Record Store Review: Captured Tracks Shop
Record Store Day 2014 has come and gone, and once again I skipped all of the insanity of this important holiday. The purpose of this day – going on its seventh year – is to encourage support of independent record stores, which I do in abundance the other 364 days of the year. Thus, on the day after RSD 2014, I visited several Brooklyn record stores including the Captured Tracks Shop in Greenpoint.
Captured Tracks is a Brooklyn-based record label featuring up and coming indie artists, currently including DIIV, Widowspeak, Beach Fossils, Blouse, and many others. (Alumni artists include two of my favorites – Dum Dum Girls and Thee Oh Sees – which is how I discovered the label.) The label has been around for five years; the store itself opened late last summer. As you might expect, they carry a wide selection of vinyl from their own artists – past and present – but they also have a pretty good selection of new vinyl from other, similar sounding artists, and a decent used vinyl section (mostly mainstream rock). The all-white store is clean, bright and pleasant to browse, which led me to spending more time, and probably more money, than I originally intended.
When you first step into the shop visitors are faced with a wall filled with new vinyl. I normally prefer to start with used vinyl as the more unusual finds can normally be found used, but Captured Tracks is unique in that the new music contains more rare finds than the wall of used music. For example, when I came upon the Dum Dum Girls I found two vinyl releases that I’ve never seen before, even at their shows. The first was the self-titled EP put out by Captured Tracks in 2009. The other was an eight-song EP, also put out by Captured Tracks, by a duo called The Mayfair Set, that duo being Dee Dee from DDGs and Mike Sniper, the label’s owner. Naturally I bought them both. Two other new albums that I bought were form older artists, but again were records that I hadn’t seen before. The first was Hole’s debut album, Pretty On the Inside. The second was a Pixies bootleg of Doolittle demos – I don’t normally buy bootleg demo sessions (for the risk of bad sound quality) though in the case of Doolittle (already a loud and distortion-heavy album) I felt an exception was warranted. This was one of many bootlegs I found littered among the new vinyl, so if that’s your thing Captured Tracks is worth a visit for that reason alone.
From there I walked over to the used rock section, just around the bend in the wall. Though the section is roughly the same size it is far less interesting. When it became quickly apparent that the section contained many of the same old stand-bys from the Beatles, Bowie, Hendrix, etc. I didn’t do much further digging. On the opposite wall were a smattering of random odds and ends – music books, merch from Captured Tracks artists, a section dedicated entirely to flavor-of-the-month Mac DeMarco (including Mac’s own vinyl picks) and Captured Tracks cassettes.
Back at the front of the store I found myself in familiar territory, with two islands dedicated to new vinyl solely from Captured Tracks artists. Here I found the debut LP from Perfect Pussy, Say Yes to Love. Behind these islands (on the front wall of the store) was the largest cassette display I’ve seen since Tower Records closed.
Bottom line: With so many independent record stores in Wiliamsburg / Greenpoint / Bushwick, it’s not easy to stand out. Captured Tracks stands out. It’s focus on its own artists distinguishes it from other area record stores by giving it a feel that the other stores don’t have. It does so without sacrificing attention to non-CT artists, at least when it comes to new vinyl. This wouldn’t be my regular go-to record shop, but I will certainly come back again and again. Go elsewhere for used vinyl. If you don’t like the kind of music on the CT label, there’s probably nothing for you here at all.
- Sells used, new, or both: Both
- Genres: Indie rock, indie pop, classic rock, a little of everything else
- Non-vinyl for sale: Cassettes, Captured Tracks artist merch, music books
- Selection: 8 out of 10 (new); 3 out of 10 (used)
- Price: 8 out of 10
- Atmosphere: 8 out of 10
- Ease of browsing/shopping: 9 out of 10
- Used vinyl condition: Didn’t check
- Yelp rating: 3.5 stars (based on only 3 reviews – two 5-stars and a 1-star. However, the 1-star is responding to the online shop.)