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Waterloo Records
Photograph: Courtesy Waterloo Records/Spencer SelvidgeWaterloo Records

The 8 best record stores in Austin

Are the best record stores in Austin befitting a city known as the live music capital of the country? Oh, hell yeah.

James Wong
Written by
James Wong
Contributor
Dan Gentile
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As the live music capital of the country, Austin sure has some neat record stores to quench the thirst of its rock’n’roll lovers. Yes, we may be in a world where streaming sounds is the norm, but something is comforting about a good ol’ record store, right? Maybe it’s the company of genius sleeves and artwork; the listening booths that transport you to the golden era; the T-Shirts and collectibles reminiscent of being on your favorite artist’s show; or just being among the creative community. We don’t care what anybody says; iPad screens are no substitute for the real thing.

And though brick and mortar record stores stand thin in Bat City, they stand proud. Many have been going for decades, and they ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. At least we hope not. So come on by and get your dose of EDM, metal, blues, pop, indie, or anything else music-themed in person, and help businesses keep on movin’; you may even find something ultra-cool and rare for your collection. Here are the best record stores in Austin to do so.

Recommended: The best live music venues in Austin

Best record stores in Austin

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Greater Austin
  • price 2 of 4

Whether you’re looking for an old Willie Nelson LP or a new Adele record, Waterloo has you covered. It’s the city’s largest and most prominently located music store and the most well-stocked in terms of new releases from indie and major label artists, with plenty of deluxe reissues (save your pennies for that William Onyeabor box set!)to boot. Stay current on homegrown artists by consulting the Texas best-seller charts, and keep an eye on their event calendar—many will swing through for in-store performances. 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 and DVDs.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • West University
  • price 1 of 4

One by one, the great record stores of Guadalupe St have all shuttered, yet Antone’s somehow managed to outlive the likes of Sound Exchange, Alien, and Tower. It now serves as a reminder to the college crowd that there’s more to the world of music than Spotify, believe it or not. Founded by legendary Austin icon Clifford Antone, the shop naturally trades in blues, Americana, and vintage Texas music, but the relic status of the store also makes it the sleeper spot to dig for genres that regular customers might overlook. So, come for the Stevie Ray Vaughan, stay for the ’90s house records.

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You can’t miss BLK Vinyl on Sixth Street, thanks to the massive black and white cat DJ mural out on the storefront, and inside everything is just as fabulously quirky. Run by diehard music fans (and musicians themselves), the place opened in 2018 and specializes in used and collectible records, namely '60s and '70s pop, psych, garage, and prog. But it doesn’t end there, as they also have '50s and' 60s jazz, lounge and exotica, '60s and '70s soul, and as many records as they could muscle from the dismal vinyl production era of the mid to late '90s and early '00s. Phew.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • South Lamar
  • price 2 of 4

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 today in 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 carefully curated rock are where the shop flexes its encyclopedic knowledge, while close ties to an array of local scenes (punk, electronic, indie rock) mean that small pressings of Austin artists 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.

 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Triangle State
  • price 1 of 4

Best browsed with a large Originator smoothie in hand, Exploded Records inhabits a side room in the long-time Duval St institution JuiceLand. It began as an offshoot of the monthly left-field hip hop party Exploded Drawing, with party organizer Soundfounder holding court over the shop’s racks of beat-centric vinyl. Expect exhaustive discographies from labels like Stones Throw, Warp, and Brainfeeder, and plenty of soulful sample material. Don’t forget to check out the latest releases from the extended Exploded Drawing crew, including some of the city’s most up-and-coming producers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • North Loop
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Music and entertainment
  • Comfort Suites
  • price 1 of 4

Piranha is too far of a trek from downtown Austin for most shoppers, but it should be a destination for any DJ looking to pad their collection of ’90s hip-hop. There are hefty used rock and soul sections and the requisite new releases, but the real draws are the crates along the floor packed with Old Dirty Bastard and EPMD 12 inches. On the way out, be sure to honor Houston legend DJ Screw by scoring a CD from their impressive bootleg catalog.

This SoCo furniture store is like a top music exec’s downtown condo, decked out in vintage stereo equipment, unique mid-century meets modern furnishings, and other art pieces and accents themed to the greats. Shoppers are welcome to browse their small selection of vinyl and take a seat on their plush sofas while they play. The whole store is serious record enthusiast home interior goals.

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