417 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor
For true music collectors nothing can really match the nearly sexual rush of chemicals to the brain triggered when walking through the disheveled labyrinth of Encore Records. Behind every corner there seems to be an undiscovered gem or an old chestnut in prime shape for a reasonable price. Because of the store’s massive turnover, you never know what you might find. But the best part is the staff of indie-rock stars, artists and photographers. Even though they deftly field questions about everything from Satie to SVT, they seem to have discovered the vaccination to the snobbish-record store-asshole disease. God bless Encore. May their doors never close, their stock never get fully organized, and may they spawn little Encores all across our fair land.
Best store for new CDs
202 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham
Does the nauseating ubiquity of the corporate record-store chains piss you off? Do you get steamed thinking about all the mom-and-pop record shops that big-bad-evil Tower Records has run out of town? Well, toughen up, champ. Fact is, if you’re looking for new CDs no place around here can match the big-box store consumerist delight of Tower. And, get this, the place ain’t run by a bunch of corporate Johnnies. It’s remarkably in touch with local music, releases and otherwise. Just dig their 313 Spotlight series (currently Detroit’s only in-store performance venue). And apart from their local-music racks, they have everything. Sure, it’s a little overpriced. Sure, we all miss putting records on order with our tight bros at Harmony House and getting them eight months later. But, at Tower, life is pretty good. Besides, Bootsey X works there.
Best selection in a record store
503 S. Main St., Royal Oak
It’s not the size of the record store that counts, but whether you can find a sealed print of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, a copy of Aphex Twin’s Donkey Rhubarb EP, and the new Soul Jazz Records comp with only three pivots. Neptune in Royal Oak has trimmed the fat — so you don’t have to. A record-geek’s dream, Neptune comes complete with a staff of High Fidelity proportion that’s as knowledgeable as they are sarcastic. Size matters, indeed.