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Maximum rotation, maximum joy

The top albums for local record stores


It ain't fair, it ain't fair! I know that asking people to pick their five favorite records is limiting and frustrating. Imagine the torture it must have been when I posed these questions to those who sling vinyl for a living. I thought their heads would explode. In all fairness, I did it to myself as well.

Although the music industry continues to transform in the face of the digital age, Rochester remains home to several vital independent record stores. These are places where you can find rare gems, a big selection of attractively priced used albums, and some pretty awesome pop-culture items as well.

We thought the best way to get to know these stores is to ask them about their current best-selling albums, and also to ask the management about their personal favorites. It hurt, but you can learn from their pain. Then head out to their shelves and grab up some of their picks for your own listening pleasure.

  Find your closest local record store with our FOURSQUARE LIST.
  Sample tracks from these albums with our SPOTIFY PLAYLIST.

Check out City Newspaper Music Writer Frank De Blase's Top 5 all-time records at the bottom of this article, then leave your own Top 5 picks in the comments.


The Bop Shop

1460 Monroe Ave. | 271-3354 | bopshop.com

The Bop Shop has been bringing music to Rochester for nearly three decades, both through its physical store and by bringing in interesting, eclectic concerts as part of its Bop Arts series. In late 2011, The Bop Shop moved from Village Gate in the city to a new location on Monroe Avenue in Brighton. The store specializes in blues, jazz, and American roots music, including soul, rockabilly, and folk, as well as Celtic and English folk music. It carries new and used CDs, and has an extensive vinyl collection.

Hot Sellers at The Bop Shop

"Mischief & Mayhem" by Jenny Scheinman (Jenny Scheinman Music)

"Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen (Columbia)

"Boys & Girls" by Alabama Shakes (Alto Records)

"Mississippi Murderer" by Greg "Stackhouse" Prevost (Mean Disposition)

"Jet Set" by Los Straitjackets (Yep Rec Records)

All-Time Favorites of Tom Kohn, Bop Shop Owner

"Mischief & Mayhem" by Jenny Scheinman (Jenny Scheinman Music)

"Boom Tic Boom" by Allison Miller (CD Baby)

"Old Ideas" by Leonard Cohen (Columbia)

"Live at Blue Rock" by Mary Gauthier (CD Baby)

"Up a Step" by Cory Weeds (Cellar Live)


The House of Guitars

645 Titus Ave. | 544-3500 | houseofguitars.com

The House of Guitars got its start in the 1960's, when owner Armand Schaubroeck and his brothers started selling instruments out of the basement of their mother's house. The Irondequoit-based store is now filled with used and new CDs, vinyl, and musical instruments. As you might expect, there's a wide variety of guitars for sale, but also drums, synths, and more. A trip to the House of Guitars is a bit of a treasure hunt, with merchandise displayed in a...less-than-linear fashion. Hey, it got the slogan, "The store that ate my brain" for a reason. In addition to its inventory, the store regular has in-store performances and record signings by bands traveling on national tours.

Current Best Sellers at House of Guitars

"El Camino" by The Black Keys (Nonesuch)

"Babel" by Mumford & Sons (Glass Note)

"Some Nights" by fun. (Fueled by Ramen)

"Vessel" by Twenty One Pilots (Fueled by Ramen)

"Night Visions" by Imagine Dragons (Interscope Records)

All-Time Favorites of Armand Schaubroeck, House of Guitars Owner

"Easter Everywhere" by 13 Floor Elevators (Snapper UK)

"Prison" by Steven Jesse Bernstein (Sub Pop)

"Buddy Holly — Greatest Hits" by Buddy Holly (MCA)

"The Best of Jack Scott" by Jack Scott (Stardust)

"The Velvet Underground & Nico" by The Velvet Underground (Polydor/Umgd)


Lakeshore Record Exchange

370 Park Ave. | 244-8476 | alternativemusic.com

Although it originated on Lake Avenue, Lakeshore Record Exchange actually isn't located on the lake now — it operates a brick-and-mortar store in a small space on Park Avenue. However, that's only part of Lakeshore's business. The store was one of the first to embrace the web, and as its website domain name might suggest, it got into e-commerce early, with a focus on indie and alternative music. At the retail store, you'll find new and used CDs as well as some limited used DVDs. As with several of the other local record stores, you can sell your used CDs/DVDs here for cash or store credit.

