Spotlight On Local Record Stores

boston local record store spotlight, record store day
Graphics by Ainsley Basic

This Saturday, April 23rd is recognized nationwide as Record Store Day. Here at WERS, we’re celebrating by spotlighting the record store locations that Boston has to offer. From long-standing local legends like Nuggets to Good Taste Records, opened just this month, our music writing staff take you through the locations that you, the music lovers, won’t want to miss, this record store day and beyond.

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In Your Ear doesn’t celebrate Record Store Day in the traditional sense; they pride themselves on reliability and celebrate being an independent store by consistently having good records 365 days a year. 

When asked what his favorite things about phyiscal records is, co-owner of In Your Ear Reed Lappin said,

“You're always discovering something new. A lot of stuff you put on you don’t know what it's gonna be, and then it could be this or that, and sometimes it's like ‘wow that's a pretty cool thing.’ There are records like that out there, that are just obscure. that didn’t get promoted or were just a one-off [...] it’s real gold-digging. You never know where you’re going to find something that's unusual or exciting, it just happens!”

- Meghan Hockridge, Program Coordinator




Cheapo Records has been buying and selling vinyl in Central Square for over 40 years. Paired with its concrete, knowledgeable staff, it’s no surprise Cheapo is a veteran of Boston record stores. But don’t let this intimidate you — Cheapo has something for everyone, from the most experienced collector to vinyl-novices.

When you first make it to Cheapo, you are greeted by a sublime storefront, lined with vintage posters and records. And upon walking in, a vintage sound system fills the store with the sound of the current staff pick. The store is shelves upon shelves of not just records, but also CDs and cassettes. Additionally, the store even has a small section of clothing, brand merchandise, and books, making your stop by Cheapo a rounded experience. If a record store serves as a reflection of its neighborhood, Cheapo does an incredible job at representing the community that is Central Square. Their kind staff, partnered alongside its extensive collection of vinyl of all genres, both classic and contemporary, new and used, with a deep, soulful collection, makes an iconic, yet cozy, spot.

- Breanna Nesbeth, Staff Writer

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Village Vinyl & Hi-Fi is open every day of the week from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. It's located in the hub of Coolidge Corner, a quaint and happening area right on the Green Line. The small store is filled with vintage vinyls, CDs, and VCR tapes. For those who are looking for an array of music including soul, rock, blues, or classic soundtracks, to name a few, Village Vinyl has you covered.

Their collective inventory of records is truly impressive and something to put on your list of places to visit!

- Amber Garcia, Staff Writer

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When you walk into Looney Tunes, you’re really walking into the owner, Pat’s, world. His love for records and his incredible passion for the physical form of music make

the cluttered basement he inhabits come across as charming and home-like. Boxes upon boxes of vinyl occupy almost all of the floor space except for a small path cleared for walking. This path is a new addition. 

It’s not that Pat is disorganized. There are just simply so many records that they cannot be neatly boxed up and enjoyed at the same time. Looney Tunes is not a museum; the records are meant to be touched and played. Recently, a storage space located upstairs, which held 1,500 records (over 150 boxes, according to Pat), became unavailable, and all of the records were moved into the already nearly full basement. The limited space, however, does not diminish the comfortability and value of Looney Tunes.

When you talk to Pat, you are talking to a life-long lover and learner of all kinds of music. You are also talking to a man who has guest lectured at Harvard and Berklee College of Music. He places emphasis on affordable prices and quality sounding records. “People fetishize the original pressing, but sometimes the original doesn’t always sound the best. There are some mastering from analog and some mastering from some old cd,” he says. 

Though he is undoubtedly knowledgeable about music, he’ll pretty much talk about anything. During the thirty minutes I was inside of Looney Tunes, we covered his hatred of Ronald Reagan, his breakthrough with his therapist, and his issue with the astronomical price of college. So Pat is more than just a music buff; he’s a sociable, working man with ears open to more than just the vinyl he loves. 

- T.J. Grant, Staff Writer

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I still remember my first time going to Deep Thoughts JP in the spring of my freshman year of college, three years ago now. It was for a local concert put together by a friend to raise money for a grassroots campaign. The bands played in the basement, an intimate and packed venue. My friend Jack, who had helped organize the event, had been going there since he was in high

school, as he was a Massachusetts native. Jack being a regular at Deep Thoughts didn’t surprise me since he was a fan of the Grateful Dead and JP oozes psychedelic rock from the moment you enter. Sitting on the couch upstairs there, looking at the multi-colored string creating an intricate web on the ceiling as my friends sifted through the vinyl for sale, is one of the most vivid college memories I have before the pandemic hit. The place has been around for a decade now, and even though I don’t go to visit often, whenever I think of the Jamaica Plains neighborhood I think of Deep Thoughts.

- Kira Weaver, Staff Writer

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It’s not often that you can enter a record store and order a drink as you flip through the bins, all while listening to live music. But at Vinyl Index in Sommerville, that’s just a Friday evening. Now open at Bow Market, Vinyl Index sits at the intersection of a bar and a bookstore, and at the intersection of classic and contemporary. Their kind

and knowledgeable staff is devoted to providing both an educational and satisfying experience for their customers. And their devotion towards focusing on shelving quality music is reflective in their versatile inventory that holds both classic and contemporary, new and pre-loved, local and global titles from a wide range of genres. 

