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The best record stores in NYC

Listen up, audiophiles! Find cool crate-digging havens in our roundup of the top local record stores.

Photograph: Courtesy Academy Records
Academy Record Annex

We're gonna make a bold claim, which is that New York is the greatest city in the world for music—there is simply nowhere else that has our storied history (just think of all those classic NYC songs) and incredible live music scene. And then of course, there are our record stores—from downtown fave Other Music to the relatively new Rough Trade NYC. Discovering that rare LP in a brick-and-mortar music shop is a thrill you just can’t replicate online (we know—we’ve tried). Whether you’re a serious vinyl junkie or casual collector, you'll find a truckload of exciting gems at these genre-spanning record stores.

RECOMMENDED: Best shops in NYC

The best record stores in NYC

Academy Records

The long-running New York institution’s flagship store, Academy Records and CDs—next door to the tiny niche where it originated back in ’77—boasts the city’s best selection of used classical CDs and LPs, plus an impressive array of rock and jazz discs. The store also has a branch across the East River (Academy Record Annex), which specializes in vinyl, with both new albums and sharply picked old ones available at reasonable prices. Approachable help and knowledgeable buyers add to the overall experience. Plan to spend time—and money—at both locations.

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Flatiron

Academy Record Annex

Critics' pick

Set aside your Spotify playlists and scope out this homage to the once-lost art of vinyl. Academy Records’ Manhattan store in Chelsea carries a hearty supply of compact discs, but Greenpoint’s Annex focuses mostly on wax, offering everything from a self-titled Ginger Baker’s Air Force album from 1970 ($8) to newer sounds like Real Estate’s Days ($15). Shoppers lacking a record player can also pick up cheapie CDs from such bands as the Grateful Dead, while nostalgic audiophiles can take their time digging through discounted 45s (50¢–$2). The Annex also offers two listening stations for previewing older vinyl, and will buy your used records, provided they are in good condition (and not Broadway soundtracks).

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Greenpoint

Black Gold

How this small storefront manages to sell coffee, antiques and records without being a cluttered, cramped mess we’ll never know. For the latter, the tidy taxidermy-adorned space (peep the creepy hyena in the back) deals exclusively in vinyl—and leans toward primitive, hard stuff: garage-rock comps by the likes of Crypt and Norton Records, under-the-radar punk seven-inches.

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Carroll Gardens

Captured Tracks

Given the Captured Tracks label's prevailing aesthetic of effortless cool—epitomized by artists such as Mac DeMarco and Juan Wauters—it's only fitting that the imprint chose to open its flagship shop on a sleepy Greenpoint side street. Descend the stairs and you enter a quaint little store that stocks all your favorite Captured Tracks releases in a variety of formats (there's something perfect about picking up a Perfect Pussy album on cassette), as well as a healthy selection of used vinyl. You buy local when shopping for groceries—why not do the same for music?

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Greenpoint

Co-op 87 Records & Tapes

The selection at this cozy shop, which opened on a residential block in 2011, is small, sure. But the room is frequently filled with those strange and tough-to-find records—space-rock forebear Hawkwind’s Quark, Strangeness and Charm; long-out-of-print R&B collections—that remind you why in-person music browsing will always have a place in our online-shopping culture. Co-op 87 also stocks new offerings from trendsetting local labels like Captured Tracks, Mexican Summer and RVNG.

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Greenpoint

Heaven Street

This Bushwick vinyl-and-tape shop specializes in punk, metal, industrial and other moody genres that match its bare bones interior. Curious about grindcore? Power electronics? Drone? The racks here are stocked with local labels, used rarities and new releases sure to satiate your cravings for dark music to brood to (and sure, they have some cheerier things too).

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Bushwick

Human Head Records

One thing record collectors hate is divulging an under-the-radar digging spot. And Human Head is, to put it simply, the best-priced, least-picked-over record store in New York City. Racks are stuffed with vinyl both obscure and classic (those searching for reasonably priced Stones and Zeppelin records, look no further). Even the $3 and $4 bins can turn up worthy gems.

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Williamsburg

Other Music

This downtown fave opened in the mid-'90s, across the street from a massive Tower Records. And who would’ve predicted that the megachain would close while Other Music thrives? Chalk it up to the store’s well-curated CDs and LPs, spanning a mishmash of genres including indie rock, electronic, jazz and experimental. (It also helps that since opening in the ’90s, it’s cultivated a passionate clientele.) Bonus: Other Music throws the occasional in-store performance.

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Downtown

Permanent Records

Beyond a broad selection of indie-rock staples and curios, this Park Slope (formerly Greenpoint) haven houses an inviting selection of jazz and funk—as well as offering good deals on trade-ins and fairly priced used vinyl and CDs. You have to buzz to get into the shop, which is located on the second floor of an unassuming office building, but once you find the goods, the new location proves to be cozy spot to dig crates.

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Greenwood

Record Grouch

The name might have you expecting snooty treatment à la the Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons. But Record Grouch co-owner Doug Pressman is an amiable dude with a formidable used-LP trove, which touches on ’70s jazz, oddball European prog and metal—plus shelves’ worth of CDs and a magazine and indie-press book display. The shop used to live in the basement of a Williamsburg thrift shop; it relocated to a sunny Greenpoint space, but worry not: The Grouch retains its lived-in, pack-rat charm.

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Greenpoint

Rough Trade NYC

Iconic London indie-rock emporium Rough Trade opened this Williamsburg outpost in 2013. Since then it has become a neighborhood goto, thanks to its impeccable selection and a snazzy regular bookings arranged by local concert conglomerate Bowery Presents.

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Williamsburg

Vinyl Fantasy

Anyone who’s tried to track down a funny book in Brooklyn knows that it’s a largely thankless task (minus a few standouts like Bergen Street Comics and Desert Island). Enter this modest storefront, which fills an important, underserved niche by offering Marvel comics and CCR records under one roof.

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Bushwick

Comments

5 comments
Willie D
Willie D

What about Rock N Soul Records on 7th ave are they still there?

Douglas
Douglas

It's pretty criminal that Heaven Street was left off the list. Best NYC record store hands down.

Douglas P
Douglas P

I can't believe you left off Heaven Street. The finest curated selection of new vinyl and used punk records in NYC.

Sriracha
Sriracha

Heaven Street in Brooklyn should have made this list as well.