Tag Archives: indie record stores

Vinyl Road Rage V: Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis and More

It’s that time again…Turntabling’s annual voyage across the United States in search of the best indie record shops, the weirdest vinyl, the most amazing and noteworthy finds. Yes, VINYL ROAD RAGE FIVE is in the planning stages now and set for a June launch.

This year, for some reason, the M cities are getting special attention. It wasn’t by design but I’ll be hitting Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis just to name a few. There are a staggering TWENTY FIVE record stores on the list this year including some “secret” stops and a lot of wonderfully well-known places as well.

Vinyl Road Rage is something that does not like to repeat itself–I try to hit places I’ve not been, hence the journey towards the Twin Cities, but this year there are some early scheduled stops at some favorite stomping grounds of Viny Road Rages past including the mighty Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh, PA.

I will be posting a tentative list of all the record store stops along the way which is SUBJECT TO CHANGE, and also be running down a few interesting items about Vinyl Road Rage in the days to come. It’s worth pointing out that this insane road trip is on a schedule that juggles a bit of paying freelance work (oh, yes, I’ll be doing some work from the road, believe me…), driving time, hardcore record store buying and more…I say that in advance by way of apology to my friends and colleagues I might not have a chance to stop and visit with while I’m passing in or near certain cities.

It seriously bums me out to have to keep to a schedule as such, but being a hardcore vinyl blogging indie record store road warrior does have it’s price–and paying heed to the clock and the calendar is definitely it.

Vinyl Road Rage will feature video, podcasts, blog posts and tons of photos from the road. Stay tuned, record store lovers…this particular Vinyl Road Rage is one for the record books. Or at least A BOOK of some kind.

–Joe Wallace

Vinyl Road Rage: More Views From the Road

More views from Vinyl Road Rage Four. I have more from-the-road reports to file, including a look at Denton, Texas record shops, Dallas, Austin and much more. I’m still out on the road–currently reporting from Austin, Texas where there are a TON of shops to hit. It’s bee a very good vinyl buying trip so far and there’s more to come.

The mighty Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas–rated by several publications as one of the top ten record shops in the country, and with GOOD REASON. They are basically massive and awesome.

Waterloo has a staggering amount of vinyl in every category—and plenty of rarities hiding in these stacks–you gotta dig to find the good stuff.

At Mad World Records in Denton–very new and hip. Not a hell of a lot of vinyl, but I’m sure that will change soon. I HOPE it will change soon! Loads and LOADS of CDs for sale. The vinyl for sale there was a mix of old and new and the selection was pretty decent in spite of the small size of the collection.

At Good Records in Dallas–APTLY NAMED, I must say–wall to wall with thousands of titles–mostly new records, too. There is a small used section which was kind of underwhelming, but those new titles? WOW. Impressive. And this shop has a huge (for a record store) stage for live shows.

An amazing uber-limited edition soundtrack LP for Maniac by William Lustig starting Joe Spinell. WOW. I scored with this one. Only 500 made…

Vinyl Road Rage: Views From The Road

I’ll have a full update on day #2 later–it’s very late at the time of this writing and I need sleep soon, but here is a look at some of the things seen on the trip so far. These images were taken between Bloomington, Indiana and Memphis, Tennessee. The record stores along the way have been great and there is much more to come.

Also stay tuned for a new Vinyl Road Rage video sometime tomorrow (Friday December 9, 2011).

Jack White’s Third Man Records isn’t just a label, it is also a boutique-y record shop with loads of great atmosphere and interesting vinyl & merch. Tiny, but very well done–an impressive shop indeed!

Landlocked Music in Bloomington Indiana is a favorite stop…highly recommended, as is the shop pictured below, also in Bloomington–TD’s CDs and LPs.

Oh, to own this pricey-but-essential Nurse With Wound box set…agony of the damned is mine now that I know it exists, yet own it not.

Elvis on 8-track? That’s like asking if Stereolab is available on compact disc. I kept having to remind myself that I was in Tennessee and would be seeing a LOT of Mister Elvis over these few days.

Long before the New Kids on the Block, The Partridge Family was carrying the torch as a kiddie sensation–except the New Kids didn’t feature a mom, just some (probably) Svengali-esque manager.

