Archive for the record stores Category

Permanent Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
181 Franklin St
(between Green St & Huron St)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 383-4083

Permanent Records is located in Greenpoint just a couple blocks north of Greenpoint Ave on Franklin Street (a very short walk from the Greenpoint Ave G Station, or a 20-25 minute walk from the Bedford L). In 2007 Permanent relocated from it’s original location on Long Island to Greenpoint. While this is a tragic loss for it’s former location, it was a great addition to Franklin Street.

While some of the record stores in the Bedford area have an air of pretension Permanent Records is friendly and welcoming! Marjorie, the owner of the shop, is typically behind the counter and is extremely friendly. I have been in several times, and have only had enjoyable experiences.

Permanent has more vinyl than CDs, and of course this is a plus for me. The store set up is records down the right side, and CDs down the left. There are a couple stand alone racks in the center of the floor: one for newly arrived used LPs, another for 7″s, and a third for DJ esque type LPs). They have a variety of record players in the windows, and lots of sun light. The store is not huge, but feels spacious, and comfortable.

Selection wise I always find more records than I need to be buying in my hands. I’m not quite sure how it is labeled, but they have one large section of LPs (that lives in the back right side corner of the store) that is comprised of a very eclectic selection of rock, noise, folk, electronic, and country of the modern varieties. Then they have some smaller section of things like reggae, soul, jazz, ect. The selection is really wonderful. They have your typical record bins, (by alphabet), and then they reserve space on the walls to display albums too (as pictured). They have pretty much something for everybody, and I find that you might end up with something you didn’t quite expect to find.

On my most recent visit I purchased Boris’ new effort Smile, the repress of Thurston Moore’s of Psychic Hearts, a used copy of the Grateful Dead’s Blues of Allah, as well as the reason for my visit… my special order of Eat Skull’s new album Sick to Death.

I have to thank Marjorie and Permanent Records for allowing people to do special orders. I had been looking all over to find that Eat Skull record, and had asked several places about ordering it for me…but no one would do it. I just kept hearing “Check back next week.” Marjorie ordered the record for me, and kept in touch with me until it came in stock. The LP I wanted was on back order, but the store followed up with me three times. Once to let me know that it didn’t come in, a second time letting me know the day it would be there, and finally a call to let me know that my record arrived. This is wonderful customer service, and they didn’t even make me put down a deposit (which I happily would have done).

They are also open until 9pm! Which means I still have time to make it to the store before they close after I’m done having happy hour (it is one of my favorite activities to record shop after a beer or two)! Permanent Records does instore performances too. To find out what is about upcoming events stop into the store, or email: marjorie@permanentrecords.info and ask to be added to the mailing list.

It may be that Greenpoint just has wonderful specialty shops…besides my consistently good experiences at Permanent, I was also recently surprised by the kindness of the young lady that was working at Dalaga (we didn’t catch her name, but she mentioned she was a new employee). KLK and I were in the store on Sunday, and she was just so genuinely nice that she really made us want to frequent their shop.

While I had never visited a lot of these shops before moving to Greenpoint, overall I am just pleasantly surprised with the shops in my new neighborhood. I am happy to live here and be supporting them. Permanent Records (and Dalaga) are both doing good things. They both have made some return customers out of us. I love the Franklin Street shopping district, and I can’t wait to explore it more.

If you are a record collector, or just in the mood for some new tunes stop by Permanent. If you can decide on something I’m sure that they are full of recommendations. One last thing I forgot….Permanent is typically a couple bucks cheaper on new LPs than Earwax and Soundfix!

Photos:

Greenpoint Store by JT (via Picasa)

Inside Greenpoint Store by Michael Kirby (via Time Out NY)

Old Store on Long Island by Seamus McGuire (via flickr)

More music news in Greenpoint this week…if you are a fan of punk rock or folk music… Defiance, Ohio is playing Club Europa this Thursday August 21st. If you don’t have anything going on, or are looking for something to do, I highly recommend going (I plan on being there)…it is not so often that you get to see a mostly acoustic punk band play. Good times.

