So now that I have a turntable I've been rediscovering the joys of vinyl. It's been years since my last LP purchase but I've been going to record stores lately in search of obscure LPs, 45s and cassettes. I was thinking that it would be a good idea to have a directory of record stores on the Garage Punk Hideout (does this already exist and I'm not aware of it?) I live in Washington, DC and I thought I'd start off by talking about the record stores in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. In the last couple weeks I've gone to Smash, Joint Custody and Crooked Beat, which are all in the heart of Adams Morgan on 18th St. NW.
The record stores in Adams Morgan have come under attack recently. DC regards any stores that sell secondhand goods as equivalent to pawn shops and subject to the same regulations. In early April the police paid a visit to stores in Adams Morgan and nearby U St. that sell used clothing, books and records to tell the store owners that they had six weeks to get a "secondhand-dealer's license" (Huffington Post reported that the deadline has since been extended to July 13). The store owners are trying to get the law changed and an online petition at change.org is supporting that effort. I signed the petition and I urge you to do the same, but be aware that once you're on change.org's mailing list you'll start receiving emails urging you to sign other petitions. (I know that protesting United Airlines' new policy of not allowing parents with small children traveling in coach to pre-board is a worthy cause, but I just don't have that fire in my belly about it). I spoke with the clerks at Smash and Joint Custody about the police crackdown on secondhand stores. Joint Custody maintains unusual hours and was closed during the raid (if that's the right word) so they haven't had any direct communication with the police. At Smash, however, the police visit ended in a shouting match. The theory at Smash is that this crackdown is occurring at the same time as improvements are going on all along 18th St. Targeting second-hand stores is another way to clean up the neighborhood. I didn't talk to the the guy at Crooked Beat about the raid because he was too busy telling another customer about a dB's show he had seen in the 1980s. The Huffington Post article reported that if the city pushes these regulations, Crooked Beat will move to a new location in Virginia.
Smash (2314 18th St. NW) - Much of the store's floor space is devoted to clothing, so Smash doesn't have a huge selection of music but what they do have is interesting. The racks are just about equally divided between CDs and vinyl with a pretty good selection of 45s. The store tends toward punk, and--being in DC--hardcore with a political slant is well represented (a lot of lettering made to look like it had been etched with razorblades, not to mention covers showing vomit--lots of vomit). So not a lot of garage punk, but still ok. I ended up buying two LPs from the "Bloodstains Across" series (Bloodstains Across Philadelphia and Bloodstains Across Sweden) and the Bruce Springstone 45--probably my favorite parody along with Dylan Hears a Who.
Joint Custody (2337 18th St. NW) - Joint Custody aims at the hipster crowd with all sorts of vintage items for sale. They have a small section with records, and these are more for record collectors, as opposed to the usual sort of selection of used records. The records are all carefully labeled with condition ratings and some of them are rather expensive. I bought an oddball private pressing record I had never heard of. It has a pyramid-with-eye album cover, which I am a sucker for. In general, the selection leans toward indie rock and hardcore, so once again not a lot of garage punk.
Crooked Beat (2116 18th St. NW) - I went to Crooked Beat expecting to walk out with an armload of records but I left without buying anything. Unlike Smash and Joint Custody, Crooked Beat sells only records (and a scant few CDs). Their website says "We Specialize in: HARD TO FIND New and Used Vinyl Records of INDEPENDENT LABEL MUSIC & OBSCURE MAJOR LABEL RELEASES EXISTING OUTSIDE THE RADAR OF THE MAINSTREAM." Maybe I went in with expectations that were too high because their selection seemed run of the mill to me. They did have a cool section that was just Record Stare Day releases and they had a few garage/psych compilations, but not a whole lot of what I would consider "obscure" or "hard to find". Maybe I was just tired or a little annoyed by that whole dB's concert conversation. I'll pay another visit soon.
Getting there: Even though it's in the name of the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station, Adams Morgan is a long walk from the station. The record stores are almost a mile from the metro station (0.8+ miles according to Google maps), but there's a lot of interesting things along the way. It's not easy to find parking in Adams-Morgan but I've had pretty good luck finding spots on Ontario Rd. a couple of blocks off 18th St.