Nashville’s answer to environmental activism: Think Globally, Act Hillbilly. Does that include squealing like a pig at the command of someone wearing a trucker hat and a shotgun?

Vinyl Road Rage: Laurie’s Planet of Sound Chicago, Illinois

by Joe Wallace

I thought I’d kick off Vinyl Road Rage 4 with a look at a record shop right in my own back yard. Before I get behind the wheel today to hit the road for Bloomington, Indiana, Nashville and points beyond, Laurie’s Planet of Sound definitely deserves a mention.

Laurie’s is literally two blocks away from my place, which makes it very handy to indulge in some early-afternoon record shopping, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Laurie’s in the past two months when I sorely needed some new, obscure or bizarro vinyl titles to write about for my book in progress WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl.

And that is the real draw for me–Laurie’s carries the usual stuff with plenty of new vinyl across the expected genres plus soundtracks, imports and more. But Laurie’s absolutely excels at bringing in rarities new and used that impresses me no end. In another life, my exposure to neighborhood record stores was rather unimpressive. Since moving to Chicago proper a few years back that’s changed.

But I’ve never been so spoiled as I have been with Laurie’s so close and so well-stocked with awesomeness. I’ve scored Legendary Pink Dots vinyl, Nurse With Wound, the Blacula soundtrack, some very tasty minimal wave titles, and my all-time favorite holy grail find: Punishment of Luxury.

Laurie’s is a must-visit if you come to Chicago for a visit. They carry DVDs including a variety of off-the-beaten-track titles that are just as obsessive-worthy as the vinyl (plenty of Something Weird titles, horror movie trailer collections, drive-in exploitation and other wonderful things), and there’s even a great, eclectic book selection, too.

The shop is friendly, fun to shop, and beware what they are playing on the turntable when you walk in–chances are you’ll be walking out with it before your shopping spree is done or regret NOT buying it when you leave. I had non-buyer’s remorse for AGES after walking out without the album by Social Climbers they were playing. What was I thinking?

This jaded record store blogger HIGHLY recommends Laurie’s Planet of Sound at 4639 N Lincoln in Chicago. And be sure and tell them Turntabling.net sent you. That might make them giggle.

Vinyl Road Rage 4

by Joe Wallace

It’s been a hell of a crazy fall and winter season, culminating with Vinyl Road Rage 4–the cross country indie record store blogging trip/shopping spree Turntabling does at least once a year (this year it was TWO) to find the weird, the wonderful, the rare and obscure at cool indie record stores all over the USA.

Tomorrow, Wednesday December 7, Turntabling hits the open highway once more for fifteen days of record stores and more. I’ll be driving from Chicago to Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Tulsa, Denton, Norman, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and back up north toward Springfield Illinois and finally back home in Chicago on Wednesday December 21. There will be plenty of updates here on my finds and experiences.

Fifteen days is a long time to be on the road, but there is much to do along the way so I have no doubt the time will fly by like mad.

I am taking an armload of limited edition promotional discs along on this trip. One is a Vinyl Road Rage 4 soundtrack featuring select cuts from the collection that will be on heavy rotation on my speakers during the road trip.

The other is a limited edition Paisley Babylon release called Republican Disco, currently unavailable in any other format or avenue besides my handing them out on the road at record shops and elsewhere. If you’re interested in either of these two limited edition promotion-only discs, contact me (jwallace at turntabling dot net) and I’ll let you know of their availability post-road trip.

With more than 17 record shops to hit along the way and plenty of other surprises in store, Vinyl Road Rage Four should be a very interesting experience. There will be daily updates here, plus video on the Turntabling.net YouTube channel and on my Facebook page.

The madness begins tomorrow–there will be a late update once I get off the road and then it really goes mental from there…join me! And record store suggestions are ALWAYS welcome–drop me a line on Facebook to suggest an addition to the route.

On The Road Again…

Posts have been minimal lately due to the prep for HorrorHound Weekend in Ohio–looking forward to an excellent extended weekend with vinyl and horror fans alike, starting tomorrow (Thursday) when I hit the road (a bit early, yes). When Turntabling gets back from the show the usual posts will begin again as usual…if you want the latest from the show, join me on my Facebook page for photos and updates. I post often when the reception is good.

