Archive for the ‘Record Stores’ Category

Portland Rocks: 5 Great Local Record Stores

28 December 2007

The P and I travelled more than 9,000 miles in the last week – from Oakland to Rhode Island to Atlanta to Portland, OR and back to Oakland. We had multiple flights delayed and cancelled, slept in airports and on planes, and finally made it home around 3am last night. During our brief stay in Portland, I set aside some time to visit a few of my favorite local establishments and buy myself a few well-deserved holiday gifts.

Here’s where I went and what I found:

2nd Avenue - outside

2nd Avenue Records

400 SW 2nd Avenue * Portland, OR 97204 * (503) 222-3783

The skinny: Quite simply the best record store in Portland. This place is a dangerous establishment for any music fan on a budget. My friend Tim refuses to set foot in here because he knows his wallet will take a serious hit every time he does. Incredible selection of new and used vinyl, along with ample new and used discs, and an impressive selection of music-related t-shirts. An absolute must-see for any music fan visiting this city.

2nd Ave - inside

Of interest: The new vinyl. This store regularly stocks albums on vinyl that I didn’t even know had been released in that format.

Bonus points: Store employees always cut the credit card number off every store receipt and destroy it on the spot. Very thorough.

Key purchases: Jay-Z * American Gangster (LP), DFA * The DFA Remixes, Chapter One (LP), Gang Of Four * Entertainment! (reissue LP)


Crossroads - outside

Crossroads Music

3130 SE Hawthorne, Portland OR 97214 * (503) 232-1767

The skinny: This giganto store combines the inventory of 35 different dealers, who all work on a consignment basis. This gives Crossroads wide and deep cross sections of different genres in a way that few stores anywhere can match. Mostly used vinyl, but if you poke around you can find every format – LP, 4 track, 8 track, cassette, cd, and beyond. The staff is very helpful and friendly, a must in a store this large and diverse. You could spend 8 hours here and barely scratch the surface of what’s in stock. Another essential destination for any music fan who finds themselves in the Rose City.

Crossroads - inside

Of interest: The vintage electronic equipment throughtout the store that included a veritable museum of turntables, 8 track players and more – all for sale at reasonable prices.

Bonus points: For the selection of posters that covers every inch of the ceiling in the front room, and the impressive selection of vintage cardboard promo displays behind the front counter.

Crossroads - ceiling
[yes, this is the ceiling…]

Key purchases: Robert Goulet * Greatest Hits (4 track tape), The Small Faces * Rarities (LP), Westbury “Stereo Amplifier / Eight Track Stereo Tape Player” * mint condition (see below)

Westbury - 8 Track Tape Player


Everyday - outside

Everyday Music

1313 West Burnside, Portland OR * (503) 274-0961 [Flagship Store]

The skinny: Independently-owned local chain that features new and used CDs and vinyl, and a wide selection of genres. The environment inside is rather sterile, and reminiscent of a large-box chain, but don’t be fooled – there’s great stuff and good bargains to be found here. Also, their selection of new and used LPs is much more impressive than I had remembered.

Everyday - inside

Of interest: Be sure to check out the cool record promo posters – from all eras – that are up all around the store.

Everyday - Promo Poster

Bonus points: For the employee who nearly did a jig when I asked him to help me find the new Battles album. “That’s my album of the year!” he said, pointing to himself with both hands. He didn’t find the album for me, but his enthusiasm was totally appreciated.

Key purchases: Black Lips * Good Bad Not Evil (used CD), J.J. Cale * Rewind: Unreleased Recordings (CD), Bright Eyes * Cassadaga (CD)


Jackpot - outside

Jackpot Records

203 SW 9th Ave. Portland OR 97205 * (503) 222-0990 *

Jackpot - inside

The skinny: Jackpot’s inventory is two-thirds new and used cds and one-third new and used vinyl. Used discs are priced from $5.99 to $9.99, and new discs generally range from $13.99 to $17.99. Their ingenious yet simple filing system uses two different colored sleeves, allowing shoppers to quickly discern used from new discs.

Of interest: Great signage around the store. This shop is relatively new, but looking at their logos and signs, you’d think they’ve been around forever.

Jackpot - signage

Jackpot - sandwich board

Bonus points: The store has reissued the Wipers’ classic LP Youth Of America on their Jackpot Records label. Awesome!

Key purchases: Wipers * Youth Of America (reissue LP), Dan Deacon * Spiderman Of The Rings (CD), Justice * (CD), one size XL Jackpot Records t-shirt


Powell’s - outside

Powell’s Books

1005 Burnside, Portland OR 97209 * (503) 228-4651 *

The skinny: Yeah, it’s a bookstore, but it’s HUGE! It stands to reason that any bookstore large enough to have a ‘Lesbian Mysteries’ section (trust me) probably has a great section dedicated to books on music, and Powell’s doesn’t disappoint. Their ‘music’ section is larger than many small-ish bookstores.

Of interest: The 33&1/3 series of books has its own display, currently featuring a ‘buy two get one free’ deal.

Bonus points: The local music ‘zines in the magazine section are worth a browse.

Key purchases: Domenic Priore * Smile: The Story Of Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece, Patrick Humphries * Nick Drake: The Biography, Jeff Chang (editor) * Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

Lesbian Mysteries
[told you so…]

Windy City Wax: 5 Great Chicago Record Stores

7 November 2007

Dave’s statement

Some people like to go on safari in Africa. Others enjoy hiking Mount Everest in the dead of winter. I personally dig spending my vacations checking out the record stores in cities all over the country. From Boston to New York City to Portland, OR to Austin, TX to Louisville, KY and beyond, I’ve spent a fair amount of time – and received a significant thrill from – poking around the dustiest record shops in all the land. Considering that they’re disappearing at roughly the same rate as the polar ice caps, I figure I’d better see ’em before they’re gone.

