Where to shop for records
Friends of Sound
Friends of Sound’s official address is on South Congress, but the shop’s unassuming entrance is actually through the alley. The unconventional location and low ceilings give the shop a clubhouse vibe, and although customers need to be card-carrying obsessives to truly appreciate the depths of their rare soul collection, it’s an equally fun destination for casual browsers with an ear for classic rock, country and R&B. Hip-hop heads will flip for the regularly refreshed selection of ’90s singles and prog aficionados will find no shortage of noodle-heavy LPs, but no matter your genre it’s wise to save a few dollars for an impulse purchase at the counter, where they stock their classic soul 45s reissued through their own record label.
Whether you’re looking for an old Willie Nelson LP or the new Leon Bridges, Waterloo has you covered. It’s the city’s largest and most prominently located music store, and therefore the most well-stocked in terms of new releases from both indie and major label artists, as well as deluxe reissues (save your pennies for that William Onyeabor box set!). Stay current on homegrown artists by consulting the Texas best-seller charts, and keep an eye on their event calendar because many will swing through for in-store performances. It takes true digger’s luck to score a find from their dollar bins, but the used daily arrival section (updated daily!) hides plenty of gems, from classic hip-hop singles to oddball disco rarities. Records nerds with an eye for more than just vinyl should wander towards the extensive music-centric book and film sections, and for the analog-challenged, there’s also a robust selection of CDs.
End of an Ear
If there’s one shop in Austin that fits the Championship Vinyl stereotype from High Fidelity, it’s End of an Ear. Serving South Austin since 2005 (and recently relocated to a larger location on Clawson Road), the shop’s shelves are rich in niche, rare and overlooked records that are dangerous to the pocketbooks of collectors, but the bins hold enough treasures to satisfy budget shoppers as well. Deep crates of psych, reggae, jazz, world and of carefully curated rock are where the shop flexes its encyclopedic knowledge, but close ties to an array of local scenes (punk, electronic, indie rock) mean that small pressings of Austin artists typically receive prime placement at the counter. Keep an eye on their Instagram for the occasional photo of visiting music royalty like Four Tet and Slowdive.
45 RPM diggers flock to Breakaway for high dollar singles ranging from doo-wop to classic country, but the breezy neighborhood vibe of the shop is inviting enough not to scare away listeners with less archaeological listening habits. The owners have built a loyal following thanks partly to their role DJing long-time parties like the Second Sunday Sock Hop and Cold Lampin’, and their expertise shows in the hip-hop and classic R&B sections, as well as an employee picks racks where genre-pushing electronic LPs and Colombian cumbia compilations sit together in harmony.