A year ago it wouldn't have made sense to make a list like this.It would have been quite difficult to number off 10 local record stores, much less 10 good ones, much less ten great ones. But now our city is in the midst of a record store resurgence of sorts (the last few months alone have seen three new entries open shop). Call it fate, call it divine intervention, call it optimistic business planning; it doesn't matter. Regardless of the hows and whys, here we are, and so a victory lap is in order.
It wasn't easy to nail down the list, even less easy to order it. Fingers were dirtied, miles were driven and bank accounts were crippled, but the dirty work rendered a top 10 that makes one thing very clear: When it comes to record shopping options, Dallas is pretty damn lucky.
10. Off The Record
Off The Record solves a problem record store customers have been wrestling with for years: How can I be both drunk AND record shopping? Even better, at OTR you can drink while record shopping. (Pause for gasps, silent smiles of content and the spitting of liquids from mouths.) Even better yet, the stock does not suck; it's quite good in fact. Curated by Lower Greenville's Good Records, the inventory clocks in at roughly 2,000 pieces, boasting a varied span stretching from essential classics to whatever flavor-of-the-month disc is presently in demand. Apart from the 20 beers on tap, full bar, lively atmosphere and vinyl offering, OTR offers an ever-growing series of cultural/social events. From lectures to music-specific speed dating, the ideas (and alcohol, and good times) just keep flowing over at our new favorite bar-slash-record shop.
2716 Elm St., Dallas, offtherecordbar.com
Spinster has come a long way since its grand opening. First impressions were of a store with great promise, sadly lacking in quality used stock and overall variety. However, with time to mature their inventory and gain footing, Spinster has finally started to tap into its potential. The stock is eclectic but not fussily hip, admirably geared towards urban record hoarders as much as vinyl-curious suburbanites. Better even than the increasingly enlivened selection and handsome interior is store owner David Grover's hands-on approach; he's unpretentious, smiling and ever-available to help with even the smallest of customer service needs.
829 W Davis St., Dallas, spinsterrecords.com
Mad World, which occupies prime real estate on Denton's historic downtown square, is a relative newcomer to the DFW scene. Opened in 2011, MW helped fill a void in Denton that sat painfully and conspicuously empty for years: that of a proper, honest-to-goodness record store. Stocked with the freshest sounds and respectable showings in both older and newer music (on both CD and LP), MW is the most consistent record shopping experience you'll find in Denton. Recycled Books might have more titles and Books and More might have more classic LPs, but MW delivers a better curated combination of both sealed and used offerings than both. Plus, you'd be hard pressed to find a deeper selection of punk music anywhere else in DFW.
115 W. Hickory St., Denton, facebook.com/madworldrecords
You might think Half Price is a stellar book store but poor record store; thankfully, you're dead wrong. Large, eccentrically random vinyl selection? Check. Equally random, but surprisingly fantastic CD stock? Check. Highest inventory turnover in Dallas? Check. Competitive prices? Check. Sure, HPB isn't an efficient spot for locating any one specific title or artist, but it's a goldmine of unexpected finds and odd gems. The genuine highlight, though, is the discount CD section (those hard-to-reach, easy-to-ignore rows of CDs positioned just above the floor), which remains one of the great untapped sources in local music shopping. A secret trove where out-of-print albums, limited edition runs and import discs pepper a sea of otherwise very, very shitty music, this section is your best chance at a cheap, day-making album find in all of Dallas. Really.
5803 E. Northwest Highway, Dallas, halfpricebooks.com
With CD Source limping out to pasture, Denton's Recycled Books is now the best resource for used CDs in North Texas. The staff is beyond informed -- especially with respect to jazz, classical and avant-garde -- and the stock is a hotbed of obscure music delightfully in perpetual flux. The LP selection isn't nearly as exhaustive as their sprawling expanse of CDs, but it's very respectable. Prices are fair (if sometimes too on-the-nose) and there's hardly a question their employees can't answer. Bonus: you can buy old copies of The Wire here too.
