Record Store Review: Record Grouch
A few months ago I gave a review of a somewhat hidden nondescript record store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – Permanent Records. As I wrote then, “Permanent Records is a run of the mill neighborhood record store … You’ll find some basics here at very good prices … [it’s] for the bargain-basement hunter.” So when I headed out to Record Grouch – located just around the corner from PR – I kind of expected the same. At first glance I was correct. The Grouch is just as hidden, and seems like convenient but unspectacular place to go if you live in the neighborhood. On further inspection though, the Grouch and PR could not be any more different.
The best thing about Record Grouch is the selection, which is very deep and turns over very quickly. On the left wall, closest to the counter, are the new arrivals, which actually consists of several hundred records. As I flipped through these I found myself going much slower than I normally do. The records were mostly unfamiliar, yet intriguing. I could tell right away that I wasn’t looking at the same old stuff that you see at most shops. I came away with just one record from the new arrivals section (the Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Session LP), but I was very impressed with the choices and I have a feeling that I’d consistently find something worth picking up here.
Also on the left were the new releases and reissues (as well as used jazz and folk/country), but I skipped those and instead turned to face the right wall, where the racks running the length of the store feature only two categories of music: “Punk/NewWave/Indie/Alt/Industrial/Goth” and “Rock” (which is everything rock that doesn’t fall into the other category). The wall is split 50/50 between these two categories, and again I found myself flipping very deliberately. It took me a fair amount of time to get through the Punk, etc. section even though it was organized alphabetically and easy to flip. Again, the selection was just so incredibly deep. I don’t want to give the impression that there was dozens of rare high-demand albums just waiting to be plucked here, but there was certainly an ample selection of the slightly more obscure music you don’t see elsewhere. By way of example, here are a few artists for which I noticed the Grouch seemed to have the entire discography: The Stranglers, Pere Ubu, the Fleshtones. (I wound up buying the Fleshtones’ Roman Gods and Hüsker Dü’s Flip Your Wig.) Also, each album was not only priced but stamped with a date-mark indicating when it was put on the shelf. It is from this that I could tell quite easily that the vinyl in this store turns over quickly.
Finally, there was something else that set Record Grouch apart from its neighbor around the block. Where Permanent Records has the feel of a discount shop, with its 3 for $1.50 CDs and sign after sign saying “cheap!!”, Record Grouch feels a lot more like a carefully curated record shop. There is a high stack of CDs and cassettes for those interested, music-related books and magazines (though again, not those you’d necessarily expect to see) and a small but terrific collection of 45’s (I actually bought three 45’s). I never did get around to looking at the rock records. For such a small nondescript store, I could have stayed there for easily well over an hour.
Bottom line: Don’t let the minimalist appearance fool you; all of the energy of this store is put into the contents. Deep vinyl selection (especially ’80s and ’90s alternative, newwave and similar), different than most stores, at very reasonable prices and high quality. High turnover of vinyl keeps everything fresh. Despite the store being on the small side, be prepared to spend some time here.
- Sells used, new, or both: Both
- Genres: Primarily Rock & Punk/Alt/Indie, some Jazz & Folk/Country
- Non-vinyl for sale: CDs, cassettes, books, music magazines
- Selection: 8 out of 10
- Price: 9 out of 10
- Atmosphere: 8 out of 10
- Ease of browsing/shopping: 9 out of 10
- Used vinyl condition: 9 out of 10
- Yelp rating: 4 stars