Bayou City

Houston's 10 Best Record Stores

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4. SIG’S LAGOON
Sig's Lagoon Record Shop is a sunny spot on Main Street; the store is cartoonish and colorful compared to its dingier Midtown neighbors, and the kitschy tiki aesthetic is a cheery vision of '50s Houston that never really was. But don't let that veneer fool you; hiding in Sig's crates are the records you'll love for a lifetime. Many a weeknight after one too many Double Trouble cocktails, I've wandered upstairs to delight in the stunning array of vintage country, jazz and blues, and the quirky miscellany that can only be found in a collection glued together with love. So many weird centerpieces of my collection came from Sig's, from the mildly sexist Robert Mitchum album Calypso to the compilation of Bollywood Disco hits to my beloved (if basic) re-issue copy of Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch. The store's delightful claustrophobia — its stacks hidden under crates hidden under shelves — means you'll not often be disappointed. And if you are let down, say, by them being sold out of the limited edition Record Store Day release of Disney's Silly Symphonies songs (not that I was...at all), you're sure to be consoled by their talented, unaffected staff. What a gem. 3622 Main, sigslagoon.com

3. VINAL EDGE
Perhaps we should consider record stores more like monastic enterprises rather than the big-ticket concerns of the American dream, namely arms trading and human trafficking. Certainly, Chuck Roast is a mad monk, wild­-eyed and in thrall to strange sounds from the beyond. Furthermore, Vinal Edge has always been a place that preserved esoteric human learning amid the barbarians. More than 30 years ago, this strange little record store opened its doors to a godforsaken strip-mall parking lot in North Houston. For many of those nearby, it was much more than a shop, it was a crash course in the underground, a countercultural hub, a place for freaks to stay connected, home to various in-­store performances by the weirdest of the weird, and offering all the paraphernalia necessary to keeping teen dreams alive and totally contraband. The inventory was both Borgesian and irresistible, arrayed in crates and on shelves in an impossibly dense agglomeration of desire. Its charms traveled far and wide, bringing fans of metal, noise, free jazz, and other forms of out­music to the suburban wilderness, like so many Muhammads traveling to the mountain. Now, years later, Vinal Edge has relocated its enduring brand of unholy evangelism to the Heights at such a time when the neighborhood itself has become ground zero for $20 juice stands, crossfit dungeons, and antique shops. Vinal Edge is a contrarian institution, operating on the lines of that famous motto that all musicians and lovers of music understand, “Punish the children, and scare the church.” 239 W. 19th, vinaledge.com

2. SCREWED UP RECORDS & TAPES
When DJ Screw opened the doors of Screwed Up Records & Tapes in 1998, he had crossed over into a higher sense of ownership. No longer would fans have to step to his front door in order to get a Screw tape. He could once more regain a sense of peace without police cars lurking around his house, thinking he was an everyday drug dealer as opposed to the most influential DJ the state ever produced. The idea and aesthetic of the Screw Shop, as it's affectionately referred to, is just the same as it was with Screw’s house. Today the building has moved locations, but the idea and purpose behind it remains the same. There are hundreds of Screw tapes still on sale, to go with the various DJ Screw paraphernalia like T-shirts and quotes and sayings. A TV runs music videos and a mural dedicated to Robert Davis splashes loud in purple as soon as you walk in the door. The large list of Screw releases remains intact and Screw’s brother still runs the shop, still checking customers out the same way Screw did before — hand to hand, with an appreciation of the culture. Screwed Up Records & Tapes is an institution and still remains one of the few pure landmarks Houston has ever produced. 3538 W. Fuqua, screweduprecords.com

1. CACTUS MUSIC
Cactus is The Godfather of the local record-store circuit, and with good reason. Cactus has the space and musical selection to cater to any number of tastes, and novelties such as apparel, toys, lunch boxes and posters offer a little something extra. Plus, with records, CDs and cassette tapes, Cactus offers arguably the deepest musical inventory in Houston. It's also become the go-to spot for in-store appearances from both local and national acts, which usually means live music and free St. Arnold's beer. Hard to top that. 2110 Portsmouth, cactusmusictx.com

Written by Brandon Caldwell, Selena Dieringer, Chris Gray, Clint Hale, Tex Kerschen, David Sackllah, David Rozycki, Nathan Smith and Katie Sullivan
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