Before you had Spotify recommending you tracks, before you had Shazam to figure out that song you don't know playing in the bar, before you had AllMusic to give you a band's biography, you had the folks at your local record store. These people were musical encyclopedias with highly refined tastes and a wealth of knowledge and opinions to share: equal parts librarian and bartender — good curators, good company.
For a while, it seemed like music's move to the web was pushing them into the margins. But it's now clear that the vinyl guru is as important as ever. Access to so much music can be overwhelming, and we all look for ways to navigate. Sure, there are plenty of neat little apps to help you out, but no algorithm is gonna knock $10 off that Japanese psych compilation you want to buy just because you're curious. Nor is it gonna let you play a show in the back of the store.
We want to celebrate the human beings who make record shopping more than just a transaction. And that starts with a simple introduction.
What do they think about when they buy for their store? What is their store's specialty? What's their own, personal specialty? What do they want their store to be known for? How do they envision their place within their local audience and music scene, and how do they work to support that community?
Join us in meeting the helpful faces at your neighborhood record shop, and let's see what we can do about getting you into some fresh vinyl.
For our inaugural episode of "Know Your Record Store," Jon Mann went to Deep Cuts, a record store based in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.
Fighting the World. The Warriors Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Unleash the Dragon.
Walking into Deep Cuts, these were the three albums that flashed in my mind: Manowar, The Warriors, and Sisqo. Why? Because they were the last three that the proprietors of Deep Cuts had chosen to photograph and post online.
Needless to say, I knew I was in for something good.
Brandon Perry, who opened Deep Cuts with co-owner John Allen in 2012, has a history with vinyl that stretches back to his youth on the West Coast. "I started buying records when I was fifteen and just kept going," he remarked. "I was doing radio forever and kept buying records, DJing around. I had too many records to keep in my room — to keep in my space — so I had to either get a storage facility or open a shop. I opened a shop."
When I asked him off the record (pun unintended) how much vinyl he had in his collection, Brandon laughed and told me that there's no way of knowing, adding to my suspicion that there are going to be a lot of record store employees and owners out there who keep the job largely to feed their addiction. If looking around Deep Cuts is an insight into Brandon's own collecting, the evidence suggests a guy with a broad knowledge of music and the kind of taste that doesn't preclude having a sense of humor. Rock and hip-hop are perhaps the forte, and I was stoked to see (perhaps) my favorite album cover of all time in what Brandon affectionately referred to as the 'Gangsta Shit' section: the Eazy-E single "Just tah Let U Know," which features E leaning in casually, looking at you through dark shades while calmly holding a hand grenade. Just to let you know.
When I asked him on the record (pun still unintended) what his desert island record would be, Brandon sidestepped music entirely, opting for Neil Hamburger's 1994 comedy 7" Looking for Laughs. Cue the Neil Hamburger episode of "What's In My Bag?":
So when you head to Deep Cuts, make sure to leave yourself some extra time to stroll around Silent Barn. It's not uncommon to pass through a show, an art installation, and a reading on your way from Silent Barn's gravel outdoor courtyard to its record store.
"We're here most nights. And Sundays, if it's nice, we'll barbeque, so hit us up."
Hamburger on the turntable, hot dogs on the grill. Count us in, Brandon.