There is plenty of reading available on record stores, but much of that reading is in the form of short store reviews. In this series, Keith Foster (co-host of The Vinyl Exam podcast and visitor of hundreds of stores across the country) visits LA vinyl spots, soaks in the vibe and goes a bit more in-depth.
The most interesting words on the storefront for Jacknife Records and Tapes are definitely ….and tapes. Being a child of the cassette era, I at once find the nostalgia for cassettes charming and slightly idiotic – on one hand cassettes are cool, portable and memorable, on the other hand they sound like garbage, break and warp easily and pair up with battery-draining portable players (which always gets left out of the nostalgic journeys through people’s minds). Those caveats aside, I do find myself buying more and more cassettes, as anyone who collects music from 1980s and 1990s would – they were the dominant media so everything that came out was issued on cassette. Jacknife is a catalyst for that nostalgia – upon first entry the left side of the store is a wall stacked high with organized, well-conditioned cassettes (bargain cassettes have plenty of space as well). The cassettes are categorized by genre and plenty of good stuff is on display no matter what genre suits you, especially if you favor genres that hit their creative peak in the 80s and 90s.
Once you get past the impressive cassette wall, what you’ll find is a narrow and deep record store in Atwater Village. Past the register (situated in the middle of the store, near shelves of vintage audio equipment) are plenty of records – rock is the dominant genre and in my opinion the strongest section of the lot. Every section is there, you just have to crouch down or lay down on the floor to get to the electronic, experimental, library-type esoteric genres. My personal purchases there were a couple heavy metal records and a grip of cassettes from the plentiful “Dollar Cassette” bins.
I mentioned vintage gear above, and there are plenty of goodies along those lines – speakers, amplifiers, portable cassette players, mixers, component stereo systems, they’re here. I can only assume they’re in excellent working order given the prices, but hey if you’re looking for vintage equipment (or if you dabble like I do) you might as well pay extra for the stuff that works perfectly. I’d almost recommend taking the trip just so you can look at all the stereo equipment and have a Willy Wonka “World of Pure imagination” moment of wonder, the stuff is that good.
One other worthwhile note: there seems to be a prevalent popular opinion that record store employees are snobs a la the dudes in High Fidelity, but my travels have shown the opposite. Taken as a whole, I’ve found record store employees to be the nicest and most helpful people around – and this is an overwhelming majority I’m referring to. There are always a few bad apples, but it takes something out of the ordinary to fall outside of that range. I say that because the guy I spoke with during my visit was one of the nicest, most helpful record shop employees I’ve ever dealt with – he went out of his way to provide tips and help in any way he could without being overbearing or intrusive, a real bonus to an already pleasant music-buying experience.
JACKNIFE RECORDS & TAPES in ATWATER VILLAGE
3149 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 9003