New York Record Store Live Broadcasts events record labels commend Mexican Summer A1 Records Baby's All Right Baby TV The Lot Radio

Grandlife guide

Time for a Sonic Intervention

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Live broadcasts and rare releases—here’s what our favorite record labels, stores, and venues are up to. 

New York is a music town. It’s where punk was born on the stages of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City in the ’70s, and where new wave, hip hop, and disco collided on the dancefloors of nightclubs like the Mudd Club and Paradise Garage in the ’80s. It is and has always been a place for musicians to come together with like-minded artists, promoters, bookers, and music nerds rallied to their cause—no matter how obscure. 

Whether it’s the underground jazz clubs steeped in the smell of whiskey and leather (is there anything better?), heady nightclubs where worries are all but suspended in time, record stores that outlived the rise and fall of cassette tapes and CDs, or the well-trodden, spirit-soaked venues welcoming a miscellany of musicians on any given night—New York has long provided the means for locals and visitors to tune in and enjoy the show. 

Now, with venues on lockdown and social distancing measures in place, the music industry has proven its shapeshifting abilities and taken concerts, rare vinyl, and the like into the digital sphere. Here, we check in with some of our favorite local record labels, stores, and venues to find out how we can stay connected and satiate our appetite for great music while doing our part to sustain the industry that has kept our senses ignited for so long.

Academy Records 

Known for stocking everything from jazz, soul, and funk to left-of-center gems courtesy of the personal collections of some of New York’s aging art elite and top-tier post-punkers, Academy Records has long been part of New York’s musical fabric. While the brick-and-mortar and online stores are closed for now, the team is taking the time to sift through boxes of rare 45s and sharing the top picks online. Among other genres, expect soul, garage, jazz, psych, and Latin finds. Additionally, show your support by purchasing a gift certificate, t-shirt, or tote with all money going to employees out of work. 

Take a listen—here

Shop for merch—here

Mexican Summer 

Brooklyn-based independent record label Mexican Summer has made a name for itself over the past decade for its dedication to promoting the work of adventurous musicians across various specialty formats. Currently, the label is continuing to sell records from its artist roster—among them, Ariel Pink, Allah-Las, Conan Mockasin, and Weyes Blood—along with apparel, totes and other merch. The staff has also taken the opportunity to curate a series of playlists titled Mex Selects: Music to Social Distance To. 

Lastly, be sure to catch Self Discovery for Social Survival, a sound and surf film collaboratively created by Mexican Summer and surf brand Pilgrim Surf + Supply. The film, which is narrated by legendary avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas, is available to watch for free through this weekend. 

Tune in to their monthly staff-curated playlists—here.   

Watch Self Discovery for Social Survival—here. 

Commend 

Commend is a LES-based record store-slash-community space selling everything from vinyl and cassette tapes to second-hand coffee table books and home goods crafted by local artisans such as incense, botanical tinctures, and ceramics. The offering is wide but the selection is highly curated to align with the downtown music and arts community. While the physical space is closed for the moment, purchases can still be made online with new stock being released regularly. 

Find out more—here. 

The Lot Radio

Since 2016, this independent, non-profit online radio station has been streaming some of the best and most dynamic music New York has to offer from inside a reclaimed shipping container on an empty lot in Brooklyn. For now, The Lot has closed its physical space and switched programming to remote live streams from resident DJs and guests. As the team notes via email, “We’ll continue to re-build our scheduling around this new format for the foreseeable future and hope to give you more up to date information on upcoming shows soon….We’ll do our best to keep the music going and want to thank you all for tuning in and showing your support.” Tune in for the music, stay for the highly entertaining chat section. 

Check out the calendar and listen to live broadcasts—here.  

Show your support with a direct donation—here

Baby’s All Right

Dani Miller bringing the intensity at Surbort’s 2018 record release, Johann Rashid scaling the walls as Promiseland, and regular appearances from Dev Hynes since day one—this Williamsburg live music venue and nightclub has blessed us with unforgettable musical moments over the past six years. In the face of the coronavirus outbreak, Baby’s All Right has launched Baby TV, a streaming platform that preserves the spirit of the venue while at the same time, helping to support those in need. The series, which has confirmed performances by Cam Tony (Mac DeMarco), Why Bonnie and Peaer, and more, launches early April with tickets for each show sold at a sliding scale of $5 to $50 and the option to donate more. Proceeds will be shared among the artists, Baby’s All Right staff, and Make the Road New York, a non-profit doing impactful work in New York City. Perhaps the best part: Fans can message the artists in real-time to interact and request songs. 

Find out more—here.

WORDS Edwina Hagon 

IMAGERY @commendnyc

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