I stopped in and was immediately greeted by a vast wall of hip-hop vinyl, curated by staff member Aaron, a collector who has been with Vinyl Index from the beginning, alongside its owner after meeting at a solely hip-hop record store. In search of a more diversified catalog, vinyl index was created. But don’t let the hip-hop wall fool you. Here, you’ll find a niche categorization of records that has something for everybody.

And beyond satisfying a wide demographic, Vinyl Index encourages their shoppers to try something new. Throughout the store, there are various marked sections such as “Asian Spotlight,” “Latinx Spotlight,” “African Spotlight,” and “Boston Local Spotlight.” They even have a section for exclusive Vinyl Index pressings! After chatting with Aaron as he unloaded boxes of vinyl, preparing for Record Store Day, he sent me on my way with Camp by Childish Gambino. And while the awesome atmosphere and employees are reserved for the Boston storefront, Vinyl Index has over 100,000 titles available on their website.

- Breanna Nesbeth, Staff Writer

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Having opened on April 1st, 2022, Good Taste Records in Boston’s North End is likely the newest addition to Boston’s record store scene.

This Record Store Day will double as a grand opening, Good Taste’s owners, husband and wife Coty and Lindsey Smith, said. Components of the festivities include exclusive in-store deals, rarities, live music from local musicians and DJs and a raffle for a turntable. 

Despite only having a stand-up chalkboard out front for signage, Good Taste easily draws in sidewalk traffic with its open door and vibrant, pumping music that travels out onto the street. Once up the half-set of stairs, guests will find the atmosphere more than welcoming.

The Smiths, sitting at a desk fashioned to look like a disk jockey table — a nod to Coty Smith’s background as a DJ — greet guests into what Lindsey Smith says is a place to “just hang out and listen to music.” One of the space’s most unique features is a listening booth with two turntables for customers to test out the sound of vinyls before making their purchase. 

The store’s mostly-packaged collection gravitates towards hip-hop, soul and funk. And their online store, which has been open for just short of a year, offers a selection of its own. Even if these genres don’t sound like the ones you lean into, Good Taste is worthy of a visit, not only from the atmosphere but also because you never know what you’ll find. Spotted amongst the shelves was the debut album from Wet Leg, the post-punk inspired British duo that made WERS’ songs of the summer list last year.

With less than a month under its belt, this new spot is already starting to make its mark on the Boston music scene.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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Open since 1978, one of the things that the owner of Nuggets, Stuart Freedman, says sets it apart in Boston’s record store scene, is “that we’re still around.” 

Stepping inside, the Fenway music store’s longstanding history shines through. Rows of wooden shelves filled with vinyls  and CDs stretch out across an impressive length. Band tees hang on the rungs of metal vents near the ceiling. And tightly-packed bookshelves filled with VHS tapes line the space’s expansive back wall. 

More than anything, Nuggets boasts variety. “We try to do all types of music,” Freedman said. The neatly organized sections the store is broken into reflect that sentiment. The rock section has all the classics, from the Beatles to Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond. The jazz selection was also expansive, featuring Nina Simone and the likes. And other genres with designated spaces included pop classics, country, folk, Blues, Gospel, reggae, classical, international, comedy, kids, and many more. 

Talking over the loud, but enjoyable music that filled the space, Freedman reflected on past years, recalling Record Store Day bringing lines to Nuggets. This year’s holiday will be commemorated with some exclusive and rare pressings, he says. 

Nuggets is a staple of the Boston music scene, and one that spans generations. My dad, who drove me to Nuggets, was excited to learn that the space was still around and told me how he used to visit the spot as a teenager. Not much has changed, he noted. And thus brings Nuggets much of its charm — there’s something extremely special about seeing a place staying true to its roots and continuing to thrive. I hope to see it still around to take my kids to one day.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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Wanna Hear It Records has carved out a unique space in Boston’s music scene and, against all odds, succeeded. The record store opened its

doors in Watertown Square in December 2020 while the pandemic was raging on as intense as ever. In spite of having to limit the number of guests at one time and implementing other safety restrictions, Wanna Hear It has drawn in a devout community of music lovers.

The record store’s clientele plays a significant role in making Wanna Hear It the space it is, said employee Sam Hines, just moments after helping an older gentleman bring in multiple large boxes of records he was looking to sell. Equal to the number of used boxes that had just been brought in, there were boxes of new deliveries waiting to be unpacked and organized onto the shelves. 

Another main attraction is what Hines described as a “robust collection” of physical versions of music. “Our kind of niche is the emo, hardcore, punk genre,” she said. But that doesn't mean there isn't range. Hines described having "complete punks" come in at times and teenage girls buying Ariana Grande at others. She attributed this special curation to the store owner, Joey Cahill’s, background of owning a record label. Cahill operates 6131 Records, with artists like Julien Baker, Joyce Manor and Touché Amor under its belt. 

In addition to their own items, mostly records, cassette tapes and band tees, the space of Wanna Hear It is also home to products from independently owned brands that are owned and created by people in the music scene. From Schmilk vegan chocolate at the counter to Ravenstone Jewelry hanging on the wall, Wanna Hear It’s teaming up with these brands makes clear that their effort to uplift the community goes beyond customer relations. 

The store’s plans for Record Store Day are plentiful. Marked by an earlier start of 9 a.m., the day will be full of special promotions, a sidewalk sale, new LPs and 7”s, complimentary drinks and Blackbird Donuts, and ticket giveaways in conjunction with the Bowery Presents. “We’re excited,” Hines said.

- Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

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