L.A's fertile vinyl scene provides the ideal terrain to start an archaeological dig for records. With a resurgence in turntable culture leading to a proliferation of record stores around town, especially on the east side, locals now have even more excuses to drop a needle on an LP.
Residents of most cities spend their time lamenting their lack of record stores, but here there's enough to make you dizzy. Which is why, after visiting the most talked about spots in town and thoroughly examining their collections, we've put together a list of the 10 best record stores in L.A.
10. Mono Records - Echo Park
The punk rock clerks at Mono usually like to chew the fat with customers about their scavenged collection of used LPs and 45s, which, when we were there, included a rare Runaways Live in Japan LP, the original Blade Runner soundtrack, and a personal favorite, Give 'Em Enough Rope, the second studio album by the Clash. No matter when you go, you'll definitely encounter some great finds. 1805 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park | 323-928-2475
9. Rockaway Records - Silver Lake
They've been trading vinyl since 1979 and, even better, Rockaway Records is one of the few record stores in town with an actual parking lot and bathroom! Its shelves, meanwhile, are loaded with rare pop culture collectibles, including an autographed Monkees record, a gaudy Jefferson Starship jacket, and an endless amount of Beatles memorabilia. They also boast one of the largest and most impressive collection of rare Beatles vinyl in town. 2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake | 323-664-3232
8. Freakbeat Records - Sherman Oaks
Freakbeat Records is the most versatile and organized record store in the Valley. Loaded with a large collection of new releases, popular reissues, and anything their loyal customers ask for, Freakbeat doesn't seem to specialize in a genre — though they've got a shit-ton of rock LPs. The staff, mostly older and wise, cater to the varying requests from suburbanites east of the 405 freeway, while CD Trader in Tarzana takes everyone else under the Valley sun.
13616 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks | 818-995-7603
7. As the Record Turns - Hollywood
Remember the original robotic rapist cover for Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction? The one the label had to switch out due to complaints from retailers? As the Record Turns has the only copy we've ever seen in person. The owner Kevin caters to hardcore collectors, and carries only the most highly collectible originals in VG+ (Very Good Plus) or better condition. The good news? Prices are negotiable and a free record is included with every purchase. 6727 3/8 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood | 323-251-4895
6. Gimme Gimme Records - Highland Park
Originally located in New York's East Village, Gimme Gimme relocated to Highland Park for the cheaper rent and growing vinyl culture. With close to 20,000 LPs and 12-inch singles in stock, they pack a big punch for a little shop. Due to popular demand, Dan the owner has kept the punk and new wave section fresh for locals who come in looking for punk gems like Pink Flag or God Save the Queen. 4628 York Blvd., Highland Park | 323-550-1878
5. Permanent Records - Eagle Rock
Lance and Liz are fuzzed-out rockers from Chicago. As two of the three members of garage punk outfit Endless Bummer, the two owners of Permanent Records L.A. don't give a shit about stockpiling their crates with popular records from well-known buzz bands. Permanent is purposefully designed for the scavenger of obscure vinyl, new and old, who is digging for the recent Fuzz LP, or previously unreleased Chrome records, or even some Chicago synth that never really made it out of Chicago. 1583 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock | 323-739-6141
4. Origami Vinyl - Echo Park
Initially a locals-only joint, Origami these days has a growing online shop and plenty of in-store concerts, making it perhaps the most talked about record store in L.A. But even if their $5 bin should really be a $1 bin, Origami is still the best record store for local releases and exclusives. 1816 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park | 213-413-3030
3. Amoeba Music - Hollywood
A utopia for collectors of DVDs, vinyl, and CDs, Amoeba Music is L.A.'s most loaded record store. In terms of new releases and reissues, they are untouchable; stacks of records arrive every single day from vendors and traders around the country. Unfortunately, the dollar section and "newly priced" records are usually just an odd mixture of bland Linda Ronstadt records, cheesy disco and scratched Elton John duds. And there's a mountain of records to dig through, you may have to wrestle an aggressive tourist now and then. Still: Go! 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood | 323-245-6400
2. Vacation Vinyl - Silver Lake
The supremely knowledgeable clerks at Vacation Vinyl know the local indie rock and metal scene better than almost anyone else in town. Owner Mark has carefully avoided hiring the snooty "too cool for school" types, settling for employees who are both local tastemakers and savvy enough to book some impressive in-store gigs.
The spacious spot is stacked with stuff like the new Vatican Shadow LP and exclusive hardcore punk releases from Revelation Records. They also have a record supply section, filled with plastic sleeves and crates for all your vinyl maintenance needs. In short, Vacation caters to record collectors who love the musical discovery experience just as much as the final result. 3815 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park | 323-666-2111
1. Atomic Records - Burbank
Burbank staple Atomic Records is loaded with a carefully curated collection of rare and collectible vinyl that come at a fair price. One of the only record stores with a squared-off section for 45s and singles, Atomic is where you go to find that Bowie or Public Image Ltd. single you've always been looking for. It's also the best place in the city to track down jazz and soul compilations from legends like Johnnie Taylor, James Brown, and other early Stax artists. 3812 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505 | 818-848-7090
See also: The 10 Best L.A. Albums of 2013
Like us on Facebook at LAWeeklyMusic.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!