Record Store Day 2010 Wrap-Up

The line outside J&R
The line outside J&R at 8:30 AM.
Well, it’s late afternoon on April 17, 2010 — Record Store Day — here in NYC. My feet are hurting and the limited Jimi Hendrix “Live at Clark University” is spinning on my turntable, so that means that it’s time to wrap up my RSD coverage!

I started out this morning at around 8:30 at J&R, way downtown. Since this was the store with the earliest opening hour in town, I figured I’d find a high concentration of the most fanatical record nuts there, and I wasn’t disappointed. The line outside (I estimate it was 100 people long by 9) was pretty mellow except for the occasional outburst of nervous anticipation. “What?! You got the Doors single? Doors?!” — that kind of thing.

And it was a pretty smooth operation once the doors opened — well, the first 20 minutes were a bit of a frenzy — and the stock of exclusive items looked comprehensive. (They didn’t have the Moby Grape 45 though — luckily I grabbed that later. It’s impressive.) It seemed like folks were getting what they came for. Store Manager Charlie Bagarozza said it was going to be a fun day; Record Store Day was off to a good start at J&R.

Brooklyn's Sound Fix Records
Brooklyn's Sound Fix Records.
Next up was Sound Fix in Brooklyn. I hadn’t gotten to cover the shop in the lead-up to RSD, but I would have liked to since it’s a nice place. It reminds me of Other Music; it’s got high ceilings, a similar shelving system, and carries predominantly indie stuff. But it does have its own vibe and is worth a trip. I didn’t realize that Sound Fix was as popular as it is — I got there about a half-hour after they opened and it was jam packed! It was all about the indie releases at Sound Fix, whereas at J&R it was more about the Springsteen, Stones, and John Lennon.

After some lunch I headed down to Other Music. They have their RSD down to a science there: lines around the block, because they were making sure that the place didn’t get too crowded. When I showed up ABC TV was in there. Crazy. I got to duck into the store for a few minutes and look around. It was mellow! Some soothing electronica spinning on the stereo, kinda quiet talking, everybody calmly looking through the racks… it was really well done. Other Music have been around for a while and they clearly know how to handle the big events. Kudos.

The line outside Other Music
The line outside Other Music.
I wrapped up at Academy Records on 18th Street which was doing some brisk business despite not carrying any of the limited releases. I usually find something cool in their bins — either CD or vinyl — and today was no different: a super clean Jeff Beck “Flash” LP, for $1. Now, Flash isn’t considered one of Mr. Beck’s finest moments (hence the price tag), but it IS Jeff Beck after all, and Epic pressings from the mid-70s to the early 80s sound real good in my opinion, especially when they have the MASTERDISK stamp in the deadwax like this one does.

Anyway folks, I hope you had a good time out there today and heard — and will hear — some good music as a result of Record Store Day. See you back here at The Masterdisk Record next week, as we get back to our regular programming with a story about engineer Randy Merrill’s mastering of Darcy James Argue’s critically acclaimed album Infernal Machines.

Limited RSD items at J&R
The limited edition wall 20 minutes after the frenzy.

Countdown to Record Store Day, Part 5: Academy Records and CDs

Academy storefront on 12th Street
Academy Records on 12th Street
If its used CDs or vinyl you’re looking for in NYC, Academy Records is your place. Or rather, it’s your three places — they have locations on 12th Street (all vinyl), 18th Street (CDs with some vinyl and a big classical section), 6th Street in Williamsburg (the very large vinyl annex).

Here’s a little further breakdown of the three Academy zones. Interested in digital? Rock/pop/indie? Jazz, classical, or international? 18th Street is your spot. I like visiting there often because they have high turnover in their bins — so you’re always looking at new titles — and their prices are excellent. Average prices for used CDs range from $4 to $8 a pop, with the emphasis on the lower end of the range. God bless. They have a pretty big “budget” section now too where you’re getting into the $2 to $3 range. You’ll also find tons of very nice classical vinyl, CDs and DVDs (if you’re into that kind of thing), and lots of rubber toy dinosaurs too, for some reason.

For your used and new non-classical vinyl you want the 12th Street spot on the East Side. Lots of jazz, plus a decent rock section, a little metal and prog, disco, soul and smaller bins for soundtracks, lounge and more. They carry a really nice selection of vinyl reissues too, from the latest African comp to classic rock. Plus jazz, audiophile labels, krautrock, brazilian, metal… basically if it’s indie vinyl, they carry it. (And a little bit from the major labels too — like the recent Hendrix reissues on Sony/Legacy.) The guys on 12th Street play good music in the store too — aside from Downtown Music Gallery, Academy on 12th is the place where I find I buy stuff because they’re playing it in the store.

Vinyl bins at Academy 18th Street
The vinyl bins in the front of the shop on 18th Street.
The annex in Williamsburg is sort of like the 12th St. shop on steroids, though the genre distribution is different. Proportionally, they carry more rock, less jazz, and less new stuff; and they have tons of international, disco, and soul. Some classical too, but you really need the 18th St. store if you want high quality there. The place is BIG, and as a result there seems to be less turnover in the larger sections than in the other locations. But there’s a LOT of mass here, so especially if you’ve never been, you’ve got to go.

As far as Record Store Day goes, the 12th Street shop and vinyl Annex are carrying some of the limited edition items — mostly from the indie side of the spectrum, though Ben at the Annex told me they’ve gotten some of the more mainstream stuff too. 18th Street — whose product is 99% used, isn’t carrying the exclusive items, but they’ll be having a celebratory day anyway, with some special stock coming out into the bins and an in-store performance.

Another cool thing about Academy is that they recently started their own reissue label, with a focus on very rare African stuff. They press both vinyl and CD.

For more information, visit their website.

Used vinyl wall at Academy on 12th Street
The used vinyl wall at Academy on 12th Street.
Some of the classical collection at Academy on 18th Street
Classical at Academy on 18th Street

And that concludes my pre-record store day blogging! There were some other stores I wanted to cover like Sound Fix in Brooklyn, which is a really neat store, but I didn’t have enough time. I will, however, be tweeting and blogging from the field tomorrow — so I’ll see you in the shops!