We know. A huge component of shopping for records is the physicality of the task: leafing through the racks. That satisfying flip, the waft of air, the smell, as one album after the other whistles by. Often, we’re not even sure what we’re looking for. We hope to stumble across something awesome, a hidden gem or a guilty pleasure. Maybe it’s something you’ve never even heard before, but the art just speaks to you, or perhaps it’s a classic album you just never got around to buying.
Online shopping isn’t the same, but it can help scratch the itch. And, more importantly, the dollars we spend support local shops when they need us the most. Much like your friendly neighborhood SF Weekly, it’s a particularly great time. Here are just a few local vinyl sellers currently selling their wares in cyberspace.
The Big Boys: Rasputin and Amoeba
It’s pretty much business as usual for these guys, both of which already had a significant online presence. Founded in 1971 and with six branches across the Bay Area, Rasputin’s online selection of used and new music and movies is comprehensive. They also have an active and friendly social media presence, which is certainly welcome right now. “Like” them, “friend” them, all that jazz.
Similarly, Amoeba’s physical stores in San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles are closed, but their website is open and welcoming. They’re still offering staff recommendations and all the fun stuff that they’re known for. Just not, you know, the physical interactions.
Discogs > Downloads
With an active blog, reviews and a mail order option on their website, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records also has a marketplace set up on Discogs for fun-time browsing. From Sleep to Slayer, The Clash to The Smiths… knock yourself out.
There’s a wonderful series of videos on Noise’s Instagram page, in which we can watch a blue-gloved hand flipping through a rack of records. You can hear it, you can almost smell the sleeves, and — thankfully, unlike the creatures in Bird Box (lol… remember Bird Box?) — the novel coronavirus can’t attack you via video. Apparently, the good folks at Noise are sitting on a fat stack of Saturday Night Fever soundtracks at the moment. Nobody wants to think about fevers right now. Then again, we are all trying to stay alive… eh?
Punk Rock Saved Our Lives
Thrillhouse Records is a punk-heavy store that has long served as a venue for DIY shows and record swaps, as well as regular browsing. The coronavirus has temporarily put the kibosh on circle pits, but their website is still serving a choice selection of power-chords and breakneck drumming. The “Bay Area Bands” section offers customers a chance to kill two birds with one store. Or keep two birds alive. Or something. Screaming Fist, Seablite, Crisis Man, or a 1stGen punk favorite the Avengers — it’s all there.
“Be safe” is the big message plastered across the landing page of the Stranded Records website. Formerly known (under different ownership) as Aquarius Records, Stranded has continued with its predecessor’s mission of championing the unusual. And while we are all literally stranded in a way, at least we can discover something here.
RS94109 specializes in extreme music of the dark variety — from gritty, noisy electronic to grinding, chaotic metal. And they want to let you know that the perfect gift for a lock-in is a gift card. You can send one to a friend and let them know you’re thinking of them (and blastbeats).
Dog Is Their Co-Pilot