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. Photos by Kwasi boyd-bouldin

I’ve been a customer in Vacation Vinyl over the years, in fact I remember when they initially opened at their first (Los Feliz) location. My takeaway from that first visit was how much metal they had, and I don’t mean Metallica, Motorhead and Black Sabbath – I mean Burzum, Nachtmystium and Immolation. We’re talking the deep trenches of extreme metal. I filed the store mentally as a premier spot to get heavy metal music of all subgenres and left it at that. Not long after their initial opening, Vacation Vinyl moved to Silverlake and over the years has rounded out the genres impressively. The shop isn’t that big and doesn’t overwhelm with records (then again, the local frame of reference is the Starkiller Base-sized Amoeba Hollywood) but it makes with most of its space with rich, diverse records.

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Vacation sits amidst a bustling couple blocks, nestled among restaurants, coffee spots and a cheese shop (to name a few places). The store is clean, well-organized and inviting – recently they moved the counter from the back of the store to the front and moved some records around, subtle changes that further enhance the vinyl browsing experience. The selection is diverse – Rock takes up a good amount of space here like it is in most stores – but Rock doesn’t overwhelm the floor space of the store either and is barely the largest section. Soul, Jazz, Punk and even small-but-significant sections like Library contain relevant, interesting records. There are many different kinds of ‘interesting records’, but in this store’s case the most interesting stuff is in the $20-$50 range. One of my favorite marks of a store is how many records I find that I’ve never seen before, and Vacation Vinyl delivers that in bunches.

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Oh, and the metal. Vacation has a plethora of aggressive music (the punk section referenced before is solid), and metalheads should especially delight at the selections. It’s one thing to have a lot of heavy metal records, it’s another to have multiple subgenre classifications within metal – Death metal, Black Metal, 80s and simply “Heavy” each have their own sections! Vacation is the only store I’ve ever been in to have a dedicated section labeled “Powerviolence / Grind”. Heavy metal luminaries have been known to frequent the bins for good music.

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If records aren’t enough, there is an expanding selection of new cassette releases by local bands of all genres and used cassette tapes to choose from as well – all in excellent shape (and all at market price, you’re paying for the curation and condition). Vacation also hosts in-stores from time to time so stay tuned to their calendar. A combination of the neighborhood, the employees and the in-store vibe create an overall digging experience that’s relaxed, loose and light (even if good chunks of the music aren’t).

Vacation Vinyl
3815 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Website ~ Phone: (323) 666-2111

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