The next big news for Turntabling after HorrorHound Weekend is Vinyl Road Rage #4, which departs Chicago on December 8 to hit and blog about indie record shops between Chi-town and Dallas, Texas. A full itinerary will be announced next week including a list of record shop stops planned.

As of now the route includes Nashville, Tennessee for a stop at the legendary Grimey’s, then a hop over to Memphis, then on to Little Rock Arkansas. Then it’s to Norman, Oklahoma for a look at Guestroom Records-a place long on the wish list for Vinyl Road Rage.

After Oklahoma it’s off in search of awesome indie record shops in Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton, Tulsa Oklahoma, Kansas City, and then a stopover in Springfield, Illinois to Recycled Records. After Springfield, it’s the final four hour home stretch back to Chicago.

Does that trip sound a bit crazy to you? It starts on the 8th of December and ends on the 21st. I must add that I’ll be blogging the entire way–including some video on the Turntabling YouTube Channel, which is linked to the right of this post at the top where all the social media icons are ­čÖé

–Joe Wallace

TD’s Records and CDs, Bloomington Indiana

This building houses several things including a coffee shop (much needed) and the most excellent TD’s Records and CDs, which celebrated 10 years in its basement location in 2010.

There’s a damn good reason this store has been around for ten years. It’s small, but intelligently stocked and caters to people like me who are in search of Coil on vinyl and related obscurities. I found new fewer than five vinyl LPs by Goblin including the Dawn of the Dead soundtrack and several other lustworthy items.

Many record stores try to offer something to the obscurity-loving crate digger. This store seems to specialize in the great finds rather than offer them as one-offs.

TD’s is a different sort of beast entirely. The store does not promote online, preferring word-of-mouth. And there’s a reason why that word of mouth is good–the shop is efficiently organized, well stocked and you can easily lose a few hours going through all the sections.

I found several titles I’d been searching for to no avail, and there is a great collection of avant-garde, experimental and otherwise left-of-center vinyl. New vinyl enthusiasts will find plenty to look over, too–TD’s strikes a very good balance between the old and the new.

And like all the great record shops I’ve hit on Vinyl Road Rage, TD’s is run by someone with a genuine love for vinyl. This is another one of those shops that makes shopping for records fun and keeps the spirit of record collecting alive. I would definitely drive all the way out from Chicago to visit TD’s again. The store is friendly, crammed full of great titles and a real joy to browse.

Just be careful coming down the steps–the sign does warn you, but know going in that you’re going to need that extra five seconds of caution. Most of the really awesome record stores have some kind of tricky entrance or exit–why is that? Never mind. Don’t break your face on the way in and you’ll have plenty of time to dig.

If you are a vinyl obsessive interested in the obscurities and have to choose between going across the street to Tracks and shopping here, I’d strongly urge you to choose TD’s. I could be remembering wrongly here, but TD’s has little to no grandpa rock (sorry, Mark Farner and Peter Frampton…well, not really sorry at all, actually) and while the shop may seem smaller by comparison, quality is the watchword here, not quantity.

Landlocked Music, Bloomington Indiana

by Joe Wallace

There are plain old boring record stores, and then there are indie record stores that simply define the business. Landlocked Music is one of those stores that, for me at least, define what a record store should be all about.┬áLandlocked isn’t too big, it’s not too small. It’s in a space that is absolutely perfect for the volume of records and the variety of merch they carry.

I tend to gush a bit when I find a store I truly love and Bloomington has not one, but TWO great shops. Landlocked is the first.

The store has a great selection of both new and used vinyl, nicely categorized and with price ranges that serve budget-minded crate diggers and collectors who know what their titles should be worth and are willing to pay accordingly.

The thing I was most impressed with is that the store tends to fill out my favorite genres rather well. There is a good selection of electronic, experimental, obscure funk, off-the-beaten-path stuff for slightly jaded record store addicts like me. A good effort has been put into least a decent showing across the genres outside the usual R-n-B, grandpa rock, new indie, and punk sections.

I found an Emo Phillips live performance record here, as well as Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch, so I’m probably a bit biased in this department. I love obscurity on vinyl, general weirdness, and any of late 80s/early 90s alt/indie/WTF projects so I had a very happy experience with Landlocked Music.

