The 10 Best Record Stores In Los Angeles
It's a little weird that, while Spotify and other streaming services are now the preferred mode of music consumption, we're buying vinyl records at a pace that hasn't been seen in 25 years. But we get it. While the ease and availability of streaming services is self-explanatory, nothing matches the fetishistic joys of record buying. Perhaps it's the ritual we crave; the act of sifting through a crate, the vaguely warehouse-y smell in the air, the surreptitious spying of what other people are buying, the friendly (or not) banter with the store clerk. And then there's the matter of organizing your collection when you get home. While digital cuts out the middleman, it also loses the social accoutrements that give texture to our daily lives.
Whatever the explanation, it's undeniable that records are experiencing a revival, and L.A. is certainly rich with records stores. Here's a list of some of our favorites around town.
(Photo courtesy of Amoeba Music/Facebook)
After all these years (out in Hollywood, no less), Amoeba still stands as one of the most reliable pillars of vinyl in Los Angeles. The breadth of selection is wide. So wide, in fact, that you might complain that the store spreads itself too thin. But the sheer space of the store is more than accommodating; it allows for Amoeba to boast of its respectable collection of jazz, blues, techno, and house, among other genres.
It's the library of used records, however, that accounts for the biggest time-sink. Sure, you'll have to sift through cameos by Billy Joel and The Chipmunks (sometimes both?). But you never fail to find a diamond in the rough; on my last excursion I uncovered Fleetwood Mac's Mirage for five bucks.
Amoeba Music is at 6400 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood. (323) 245-6400.
(Photo by Paul S./Yelp)
POO-BAH RECORD SHOP
One thing that streaming services can't provide is the homey sensibilities of a local record shop—a store like Poo-Bah's is a clear reflection of this. The clerks are knowledgeable and accommodating, and the library includes plenty of entries from local acts. As such, it's never a bad idea to walk into Poo-Bah's without a game-plan; you may end up discovering your favorite new band.
Aside from local bands, the store also has collections of disco, funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz that run pretty deep. It should be no surprise, then, that the store has been a mainstay with beat producers looking for that next sample.
Poo-Bah Record Shop is at 2636 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. (626) 449-3359.
(Photo courtesy of Mount Analog/Facebook)
Inside and out, the store's clean aesthetics match the austere backbeat of a techno track. And Mount Analog is, indeed, a purveyor of techno, industrial, darkwave, and select cuts of deep house; all persuasions of the dark arts.
The strength of the store lies in its laser-like focus; it sticks to its guns, eschewing whatever is the latest cliche in dance. As such, Mount Analog is a bit of fresh air in a day and age when every venture seems to aim for mass appeal. What's more, the store has a revolving door of live events and parties; check up with the store if you're in search of a midnight party on Saturday.
Mount Analog is at 5906 1/2 N Figueroa St, Highland Park. (323) 474-6649.
(Photo courtesy of Rockaway Records/Facebook)
One of the particular joys of consumer culture is the pleasure/pain that stems from coveting something out of your reach. If you're a masochist in this vein, then Rockaway Records might be your jam, because they have a dizzying collection of rarities. An autographed copy of the Beach Boys' Sunflower? That'll set you back $800. An original LP set of The Beatles White Album? That'll be a cool $10,000.
Rockaway isn't just a museum of expensive relics, however. There's a formidable catalog of rock LPs from the past and present, as well as a vast selection of used CDs in the bargain bin. And if you're shopping for a birthday or the holidays, the store has a bevy of rock memorabilia (a Beatles slip mat, anyone?) that will accommodate the music geek in your life.
Rockaway Records is at 2395 Glendale Blvd, Silver Lake. (323) 664-3232.
(Photo courtesy of Ara G./Yelp)
As denoted by its name, this store isn't afraid to let its freak flag fly. There's a loose and all-inclusive attitude in the library; you'll find everything from Dutch punk rock to avant-garde jazz. While its online store offers the best in (digital) window shopping, you're highly encouraged to visit the store in person; the staff is both welcoming and very knowledgeable. There are also listening stations that let you sample your selection. As such, Freakbeat is a great way to expand your horizons and get inspired.
Freakbeat Records is at 13616 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks. (818) 995-7603.
(Photo courtesy of Record Surplus/Facebook)
The name has a very utilitarian ring to it, and indeed there's nothing overtly fancy or shiny about the store. Record Surplus simply hits all the right marks; there's the big catalog, the clean and intuitive layout, the vast offering of used records (that are still in tip-top condition), as well as a number of listening stations for you to ensure that you're getting the bang for the buck. Outside of records, there's also a nice selection of CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays, which also means that Record Surplus is a great place to knock out some gift shopping.
Record Surplus is at 12436 Santa Monica Blvd, Sawtelle. (310) 979-4577.
(Photo by Blessy B./Yelp)
THE RECORD PARLOUR
Can't find what you need at Amoeba? Head over to The Record Parlour, which happens to be a few minutes walk from the music giant. While Amoeba casts a wider net, The Record Parlour curates a more focused selection that pays special attention to rock, soul, and funk. What's more is that The Record Parlour has developed a kind of clubhouse spirit, what with its list of scheduled events and sales, and an interior that's decorated with curio from a recent past. Put altogether, the shop is suffused with a particular character and ambiance; it's more than a warehouse of crates.
The Record Parlour is at 6408 Selma Ave, Hollywood. (323) 464-7757.
(Photo courtesy of Fingerprints Music/Facebook)
Remember the 1995 flick Empire Records (and Liv Tyler and Ethan Embry)? Fingerprints Music in Long Beach reflects a bit of the freewheeling spirit of that fictitious record store, what with its airy space and its calendar of live events (recent drop-ins included Beach Fossils and Matthew Sweet). It's a store that focuses on the more joyous aspects of music fandom, and less so about the gnawing sense of perpetual discontent that comes with hardcore collecting. This isn't to say that Fingerprints is just a softball take on Tower Records; they have a perfectly thorough library, especially when it comes to the modes of '80s post-punk and new releases. And it doesn't hurt that there's a giant selection of used DVDs at your disposal, too.
Fingerprints Music is at 420 E 4th St, Long Beach. (562) 433-4996.
(Photo by Ryan D./Yelp)
Vacation Vinyl shows that you don't need to have a warehouse-sized collection to be of value. While modest by appearance, the catalog is robust and well thought-out. There's a leaning towards rock, metal, and noise, but the spectrum extends to such areas as hip-hop and jazz. There's also a collection of cassettes and zines to accommodate your perusing pleasure. And Vacation's staff is famously welcoming, bucking the stereotype of curmudgeonly proprietors who watch over the smaller shops.
Vacation Vinyl is at 3815 W Sunset Blvd, Silver Lake. (323) 666-2111.
(Photo courtesy of Atomic Records/Facebook)
As Burbank's own institution of vinyl collecting, Atomic Records is a straight-shooter that relies on a thorough library. While it's not the most au courant of stores, it's a perfect place to hide away for the day and dig through crates of soul, R&B, and all stripes of classic rock. If you're a beat producer, you should know that Atomic has a knack for zany novelty LPs (like Halloween-themed records) that make for some fun samples. There are also shelves of used CDs that come a dollar a pop. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles at Atomic; the shop feels like the remaining bastion of a bygone era.
Atomic Records is at 3812 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank. (818) 848-7090.