Trevor Abes: Writer

Category: Record Store Reviews

Record Store Roundup: She Said Boom! Roncesvalles

0315131430-00

From the Toronto Review of Books

She Said Boom! takes its indelible name from the first song on Toronto post-punk band Fifth Column’s All-Time Queen of the World. It has two locations (393 Roncesvalles Ave and 372 College St), under separate but amicable ownership, that serve two very different communities. The College store is close to Kensington Market and the University of Toronto so it caters to younger customers, mostly college students, while the Roncesvalles store gets more young families and people from Parkdale.

The storefront sign at She Said Boom! Roncesvalles is proof that written explosions are just as eye-catching as hot ones. Open since 1999, it’s one of the first businesses in Toronto to sell both books and music. “The reason was largely accidental,” says owner John Bowker. “I wanted to open a record store, and my partner wanted to open up a book store, and neither of us were able to pay the rent on a full store by ourselves. I remember wondering whether people would be willing to shop for books in a store where loudish, non-classical music was playing. Turns out, books and music worked very well together. And so obviously Chapters and Indigo stole our idea. Now Indigo sells candles.”

Read the rest here: Portrait of a Record Store: She Said Boom! Roncesvalles.

Advertisements

Record Store Roundup: Kops Records

0115131159-00

Founded in 1976 with a focus on soul music and mod subcultureKops Records (229 Queen St. West) is Toronto’s oldest independent record store. It’s known for housing the largest selection of seven inch 45s in Canada and for an abiding dedication to musical roots. According to General Manager Patrick Grant, “[Kops] specializes in unveiling to people the roots of stuff that they like. We’re trying to provide [records] that elaborate on tastes you already have.” In this way, you can walk in listening to The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” (1995) and walk out – with two LPs under your arm – having learned that its memorable sitar riff is sampled from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum” (1990) which sampled it first from Rotary Connection’s “Memory Band” (1967).

Read the rest here: Record Store Roundup: Kops Records.

Record Store Roundup: Grasshopper Records

From The Toronto Review of Books

Enveloped in a neck-protecting aura of Wu-tang posters, busted amps, Star Wars figurines, and portraits, the vinyl-only Grasshopper Records (1167 Dundas St. West) feels like your coolest friend’s apartment if everything in it went up for sale. Decked out with two black pleather couches and a club chair with armrests wide enough to hold your coffee, the invitation is to hang out and browse rather than come in knowing exactly what you’re looking for.

Read the full review here: Grasshopper Records.

Record Store Roundup: Play de Record

From The Toronto Review of Books

Play de Record marqueePlay de Record, at 357 Yonge Street, is a paragon of adaptation. Opened in 1990, behind a convenience store and with only records and tapes for sale, it has since taken over the front of the building and gone on to become the primo destination for seasoned DJs in need of the latest equipment, as well as upstarts looking to pick up new skills at Play de Academy. Play also sells new and used electronic/dance music you can’t find anywhere else in the city, concert tickets (minus the murderous Ticketmaster convenience fees), printed t-shirts, designer headphones, and rare merchandise.

Read the full review here: Play de Record.

Record Store Roundup: Viva La Vortex

From The Toronto Review of Books

Vortex RecordsNestled in the heart of Midtown (2309 Yonge Street, 2nd floor),Vortex Records and its owner, Bert Myers, have been supplying Torontonians with second-hand CDs and vinyl for almost 30 years.The store carries all kinds of music but specializes in rock and pop and is currently building up its jazz and country stock. They carry an ample A-Z soul section and rows of DVDs and Blu-Rays line the walls overhead.

The space is refreshingly free of impulse buys. Racks of already faded T-shirts, lunch boxes and additional novelty items are absent, leaving room for music, other people, and you, rendering the browsing experience a reprieve from what Myers playfully calls the “isolated beings and tall towers” of Yonge Street and Eglinton.

Read the full review here: Viva La Vortex.

%d bloggers like this: