No matter what people say, Record Store Day meant well when it first began. It’s an event intended to bring fans to their local record stores, to boost sales, and, above all else, to rejuvenate a love for listening to that looping wax. But in the last five years, Record Store Day has transformed into a promotional stint that prioritizes the big three labels (Universal, Warner, and Sony) to cash in on reissues, where they book entire calendar months at pressing plants for their exclusive RSD releases. Community loses to commodification.
That said, the original motive behind the unofficial holiday was to get music lovers back into their local stores, supporting the arts, and meeting others they may not have met elsewhere. In Boston, no store finds the middle ground between official Record Store Day merch and unofficial charm like Newbury Comics. So we’ve called up every independent store and local music hub in the city to help you navigate the true independent places that need your support.
Don’t misread your favorite record store’s absence as a negative. A handful of places see April 22 as just another day for the store. “We’re grouchy towards our customers just like every other day,” joked a Stereo Jack’s employee over the phone. Skippy White’s and Somerville Grooves plan on catering to folks as they always do. In Your Ear! Records can’t bring itself to organize the overflow of records it has to put on any special deal. But the rest? Well, they have something special arranged. All you have to do is step inside their stores to see for yourself.
WHERE: 12b Eliot St., Cambridge
Head downstairs into the underground haven for all things metal and punk. Apart from great deals on used hardcore records, consider holing up inside Armageddon if you want to win a free pair of Doc Martens thanks to a cross-promotional event. Up the punx.
NAME: Blue Bag Records
WHERE: 2325 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
Make sure you bring an extra large tote bag to Blue Bag. The store boasts a fruitful dollar bin and will have in-store performances, so it’s best to assume you’ll be swayed by several last-minute decisions that won’t leave you cradling your wallet.
NAME: Cheapo Records
WHERE: 538 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
Sometimes it’s okay to judge a book by its cover. Cheapo has massive 99-cent bins, a series of special giveaways, and all DVDs and CDs are 3 for $5. Thanks to the owner’s hoarder lifestyle, it’s giving away free LPs with any purchase, many of which will be still-sealed ’70s funk compilations.
NAME: Deep Thoughts JP
WHERE: 138-B South St., Jamaica Plain
Fresh off a fourth anniversary sale, Deep Thoughts is toning down its overachiever status to make Saturday a day for crate diggers. It’s fully stocked with the lowest prices for new LPs in Boston, restocked classic titles, a massive cassette collection, and a local section that boasts everyone from Pile to Boston Strangler.
NAME: Planet Records
WHERE: 144 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge
Planet Records is Cambridge’s secret used-only store. The staff is calm and friendly, and—in the case of Saturday—hauled several boxes of never-before-sold LPs to the main room. Once you find its glowing windows hidden down the street, it’s hard to make yourself leave.
NAME: Stereo Jack’s
WHERE: 1686 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
Show up around the afternoon to browse through its extensive pile of late ’50s jazz. Stereo Jack’s keeps the price tag low, so you can go home with an armful of timeless gems. Don’t let its impressive theme-organized window display intimidate you.
NAME: Tres Gatos
WHERE: 470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain
They’re transforming the tapas restaurant into a full-on record store with discounted turntables, music books, used LPs, and more. Come at 9 am sharp to snag free coffee and pastries. Stay until noon to refill that cup with your alcoholic beverage of choice.
RECORD STORE DAY. SAT 4.22. YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORES, DUH.