Current Top 5 at Lakeshore Record Exchange

"Babel" by Mumford & Sons (Glass Note)

"Tempest" by Bob Dylan (Columbia)

"Coexist" by The XX (Young Turks)

"The Only Place" by Best Coast (Mexican Summer)

"In Our Heads" by Hot Chip (Domino)

All-Time Favorites of Marta Filipek, Lakeshore Manager

"In Our Heads" by Hot Chip (Domino)

"Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" by Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Constellation)

"Aufheben" by Brian Jonestown Massacre (A. Records)

"TRST" by Trust (Arts & Crafts)

"The Money Store" by Death Grips (Epic)


NeedleDrop Records

304 Gregory St. | 271-6785 | needledroprecords.com

NeedleDrop is the newest record store in Rochester, having opened in the hip South Wedge neighborhood in 2011. The store specializes in vinyl, with a specific tip toward punk, hardcore, rock, metal, indie, and noise music. It also carries speakers, turntables, headphones, and other audio equipment.

Current Top 5 at NeedleDrop Records

"Bloom" by Beach House (Sub Pop)

"World Music" by Goat (Rocket Recordings)

"King Tuff" by King Tuff (Sub Pop)

"METZ" by METZ (Sub Pop)

"Leave Home" by The Men (Sacred Bones)

All-Time Favorites of Russ Torregiano, NeedleDrop Owner

"World Music" by Goat (Rocket Recordings)

"Kill For Love" by Chromatics (Italians Do It Better)

"Honeys" by Pissed Jeans (Sub Pop)

"Turn On the Bright Lights" 10th Anniversary 2x LP by Interpol (Matador Records)

"Mob Justice" by The Rival Mob (Revelation Records)


Record Archive

33 1/3 Rockwood St. | 244-1210 | recordarchive.com

Record Archive has existed in various locations in Rochester for more than 35 years. Its current location is a bit off the beaten path, just off East Avenue near its intersection with Winton Road. Just look for the giant record on the outside of the building. The sprawling interior is filled with new releases in just about every genre, a significant collection of vinyl records, and a copious selection of used CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes. If you're shopping for gifts, it's also a great place for an array of unique and novel items. Record Archive regularly hosts capsule exhibits for local artists and is often involved with the monthly First Friday gallery night (check firstfridayrochester.org for details), and occasionally holds in-store performances.

Current Top Sellers at Record Archive

"Don't Panic" by All Time Low (Hopeless Records)

"Babel" by Mumford & Sons (Glass Note)

"Born to Sing: No Plan B" by Van Morrison (Blue Note Records)

"The Carpenter" by The Avett Brothers (Universal Republic)

"The Lumineers" by The Lumineers (Dualtone Music Group)

All-Time Favorites by Alayna Alderman, VP at Record Archive

"The Bends" by Radiohead (Capitol)

"The Joshua Tree" by U2 (Island)

"The Gentle Side of John Coltrane" by John Coltrane (GRP Records)

"Rubber Soul" by The Beatles (EMI)

"Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse (Republic)


All-Time Favorites of Frank De Blase, Music Writer at City Newspaper

"It's Alive!" by The Ramones (Warner Bros./WEA)

"At Budokan" by Cheap Trick (SonyBMG Special Markets)

"Years Since Yesterday" by The Paladins (Alligator Records)

"Girls Go Wild" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Benchmark Recordings)

"Built For Speed" by The Stray Cats (DCC Compact Classics)


-Willie Clark and Eric Rezsnyak contributed additional reporting to this article.

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