National Public Viking

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A tale of two record stores

|current sounds| Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & Trinity- Streetnoise

This past summer I purposely avoided record stores in DC as I had very little money (to the point of dumpster diving... yup, my inner Athenian punk came out), but this past week I've had nothing but time to explore the neighborhood. Stumbling upon Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan and Som Records off U Street was, therefore, inevitable.

I walked into Crooked Beat (2318 18th St NW) sometime late last week after finally finding a Julia's Empanadas (even though I'd just eaten, I gleefully wolfed down a spinach empanada). The first thing I hear coming into the below street-level store is '80s music, a continuous mix of synth-pop. I can only take so much synth-pop, but I was there to scope out the selection, so suffered through New Order I did (sorry, I've tried to like New Order, but to no avail). On the whole, the selection is decent, if a bit... okay, quite hipster-oriented. Lots of vinyl, which is a plus in my book, though mostly Merge, Matador, and other top-level "indie" label material (two points for tons of Soul Jazz LPs). The metal section was weak consisting mostly Southern Lord titles (that's not a diss on Southern Lord, by the way) and the jazz CD selection... it made me want to punch the clerk in the face. Literally, all Miles Davis and John Coltrane with scattered Atavistic and Thrill Jockey releases (those two labels only included likely because they also put out more indie-rock friendly stuff). The '60s/'70s section also left something to be desired, especially with all these great reissue-specific labels popping up in the last few years. Needless to say, I left a little disappointed.

Feeling particularly adventurous, I walked the length of 14th Street this afternoon all the way down to Rhode Island Avenue (quite a hike) and on the way back I saw Som Records (1843 14th St. NW) tucked away under some hair salon. I'd read earlier in the summer that one of the dudes from Crooked Beat went off and started his own record store and boy am I glad I found it! ALL VINYL. Do I need to repeat that? 80% of the store is prime used material and seemingly all in moderate to mint condition with great selections in jazz, rock, country, soul/r&b, and even some space set aside for soundtracks, kids records, and spoken word. The other 20% of the store are new releases mostly from labels I trust to buy from without even hearing the music. Good deal. The owner's a nice guy and went to school in Athens (that would explain the obscure '80s Athens band posterbills on the walls). I smiled widely upon finding this most coveted treasure (it's the "current sounds" above):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yay for record stores!


At 3:02 PM, Blogger helen said...

glad you found a place to suck up your money! : )


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