Clean WMP ISO quickie w/W/E record shop, NYC/area. No phonies/haters!
February 8, 2007 11:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a free day in New York City soon. Is there One True Record Store?

Are there any truly great record shopping experiences in the NYC area? I'm hoping to find an East Coast version of Amoeba, someplace huge with lots of used stock in a broad variety of genres where you can spend a full day in the bins if you eat a hearty breakfast first. A neighborhood with a variety of smaller stores works too, as long as it isn't fifteen identical shops staffed with thirtysomethings in black leather and Germs badges with well-practiced sneers queued up to wield against the unsuspecting.

Some travel is ok as long as it doesn't require a car (I'm staying near Penn Station) and isn't too far out of town. I've heard good and bad about Princeton Record Exchange -- they're "legendary" but their web site has a bad case of SEO-spam, and I get differing info on the travel time required (NJ Transit says 75 minutes from Penn Station, the NYT claims it's three hours?!).

I don't have a preference for format, CDs and vinyl are both fine, though I am fond of import 12"s/CD-singles. Any tips appreciated. Thanks!
posted by Lazlo to Shopping (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You will probably have better luck going to a few smaller shops. There is no Amoeba equivalent in NYC, sadly.

try: Academy, Rebel Rebel, Bleecker Bobs, Virgin Union Square, Dance Trax (if you're into electronic).
posted by softlord at 3:00 AM on February 9, 2007

I think Princeton Record Exchange will closest to the Amoeba experience. But it's not as good as Amoeba by a long shot. Sadly, record shopping in NYC is not very good. Neither is used book shopping, for that matter. A few months ago you could while away the afternoon at Other Music and then cross the street to Tower (good imports and jazz, big selection) but Tower is now closed. But you should still check out Other Music.

OTOH, J&R is pretty good. Some of the best deals on new CDs in NYC, and a vast selection.

Have fun!
posted by agent99 at 5:45 AM on February 9, 2007

You could go to Other Music and then to Kims. There is also okay shopping in Williamsburg: Sound Check is tiny but the folks who work there are great on recs, plus there is interesting used vinyl in the back of the Reel Life Trading Post. But no huge craziness.
posted by dame at 6:04 AM on February 9, 2007

I haven't trawled Princeton Record Exchange a whole lot, and not at all for vinyl, but they do have a lot of it. I've found multiple CDs the times I've been there. I've felt a faint sneer of attitude, but I'm also a fat suburban 38 year old buying Broadway and country.

I'd put it at the 75 minute end of things. I have no idea where the Times is getting 3 hours from. You will have to change trains at Princeton Junction; there isn't direct service to downtown Princeton. On the other hand, there's just the one little train (the "Dinky") from Princeton Junction to Princeton, and it's a quick ride. From the train station, you want to make your way up University Place to Nassau Street (or across campus if you're so inclined). Cross the street to the far side of Nassau and go right. The Exhchange is a few blocks down Nassau on Tulane (there's a movie theater on the corner of Tulane and Nassau).

If you do end up in Princeton, ignore the cold and get some ice cream. There's a fabulous place in Palmer Square (you'll pass Palmer Square on the way to the Exhchange) called The Bent Spoon that does awesome artisanal small-batch ice cream in unusual flavors. Think sweet Jersey basil ice cream in the summer. They have less weird stuff as well. :)
posted by booksherpa at 6:11 AM on February 9, 2007

You could make the rounds like this:

Kim's (St. Mark's Pl. b/t 2nd and 3rd Ave)
Other Music (W. 4th St. b/t Broadway and Lafayette)
--stop for pizza at Two Boots--
Generation Records (Thompson St. b/t 3rd St. and Bleecker St.)
Bleecker Bob's (3rd St. b/t MacDougal St. and 6th Ave.)

If you're ever in Philly, there are some good record shops around; I'll list them for posterity:

AKA Music (N. 2nd b/t Market and Arch)
Repo Records (South St. b/t 5th and 6th)
Philadelphia Record Exchange (S. 5th b/t South and Lombard)
The Marvelous (40th St b/t Locust and Walnut)
posted by The Michael The at 6:14 AM on February 9, 2007

Satellite Records

Retail NYC: 259 Bowery New York, NY 10002
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on February 9, 2007

As someone who grew up spitting distance from the holy troika of Rasputin's, Amoeba, and Moe's (for books!), I can only say that Princeton Record Exchange is a quaint outpost, a reasonable facsimile for people who enjoy the notion of soy cheese and prefer Anna Nicole to Marilyn. (....too soon!....) I'm not sure I'd go so far out of the way, but I'm a bit of a spoiled wretch considering since Amoeba opened up their LA branch, I'm still just a spit away.

That being said, Other Music was a fave outpost when I lived in NYC and isn't a three hour round trip from where you're staying. But I applaud your verve to search for record store heaven -- just go with lowered expectations if you do go so that Princeton Record Exchange will exceed them. And maybe post on Princeton.Craigslist to get a cute girl/guy to internet-hook-up you over vinyl and coffee -- if the record store isn't to your liking, maybe the making out will be?
posted by incessant at 9:35 AM on February 9, 2007

I would trust NJ Transit on the travel time to Princeton. It's not that far, really.
posted by smackfu at 9:35 AM on February 9, 2007

If you're a fan of the rather narrow range of stuff they carry (mostly avant-garde, with a little art-rock and free-jazz and whatnot), Downtown Music Gallery is a very good store.
posted by box at 10:36 AM on February 9, 2007

The Downtown Music Gallery on Bowery is great if you like free jazz and things of that nature.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2007

Son of a bitch!
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 10:40 AM on February 9, 2007

Academy on North Six in Williamburg is great if you're just looking to do vinyl. I'll join the choir for Other Music, sure. Just up the street from Academy is Ear Wax Records which isn't bad, albeit predictable. Prices are okay, though.
posted by GilloD at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2007

Go to Williamsburg. It's right on the other side of the river, 5 minutes by subway from Manhattan. Academy (N. 6th, a few blocks west of Bedford) as previously mentioned is tops for vinyl. Much more interesting stuff that you'd find at Bleeker Bob and their ilk. Ear Wax (Bedford Ave & N. 5th) is pretty lousy, but you might as well check it out. Definitely go to Sound Fix on Bedford and N. 11th. Excellent new selection and the occasional amazing instore. Then there are two on Grand St.: Black Out (corner of Berry) and another place, I forget it's name that's also a bookstore and art gallery, near Roebling on the north side of the street. And do go to Other Music in the city too.
posted by timnyc at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2007

incessant, I like the cut of your jib. But while my enthusiasm for spending hours flipping through musty bins of vinyl may indicate otherwise, I'm actually in a healthy monogamous relationship with another human being.

Right now the odds look pretty good for a trip out to Princeton, with a couple of other shops closer in as time allows. Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions.
posted by Lazlo at 10:40 PM on February 9, 2007

The only time it's taken me anything resembling three hours to get between Princeton and New York was when this happened and I got stuck in Metuchen.

One small correction to booksherpa's directions, though. The movie theatre is on the corner of Nassau and Washington/Vandeventer, and if you get that far, you've gone past the Record Exchange. At the corner of Nassau and Tulane, there's a restaurant called Sotto, and a former realty office that's currently being renovated. The Record Exchange usually leaves a sign on the sidewalk in front of the store.
posted by oaf at 6:18 PM on February 10, 2007

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