April 17, 2009
America's 15 Best Indie Record Stores
SPIN's editors celebrate Record Store Day with our list of the top places to discover great music. By Abigail Everdell and Charles Aaron
In honor of the second annual Record Store Day on April 18, we talked to SPIN contributors and trusted friends around the country to come up with the best general-interest music shops that America has to offer. Because, let's be honest, spending too many hours on the Internet fizzes your brain and dims your eyesight. But devoting hours to a great record store rejuvenates. Ask the opinion of the right people (they’re right there behind the counter), and you can come out enlightened, possibly with new friends, carrying a record you’ve never heard of that might blow your mind, with a big fucking smile on your face. And who doesn't want that?
NOTE: We tried to narrow our list to a Top 10, but were pleasantly surprised to find 15 stores we loved -- plus a group of 15 more worthy of honorable mention. (To keep our list manageable, we excluded stores that specialize in specific genres like jazz and blues.) Read on for the countdown of our Top 15 picks -- plus, testimonials from fans who frequent them.
(To see the full list, read the article here)
1. AMOEBA 6400 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, 1855 Haight Street in San Francisco, and 2455 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California
Why It Rocks: Amoeba Records, with locations in Berkeley, San Francisco, and Hollywood, isn't just the "World's Largest Independently Owned Record Store" as their topflight website proudly declares, it represents a sort of music lovers' heavenly refuge. Their vast, bright warehouse spaces house massive, constantly shifting new and used stock (more than 100,000 titles per store), painstakingly curated into ultra-specific, world-spanning genre sections. Factor in a mind-blowing history of in-stores (browse their online video gallery for a taste), and it's no surprise that a majority of people, when asked about great record stores in the U.S., respond with "Oh, like Amoeba?"
Fans Say: "There's something really soothing about rows and rows (and rows) of vinyl, just waiting to be flipped through, and when you hear that satisfying flip-flip-chunk sound of diggers, it's almost like hearing a great minimalist electronica record or something. Add to that the clattering of those plastic CD protector things, and it's like a little symphony. Amoeba feels like church, if church was fun." -- Josh Modell (managing editor, The Onion AV Club and SPIN contributing writer)
"I went to Amoeba for the first time when I was 15 and I almost passed out. I could have spent $200, and I didn't have $200." -- Joe Gross (pop-music critic, the Austin American-Statesman)