Wednesday, March 23, 2011
ACADEMY RECORDS - WILLIAMSBURG, NEW YORK
It was a sunglasses day. One of those days where the sun jumps out at you every time you turn a corner blinding you as it defies the time of year and makes you wonder 'coat or no coat?'. I opted for 'no coat' and regretted this decision right up until buying an old M65 field jacket from a used store. Anyway after nearly freezing to death and a couple of minutes of temporary sun based blindness I found her.
I've not been here for a few years and the last time was pretty brief due to the fact that my wife was in tow.
Despite what the carrier bag says the other branches of Academy Records have closed down and this one stands lone it's finger raised as a 'fuck you' to all of the downloaders, the CD buyers and the people who casually pass by the store front assuming it's a laundromat or something, oblivious to the potential for pure magic that lies within.
I say 'potential' because so much of the 'Academy' experience hangs on what's in the used racks. This is more unpredictable territory than usual because New York gets hit by vinyl hunters, record collectors and idiot 'beat minerz' more than any other city I can think of.
Sadly I was in Williamsburg with work so I could only afford a quick 'in and out' as it were but in the 20 minutes or so I stayed I got a good feel for the place. The racks were patchy, the dance music section was unnecessary and not particularly well sectioned, the 'just in' bins were stripped bare and stuffed with filler and the Rock A to Z section was predictable. 'So where's the magic?' I hear you cry Rice Krispies and milk spluttering from your mouth as you do so.
Well I'm glad you asked. The magic is on the walls, behind the counter and in the 'new' records section. The Indie/Alternative racks were brim full of dead impressive stuff. The walls had a couple of highlights, amongst them a Harry Partch ballet album from 1973 that I bought and the second Animal Collective album complete with poster, which I didn't.
The staff swayed between massively helpful and too kool for skool but then this is a record shop, you'd feel cheated if there wasn't at least a little bit of attitude. You need to get cold shouldered by the guy with the beard every now and again. (NB The guy with the beard was actually very helpful I am generalizing here)
So, no whilst Academy isn't a contender for the hallowed 'Possibly Best Record Shops in the World' list (who is nowadays?) it's not far off, it's way better than the one that used to be downtown on 17th and whatever and I'd work there tomorrow if I could.