(Tom)

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Hospital Productions opens Larger Store (Update)

Posted in News, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by criticalreviews

As I reported back in April Jammyland records, the beloved East Village reggae shop has closed it’s physical location, and is now only accessible online.

I thought that this would be the end of Hospital Productions as well…but I was wrong. Hospital Productions once located in the basement of Jammyland will reopen in the much larger main space at 60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where Jammyland used to preside.

I found this out when we walked by the shop yesterday, and there was a sign in the window saying that Hospital Productions will re-open in July. This was confirmed by the Hospital Productions website:

HOSPITAL STORE LIVES!

Hospital Productions is expanding to the full location at 60 East 3rd St. Renovations are currently underway. We send our salute to all the generous and dedicated supporters that assisted us in this time of transition. Thank you!

Dominick Fernow

We have the beloved noise outlet back, when will Jammyland emerge from the ashes?

You can read my Hospital Productions review here.

I don’t normally post news articles on here, but I thought this was important information that is relevant to several of my posts…I’m not going to make it a regular thing, but if necessary it will happen.

Cheers,

(Photo from Time Out New York)

(Tom)

Brooklyn Record Riot. Sunday June 29th at the Warsaw.

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2008 by criticalreviews

The Brooklyn Record Riot was held at the Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn) this past Sunday. While I am a pretty big record dork this event fell pretty short of my expectations…and honestly my expectations were pretty low. While the short list of dealers that I read on Brooklyn Vegan looked pretty promising:

Denis from Le Pickup of Montreal
Josh Rock from Montreal
Bobby Soul from NYC
John from 21st Century Music
Billy and Miriam from Norton Records
Chris from Relative Action
Neil Drucker from Record Cellar of Philly
Marjorie from Permanent Records of Greenpoint
Malcolm from Trash American Style
Mike from Slipped Disc
John from Rockit Scientist NYC
Larry from ShoutShimmy Of Jersey City
Reggae Tim from Baltimore

Overall it just turned out to be overwhelming due to people and amount of merchandise, and underwhelming in terms of selection and/or price.

My first complaint off the bat is that it was a record riot, and not a CD or DVD riot. While I agree that these items do fit into the category of things a record buyer might purchase, I feel that too much space was given to them. While there were some really wonderful tables, KLK got some of the more obscure Pink Floyd LPs and Leah had some good cheap finds and a very special Nick Cave LP, I came up empty handed.

I felt like there was a lot of good stuff at the record fair, but that overall prices were high (on used LPs specifically). Personally I am always looking for Brian Eno and Frank Zappa but what I found, even records that I already own, were exponentially higher than what I paid for them or had seen them being sold for in Williamsburg or the East Village.

I almost felt like prices were jacked up due to it being a record fair. Possibly people thinking “Oh there will be record Geeks and DJ’s here.” This wasn’t all of the tables, but I did get this vibe from tables that didn’t have prices on anything (or that used a hand written pricing code: example A= $10 D=$40). I guess what I am getting at is that there was a serious lack of good things in the $10-$20 range, and even $20-$30. There were tons of cheap $1-$5, and plenty of collector-y $30-$200 things…but the median range was really weak.

While I will admit that every LP I looked at did appear to be in almost perfect condition, I don’t consider this too much of a luxury. I find that most used records, in stores, priced over $10 tend to be in excellent or at least very good condition.

Some tables were really organized…whether it was by alphabet, genre, or era, but others were just by price. And while this could be good for someone looking deal, it really is too much of a time investment with not enough results.

One of the highlights was the table of Permanent Records (of Greenpoint), which I didn’t shop at because I would rather support them in their very relaxed store. While their table consisted of mostly new records it was a nice change. They were organized, and friendly. Their store deserves a proper review of it’s own (and that should come sometime in the near future after a couple more visits).

I actually think it could have been better if there were more vendors selling new vinyl (like Permanent)…maybe by recruiting the likes of the recently closed Jammyland (because honestly from what I saw the reggae was particularly weak) or Hospital Productions, or other specialty shops.