On top of that, the shop is friendly, well-organized, and above all FUN TO BROWSE. There are plenty of record stores where the atmosphere is non-existent, the shopping is clumsy and painful (you only have one set of knees, after all) or the records are jammed in so tightly that you can’t look through them easily.

Landlocked gets major points on all fronts. I will be returning here again all the way from Chicago for another visit or three. I recommend Landlocked to anyone within driving distance as it’s not only a great place to find the vinyl, it’s also situated near plenty of great restaurants and other fun.

Or, to put it more succinctly:

Shop. This. Store.

Exile on Main Street, Champaign Illinois

by Joe Wallace

Rolling into Champaign, Illinois in search of Exile on Main Street was a bit of a challenge only because after six years of living in Chicago it was difficult to adjust to parking meters that accept only loose change. If you’re coming to Champaign to check out record shops (there are several in the area worth looking at) be sure to bring a handful of quarters!

For some indie record stores, new vinyl is the main attraction, and while there is a decent selection of used records to choose from, the new releases seem to be what keeps Exile on Main St. alive and kicking. That’s not necessarily a bad thing–plenty of collectors are scooping up the new titles as well as the old, so Exile on Main St. is a good stop if you need a fix of the shrink-wrapped records.

What I liked best about Exile were the curiosities. There were some great displays including a steampunk-esque video contraption under glass and some other miscellany. Hands down, the most oddball thing on vinyl at Exile was a copy of some sort of Soviet-era Led Zepplin cover album done behind the Iron Curtain. Very trippy indeed.

Be sure to take some time looking at the more obscure vinyl on the walls of this shop–if you’re looking for some used, off-the-beaten track vinyl and don’t mind paying a wee bit extra you’ll do well. There was a nice copy of the Shaft’s Big Score soundtrack hanging there, if memory serves…that is a pretty sweet find, I must say. I would have been tempted if I didn’t already have it in the record bins back home.

Champaign being a college town, it’s no surprise there are a few good record shops in the area. Exile on Main is a great place for a first stop. Get your bearings, see the sights, and you’ll probably be back there picking up some new records after they’ve had a chance to nag at you for a while. This is the kind of place I shop at all the time thinking, “I’ll have to come back for that…”

Naturally, when you get back, it’s gone…so give in to your shop-a-holic vinyl junkie urges while at Exile and don’t look back. I personally regret not having picked up the Russian Led Zepplin thing if only for the sheer novelty of having it.

Backbeats Record Store, Rantoul Illinois

by Joe Wallace

I had been dying to check out Backbeats Record Store in Rantoul, Illinois since I read a very good online review of the store in 2010 while planning Vinyl Road Rage #2. I was never able to make the trip until this go-round, and I have to say I was not disappointed.

Backbeats is the kind of record store I like–one that has some thought put into the overall presentation, doesn’t limit itself to the easy genres (grandpa rock, new wave, R&B, etc) and has some style and atmosphere going for it.

The store isn’t open seven days a week–and in a small town like Rantoul, Illinois, it’s a wonder there’s enough of a buying community to support a store I enjoy this much–but it’s well worth the wait.

At the time of this writing, Backbeats has a weekend schedule starting on Thursdays.  The store is closed Mon/Tues/Weds/ so out-of-towners, plan accordingly. And yes, you should definitely make the trip.

There’s plenty of mainstream vinyl stuff on sale at Backbeats, but I managed to find plenty of more obscure 80s and 90s titles, and there was a nice selection of 12 inches from record store stalwarts Souixsie and the Banshees. Backbeats is no slouch in the soundtracks department, either. Soundtrack junkies should definitely take a look–I did pretty well in this section, which often gets overlooked at record shops that don’t think those titles are just as fun to browse as all those Ohio Players albums and Nancy Sinatra titles. Good prices, too.

The store is well organized, very friendly, and there is plenty to see aside from vinyl; this is a safe destination for what I personally call a “lopsided couple”–two people who don’t have the same obsessive fascination for all things vinyl can shop at Backbeats without either one feeling like they’re just marking time while the other browses.

Backbeats lives up to the reviews, and I’ll definitely be coming back here. I hope Rantoul appreciates what it’s got in its own back yard, I hope the community supports this excellent indie record store the way it deserves.