Situated not too far from Williamsburg’s gorgeous McCarren Park is 44 Berry St., where you’ll find the Sound Fix, a rather small but well organized shop with quite a few surprises in nearly every corner. I went there today not expecting much, and going in on a whim. I didn’t really expect to fall in love so quickly.
Their ads and website have the audacity to call itself “Williamsburg’s Independent Record Store” — an impressive claim given the notoriety the area has gained over the past decade as being central to nearly all the musical output of New York City. But after spending the better part of an hour collecting damn near everything, I am inclined to agree. The variety cater to nearly every crowd, and all of it organized into specialized, well-marked corners.
But what about the fucking ROCK, MAN!? Well, I’d be happy to say I nearly spent a small fortune on swag. At the end of each rock section (both new and used sections, both in CD and vinyl formats) is a small pool of psych, garage, soul, and punk. This place carries a lot of reprints and reissues (Sundazed in particular . . . Naturally!) and may cater more to beginning vinyl collectors who are starting to get interested in the music, but there is still a few gems hidden among the bins for die-hards.
It may be one of the few record stores, anywhere, that bothers to make record shopping a complete immersion experience. When you walk in, not only is there a wall of selected new releases, but there is a listening center in the back of the store connected to their website that hosts other related goodies like videos, store employee recommendations, etc., all related to the selected records. There’s also a personal vinyl player to preview the used vinyl as well. Furthermore, and as I’ve said before, I was very impressed with their organization — there’s a record bin breaker for nearly every band available, and the ‘Misc.’ sections are relatively small. If they don’t fit the genres exactly, they are listed alphabetically as with any other store.
If you’re not certain what you’d like to pick up, I also highly recommend this store for their amazing discount section. A plethora of great albums that, at perhaps Best Buy, would be given special price stickers for being considered classics. Big Brother and the Holding Company’s “Cheap Thrills!”, the Who’s “The Who Sell Out,” among others in a fairly generous section dedicated to records $8.99 and below.
I started out picking eight albums — four vinyl, four CDs — and had to slim it down to picked up Love’s first album (Sundazed reissue), Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat,” Tom Waits’ “Closing Time” (Note: This store may have been the only place where every Tom Waits album was in stock, and not just either his earliest records, OR his 80’s years, OR just “Real Gone”), and Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints.”
GRADE: A. The staff is friendly, and the two guys who were there at the time really knew their stuff — especially in terms of psych. I highly, highly recommend this store for it being a very good digging trip in general, but specifically for having fairly priced material on both ends of the quality spectrum. Never has a reissue been so accurately priced that I felt no need to double check and think it over. Go to this store, join their e-mail list, and please be sure to give this place a thorough run through. You have no idea what you’ll find.
Two Special Mentions: Halcyon Music in Dumbo; Film Noir in Greenpoint.
After coming down from the high I picked up from Sound Fix, my friend recommended digging through Film Noir on the other end of McCarren Park. It is primarily a video store, specializing in foreign film and cult-fan favorites, but they have a few crates of vinyl records along the floor of this small but very clean shop. I would not make it a point to go there for a weekly visit for records, but monthly, definitely. Here I picked up Pink Floyd’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” — which I later found out to be a bootleg, but in very good condition — and an original copy of the Jam’s “Sound Affects.” There is plenty of great finds, but only go there regularly if you happen to also be a film dork. Grade: B (for what it’s size and rather impressive selection for being a video store).
Over in Dumbo is Halcyon music, which, much like any other store in Dumbo, is heavy on style and short on substance. It caters mostly to the DJ/trance/techno set, but it makes a point of being organized enough to have a good representation (and I use that word very loosely) of classic rock, garage and psych. It’s primarily reissues, but material you would not expect elsewhere (i.e.: “S.F. Sorrow”, Van der Graaf Generator). But it’s all miserably overpriced and unfair. For example: a CD of the White Stripes’ new live album is $18.99, whereas at Sound Fix, it was $16.99. Grade: D. Unless you think you’ll find something extra special here, don’t bother.
Now I have to go to a rock and roll show, bitches. Expect a review of Thee Vicars soon, along with a short news update regarding the latest from Hendrix and the Who.