Holly and I decided to take advantage of the Memorial Day holiday for an extended weekend getaway someplace warm, and that someplace was (technically is, since I’m sitting outside on the patio of our hotel room) San Diego, California. And since we’re traveling, that means that somebody (me) made sure to look up the local record shops on the chance I’d have the opportunity to make some detours. So, with that in mind, here’s a bit of a recap on some of the shops we visited.
OK, Lou’s isn’t in San Diego – it’s in Encinitas, but since we flew into Orange County and drove to San Diego, it was more or less on the way. Lou’s is a decent sized indie shop, and one packed full of both vinyl and CDs, new and used. They had a strong selection of rock and punk titles, but I only managed to come away with two oddball punk records that I took chances on because the prices were reasonable. We did, however, run across a used CD by hip hop artist Sensational which I’m looking forward to listening to – I think he’s one of the overlooked geniuses of the genre. Lou’s is worth a stop if you’re in the area or passing through, but probably not if you’re basing yourself out of San Diego and just looking to hit some shops.
We found ourselves having dinner on Saturday night at the edge of the Gaslamp District, and since I’d done my homework I knew there was a shop called FeeLIT within walking distance of the restaurant. We got there about 15 minutes before closing time, but owner Markalan never made us feel rushed. Instead he chatted us up, and even gave us a list of all the area record stores with some notes on what they carry. Totally classy guy. FeeLITs selection wasn’t at all geared towards my bread and butter of punk and metal, with way more emphasis on electronic, dub, reggae, soul, blues, and some subgenres I didn’t even know existed, and I took advantage by taking chances on some dub and funk that should be interesting to spin as I try to break out a bit more into some different genres. FeeLIT also has some art and jewelry type stuff, and Holly came away with a nice handmade leather bracelet, so everyone was a winner. Well worth the stop!
M-Theory carries a nice selection of new and used stuff with a lot of indie, punk, and rock. I actually made two nice pulls out of the half price bin (records by The Girls and Gruppo Sportivo), a place I rarely seem to have luck in other stores, plus I found a vinyl re-release of Seattle OG punks The U-Men that I’m pretty stoked about. Had we not had more stores to hit I probably would have spent a bit more time and taken advantage of one of the listening stations, but we had things to do and more record shops to hit! Well worth the stop, though, and the prices overall looked decent.
Taang is both a record label and a shop, with a super heavy emphasis on punk, punk, and punk. The reviewers on Yelp seemed to conistently note that Taang has a great punk selection, but is on the expensive side, and I’d have to agree with both parts of that assessment. That being said, their selection was fantastic including a lot of hard to find original releases, and sometimes you just have to decide if you’re willing to step up and pay the price. I ended up with an old Oi! compilation and the “Peel Sessions” for Joy Divison, and was pretty happy. As an added bonus, Taang puts paper inserts into the plastic sleeves covering their records with the artist, album name, and price – which means no pesky price tags to remove an/ord jack up the covers! Worth the stop for the punk enthusiat.
About a block from Taang is Record City, which is a nice sized store with a great selection of used vinyl (they carry new as well) that spans across a lot of genres. Not only was their selection great, so too was the pricing, and I found a couple of records there that were considerably cheaper than they had been in other shops. I unearthed another Northwest gem here in the form of a K Records compilation from 1992 featuring all kinds of different bands, including a bunch of Riot Grrrl stuff, plus a Brian Jonestown Masscre double album on colored wax that I’ve been eyeing from various eBay sellers over the last month or so.
Overall I was pleased with my experiences at all these stores, with special nods to FeeLIT for being a cool spot and Markalan for being a genuinely personable guy, and Record City for having both a great selection and really reasonable prices. There were some other stores on my list that we didn’t get to… but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
On a totally unrelated note, I have two food recommendations. JWok is a great Asian fusion place that we hit up for tons of appetizers, and all of it was fantastic. And if you like a good burger like I do, check out the grass-fed angus beef at Burger Lounge. Because hey, ya gotta eat too!