Back in 2009 we launched a column here at Glide Magazine called Vinyl Lives. The column was dedicated to a deep love of record collecting and the tendency of that love to turn into an obsession. It was also focused on the resurgence of vinyl as the most optimal platform for ingesting music in the face of a constantly changing music industry. While the column fizzled out in 2010, this renewed vinyl craze has grown even more to the point where even people who aren’t music nerds and audiophiles go out of their way to purchase their favorite band’s record. In other words, it’s no secret that people are crazy about vinyl and a medium once thought to be basically moribund is now faring better than it has in decades.
This is why we are reviving Vinyl Lives with a new focus: the record shop. Up until recently the neighborhood record store was considered an endangered species as the giants like Tower Records and Virgin shuttered. But with the vinyl resurgence the independent shop has become cool again. Besides the merch booth at a show, indie record stores have emerged as the last bastion where people can go to actually purchase physical albums. With in-store appearances from bands and major promotions like Record Store Day, the indie record shop is back to being that hip gathering place romanticized in movies and books like High Fidelity and Empire Records. For this reason, the main purpose of Vinyl Lives will now be to shine a spotlight on neighborhood record stores big and small around the country. Each month we will profile a shop that stands out as a destination to purchase records, tapes, whatever, putting the focus on those purveyors of music that are often overlooked and honing in what it takes to curate an exciting record store experience.
In the very first edition of the newly revamped Vinyl Lives, we put the needle down on Breakaway Records in Austin, Texas. Run by Gabe Vaughn and Josh LaRue, Breakaway Records opened six and a half years ago in a small space on Austin’s East Side. They moved the shop to the hip North Loop neighborhood just about five years ago. According to Josh and Gabe, Breakaway was started out of an “all-encompassing love of music (and specifically music on vinyl) and a desire to make great records available to fans, collectors and casual shoppers alike.”
They point out that “the shop name comes from an Irma Thomas song called ‘Breakaway’,” and that they “were originally a more soul music-focused shop, but over the years have evolved into a more well-rounded shop. [They] carry a wide variety of new and used records (more used than new), though [they] still focus heavy on 45s.” Gabe and Josh also note that, “the world music, punk, reggae, indie/contemporary rock, and classical sections have definitely grown a lot in the last year or so. And there are new artists, reissues of classic LPs, new compilations of obscure and forgotten music from America and around the world, and lots of rock, jazz, and soul music of all types.”
Here’s a rundown of what makes Breakaway Records a standout shop as well as a look at the employee picks…
45s! A LOT of soul 45s, as well as Jamaican, hip-hop, jazz, country and rock 45s. We also have a great cassette selection – tons of hip-hop, rock and soul cassettes, as well as new releases on cassette.
How much of your stock is used vs. new?
Probably 70% used, 30% new.
Top selling records last month:
Note: This is a bit tricky as we sell so much used stuff, which is just what we happen to get any given month; very different from new releases.
-The new Chicano Batman 45
-Budos Band – Burnt Offering (Daptone Records)
-Arthur Verocai – Arthur Verocai (reissue)
-New Orleans Soul compilation
-Mulatu Astatke – Ethio Jazz (reissue)
-Shakey Graves – And The War Came (Dualtone Music)
-Miles Davis Black Friday 10″,
-MF Doom – Doomsday (reissue)
-Vince Guaraldi – Charlie Brown Christmas
-Jackson 5 – Christmas LP
-Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Christmas 45
-Sam Cooke, Etta James, Otis Redding reissue LPs,
-J Dilla – Donuts on cassette
– The Beatles & Led Zeppelin reissue LPs
Anticipated releases for this month:
-10th anniversary edition of Madlib & MF Doom’s Madvillany
-James Brown’s PEOPLE Records 45 box set
-Daft Punk – ALIVE 2007 (double vinyl LP)
You’d be surprised we sell a lot of…
We sell a lot of supplies like record mailers, storage boxes, 45 adapters(we sell A LOT of our own custom stainless steel 45 adapters!), needles & cartridges, turntables, receivers, and speakers. We sell a LOT of cassettes. And lately we’ve sold a lot of 80s and 90s mainstream R&B 45s (like Atomic Dog, Prince’s 80s hits, Cameo, Midnight Star, Zapp, Michael Jackson, etc.).
Employee Picks this month:
1. All Chicano Batman vinyl, especially the new 45 (Drop Shadow Records; El Relleno Records) – (full disclosure, we released the 45!)
2. Fugazi – 1st Demo (Dischord Records)
3. Rammelzee vs. K-Rob – Beat Bop Black Friday reissue 12″ (people totally slept on this, we still have multiple copies)
4. Karl Hector & The Malcouns LP (Now Again Records)
5. Various Artists – Jukebox Mambo Vol 2 Compilation (Jazzman Records)
6. Arthur Verocai LP (Kindred Spirits Records)
7. Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty (Sub Pop Records)
8. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas (American Gramaphone)
9. Boubacar Traore & His Guitar LP (Mississippi Records)
10. Etta James – Rocks The House (Jackpot Records)
Breakaway Records is located at 211 W. North Loop in Austin, Texas 78751
For more info on Breakaway Records check out breakawayrecs.com!
Is there a record store you think we should profile? Feel free to shoot your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org