In celebration of Record Store Day, coming up Saturday, April 19, we’ve rounded up our favorite record stores in NYC. These establishments are fewer and farther between than in years past, and vinyl often conjures thoughts of gimmicky releases or nostalgic reissues – but for any true record enthusiast, the medium never lost an ounce of relevance. The physical ritual of flipping through dusty bins of LPs, removing an album from its sleeve, and dropping the needle onto the grooves while digesting the liner notes could never be replaced by digital downloads.
Record Store Day this year brings true audiophiles hundreds of new releases from an vast range of artists – everyone from The Allman Brothers to Broken Bells to HAIM, and many, many more. To properly celebrate this unofficial holiday, head to any of our favorites to peruse bins of records, and hopefully find some to take some for yourself.
1. Other Music: Describing itself as “a unifying aesthetic for a cornucopia of seemingly disparate musical genres – an attempt to classify the unclassifiable by delineating the common threads among these genres,” this NoHo record store is one of our go-to spots. Especially if you’re into stuff like Current 93, Industrial, Neo-folk, obscure Psychedelia, vintage non-commercial New Wave, Reggae, Electronica and experimental jazz. Other Music’s grand selection of these underground and experimental CDs, LPs, imports, and rare vintage is music to our ears. 15 East 4th Street, between Lafayette Street & Broadway; (212) 477-8150
2. Academy Records: This is the place where you will walk out with some records purged from the personal collection of some top-tier post punker, or recently unearthed dead stock of countless soul fusion lost classics. Everything here is a score due to its location in close proximity of the aging art elite – this is their dumping ground. For jazz, soul and funk, the racks are your bible. For everything left of center, this is where you mine the real finds. Thumbing through their singles boxes, you can relate to the prospector striking gold in the bed of a ripe but unsifted river. 12 West 18th Street, between Fifth & Sixth Avenues; (212) 242-3000
3. Turntable Lab: Head here for records as well as everything you need to play them – whether for yourself or for hundreds. Founded in 1998 by Anthony Cattarina, Jasper Goggins, and Peter Hahn, a trio who formed the idea for the Lab based on numerous negative experiences at stores that sold deejay equipment: both big musical instrument chains and shady Canal Street stereo stores. Turntable Lab built its business on fair pricing, informed reviews, and a well-researched selection of “Lab approved” items. Years later, most of the Lab’s employees are still working deejays, producers and musicians, which keeps everyone knowledgeable and helps to ensure and maintain the top-notch standards. Turntable Lab stocks turntables, needles, records, mixers, production gear, headphones, magazines, and more. 120 East 7th Street, between 1st Avenue & Avenue A; (212) 677-0675
4. Downtown Music Gallery: Back when this joint was on the Bowery, we have memories of spending hours annoying the staff to listen to oddball jazz records and Euro imports. With too many records to pick from, some of our most calculated record purchases happened at the expense of these folks. Head here to get heavily schooled in the canon of no wave, free jazz, art punk, improvisation, and anything that doesn’t fit in. Downtown Music Gallery has since relocated to Chinatown but still has the same great inventory and concrete vibe. 13 Monroe Street, between Catherine & Market Streets; (212) 473-0043
5. Black Gold Records: Two of our favorite things: coffee and records. This spot has a fully functioning coffee shop, and many just looking for a caffeine fix may find themselves walking out with a pile of weirdo punk and freak out psych jams. 461 Court Street, between Luquer Street & 4th Place, Brooklyn; (347) 227-8227