Area stores keep vinyl rock­ing

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Justin Cri­ado

Au­dio­philes love the phys­i­cal for­mat. Ask any mu­sic fan around and they’ll tell you they’d rather be hold­ing a lim­ited edi­tion color vinyl or hard-to-find cas­sette tape in their slimy hands than buy­ing mu­sic out of thin, dig­i­tal air.

To wit: Vinyl sales have been climb­ing steadily, ris­ing 20.4 per­cent in 2017 — a con­tin­u­a­tion of vinyl’s 2016 surge, ac­cord­ing to Buz­zan­gle’s mid-year re­port.

It’s a stat that’s re­flected in the healthy glow of record store mar­quees around Den­ver. And with that in mind, we dug through the bins and brains be­hind the Front Range’s fa­vorite record stores to find out why the stores are still spin­ning.

Chain Re­ac­tion Records

Spe­cialty: Metal, in all its grimy in­car­na­tions.

If you con­sider your­self a met­al­head and don’t fre­quent Chain Reac-

Records, you can just go ahead and burn your bat­tle vest right now. Not to be con­fused with Ath­mar Park’s Chain Re­ac­tion Brew­ery Com­pany, the store is housed in a scant shopping strip along Col­fax Av­enue in Lake­wood and houses a com­pre­hen­sive metal col­lec­tion. The of­fer­ings in­clude the usual sus­pects like Motör­head and Iron Maiden, but there are deeper, ar­cane cuts to be had, like a 1998 demo tape from a band named Squalor, which is so mys­te­ri­ous that no men­tion of the band ex­ists on the in­ter­net.

Justin Lent opened the space with his brother Josh just over two years ago. The shop has a stage, com­plete with a house drum set, which gives the space an old-school base­ment vibe. Lent, who tries to hold at least two shows a month in the shop, said most of the store’s 4,000piece stock­pile is used goods, such as the re­cently sold $200 band-only Repul­sion 7-inch press­ing he un­cov­ered in a box of Jerry Reed records.

8799 W. Col­fax Ave., Lake­wood, 303-237-4445; face­book.com/ chain­re­ac­tion303

Wax Trax Records

Spe­cialty: Clas­si­cal and punk

Capi­tol Hill’s Wax Trax Records has so many musical of­fer­ings that it can’t be con­tained in­side one store. The CDS are housed on the cor­ner of East 13th Av­enue and Wash­ing­ton Street, while the ex­ten­sive vinyl col­lec­tion, which num­bers in the “hun­dreds of thou­sands,” ac­cord­ing to em­ployee Mike Buck­ley, is on dis­play two store­fronts down on 13th Av­enue.

Buck­ley couldn’t give an ex­act num­ber of the store’s vinyl num­bers since noth­ing gets thrown out. “We have base­ments full of stuff,” he said. “We’ll put some­thing down there and go back a decade later when (that genre of mu­sic) is pop­u­lar and pull it out.”

One new, some­what ob­scure cat­e­gory the store cre­ated not too long ago is the or­ga­nized clas­si­cal mu­sic sec­tion. But Wax Trax is bet­ter known for its ex­ten­sive un­der­ground punk, UK im­ports, in­dus­trial and new wave se­lec­tions — a col­lec­tion that be­came renowned dur­ing the 1980s and ’90s. When the Mer­cury Cafe was across the street, hard-core punk pioneers like Black Flag and Cir­cle Jerks used to shop the shelves. (Keith Mor­ris, who fronted both bands, plus OFF!, still drops in when he’s in town, Buck­ley said.)

The best thing about this shop, though, is the fair (if not down­right cheap) prices. I scored an orig­i­nal 1972 Leon Rus­sell “Carney” al­bum and a Light­nin’ Hop­kins 1962 “Nothin’ But The Blues!” re­press for $10 ... to­tal.

638 E. 13th Ave., Capi­tol Hill, 303-860-0127; wax­traxrecords.com

Twist and Shout Records

Spe­cialty: Ev­ery­thing With over 11,000 square feet to fill, it would be a dis­ser­vice to call the basil­ica that is Congress Park’s Twist and Shout just a record store.

Aside from the vast musical of­fer­ings — owner Paul Ep­stein guessed there are around 250,000 records for sale at any given time — which span ev­ery genre from Celtic to clas­si­cal, the shop sells Funko Pop! Vinyl fig­urines, mu­sic mem­o­ra­bilia, T-shirts, books and DVDS. You can even pick up 8-tracks there.

And then there’s the mu­sic mem­o­ra­bilia that isn’t for sale. It makes Twist and Shout like a free mu­seum. There are signed Nancy Si­na­tra boots, a ban­ner from Bruce Spring­steen’s 26th an­niver­sary con­cert in New Jersey and a mar­quee piece from the for­mer Rain­bow Mu­sic Hall. But the most pop­u­lar piece of mem­o­ra­bilia is a large, lighted ad­ver­tise­ment for The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” al­bum, fea­tur­ing a pi­geon-toed Robert Smith with his Fender Jazzmas­ter draped over his shoul­der.

Pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians tour Twist and Shout “ev­ery day,” Ep­stein said. “From Eric Clap­ton to ev­ery mod­ern band, they all shop in here.”

2508 E. Col­fax Ave., Congress Park, 303-722-1943; twi­stand­shout.com

Recol­lect Records

Spe­cialty: Lo­cal gems and mint-con­di­tion col­lectibles

While many lo­cal mu­sic stores have been around for decades, Recol­lect Records is one of the new kids on the block, hav­ing opened in a for­mer art gallery just over a year ago.

The store is chic, more like a care­fully cu­rated ex­hi­bi­tion (it’s blocks away from the Den­ver Art Mu­seum) than the usual musty record cav­ern. The walls are care­fully dec­o­rated with mu­sic posters and paint­ings, and the light­ing makes the room look crisp. In turn, most of the 10,000 records for sale in owner Austin Matthews’ store are high-end, nearmint con­di­tion first press- es, but the back room houses a healthy hodge­podge of used records for $3 each.

Matthews came into his trea­sure trove of lo­cal mu­sic af­ter buy­ing a lot from an area church.

“The high-end stuff is ob­scure, a lot of Den­ver mu­sic,” he said, like copies of lo­cal singer-song­writer Kenny Knight’s “Cross­roads” LP. The lim­it­ed­pressed, self-re­leased 1980 record “Cross­roads” found the light of day when a col­lec­tor un­cov­ered it at Twist and Shout a cou­ple of years ago. Since then, “Cross­roads” has been re­pressed, but the orig­i­nals have be­come valu­able col­lectibles for lo­cal mu­sic lovers. Other off­beat re­gional wax at Recol­lect in­cludes a bevy of Den­ver gospel mu­sic. Oth­er­wise, Matthew stocks mostly R&B, jazz and soul records.

1255 Delaware St., Golden Tri­an­gle, 720-542-8785; rec­ol­lec­trecords.com

An­gelo’s CDS & More

Spe­cialty: Used mu­sic ... and me­dieval weapons

The “More” in An­gelo’s name is key: In ad­di­tion to that new Katy Perry re­lease, the long-run­ning mu­sic shop sells ev­ery­thing from pot para­pher­na­lia to me­dieval weaponry. Se­ri­ously: Swords run in the $70 range, while a ball-and-chain mace costs $24.99.

“I of­ten say we sell it all from sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” man­ager Brian Rooney said. (The shop does a lot of busi­ness from the cannabis counter.)

Of course, An­gelo’s, which will soon be An­gelo’s Records, does sell mu­sic. It of­fers top-notch record play­ers, es­pe­cially around the hol­i­day sea­son, and houses around 15,000 LPS and 45s in the store at any one time, most of it used. Right now, more clas­sic cuts, like a $290 “The Vel­vet Un­der­ground & Nico” first press­ing, are lined along a wall next to the para­pher­na­lia and suits of ar­mor.

937 E. Col­fax Ave., Capi­tol Hill, 303-863-8668; an­geloscds.com

Bart’s Record Shop

Spe­cialty: Al­ter­na­tive and rock

Bart’s is the mov­able epi­cen­ter of Boul­der’s phys­i­cal mu­sic scene. Af­ter bounc­ing around a few times since 1993, the store’s lat­est home is on Fol­som Street. (Founder Bart St­inch­comb was push­ing mu­sic out of the closet in­side a hot tub rental spot be­fore se­cur­ing a le­git setup.)

Af­ter St­inch­comb moved back to Mary­land last year, Will Par­adise, a vinyl hob­by­ists since for­ever, stepped in to pre­side over his col­lec­tion. Though the peo­ple and place has changed, artists and record ad­dicts alike have been stop­ping by Bart’s calls home.

The mu­sic se­lec­tion is as var­ied as any shop around, with a mix­ture of clas­sics and cur­rent chart top­pers. The store’s of­fer­ings mimic Rolling Stone’s Top 100 al­bums of all-time lists, which are re­leased and reshuf­fled ev­ery five years or so.

They stock all forms of phys­i­cal mu­sic, Par­adise said, not­ing that cas­settes and CDS are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. They even sell the odd 8-track, mostly from cus­tomers who just bought an old car.

Sale or no sale, some relics are bet­ter left in the past.

“I hope 8-tracks never come back into style,” he said.

1625 Fol­som St., Boul­der, 303-444-1760; bart­srecord­shop.com

Den­ver Post file

Univer­sity of Den­ver stu­dent Eli Bogan, 22, lis­tens to a record at Twist & Shout in 2011.

Daily Cam­era file

Greg Mudd of Bart’s Mu­sic Shack sorts through mu­sic at the store’s 28th Street lo­ca­tion in Boul­der in 2013. The store has since moved to Fol­som Street.

Kristin Morin, Yourhub

Den­nis Leyba of Com­merce City browses the CD se­lec­tion at An­gelo’s CDS & More.

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