The Wildsam List of Essential Record Stores
Photo: Clem Onojeghuo
In a miraculous time to be a music fan, the biggest miracle at all may be the resurgence of vinyl. Warm, resonant and always downright cool-looking, those big wheels just keep on turning. Even better, America’s great record stores still stand by to give us curation, recommendations and a place to scope out live show flyers. In honor of Record Store Day 2023, here’s a road map to deep crates.
The name is a quadruple-confuser: based in vinyl-loving Portland, this obscurities treasure chest is named for North Mississippi Avenue. But it’s no longer on North Mississippi Avenue, after a location change some years ago. Meanwhile, the shop in Oregon is connected to a brilliant Chicago-based record label, specializing in international grooves, old-time blues and other deep-dive finds. Following? No worries–find your way here to grab a bragging-rights slab.
HYDE PARK RECORDS
A gem amid one of the nation’s strongest record-store towns: a crate digger’s paradise for jazz, blues, soul and gospel, with a communal vibe that reflects the neighborhood. Get your Herbie Hancock records here.
A connection point for D.C.’s distinctively home-grown music world: deep multi-genre vinyl collections, a scrappy record label, live shows at the affiliated venue Songbyrd.
WARBLER RECORDS & GOODS
Santa Barbara, CA
An expert’s compendium of new and used–what a record store should be. A fine selection of gifty crafts, too.
SLANT STREET RECORDS
On the same stretch of street that takes you to college-town-stalwarts Ear Candy and Rockin’ Rudy’s, this funny-shaped little den is the wildcard, with a “fervently curated” small selection of vintage discoveries. Small but deep, that is. When someone asks where you got the cool old soul 45, you can say, “Montana, of course.”
JIVE TIME & DAYBREAK
Okay, we’re cheating here and calling it a draw in Jet City: two brilliant shops with informed staff and well-chosen crates, separated only by about 10 blocks of pure Seattleite neighborhood charm called Wallingford. Why stop at just one?
END OF ALL MUSIC
Climb up a fire escape on Courthouse Square for a Faulknerian sweep of new and used. Huge blues selection, as one would hope, and a trust-worthy staff.
Mannequin heads on the ceiling, expert vinyl picks in the bins. Great genre range.
Consult owner Max for clutch recs on hard-to-find vinyl. Don’t miss $1 racks
In a music-obsessed city, this one is famous for good reason.
Go-to for vinyl, especially by Twin Cities bands, since 1968. Local venue tickets sold at the counter.
DOMINO SOUND RECORD SHACK
New Orleans, LA
An incredible collection of international and NOLA-made music.
This turn-of-the-century house filled with crates of new, used and rare has been a Memphis scene locus since 1988.
Los Angeles, CA
This relative newcomer is built around one man's truly majestic collection of more than 50,000 slabs. Go and stand in wonder.
ACADEMY RECORDS [EAST VILLAGE LOCATION]
One of the Borough's last old-line vinyl shops, still stocked with rare LPs.
GRIMEY'S NEW & PRELOVED MUSIC
A classic vinyl trove springing from the original collection of local musician and club owner Mike “Grimey” Grimes. Tastes from the Louvins to the Shakes. Epic in-store performances too.
Solid collection and excellent hang with a long bar and stage for bands as well as book readings. An indoor-outdoor Record Store Day fête brings the food trucks and pop-up vintage shops.
A pop cultural nerve center along one of Boston's most strollable streets. This shop features exclusive special editions from top publishers. Rare records and manga too.