Do rare recordings get you all hot under the collar? Boston'’ best record stores are a hardy bunch—while most of the city's CD-and-vinylmongers have gone the way of the dinosaurs there are still a handful that keep trucking along. Throw on your crate-digging gloves and embark on an aural adventure with us as we explore the shelves of the best tunesmiths in town. Peruse their eclectic music selections to find a new favorite, or treat someone special in your life to a thoughtful gift. Looking to hear some killer tunes in a cool setting? Check out the best beer bars in Boston. And once you're inspired and the time is right, head out and catch a show at one of the best live music venues in Boston.
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Best record and vinyl shops in Boston
When stacks of records overflow outside a store's front door, you know you're in for a deliciously disorganized display. In Your Ear doesn't disappoint. The main location stocks 100,000 LPs and CDs, though the word "stocks" is used loosely here; crates in the aisles and a massive odds-and-ends bin feature three-for-a-buck bargains. (OMC's "How Bizarre"? Score!) The 8-track selection is uncommonly large, the magazine section has random back issues of Relix and Rolling Stone and the corner of the store is plastered with kitschy Mexican movie posters like El Regreso de King Kong. It's a glorious mess.
A place truly frozen in time, Nuggets houses VCRs for sampling videos, and the walls spotlight signatures from drop-in guests like Billy Joel and Harry Nilsson. Named after the seminal '60s garage-rock compilation, the Kenmore shop has a formidable classic-rock selection, including lots of seven-inch singles for under $3. Owner Stewart Freedman is refreshingly throwback, admitting that he hasn't updated the website in years but has considered getting “one of those Tweetering accounts.” Even among a bevy of cheap DVDs and Blu-rays, the vibe is old-fashioned and the record sleeves are all coated in a satisfying layer of dust.
Cheapo Records is a local legend—it's been trading in one form or another since 1954. It still stocks some of the best vinyl in the area, with good prices and solid sections for pop/rock, folk, oldies, jazz, and country, along with CDs and hard-to-find box sets.
Tres Gatos offers well-made Spanish tapas in the front and houses an indie bookstore/music store in the back. The inviting, candlelit restaurant space is broken into small rooms that spill into one another. Take advantage of the multi-faceted environs with a stop at the sleek bar for a glass of wine followed by a stroll through the small store in the back, perusing a curated assortment of music, both new and used.
Newbury Comics was a staple of the local music scene in the 90s/00s, back when album releases, ticket on-sales and in-store performances were a thing. These days, the local chain still sells music in all formats, but also places a big emphasis on fun gifts, including lots of local memorabilia and only-in-Boston items. Visit the original location at 332 Newbury St (or the Harvard Square location at 36 JFK St) for the full experience.