Opened in 1971 in Old Town Pasadena, back when the neighborhood had more hippies and fewer Cheesecake Factories, Poo-Bah Record Shop became famous not just for its vinyl but as the regular meeting spot for the Los Angeles Free Music Society, an avant-garde collective of jazzbos and noise-mongers and analog synth nerds who were hugely influential on later generations of experimental musicians and composers. Today, owner Ron Stivers honors that history by keeping his shop, now in East Pasadena, well-stocked with the latest releases from Brainfeeder, Leaving and other vanguard beat scene labels. He also, ironically, has the biggest easy-listening section in town, so you can walk out with the latest Nosaj Thing and a $1.99 used copy of Engelbert Humperdinck's greatest hits. Beyond that, a cozy listening loft, extensive new-releases section and friendly, unsnobby staff make Poo-Bah well worth the short commute for vinyl junkies weary of the picked-over selections at its better-known Silver Lake and Highland Park competitors.
Credit: Andy Hermann