Four things I would like to see that would have made the experience more enjoyable:

1. Organization (I don’t care how you do it…era, genre, alphabet…just not by price…unless it is a $1 bin).
2. Prices (post your prices on the records, or at the very least have a code that the customer can decode without asking you).
3. More specialty vendors.
4. Those portable record players are obnoxious…vendors should have them set up (if they want to), and customers should not be allowed to bring them.

Not being impressed might have been due to the fact that I didn’t get there til 2pm, but all of the bins looked full, and if it was in fact picked over I can’t imagine what it was like at 6 or 7pm. I can say the Brooklyn Record Riot was worth the $3 admission, and I’m not writing off record fairs completely (I’m looking forward to the next WFMU fair.)

(Tom)

Jammyland Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
East Village, NYC

So I know I just posted about Count Ossie and I my be bombarding you with reggae, but I feel that it is necessary to get this up before Jammyland is gone.

On Sunday, I found out that Jammyland will be closing come the end of May (I assume due to a rent increase or loss of their lease). This is a really sad day for reggae, and music in general in New York City. Jammyland has been a reggae mainstay in New York since 1993.

Physically Jammyland is a very long and very narrow store, and if there is someone buying something at the counter it is even hard to fit in the door. But it is loaded with all things reggae. They have the largest selection of reggae LPs, 45s, and CDs I have ever seen (and t-shirts too). My experiences in the store have always been enjoyable….the sweet smell of incense and trying to lean over the mounds of Jammyland t-shirts on the floor in boxes to flip thru records. The employees are always friendly…from making recommendations, to answering questions, and even sometimes putting records on the store stereo so that you can hear them before you buy. Occasionally you will even go in and a DJ will be spinning 45s to figure out what he/she is going to purchase to play in their set later that night.

The first time I went in the store it was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had record shopping. I was more comfortable in Hospital Productions, at least I knew a handful of the names on the shelf. For those who don’t know Hospital Productions is the noise/black metal store, that is located in the old Jammyland recording studio, that you enter by walking into the Jammyland store front…going to the back of the store, and then down a ladder in to the windowless Hospital Productions. I knew literally nothing about reggae the first time I went in, and although the guy working tried to help me I had no direction and no idea what I liked. On my second visit I picked up the Soul Jazz’s Studio One Dub, and after getting some advice I went back and purchased a big handful of LPs.

The first couple of times that I was in the store I was totally blown away…and that was for two reasons: 1) the store has a killer selection, and 2) I was starting on a new genre of which I literally owned nothing. While Jammyland didn’t always have what I was looking for they always had something to temp me…it wasn’t their fault…I realize when I am looking for albums that came out twenty or thirty plus years ago that they most likely will be out of print. But with Jammyland you never know…one day that record just might be there. Someone in Jamaica or England might have been clearing out a warehouse, and if a couple copies are found… they will end up at Jammyland (that is how I happened upon Grounation). Even if they don’t have that specific obscure LP you are looking for the collection of Greensleeves, Pressure Sounds, and Soul Jazz records should be enough to hold you over. Jammyland, from what I understand, even makes trips and orders directly from Jamaica to get Jamaican pressings of albums you typically wouldn’t see in the States (I have picked up random Linval Thompson, and Sly and Robbie records, as well as a Jamaican press of The Upsetters’ Return of the Super Ape).

Their prices are also hard to beat. I love being able to walk into a store, and if you look a little bit you can walk out with a rad roots or dub record for as cheap as $9.99 (I find it a rare occasion these days when you can get a new record for $10, but at Jammyland as long as your willing to look this can happen often). But as you can assume some records go up in price pretty quickly…it is just as easy to spend $25 on an album as it is to spend $10.

Jammyland is a bit messy and disorganized but so entirely unique that it couldn’t exist anywhere else (well maybe in Brooklyn). I sit here listing to Augustus Pablo’s Africa Must Be Free by 1983 Dub (the second record I ever purchased from the store) reminiscing on Jammyland…I guess it will never completely be gone as long as their mail order is still in action, but it is really sad to think that I will never be able to walk into this shrine to Jamaican roots music again.

