Record collecting culture is alive and well in Los Angeles.
In fact, with venerable institutions such as Rockaway and Poo-Bah still going strong, and new shops opening all the time, you could argue that L.A. now has the best assemblage of record stores in the country. And as more and more music consumers grow disenchanted with the ephemeral nature of downloads and streaming, that assemblage is likely to keep growing (though perhaps not at the breakneck pace of 2009-2012, when it seemed like every vacant storefront in Northeast L.A. was destined to be filled with turntables and old 45s).
Though Highland Park, Silver Lake and Echo Park remain the hub for this movement, they're not the only places in SoCal where you can still crate-dig for obscurities or stock up on limited-release cassettes by local punk and noise bands. To compile our list of what we consider to be our region's best record stores, we did what all serious collectors do and logged some serious miles, venturing as far afield as Pomona, Tarzana, Montebello and Fountain Valley in our quest for tunes.
So enjoy, discuss and debate our picks for L.A.'s best record stores. And above all, if you love music in all its tangible forms — vinyl, cassette, CD, posters, T-shirts, zines — do yourself a favor and visit some of the stores on this list you haven't tried yet. There are always new discoveries out there.
20. Burger Records
Burger’s cultural currency is normally measured in the empire-building prowess of rock & roll nerds Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard, who’ve turned a shop located in an Orange County strip mall into an underground movement. Their fast-paced, cassette-based release schedule often overshadows their slime-green brick-and-mortar home, which now also claims a satellite location in Cypress Park. Both are weed-friendly clubhouses for teenage rock fans looking for cassettes, wacky merch and access to Burger’s handpicked collection of bubblegum vinyl. 645 S. State College Blvd., Fullerton, 92831. (714) 447-4280, burgerrecords.org. —Art Tavana
19. Record Recycler
There once was a time when you could dedicate an entire day to South Bay record stores and come home with a car loaded with everything from punk to Hi-NRG. Those days are long gone, but you still could while away an afternoon at Record Recycler. It's located near El Camino College in Torrance, in a spot you might miss if you're speeding down Crenshaw Boulevard. The store is packed with an eclectic mix of used vinyl that requires your attentive eyes. You'll flip through a bin remarking, "Got it. Got it. Can't stand it. Oh, shit! I need this one in my life!" The cycle repeats until you realize that you need at least a quarter of what's in the store. 17312 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, 90504. (310) 704-2320, recordrecycler.com. —Liz Ohanesian
18. Zoinks Records
Tucked away in the Pomona Arts District, around the corner from the Glass House and the Fox Theater, Zoinks packs an impressive array of vinyl into a tiny space, with especially solid (and, compared with L.A., super-cheap) selections of used rock, soul, punk, hardcore and dark wave. Higher-end rarities line one wall, while the other is devoted to vintage punk and metal T-shirts, and a case near the door overflows with band pins, some of which you probably haven't seen since high school. They also make custom record cases for you DJs who keep it old-school and still lug your vinyl to gigs. 226 S. Main St., Pomona, 91766. (909) 865-4758, zoinksrecords.com. —Andy Hermann
17. Rockaway Records
Rockaway has been around since 1979 — since even before the CD revolution. The reason Rockaway has survived is its willingness to roll with the constant changes in the business of used media. Currently, Rockaway is focusing on better, rarer and more expensive titles (vinyl, CDs, DVDs), a change from the crate-digger days of well-stocked $2.99 bins. It's also a classic-rock memorabilia powerhouse, which makes the store a little like a private museum, too. Currently on the wall: the original surfboard featured on the cover of early Beach Boys records — yours for $100,000. 2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, 90039. (323) 664-3232, rockaway.com. —Gustavo Turner
16. Bagatelle Records
Bagatelle is a place for DJs to scour some dusty old vinyl in downtown Long Beach, and it’s been around since the mid-’70s. Owner Steve Mintz originally was in the furniture game and just dealt a few records on the side, but he realized music was where his heart was. And he wouldn’t have to deliver couches anymore. Bagatelle is cash only and has listening stations (which, shockingly, many on this list do not). It features a bevy of rock, jazz, country and 12-inches (rap, disco, boogie), and Mintz let me walk out once with an IOU when I didn’t have enough cash. 260 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, 90802. (562) 432-7534, bagatellerecords.com. —Jonny Coleman
15. CD Trader