200 N. Locust St., Denton, recycledbooks.com
5. Good Records
Arguably the most popular record store in DFW, Good Records might not offer a large selection in the way of used music, but it boasts one of the richest inventories of sealed LPs and CDs in Texas. Known for its year-round, beer-soaked festivities (in-store shows, Record Store Day parties, DJ sets, etc.) and learned if stilted tastes, the shop is a wealth of knowledge and hip curation. If you're not so much a crate-digger and mostly prefer new titles to old, Good Records is sure to hit the spot. Plus, if you find yourself at GR during one of their many in-store celebrations, whatever the occasion, there's a good chance you'll find a free beer in your hand as well.
1808 Greenville Ave., Dallas, goodrecords.com
It can be daunting to walk into Forever Young. The place is like a Home Depot devoid of all construction products -- gorged instead with 250,000-plus LPs, tapes, 8-tracks, reel-to-reel tapes and CDs. Used, new, obscure, rare, chart-toppers, underground classics and everything in between (OK, no classical) can be found in FY's heaving 11,000-square foot musical archive. I'm continuously surprised by the number of local music fans who forget about this place, or worse, never knew it existed. Don't be one of these people; seriously, it's like a playground for music nerds, a nirvana for collectors. Be sure to check out the dub reggae, psych/garage and jazz sections; they're especially choice.
2955 S. Highway 380, Grand Prairie, foreveryoungrecords.com
Over 18,000 titles, a godfather of musical know-how and a no-bullshit approach are what make Groove.NET unique. First and foremost an international mail order record hub, Groove.NET is the brainchild of Randy Frierson, a man whose been at the center of Dallas' record collecting community longer than many of us have been alive. His shop is a nondescript, low-traffic spot located on the fringes between Garland and Mesquite, strategically hidden in a space that rubs shoulders with warehouses and storage units. The inventory is marvelously deep and heavily skewed in favor of hard-to-find LPs and underground wonders. Groove.NET is the the sort of store you visit after weeks of anticipatory saving-up, a place where you leave expectations at home and let the records find you.
15330 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, Mesquite, groove-entertainment.net
Specializing in left field releases (post-punk, avant-jazz, industrial, soundtracks, et al), Carrollton's Dead Wax Records is something of a cult favorite among Dallas record collectors. While most shops bloat their stock with second-rate offerings and other such filler, DW's selection is clinically curated and consistently superb; record-for-record, DW has the finest and best priced inventory in town by a significant distance. Equally comforting is the shop's cool, clean atmosphere, which exudes an energy more akin to a small art studio than that of a local retail space. Of course, this is all owed to owner Brad Sigler, who, having worked in record stores for over 30 years now, knows a thing or two about crafting an exceptional customer experience. He's truly one of the great music minds we have here in Dallas, as knowledgeable and passionate as he is helpful and friendly. If you have an adventurous ear and a love for unearthing new sounds, you might have just met your new favorite haunt.
1111 S. Main St., No. 1208, Carrollton, facebook.com/deadwaxdallas
1. Josey Records
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The word "big" doesn't even begin to do Josey Records justice. At 15,000-square feet -- wherein a spacious DJ Booth, concert stage, art gallery, listening stations, lounge and 100,000-plus LPs all comfortably fit -- Josey is DFW's largest record store and then some. A cornucopia of every type of record (and tape and CD) under the sun, on any given day you can quite literally find anything here. Anything. Quirky gospel, books on LP, recorded lectures, out-of-print academic pressings, world music of every stripe, spoken word, every shade of experimental sound, anthropological studies in bird-song (and frog-song!); the possibilities are as wide and deep as they are unexpected and startling. And that's what makes Josey so grand: There's no telling what type of bat shit weirdo stick of music you'll unearth during your next visit. With plans to ramp up in-store performances and community outreach festivities of every sort, and a $1/$2 LP bin that now ranges in the thousands, Josey is, unequivocally, on a level that rivals the very best record stores in the country -- a veritable cathedral to the romance of music.
2821 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, No. 100, Farmers Branch, joseyrecords.com
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