Three years ago this month I began writing for this site, focusing initially on independent record stores and what was going on at the time since I spent most of my time sitting behind the counter of one. Since then, I’ve evolved from bitching about shops and being called negative to bitching about people and being called an SJW Nazi but I figured I’d dust off and slightly revisit my roots but in a more productive and positive way than I generally do around here, which means this piece will only get about seventy-four views.
As a music fan, I’ve spent a lot of my time going to various record shops around the country which makes me a very boring vacation partner and also a very boring person to tour with. I’ve come across a few shops who, like my old boss, have the ethics of a mass grave, but I’ve also found a few that really stick out due to several factors: selection, price and a staff that doesn’t make me want to take a shit in their restrooms and not flush. I figured I’d use my soap box here to shed light on a few and hopefully drive some of you out into the shitty summer sun and into the doors of these shops. At the very least it’ll give you something to look at while you’re on the can that doesn’t have to do with politics or Glenn Benton and Corey Taylor fighting to see who’s more irrelevant. Let’s begin:
2243 S Lambert St, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Philadelphia has a good history of record shops catering to punk and metal with shops like Rock N Roll Plus, Noise Pollution and the Relapse store but with these spots all closed or on the verge of, there was a pretty good hole that needed to be filled and a few years back Sit & Spin did just that. This has become my favorite record store in the country, especially once they moved into a larger location a few months back. They consistently have a large selection of rare and weird punk and metal, catering to all facets of each genre with prices that aren’t straight from Discogs so you’re able to walk out with a decent haul without having to lie to your significant other as to why you can’t afford your part of the rent this month. One of the owners, Leora, is also a part of the legendary punk band Thulsa Doom who’ll be sharing the stage with Siege for the latter’s first Philadelphia show ever next month. Good atmosphere and a selection that seems to change daily. I try to make it a point to stop there every time I’m in Philadelphia, even if it means fucking up my ride back to Richmond.
324 S Pine St, Richmond, VA 23220
One of the things that sucked for me about moving to Richmond was not being close to Sit & Spin or Wawa. Lucky for me, Wawa exists down here and there’s Vinyl Conflict, which is basically Sit & Spin’s southern cousin. Another shop that has an extensive punk collection spanning across the genre, their metal selection has also grown significantly and also for black metal purists the store is serviced by the excellent Salvation Distro so there’s a constant influx of weird and obscure black metal. Much like Sit & Spin the prices are good and the owner, Bobby Egger, is always enjoyable to talk to and incredibly supportive to the local scene. Another store I’ve never walked out of empty handed.
Providence RI & Boston MA
Since the first time my old doom band played Providence ten or so years ago to every time Krieg plays or records up there, the original Armageddon Shop location is a must hit. I can only speak of the Providence location as the one time I tried to go to the Boston one parking sucked and I was hungover from being drunk at a morning show because I’m a champion (I’ve also thrown up in the bushes next to the Providence locale in case you like touristy shit and need something to add to your scrapbook). One of the best used CD selections I’ve seen in years plus their vinyl and zine sections are packed with great punk and metal records. This is a really cool shop that always has something to offer, with even a good indie and classic rock section to pick from. Plus if you’re lucky, Ben from Dropdead will be working that day so you can tell him how rad his band is like I annoy him with every time I’m there. Lots of good local coffee and food places nearby as well.
3835 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Ok, this is kind of cheating because I haven’t been here. However back in the 2000s I used to patronize the original Metal Haven constantly. This was the only place in North America you could walk into and buy Sombre Records titles right off the shelf instead of having to write letters and do all that inconvenient shit we had to do in a less enlightened age. When it originally closed it was a kick to the Chicago metal community’s balls, whether they knew it or not, because it was as the name implied, a haven for real metal in a city that has been producing some of the country’s best since the start. When I heard Mark Weglarz was reopening but with a new idea it seemed jarring but also somehow perfect, considering the atmosphere that retail record shops are experiencing now. Not only does he still service the community with an excellent selection (some of which I saw when he vended the Metal Threat fest last month) but he now also serves up a menu of interesting comfort food that, apparently from good sources, is shockingly excellent. I’ve known Mark for fifteen years and I can honestly say he’s a great dude and I wish this new venture nothing but the best and can’t wait to check it out next time I’m in town.
These are just a few of my favorite stops in these fine United States but I know many of you have your own. It’s a rough time for indie stores, rougher than when I started writing about them a few years ago, so I implore you to go out and support the ones you love because they really need it. Don’t just like their Facebook page but actually go out to them, tell your friends about them and do what you can, even if it’s buying a $3 7 inch. Every little bit helps keep the lights on and keeps that little bit of history going.