As the vinyl resurgence continues apace, this Valley mainstay — in operation since 1995 — stubbornly stays focused on its namesake format. About two-thirds of the floor space here is devoted to those allegedly obsolete, little silver discs, and the used prices put Amoeba's to shame, with even popular and hard-to-find titles selling for as little as $4 a pop. Their vinyl section is nothing to sneeze at, either, with an especially impressive collection of experimental and Moog/synth LPs, as well as test pressings, picture discs and most major new releases in every genre. 18926 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, 91356. (818) 705-3544, cdtradertarzana.com. —Andy Hermann
14. Record Jungle
You're rummaging through a mess of old vinyl. You pick up a record, look at the track listing and notice a song that you remember hearing on the radio when you were a kid. Even though you probably haven't heard this in rotation since the days when you were buying new music on cassette, the song floods your mind. You remember the melody that you would hum in the car as your mom drove you to school. You even remember some of the lyrics. You used to love this song. So you buy the album just for that one memory, listen to the whole thing and wonder how you went so long without this in your collection. If a record store is judged by the quality of the song recollections it triggers, then Record Jungle is one of the best. 2461 W. Whittier Blvd., Montebello, 90640. (323) 725-0940, recordjungle.com. —Liz Ohanesian
13. Dr. Freecloud's Record Shoppe
Who needs Beatport? New and classic rave vinyl is still available at SoCal’s last and greatest dance music record shop: Dr. Freecloud’s, owned by DJ legend Ron D. Core and his wife, Helen Liang Dedmon. Nowhere else can dance DJs crate-dig to their heart’s content, preview records on fully equipped listening stations, fight over rare treasures with local all-star DJs like Lostboy, R.A.W. and DJ Dan, and then end up in the middle of a dance party inside the store where said DJs or special guests like Frankie Bones pop in to make an appearance. 18960 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, 92708. (657) 888-4695, drfreeclouds.com. —Joel "DJ Deadly Buda" Bevacqua
12. Freakbeat Records
Valley favorite Freakbeat has been doing its thing and serving vinyl, tapes and CDs for the majority of this century, specializing in psych, garage and generally stuff in the Nuggets ballpark. The staff is particularly friendly — especially by record-store standards — and can help you track down special and rare requests. Oh, and there’s a entire room dedicated to 99-cent items for all you bargain diggers out there to sift through and find gold. 13616 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, 91423. (818) 995-7603, freakbeatrecords.com. —Jonny Coleman
11. Permanent Records
A Chicago institution since 2006, Permanent Records established a sister store in Eagle Rock five years ago. In 2014 they moved to York Boulevard in Highland Park, and a few months ago they opened a second L.A. location, taking over the former home of Origami Vinyl in Echo Park. Owners Lance Barresi and Liz Tooley curate a no-filler selection of rock & roll in all its variety and related subgenres, including whole sections like Japanese psychedelia, minimal synth or 20th-century avant-garde. The store also has a thriving label, which just put out a record by local garage/psych band Frankie and the Witch Fingers. 5116 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042. (323) 739-6141, permanentrecordschicago.com. —Gustavo Turner
No trip to Long Beach is complete without a stop at Fingerprints. The Blue Line–adjacent record shop is consistent in its quality stock; you won't leave here empty-handed, even if you're trying not to buy anything. Sure, you can stock up on new releases at Fingerprints, but make sure you spend some time among the used bins. The selection here is particularly good for '80s post-punk and goth, at better prices than what you might find in L.A. proper. Check the calendar for in-store events, too; recent visitors have included Tacocat, Thrice and Band of Horses. 420 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, 90802. (562-433-4996), fingerprintsmusic.com. —Liz Ohanesian
9. Mono Records
Mono is a boutique record store located on Glendale Boulevard, just off the 2 freeway, where locals can get lost on listening stations in the shop's collection of mostly super-obscure vinyl. It's also closely connected to the Echo Park music scene, which makes it a portal into local taste. Owner John Roller, who opened Mono in 2011, is dedicated to keeping prices low and restocking so often that regulars are glued to Mono’s Facebook page for dig updates. 1805 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, 90026. (323) 928-2475, monorecordsla.com. —Art Tavana
8. Poo-Bah Record Shop
On a sleepy stretch of Colorado Boulevard in East Pasadena lies one of the L.A. area's oldest and most historic record stores. Originally opened in Old Town Pasadena in 1971, Poo-Bah was once a hub for L.A.'s experimental-music scene, back when Old Town was a hippie college hangout. Since taking it over in 2003, current owner Ron Stivers has built up especially massive collections of used jazz, rock, hip-hop and easy listening. It's also an essential destination for fans of the L.A. beat scene, with a solid selection of new and recent releases from labels like Leaving and Brainfeeder, plus a whole section curated by local luminary Ras G. 2636 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91107. (626) 449-3359, poobah.com. —Andy Hermann
