Record Store Crawl: Austin

recordsVices.  You have one.  I have one.  That guy over there by that busy intersection asking for change has one.  Your mom has one too.  Everyone you know or will ever meet has one.  Some of us have more than one.  We all have our vice, our thing, our crippling addiction to that which controls us.  Booze.  Cigarettes.  Sex.  Narcotics.  Mine’s records.  I get my kicks trolling through record shops, crate digging, treasure hunting, discovering, and I just can’t help myself.  Don’t even get me started on the colossal enabler that is Ebay.  But while this vice of mine may not wreak havoc on my health or my body, it certainly takes its toll on my wallet…and at times my mental state.  The search for that Holy Grail of record collecting can become an obsession, an all-consuming expenditure of time, money and energy.  It is everything.

But at least it’s fun.

So, let’s not dwell on the fixation, or the financial strain, or the motley crew that is the cast of characters one meets daily whilst feeding the beast.  Instead, let’s embrace our vices with sound minds and strong hearts.  Let’s indulge.

On Saturday, I went on a record store crawl through Austin, Texas.  I regret nothing.

Stop 1: Half Price Books

While not technically a record store, there are racks and racks of records to sift through at Half Price.  A search will always yield some kind of return, though there are mountains of garbage to sort through before unearthing that hidden gem.  The store is usually a good place to find random records from artists you’ve never heard of or cheap copies of classic albums everyone should own.

As I got a later start than anticipated, I did not get to do a thorough scouring of the bargain bins, but seeing as there were a number of other stores to visit, that’s probably not a bad thing.

Purchased: Pig Latin – My Hands Go Blind EP; Prefuse 73 – The ’92 vs ’02 Collection EP; Starship – Knee Deep in the Hoopla LP (what?!)

Visit the store.

Stop 2: Breakaway Records

Breakaway is a smaller store that specializes in soul and old 45’s.  While digging through the racks, I discovered that one should not visit a brewery in the afternoon before going on a record store crawl.  It spells trouble.  The urge to pee was so swift and commanding, that I had to cut my search short, pay for a record, and get back to my house for some sweet, sweet release.

Purchased: Uncle Bonsai – A Lonely Grain of Corn LP (the sticker on the record said “Check out Penis Envy,” so yeah…)

Visit the store.

Stop 3: Exploded Records

I had never been to Exploded Records before.  It’s fairly new, and the thing is inside a juice shop.  If you’ve ever thought that what was missing from your record store experience were groups of vegans, then have I got a place for you.  Vegans and stinky hippies aside, the store was quaint and comfortable and offered up a decent selection of records, tapes, and CDs from local artists.  This is a store I would maybe visit once in a blue moon…or if I’m thirsty for juice.

Purchased: Hard Proof – Dragon 7”

Visit the store.

Stop 4: Antone’s Records

Antone’s is the only remaining record store near the University of Texas campus.  When I moved to Austin in 1997, there were seven, and that makes me sad.  It is an institution though.  Specializing in blues, jazz, country, and so on, I nearly always find some old, crazy record to take home with me.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that they price their merchandise a little lower than they could.

Unfortunately on Saturday I had to leave empty handed.  As is wont to occur at any record store, a group of hipster kids were crate digging and having the most inane conversation I’ve ever heard.  I had to get away from them, lest I find myself on the evening news for pummeling a college kid to death with a stack of old vinyl.  Maybe I’m being too hard on them.  Maybe I’m a crotchety old curmudgeon.  Surely I’ve had these same stupid discussions with my stupid friends.  Surely they’re not that bad.  God, I’m so old.

Purchased: nothing

Visit the store.

Stop 5: Waterloo Records

Oh Waterloo.  Why do you take so much of my money?  Why do I keep coming back to you week after week after week?  You are an evil mistress.  And you are the central hub for music in Austin.  You are to Austin what Amoeba Records is to San Francisco.  You always scratch the itch.  They’ll never tear me away from you.

Purchased: Lee Noble – No Becoming LP; Wolves in the Throne Room – BBC Sessions 2011 Anna Domini; Trevor Jackson Presents: Metal Dance 2 compilation LP

Visit the store.

Stop 6: End of an Ear

If I’m completely honest with myself, this is my favorite record store in Austin, my relationship with Waterloo notwithstanding.  They have an excellent selection of indie rock, experimental stuff, psych, prog, soundtracks, and on and on.  They also offer up a big selection of turntables and old, classic stereo equipment.  The staff is nice, fun to talk with, and the snootiness levels are lower than one usually gets in a record store.  (I feel like I’m writing a review for a travel brochure…stop it Tommy!)  More of my “holy shit!” discoveries are made here than any other store in Austin.

Purchased: Nico – Drama of Exile LP

Visit the store.

Stop 7: Friends of Sound

This shop is located in an alleyway behind a bunch of local boutiques and feels like the kind of place you would stumble upon solid gold in.  It’s small, but packed with records of every type and genre.  And it’s where I scored my best find of the crawl.  Always end on a high note.

Purchased: Hans-Joachim Roedelius – Durche Die Wuste LP

Visit the store.

Addendum

I could have carried on, but the time of day, the demands of an empty stomach, the desire to spend time with my family, and the aching of an open wallet sent me back home.  It’s probably for the better.

The beast should be appeased until Tuesday (new release day).

Stores I did not make it to: Trailerspace Records, Turntable Records, Encore Records

 

Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

2 Responses to Record Store Crawl: Austin
  1. Joe Grez

    Joe Grez Reply

    Thomas, just a smashing article for many different reasons. You really have brought something to Joup, thanks for that. I, for one, am humbled. And it’s ok if it reads like a travel brochure. Good to know when in Austin.

    Best,

    Joe Grez

    • Thomas H Williams

      Thomas H Williams Reply

      Thanks Joe. I’ve had a blast writing for Joup so far, and i always dig on encouragement.

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