While I was told that the store was looking for a new location there is no word yet of if it will happen/where/and when, and I guess this means Hospital Productions will also be looking for a new home too. This will be two tremendous (hopefully temporary) losses for New York’s music scene. I plan on making at least a couple more trips to these wonderful stores before they are gone…they are a great example of what independent record stores should be.

If possible show your support in the next month…I’m sure Jammyland and Hospital Productions will both appreciate it.

Photo of Jammyland from the NY Times

also related: my review of Hospital Productions.

(Tom)

Earwax Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom on March 11, 2008 by criticalreviews

NY Magazine (Tom) Earwax Records
218 Bedford Ave
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Earwax is one of the many record stores in Williamsburg, and in my opinion the best (possibly my favorite in NYC). I guess I might be biased because in brings back memories of my old haunt 52.5 Records in Charleston. Earwax is one of the smaller stores in the city, but that doesn’t stop them from having one of, if not the, best selection of new vinyl. I know that when ever I am looking for something specific, no matter the genre (indie, punk, noise, reggae, no wave, you name it), chances are Earwax will have it. The store is set up with the records in a small middle isle to the left once you walk in the door, and with CDs lining the walls. There is always at least a couple gems in the used section (this time those included Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, Echo and the Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats), but you are going to pay what they are worth. As far as new vinyl they are on pare price wise with the rest of the city (there are so many stores that the prices seem to regulate themselves, at least from album to album).

There is an man that works in the store sometimes, probably in his 40s, that I can only assume is the owner, and several other employees (from what I’ve seem mostly guys), and the dynamic between the owner and the staff (from what I have witnessed) is wonderful. There is always some obscure music playing setting a nice atmosphere for shopping (I almost like record shopping best when I don’t know what is on the stereo, it lets me focus, and occasionally you will hear something that just grabs you).

I have concocted an imaginary feud in my head between the staff of Earwax and the staff of Soundfix, and it really makes me laugh. Two extremely different environments (ambiance and staff) selling essentially the same products (Earwax just tends to have the better selection), and they are just a couple blocks apart. A Soundfix review is probably in the near future…it’s not a bad store I am just hard struck to find anything I want there after going to Earwax.

I went to the store this past Saturday, and after perusing the 7”s I sifted through the new and used LPs. I ended up picking up Beach House’s Devotion and Soul Jazz Record’s New York Noise Vol. 2 (which was a total steal at $14.99…a good $7 or $8 cheaper than the usual price). There are several things I am torn about, and as always they are reissues…the Kinks and Blue Cheer ultimately got put back on the shelf. On another recent visit (probably two weeks ago) I found the Yellow Swans/Burning Star Core collaboration, which I had been looking for a while, and the Mountain Goats new album Heretic Pride (I can say John Darnielle is one of my favorite singer/songwriters , but am not totally into this one yet).

Thinking back on it, I probably should have snagged the Zappa record, but I usually feel that way about something after I leave the record shop. This is it until my next adventure in record shopping.

Photo Credit: NY Magazine

(Tom)

Generation Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom on February 12, 2008 by criticalreviews

