December 9, 2013

Hooray for Hollywood Record Stores

The Record Parlour


by Jim Kaplan ~

When did Hollywood become hipster haven? A dozen years ago I was employed by the LA Weekly, its offices at the time were on Sunset Blvd. near Highland Ave. We didn’t go out to our cars alone at night. Even lunchtime walks to Two Guys From Italy could be an adventure.

Also, around that time, Amoeba Records opened its Hollywood location at Sunset and Cahuenga Blvds. It is the biggest of the three Amoeba stores that include Haight Street in San Francisco and the original Telegraph Ave. location in Berkeley. Amoeba’s size, energy and amazingness seemed to scare a bunch of record stores out of existence, but I think most of those stores used Amoeba as an excuse to shut down because they were tired — zombie record stores shooting themselves in the head to put themselves out of their misery.

Jukebox-Record-ParlourThankfully, some stores weren’t so shortsighted and Hollywood is home to anywhere from eight to twenty really essential record shops — depending how far east and west you’re willing to ramble. Anyone who thinks Amoeba is the only record store worth visiting in Hollywood would be only partly right and missing out on some amazing vinyl.

Hollywood is, and has always been, great for collecting records.

Among the stores that didn’t freak out and shut down when Amoeba came to town are Counterpoint Records (5911 Franklin Ave.), As The Record Turns (6727-3/8 Hollywood Blvd.) and The Record Collector (7809 Melrose Ave.) All three of these stores have been around for many years and are some of the deepest stores in L.A. with The Record Collector alone having well over 100,000 records on site. (None of which are priced, of course.)

Headline Records (7706 Melrose Ave.) is the premier punk rock store in L.A. Ahead Stereo (7428 Beverly Blvd.) has awesome stereo equipment — from entry level to way up there. And they always have a few boxes of used records that are worth digging through. And I usually stop at Milk down the street and get an ice cream sandwich. Truth.

Street Sounds and Melrose Music (7704 and 7301 Melrose Ave.) are worth digging through. The stock seems to vary so you just have to stop by if you are in
the area.

But the newest and most interesting record store to open up in L.A. has to be The Record Parlour. Opened by Chris Honetschlaeger and Chadwick Hemus, the Record Parlour raises Hollywood’s cool factor even further by combining great records, great vintage equipment and a great location in the heart of Hollywood.

Chris’ background is in gear and Record Parlour has some amazing gear alongside the records. We’re talking gorgeous, vintage, fully functional, fully stocked, fully refurbished, fully guaranteed vintage jukeboxes next to cool vintage ‘70s turn-tables and speakers make this the place to get your gear on too. Seriously.

I fell in love with a beautiful sounding 78 jukebox they had playing last time I was there. Amazing how good those 78s can sound. Chris has a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse and workshop where the crew expertly refurbish and repair vintage equipment. So don’t forget to talk to these guys about repairs as well.

sheet-musicI overheard them talking about making new leather bellows or something for some kind of antique equipment as if it was fun for them. Personally, the only tool I am really safety rated to use is a butter knife. So it’s good to have people like this around. Know what I mean? Also, Chris probably has more access to vintage equipment than any one I’ve seen in L.A., making this the kind of place to stop by once a week or so, just to check out what’s new.

Chad’s expertise is in vinyl. He grew up in a family full of vinyl and he never left. At some point in life he wound up working at Amoeba Music in San Francisco and eventually came down to Los Angeles to help setup the Hollywood Amoeba store.

I met Chad when he was running the Amoeba presence at So Cal record swaps. I remember the first time he was at Pasadena City College. Lots of dealers were pissed. They felt they didn’t need the competition. I went over to check out the bins and saw all kinds of stuff I wanted. It was like a mini “best of Amoeba”.

Within hours, enough dealers had gone through Amoeba’s bins to realize there was something for everyone here. Soon Under Chad’s influence, Amoeba’s tables at ANY record show were two-deep with early a.m. dealers jockeying for position. Elbows out. Records flying.

record-bins-record-parlourSome record stores and dealers price their records a little high, as if they are afraid they won’t be able to replace them. The Record Parlour prices their records to sell. Obviously, Chad has the confidence that he’s got the stock to replace them.

Hollywood seems to be happening again. The grandeur of the ‘50s and ‘60s gave way to the neglect of the ‘70s, which lasted until just about ten or less years ago.

And now we’re seeing Hollywood rise up and look pretty again. You know, Hollywood started to turn around about the time that vinyl started getting hot again. Where once there were methadone clinics and Scientologists, there are now trendy bars, clubs, restaurants and record stores. And we’re talking seriously good fun food too. (I personally dig Umami Burger.)

And now Hollywood’s got Record Parlour. Check it out for sure. You’ll see why good records, cool gear and great location make for a completely essential record store.

6408 Selma Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028

One Comment

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