Sweet Shops *The Best Record Stores*: Amoeba Music

Many folks are downloading their music these days, but even the strictest digital librarians will drop a little dough on a multi-album binge at their favorite record shop. In the Sweet Shops series, we are going to feature some of the best record stores we have found that are still kicking today, and that we hope will survive well into this cold and digital future.

These retailers carry music classic and contemporary, new and used, vinyl and CD; and of course, you’ve got to have a shot at finding a gem! We start with the big mama:

Amoeba Music
Los Angeles, California

amoeba music


It’s the Mecca of record stores. Based in Los Angeles, (with other smaller stores in San Fransisco and Berkeley) Amoeba Music is a well-oiled machine of record buying. You find yourself making a weekly trip, trying to limit your selections to just one handful, hilariously justifying that box set tucked under your arm. This picture makes it look large but it’s actually much bigger, including a football field sized room for jazz, an upstairs area with DVDs and listening stations, and dedicated sections for each genre that are often the size of your typical CD shop. The classic concert posters and memorabilia tacked all over the walls make it a sight to see and a must-visit for Hollywood tourists.

What I would try to do when I lived in LA was scan the New section for something I’d want, then check the Used section to see if it was there for cheaper. Most Used sections can be tedious, but Amoeba’s constant flow of record trading keeps the shelves pretty fresh.

Amoeba Music recently introduced themselves as a record label, releasing a fine choice in The Flying Burrito Brothers Live at the Avalon, a live set with Gram Parsons. Perhaps Amoeba can set a model for record shops to follow if they are successful in this venture.

When I’m in town, you’ll find me in the pink section.

Amoeba Music
6400 Sunset Boulevard
Hollywood, California

Next time we’ll take it home to NYC with two sweet under-the-radar shops.

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  • Frasse

    Speaking about record shops turning into labels, I believe the MELLOTRONEN shop in Stockholm, Sweden, has released reissues for some time now, mostly Swedish Prog, Psych and Hard Rock from the 60s and 70s. The shop itself lies in the Old Town of Stockholm and is, physically, waaaaaay smaller than Amoeba.

  • Brendan

    Sounds like a cool place, Frasse. It would be perfect for this series.. hopefully I will have a chance to visit Sweden sometime, though it’s somewhat unlikely.

  • Frasse

    It may be more easy to visit their homepage: http://www.mellotronen.com/

    Oh, and I almost forgot: A very nice idea with this record shop series!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, the L.A. location is Amoeba-come-lately. The first stores were in the Bay area. Talk about a destination! Always have to have a C-note … just in case. There’s temptation in every single bin. Last time I was in L.A. I was lucky to have gotten out with a mere two CDs — Carter Fanily and Gillian Welch. Now that’s restraint!

  • dk

    And fyi, the Bay Area Amoebas might be smaller than the LA location, but they’re still HUGE!!!

    Any Amoeba store is like Disneyland for music fans… gotta see it.

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