Generation Records (visited on Sunday February 10, 2008)  210 Thompson St, New York, NY So I have been visiting this place since before I moved to the city, and have been wanting to back for a while (since my love for vinyl got refreshed sometime toward the end of 2007).  Although it shouldn’t have taken me til February to get there I finally made it.  The store is set up with CDs and DVDs on the street level, and records, used CDs, and t-shirts in the basement…I headed straight for the basement.  As usual Generation had a unique mix of music playing during my shopping experience (most of an album by a female singer songwriter that I couldn’t quite pinpoint, Bright Eyes, Los Crudos, Descendents, and Jens Lekman all while I was there), and although I didn’t have much interaction with the cute girls working the counter they were very nice while I was paying for my records.  Generation has a extremely large selection of new vinyl, and while they have music from all genres there is a heavy emphasis on the punk rock, hardcore, and metal.  I did my normal rounds browsing through the majority of the new LPs, checked out my normal “letters” in the used LPs, and even hit up the small reggae section that they have. I was a little underwhelmed while I was there, but I was also a little tipsy (I love record shopping after a drink or two, and I had been drinking Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout at the house), and now thinking back on it there were a handful of great records that I sort of regret passing up (I can always go back, but some of those things I am still thinking about were ISIS’ “Celestial,”  a James Chance and the Contortions record I was unfamiliar with, Hepcat’s “Right on Time”, the Hot Chip remix of CSS’s “let’s make love and listen to death from above,” and the Sugar Minott Soul Jazz collection).  I was temped by some Kinks records (I really don’t know enough about them, besides “Lola” and “Village Green”, to buy their records blind), but in the end I bought Team Robespierre’s 10” split with Brevator on Chrome Peeler Records and Guided By Voices’ “Do the Collapse.”  Although I was a little disappointed in the Team/Brevator split (it doesn’t really sound like the Team’s newer stuff or like the description on Insound), but it is nice to see how the sound developed (it actually reminds me of a lot of the hardcore that I enjoy, just not what I was expecting…Brevator was actually pretty cool sludgy hardcore from the upstate).  Guided By Voices though is another story all together.  I have been into the 90’s indie rock as of late (listening to Pavement and Archers of Loaf earlier that morning), and when I saw “Do the Collapse” for $9.99  I had to buy it.  I had seen it priced at like $24.99 used at Academy in the East Village when I was there last weekend so this was a steal!  More on GBV and “Do the Collapse” in my next post.  One thing that I was looking for was either of the Hot Chip albums (I am a little behind the times on this one…only consciously hearing them this weekend for the first time), but no luck on the Hot Chips.In the past I have felt overwhelmed in this store, but I now realize that I just need to give myself adequate time to browse (45 minutes was good, but not quite long enough).  I really enjoy this store and look forward to going back.This is the second in my series of record store posts.  When reading these posts keep in mind that I purchase CDs very rarely, and the reviews are based almost entirely on the LP selection and customer service (after working in a record store for years and at Whole Foods Market I have pretty high standards of customer service if I choose to ask for it). I am going to periodically post updates to my reviews of these stores as I have different experiences because I feel it is important to document consumer experiences(and a NYC record store guide is lacking on the web).  Hopefully someone will find my reviews helpful.  (Tom)  Photo Credit (Daquella Manera’s flickr)Generation Records (visited on Sunday February 10, 2008)

210 Thompson St, New York, NY
So I have been visiting this place since before I moved to the city, and have been wanting to back for a while (since my love for vinyl got refreshed sometime toward the end of 2007). Although it shouldn’t have taken me til February to get there I finally made it. The store is set up with CDs and DVDs on the street level, and records, used CDs, and t-shirts in the basement…I headed straight for the basement. As usual Generation had a unique mix of music playing during my shopping experience (most of an album by a female singer songwriter that I couldn’t quite pinpoint, Bright Eyes, Los Crudos, Descendents, and Jens Lekman all while I was there), and although I didn’t have much interaction with the cute girls working the counter they were very nice while I was paying for my records.

Generation has a extremely large selection of new vinyl, and while they have music from all genres there is a heavy emphasis on the punk rock, hardcore, and metal. I did my normal rounds browsing through the majority of the new LPs, checked out my normal “letters” in the used LPs, and even hit up the small reggae section that they have. I was a little underwhelmed while I was there, but I was also a little tipsy (I love record shopping after a drink or two, and I had been drinking Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout at the house), and now thinking back on it there were a handful of great records that I sort of regret passing up (I can always go back, but some of those things I am still thinking about were ISIS’ “Celestial,” a James Chance and the Contortions record I was unfamiliar with, Hepcat’sRight on Time”, the Hot Chip remix of CSS’s “let’s make love and listen to death from above,” and the Sugar Minott Soul Jazz collection).

