Imagine our frustration when, in an attempt to buy a Nick Drake CD at Best Buy, we discovered all of the '70s singer-songwriter's titles had been replaced with rack upon rack of discs from teen-pop princess Hilary Duff. Now, we accept that MTV no longer plays music videos. We've made peace with media consolidation and how it has turned much of Cleveland radio into one big '80s weekend. But we weren't ready to accept this reality. Luckily, local record stores still offer hope. We sampled five that gave us not only a great music selection, but also a much-needed dose of individuality.
11600 Detroit Ave., Cleveland
Everybody has that one friend you don't bother telling about a new band. Chances are, he's already bought the CD, saw them live and proclaimed them sellouts. Discover them first at this cozy shop near the Lakewood border. Tattered posters cover the walls, stacks of vinyl line the floor and the shelves are packed with a wide selection of electronic and indie-rock titles, whether you're looking for underground favorites Pedro The Lion, local artists The Six Parts Seven or the nearly unknown Piano Magic. You'll be ready for the next time you run into Mr. Music Snob.
CD Bought: Piano Magic, "The Troubled Sleep of Piano Magic," $15.99
25947 Detroit Road, Westlake
Rock titles run very deep at My Generation, but the store also boasts healthy collections of blues, jazz, folk and bluegrass. Then again, maybe the shop's lure is its shelves of films, where hard-to-find DVD titles such as the 1991 River Phoenix film "Dogfight" can routinely be located. And just when you're ready to empty your pockets to the friendly staff behind the counter (who gave us great advice for removing those difficult CD stickers) get ready, because you still haven't checked out the store's used discs or huge magazine selection. (Sadly, as this issue was going to press, the store was put up for sale and will shut its doors at the end of this month if no buyer is found.)
CDs bought: Sheryl Crow, "Sheryl Crow," $6.99 (used); Siouxsie & the Banshees, "Superstition," $5.99 (used)
1828 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights
A short walk from East Side rock club The Grog Shop, Record Revolution sells
trendy clothes, hair dye, spiked bracelets and a comprehensive offering of new,
used and local discs. But what makes the place a must-see is the basement. Take
a trip downstairs and vinyl lovers will discover racks of old albums from Bob
Seger to Judy Collins to Miles Davis for no more than a few bucks each. The
walls are filled with years of customer signatures and scrawlings such as "I
love your prices" or "John was here, 1996," giving this place the warm charm
of a favorite corner bar.
CD Bought: The Smiths, "Singles," $15.99
13896 Cedar Road, University Heights
"American Splendor" author and rabid jazz collector Harvey Pekar put it best, "This is like being a junkie!!" Those of us similarly locked into building perfectly comprehensive music collections agree. Luckily, there are shops such as Fhe Exchange where addicts can get a regular fix without going broke. You could buy all new discs. But why do that when you can get a pristine used copy for $5? Need to fill the Elton John or David Bowie gap in your collection? Check the $2.50 shelves. We also found many out-of-print discs in the store's $1 bin.
CDs Bought: Earth, Wind & Fire, "Super Hits," $7; John Mellencamp, "Mr. Happy Go Lucky," $1
7468 Broadview Road, Parma
Incense burns, candles line the shelves, Wilco and The Warlocks whir in the background. It's not your college dorm room. It's Northeast Ohio's beloved Quonset Hut chain. Fully stocked with rock, the store offers mainstream titles from U2 and Aerosmith to titles you thought you'd never again locate. The store's classical, jazz, rap and R&B selections are good, too. If you don't feel like shuffling through discs, you can read the store's hilarious greeting cards, try on jewelry or thumb through its stock of rereleased classic vinyl.
CD Bought: The Fire Theft, "The Fire Theft," $13.99