The P had to be in Chicago on business this week, so I tagged along to soak up some of the (cooooold) Windy City vibe, eat some great food, and hang out with my buddy Furr. He and I spent all day Monday and Tuesday running around town searching out all the record stores we could. Forty-six LPs, three 8-Tracks, one cd, one t-shirt, one totally awesome piece of of glass painted to look like the cover of Pyromania, and $647.92 later, here’s what I learned…

Dave’s Records

Dave’s Records

2604 Clark St. – Chicago, IL * 773-929-6325

The skinny: Dave’s is one of the greatest record stores in the world. This very small shop is stuffed wall-to-wall with vinyl of every genre and vintage. While some stores will pack their racks to the point that you can’t flip through them, Dave gives you just enough elbow room to get around. His friendly, knowledgable staff are happy to answer even the silliest of questions, as Furr and I proved. These people know their stuff, so you’re not likely to find many bargains, but if you don’t mind paying, you can walk away with some great stuff.

Dave’s - inside

Of interest: No cd’s here – vinyl only.

Bonus points: See above.

Key purchases: Reverend Gary Davis * Harlem Street Singer (original Prestige/Bluesville LP), GZA * Liquid Swords (reissue LP), Magnolia Electric Co. * Trials & Errors (LP), DJ Shadow * The Private Press (LP)

Dave’s piece of the pie: $173.20


2nd Hand Tunes

2nd Hand Tunes

800 Dempster St. – Evanston, IL * 847-491-1690 *

The skinny: Rumor had it that this shop had folded, so Furr was overjoyed to find out that it was still around (it’s where he bought Ozzy albums during high school). Most of their stuff is priced from $5.99 to $9.99, with some rare stuff priced higher. Furr swears by their dollar bin, but I didn’t have time to look. Next time…

Of interest: Their wall of rare/super-expensive vinyl is impressive to behold. From Beatles rarites to oddball Metallica eps to rare pre-Credence Clearwater Fogarty, it’s a veritable museum wall of great LPs you’re not likely to see often.

2nd Hand Tunes - inside

Bonus points: Best… business card… ever.

2nd Hand Tunes - business card
[card has a real 45-adapter/record-spacer attached – 3D!]

Key purchases: Motorhead * Bomber (white label promo LP), Undertones * All Wrapped Up (original LP), Germs * GI (reissue LP), Cocteau Twins * Treasure (original LP)

2nd Hand Tunes’ cut of the cake: $156.30


Dusty Groove

Dusty Groove

1120 N. Ashland Ave – Chicago, IL * 773-342-5800 *

The skinny: DJ-oriented shop that specializes in rare funk, soul, jazz, and hip-hop. Again, not too many bargains here, but if you’re willing to kick down, you could walk away with almost any album within the mentioned genres. The room is well-organized and brightly lit, and filled with albums that are fun to look at – browsing here is a pleasure to the senses.

Of interest: An amusing, if somewhat suspect, dollar bin.

Bonus points: To the two employees who kicked me down a free record bag even though I was $18 short of the prerequisite two hunge (they combined my order with Furr’s and gave it to me on the technicality).

Key purchases: Black Sugar * Black Sugar (LP), Sonny Clark * Sonny’s Crib (original Liberty/Blue Note LP), The Coup * Not Yet Free (12 inch single), The Last Poets * This Is Madness (original LP)

Dusty’s piece of the action: $182.85


Jazz Record Mart

Jazz Record Mart

27 E. Illinois – Chicago, IL * 312-222-1467 *

The skinny: Old-school shop specializing in jazz of all styles and eras. Includes a smattering of blues, and an impressive international music section. The owner of the store founded the Delmark label, which – coincidentally – specializes in jazz and blues releases. It is one of the longest running independent record labels in America.

Of interest: Before they became famous musicians, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite worked here.

Bonus points: The signed and framed t-shirt bearing a loving inscription from Iggy Pop that hangs in the back of the store.

Purchases: Muddy Waters * Mud In Your Ear (original LP), Billy Strayhorn * The Peaceful Side (original Solid State LP), Willie Colon * Crime Pays (the lone CD purchased on this trip)

JRM’s payday: $26.13 (the total reflects the big pile of jazz vinyl I have yet to listen to, and nothing to do with this great store)


Laurie’s Planet Of Sound

Laurie’s Planet Of Sound

4639 N. Lincoln Ave – Chicago, IL * 773-271-3569 *

The skinny: More than a record store, Laurie’s has tchotchkes of all kinds (I seriously debated buying the New Kids On The Block water bottle for a buck, but finally passed), a healthy DVD section, and a mid-sized offering of vinyl. Buyer beware: Laurie has a strict no-return policy, and some of the records are pretty beat up. That said, if you look carefully, you can find some good stuff in good shape. Better yet, skip the old vinyl and check out the impressive selection of brand new LPs.

Of interest: The LiteBrite™/Dark Side Of The Moon display that was titled ‘Brite Side’ – awesome!

Bonus points: For the amazing write-ups that were attached to some of the albums. Here’s a snippet from a card taped to Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum: “Blown out scuzz-sludge. Beautiful destruction. The air is cottage cheese.” Laurie, you can write on my blog anytime!

Key purchases: The piece of glass painted like Pyromania, ESG * A South Bronx Story (original LP), Screaming Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends (reissue LP), Sparks * Kimono My House (original LP), Sly & The Family Stone * Greatest Hits (8-track)

Laurie’s take: $109.44

Pyromania glass
[gunter glieben glauchen globen…]


Check out the second part of this post here