Opened seven years ago by a globetrotting collector, this Victorian-themed vinyl boutique’s specialty is rare imports, particularly from Europe and the U.K. Los Angeles’ most discerning record collectors (including the staff of other stores on this list) know that Wombleton stocks unique items that are rarely seen elsewhere, from original pressings of Pulp records to unusual 12-inches by '80s French synth-pop bands. Be prepared to pay market (i.e. high) prices; the store is not a bargain hunter’s paradise, but its lofty clientele of hip celebrities and music insiders don’t seem to mind. 5123 York Blvd., Highland Park, 90042. (213) 422-0069, wombletonrecords.com. —Gustavo Turner
6. The Record Parlour
It takes some chutzpah to open a used record store a couple of blocks from Amoeba in Hollywood, but that’s exactly what Chris Honetschlaeger and Chadwick Hemus did three years ago. Located right off the Cahuenga corridor, the Record Parlour offers a completely different experience: a cozy environment, art-directed to old-timey perfection, with a 50,000-item strong collection of vinyl for all budgets. Watch for its popular “Free Record Days” — a $20 purchase gains you entrance to an alley full of crates where you can dig out up to 100 free items. 6408 Selma Ave., Hollywood, 90028. (323) 464-7757, therecordparlour.com. —Gustavo Turner
5. Gimme Gimme Records
From the punk underground of New York, now grounded in Highland Park, Gimme Gimme is a working-class record store for folks who wanna dig through the most diverse collection of hip-hop and country vinyl in town. For 22 years, Dan Cook has been handpicking his vinyl by refusing to hook onto a “gimmick,” making Gimme Gimme a staunchly unpretentious atmosphere where you can purchase used turntables as well as new and used LPs without being shamed by a record store clerk who looks too goth to relate. 5810 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park, 90042. (323) 550-1878, gimmegimmerecords.com. —Art Tavana
4. Atomic Records
With Backside Records cratering in June, Atomic stands alone in Burbank as the only record store in L.A.’s media nerve center. For 21 years, owner Steve Alper has relied on a massive collection of vintage vinyl — everything from rare ESP-Disk LPs to new-wave singles — to serve as Burbank’s vinyl nerve center. Atomic also has a warehouse-sized collection of DVDs and CDs that rivals Amoeba, and it's the best place in the city to track down R&B and soul compilations from legends like Johnnie Taylor and James Brown. 3812 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, 91505. (818) 848-7090, atomicrecordsla.com. —Art Tavana
3. Amoeba Music
If you enter Amoeba with some money, you will leave with none. The third of three locations (the other two are in the Bay Area, where the chain started), the Hollywood store is a colossal warehouse of music, movies and merch and a veritable shrine to pop culture consumerism. It is among the biggest independent record stores anywhere and frequently features top-notch talent at free in-store performances. The Hollywood institution services music consumers from the casual fan to the serious head. It doesn’t have everything, but its used CD and vinyl sections are breathtakingly vast. In the best possible way, it is the Costco of culture. 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 90028. (323) 245-6400, amoeba.com. —Jonny Coleman
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2. Vacation Vinyl
Vacation is one of those wonderful music-slinging shops where the owner isn’t the typical record-store guy (read: anal and condescending). The last time I went in there, I walked out with six free records because owner Mark Thompson had some overstock he couldn’t sell for some reason. On the same trip, I saw him ask another customer what his “Holy Grail” was, then produce a Melvins box set from the back room that was this punter’s most desired item. Vacation boasts a deep well of rock, metal, post-metal, zines, cassettes, DIY ephemera, all that shit — and you’ll typically walk out feeling as if you got a deal and a laugh. 3815 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, 90026. (323) 666-2111, thejvdasgoat.com. —Jonny Coleman
1. Mount Analog
Mount Analog isn’t just the best record store in Los Angeles — it’s the only one of its kind. The Highland Park shop caters to those who delight in cassette-only noise label samplers, for instance, or double-LP collections of Persian psychedelia, records that are otherwise available only via underground distros and specialist online shops. It also acts as a hub for L.A.'s underground-music community — a home base for heads to meet and pick over healthy collections of techno, Krautrock and industrial. In its few short years of existence, Mount Analog has defied the popular logic about record stores and their unsustainable niche customer base by doubling down on curation, taking the vinyl-shop ideals of discovery and surprise into adventurous new territory. 5906½ N. Figueroa St., Highland Park, 90042. (323) 474-6649, climbmountanalog.com. —Chris Kissel