• September 11, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Spinning it Back: Your Ultimate Guide to Austin’s Best Record Stores for Vinyl Lovers

Welcome, vinyl pilgrims, to an audio-visual journey. This guide takes you on a melodic tour through Austin, Texas, leading you into a vinyl paradise unseen by the Spotify addicts of the digital age. Austin, the proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” is not just a haven for live music, but also for vinyl enthusiasts. This city is adorned with enchanting, atmospheric independent record stores that appeal to vinyl virtuosos and novices alike.

Dive into the Crate: The Nostalgic Charm of Vinyl Records

No digital playlist can mirror the tangibility that comes with sliding a vinyl record out of its sleeve, placing it on the turntable, and setting down the needle. From the delicate crackle that precedes the music to the analog warmth of the sound, vinyl records bring a deeply personal and nostalgic twist to the music experience.

Let’s explore together, shall we?

The Musical Mosaic: Austin’s Diverse Array of Record Stores

From dusty crates filled with alluring old-school LPs to shiny new pressings of indie releases, each record store in Austin has its own tale to tell. These shops are hemmed with all kinds of genres, inviting you on a genre-hopping expedition that will enrich your record collection and your musical knowledge.

1. Waterloo Records

Address: 600 North Lamar, Austin, Texas 78703

“No Music, No Life”- holds the iconic motto of Waterloo Records, resonating with every vinyl-loving soul. Since its inception in 1982, Waterloo Records has been reverberating with the heartbeats of music devotees. Named after Austin’s original name, this hand-me-down of history is recognized and relished for its:

  • Variety: Located in the city center, Waterloo has an extensive range of records from all genres, time periods, and regions. Whether your musical soul is singing the blues or jazzed up, Waterloo has something for everyone.
  • Specialty: They are equipped with an in-store performance stage, where they host concerts by artists. Waterloo Records proudly believes in “all killer, no filler.”
  • Vibe: This home to music doesn’t segregate its stock into categories, encouraging you to blend and take a multi-genre voyage. With a no-gimmicks, no-hassle policy, you can freely listen to any album before purchasing, making your experience seamless and satisfying.

2. End of an Ear

Address: 4304 Clawson Road, Austin, Texas 78704

End of an Ear is an offbeat charmer on the city’s vinyl scene. This record store is renowned for its eclectic amalgam of the old, new, and unusual.

  • Variety: This store features a varied selection of new and used records, specializing in out-of-the-ordinary, obscure music. If you favor beats far from the beaten path, End of an Ear is your haven.
  • Specialty: Beyond vinyl records, you will find a diverse range of CDs, cassettes, stereo equipment, and even VHS tapes. They stand out with their substantial indie, noise, and experimental music collection.
  • Vibe: Engaging vinyl hunters with a cozy atmosphere paired alongside listening stations and turntables, End of an Ear merges retail and relaxation into one immersive record-shopping experience.

3. Antone’s Record Shop

Address: 2928 Guadalupe St #101, Austin, Texas 78705

Founded in 1987 by Grammy-winning bluesman Clifford Antone, Antone’s Record Shop offers an authentic taste of Austin’s soulful music history. Nestled in North Campus, right next to the University of Texas, Antone’s remains a must-visit spot.

  • Variety: Focusing on blues and the extensive variety of Texas music, this shop also features rock, jazz, country, and Tejano vinyl records.
  • Specialty: They specially curate a section for local artists and the blues-inspired house record label, which gives it a personal touch.
  • Vibe: An old-school shopping experience, enveloped in an intimate and vintage charm enriched with friendly and knowledgeable staff, gives you a bona fide Texan experience.

4. Breakaway Records

Address: 211 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, Texas 78751

As something of a soul mecca in the heart of North Loop district, Breakaway Records is a boutique shop specializing in soul, funk, and R&B, bordering on the rare and rad.

  • Variety: Embracing all decades and styles of music, and specializing in soul, funk, jazz, blues, and rock’n’roll from the 1950s-80s, Breakaway invites seasoned aficionados to explore its meticulously curated stock.
  • Specialty: They have an exclusive section containing hard-to-find 45s that can surprise collectors with rare and unique pieces.
  • Vibe: The atmospheric ambiance of nostalgia along with memorabilia provides an emotional high for vinyl fans. Coupled with enthusiastic, approachable, and extremely knowledgeable staff, Breakaway mirrors the soulful tunes it houses.

Vinyl Hunting like a Pro: Tips for Shopping for Records

Before you embark on your vinyl hunting journey through Austin, here are some pro-tips to make your pursuit more gratifying and enriching:

  • Budget: While sifting through vinyl records, the temptation can indeed be overpowering. Ensure you set a limit to your spending.
  • Patience: Let the joy of discovery supplant the urge for immediate finds. Thorough crate digging often yields the finest gems.
  • Cleaning: Keep a professional record cleaner or carbon fiber brush handy. Regular cleaning enhances not merely the lifespan but also the sound of your vinyl records.

Bring Home Austin’s Music: For the Love of Vinyl

Stepping into an Austin record store, you’re entering a realm where the tangible magic of music awaits you – a piece of someone’s heart is etched in each record, laced with passion and waiting to tell you their story. So spin their tales and let the magic of music ricochet through your heart in the city of Austin, Texas.

Happy crate digging—Austin style!

Among the Vinyl Versed: Record Store Day

Witness the tight-knit community spirit of record collectors on Record Store Day—an annual event saluting the culture of the independently owned record store. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and multiple stores in Austin host artist performances and events to celebrate. Remember to check the date and join the festivities!

It doesn’t end here, let Austin’s premier vinyl spaces play out the soundtrack of your journey. So, whether you’re an avid collector, a vintage music enthusiast, or a vinyl virgin, Austin has the grooves and moves that fit your whim.

Explore Austin, and let these record stores be the soundtracks to your adventures. Spin it, don’t skip it!

We will close with a quote from Keb’ Mo’, “The power of music is amazing. I’ve known my whole life that this is what I’ve been called to do… but to see it in action is incredible.” Experience this incredible action in Austin’s record stores today. Love it, live it, and spin it back!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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