The Life in the Vinyl Lanes took a cross-country trip to the land of my origins, the Five Boroughs, New York City USA. (♠) We had three full days in the city, excluding travel days, and during that time walked 38 miles. That is not a typo. And we never got north of Times Square. For real. We walked a lot.
We also ate a lot of pizza and hit up a lot of record stores (♣), and since this is a vinyl blog I figured I’d tell you a bit about the latter. I actually didn’t do a lot of buying in this trip, which I think was a combination of not wanting to carry a bunch of vinyl all over the Lower East Side and, well, because it’s not like we were in another country where I could dip my toes into its musical scene. There wasn’t a lot of stuff that I was only likely to find in NYC… though the stores did have way more reggae and hip hop than I’m used to seeing. Despite only having bought about a dozen records, I came away impressed by the myriad of stores in New York City.
Limited To One
221 East 10th Street
Nestled away in a little daylight basement spot, Limited To One impressed me with the quality of its selection. Yeah, it was a small space, but everything in there was in great shape and well packaged to ensure it stayed that way. The wall had some impressive collectible titles, and the selection was intriguing, but I just never found anything I couldn’t live without (and that I didn’t want to spend the next 4-5 hours carrying around). Of all the joints we hit up in NYC, this is one of the two I’d most like to go back to and spend some quality time in. I feel like I could get through the whole place in an hour and would absolutely come away with a few gems, though with my wallet a bit lighter by at least a few Benjamins.
172 Forsyth Street
Commend is a bit of a trippy place, with a small collection of mostly (if not exclusively) new vinyl along with some clothing, books, and some generally arty items. It’s also a label, though the shop didn’t carry too many of its own titles. The selection appeared to be mostly interesting in the various ambient genres, and I just didn’t know enough about that scene to really get into anything.
House Of Oldies Rare Records
35 Carmine Street
I was Facebook messaging with our friend Leana while Holly and I enjoyed some Yeunglings in Greenwich Village. Leana is an American ex-pat who lives in Reykjavik, and one of the things we look forward to every year when we go to Iceland for Airwaves is our annual breakfast with her at Reykjavik’s Cafe Paris. I know Leana because of the blog, and she also used to work at Seattle’s own Silver Platter Records, a career path made all the more obvious when you consider the fact that her dad used to own House Of Oldies Rare Records in NYC back in the day… which, as I learned, turned out to be a handful of blocks from where we were enjoying our well-deserved afternoon beer. So we swung by House Of Oldies. And it was closed. Thanks Leana. Thanks for nothing.
In all seriousness though, House Of Oldies gets great reviews online, so it’s probably worth checking out. Note though the sign in the window that indicates “No CDs”, so don’t even ask. Don’t touch the mic, baby, don’t go near it.
210 Thompson Street
Generation was the first store that seemed “familiar”; it just felt like a record store. Lots of stuff and a massive New Arrivals section. I felt like there was a decent amount of emphasis on new releases, though the used selection was in decent shape and covered a wide gamut of genres. This is another place I could have easily spent a few hours, plus as an added bonus they dropped the needle on the Spinal Tap Soundtrack while we were there… and they played the while damn thing. Which is worth a few extra points in my book. I’d definitely go back to Generation if I had the time to do some digging.
64 N. 9th Street (Brooklyn)
Rough Trade is legendary. Label… distro… venue… a bit of everything. We loved it from the moment we walked in the door, and it was the first spot in NYC that took some of my hard earned cash (OK, technically plastic magnetic strip, but still). A weird Greg Ginn 12″, some OG electro by Chris Carter, dub from Lee “Scratch” Perry, and, perhaps oddest of all, the re-release of Capital Punishment’s Roadkill. The no-wavish Capital Punishment only put out one album, way back in 1982, but it included guys who are now productive members of society, working as a professor in Czech literature, a justice on the Arizona Supreme Court, and the guy who played Derek Zoolander. Admit it, that’s a bit intriguing. I just read about Capital Punishment in the book The Mudd Club, so I was kind of excited to find this one. I’m sure it’ll make it to the blog soon.
The Brooklyn Record Fair
East River State Park (Brooklyn)
As we were checking out at Rough Trade we were talking about walking over to Academy, and the lady at the lady at the register asked us if we were going to the Brooklyn Record Fair that day. Uh, what is this magic of which you speak? How about a 60-table record fair, under tents, down at the beach. I’m in. We didn’t spend a ton of time there because it was packed and packed record fairs are annoying as hell, but I did squeeze into a few spots and came away with a sweet Suicide Commandos record, which got me some Facebook props from none other than KEXP’s Kevin Cole. Plus there was an equally big outdoor food bonanza right next to the record show, so we picked up Argentinian choripans and some duck fat fries. #winning
Academy Records Annex
85 Oak Street (Brooklyn)
The Academy Records Annex was the deepest spot we hit up (other than perhaps the record fair). Tons of vinyl, most of it used, and covering about every genre under the sun. Did you know Sly and Robbie did a hop hop album produced by KRS One? I didn’t. But I own it now. For five bucks. Throw in some bizarro private press stuff, some early 1980s metal, and a 12″ by Soviet Sex, and the only surprise was that I got out of there for less than a hundred bucks (barely). Absolutely worth the visit.
I feel like I should have come home with more vinyl, but I’ve bought a TON lately and since we did so much walking I just didn’t want to be schlepping stuff all over town. That being said, there are definitely a lot of great vinyl options in NYC if you’ve got the time.
(♠) My dad was from Brooklyn, my mom from the Bronx.
(♣) And fabric stores in the garment district. Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane should have a blog called Life in the Fabric Lane.