An audiophile’s guide to the LP galaxy
By Emma Chekroun
It’s a hard job spending all afternoon sorting through records, having great coffee, and talking to passionate music lovers, but someone must do it. I have graciously sacrificed myself to this cause, to review some of the more popular record stores in the Twin Cities area.
Whether you are only now trying to get into collecting records or have been collecting since your dad passed down all of his old Led Zeppelin LPs, this brief list will, hopefully, serve as a start to finding your new vinyl paradise.
Caydence Records & Coffee
One of the few record stores in the country to pair espresso and vinyl, Caydence is a hole-in-the-wall you can’t afford to miss out on. The St. Paul neighborhood where this beacon stands is up-and-coming and not entirely where you might expect to find great coffee and music, which makes it all the better.
Upon entering Caydence, a Thin Lizzy playlist filled the background, setting the tone for the shop. There was so much energy in this empty (save for two punk dads) coffee shop. Chad Medellin, one of the owners, buzzed around behind the counter airing his opinions on the shop to someone who can only be assumed was a regular customer and/or friend.
The shop is intimate to say the least, and it is not hard to tell Medellin is fond of what he does, just from watching the way he lovingly delivers each customer’s drink to their table.
The youth of this shop lends it a fresh, hopeful feel that can be hard to find in larger chain record stores, or even some of the smaller ones. It doesn’t take much talking with Medellin to understand that this shop is a product of passion.
“Coffee pays the bills, records pay us, and it’s cool right?” Medellin testifies. “Who doesn’t like records?”
When asked about his most notable record find, Medellin leapt up like a kid on Christmas, and bounded to the basement only to return with a truly odd synthesizer sex duet from the early 1970s. Just to give you a taste of what you can find here.
Not only will you find great top 500 records as well as eclectic bops here, shop patrons can also look forward to hardcore music shows, concerts, and chitchat. This month alone Caydence already has 11 shows scheduled, which go from Thursday to Sunday most weekends.
For all young collegiates, there is no need to fear as these concerts are open to all ages, something Medellin and the other owners strove for when opening the shop. The goal sounds almost heroic when Medellin talks about the “void” in this neighborhood for coffee and music, and the admirable intent of creating a space in this neighborhood that they love; a sentiment almost as heartwarming as the strong coffee.
The bottom line is, if you like good strong simple coffee, top 500 mixed with diverse one-off used records, and a warm music-loving crowd, this gem is for you.
Just a highway drive away, Electric Fetus lies right outside of MN 65, resting on the outskirts of about any drive taken to get off of the University of Minnesota campus. From the outside, Electric Fetus resembles one of the dozens of curio shops and antique stores you may see at any given time in any given part of the country, with its barred windows holding a myriad of fake plants and mismatched props. Fitting, as the shop has been around since 1968, but that sense of nostalgia fades the instant you enter the store.
Greeted by pursed smiles, a nauseatingly sweet candle aroma and row upon row of placid shrink-wrapped vinyl, my heart sank. Before I scorn the shop too harshly, I must admit; yes, there are a lot of records, yes, they are not poorly priced, and yes, most are new. Electric Fetus has all the stereotypical makings of a record store with its array of incense and stash cans but it feels less like a record store and more like an overpriced gift-shop superstore.
It felt like I was promised the hip beatnik 60s and received the capitalist Reagan 80s—it didn’t help that there was not one, but two older businessmen frequenting the shop. Even the store describes this on their website, which mentions how it relocated in 1972 when the country experienced a “dissolution of the ideals of the alternative dream” and “The Electric Fetus followed with the sign of the times.”
I don’t entirely fault the shop for keeping up with the times, and even with these changes, it is still owned by one of the original owners and his family. Electric Fetus could be a great resource for more casual music fans, or anyone looking to drop a little extra cash on some odd-ball music themed gifts, but I just don’t believe this is a place of sustenance for die-hard music lovers.
Hymie’s Vintage Records
Walking into Hymie’s Vintage Records, I understood in that moment what it must have been like for Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” when Beast revealed his huge library. The room reeked of that beautiful used dusty cardboard scent you only find when you put a perfectly scored, used copy of Bob Dylan’s “Blonde” up to your nose.
In case it’s unclear, this place is absolutely massive. In fact, the store has been featured on Rolling Stone’s website for its intense collection.
Owned by couple Laura and Dave Hoenback, this nearly 40-year-old store rests between Minneapolis and St Paul, and is meant for music lovers on the prowl who don’t mind setting aside a day to find a long sought-afterHüsker Dü album, complete with tables to sit and rest while you take in your record bounty. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and quiet — again, almost like a library but with records.
The categories at Hymie’s extend well beyond dad rock to everything from folk to “Make out Music,” a category created by the store featuring “The Sounds of Erotica” vinyl, and so many other interesting sections.
“We like to bring in all sorts of folks who like all sorts of music,” said Laura Hoenback.
The deals on records are equally as creative as the categories, and the weekly specials when I visited included 20 percent off of a song title including the word “sunshine” and 10 percent off of a song title with the word “rain.”
Hymie’s also features several small areas dedicated to memorabilia and books, but unlike most record stores, it works them in very casually. Giving space to those maybe not as interested in vinyl. If all that were not enough, Irene, the owners’ beautiful blind dog, graces the store with her presence every day. Really if the records aren’t enough to sucker you in, this sweetheart will.
Honorable Mention: Extreme Noise
For all of the die hard punk and metal fans out there, you are not forgotten. This is your one stop shop.
Extreme Noise possesses almost every iteration and genre relating to punk or metal. There are zines, spikes for sale, and dozens of band t-shirts hanging from the ceiling. If you aren’t in the market to branch out and you know what you like—and if what you like is punk, metal, or alternative—then this place is worth at least an afternoon.