We're gonna make a bold claim: New York is the greatest city in the world for music. Think about it—there is simply nowhere else that has our storied history and incredible live music scene. And then of course, there are our record stores. Despite the loss of some beloved spots like Rebel Rebel and Other Music, there are still plenty of spots for both the serious vinyl junkie or casual collector perusing LPs on Record Store Day. Discovering that rare LP in a brick-and-mortar music store is a thrill you just can’t replicate online (we know—we’ve tried). These are the genre-spanning NYC record stores we swear by.
RECOMMENDED: Best places for shopping in NYC
Best vinyl record stores in NYC
Hardcore punk, ska and extreme-metal fans are well served by this Village mainstay; for everyone else, Generation carries a solid selection of classic-rock and alternative releases, along with a good scattering of collectibles.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Paul Sableman
This dance-music–oriented shop has moved around a lot since it first unveiled in Carroll Gardens in 1999. The latest incarnation, attached to the Williamsburg superclub Output, has a deep selection of beat-heavy titles—including a formidable selection of rare house, hip-hop and drum ’n’ bass 12-inches—plus a performance space decked out with a lustworthy Funktion-One sound system. Come nighttime, the café slings Roberta’s pizza along with cocktails designed by Output’s resident mixologists.
Photograph: Courtesy Halcyon (Instagram: @halcyon_nyc)
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 a selection of used vinyl that’s heavy on vintage rock and jazz. Even the $3 and $4 bins can turn up worthy gems. In addition to LPs and used stereo equipment, the store offers live music, comedy shows, free beers and, on special occasions, burgers and hot dogs grilled up by the staff.
This family-owned midtown record store has slung a diverse range of vinyl—R&B, house, breakbeat, hip-hop, gospel and more—since the ‘70s and can claim the likes of Nelly Furtado, Spike Lee and the entire Wu-Tang Clan as former patrons. Make sure to check out the front room as well for a wide selection of D.J. equipment.
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.
When this sprawling, 15,000-square-foot offshoot of the legendary London retailer hit town in 2013, hard-core record geeks called it a tourist trap for the sightseeing mobs that had descended on Williamsburg. But it’s easy to forget the criticism when you’re browsing its expansive, genre-crossing collection, which is large enough to take you back to the glory days of the Tower Records era. Keep the party going in the double-decker venue in the back—constructed out of recycled shipping containers—which spotlights indie-rock staples (Fruit Bats) as well as next big things (Cullen Omori).
This record store's founder, Federico Rojas-Lavado, formerly worked at record distributor Downtown304 before setting up shop near Myrtle-Broadway in partnership with Radio Free Brooklyn. Here, he puts that experience to work, selling stacks of old and new vinyl that run the gamut from house and techno to blues and jazz.
This relative newcomer, which opened in 2015, offers a wide-range of used records from genres including rock & roll, hip-hop, funk, jazz, reggae, disco and house. The selection is heavy on 12-inch and 7-inch singles—with rare cuts alongside very listenable bargain finds. Its $1 bins are among the best stocked in the city, and the shop has been known to off-load bins of free records on the sidewalk outside to make room for new stock. Keep an eye out for in-store DJ sets, which routinely pull top techno and house selectors.
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 Desert Island). Enter this modest storefront, which fills an important, underserved niche by offering Marvel comics and CCR records under one roof.