching for their musical match.

The selection was good, the prices were a little more expensive than you could get online for the new stuff, but their were good deals to be found in the used bins.  Wanting to get something new, I picked up My Morning Jacket’s Z.  I was also looking for some older Sharon Jones stuff but initially couldn’t find anything.  I thought that was odd, but then I found a whole Soul section tucked away on the other side of the main floor.  I ended up getting Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s Dap Dippin’ With… and for some local LA flavor, the Thee Midniters In Thee Midnite Hour and needed to vacate the area before I bought a lot more.

I am definitely going to head back to Amoeba in the future, if for nothing else to remember that feeling of glee that I had as a youngster thumbing through CDs and records at local record stores.


April 19, 2010

Just got finished watching another neat little doc on Pitchfork, I Need That Record! (up for a week so hurry up if you want to check it out).  The film details the demise of the local record store, focusing on a few specific stores.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here in terms of content, as the filmmaker discusses the how the record industry, the rise of the “big box” stores, the internet and the mp3 have all led to hard times for local music stores.  The more interesting part is how the loss of these local record shops is indicative of a larger loss of community in United States cities.  These record stores serve as gathering places for people, and when they close, along with other locally-owned stores, there is one less place for people to gather.

I’ve always enjoyed going to record stores, and the loss of so many these local stores does make me sad.  I, like many of us, do most of my music shopping online, or at a big box store.  Neither of those captures the experience of going into a record store.  There’s not other stuff to distract you, it’s all music.  And the tangible feeling of flipping through vinyl or CDs can’t be recreated online, even with cover art online.  And then there’s personal experiences of discussing a record with either patrons or employees.  Your average Best Buy employee isn’t getting paid to chat with you about the new St. Vincent record, and probably won’t even know who the hell St. Vincent is.  One of my favorite activities in college was going to the local record store, thumbing through used CDs trying to find a disc someone else had abandoned that I could scoop up on the cheap.  These stores are also a great source for finding out about local shows, something Itunes or Walmart are not going to give you.

As Jello Biafra says during the movie, he’d like to support a local record store or book store, but you can find anything you’re looking for on Amazon or eBay and it’s cheaper than what you can get in these brick-and-mortar stores.  And because of that, me like him, finds myself frequently these local places less often.  So, the film does a good job of reminding us all that we should get off the couch and laptops once in awhile and get out there and find those local stores.  They need our help more than ever.