The New York City Record Store Year-End Roundup
In 2009, we began the weekly Local Top 10, a series we hoped would prove that New Yorkers were far too stubborn to let the record store go. The series ran until last month, when we literally ran out of stores to cover--not the best sign for the future of music retailing in New York City. Before we gave up altogether though, we went back to all the stores we originally profiled and asked them how their year had gone. Below, we chronicle the top 10 records sold in 2009 at each store. Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion was a citywide monster, appearing on lists from hardcore haven Generation Records to the crate-diggers-only Rebel Rebel.
In visiting the city's still-breathing boutiques, we witnessed many different approaches. Some are exactingly curated, like Hospital Productions, with its Lee Harvey Oswald painting and creepy red-and-black color scheme. Strider Records, on the other hand, has dissolved into one big admirable cardboard dustbin. Each store owner offered hilarious stories: At Strider, Johnny Cash used to buy his own records to give to friends because he didn't own any himself. Johnny Thunders often popped into Bleecker Bobs to autograph records in exchange for dope money. And one store had an employee was working at the now-defunct Mondo Kim's and was present in 2005 when the record shop was raided by the police after an agent bought an unsanctioned DJ bootleg. "I told them they really had their priorities straight after 9/11," the employee said.
The stores that still exist in the city have some sort of hook. Other Music stays alive adapting to the digital world through selling mp3s online. They also have a staff that can talk at length about pretty much anything you put in front of them at the store. Good Records, Record Runner, Bleecker Bob's, and Strider get by on wallet-shrinking collectibles like U2 tour jackets and obscure jazz records with Andy Warhol-provided cover art. We didn't meet many crotchety High Fidelity-types (though one store we tried to feature told us to leave, saying they didn't "do publicity"). Today, most folks are happy to sell anything, even if that means carrying Lady GaGa when they normally wouldn't.
After earlier conversations with all of the below stores, we contacted them again at the end of 2009 to learn what had sold best for them throughout the entire calender year. Seven months later, it turns out that no one has any better idea about how to pronounce "Veckatimest" than they did in May.
Below, the top ten records that actually sold in the last year at a store near you.
The Top 10 Records Sold in 2009 at Fat Beats in the West Village:
1. Raekwon: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 2. J Dilla: Jay Stay Paid 3. MF Doom: Born Like This 4. Marco Polo & Torae: Double Barrel 5. Blaq Poet: Blaqprint 6. Mos Def: The Ecstatic 7. Brown Bag AllStars: The Brown Tape 8. Skyzoo: The Salvation 9. Tanya Morgan: Brooklynati 10. Sean Price: Kimbo Price
The Top 10 Records Sold in 2009 at Generation Records in the West Village:
1. Pearl Jam: Backspacer 2. Sonic Youth: The Eternal 3. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest 4. Converge: Axe to Fall 5. Tom Waits: Glitter and Doom 6. Slayer: World Painted Blood 7. Wilco: Wilco (The Album) 8. The Get Up Kids: Something to Write Home About (According to an employee, the ten-year reissue of this emo touchstone "sold a shit ton.") 9. Wolves in the Throne Room: Black Cascade TIE for Ten: 10. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion 10. Mastodon: Crack the Skye
The Top 9 Records Sold at Hospital Productions in the East Village (nine is all they gave us):
1. Cold Cave: Love Comes Close 2. Raspberry Bulbs: Finally Burst 3. Bone Awl: Nights Middle 4. Akitsa: Le Grande Infamie 5. Jason Crumer: Hum of an Imagined Enviornment 6. Hoor Paar Kraat: A Doorbell of Earbows for Brefix 7. Genocide Organ: Live in Japan 8. Hair Police: Certainty of Swarms 9. Ancestors: II
The Top 10 Records Sold at Kim's Video in the East Village:
1. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino) 2. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest (Warp) 3. Death: For the Whole World to See (Drag City) 4. Flaming Lips: Embryonic (WEA) 5. Antony and the Johnsons: Crying Light (Secretly Canadian) 6. Wilco: Wilco (The Album) (WEA) 7. Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation) 8. The Oh Sees: Help (In the Red) 9. Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (Drag City) 10. Beirut: March of the Zapotec (pompeii)
The Top 10 Records Sold in 2009 at Music Matters in Brooklyn:
1. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca 2. MGMT: Oracular Spectacular 3. Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes 4. Various Artists: Dark Was the Night 5. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix 6. Will Scott: Gnawbone 7. Bon Iver: For Emma 8. St. Vincent: Actor 9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It's Blitz! 10. Feist: Reminder
The Top 10 Records Sold in 2009 at Other Music in the East Village:
1: Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion 2: Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca 3: Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest 4: Nite Jewel: Good Evening 5: Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix 6: Death: For the Whole World to See 7: Antony and the Johnsons: The Crying Light 8: Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware 9: Fever Ray: Fever Ray 10: Sonic Youth: EternalNext Page
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.