Lookin’ for a rekka sto’?? Ease up, old school. Downloading and streaming aren’t the only game in town. Vinyl is making a comeback in this digital age. In fact, within the last few years LA has seen more than a few independently owned record stores set up shop. And just in time for Record Store Day on April 19, you can stop by for exclusive releases and celebrations at participating stores. From a hidden album haven in Hollywood to a high-minded pop vault in Highland Park, read on to find out where you can enjoy your own vinyl revival.
AMOEBA RECORDS – www.amoeba.com
Think record store and you think Amoeba. Probably because it’s the largest independent record store in the world. (Some would say too large, bordering on big-box bully large, but that’s another story.) This ginormous Hollywood outpost literally has tons of albums, discs, posters and other music-related mishmash as well as constant in-store shows. As for vinyl, you’ll find plenty including limited edition, rare, out-of-print and original pressings.
AS THE RECORD TURNS – www.astherecordturns.com
As the Record Turns is considered by many to be LA’s best resource for vinyl. Once you find the actual store (it’s hidden in a narrow alleyway of shops off Hollywood Blvd) get ready to find just about any piece of vinyl you can imagine. And if it’s not stockpiled in the exhaustive stacks of 40,000+ vinyl, then owner Kevin can probably find it for you one way or another. Just ask Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Marilyn Manson, Steven Spielberg and about a million other famous clients for whom he’s sourced music. You might pay a little more for what you get, but Kevin is known to give a free record to everybody who enters his store. (They’re from the clearance section, but are you really gonna complain?)
ATOMIC RECORDS – www.atomicrecordsla.com
Picked in 2011 & 2013 by LA Weekly as “Best Record Store,” this Burbank record shop has been open since 1996 and specializes in classic jazz, 60s rock/punk/new wave, soul, blues, strange/exotica and soundtracks. They also do a lot of buying and even make house calls. Don’t forget the 50-cent bin where you just might strike vinyl gold.
FREAKBEAT RECORDS - www.freakbeatrecords.com
Forget the 99-cent store. This old-school shop in Sherman Oaks has a 99-cent room with thousands of LPs and CDs that are restocked every day. Half the store is filled with new and used vinyl, with the rock section being the largest, and there’s plenty to browse in the jazz and soul bins. There’s also an 80s department with lots of flashback vinyl.
HIGH-FIDELITY RECORDS – www.highfidelityla.com
With its doors first opened in November 2011, High-Fidelity is proof that even the digital age can’t kill the mom & pop record store. Owner Michael Hobson keeps the Los Feliz shop’s shelves stocked with everything from rare Nirvana imports to Led Zeppelin reissues, as well as classical and jazz records. Hobson hired employees from Aron’s Records, the popular Hollywood store that closed its doors in 2006, to run the shop. ‘They’re actually like Jack Black’s character in the movie ‘High Fidelity,'” he says. “They’re incredibly knowledgeable and they absolutely love music.”
ORIGAMI VINYL - www.origamiorigami.com
One of the newer shops on the block (it opened in 2009), Origami Vinyl in Echo Park is the ultimate mom and pop record store for cool kids. The shop is only 400 square feet, but it packs a punch with an eclectic selection of new and used records, much of which is from local artists. (Origami is also an indie record label.) As for in-stores, everyone from Florence and the Machine to Sonic Youth and Ben Harper have taken to the stage. Good things come in small packages.
RECORDS LA - www.myspace.com/recordsla
Records LA isn’t the oldest rekka sto’ in LA. In fact, it opened in 2010. But it is the oldest school of the old school with an unpretentious DIY charm that’s hard to come by these days. Located on West Adams, the vinyl-only shop is about the size of your one-bedroom apartment’s closet, but owner Scott has just the stuff you’re looking for when it comes to soul, jazz, R&B, disco, hip hop, reggae and other back-in-the-day rarities. Just remember: this shop is only open Thursday-Saturday.
RECORD PARLOUR – www.therecordparlour.com
This new “mecca of pre-digital entertainment” near Hollywood’s Cahuenga Corridor is home to over 15,000 records, 45s and 78s spanning all genres and price ranges. There’s also plenty of rare jukeboxes, restored vintage audio gear, turntables, antique radios, consoles and other music memorabilia.
RECORD SURPLUS – www.recordsurplus.com
One of the largest sellers of used vinyl records and CDs on the West Coast, Record Surplus has a huge selection of music and collectible records that are restocked daily. Located on the corner of Santa Monica and Centinela, this spacious, well-appointed resource also has turntables and CD listening stations.
ROCKAWAY RECORDS – www.rockaway.com
This Silver Lake staple is fairly small (it’s moved a few times since first opening in 1979), but it’s huge on the collectibles inventory. Vinyl, CDs and the usual suspects are here as well as lots of memorabilia ranging from $50 autographed photos to a 1965 Beatles lunch box that can be yours for just $1,250.
VACATION VINYL – www.vacationvinyl.com
The name might suggest lounging around a sunny beach with a drink in your hand (or maybe that’s just me), but this Silver Lake shop is far from checked-out and actually leans a little toward the dark side. Which is to say, you can find a lot of black metal/hardcore/space rock/prog drone/whatever-you-call-it noisy stuff neatly arranged among the shelves. Plenty of in-store shows, too.
WOMBLETON RECORDS - www.wombletonrecords.com
Part of the new York strip of Highland Park emerging with little shops, galleries and bars, Wombleton Records is just the kinda thing you didn’t know you need: Bins of rare pop vinyl you can peruse whilst basking in an Edwardian salon that could double as a swinging London boutique. Opened in late 2010, Wombleton specializes in original pressings of rare, imported used vinyl LPs and 45s with “an uncommonly high concentration of desirable titles from the country of origin.” Stop by on Thursday nights for the vinyl DJ listening parties. Ascot and smoking jacket optional.
MORE VINYL RECORD STORES IN LA:
Angel City Books & Records – Best-kept record store secret in Santa Monica
Backside Records - Mostly clothing, new & used vinyl in Burbank and Echo Park
Bombass Muzik - Vinyl, CDs, cassettes & accessories in East LA
Jacknife Records – Well-curated selection of old and new vinyl in Atwater Village
Headline Records - Punk, thrash, straight-edge, rockabilly, psychobilly on Melrose
Ooga Booga– Super-indie shop for vinyl, art, books, misc in Downtown LA
Poo-Bah Record Shop - Underground hip-hop, experimental & more in Pasadena
Record Collector – Rare and collectible classical & jazz in Hollywood