All Vinyl, All Right: Our Guide to Mail-Order Records & More
“Vinyl is the real deal. I’ve always felt like until you buy the vinyl record, you don’t really own the album. And it’s not just me or a little pet thing or some kind of retro romantic thing from the past. It is still alive.” Jack White, we couldn’t agree more: vinyl is just better. And the rewards extend well beyond the superior sound quality. Any analog enthusiast will tell you that a large part of what makes vinyl so satisfying is the whole ritualistic experience of taking the record out, placing it on the turntable, moving the needle into the groove, and letting the warmth wash over you. Oh, sweet joy.
While New York is on shutdown, you can still do your part to keep the music alive at your favorite local record stores. Below, a few ideas for how you can show your support.
Other Music was the place to find the kind of music you’ll never hear on commercial radio. From 1995 to 2016, it’s where you’d go to dig for rare records, be introduced to new sounds by staff with an encyclopedic knowledge of every obscure genre out there, and hear bands on the verge—Animal Collective played early shows there as did Scottish post-rockers Mogwai.
When owners Chris Vanderloo and Josh Madell announced the store’s closing you could almost hear the collective sigh from the local music community. In an effort to preserve the spirit of the store that meant so much to so many people, filmmakers Puloma Basu and Robert Hatch-Miller documented the final weeks of Other Music, located in the East Village. Now, four years on, the documentary is available to stream through partnering record stores across the US with 50 percent of profits going towards helping independent stores during these trying times.
Head to Factory 25 to find out where you can stream the film and see why everyone from Interpol’s Daniel Kessler to TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Brian Chase considered this place a home away from home.
Beggars Group, one of the world’s largest independent record label groups has created a comprehensive map of record stores across the globe with details for how you can shop from each during this time. It’s an ever-evolving map, so if you don’t see your local shop, reach out directly to find out if local pick-up or shipping is possible.
For ease of access, we’ve rounded up a few of our local go-tos offering mail-order records alongside commentary from DJ and purveyor of the world-famous New York Night Train dance party, Jonathan Toubin (you can read the full interview with Toubin–here).
Toubin says: “There’s a cool store that opened in the mall in Chinatown. It’s really well curated with a very small selection….There’s not a lot of stuff but everything [the owner] has is really tight; experimental.”
Toubin says: “They have a limited selection of really quality records. Someone like me can go in and find a cool record, something deeper than the usual find. They have some interesting stuff too for a generalist.”
Toubin says: “I’ve been going [to Academy Records] so long I can barely even remember when I first went there….I can find cool, rare soul and garage, and punk; cool 45s, reggae. For other people, they have some of the best LPs around. Academy is kind of a no-brainer. It’s a cool place, it’s a contemporary place but you can find deep things there. It’s fairly priced. It’s probably the best record store in New York at this point.
To get inspired for your next record store purchase, mark a spot on your calendar for 6pm, Thursday 22nd, April, to hear GrandLife president Tony Fant’s vinyl-only, 90s-themed DJ set on Instagram Live.
WORDS Edwina Hagon