I was temped by some Kinks records (I really don’t know enough about them, besides “Lola” and “Village Green”, to buy their records blind), but in the end I bought Team Robespierre’s 10” split with Brevator on Chrome Peeler Records and Guided By Voices’ “Do the Collapse.” Although I was a little disappointed in the Team/Brevator split (it doesn’t really sound like the Team’s newer stuff or like the description on Insound), but it is nice to see how the sound developed (it actually reminds me of a lot of the hardcore that I enjoy, just not what I was expecting…Brevator was actually pretty cool sludgy hardcore from the upstate). Guided By Voices though is another story all together. I have been into the 90’s indie rock as of late (listening to Pavement and Archers of Loaf earlier that morning), and when I saw “Do the Collapse” for $9.99 I had to buy it. I had seen it priced at like $24.99 used at Academy in the East Village when I was there last weekend so this was a steal! More on GBV and “Do the Collapse” in my next post. One thing that I was looking for was either of the Hot Chip albums (I am a little behind the times on this one…only consciously hearing them this weekend for the first time), but no luck on the Hot Chips.

In the past I have felt overwhelmed in this store, but I now realize that I just need to give myself adequate time to browse (45 minutes was good, but not quite long enough). I really enjoy this store and look forward to going back.

This is the second in my series of record store posts.
When reading these posts keep in mind that I purchase CDs very rarely, and the reviews are based almost entirely on the LP selection and customer service (after working in a record store for years and at Whole Foods Market I have pretty high standards of customer service if I choose to ask for it).
I am going to periodically post updates to my reviews of these stores as I have different experiences because I feel it is important to document consumer experiences(and a NYC record store guide is lacking on the web). Hopefully someone will find my reviews helpful.

(Tom)

Photo Credit (Daquella Manera’s flickr)

HOSPITAL PRODUCTIONS

Posted in music, record stores, Tom on February 5, 2008 by criticalreviews

HOSPITAL PRODUCTIONS(60 E 3rd St (below Jammyland), New York, NY)HOSPITAL PRODUCTIONS
(60 E 3rd St (below Jammyland), New York, NY)

So this weekend although I was feeling pretty ill I found myself in the East Village wondering and exploring record stores. Physically I was beat from being sick, and helping fiends move all day, but that didn’t stop me from giving my mind the meditative power of record shopping. I ended up going into five record stores in about two hours. Some I had never been in (Good records, and Academy in the Village), and others that I frequent.

Hospital Productions is a noise/black metal record store in the East Village. This is not the easiest place to find, although there is a sign hanging outside the building. You first have to enter Jammyland (which is on 3rd between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave), walk to the back of the store, and then climb down a ladder into Hospital Productions. The store itself is very small, but with lots of music packed into it. One wall is all records, another almost exclusively tapes, a third CDs, and the fourth is where the cash register/computer lives. For the most part the room is decorated with shelves housing the music, and if I can remember correctly some defunct musical instruments and art on the walls. Although this was not my first time in the store (I had been in once or twice before, because of my love for Jammyland (which will be saved for another review), as well as experimental music), but this time the man working there was really helpful (and a good salesman). Once down the ladder I was greeted, and told if I needed help finding anything to let him know. This was the one time that I actually did have a couple of things in mind (I was looking for the new Team Robespierre(not noise or black metal, but I had seen one of their other releases in the store before), and the Yellow Swans w/ Burning Star Core collaboration.

Although they didn’t have either of these releases I quickly found myself engaged in conversation, and in a matter of minutes I was swimming in LPs. I have to admit while I do enjoy noise music, I am by no means an expert. Most of my experience comes from going to No Future Fest (which is the little sister of No Fun Fest) back in the summer of 2006. I was asked what I liked (Can’t and Xome), and like any good record store clerk he put five records in my hands. I was seduced very quickly but I had to back off, and I asked if he minded if I wrote down some names to do a little research (some of the recommended titles included Burning Star Core, Prurient, Leslie Keffer, and Kites). I made a little list and will most definitely be headed back to purchase some LPs (and maybe find that Yellow Swans/Buring Star Core collaboration), and I can only hope to run into the same clerk. You might find some of the same titles in Kim’s or Other Music, but what you won’t get is the service that I got from Hospital Productions.

(Tom)

(Photo credit: hospitalproductions.com)