Best vinyl record stores in NYC
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 is connected in name to NYC's other two Academy Record locations, though those spots focus mainly on vinyl). Approachable help and knowledgeable buyers add to the overall experience. Plan to spend time—and money—at both locations.
An institution not just in NYC but around the world, Turntable Lab is a one-stop shop for everything a DJ-culture connoisseur could ever want—from turntables and production gear to streetwear and collectible vinyl toys, like a deluxe action figure tribute to the late J Dilla. The spot focuses on new releases and reissues (sorry, dusties diggers), but there aren’t many places where you can pick up Detroit techno white-label singles along with a deadstock tape copy of De La Soul Is Dead.
For a decade and some change, Brooklyn record label Mexican Summer has released inventive music from a roster of amazing rock, folk and ambient musicians. (Allah-Las, Ariel Pink, Connan Mockasin, Drugdealer and Jessica Pratt, to name a few.) Many of their projects are reminiscnet to the LSD-soaked ’60s era. Translation? They know how to set a mood and give a subtle nod to the past without being trite. Last year, the psychedelic group celebrated its tenth birthday and commemorated the milestone by hosting a full-day rager with DJs and live music. On March 30, 2019, Mexican Summer debuted a new effort worth toasting. In collaboration with Mike Hunchback and Ben Steidel of vinyl purveyor Co-Op 87, the team opened a new buy, sell and trade record store. The Bushwick location is in the same complex of electronic music venue Elsewhere and a second outpost lands in Greenpoint (located in the same building as Mexican Summer’s office) later this spring. The Bushwick shop, with wood paneled walls and op art embellishments, is carefully curated and includes a designated area hawking the label’s releases in addition to electric mix reissues, new LPs, branded products, movies and books spanning all genres.
The Brooklyn offshoot of this East Village rare-vinyl mecca followed the pricing-out trend and migrated from Williamsburg to Greenpoint, where its vast selection of LPs has more room to breathe. The collection’s impressive for both its breadth and depth—it’s the uncommon kind of shop where you can easily walk out with a bag of painfully obscure soul 45s and out-of-print metal albums as well as low-priced ’70s classics and the latest from that buzzworthy band your friend just blogged about. Oh, and the steady stream of hip shoppers on sunny Saturday and Sunday afternoons matches the great people-watching in nearby McCarren Park. (Don’t worry, even when it’s crowded, the place is so damn spacious that there’s plenty of room to sift.)
Academy LPs is smaller than its sister store—used-vinyl mecca Academy Record Annex in Greenpoint—but this Manhattan outpost holds its own with a well-stocked selection of mostly-used, hard-to-find and rare records.
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.
Local label Captured Tracks has been setting indie rock’s agenda for eight years with a roster of heavyweight acts such as NYC faves Mac DeMarco, Perfect Pussy and DIIV. And in 2013 it opened this small, light-filled garden-level space, tucked away on a residential Greenpoint block. The store stocks its own releases (check out the debut LP from local power-pop upstart EZTV), as well as those by legendary New Zealand pop imprint Flying Nun and fellow Brooklyn tastemakers Sacred Bones, alongside a wide-ranging selection of used vinyl and cassette tapes. The staffers are always decidedly chill and approachable, to boot.
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 indie labels like Captured Tracks, Mexican Summer and RVNG.
Originally housed in the same building as the trendsetting Bushwick DIY space Silent Barn (and offering on-site haircuts, because why not?), this little boutique is notable for its outsize eccentric streak. Staples like Bowie and Black Sabbath comfortably cohabit with more outré stuff like horror-movie soundtracks, psychedelic raga LPs and VHS copies of a Slayer tour movie. The oddball inventory only emphasizes the feeling that you’ve stumbled across the garage sale of some heroic vinyl-collecting weirdo.
Many landmarks of the so-called downtown music scene have shuttered in recent years, but as long as DMG persists, the community will have a sturdy anchor. The shop, which relocated from a plum Bowery spot to a Chinatown basement in 2009, stocks the city’s—and perhaps the world’s—most impressive selection of avant-garde jazz, contemporary classical, progressive rock and related styles. Discs by contemporary icons such as John Zorn share shelf space with legendary sides by the likes of Albert Ayler. Regular in-store gigs draw top local jazz talent.